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How Low to Go in a Squat?

blog Feb 21, 2024

How Low should you go in a Squat?

 When it comes to squat depth, finding the sweet spot that works for you isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Your squat depth should align with your primary fitness goal and your individual body structure. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or just starting out, understanding the nuances of squat depth is crucial for optimizing your training. Let's delve into the details.

Setting Your Fitness Goal

Your squat depth should be closely tied to your fitness goal. This is where many individuals stumble, as there's no universal rule that applies to everyone. Let's break it down based on different objectives:

  1. Sport-Specific Goals:

If you're a weightlifter or a CrossFit enthusiast, your sport may demand squatting "ass to grass." This deep squatting is essential for movements like cleans and snatches, where getting under the bar quickly is paramount.

  1. Hypertrophy Training (Muscle Building):

For those focused on muscle growth, your squat depth strategy shifts. It's more about targeting specific muscle groups and optimizing your biomechanics. You might be aiming to build either your glutes or quads, and your squat depth will play a role here.

Glute-Focused Squats:

When aiming to emphasize your glutes, a hip-dominant squat that maximizes hip flexion while minimizing knee flexion is key. This might mean stopping at around 90 degrees, allowing your glutes to engage effectively without going deeper than necessary.

Quad-Targeting Squats:

On the other hand, if your goal is to build your quads, a knee-dominant squat with deeper knee flexion might be beneficial. Going below 90 degrees and focusing on closing the gap between your calves and hamstrings can provide better quad activation.

Avoid the Universal Approach

There's no universal rule dictating that every squat should be "ass to grass." The depth of your squat depends on your goal and the muscle group you intend to engage. Tailoring your squat depth to your goal is essential for achieving the desired results without unnecessary strain.

Stay Within Your Active Range of Motion

While optimizing your squat depth, it's crucial to avoid going too far beyond your active range of motion. Overdoing it can lead to issues like the dreaded "butt wink," where your lower back rounds as you reach the bottom of the squat.

Video Assessment: Your Best Friend

Filming yourself while squatting is an excellent tool for assessing your technique and depth. It provides a visual reference to identify if you're going too low or if your form is compromised. If you notice your back rounding or experiencing the butt wink, it's a sign that you might be exceeding your optimal range.

Balancing Act: The Final Takeaway

Squat depth is a balancing act between your fitness goals, anatomy, and muscle engagement. There's no cookie-cutter approach that applies to everyone. Whether you're going for glute activation or quad development, your squat depth should align with your intention. Remember, the key is to maximize your gains while minimizing the risk of injury. So, next time you're under the bar, keep your goals and body structure in mind, and adjust your squat depth accordingly.

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