Do you have a problem reaching full depth when you squat? Well if you do, you’re in luck, because today I’m going to show you my three favorite stretches to improve your squat range of motion. Now, if you want to learn about all things training and rehab, make sure that you subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss any future videos. Now, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably seen a ton of stretches, mobility drills, and mobilizations on the internet, you’re probably just not sure where to start or do to actually improve your squat depth. So I’m going to use this video to show you three really simple drills that I like to use with myself and my patients.
The first stretch is just a half kneeling dorsiflexion stretch for your ankles. All you have to do is get in a half kneeling position, take a moderately loaded kettlebell or dumbbell, and place it on the top of your knee at the very bottom portion of your femur. In this position, you’re just going to let the weight of the kettlebell or dumbbell push your knee forward as you lean over your foot, getting a nice stretch through ankle dorsiflexion. Now I recommend holding this stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds per stretch. But if you don’t actually want to hold that longer duration stretch, then you’re also free to do some end range mobilizations where you just go back and forth in that end range working through ankle dorsiflexion. If you choose to do the mobilizations instead of just the long duration stretch, then do at least 20 to 30 repetitions per set.
The next drill that I’m going to show is actually a front foot elevated split squat hold. For this one, all you’re going to do is take a small object like a stool, couple of weight plates, or a stair, put the foot of the leg that you’re working on up on top of it, and go down into the bottom of a split squat. Once you’re in there, you can hold that position for 30 to 60 seconds. And if you want to make it a little bit more aggressive, you can push your hips back and lean forward like you’re hinging at the hips. This will make the stretch a little bit more aggressive, and we’ll target hip flexion at the end range a little bit better.
The last of the three drills we’re going to cover today is a bodyweight squat hold with a counterbalance. So for this drill, all you do is you’re going to sink down into the bottom of bodyweight squat, but you’re going to be holding on to an object in front of you that acts as counterbalance. So you’re going to use this object to actively pull yourself into a better position and hold it for again 30 to 60 seconds.
So now that we’ve talked about the stretches, here’s how to actually improve your squat depth.
If you’re lacking ankle range motion, then I’m going to have you perform that half kneeling ankle dorsiflexion stretch first for three to four sets of 30 to 60 second holds or 20 to 30 reps of the mobilization. Then, you’re going to do the same thing with the squat, holding in the bottom position for three to four sets of 30 to 60 seconds.
If on the other hand, your hip range of motion is was limiting you, then you’re going to perform three to four sets of the front foot elevated split squat hold first, and then three to four sets of the bodyweight squat hold right after.
And if you’re the person who has tight hips and ankles, perform both of the stretches and then the bodyweight squat hold after.
Now the really important thing is that you need to do these stretches consistently! You need to do the drills at least four to five days a week for a period of time in order to actually improve your range of motion, and therefore your squat depth. If you just do one or two of these stretches once or twice a week, you’re probably not going to get anywhere with your squat depth, and you’re just going to get frustrated that you’re spinning your wheels. If you found this information helpful.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of improving your squat depth is spending time at the bottom of the squat! The ankle and hip specific drills can help speed up the process if your hips/ankles are limiting you, but they are NOT a substitute for spending time in the bottom of the squat.
If you need personal help improving your squat depth, or coming up with a plan to get you back into the gym after an injury, schedule a call with our expert physical therapists by clicking the link below!