How LOW Should You Squat (IT MATTERS!)

How LOW Should You Squat (IT MATTERS!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. So how deep should you squat? Well, if you
look like Jesse here when he’s squatting, I’m going to say, “Not that deep.” The
reason being, that evident butt wink he’s got going on there. “Butt wink”, for those of you that aren’t
familiar with it, is when your lumbar spine goes into this position of extension, or neutral,
into this rapid flexion, right back out of it when the squat gets to a point where it’s
too deep. When I say, “too deep”, I mean too deep
for Jesse. And when I say, “too deep for Jesse”, I mean too deep for Jesse right
now. We should all be striving to get as low as we possibly can. As a matter of fact, if I’m going to get
off this ground at some point, from this position, I need it to be deep, and need to know, and
have the strength to be able to get out of here. So, the most functional position of squatting
is one that will take us a low as possible. But only if your body is ready for it. So,
I’ve put together a checklist for you to determine what might be causing your body
to do what Jesse did, because he’s certainly not alone. We all know that. And how you can attack these
things one by one. So, ultimately, when you fix your cause – what’s causing you to
do this – you’re going to be able to squat safely, ass to grass, and go as deep as you
can. So, we’re going to knock these out one by
one. It starts here with Jesse being down. There’s a reason he’s here, by the way.
Not just to showcase the bad squat. It’s to showcase that we have some things that
could be causing the problems here. One is the hip capsule mobility issue. Meaning,
the tightness in the hip capsule itself which is causing a limitation in your range of motion
at the hip. The second thing is an anatomical restriction of the hip. That, again, will be restricting your range
of motion, and we’re going to have to be able to determine the difference between the
two. But both of them are going to limit your ability to get low. The third thing is a pelvic
muscle tightness. Namely, in the hamstrings, or the adductor
muscles. Then we have ankle mobility and flexibility issues and pelvic stability issues. All of
these, or any combination of them, or one in particular could be causing you to be losing
the control of that spine at the bottom of the squat. The first three, ironically, are supposedly
– you’re able to screen these out with the use of this convenient test that Jesse
will show here. You’ve probably heard it before. People say “Look, if you can get into this
position here, and sit back to a point where you’re low enough in your squat where your
hips are past your knees. Below your knees as they would be in a fully performed and
executed squat. If you can still maintain an anterior tilt
here – meaning, you still have the ability to get into a curvature here, not that you
have to maintain that throughout a squat – but if you can still maintain some curvature here;
there’s no way you have a capsular mobility issue, or anatomical restriction, or pelvic
muscle tightness. They use this test as the example. I’ll
tell you right here, this test is absolute garbage. Garbage. Why? Because it’s not
complete. Here’s why. If I were to take out this goniometer here – we measure angles
o f the body with this thing. If I were to go in here and measure the angle
of Jesse’s torso, while it looks like he’s below his hips, it’s actually deceiving.
If I come in here and angle this to his torso here we have about 95 degrees on torso. 95
degrees. If he were to sit back – for you guys that
can creatively look at this – if we were to tilt him back up this way, he’d actually
be falling backward. Jesse, go ahead and sit up into a squat now. If he were to go back
where he just was, he’s going down. Instead, what we need to do is measure where
Jesse is in his squat. At the bottom of the squat. Go ahead and get up. If we measure
at the bottom of the squat here, now he has more of an angle of about 131 degrees. So,
131 degrees of flexion here to get down. Now, the normal range of motion for a hip
is around 120-125. If I have to get him back in that position and recreate that he can’t
stay up here like this. What he has to do is, he gets into his anterior pelvic tilt,
he’s in that deeper position of the squat, and now he’s got to bring his chest and
everything else down toward the ground. Now, he’s lost all this. It’s all gone.
He doesn’t have the ability to do that anymore. So, we can’t rule out those other issues.
He could be having – now that we’ve actually gotten into the true degree of flexion that
he’s going to be in for his squat – we could be dealing with a hip capsule mobility
issue. We could be dealing with an anatomical restriction.
