Tips for Achieving a Deep Squat
To get the most benefit from a squat exercise, you need to accomplish a deep squat that challenges you to a full range of motion. Performing a deep squat is not only beneficial as strength building exercise, but it also indicates your fitness, mobility and flexibility level.
If you’re not able to perform squats deeply then it is a sure sign that you need to adjust your weight training program. Due to the radically changes in position and tension, squatting requires that you maintain good stability of the trunk and possess full arm and leg mobility. In order to achieve a proper deep squat, you must utilize good thoracic extension, glute incorporation, hip flexion and ankle dorsiflexion.
Debunking the Deep Squat/Knee Injury Hype
You may have heard that performing deep squats which go below parallel are bad for your knees. However, if the squat sequence is employed correctly then it has been shown through research that this is not so.
For example, a study by Salem and Powers released in 2001 entitled Patellofermoral Joint Kinetics During Squat in Collegiate Women Athletes examined three knee flexion depths of 70, 90 and 100 degrees in squatters and found no discernible difference in joint stress.
Therefore, if one is experiencing knee problems during deep squats then it is probably the simply matter of improper training methods. Following are some helpful tips on how to achieve deep squats more effectively.
Squat Tip #1 – Complete Adequate Warm Ups
Proper warm up is critical for any type of exercise. However, it is a major element in squatting since such a great deal of weight is being placed on the muscles, joints and tendons of the lifter.
If you perform deep squats with an unstable core or poor hip, thoracic, or ankle mobility then you pose the risk for injury. Therefore, you should observe the following mobility guidelines for these areas that are prone to injury.
- Addressing Core Instability – If your core is weak, your body will resist a deep squat movement. The reason for this is that if your core perceives a tendency to buckle under the weight of a squat then it will resist lowering into a position that compromises its safety. The result is that your body will not allow you to drop into a deep squat.
To test if you need to strengthen core muscles, perform a squat with an unweighted barbell. If you struggle to lower and rise back up under simple bodyweight then your core needs strengthening. In such a case, add core strengthening exercises to your workout routine until you can easily and without struggle perform this core mobility test.
- Addressing Poor Hip Mobility – Strong hip mobility is essential for successfully performing deep squats since a great deal of the weight and weight movement is accomplished with the hips. Therefore, you should not experience stiffness and lack of mobility in the flexors, adductors, or internal rotation of your hips. If you find that you are stiff in any of these areas, you may need to address them through targeted exercise training.
Deep squats require the hip to be internally rotated. When a weightlifter has a problem in this area it is known as hip internal rotation deficit. Having a deficit in the internal rotation of the hips will significantly hinder the depth of your squat.
- Addressing Poor Thoracic Mobility – Poor thoracic spine mobility can cause a variety of bodily dysfunctions. This area of the spinal column lies between your neck and your abdomen and, if in poor condition, can create pain and functionality problems in the neck, shoulders, lower back and hip.
If you have poor thoracic mobility, it will adversely affect proper squat technique by hindering your overall position as well as preventing you from dropping into deep squats.
- Addressing Poor Ankle Mobility – As important as core, hip and thoracic mobility are, if you have poor ankle mobility, you won’t be able to keep the load stable during squatting exercises. If your base is weak then the remainder of your squat technique is irrelevant.
When performing deep squats, the ankles should be able to move to around 15 of dorsiflexion which is when the front of the foot rotates towards the shin. Inflexible ankles can lead to a number of squat problems like heels rising off the ground, pronation, femoral or tibial internal rotation, anterior weight shift, or knee valgus.
Squat Tip #2 – Technique Tips to Help Achieve Deeper Squats
As you are working on strengthening the above mobility problems, you can practice the follow tips to help you achieve a deeper squat.
- Perform Deadlifts –
The deadlift is an excellent exercise to obtain proper hip movements during heavy lifts and will greatly assist your squat technique. Regularly performing the trap bar deadlift, in particular, will help you to correctly achieve the correct hip hinge formation which is utilized during the squat. Deadlifts are especially good for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle squats full on.
- Perform Kettlebell Exercises –
Using kettlebells is another excellent way to get your body in shape for deep squats. Exercises such as kettlebell squats and kettlebell lunges strengthen the glutes, quads, hamstrings and core muscles. Kettlebells can also assist you in developing a good hip hinge pattern.
- Perform Box Squats –
Box squats are another foundational exercise that creates a deeper squat. Box squats allow you to utilize your existing ROM (range of movement) as well as to help develop that all-essential proper hip hinge. By performing squats on a box, you can progress in your squat depth as you improve your mobility.
- Use Proper Footwear –
As mentioned earlier, your footing foundation must be stable in order to achieve deep squats. Therefore, you want to eliminate as much cushion as possible between your feet and the floor to ensure solid footing. Never squat in sneakers or running shoes that have an elevated soul. Either squat barefoot, or use squat-friendly shoes such as Chuck Taylors or Nike Free.