#4. Deep Squats Increase Thigh Hypertrophy
A recent study by Bloomquist et al. found that deep squats produced much greater leg hypertrophy compared to shallow squats and led to higher vertical jumps in the subject that performed them regularly. Interestingly, these results support the claims of one 2012 study from Hartmann et al. that examined the transfer of deep squats and partial squats on vertical jump performance and found that deep squats transferred very favorably to vertical jumping, whereas partial squats did not.
#5. Deep Squats Lead to Superior Squatting Strength Gains
Both shallow and deep squats will improve squatting strength. However, deeper squats lead to greater strength gains and greater knee extension strength at long muscle lengths than shallow squats, as the results of a new study by Bloomquist and Hartmann showed. This tells us, yet again, that strength gains are closely and specifically related to the range of motion employed.
#6. Deep Squats Can Actually Increase Knee Stability
Multiple studies, such as a 2001 one by Salem and Powers, have shown that there is no discernible difference between partial, parallel and deep squats in terms of the impact on the knee joint. Moreover, new research suggests that deep squats might actually help increase knee stability – studies have found that the forces inside the anterior and posterior cruciate ligament (the connective tissues in the knee) decrease the more the knee is bent, so the deeper you squat, the less pressure there is inside the knees.
Words of Caution
Now that we’ve discussed the real benefits of deep squatting and eliminated any superstition surrounding this beautiful move, it’s time to face the facts: perhaps half of the people who try to squat deep (under parallel) can’t do it without their form drastically deteriorating. A deep squat (especially when loaded) demands a well orchestrated, joint action of many joints and muscles in the body and requires a certain level of stability, mobility and strength.
The squatter’s feet must stay firmly planted on the floor while the hips sink down in between the legs and the legs are going outwards and above the feet. The spine should keep most of its natural arch and remain stable and stationary under the heavy load, supported by the tightly squeezed core muscles. But without proper hip and ankle mobility, as well as a stable, sturdy core complex, all of your efforts to master the deep squat might turn out to be a waste of time. In that case, you should pair your squat training with corrective exercises for improving hip, ankle and thoracic mobility and core stability.
However, some people will never be able to perform a deep squat with good form because of pelvic anatomic limitations, while others who have knee issues such as chondromalacia, arthritis or torn menisci will be better off with parallel squats because the increased ptellofemoral and tibiofemoral compression involved in deep squatting can worsen their condition.
As long as there’s no history of injuries, deep squats are definitely the way to go. If you can squat deep with good form (or you’re enthusiastic that you can master this in a relatively short period of time) and no pain, don’t think twice about which squat variant to perform on your next workout – make the deep squat your primary variant and start working to improve your form and technique even further.
That being said, make sure to properly warm up your entire body with a series of dynamic stretches before you start squatting. Also, the heavier the weight, the more important it is to engage your muscles during the performance. Your abs, shoulders and upper back have to be fully engaged in order to create a stable base for the weight, while your thighs and butt should also be as tense as possible so that they can further stabilize your body and make sure the right muscles are doing the part.
If you still lack the mobility and stability required to perform the perfect deep squat, don’t worry about it and just keep practicing it and working on improving your hip and ankle mobility and core and glute strength and power. You will eventually get there, and trust us, it will be more than worth it.
As we mentioned earlier, if used properly, deep squats can be the most valuable tool you can have for building lower body strength and mass and promoting fat loss, but also for improving your posture and increasing overall flexibility and mobility. It’s really the best all-in-one exercise that you simply can’t afford not to perform, so get to it right away and start buildng the powerful legs you’ve always wanted!