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How to increase squat depth?


Hi all. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to increase squat depth? When I do squat it feel uncomfortable, even when I bodyweight squat. Even in a bodyweight squat I cannot achieve parallel. When I squat this is how it seems to go:

-As I go down I feel myself 'falling' forward a little
-As I am a few inches away from parallel I feel the front of my hips tighten right up. You could jump on my back with all your bodyweight and the only way I will go to parallel is if something tears; my hips are that tight
-As well when I am approaching parallel I feel my heels lift off the floor, which I then compensate with my back by rounding it

Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad

Hip mobility, tight calves and shoulder flexibility I assume are probably my main issues. Just wondering if anyone has any good routines/advice for helping this.

Thanks so very much.


-Check to make sure you are using proper form.
-Make sure you are wearing flat, thin soled shoes.
-Try doing some hamstring curls.


when my girlfriend was learning to squat, i made her do a zillion bodyweight squats with a broomstick. I also got a stool that was just below parallel for her and had her just squat, when her booty touches the stool she comes up... then EVENTUALLY we started using a 20lbs bar.

sounds like you are leaning forward an awful lot. i notice when i see people attempt pistols, they have a lot of trouble getting to the bottom position... same kind of problem. the solution is to START from the bottom position.. and after a while it becomes comfortable.

id say do the same thing. sit your ass down on the floor.. use your hands to get yourself into the bottom position of the squat. stay there for a while.. get used to it, because thats where you wanna be. then stand up without using your hands. the way you stand up should be the way you drop to squat position, roughly. i can't imagine that you have so much tightness that you can't squat... i don't believe it. your body just doesn't quite understand the posture and mechanics of the squat just yet. watch BUNCH of videos on squatting, thatll help. look up rippetoe.


Overall flexibility sounds like an issue so STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH (shoulders, back, legs, hips, etc)

try the techniques peglejoe mentioned above and if you can find some squat flexibility videos also as mentioned above. due to the degree of flexibility required in Oly lifting be sure some of the videos are from Oly coaches as they will normally require more depth/flexibility from their athletes (not saying PLers or Bodybuilders aren't as serious as Oly lifters, just the mechanics are different)


Thanks so much everyone. Makes tons of sense and I will do these. I have been watching instructional vids. on squatting this morning and I am already seeing problems with myself and squatting.

Thanks again.


Stand by a mirror with a broomstick. Squat a few inches. See if you form is ok. If it is, squat a few more. Once you see you start falling forward or whatever, FORCE your body to stay in the correct place. REALLY force. Iti is going to be painful and uncomfortable but in my experience, the best and fastest way to increase your mobility.


Wall squats would be another good option:


Rocking before you squat helps. Get on hands and knees with the knees separated at the same amount you would when you squat. Rock back pulling your ass to your heels, but do not lose the neutral to slightly arched lumbar spine. Rock for about a minute.

Second, hook a dumbbell or kettlebell with your foot. Not too heavy. pull it up until your knee is above the crease of your hips, or if you can visualize, until the depth of a legal squat. By hooking a weight, you'll be firing the dorsal flexors which will inhibit the calf if it is what is keeping you from sinking to legal or deeper depth.

Lastly, goblet squats. Sink as deep as possible. Don't lose the lumbar arch.


Second Goblet Squats... Dan John had personally recommended these to me years ago and my squatting improved dramatically after only four weeks of Goblet Squatting 3-4 times a week.


I had the same problem. I tried stretches, exercises, just forcing myself to go deeper.

The only thing that worked for me was deep tissue massage of the calves, hamstrings & buttocks. Depth improved immediately after the session but the session itself was quite painful grinding the calf tendons against the bone.

You didn't say what style of squat you are doing.

If you are doing high bar medium/close stance squats wearing weightlifting shoes can help for some people though I have never tried them personally.


I had/am still working on the same issues as you, and I couldn't even BW squat to parallel.

I loosened up my hips somewhat doing Defranco's Agile 8, as well as static holds in the squat position as described in this article http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_thirdworld_squat

I did a session with a friend of mine who is a PT, and he pointed out that I was falling forward due to a lack of flexibility in the Thoracic Spine. He has me doing lots of foam rolling, side lying windmills, spidermans, cat & camel, and a T-Spine stretch against the wall.

He also had me switch to front squats until my flexibility improves.


A couple of years ago, my Sister-in-law was teasing me that I was "walking like an old man." I was. Some links that have helped me considerably since then:

The Mobility Complex as a warmup (I do it 3x/week about):
Overhead squat 1x8
Low lateral squat 1x8 each side
Overhead reverse lunge 1x6 each leg
Romanian deadlift to snatch pull-through 1x8
Drop lunge 1x6 each leg
Sots press 1x8

Mobility Drills: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/the_essential_8_mobility_drills

Foam rolling: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/feel_better_for_10_bucks

Corrective complexes: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/corrective_complexes_the_secret_to_feelin_good


Here's what helped me a lot:
DeFranco's Agile 8 (even just doing this before my squat workout makes a huge difference)
Sitting in a full squat position. Put your feet close together, you may have to have them super close to get all the way down such that you're basically sitting on your calves. Then just sit there for a while.

You can start gradually moving your feet wider as well. Throw this in at the office for a few seconds periodically, at home for a few minutes while you're watching TV, while you're resting between sets at the gym, just wherever!

That and using Olympic shoes made squat depth easy for me. Hope that helps!


This is going to sound a little strange but it worked for me...I practiced squat-sitting. I literally learned to sit like they do in 3rd world countries, squatting down like you're going to take a dump, and just started doing it all the time. I got this idea from watching my 19-month old son, who sits squatting (also squats to bend down) and realized he's doing exactly what nature intended him to do.

So, I'd copy him and sit-squat while playing with him. Getting to the point where I could sit squatting took about 4 weeks. I also did a ton of air-squats and focused on getting to that "seated" position, which is full depth, and it got to a point where holding that position and actually "sitting" was easy. Now, I can easily ass-to-grass squat. Before that, I needed a mirror or spotter to ensure I had at least got my hips parallel.




So much info. thanks everyone! I am going to give it all a shot; I especially like the idea of doing DeFranco's agile 8, seems awesome! Tons of foam rolling also. Just got myself a new one with grooves in it. Supposed to be good. I will soon see.

Thanks again.


Video yourself from the side or at least get a few pics. Post them here and we can look at it.


It sounds like you need to work on flexability... I have had that same problem due to tight hamstrings... I am working on that and in the meantime I am doing boxsquats and overhead squats(very difficult for me but forces me to use good form)


Is that Squat Rx series still on Youtube?


doing overhead squats will naturally help improve flexibility without having to do other types of stretching, although u may need to stretch shoulders as people who bench alot tend to lose flexibility in there shoulders unless they work on this issue as they go. Also front squats can improve squat depth. I think if u worked on those for a few weeks and then add back squats back in u will find your flexibility will have improved.

Also another exercise not mentioned much and doesnt make sense until u try it is to do behind the neck press while in the squat position, dont need heavy weights just the bar will do. when u can do that comfortably then u will have plenty of flexibility to back squat nice and low, sounds stupid but try it.