The 5 Rules For Doing Deep Squats, Safely

The 5 Rules For Doing Deep Squats, Safely teaser image
If there’s one exercise that everyone should embrace – whether it’s to build muscle, burn fat, or maintain real-life body function as you get older – it’s the humble squat.

Our friendly exercise physiologists at Agility Rehabilitation are huge fans of this king of exercises, because the squat is one of the most effective exercises you can do almost anywhere, any time.

And the best part? The squat hits way more muscles than any other – working the entire lower half of your body, while also working your trunk, shoulders and back, too! This means it simultaneously builds muscle and burns fat due to its high metabolic demand.

Pretty cool, huh!

Are deep squats right for you?
Did you know that there are three types of squat – and the deeper you go, the greater the benefit (as long as you don’t have joint issues, of course!) These are:

The half squat: where your hips stay above your knees during the squat.

Parallel squat. Your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Deep squat: Your hips go down below your knees, with your butt near the floor.
For those seeking to build maximum back and butt strength, gradually increasing from parallel to deep squats is the way to go, especially when adding weights. As always, it’s worth warming up and stretching first.
For those with back, knee or hip problems, it’s best to stick to the modified squats recommended by your exercise physiologist in your treatment plan.

Our 5 tips for doing deep squats, safely

Pace yourself:  When you try squatting, go as low as you comfortably can without pain. It's more important to do them confidently and frequently than go all out and hurt yourself. You can always work up to squatting more deeply if that’s your goal.

Feet flat: This is simply to keep you balanced, safe and confident. If you find yourself rocking back on your heels, try letting yourself lean forward slightly. If you find you can’t keep your heels down, don’t go any lower. Or perhaps try the next tip.
Feet wide, if needed: There is no ‘rule’ on where to put your feet when squatting, however many people struggle to get low if their stance is to narrow – simply due to their anthropometry (joint design and body proportions), or perhaps a bit of a gut in the way. Placing your feet wider will help you get lower if that’s what you’re after.
Sit back, lean forward: Many people think they must keep their back straight and torso upright. Unless you’re a contortionist, this is just unrealistic if you want to squat to any decent depth. Try just letting your butt sit back, and lean forward slightly whilst doing so to stop you falling backward. Putting your arms in front can sometimes be helpful to keep your balance.
Focus outwards, not in: If you’re squatting for performance and outcome, try and focus your attention on the goal of the movement, rather than what muscles to engage and posture to hold. This is called extrinsic vs intrinsic focus. Research has shown motor learning, efficiency and thus optimal task outcome is best achieved through extrinsic cues. For example, your focus in a barbell squat should be to get the bar to a low point, such as your 'safety', and then back to the start, all whilst resting it on your shoulders. You shouldn’t be focussing on bending your knees to 83 degrees, or squeezing your butt! These will all occur naturally!

Of course, if you ever experience pain or injury, or just want to explore how to increase your strength in a safe way, please make an appointment to see us at Agility Rehabilitation today!