I had no idea what a “butt wink,” was until I came across some intriguing information online. As soon as I saw it on the video, I knew exactly what they were talking about! This wink is also known as muscle tightness or a muscle imbalance. Regardless of the name, this little butt wink can throw off your squat, your joints, and your results. It can also be the cause of the dreaded saddle bags, since it’s also the symptom of overly tight hamstrings. Get rid of the butt wink to get a better butt, better hamstrings and a better movement pattern.
What is a Butt Wink?
Butt winking means you’re rounding your back at the bottom of your squats. In most cases, you can maintain a flat back through the majority of the squat. It’s not until you get close to or pass the 90 degree angle that the wink occurs.
Things that can contribute to a Butt Wink
- Lack of hip, and ankle mobility. It can also be caused by hamstring and glute tightness. It’s particularly tight in the glute/hamstring tie in area at the top of the back of the thigh. Also know as the saddle bag area.
- Balance is another key factor to the wink because you MUST balance the weight properly to maintain to correct posture. Using the goblet squat below will help you train balance.
- Tight Back Muslces (poor Thoracic Extension) – as you squat, your back must be flexible enough to allow the spin to extend. Use the
Test your hamstrings with this exercise FIRST!
This exercise mimics the motion of a squat without putting pressure on the joints. If you go through this motion without showing any curvature of the spine (at the end of the movement), then it isn’t due to the hamstrings being too tight.
If they are too tight try stretching and foam rolling. Repeat this exercise and see if it’s gotten better. If not, continue to work on hamstring mobility before attempting full range squats.
Exercises and Stretches for the “Butt Wink” – Associated with Tight Hamstrings / Hip Mobility
STEP 1: Hold a barbell with an overhand grip across the top of your shoulders (behind your neck). Position your feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keep your back straight and your chest out.
STEP 2: Slowly bend forward at the hips keeping your back straight and your knees locked in position. Keep your head up and your chest out. Lower your body as far as is comfortable.
STEP 3: Raise your body back up to the vertical position after a 1 second pause at the bottom of the movement. This exercise should be performed with an empty bar or broom handle to begin with to ensure you get the correct form (source).
Work on Balancing your Squat – Goblet Squat
- Lower yourself until the knees reach a 90 degree angle.
- Keep good upright trunk and head posture and tight abdominals.
- Picking up the weight consists of getting it up and then placing your hands in a way that looks like a you’re holding a goblet.
- Carefully press off the ground without bouncing up from the previous movement.
- Move upwards slowly with controlled movement.
- Maintain head and trunk upright posture
- Keep a tightened abdominal contraction
- Make sure you feel comfortable with the depth of your squat and weight as to not lose balance.
- Be sure not to lean forward! This can lead to injury and upright posture is the key!
- Don’t place the weight back down until all desired reps have been completed (source).
Forward wall squat
Simply face a wall and perform some body weight squats. If you lean too far forward your face will smash into the wall. If your knees come too far forward your knees will hit the wall. In both cases you won’t be able to achieve proper depth without hitting the wall. It’s a self-correcting tool.
The only thing to watch out for when performing wall squats is that you don’t roll up onto the outsides of your feet to squat down (source).
Stretches to Perform for the Butt Wink
If you lose mobility in your ankles and your knee jet forward toward the bottom of the squat, you will need to stretch your calves.
Straddle stretch for hip mobility
Stretch 1: Runners Stretch
- Kneel on one knee and put one foot in front.
- Transfer your weight onto the front foot and push your hips forward, until you feel a stretch along the front of your hip.
Sumo Squat Holding Stretch
Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Bend your hips back and squat down, keeping your lower back flat and reaching your hands to your toes in the bottom position. Hold the position for a few seconds and then use your elbows to push your knees fart her apart so you can sink deeper into the squat (source).
Foam Roll to Get Even Deeper
Don’t rule out using the foam roller for your glutes and piriformis. These muscles can also attribute to the wink. Usually signs of these tight muscles show up in lower back pain and stiffness after sets of squats.
Tackle the dreaded butt wink to increase your power, decrease your risk of injury, and develop better movement patterns. Nothings better than a perfect squat and a perfect butt to go with it!