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Squatting With Long Legs (12 Tips and How To Guide)

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Want to squat with long legs? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about this.

Squats are a staple for many people’s exercise regimes. They target a wide range of muscles and can be adapted in many different ways to suit different people.

However, those with longer legs can sometimes struggle with squats due to the impact that their leg length can have on their technique and muscles.

Longer legs mean that not only does the squat require more movement and effort, but it also can be more unbalanced and not fit with what is considered to be the “perfect” form.

However, several modifications can be made to your technique, helping you target the correct muscles and keep your squat as balanced as possible. 

What Are Long Legs? 

Having long legs in comparison to your torso can have a large impact on the form, technique, posture, and stance that you use when you squat.

The most impactful part of longer legs is your femur length. Longer femurs (your thigh bone) make it harder to keep the traditional parallel lines of your torso and shins. So, that often results in a greater lean forward. This can not only put you out of balance, but it can also have a knock-on effect on the rest of your form. 

However, by understanding the mechanics of the squat and following tips for managing squats when you have long legs you can still gain the benefits of the squat. 

Read more Are Raised Heel Vs. Flat Shoes Good For Squatting?

Squatting Mechanics

The squat is a compound, multi-joint exercise. It is specifically designed to target the lower body and the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. It includes the pelvis, the lower back, and the abdominal muscles.

During the lowering phase of the squat, you are primarily using hip and knee flexion, with ankle dorsiflexion (a backward bend or flexion). Furthermore, during the rising or lifting phase of the squat, you are primarily using hip and knee extension, with ankle plantarflexion (the motion of pointing the foot downwards). 

Many different factors affect these basic mechanics of the squat. Most notably, there is:

  • Femur Length
  • Bar Placement
  • Depth of the Squat
  • How Much You Butt Wink

1. Femur Length

When you are taller, you may find that you have a longer femur length concerning your torso and the rest of your body. This is if you have particularly long legs in proportion to the rest of your body. So, this is an issue you are likely to face.

Your femur length can have a large impact on the technique of your squat. Also, it can impact how deeply you can squat with the correct form. A greater femur length often means that to keep balanced during a deep squat, you have to lean further forward. As a result, the angle of your shins and torso may not stay parallel with one another.

Femur length is important when squatting with long legs

To correct this, you can try looking for greater heel elevation – wear shoes with a slight rise at the back.

This will help to achieve the necessary form for a perfect squat. You may also find that a wider squatting stance can help you to achieve the necessary form. 

2. Barbell Placement

The placement of the barbell when you are doing a traditional weighted squat also has a great effect on your form and posture. A higher bar position on the back can lead to a more upright squatting posture.

Whereas having the barbell positioned lower on the back can lead to greater leaning forward during the motion. When you have longer limbs, a low bar squat is usually favorable.

This is because it aids your balance and is more hip-dominant. A more hip-dominant squat is more natural for those with longer limbs, especially if you have longer femurs. 

3. Squat Depth

The depth of your squat also has a strong influence on the style and technique of your squat. Deeper squats activate the muscles to a greater extent, exerting more energy and in the long term, building more muscle.

However, a deep squat is only achievable if you have the necessary mobility in your joints. If you are lacking in mobility, particularly in the ankles, knees, and hips, you are likely to start shifting too much weight over to the lower back.

This risks injury, and will also affect your posture and technique. If you are taller or have longer limbs, you may not be able to squat as deeply. This is because squatting deeply requires more movement when you have longer limbs, putting much more stress on your joints. 

4. Back Rounding

Back rounding can be a fast way to decrease your performance when squatting If you are rounding in the back. It may be a result of other mistakes in your form resulting from your build. If you are making other adjustments to your posture due to longer limbs, you may also find your back starting to round after a certain number of reps.

Back rounding is something you must correct as soon as you notice it happening to you. Without correction, it not only leaves you more exposed to injury. But, it also makes it harder to correct the rest of your squatting technique. 

