How Deep Should I Squat?

As coaches this is a common question we get asked and the answer is often; ‘it depends’. It depends on a variety of individual factors such as your goals, movement competency in the squat, strength, mobility, history of strength training as well as individual body type and injury history.

Every individual is different and therefore your squat may be slightly different to your gym buddy. This is due to differences in height, torso and leg length, hip and knee joint structure and mobility. Some people may be able to squat deep ass to grass, while for some squatting until your thighs are parallel to the floor may be enough.

Feel comfortable

As with all strength exercises there are modifications that we can make to ensure the squat is comfortable and most effective for that person in their situation. 

How deep?

As a guide you should squat to the depth that your mobility and strength allows you to. There can be some adjustments that can be made to help you squat more effectively and maybe slightly deeper, but you should still be confident in squatting pain free for the depth you are comfortable with. Improving the mobility of your hips and ankles can allow you to squat deeper, as will propping your heels up on some small plates and the width of your stance will also affect the depth of your squat. Using a lighter weight or other squat exercises ie. goblet squats, front squats, to work on your depth can help get you used to squatting a bit deeper if that is a goal for you.

Other variations to improve squats:

There may also be occasions where we deliberately limit the range of the squat to focus on improving different aspects. We can use box squats to help improve your strength through a shorter range which can have a carryover effect to full squats, as well as half or quarter squats to really load up the bar and get you comfortable squatting quite heavy weights. Pause squats can also be very beneficial in improving technique by increasing time under tension and developing strength and stability through any sticking points.

If you want to view our recent video on this topic check it out below:



As you can see all squats are not created equal, the take home point is to squat to the depth you are comfortable with on any given day. 

If you are concerned about your squats or are having trouble due to pain or anything else, reach out and we can help get you squatting safely and pain free.

While on the topic of moving better, have you ever wanted to know how Exercise Can Help Lower Back Pain?

Written by Aaron Ashdown, Exercise Physiologist & Coach at Movement Innovation.