How Deep Should You Squat?

Currently, our athlete’s age range is somewhere from 10 to 16 years old (give or take).  Once the late spring comes around, we will start working with the college athletes again.  All of them have different strong and weak points as individuals and all have varying goals depending on the sport, their size, age, training experience etc…Most if not all (of the ones currently training), have come to us with almost little to no training (lifting) experience so we have to make sure they’re gets proficient at basic movements.  Even the dynamic warm-up takes skill and time to improve upon.  One of our basic lifts for our younger athletes are goblet squats.  If you have not heard yet, goblet squats are probably “thee” way to teach people how to squat properly.  You can use a kettlebell or dumbbell.  At our facility we typically use dumbells because we don’t have enough kettlebells if we were to have a group of 8-10 boys and girls with similar strength levels.  Since this learning tool almost guarantees an awesome squat pattern, the issue then becomes one of squat depth.

Even if these guys do it, does not mean everyone should

I, for one, never broke parallel on a squat, like EVER.  Then for the past month or so I starting doing squat to stand mobilizations and/or bootstrapper squats. I hammered away on soft-tissue work for my proximal hamstrings, lateral calves, and ankle mobility which seemed to allow me to get past parallel. I usually ended the warm up by doing KB goblet squats with a 32kg bell.


Squat to Stand

I think our dynamic warm-up is pretty awesome and we foam roll all of our athletes, but we see it with a ton of athletes and people.  They simply seem not able to hit parallel or what major lifters call “ass to grass.”  But what you realize is that some (if not a lot) of people do not have the ability to squat to parallel so simply telling someone to go farther down is not advantageous.  One thing to look for is the pelvic “tuck” at their end-range. We will typically see how our younger athletes goblet squat and if there is any posterior pelvic tilting at the end range we cue them to stay just above that motion.  Some may argue that this is not the most beneficial way of squatting but athletes and many people have varying structures that will prevent them from hitting deep squats and forcinthat’s end range can cause future low back and hip issues.  These are issues that regardless of the depth, risk injury and decrease the progress of athletes.



Categories: Injury Prevention, Strength Training

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4 replies

  1. What is the best way to fix the tucking issue at the bottom of the squat? I’ve heard a lot of theories, hamstring/hip flexor/glute tightness, core strength…

    What is your take on this?

    • James,
      I know that with me, working simply on mobility drills for the ankles, and hips (squat to stand or bootstrappers, lateral quadruped hip rocks) along with foam rolling lateral hamstring, calves, had helped tremendously. I think one thing that Dr. McGill will talk about is “pinching the psoas” which I tried emphasizing to get the last bit out of hip flexion in the hole. Basically, as if you are using your hip flexors to pull yourself down into the hole. This helped a quite a bit as well. It may be just a matter of really focusing on squatting between the hips as opposed to sitting back..sometimes I noticed that when I just thought to squat between the hips and not sit back “as far” I would hit depth with not problem. I am sure it may be different with everyone, but I basically meant for most that if someone tucks before the 90 degree angle it might not be a muscular issue but more of a structural one which simply prevents them from being actually able to get that deep. These people should stay away from deep squatting for sure. Hope this helps..let me know! Thanks for the comment mate.

      • Thanks for the reply,

        You’re right when you say everyone is different, even when you are trying to teach the same movement/idea such as pulling down with the hip flexors, people respond differently to different queues.
        I haven’t spent much time with the bootstrappers, will have to add them to the mix.

        Thanks again,



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