All of these factors affect the mechanics of the squat. It is important to take note of these and correct any mistakes that arise. 

12 Tips for Squatting with Long Legs 

1. Focus on Form Over Reps 

Doing a high number of reps with bad form is not going to benefit you or develop the correct muscles.

Instead of focusing on the number of squats that you can do, take your time to focus on your form and technique, especially if you are struggling due to having longer legs. 

2. Avoid Low Bar Squats

Although low bar squats may be more comfortable if you have longer legs, you may want to try positioning the barbell higher up the back.

Low bar squats tend to encourage a greater forward lean even without the influence of having longer femurs.

When changing the position of the barbell, it is a good idea to temporarily reduce the load that you are lifting. This allows you to adjust to the new position. If you do not allow yourself to adjust, you risk losing other parts of your posture and form.  

3. Use Weightlifting Shoes 

These shoes have a wedge in the heel. This allows for the knees to travel further forward, encouraging a more upright form and forcing the quads to work harder. However, it is important to note that some people start experiencing knee pain when using weightlifting shoes.

If this happens to you, it is best to look for other ways to improve your form.

5 Proven Reasons Why You Should NOT Squat in Running Shoes

4. Use Paused Reps

Pausing at the bottom of your squat gives you time to check your technique and form. If you are shifting your weight and leaning too far forward during your squat, paused reps can be invaluable.

Note exactly how far you are leaning at the bottom of the squat and take the time to correct your position. It is best to have 2-5 second pauses. Paused reps can also be beneficial for building muscle and overall safety, giving you better control. 

5. Make Sure to Take Adequate Rest Periods 

When you are tall and doing squat exercises, you are putting more work and energy into the same movement compared to someone shorter.

This means that you may need a greater period of recovery between each session. If you do not give yourself adequate time to rest and recuperate, you may be placing yourself at a higher risk of injury. You may also find it harder to hold your form.  

6.  Use a Trap Bar 

Trap bars are a potentially useful implement to help adjust the technique of your squats. When using a trap bar, your arms are down and in a neutral position.

This makes it easier to balance, which is important if you are pitching forwards during your squat.

Having a greater balance will also help to encourage a deeper squat – many shy away from deeper squats when they are taller as it takes a lot more physical effort to rise back up.  

7. Work on Ankle Dorsiflexion

When you have longer legs you need greater flexibility in your ankles to reach the best depth. When you have less dorsiflexion you are more likely to start leaning too far forward in your squats.

There are several simple methods that you can use to improve your ankle dorsiflexion.

One of the easiest exercises is ankle rotations – draw a large circle by rotating your ankle. Stretch your foot as far out as possible while drawing this circle, feeling the pull in your muscles.

In particular, focus on bringing your foot as far up towards the shins as possible. Repeat this circular motion 20 times in each direction. 

8. Take a Wider Stance 

A wider stance has been found to help those with longer legs find more stability in their squat.

However, you must make sure that you do not allow your knees to fall inwards, as this can risk injury. Ensure you are pushing your knees outwards whilst squatting with a wider stance.  

9. Point Your Feet Slightly Outwards 

Pointing your feet outwards slightly combined with a wider stance helps to bring your hip joint closer to the middle of your foot.

This partial side steps the issue of having a longer femur, which elongates your lower body, bringing it further out to the front when you squat. 

10. Try Out Different Squat Variations 

There are many different types of squats that you can use – they do not have to be the standard squat with the barbell resting on your back.

For example, you can try front squats, pin squats, box squats, goblet squats, split squats, or more unique variations of the squat such as the Jefferson squat, which involves holding a barbell in between the legs. 

11. Focus on One Thing at a Time 

You may be tempted to try and fix every aspect of your squat all at once. However, this does not allow you to focus properly on each issue and can be overwhelming. Focus on one aspect of your technique at a time.

