Considerations for Squat Depth

by Brady Purdin, CSCS
NSCA Coach October 2021
Vol 8, Issue 2


The purpose of this article is to compare the effects of quarter, parallel, and full depth squats on muscle activity, joint stress, athletic abilities, and potential injury risks for the consideration of all strength and conditioning professionals.

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This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach »

Related Reading



1. Bryanton, MA, Kennedy, MD, Carey, JP, and Chiu, LZF. Effect of squat depth and barbell load on relative muscular effort in squatting. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(10): 2820-2828, 2012.

2. Caterisano, A, Moss, RF, Pellinger, TK, Woodruff, K, Lewis, VC, Booth, W, and Khadra, T. The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and high muscles. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16(3): 428-432, 2002.

3. Ciccone, T, Davis, K, Bagley, J, and Galpin, A. Deep squats and knee health: A scientific review. 2015. Retrieved December 2020 from https://shruggedcollective. com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/DeepSquat-Review-Barbell- Daily-3-27-15.pdf.

4. Escamilla, RF, Fleisig, GS, Zheng, N, Lander, JE, Barrentine, SW, Andrews, JR, et al. Effects of technique variations on knee biomechanics during the squat and leg press. Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine 33(9): 1552-1566, 2001.

5. Farrokhi, S, Colletti, PM, and Powers, CM. Differences in patellar cartilage thickness, transverse relaxation time, and deformational behavior: A comparison of young women with and without patellofemoral pain. American Journal of Sports Medicine 39(2): 384-391, 2011.

6. Hartmann, H, Wirth, K, Klusemann, M, Dalic, J, Matuschek, C, and Schmidtbleicher, D. Influence of squatting depth on jumping performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(12): 3243-3261, 2012.

7. Johnston, C, Hunt-Murray, C, and Hsieh, C. Effect of heel heights on lower extremity muscle activation for back-squat performance. International Society of Biomechanics in Sports 35(1): 176, 2017.

8. Pallarés, JG, Cava, AM, Courel-Ibáñez, J, González-Badillo, JJ, and Morán-Navarro, R. Full squat produces greater neuromuscular and functional adaptations and lower pain than partial squats after prolonged resistance training. European Journal of Sport Science 20(1): 115-124, 2020.

9. Rhea, MR, Kenn, JG, Peterson, MD, Massey, D, Simão, R, Marin, PJ, et al. Joint-angle specific strength adaptations influence improvements in power in highly trained athletes. Human Movement 17(1): 43-49, 2016.

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Brady Purdin, CSCS

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