Bodybuilding and weightlifting coaches often instruct athletes to vary their squatting stance to target specific muscles in the lower body. This advice is based more on popular wisdom and urban legend than scientific data. Using a technique called electromyography, Italian researchers determined that wide-stance squatting activated the gluteus maximus muscle better than more narrow stances. They measured muscle acti¬vation in eight thigh and hip muscles during a narrow stance (feet placed at hip width), moderately wide stance (150 percent hip width), and wide stance (200 percent hip width). With the exception of greater gluteus maximus activation during a wide stance, stance width had no effect on muscle activation levels in the thighs or hip.The gluteus maximus muscle is the strongest in the body and absolutely essential to powerful movements such as jumping and sprinting. This study showed that wide stance squats are best for activating all the muscles in the thighs and hips.