How to Squat With Hip Pain

Let’s skip the part where I, a complete stranger on the internet, make up a dubious at best diagnosis for why you are experiencing hip pain. Let’s go right to the part where I teach you how you can still train your squats, even with some nagging hip pain.

Sound like a deal?

Here’s 4 ways you can learn how to squat with hip pain.

1. Narrow Your Stance

First thing first, bring your stance width in.

Doesn’t matter if you are super flexible, you can hit ATG squats with a wide stance, maybe even do a split…just narrow your stance. Think something inside of shoulder width, but nothing crazy, you don’t have to do a Platz squat here.

This should almost immediately take some of the pressure you feel on your hip as you near the bottom of your squat. You’re not going to need to push your knees out as far to get them in the proper position, meaning your hips aren’t going to be under so much strain in this position.

Don’t worry, if you are a powerlifter and you really want your wide squat back, you can slowly work to increase your stance width over time again.

2. Squat to A Box or Pins

Second fix. Start squatting to a box or pins.

Depending on your level of pain this may not be necessary, but it’s usually a good starting point.

For many lifters they only really experience their hip pain as they reach the bottom portion of the lift. So, for the time being, just get rid of that bit of the lift…

Adjust the height of a box or the pins to a power rack so that it cuts the depth of your squat exactly before you experience any pain. I know for many of you you’ll have mixed feelings about “cutting depth” on your squat but this is for your best interest over the long term. The goal is to keep you moving in a pain free manner so you eventually CAN return to your normal range of motion squat.

Just like you can slowly work to fix your stance width again over time, you’ll be able to work to slowly decrease the height of the box/pins overtime, until your back to normal full ROM pain free squatting.

3. Tempo Your Eccentric AND Concentric

Once you’ve got your stance narrowed, and a box or pins set to a comfortable height consider tempoing your squats for the time being.

A tempo is simply a controlled cadence for your lift, usually used to slow down the speed in which you are moving the weights. My favorite go to tempo for instances of pain is a simple 3-0-3 tempo. Meaning you’ll take a 3 count to descend into your squat, there’s no pause in the middle, and then you’ll take another 3 count to ascend up from your squat.

Tempoing lifts anecdotally tends to feel much better compared to more explosive lifting when you are dealing with an instance of pain. Moving slowly through the motions can be much less jarring then just dropping right into some stabbing pain.

4. Adjust Load as Necessary

In extreme cases of hip pain you may have to consider adjusting the load you are putting on the bar.

I think a lot of lifters let their egos take over, they forget that they CAN indeed decrease the weight on the bar, and instead stubbornly continue to lift through pain.

If all of the fixes above aren’t helping, starting decreasing load until you find a suitable weight to squat pain free. This may mean you suddenly go from squatting 500lbs to squatting 135lbs or less. It’s all good. You just need to find an entry point where you can squat without experiencing your hip pain, and then you’ll be able to rebuild from their.

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.