Improve Your Squat Depth – Easy Exercise Progressions

Why is learning to squat important? What if you don’t ‘squat’ as part of your fitness routine? Why should you care? The answer: the squat is a full body movement that demonstrates deficiencies anywhere in the body. An inability to squat with proper form can be caused by problems at the ankle, hips, back, and core.  If you can't perform a proper squat you will eventually see problems in any activity you participate in. Improving your squat can be used to treat conditions from plantar fasciitis, to ankle sprains, to IT Band Syndrome, to low back pain.

 When we say 'full depth' squat, what we mean is an ability to get your thighs parallel to the floor (not all the way to your heels). If you're having trouble getting into full depth position it could be caused by a variety of factors. The following exercise progressions are designed to increase hip and ankle mobility as well as train the proper squat patterning for less pain and better all around performance.

1. Four Point Squat

Let’s take it back to the beginning. Babies learn to squat as a transitional movement between sitting and standing.

To Perform: Stand with feet and hands fat on floor (you can bend knees as much as you want). From there, lower your butt as low as you can to sit into the ‘squat position’. Straighten legs, keeping and feet flat on the floor and repeat.

2. Bear Squat

What we often find is that we lack mobility to get into squat position in a weight bearing position, we CAN get into the squat in the qudriped position. The bear squat improves squat patterning and hip mobility in quadruped position vs. axial loading.

To perform: Start in Bear position with toes slightly wider than hips. Press through your hands to sink butt back intil tension is felt in the hips. Return to starting position and repeat.

3. Bear Position to Squat Position

Many have adequate mobility in the quadriped (or bear) position while lacking the ability in full weight bearing. Train squat patterning and mobility by getting into the squat position from the bear position.

To perform: Start in bear position and press off your hands to rock back into the squat position.

4. Squat Hold Assisted

How do you cultivate a position? Spend time in that position. It's that simple. Holding onto something allows us to get to full squat depth and keep out chest up during the squat if we're not quite able to in full weight bearing position.

To Perform: Accumulate one minute in the squat position. Sink lower into squat by holding doorknob, wall, band. Pay attention to what feels 'tight' and work into that position.

5. Squat Hold Unassisted

As squat depth and length of time you can sit in the squat improves, you can progress to unassisted squat holds.

To Perform: Accumulate one minute in the squat position. Hold weight in front of body for further challenge.

6. Sumo Squat

The Sumo Squat can be used to challengee the muscle of the inner thigh (adductor group) that commonly limits our squat depth. 

To perform: Start with legs wider than hip width apart and toes pointed at 45 degree angle. Squat until thigh parallel with ground, and come back up. Repeat for one minute.


7.  Goblet Squat

Holding a weight in front of our body helps pattern the position by allowing us to 'sink back' onto our heels while also providing a further physical challenge.

To Perform: Squat to parallel while holding a kettlebell (or other weight) in front of your body with both hands. return to standing and repeat.

8. Wall Balls

When full squat depth and proper patterning has been achieved, we can no work to ingrain the movement pattern in a functional and dynamic movement.

Starting with a medicine ball at chest level, lower into the squat, explode hips open to stand ad generate power to throw the ball against a wall. Catch the ball while sinking back down into the squat position and repeat.


Evolve Performance Healthcare combines full body chiropractic care with therapeutic fitness programs to improve movement and functional strength for long term pain relief. Contact us to start your plan today.

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