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5 ways to deepen your squat: the complete guide –

If you read any guide on ideal squat form, you’ll likely find notes on the importance of keeping your knees in line with your toes, pulling in your belly, and keeping your pecs forward.

While these tips are important, manuals may be overlooking a key component to performing the exercise effectively: squatting to an optimal depth.


How close your butt comes to the floor makes a difference, and not squatting enough can make your lower-body workouts less productive.

The main ones responsible for conducting a squat are the quadriceps and the glutes. The lower you sit in your squat, the more you’ll need to contract your quads and glutes to get back to standing. And the more you work those muscles, the stronger and bigger they will get. “Among the benefits of strengthening through the squat are increased muscle volume, increased strength and power in the quadriceps and glutes, strengthening and protection of the muscles surrounding the hip, knee and ankle joints,” he says. Joyy Vanessaphysical education professional.

(Fernanda Louza/)


Fortunately, improving squat depth is not a very demanding process, and making just a few tweaks can make a difference.

First, you need to identify what, exactly, is preventing you from squatting to your desired depth. We recommend filming yourself crouched down with your usual choice of equipment (or just body weight) before using any of the pointers below.


Have a Landmark
For beginners who are having trouble sinking their hips in parallel due to possible neuromuscular coordination issues, practice the exercise with a box, bench, or exercise ball behind your butt. These objects act as a physical reminder of how low to squat and help you gradually increase your range of motion.

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Start with a taller object and progressively lower it until you don’t need a reference point to successfully parallel squat.


Practice kettlebell squats
Dealing with a rounded back? One of the easiest ways to correct your form, and in turn squat deeper, is to ditch the barbell squat and instead practice kettlebell or dumbbell squats. Holding something behind your back makes weight distribution very difficult, causing your upper back to arch, but holding a weight that counterbalances your body weight will help you sit in a much lower position.


Strengthen back and abdomen
The rounding of the upper back when you sink into the squat can also simply be caused by a lack of strength in the back muscles or core (which, incidentally, is responsible for keeping the spine upright and stable).


change your suggestion
The typical cue for a squat is to sit down as if you were going to sit on a chair, but this cue can cause a pelvic tilt. Already, getting it into your head that you should sit your hips on your heels, the tendency is to avoid excessive arching while still offering the same movement pattern.

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A, and always contracting the abdomen!


Add hip and ankle mobility exercises to your warm-up
If you suspect that hip mobility issues are behind the squat’s lack of depth, it may help to do some exercises that relax the joints before you start lifting.

During your warm-up, spend a few minutes practicing the hip stretch.

For ankle mobility limitations, do a few repetitions of stretching for this region.

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(Doug Erbert/)


If you’re struggling to hit parallel or squat below it, there could be a number of factors to blame. Here, the four most common problems


You are lacking in neuromuscular coordination
Any movement you make requires brain stimulation, which sends messages to your muscles and causes them to contract. The movements you’ve learned over time end up being “stored” in your brain, making them seem second nature. However, if a movement – ​​such as the deep squat – is new to someone, they may have difficulty coordinating their nervous system with the desired movement pattern.

When novices try a parallel squat for the first time or increase their range of motion, these neurons perceive increased muscle tension as dangerous and send red flags to the brain. In response, the brain tells the muscle to stop contracting.


You are arching your spine excessively
Most of the time, problems with squatting below parallel stem from minor issues with the position of the spine, specifically in the upper or lower back.

Initiating the movement with an arch in the lower back – known as an anterior pelvic tilt – can close the hip joint capsule, limiting hip mobility and preventing you from sitting in a deeper position.


You are not externally rotating your hips
To successfully complete a squat, you’ll need to externally rotate your hips on the way down, which allows you to feel your hips low while keeping the barbell in line. Maintaining this alignment helps maintain proper form and technique, and hip rotation also protects your knees from potential discomfort or injury. But if you’re struggling to open your hips in this external rotation, which may be the case if you lack hip mobility, you may struggle to sit below parallel.

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You have limited ankle mobility.
A lack of ankle mobility, which can occur after a joint injury, can also be behind your depth struggles in the squat. In this case, you may be shifting your weight onto your toes rather than keeping it evenly distributed, and your heel may even be lifting off the ground, which can prevent you from sinking below parallel.

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