We could be dealing with pelvic muscle tightness. Here’s the thing, if you try this test,
you’re able to get down here and you still – I can’t demonstrate on Jesse – but
you’re still able to keep that anterior tilt; you can skip ahead in this video and
go down to four and five. Start looking at your ankles or your pelvic
stability and we’ll time stamp those areas for you. For those of you who have lost your
ability to stay in an anterior tilt at this point, you need to stick with me now and go
through them one by one. So, the first thing now, if we’re going
to look at that capsular mobility of your hip is, you’ve got to lay on the ground.
You don’t need someone like me to do this for you. You can do it yourself. But what
you want to do is see how easy it is for your hip to get up into flexion here. Normally, we’re looking for at leas 120
degrees. 90 would be there, but we’re looking for about 120 degrees of flexion. What you’ll
find is people that either have degenerative hips, or capsular tightness overall, and they
start to lose the ability to get flexion here. They certainly start to get a hard end-feel. Meaning, it hits here, and it won’t go.
It’s like hitting a wall. Here, Jesse’s got that bouncy end-feel. So that’s another
thing to look for. Once we get here, let’s say we have an anatomical restriction going
on. We’re not going to be able to instantly
determine whether or not it’s anatomical – meaning the bones are hitting the bones
– or it’s more of this tightness in the capsule. What we’ll do is, if he hits a
wall here, if I turn his leg out a little bit toward you guys, and I’m able to go
a little further; then we’ll probably think we’re dealing with more of an anatomical
restriction. Which will happen if you test it a little
bit further on here. But right now, if he can get up here, the next thing I would do
is test his internal rotation. I’m just going to turn his knee in. So, the foot comes
out toward you guys, the knee goes in, and I’m looking for about 30 to 35 degrees here
from here. So, if I go here, and I’ve got that, I can
tell you right now, anyone with real capsular restriction is going to have a difficult time
internally rotating. They’re going to have a difficult time getting into flexion. If
you are good there, you can move onto the next step here, where we’ll go after that
restriction of the bone on bone and see if that’s what’s going on with you. So, we’re moving on now and looking for
a way to figure out whether we’re dealing with more of a muscle tightness here, or if
we’re dealing with more of the acts of bone on bone. Anatomical limitations. You can see
what happens here. Why would this even matter, first of all? Well, let’s say we’re taking
this hip here and going deeper into flexion. Going deeper into the squat, deeper into the
squat. What happens is, at a certain point here, the femur doesn’t have anymore room.
It can’t continue to rotate. It winds up hooking onto the pelvis here. In order for
it to keep going it’s going to grab the pelvis with it and turn it under. You see that posterior tilt is happening because,
in order for the femur to keep going – because you’re driving down into the squat – it’s
going to have to grab the pelvis and move with it. So, you get that pelvic tilt. You
get that butt wink. That’s one issue. So, we want to make sure we determine whether
or not that’s happening. What we could do is, as I’ve said before,
if it is this, then you can test it yourself. You can turn your hip out a little bit more.
In other words, drive your knees out a little bit more into external rotation. If you do
that, you should be able to clear a lot more room. Anatomically, the way these bones setup
– just like in the shoulder, too. When external rotation clears more room, you’ll
get more flexion out of it by having your knees out. So, there is a fix for that, even
if you anatomically think you’re screwed. You can change that a little bit by changing
the position of your knees as you squat down. So now, the other thing to consider before
we get into it – because I’m going to show you how to differentiate between the
two with one, single test – you also have these muscles that run back here. Hamstrings
that run from the base of the pelvis here, and cross the knee, and we also have the adductor
muscles that are attaching to the other side – the front side – of the pelvis, that
are attaching to the femur. So, when we move this down, and we keep this
back – when the pelvis is back – you’re getting more of a stretch. You’ll be able
to feel that. That restriction from these muscles that could be holding you back because
they’re too tight. The same thing with the hamstring. Don’t let people tell you that “You’re
letting some of the tension go because you have a flexion of the knee there, and that’s
letting some of the stress off the hamstrings.” Yeah, fine. But the hamstrings are a long
muscle that attach all the way to the back of the pelvis here, and that’s going back
even further as you go down to squat. Especially if you’re talking about going ass to grass. There are going to be length inhibitions here
that are causing you to still feel to much tightness here that will restrict your pelvis.
