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How Low Should You Go

“If your don’t get parallel are you even lifting bro?”


Or how about...


“Ass to grass is the way to go”


But what about box squats?


There are so many choices when it comes to the depth of how low your squat should go. Trust me it can be overwhelming! Luckily for you I have all the answers here.


Let’s start with Parallel Squat as this will help put the other squats into perspective.


Parallel squat - simply means that as you descend into a squat your femur (thigh bone) is parallel with the ground. Your knee (patellofemoral) and hip (acetabulofemoral) joints are in line with each other causing the femur to be running in the same direction as the floor. Some think that parallel equates to the posterior side of the thigh (hamstring) reaching the mark is low enough. However in powerlifting competitions, the athlete must reach true parallel position (femur and ground are parallel) in order for the squat to count.



“Ass to Grass” - simply means that you butt goes close to the ground as possible while

squatting. Anatomically it means that your hip joint (acetabulofemoral - AF) is lower prices closer to the ground than the knee (patellofemoral joint -PF). This style of squats are common in sports such as CrossFit. To perform properly, one needs to have great mobility in the lower joints (AF, PF,) including the ankle (talocrural joint). The individual should also have proper mobility in the lower back (lumbar region) to prevent any extra added stress.


Box Squat - when I first got into weight lifting I learned the box squat as a midpoint to the parallel squat. This was used to stress the muscles to a heavier load. Remember that stress is a good thing when it comes to muscle exposure, this is what allows the muscle to grow).

As one would be exposed to heavier loads via box squat, the parallel exposure should seem lighter because it should be. Meaning that the parallel squat would be a lighter load physically because you’re traveling longer distances than a box squat, makes sense right?


One concern that comes with box squat is that people sit down and the muscles that were recruited during the downward phase of the squat are now disengaged. This can increase the risk of injury as the upward phase may not have all the muscles actively engaged as they were when coming down. Therefore, a key piece to the box squat is to touch and go. Once you physically feel the box that you are squatting downward TOWARDS (not to sit on) you immediately ascend into the upward phase.


Another alternative to this is to remove the box completely and go only “half way down” to reach the same depth.


But here is the MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION to all of these!!! It doesn’t matter how low you want to go. What matters is how low your mobililty allows you to go. If you don’t have the mobility in your joints and spine (vertebral column) you should not do the “Ass to Grass” depth. Heck if you don’t have mobility and your butt is winking half way down to parallel, then you shouldn’t even be doing parallel!


It is key to remember that muscles are still being recruited regardless of depth. Therefore, you should not put yourself at a greater risk of injury simply because you want to “look” cool.


I hope this helps all. Remember mobility over anything else. Ditch the heavy weight and the depth of you physically are not performing the squat properly.


Otherwise happy squatting!


In Health & Exercise,


Dani Jones

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