6 Reasons Why You Cant Squat Deep

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No matter how hard they try, many people struggle to squat deep. If this sounds like you, then you are not alone!

Deep squats are an amazing must-have calisthenics fundamental that offers so many benefits to increase performance in your workouts and everyday living. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do this effective exercise.

Ever wonder why you can’t squat deep? It turns out there are some reasons that may surprise you. 

In this article, we will discuss 6 reasons why your squat mobility might be limited and what you can do about it.


Why do deep squats

“My knees hurt!”

“I keep on falling backward!”

“My hips feel really tight when I squat.”

“I can’t straighten my back at the bottom of a squat.”

“What can I do to improve my squat depth? “

If you want to start seeing some real improvements in your squat depth, then it is time to start working on specific weaknesses that could be hindering you from squatting any lower.

✊The deep squat is a fundamental calisthenics movement that develops strong stability and strength for the body, especially for the lower legs. It requires strength primarily of the quads and glute muscles to get into the position as well as a good amount of mobility on ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, trunk mobility, and knee flexion. 

Deep squats are perfect for building muscle mass at home while also improving lower body mobility. Benefits from this exercise also translate to better movement quality in your everyday life. It’s definitely one of the best exercises everyone should be working on.

Improving your deep squat will also:

  • 🏆 Improve your posture
  • 🏆 Improve your overall balance
  • 🏆 Strengthen your lower body for more advanced leg movements
  • 🏆 Increase the stability of your core
  • 🏆 Decrease the risk of lower back pains and injuries
  • 🏆 Improve your overall physique

Film your squat

If you can’t go any lower with your squat, then your first agenda should be recording your squat so you can assess where your weakness potentially lies. 

You can’t necessarily tell what mistake you could be making based on feeling alone, especially if you’re not aware of the proper cues of what a deep squat should feel like.

Why do I experience pain?🤔

✊Pain is a signal from your body that’s telling you there is something wrong with your body, and deep squats might be triggering that weakness.

You can use calisthenics to help alleviate pain: 📍 How to Treat Injuries Using Calisthenics

HOWEVER, we highly advise seeking help from your healthcare specialist/physiotherapist in person first to diagnose your situation better, especially when pain is intolerable. Train smart.

Why can’t you squat deep enough?😤

🥺Wrong squat technique

Deep squats

Why you can’t do a deep squat? It’s maybe because you’re doing a bad form of a regular squat in the first place.😢

When you lower yourself in a squat, your knees should move comfortably based on your biomechanics. Your hips should also stay mobile. Your upper body should maintain a straight and upright posture.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

Here are some pointers for you to follow for a deep squat:

  • Straight back
  • Knees driving outward or straight
  • Feet flat on the ground
  • Knees can go past your toes
  • Squatting upward with the same chest and hip position
  • Keep the core engaged throughout the movement
  • Stance around shoulder-width apart (will depend based on what feels most comfortable for you)

There’s an old squat form that tells you that you shouldn’t let your knees go past your toes. This was based on a 1978 research study. However, this is outdated, and a 2003 research shows that moving your knees past your toes is an essential movement to get a deeper squat while not putting any unnecessary loading unto your hips and lower back.

👊How to fix:

If you can’t perform the deep squat currently, then the best way to go about is to use a squat progression that suits your current skill level. Using a progressive calisthenics approach.


🔥Weak core

Having insufficient core strength will prevent you from getting deep into a squat. This is because when you descend into a squat, your core has to work overtime to stabilize your body.

If your core is weak, it will give out before you reach the bottom of the squat. This weakness can also prevent you from transmitting power from your legs to execute a deep squat better.

👊How to fix:

To fix this issue, you need to focus on strengthening your core muscles. Some exercises that are great are anti-flexion exercises such as planks, side planks, hollow holds, and dead bugs.

Hollow hold arms up

The hollow body hold is a great exercise for strengthening the core for squats and also other calisthenics exercises such as the handstand, push-ups, and pull-ups.

