A squat and a hinge are lower body exercises with huge benefits. They may look very similar but they have distinct differences:


  • A more vertical motion of the hips, up and down
  • The hips travel down with lots of knee bend
  • Shins move forward slightly
  • The emphasis is felt greatly in the quadriceps (front of thighs)
  • Trunk is more perpendicular to ground


  • A more horizontal motion of the hips, back and forth
  • The hips travel backward with smaller knee bend
  • The posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) are emphasized
  • Shins stay more vertical
  • Trunk is more parallel to ground

Both patterns are required in everyday life, which is why we practice lots of variations at the gym!

Squat Exercise Examples: 

Bodyweight Squat
Goblet Squat
Loaded Front Squat
Loaded Back Squat
Split Squat (What’s the difference between a Split Squat and a Lunge?)

Hinge Exercise Examples: 

Toes on box Hip Hinge drill
Kettlebell Deadlift (Where do my feet go while doing a KB Deadlift?)
Barbell Deadlift
Kettlebell Swings (Where do my feet go while doing a KB Swing?)

See the difference in action

Sometimes it’s essential our bodies learn the difference between a squat and a hinge to ensure safe, effective movement. 

The Kettlebell Swing is an example of an exercise we want to be hinging, NOT squatting.

Can you spot the difference in the video below between a “Squatty” Kettlebell Swing and proper “Hinging” Kettlebell Swing?

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