Cartoon graphic of a winking butt

Doesn’t a butt wink sound cute? Despite its cute name, this is a very common squat form mistake.

A butt wink happens when your low back and pelvis round posteriorly (tuck under) at the bottom of a squat. This puts the body in a less than ideal position for transferring force, reducing how much you can lift.

Loading the spine in this position can increase your risk of low back pain due to SI joint issues or disk herniations. 

So how can you tell if your squat form is off and you’re butt winking?


Stick man graphic showing good squat vs bad squat

To check your own squat form and see if you’re butt winking, film yourself from the side (without a shirt) doing your best squats. Start without any weight.

When you watch your video, pause it when you get into the bottom of your squat and screenshot that. If your lumbar spine looks more like our Stickman friend on the right, you are butt winking.


Woman models butt wink and no butt wink squats.

Proper squat form isn’t hard although it does require body awareness, strength, and mobility. There are two common causes of butt winking during a squat.

Limited Mobility

Generally speaking, the deeper your squat (with good form), the better. To get into a deep squat, you need solid hip and ankle mobility.

Ankle Mobility

To determine if you have limited ankle mobility, take a kneeling/lunge position on the floor with one hand width between your toes and the wall in front of you. 
Keeping your heel firmly on the floor and your hips squared to the wall, shift your weight forward so your knee moves toward the wall. Can you get it to touch? 
If you can’t get your knee within an inch of the wall, you likely have restrictions in your ankle joint and would benefit from our Knee, Ankle & Foot program.

Hip Mobility

To determine if you have limited hip mobility, lay down on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Can you get your thighs to touch your chest? If not, you may have difficulty getting into a deep squat.

Limited Stability

If your mobility is good but your squat form is still off, you may have a stability issue. 
To determine if your butt wink occurs because of a stability issue, perform a bodyweight squat. Film yourself for 3-5 reps and notice where your butt wink occurs. Screenshot your position in the bottom of the squat.
Next, repeat the process, this time holding a 10-20 lb weight  in front of you. 
Did adding the weight in front improve your squat form like it did for our model in the photo above?
If so, it’s likely caused by a stability issue. The counter weight could be giving a false sense of stability by increasing abdominal recruitment
You need to improve your ability to brace and hold a neutral pelvis as you lower down into the squat, which we cover in our Back & Core program.

Structural Issues Within The Hip Socket

“You should keep your toes pointing forward when you squat.”
“You must keep your feet hip width apart.” 
Ever hear this advice? Everyone’s hip socket is built differently, so while these cues may work for some people, they won’t work for all. 

Take this as your permission to play with both your squat stance as well as the angle of your feet. Find the sweet spot between comfort in your range and power in your output and see if that helps improve your squat form.


If you have a limited mobility and/or stability in your squat, the key areas to focus on are ankle, hip, and thoracic mobility and strength. Here are four exercises from our Back & Core and Hips & Glutes programs to get you started.


Woman shows set up for pelvic tilts.

Pelvic Tilts are a great way to improve your pelvic mobility, control, and core strength - provided you do them properly! 

Having the ability to control your pelvis in a squat is essential to avoid butt winking and is great for those with low back pain.

    1. Set up in a tabletop position with your knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Now drop down to your elbows as shown above. This will help you isolate the movement to the pelvis and keep your mid and upper spine out of it.
    2. Gently brace your core and tuck your pelvis only under as much as possible while keeping your mid and upper spine straight and still.
    3. Now reverse that and tilt your pelvis until you feel the muscles in your low back (just above the hip crest) contract. 

    Repeat this cycle slowly for 3 rounds at 8-15 reps each round.


    Man shows Bottle Rock exercise

    The Bottle Rock is basically a squat turned 90 degrees. This is a safe place to master your spine and pelvic position, while also strengthening your core and improving your foot and ankle mobility.

    1. Set up in a tabletop position with your hands stacked under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Flex your feet so the soles are perpendicular to the floor, ground your hands and press the floor away to engage your shoulders. 
    2. You can either film yourself or place a water bottle/canteen on your low back for feedback. The goal here is to keep just enough of a lumbar curve to keep the bottle from rolling off. Keep in mind that you are not an old, broken down horse - we don’t want to see any sagging bellies or excessive sway back so keep that core braced for all the next steps.
    3. Inhale and rock your hips back toward your heels. If you’re a butt winker, you’ll find your pelvis wanting to tuck under at some point. Your job is to keep your spine and pelvis neutral by tilting your pelvis anterior just enough to keep it from rounding. Everyone’s range of motion is different. 
    4. Exhale as you drive back up to the starting position. (How’s that core brace?) You’ll find that you get more glute engagement (which you want) by driving the knees out slightly as you do this.

    Repeat for 8-10 SLOW reps for 3 ROUNDS.


    Man showing mid back extension.

    Who hasn’t heard of the Cat/Cow? This is like that, except we’re leaving the pelvis and lower spine out of the equation. This will allow you to focus on strengthening the muscles responsible for extending your thoracic spine.

    1. Set up in a tabletop position as described in the previous exercises. Find a neutral pelvis - you’re looking for the goldilocks zone of not too much flexion (rounding) nor too much extension (arch).
    2. Gently brace your core and exhale as you slowly arch (extend) your mid and upper back only. Keep your pelvis completely immobile and do not allow your head and neck to get involved - keep it aligned with the spine. You should feel a massive contraction of the extensor “backstrap” muscles that run along each side of your spine. 
    3. Inhale as you return to neutral.

    Repeat 8-10 times for 3 rounds.


    Man shows kneeling hinge.

    A lot of people start their squat by tilting their pelvis anterior on the way down and booty popping on the way up. Hey, just a reminder - unless you’re a stripper, this is just WRONG

    Learn how to initiate the downward portion of the squat with a very slight hip hinge and lead with the hips as you drive up.

    1. Kneel on the floor an arm’s length away from a wall with your fingertips touching the wall. Flex your feet so the soles are perpendicular to the floor.
    2. Keeping your head to tailbone alignment and core gently braced, inhale and shift your hips back toward your heels. Keep your fingertips touching the wall. Avoid arching your spine and flaring your ribs.
    3. Exhale as you drive the hips forward back to an upright position.

    *Pro tip: Driving your knees out slightly will engage your glutes more and lend more stability to this movement.


    Here's our complete checklist of things to keep in mind when doing a full-body functional movement like a squat:

    • Grounded feet: keep your toes, midfoot, and heel rooted to the floor. This is your base!
    • Knees out: this is both a slight rotation of the thigh as well as a slight abduction. No collapsing knees!
    • Neutral pelvis: the goldilocks zone of not too much nor too little flexion/extension.
    • Hips lead down, hips lead up.
    • Braced core: The heavier the load, the harder the brace.
    • Shoulder blades ‘scooped’.
    • Gaze forward.


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    Squats are one of the best full body exercises you can do. That said, proper form is essential for power, strength, and pain free lifting.  

    Pain can keep you from performing the movements you want, the way you want. You can find more exercises, a community, and coaching all within the MoveU membership. We’ve got a free 7 day trial - so what’s stopping you? Let’s Fix Yo Sh*t!

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