How to Do Deep Squats


Deep squats involve lowering your hips to a point where your thighs drop below the line of your knees. These squats effectively build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, calves and lower back. They’re challenging not only because they require an adequate level of strength, but also because your hips and ankles need to be adequately flexible and your core has to be stable enough to handle the load. Although there has been some concern about the stress deep squats place on the knees, the National Strength and Conditioning Association notes that when performed correctly, squats are safe and can also reduce the risk of knee injuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Weighted barbell
  • Squat rack
  • Perform a five to 10-minute dynamic warm-up. Taking time to warm up will increase blood flow to your muscles and body temperature. As a result, you’ll have better squatting performance. Do five minutes of a general aerobic activity, such as jogging or biking, and then five minutes of dynamic stretches that are specific to the lower body, such as butt kicks, straight leg kicks, leg swings and knee-to-chest hugs.

  • Rack weight plates onto a barbell resting on a squat rack. A squat rack allows you to safely place the weighted barbell on the back of your upper shoulders. If you’re just starting out, begin by just using the barbell. Once you’re comfortable, rack a weight that makes it challenging for you to complete each set. According to Veronica Dyer, Syracuse University’s Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports, the amount of weight you can lift when deep squatting is going to be likely less than when performing other types of squats.

  • Set the weighted barbell onto the back of your shoulders. Step underneath the bar so that it rests onto your shoulders and then reach back and hold the bar on both sides of your shoulders. Lift the bar up off the squat rack. Step away from the rack and move to an area clear of obstacles.

  • Position your feet so that they’re hip-width apart. Your toes should point outwards slightly.

  • Keep your back straight and head up as you push your hips back and bend your knees. Initiate the movement with the hips, because this helps keep your knees in a safe position. You never want your knee joints to slide forward and move beyond the vertical line of your toes. Lower down until your thighs move below parallel with the ground.

  • Return to your standing position by extending your knees, hips and ankles. Come to a fully erect position before lowering into the next repetition.

Tips & Warnings

  • Incorporate deep squats into your workouts one to two days per week with one to two days off in between. Fit your deep squats in at the beginning of your lower body workouts as you want your muscles to be fresh when they’re called on to perform this exercise.
  • To help reduce the risk of injury, ask a partner to stand behind you and act as a spotter while you’re performing deep squats.

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