What is Proper Squat Depth?
Many people have the question, what is proper squat depth? This is a crucial thing to consider when trying to properly execute a squat, which is why I will be telling you everything you need to know within this article. I will be including a definition, it’s relation to our training and the implementation of this topic!
Let’s get to the information!
Proper Squat Depth Explained:
Proper squat depth can be described in a couple of ways, the first is when the back of your knee reaches 90 degrees, that is parallel squat depth. Going below that is considered proper squat depth. Another way and the one I like the most is saying, when your hip crease is below your knee, you have reached proper squat depth.
We have already talked about parallel and below parallel, however, if you squatted all the way down to where your knee is fully flexed, then this is what we would call an “ass to grass squat”. All of these movements have different purposes, so let’s relate them to our training!
Squat Depth In Relation to Our Training:
While you should always be shooting for at least a parallel squat, sometimes there are reasons to squat above parallel. These would include a beginner learning the squat, or someone recovering from an injury that limits their range of motion. Squatting to at least parallel and preferably below allows the lifter to take advantage of greater muscle activation and develop their strength in the most complete way by going through a full range of motion.
Now let’s talk about when you shouldn’t be performing these phases of a squat. If you are squatting above parallel, and it is because of ignorant/poor form, you need to address that. Whether it is because you have poor mobility, don’t know the movement well enough or are ego lifting, that needs to be addressed. Times when you shouldn’t be squatting below parallel would be if you need to sacrifice form to get there. In that case, you should address whichever issue is causing this.
Squat Depth in Relation to Our Training:
Now that we have some information on the different types of squat depths, it is time to talk about when different squat depths may be beneficial.
Parallel or just above squats can be used for working on speed with something such as a box squat. However, parallel could also be considered the minimum full squat depth to properly perform the movement. Below parallel is typically where you want to be squatting as it allows for a great amount of muscle activation while giving the best potential strength training benefits. The “ass to grass squat” is typically used by Olympic weightlifters as it is most relative to their craft by working on the bottom position. It can be beneficial to use them for formwork though, especially if implementing pauses.
The Gist on Squat Depth:
All in all, the takeaway from this article is the majority of your squats should be done below parallel if the lifter can do so properly. Above parallel squats are reserved for those unable to perform a proper squat, whatever the reason may be. While parallel or slightly above can be beneficial for speed work. The “ass to grass squat” is great for Olympic weightlifters, or general strength and weight training to work on form.
I look forward to this insight being able to benefit you in your training, and thank you for taking the time to read this article! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.
Hello Kohl, I am really impressed on how youbhaeb stated two differenttypes of squat and how it can done making use of pictures for better understanding. i am more into working on my backside by squatting, although it’s a home work out session, and now i do not know which would be more effective the 90 degree or the “ass grass squat” ?
Hi Bella, I am glad you liked the article!
The depth at which you squat really depends on your goals. Overall, ass to grass is best (especially for bodyweight training) as it indicates you have the proper mobility to perform that movement. Having the freedom of motion to perform basic bodyweight movement patterns is important!
With that being said, if you are able to provide me with a little more context in regards to your goals, I could give you a more helpful answer!
One of my favorite exercises is the squat (another being the diddly-squat), and I’ve always taken care to use proper form. However, I didn’t realize that one should always reach parallel squat depth, but that makes sense. Another rule that I follow is that your knees should never extend past your toes. In the first picture, it appears that the weightlifter’s knees are going too far. Is there some sort of exception to this rule or have I been doing it wrong?
Hi Isaac, the squat truly is a great exercise and it is true that a lifter should try to reach parallel (so long as they have the capability of doing so safely).
As for your question, unfortunately you have been informed wrong. As long as the lifter descends into the squat with proper balance and alignment, the knees can move past the toes. This is often required for people to reach depth, or at the very least, reach depth without putting excessive forces on the hips and lower back.
Squat University has an excellent video explaining all of this in detail. You can click here to watch it.