What Do Deeper Squats Do For You?

A lot. The question is: How low should you go?

Squats are a mind-fuck. Is my back starting to arch? How’s my breathing? Are my feet solid and planted? Am I keeping my knees far enough apart? The nagging question, while you’re squatting, is the obvious one, and it always comes at the end of the movement, just as your knee gets near the ground—have I gone deep enough?

Not a bad question, but first you need ask what you’re trying to achieve by squatting, because that’ll affect how low you need to go. Now no matter the goal, it’s vital that you can squat through a full range of motion. By doing so, you prove that you have the mobility and flexibility to safely and successfully do the exercise. Have a professional trainer assess your movement and identify any issues you have or could have doing the exercise. Get the OK, and then figure out how deep you want your squat to be.

Full squats are great for glute development and overall strength. If they’re too difficult, start with parallel squats, where you squat until the top of your thigh is parallel to the floor. They’ll help you learn technique without pushing your body past its limits. To make sure you don’t squat down too far, we suggest putting a box behind you before doing the exercise. The height of the box will depend on how tall you are, so ask a trainer or someone at the gym to help you eyeball an appropriately sized box. After that, all you do it squat down until your butt touches the box, then shoot back up.

Just because you’re not going through a full range of motion doesn’t mean you won’t get a workout. You can even build muscle barely squatting down all. Don’t believe that? Try quarter squats. A lot of basketball players do these because the short range of motion is similar to a vertical jump.

Deep or shallow, squats, when done correctly, will help build tough, toned legs. Before you squat, just remember to ask yourself what you want you’re trying to accomplish and how deep you want to go. 

Photos by Corey Jenkins / Getty Images