And if it’s going to keep going, it’s going to pull it under with it because it’s
attached. The hamstrings are attached right back there via the hamstring attachment to
the pelvis. So, let’s figure out one simple test which
one you’re dealing with. You’ve got to differentiate between the two of these. Now,
let’s differentiate between those two. What we do is get up onto a box here. The box just
needs to be high enough to take your ass a little bit below your knee, into proper depth
on the squat. We have that here because of the foot position and the elevation. Now, as Jesse sets up here – put the squat
bar on your back. All right, great. We should already instantly determine that this is not
the right position. The same way it wasn’t the right position when he was on the floor
on all fours because he’s not squatting from there. He can’t squat that upright.
He doesn’t have the proper angle here between his torso and his leg. So, he has to angle more forward, which he
would in his real squat, in that 131 degrees. In order to get there, all of a sudden, he
starts to lose this ability here. Now, he’s going to feel it, and you’re going to feel
it one of two places. The first thing could be, you’re going to feel it right in here.
Do you feel that? JESSE: That’s where I feel it. JEFF: He feels it right in the front here.
Like it’s jamming in the front here. Now you’re dealing with something anatomical.
But it doesn’t mean you also don’t have the muscular component because here’s what
would happen. If I were to fix it and tell him “Jesse,
if it is anatomical here we can create some extra space by letting the leg drift out a
little bit more, driving your knees out a little bit so you get more external rotation.”
Which allows him to get a little bit more mobility here. It frees that up, but now where
do you feel it? JESSE: On the inside. JEFF: Inside. So now he’s feeling the adductor
issues. The adductor and underneath the hamstring. So that could happen to you. You could feel
that, when you make that change, you’ve freed it up in one place, but I’ll tell
you what happens. If you’re going to take your knees and move them out, and the adductors
connect to this femur here, and you move it out further; you’ve just increased the flexibility
demands you have on those muscles. So now you’re going to have to address both
the fact that you want to change your squat pattern a bit by driving your knees out, but
then understand that the demands on the adductors are going to be even higher. So now you need
to make sure you’re stretching them out. We’ve gotten through all those. Again, for
those that were already skipping past this; good for you. You’ve eliminated two other
options. But for these guys who have already gone through
here, it doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that you may not have other contributions from
those final two places either. Whether it be pelvic stability, or ankle issues. So,
you’ve got to watch those, too. We’re moving onto those right now. Now we’re down
on the ground here. We’ve got to look at the ankle mobility. This is Jesse’s leg. JESSE: Hey, guys. JEFF: Jesse. It’s an unmistakable leg, believe
me. For many reasons. The fact is, we’ve got to make sure that his ankle mobility is
enough to allow him to go down. Why? Because if the ankle, if you’re going down into
a squat you need to have your ankles to continue to give you something call dorsiflexion. Meaning,
as your knee goes down – go ahead, Jesse. Down. It needs to be able to give and create the
opportunity for your pelvis to come down. If you hit a wall here – go back – and
you can’t go forward anymore, but he’s got to continue to get down; what happens?
The pelvis is going to drop and go with it because you can’t get any more forward with
the ankle. So, he’s got to have the pelvis come with it. That would be another cause
of butt wink. What we’re looking for here is a simple,
simple test to determine whether or not he’s got enough ankle dorsiflexion. All you’ve
got to do is setup a few inches away from a wall, or a box, and what you do is just
try to lean forward, keeping your heel on the ground here, and see if you can touch
that knee to the wall, or to the box. Jesse can’t and there’s a reason for that. If I were to take out the goniometer and I
would measure what I’ve got here. From 90 degrees I’ve got about 23 degrees forward.
