In the fitness world, there are few topics that cause as much debate as is the proper depth of a squat. Some say that you should only squat until your hips and knees form a 90-degree angle. Others swear by the maxim “ass to grass.”
So, how low is too low to squat? And how do you know if you’re not squatting low enough? Funnily, squat depth has less to do with your legs and more to do with your back & hip structure.
In an attempt to solve the mystery of squat form, let’s explore whether or not there’s a “perfect” way to do them and how low to squat for your specific body type.
Is there a “perfect” squat form?
If you’re looking for a one size fits all solution to why squats feel a bit off in your workout routines, unfortunately, there is no “perfect” squat form. However, there is an ideal form for your specific body. Only you can identify which foot position is ideal for you – feet narrow, feet wide, toes pointed straight, or toes pointed outward.
Squatting in its current most popular form often includes adding a barbell to your shoulders. This is where it can become dangerous and where your focus should be on your lower back / pelvic area.
Most individuals cannot safely squat ass-to-grass because of limited flexibility (e.g. ankles, hamstrings) or the length of their bones (e.g femurs). These limitations cause posterior pelvic tilt (also known as butt wink) where your hips roll under your back. This causes you to lose neutral spinal alignment and puts pressure on your lower back. If you’ve ever done loaded squats and immediately after had a sore/tender lower back, that’s the reason.
How do you adapt to this problem? Reduce the depth of your squat. Only go as low as you can before get butt wink. Having someone record you is a great way to notice your form and fix it.
Does everyone need to squat “ass to grass?”
Simple answer, no. As we explained before, you should only squat as deep as your body allows. You can always work on your flexibility, or adjust your foot position, to increase your squat depth. We recommend getting a qualified personal trainer to assess your form and give you advice for improvements.
Long story short, there is a safe way to squat “ass to grass” as long as you can keep that natural arch in your spine.
Ok – that was a lot of information. So, let’s revisit the most important takeaways when trying to figure out how low you should go in your squats.
– There is no single way to squat. You have to find the perfect squat form for your build.
– The most important consideration to remember when squatting is the ability to maintain the natural arch in your spine.
– Get someone to record you and assess your squat form. Alternatively, get a personal trainer to do the assessment.
– Squatting “ass to grass” can be safe if your body allows for it. Otherwise, it’s not necessary to reap the benefits of squatting.