Seven Tips to Improve the Depth of Squats

Focusing on the depth of your squats is particularly appropriate for experienced athletes. These tips will help you progress if you're not getting as deep as you'd like.
Seven Tips to Improve the Depth of Squats

Last update: 06 October, 2021

Today’s article will provide some tips to improve the depth of your squats. You may already be aware of the common advice given to beginners: never go down all the way. However, years of practice and research in the field reveal that doing so can be great for gaining strength and technique.

Deep squats, also known as full squats, are suitable for experienced sportspeople. They involve the gluteal and hamstring muscles and are perfect for working areas seldom activated by regular movement.

Of course, their execution is more complex and can lead to back or knee injuries if not done properly. So, stop your deep squat routine until you finish reading the tips outlined in this article!

Tips to improve the depth of your squats

There’s more tension on the core and knees due to the greater number of muscle fibers activated during the descent. Also, a person requires more strength to ascend so doing deep ones demands some experience. This is because a beginner is more exposed to back injuries, knee injuries, and even muscle tears.

Thus, the following tips for improving the depth of squats are only recommended for those who are already familiar with them. Furthermore, try a traditional squat routine before proceeding with these if you’re a beginner.

1. Wear the right shoes

This is a basic requirement for you to be able to execute the movement correctly. Sometimes, the heel rises a little during the first descents, eliminating contact of the entire foot with the ground surface. As you might imagine, it leads to small imbalances that can make you lose concentration.

Thus, the right shoes, along with a technique designed to correct this imbalance, improve the way you perform deep squats. Not all shoes are appropriate for this kind of training.

Weightlifting shoes work best, but ask the trainer at your gym about the best type for you.

A person tying their shoes.
Running shoes don’t necessarily work for gym exercise, especially for weightlifting practice.

Check out these Four Ways to Do Squats Correctly

2. Train your glutes and hamstrings

The greater the lowering of the squats, the more muscle fibers in the glutes and hamstrings become a part of the process. It’s probably because these muscle groups aren’t as strong as the execution demands if you don’t make it down as far as you’d like.

What you can do is train them separately. Thus, you strengthen them through targeted exercises. Only then will you get the strength you need to lift the weight you want through a full squat.

Then, you can increase the depth of your squats after a couple of weeks. You should be able to complete them if you have enough strength. We recommend routines for glutes and hamstrings if you don’t know where to start.

3. Regulate the weight you lift

One of the tips to improve the depth of your squats you should never overlook is weight regulation. This is because it’s one of the main reasons why athletes don’t progress in their workouts.

It’s normal to have to decrease the weight in this variant by increasing the lowering spectrum, generating more tension in the knee and back. This also occurs by involving muscle fibers that seldom activate with traditional squats.

For many people, this is synonymous with backwardness and even weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth though. This is because you’ll be able to approach and even equal the weight you lift with conventional squats as you progress and become more familiar with the technique.

In any case, the important thing is to regulate the weight during the first training routines. Choose the one you’re comfortable with, but one that also represents a challenge according to your goals (hypertrophy, toning, gaining strength, and so on).

4. Mind your back posture

You already know that technique and posture are key when executing an exercise if you already have experience in weightlifting. Oftentimes, people use technique over strength to perform a movement, as is often the case during weightlifting competitions.

It’s common for them to bend their back slightly as they prepare to ascend during a full squat to the point that it mimics the shell of a turtle. This is nothing more than a technical mistake that can keep them from completing the movement successfully.

This happens regardless of the strength of the legs, as it is due to poor core stability (both in the abdominals and back). Thus, pay attention if you arch your back more than you should when going up as it could be the reason for not completing a series.

5. Stretch the muscles and joints involved

Another obstacle to correct deep squats is concentrated tension in muscles and joints. Both must be properly prepared through stretching and warm-up exercises, to improve your performance.

Therefore, pay attention to stretching the calves, ankles, hips, quads, hamstrings, and other elements involved during the descent and ascent. Use elastic bands if you have them and spend at least 15 minutes exercising with them if you plan to lift heavyweights.

6. Control your breathing

You should already master if you have experience lifting weights. However, beginners must know that breathing is key to maintaining your posture, avoiding imbalances, providing your muscles with enough oxygen, and focusing your concentration when performing a dead weight movement.

In simple terms, you should inhale before descending (first phase), hold your breath as you perform the deep squat (through what’s known as intra-abdominal breathing), and then exhale slowly as you ascend (second phase).

In both cases (inhalation and exhalation) you must do it deeply. During the first phase, you should hold your breath and use it to your advantage for core balance, especially if you’re carrying considerable weight.

7. Concentrate on the execution of the deep squats

Finally, regardless of whether you properly apply these tips, technique, strength, and endurance will be of little use if you don’t concentrate on the execution. It can be the difference between finishing a repetition or not, to the point that its absence compromises the results.

Focus only on the squat before executing it and put aside worries or distractions that can hinder your concentration. All these tips for improving deep squats will help you achieve your goals in a short period.

A woman doing squats.
Concentration is just another part of the technique so focus on the exercise you’re doing.

The advantages of improving the depth of your squats

Athletes often avoid deep squats because they’re afraid of injuring their knees. While it’s true that it places more stress on this area, recent research indicates deep squats are safe and even advantageous to the knees.

You can do deep squats without any problems as long as you progressively increase the weight, take care of your posture, and are aware of possible discomfort during the ascent or descent.

Some of the advantages are:

  • They improve strength and functional performance. In fact, a study with 53 athletes, published in the European Journal of Sports Science in 2020, revealed that full squats are better than any other variant for increasing muscle strength and all-around performance.
  • Deep squats increase your stability. This can be good when doing other types of core or lower body exercises. This is because you achieve better balance through them and can even be useful to correct bad posture when walking.
  • You exercise your entire body because their execution involves muscles of the lower, middle, and upper body. It’s for this reason that squats are a fundamental exercise, perfect for those looking to tone up or obtain greater resistance in the gym.
  • It strengthens your knees. You won’t only prevent knee injuries if you take into account the above-mentioned precepts but also strengthen them. The ligaments and muscles that surround them become stronger, and it prevents injuries with other types of training.
  • You activate other muscle groups, especially those located in the glutes and hamstrings, as we mentioned above. They’re perfect for working areas other types of workouts don’t reach.

Practice and increase the depth of your squats

For all these reasons, you must regularly include deep squats in your training routines, without them completely replacing other exercises designed for the muscle groups involved. In any case, the important thing is to vary them to avoid monotony.

Hire a trainer to guide you depending on your level and goals if you don’t know where to start in addition to taking the tips above into account.

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