Updated: Nov 6, 2021
Narrow stance squat benefits range from strength, muscle development, and even fixing your form for normal back squats.
They're not the easiest or most comfortable to do, but can be great when executed and programmed correctly.
This squat accessory exercise is used primarily by powerlifters, weightlifters, and those looking to build their quads.
However, anyone can benefit from the narrow stance squat without actually being committed to any sports.
You will learn what you need to know about this specific movement, and how to implement narrow squats into your training program.
What is a Narrow Stance Squat?
Just as the name implies, you will be executing a squat while your feet are closer in than normal back squats. The amount can vary depending on what your normal squat stance is.
For example, for my body's mechanics I squat close to shoulder width stance normally, so narrow for me would be where my heels are almost touching.
Others that perform squats with a wider stance will benefit from their narrow position being around shoulder width or slightly in more.
Either option works, but the main thing is knowing what your normal stance is prior to executing a narrow stance squat.
Names commonly used with narrow stance squats are close stance and cannonball squats. At the end of the day, it's basically your feet are closer than usual - no matter what you call them.
Top Narrow Stance Squat Benefits
Improves your overall squat form
Increases strength out of the bottom position
Minimizes stress on the hips
Increase upper leg muscular growth
Better core strength and stability
Improves Overall Squat Form
Many people have bad squat form because they rush into lifting heavier loads. This could be for competition purposes, or simply because they care too much about what others think.
Doing this for comp purposes is silly because you'll most likely get injured early in your lifting career. As for the latter reason, you will always have somebody stronger than you.
Invest time in improving your lifts and not caring how much others do.
The narrow stance squat improves your overall form because you learn to use your quads more and not rely heavily on the posterior chain (back, hamstrings, etc).
Those doing "good morning" squats do-so because they are used to leaning too far forward and relying on the back opposed to splitting the movement with the quads.
You don't want to perform good morning squats because then your knees will never be used to taking on the loads while protected by the quadriceps muscle.
Knee caving also can derive from weak knees not used to being loaded on.
Simply put, do narrow stance squats to practice loading your quads and placing your knees in a deeper range of motion (full ROM). This is accomplished by having to execute them in a more upright position with a narrow base.
Increase Strength Out of the Bottom Position
The bottom position is also referred to as the "hole", which is when you are at the bottom of the squat before ascending back to the starting position.
The most common sticking point with squats is at the bottom. Many get stuck down there because the anterior (front) leg muscles are weak.
Narrow stance squats are designed to create more range of motion (ROM), and you should be striving to drop to just below parallel - or even deeper.
This will allow your body to fight against coming out of an uncomfortable depth by using your quads.
Essentially, being able to come out of a deeper squat than normal will stimulate your body to progressively handle more load with normal back squats.
Minimizes Stress on the Hips
Some use their hips more than others for normal squats, but regardless your hip joints are under more stress and can use a break sometimes while still getting the movement in.
The narrow stance for squats offer this relief by simply just not having a wider stance. Hip shifting is also common, which is when you favor one side more than the other.
Taking the stress off your hips helps you still improve your squats while fixing the issues causing the shifting, which can prevent possible future injuries during your program.
Increase Upper Leg Muscular Growth
Okay, let's solidify what has been noted. The narrow stance squat primarily targets the quadriceps muscle.
The quads have been shown to be activated the most from deeper squats.
The reason for this is because they are used to drive you out of the hole all the way back up until your glutes start to help during the hip extension at lockout.