The squat is a staple in most resistance training programs – with about as many loading variations as you can dream of. Whether it’s a back squat, front squat, goblet squat, bodyweight, or anything in between, we’re often asked the question: “how low should I go?”.
As with most things in life, the answer is “it depends”. We want to use as much range of motion as we have access to, and that we can control. We want to maintain our neutral spine and core brace throughout the movement, which will be the biggest determinant of how low you go. The other determinant of depth will be the range your joints can physically move through – and how does that feel? Are you using the best loading choice for your current abilities, or can we get you in a better position?
Beyond working on grooving our squat patterns, building core stability, and progressing through the variations that best suit our abilities, we can improve our squat depth over time with consistent work on any areas that feel “stiff” or limiting to your mobility. Remember that change takes time, but you can’t improve what you’re not practicing! Check out our suggestions below for some mobility drills, based on where you feel restricted.
Locked up in the low back?
Tension in your lower back often ties into tension in some of the hip musculature we’ll touch on later, but we can also get some “release” by increasing movement in the spine, or by simply breathing with good posture. As much as we want to keep our spine in a neutral position when we’re under load, we still need to be able to bend and move freely for optimal spinal health! Try these out – you can try about 1-3 minutes of the breathing, and 8-10 reps of the rest:
Pain in your butt?
Often, we’ll carry tension through the muscles of our hips, particularly those that help to rotate the hips. We may feel this across the top and side of the hips, or it may feel like a deeper ache that worsens with too much sitting. Luckily, we’ve got some movements to loosen those up:
Tension through the front of the hip and inner thigh, especially high in the groin area, can add up from sitting at your desk all day. To get those unlocked, try these:
Ankles stuck in place?
I want you to try something for me, right now, while you’re sitting reading this. Keeping your heels on the ground, pull your toes towards your shins; how far did you get? Without enough dorsiflexion, it will be quite a challenge to get into that deep squat position. Here’s a couple ways we can get those calves stretched and ankles moving a bit further:
Need a bit of everything?
Do these all sound like you? Here are a couple great movements to get it all moving at once:
Let us know if you try these out!
Need a bit more help with your squat? Request your free consultation from the Personal Training tab of our website, or comment below with any questions!