10 Things To Bare In Mind Regarding Squat Depth...
Even if you're relatively new to the gym, you may well have heard the phrase 'ass to grass' being used in relation to squat depth. It's the ideology that, as the name suggests, a full squat should involve your bum touching the ground (or at least getting pretty close). Is this really the case though, or are there other variables to account for when it comes to determining your most effective range of movement. Here are 10 things to bare in mind regarding squat depth...
1) Your ability to squat 'ass to grass' will depend largely on your mobility, particularly through your hips and ankles.
2) Most of us will not have this range available to us, making it unbeneficial and unsafe to try to force ourselves into said position without first adressing and improving our mobility.
3) Your available ROM (Range Of Movement) is the depth you can achieve whilst maintaining a neutral lumbar spine - 'buttwinking' your way to the floor doesn't count.
4) Squatting more frequently will not improve your available ROM, it will simply lead to you being stronger throughout your current ROM.
5) Attempting to squat 'ass to grass' under load with pre-existing knee or lower back injuries could do more harm than good.
6) Bone structure, mechanics and lever length will play a large part in determining your squat depth and ability to squat effectively.
7) Longer relative femur length and shorter relative torso length will result in a greater forward lean making squatting deep whilst maintaining a neutral lumbar spine very difficult - so for those of you who are very long-limbed, there may be better exercises out there for you.
8) Optimal squat depth can be goal dependant. Your training goal may determine that a shallow or parallel squat would be more beneficial for you than a deep squat.
9) If you can squat efficiently to parallel or just below whilst applying progressive overload over time, you will be creating more than enough stimulus for adaptation.
10) A deeper squat will recruit more glute fibers than a shallow squat, no question. However, if you are squatting with the goal of increasing glute size/strength then there are far more effective exercises out there - Hip Thrusts, Romanian Deadlifts, Glute Ham Raises to name but a few.