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Deep Squat: How to perform it safely and the science supporting it.

Updated: Feb 18

Squats are an important movement to include on your leg day. Our ability to squat touches every part of our mobility. Standing up, sitting down and picking up objects are all made easier when we have a strong squat. What’s more, squats - especially when performed with resistance - challenge the stability of your trunk and pelvis. They’re an excellent addition to any resistance program.

Squats require a certain amount of flexibility in your hips, knees, and ankles. In addition, they require the muscles of your lower body to provide enough force to move your weight, as well as any other weight you stack on.

You may wonder what differentiates a deep squat and a standard squat. This blog outlines the deep squat and helps you determine whether it’s a good exercise to consider for your fitness goals. “Never skip leg day”, is a consistent theme for people who exercise and adding the deep squat is a game changer for muscle size and strength.

The deep squat

A deep squat is a squat position when your hips are below the height of your knees. In other words, as an athletic coach might say, “ass to grass”. In contrast, in a chair squat, your thighs are parallel with the ground, and your knees are bent at around a 90-degree angle.

The deep squat requires greater knee flexion. When you are at the bottom of your deep squat, your hips and ankles have to flex enough to keep your center of gravity over your feet. The posture of your trunk should be straight and stable, especially if you’re using weight.

What I like the most about performing deep squats is the bottom hold; the backs of your thighs come into contact with the backs of your calves. This contact has been shown to decrease the compressive load on your knee joint, which can help decrease the risk of injury to this area.

Deep squat and safety

As a Personal Trainer, the push back I get are claims that deep squatting contributes to joint degeneration (arthritis) or damage to the tendons and ligaments of the legs. However, research finds no correlation between deep squats and the incidence of tissue injury to bone, ligament, or cartilage. In fact, it is well supported that compressive forces in the knee may be higher in a chair squat than in a deep squat.

Body posture and safety

The deep squat requires mobility in your hips, knees, ankles, and even your lumbar spine. If your range of motion is limited, you may notice your body needs compensations; tailbone tucking, heels lifting, or your knees tracking incorrectly. Before you try deep squats with weights, it’s always a good idea to consult with a personal trainer or a trained professional to ensure your form is safe.

Expectations from a deep squat

  1. Increased strength - The deep squat has been shown to be more effective at building the glutes and inner thigh muscles than a standard squat. The deep movement develops strength throughout the entire range of motion in the joints.

  2. Increased flexibility - Sitting down at the bottom of your squat, pelvic muscles are under both tension and full length. This combination works with your nervous systems stretch reflex and helps promote better flexibility.

  3. Lower back and pelvic stability - Deep squats increase strength and stability in your lumbar spine.

  4. Functional movement training - Deep squatting is a primary movement that helps with all of your daily chores. Every activity you perform can benefit from the deep squat. Some movements are; standing up, lifting items from the floor, or simply descending down to the ground.

  5. Athletic training - The deep squat movement is also beneficial to all sports. The athlete that trains with a deep squat can move weight from the ground to overhead much more efficiently and safely.

  6. Hormone production - Squats help you stimulate the release of a large growth hormone - testosterone. This hormone is helpful for burning fat, building muscle and improving strength.

  7. Increased mobility - Mobility is a function of both strength and flexibility. The deep squat increases your range of motion and strengthens the muscles involved.

The deep squat can play a major role in your workout programming. This movement can play many roles in your fitness routine. The deep squat can be used as a “hold the bottom stretch”. The deep squat can be performed on your leg day with resistance. The deep squat can be used as a super set movement between sets, to increase hormone production. However you choose to perform your deep squat, you will find benefits that will add to the quality of your life.

John “Wyld Stile” Larson

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