You’re looking for about 20 degrees of dorsiflexion to be able to do that. If you get in this
position here and you can’t get there – go ahead, Jesse. Back a little bit more. Let’s
say you restricted in there. The question you want to ask yourself at that
point is “Where are you feeling the restriction?” Are you feeling it right here, in front? Where
you’re feeling a pinch again? Or are you feeling it back here in the Achilles? If you’re
feeling it more on the backside you’re probably dealing with a calf muscle tightness. If you’re feeling it more in the front side
you’re probably dealing with a subtalar mobility issue, where you’ll want to work
on more ankle mobility drills. I have a couple that we’ve done on this channel that we’ll
link for you. One that was right here, actually. It was a very, very helpful one for that specific
issue. But in the meantime, which one are you dealing with? Determine that and that will give you your
plan of action. But we’re still not done. We have one more where we’re on our feet,
in the squat, and our bodies betray us because we lack pelvic stability. We’ve got to check
that out now. So finally, what we’ve got to do is look for that pelvic stability because
that’s a very, very important thing. What you can do right off the bat is, you
can potentially be setting up improperly. Meaning, in too much anterior tilt. What would
happen here is – Jesse, get into an anterior tilt. If you set yourself up this way when
you squat, then when you come down – come down slow – there’s that wink. There’s
a reason why he’s winking badly at that point. If he already gets himself into that anterior
tilt he’s already putting himself in hip flexion. He’s putting himself in about 15
degrees of hip flexion. Meaning, all the reasons we talked about before with the capsular mobility,
the anatomical restrictions, and whatever else could be going on; it’s going to be
exaggerated because he’s already taking away some of the hip flexion. So, what you want to do instead is, you get
up at that top, and you’re going to put yourself, not so much in an exaggerated anterior
tilt there. But get yourself tucked under a little more by squeezing your glutes. The
thing that squeezing your glutes does is – it actually does two things. Number one: it gives
you more stability here. It puts your pelvis in a little bit better
alignment underneath your spine to support it. But it can also correct any hip alignment
issues. Meaning, hips open to the left, or hips open to the right. I did a video on that
as well. What we do is, let’s say we get to the bottom of the squat. What happens is,
Jesse – boom. He winks. What you want to do is – I think, a lot
of times, in the most difficult position of the squat, the low portion of the squat, that’s
when we tend to lose our stability of the hips. So, what we can do is focus on trying
to improve that. You put something at that level that gets you right to the point where
your butt winks. For Jesse we had to put it on top of a mat to get it a little bit higher. Now, if he’s in this position – what you
want to do as well – you want to fix your position. So, if you’re in a wink you’re
going to get yourself back into a more neutral position, or even more anterior. So, you can
actually work to overcorrect here. Get yourself into this anterior position here. Now, his goal is to try and lift himself an
inch or two off that ball – good – without losing his ability to stay there. So, a little
bit of a wink there. Go ahead and just slide – right there. Perfect. See, now he’s
got the ability to do that. Why? Because he’s got focused stability there. He’s focusing
all his attention on that pelvis and making sure the pelvis doesn’t move. We need that because when the legs are moving
they need to be able to push off a stable pelvis. For the same reason it works in reverse.
If you’re going to jump you want to be able to jump off something solid, not off sand
because we need stability from below. The legs need stability from the pelvis in order
to be able to provide the best strength and function. So, if he’s here, he can now grab a kettle
bell to overload his ability here and challenge his ability to be able to stay right there.
Just like that. Now you can do a couple squats. As many squats from that position. Up and
down, just a little bit. From here, up a little bit. Go up, like, 5 inches. There, and down.
Right there. And up. And down. And up. You see that? You’re really working on maintaining
that pelvic control. So, if you have an issue there, you’re going to want to make sure
you address it because pelvic control issues will totally cause you to give out at the
bottom of a squat and bottom out. And then you cause that dreaded butt wink. So, there
you have it, guys. Hopefully you’ve found the video helpful.
Obviously, I could not have done it without the help of my skeleton – I mean, my skeleton
and Jesse. Guys, the fact is, squatting ass to grass is a fundamental requirement of our
bodies. However, your body had better be prepared to do it. Hopefully if you take a few minutes to go
through this step by step instructional here you’ll see whether or not your body is prepared
to do this. The good news is, if you uncover a reason for why your body is giving out at
the bottom of your squat you’ll realize that there’s pretty much a fix for any of
it. You just have to dedicate a little bit of
extra time to make sure you’re fixing your body to be better prepared to handle the loads
you’re going to in the squat itself. If you guys found this video helpful make sure
and leave your comments and thumbs up below. If you like these comprehensive videos where
we break out all the tools we’ve got here, make sure you leave your comments and let
me know what else you want me to cover. I’ll be happy to do that for you. You guys know,
this channel is always about putting real science behind the strength. Not just breaking
out problematic studies, but what really works in practice. We’ll continue to do that for you here.
In the meantime, guys, leave your comments and thumbs up, subscribe, and we’ll be back
here again in just a few days with another video. See ya. JESSE: Are you calling me a tool?! JEFF: Absolutely.

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