What’s stopping your squat?


Getting depth in your back squat is really important for not only your overall strength, but also really important if you want to hit those Olympic lift PB’s. I see some really common, often easily fixed problems that are stopping people from progressing to below parallel in their back squat.

Their are a few key areas that we need to look at in order to identify what is causing you to be restricted in your squat depth. I’m going to focus on the 2 most common ones I see and leave the others for another post. Please note, I’m going to look at more muscular problems, not joint problems i.e. Femoral Impingement etc

  1. The Hip

One of the most common muscles that becomes tight is your hip flexors. These are the one on the front of your hip and cause the hip to bend forwards. Unfortunately many of us spend our working days sitting at desks, which means our hips are always in a shortened position. This makes squatting really difficult because it forces into flexed hip position really early on and means we have to arch our lumbar spine in order to stay upright and not fall forwards.  Another common muscle group that can reduce squat depth is your internal rotator muscles. The reason these muscles can prevent squat depth is because they can stop your knees from being able to push outwards which is important for a deeper squat. It’s important that once you identify the muscles contributing to your lack of depth, you then release them and re-test your squat to ensure these are translating to a better squat. Video analysis is the best way to see the difference, not just feel it.

The test for assessing hip flexor range is: Thomas Test

Testing your internal hip range is a little harder and can be done in a variety of ways. The way I find the easiest is getting the patient to lie on their stomach, with their legs together and knees bent at 90 degrees and letting the feet fall outwards and measuring the difference. The most accurate way is with a goniometer but eye balling it can also be effective if there is an obvious difference.

2. The Ankle

Ankle range of motion has flown under the radar for quite a while now when considering it to be a contributing factor to your lack of depth. In the picture at the start of the article, you can see the lifter has quite a lot of forwards bend at the ankle joint. In a lot of the patients I see, this is commonly lacking and puts a lot more pressure on other joints to increase their range in order to achieve a deeper squat. The easiest to assess your ankle forwards bend (Dorsiflexion) is a knee to wall test which you probably have done after spraining your ankle. If there is a difference between both ankles or in fact, both ankles are limited (its a debatable topic about what is normal range, but I tend to think anything below 8cm isn’t enough). Once you’ve released your calf muscles, re test your knee to wall test or squat with video analysis to weather releasing your calf muscles has made a difference to your squat depth.

If your still struggling to get a better squat or confused about how to assess the above joints, call us 9543 1888 to get your squat assessed so you can get back to squatting at proper depth ASAP. To check out how fast you will see results, click here 

I’d like to finish this post by paying homage to the man in the picture above who has arguably the most perfect squat ever. He is your bench mark – goodluck haha