Build up your confidence around that particular movement until it is second nature to you. Then move on to the next correction needed.

12. Identify Your Ideal Squat Depth

It may help you to identify your ideal squat depth – the depth that you can reach with the standard squatting technique.

If you wish to keep the standard form with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart facing forward, you need to understand where your squat becomes so deep that you lose this form. 

How to Identify Your Ideal Squat Depth:

  1. To identify your ideal squat depth, you need to perform a squat barefoot in front of a mirror (or a partner who can observe the mechanics of your squat for you).
  2. During every phase of the squatting motion, your torso and the angle of your shin should remain parallel to each other. If the torso and shins move out of the parallel position, you are likely to be squatting too deep. 
  3. There should also be no excessive arching of the back. If your back starts rounding, you may need to adjust your technique. 
  4. You also need to evaluate the movement of your ankles and feet – the arches of your feet should not collapse, and your feet should not start to externally rotate while you are lowering into the squat. 
  5. If you notice that your torso and shins are out of their parallel position, your back is arching, the arches of your feet are collapsing, or your feet are externally rotating, you are likely squatting too deeply. 

Incorporating These Tips

Some of these tips are easier to integrate into your training program than others. If you are apprehensive about the changes you want to potentially make to your exercise routines, some tips are easier to start with.

For example, lowering your number of reps to focus better on your form and posture is a good place to start.

Additionally, integrating paused reps into your training workouts is an easy way to gain a better awareness of your technique, while simultaneously encouraging better muscle development. 

Some of these tips are also as simple as switching to a new implement or new equipment.

For example, switching to using a trap bar for your squats. Using a trap bar does not involve a huge change in technique.

However, if you would like to make more substantial changes such as using a new variation of a squat, you may need to take more precautions when integrating them into your training program.

If you are switching to using a Jefferson squat or front squat, it is advised that you start with a lower amount of weight. This allows you to turn more of your focus toward your form and technique, which will differ from the technique of your normal squat. 

Learn more about 11 Best Front Squat Alternatives (+ How To Videos)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have to make adjustments for my squats?

There are many different things that may indicate a need to make adjustments for your long legs. Squat in front of a mirror and note how far you need to lean forward to keep your balance. You can also carry out the method to identify your ideal squat depth – if this is not as deep as you would like your squats to be, you can start to make adjustments. You can also trial and error. Mix up your workout routine with some squat variations that are better for those with long legs. If you feel more comfortable and confident with these variations, you may want to incorporate them into your regular workouts. 

Does having long legs mean I can’t squat?

Not at all! If you are struggling with your squats because of having longer legs, there are many different adjustments you can make. Squatting can still be a key part of your workouts, you just may need to pay more attention to your form and technique. You may also find that squats are more effortful and use more energy than they do for those with shorter legs. If this is the case, you can adjust the number of reps you do or the amount of recovery time that you take. 

Final Thoughts

Squatting with long legs can undoubtedly be harder than squatting with shorter legs. However, this does not mean that you need to cut squats out of your training program. They can still be highly beneficial to your muscle development. You just may need to make some adjustments to your technique to ensure that you don’t risk injury.

Methods such as paused reps can help you to gain a better awareness of your form as well as benefit your muscle development. I also actively encourage you to explore different types of squats such as goblet squats, pin squats, or even the Jefferson squat to see what suits you. You may also want to experiment with the implements that you use – the trap bar can be particularly useful. 

Follow our top tips for squatting with long legs, and find the technique that suits you – after all, the squat is the king of exercises! Have confidence in your squats, and continue to focus on your technique and form. 

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Wasim Kagzi

Hi! I’m Wasim Kagzi and this is where my team and I write and research about everything fitness. On MuscleLead we share all the helpful tips, techniques, and advice we've learned over the years. Personally, I've been lifting for more than 10 years and hope to eventually become a Certified Personal Trainer. My goal is to compete in weightlifting and train to be the strongest version of myself.

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