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  • Writer's pictureAnatomy Of Fitness

How DEEP Should we SQUAT?

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

The squat is a strength exercise that loads the entire axial skeleton, including the rectus abdominis or abs. Squats help strengthen muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and help increase core stability. There are many types of squatting techniques, including the back squat, front squat and overhead squat. Whatever kind of squat we choose, the range of the squat remains the same. Having said that, what is the ideal or perfect range of a squat? How deep should a squat be to get the most from our squat? Is there a way to ensure minimum risk, maximum fat loss and ultimate muscle gain from our squats? Is it reasonable to copy the squatting techniques and range of motion we see in professional sports like powerlifting? Let's scientifically analyse How Deep should we SQUAT.

How Deep should we Squat?..
How Deep should we Squat?.

Before we analyse how deep we should squat, let us first understand the phases of muscle contraction and how to use muscles to apply brakes to the momentum.

Phases of MUSCLE Contraction:

Typically, there are two phases of muscle contraction in any movement:

  1. In the concentric phase, the load is lifted against gravity, and muscles are shortened.

  2. In the eccentric phase, the load is controlled from crashing down in the direction of gravity and muscles are lengthened.

The onset of a concentric failure (muscular fatigue) is earlier than an eccentric failure. All exercises challenge both the concentric phase as well as the eccentric phase. Exercises should be done in a manner that maximises muscle fibre recruitment in both contractions. Muscle fibre recruitment is maximised in a concentric phase by generating explosive power while moving up against the gravitational force.

On the other hand, in the eccentric phase, maximisation of muscle fibre recruitment is achieved when muscles are used to apply brakes at a point where the eccentric stops and concentric starts, that is, at the reversal of the phases. Both concentric and eccentric phases are capable of stimulating muscle growth or hypertrophy.

Application of BRAKES:

It is empirical to know that brake application, at the culmination of the range of motion, should be done by the skeletal muscles and not the load-bearing joint. Since the onset of the eccentric phase, the weight (and our body) gains momentum that needs to be slowed down, brakes applied and reversed into the concentric phase. At this point, if we cannot apply the brakes using our muscles, we may jeopardise the joint and lose the muscular contraction at a point where we need it the most. We may also not be able to maximise the overload on the skeletal muscle. If the weight is challenging, the exercise may even end up in an accident.

The Ideal Range of Motion of a SQUAT:

The ideal range of motion for a squat would be less than an inch and more than half an inch away from sitting on your haunches. The movement stops shy of the full range of motion of the joint. This range is ideal for maximising the development of quadriceps and glutes.

The ideal range of a squat happens to be the maximum range of a squat.
The ideal SQUAT Range is the MAXIMUM SQUAT Range.
What is the ideal range of a SQUAT?

For squats, the femur parallel to the floor is the least range of motion we should expect from a legitimate squat. Anything shallower than this, including the famous half squats, should not even qualify to be called a squat. The gluteus maximus must be a lot lower than the knee when the femur is parallel to the floor.


It is important to note that eccentric control is determined by how efficient are we at applying brakes and stopping shy of the haunches and not by how slowly we descend with the load. It is all about braking at the peak of eccentric when the eccentric turns into the concentric. We may not end up utilising our glutes to their full potential if they do not travel lower than our knees.

Squats at the Gym Vs. Squats in Professional Sports:

We should remember that the squats we do at the gym are not the same as those done in sports like weightlifting or powerlifting. In professional sports, the lifters use bounce, momentum and speed to maximise the load. The whole point of these sports is to lift maximum with a minimum range of motion dictated by the game's rules.

It makes sense for a powerlifting athlete to use their tight gear (for example, knee wraps) to benefit from the bounce, speed and momentum. To ensure their lift is qualified according to the powerlifting rules, powerlifters go all the way to their haunches to make sure they have surpassed the parallel. However, since a gym squat doesn't have game rules to follow, we should maximise workload and efficiency. To ensure we get the most out of a squat, we should stop shy of the lockout. For a squat, this is about an inch to half an inch from sitting on the haunches.

The SQUAT RANGE for Recreational Lifters:

For most recreational lifters or athletes training as a part of general physical preparedness (or GPP), squat at least femur parallel to the floor. The ideal range of a squat is the maximum range, which is barely shy of a lockout. The perfect squat range also happens to be the least risky.

The SQUAT RANGEfor Professional Powerlifters:

For professional powerlifters who use knee wraps, squat suites etc., as part of the sport-specific physical preparedness/ specific physical preparedness or SPP, go all the way to your haunches to take advantage of the bounce.

Key takeaways:

  1. Squat deep! The ideal range of motion for a squat would be less than an inch and more than half an inch away from sitting on your haunches. The movement should stop shy of the full range of motion of the joint.

  2. The ideal range of a squat happens to be the maximum range of a squat.

  3. Deep squats are the least risky and most profitable in terms of maximum muscular development and fat loss.

Now we know how deep should we squat to get the most from it and ensure minimum risk, maximum fat loss and ultimate muscle gain.

#squats #squatrange #exercise #scienceofsquats #fitness #deepsquats

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