3 Hacks To Get A Deeper Squat
Lacking depth in your squat?
All around us, we see people squatting to different depths and you may be thinking why can’t I reach the same depth? There is no one right answer as it is heavily dependent on your goals and the genetic make-up of your anatomical structures. Whilst you may always not be able to get as deep as others, squat depth can be improved.
Here are 3 possible reasons why you are not getting depth in your squat.
1. ANKLE MOBILITY Ankle mobility is the ability for our knee to translate forward over our toes whilst our foot remains in contact with the ground.
Now we must bust the common myth that we should not squat with our knees passing over our toes. In fact, our knees pass our toes all the time. When we go downstairs, sit up from a chair, and even when we walk. So why should we avoid it when we squat?
The lower you squat the further your knees have to go past your toes. So if you lack ankle mobility you are limiting your ability to squat deep. Some common compensations to look out for are:
Your heels will start to lift
Your feet will turn outwards
You will excessively lean forward (which may also cause some neck issues)
What affects your ankle mobility? The joint itself and the muscles/connective tissues that surround the joint. You may need to see a physio to correct some of these issues.
An easy trick to overcome your ankle mobility issues is to place something underneath your heels.
2. HIP MOBILITY A sedentary lifestyle and excessive time spent sitting are common reasons why our hips can become stiff. In order to reach our optimum depth, we need adequate amounts of hip flexion and internal rotation. In other words, your hip is a ball & socket joint and needs to have multidirectional movement - bending and twisting.
What you may feel with poor hip mobility is a pinch or jamming sensation as you get lower into your squat. This is because poor hip mobility limits the natural movement of the thigh bone to move freely within the hip socket, resulting in your thigh bone jamming up into your pelvis, causing you to feel a pinch in your hip as you get lower into the squat and thus limiting your depth.
A wider squat stance is often used to overcome hip mobility issues as it allows you to access more hip range of motion and therefore help you reach further depth.
However, this may affect your training goal from performing the squat. For example, if your focus is to predominantly build quad strength, a wider squat stance will recruit more of the inner thigh, hamstring and glute muscles.
3. MOTOR CONTROL
If you have good squat depth without load compared to when under load, then it may not be a mobility deficit but rather a motor control issue. What affects our control during the squat movement? Our ability to maintain tension underload through our core and by activating the appropriate lower limb muscles required for a squat. With poor control, our knees may lose stability and start to cave inwards. This is why we often use a band around our knees to ensure our glutes are engaged. Another common reason is losing core control with the lower back rounding at the bottom of your squat (butt wink).
When squatting we must be able to control our centre of mass to stop ourselves from falling forward. As most people try to squat deeper they often do not have enough control and will have a tendency to lean forward which compromises the position of their spine. They may also extend and push their hips back to find more stability. However in order to obtain depth in our squats, we need to do the opposite, maintain an upright torso position while keeping a straight spine, and flex our hips more.
You may have noticed that you are able to achieve a much deeper squat performing goblet squats or front squats when compared to a barbell back squat. This is because having the load in front of us enables greater core activation and acts as a counterbalance which allows for better pelvic & spinal control. So instead of pushing our hips back, we are now able to go straight down.
Try some of these techniques and see if they work to improve your squat depth? If you're still having issues, book an appointment to come see me here or call us at the clinic 02 8018 9599.
Physiotherapist & Exercise Physiologist | FXNL Rehab