Why on Earth do we have to go so low on our squats?

Why on Earth do we have to go so low on our squats?

Without fail, every member in a Crossfit gym has been yelled at by their coach to go deeper on their squats. Usually, people just go a little lower and don’t think twice. Why would you, your coach just told you to, right? But sometimes people want to know why going below parallel is so much better for you and “I told you to” just doesn’t cut it from your coach.

My most common response is simple: use it or lose it! As we get older, we naturally lose that youthful mobility (I watch my toddler every day, naturally squatting like a pro). This is generally caused by bad habits, lifestyle changes, or maybe even injuries. Although I stand by squatting below parallel as a way to maintain that range of motion, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

Squatting over a full range of motion has been shown to elicit significantly greater muscle growth (hypertrophy) than a partial squat, specifically in the glutes and adductors. A study was done with two groups squatting twice per week for 10 weeks. One group squatted well past parallel and the other group squatted to parallel or just above. The study showed 2-3-times the glute and adductor muscle growth in the test group who squatted past parallel. Other muscle groups, the knee extensor (quad) and hamstring, were shown to have undergone similar growth in both test groups.


To put it simply, when squatting past parallel, subjects were forced to recruit the glutes and adductors in order to either get out of the very bottom of the squat or to cross that parallel point often referred to as “the sticking point”.

By Cas Green






So, the next time you’re in the gym and you hear your coach yelling at you to get deeper in that squat, remember it’s not just because we want to see you suffer or get stuck in the bottom of a squat wondering what to do with all those kilos; we’re trying to help you build bigger stronger glutes and adductors, also known as your butt and groin. That, and it’ll help you get your ass off that stupidly low couch, and most importantly, ensure you can get up and down on a toilet well into your twilight years!

If you want more information, here is a link to the article by “Stronger by Science” that discusses the study and much, much more.