How Deep Should I Go In A Low Bar Squat?

Strength Training 2 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

Squat depth is one of the most controversial topics in the weightlifting community.

Required squat depths in competition vary by organization, by who is watching, and by which squat variation you’re currently using.

Today’s post is going to cover ideal depth in the low bar squat (check out our video on YouTube).

The Limiter

Your low bar squat depth should ultimately be limited by your body’s maximum hip flexion. If you try to go lower than this depth it can only occur through more flexion (and a loss of tension) in your knees, ankles, lumbar spine, and/or thoracic spine (usually most or all of those).

For the general populace, ideal depth is reached a few inches above what is typically defined as parallel (hip crease level with the top of the knee cap).

It’s not that you can’t physically go lower than that, but every inch lower means a loss of tension/ability to lift heavy weight, and an increase in stress on your joints.

If you want to go lower then parallel choose the high bar squat.

So, how low should you go?

With the information from the previous section in mind, you should only go as low as you can maintain an extended lumbar spine, foot femur alignment, vertical bar path, and an even displacement of weight on your feet.

Read this article for more in-depth information on these four components of a perfect low bar squat.

This depth will increase over time as you gain mobility, muscular control, and strength in your hips. In the beginning, the most important part is not your depth, but executing the four components listed above perfectly.

Depth will come.

At some point, you will not be able to squat deeper without sacrificing form, and this depth is limited by your body’s ratio of limbs to torso.

When you should break this rule

The only time you should break this rule is if you are training for a competition, and in this instance, you should squat to whatever depth is required for that organization.

Even in that situation I only recommend squatting to that depth if it is below your perfect squat depth the final 3-4 weeks of training leading up to the event. This is enough time to program your nervous system to that depth but will minimize the time you are over stressing your joints.

Outside of this except a few inches above parallel (as defined above) is plenty low enough to develop massive thighs and herculean strength.

Have more questions about squats? Read our guide on how to low bar squat.

Once you’ve perfected your squat depth download our FREE beginner program to start progressing your squats.

Download The Seriously Strong Beginner Program

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.