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Squat Depth: Does it Matter?

I recently posted up a video on how I have improved my own squat depth over the last few months.  I have had injuries in the past to my lower back and hamstrings that have prevented me from having a parallel squat depth. By working on this, it would imply that squat depth obviously matters. However, my main motivation was to get better mobility in the hips rather than appease those who continue to preach “ass to grass”.  

Squat depth changes the amount of activation of a particular muscle group. The lower we squat, the more the hamstrings are involved in the exercise (providing the load is heavier and the reps are a lot less). The angle you squat to should depend on your training programme and your own specific goals. For the majority of my clients, I would have them squat near the start of the session (after a thorough warm-up) to as close to parallel as possible while maintaining perfect form as we are working on a lot of different muscles during a lower squat.

Does this mean a lower squat is better? Absolutely not. In fact, if your goal is to run faster and/or jump higher, you SHOULD be including quarter squats with a heavy load into your programme. On both light and heavy loads, the gluteus maximus plays a huge part in your performance of the exercise and there is a direct correction between that and your sprinting/jumping ability. With jumping ability, particularly, that makes a lot of sense. If you were aiming to jump as high as you can, you would naturally lower yourself into a quarter squat and spring up rather than a full squat and lose that momentum.

In conclusion, squat depth matters but not for the bro science reasons you may come across in the gym. As always, it depends on you and your goals on what exercises you do.