💪 How to perform:

  1. Begin by lying down back against the floor with arms overhead and feet together and straight.
  2. Engage your core and tilt your hips forward to flatten your back.
  3. Lift your upper back, arms, and leg off the floor.
  4. Hold the position for a specific time.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Keep your lower back against the floor, especially when you raise your body into the hollow position. It will challenge your core more.
  • Make the exercise easier by bending your legs, putting your arms by your side, or just focusing on the engaged core first without lifting your limbs.
  • Breathe normally.
  • Full body tension.

🥺Poor thoracic mobility

Deep squat

Lack of spine mobility can also hinder you from getting deep with your squats. Again, this is because of the movement pattern of squats.

When you squat, your hips move back and down while your knees bend. This action requires a lot of mobility at the ankles, knees, and hips.

But it also requires mobility in the thoracic spine (upper back) and shoulders. If these areas are tight, it will limit how far you can descend into a squat before your chest starts to collapse. This will prevent you from also getting a more rigid and upright posture in the deep squat position. The bad form of deep squats can cause back and shoulder pains in the long run.

👊How to fix:

One way to improve your thoracic mobility is by foam rolling and using a lacrosse ball to release any tightness in the area. You can also try some specific mobility exercises such as overhead reaches and thoracic spine openers.

One of our favorite mobility moves is the Cat cow. It’s very simple and scalable to perform, but the benefits are excellent. It can gradually introduce movement in your spine, mobilizing it for better thoracic mobility.

Cat camel

Cat camel is perfect for mobilizing your spine to prepare it for movement and squats. It’s very scalable, which is perfect for beginners.

💪 How to perform:

  1. Begin by going into a quadruped position.
  2. Pull your chest towards the floor and lift your head upward slowly.
  3. Pause at the bottom position.
  4. Draw your core and cave your back slowly while pulling your head downward.
  5. Pause at the top position.
  6. Repeat for reps.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Move along your mobility
  • Slowly go through the motions and feel the movement
  • There should be no pain in the movement. Just a minor discomfort at most.


🤒Tight hip flexors

If you have trouble squatting deep, it might be because your hips are tight. When your hips are tight, it limits your range of motion and prevents you from getting low in a squat. Other compensations might also manifest if you lack the range on your hips.

👊How to fix:

To fix this issue, you need to stretch and strengthen the hip flexor muscles in a full range of motion.

Pigeon Stretch

Pigeon stretch opens up the hips and even prepares you for more difficult leg movement that requires more mobility. While in the photo, our Movement Athlete coach shows a deep range. You can easily adjust the exercise to suit your skill level.

💪 How to perform:

  1. Start in a lunge position with your hands on the floor to support you into position.
  2. Bring your knee of your forward leg to the floor.
  3. Release your other foot off the floor and let the back leg flat on the floor.
  4. Bend forward while keeping a straight back.
  5. Hold the position for a specified time.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Decrease range of motion by placing yoga blocks or any elevated surface on the floor where you’re going to place your knee on the front leg. This decreases the range of motion as you as working on your mobility.
  • No need to bend forward if you’re still having a hard time getting into the position.
  • Maintain square hips.
  • Keep back leg in a neutral position.


🦵Poor ankle mobility

Knee to wall

Stretching your calves and ankles is excellent for your deep squats.

Deep squats require a good amount of ankle dorsiflexion. Lack this, and you will be stuck squatting shallower than you want to. In addition, you won’t be able to decrease the angle between your foot and shin.

Having the necessary ankle mobility lets your knees travel forward more so you can maintain balance in the deep squat position. However, if you let your knees move forward, you won’t be able to shift the center of gravity, and you’ll inevitably fall backward.

You can easily identify poor ankle mobility when performing deep squats when your heels tend to lift upward when going deep.

If you can go down to a deep squat but with elevated heels, then ankle mobility is most likely your problem. You might also decrease the range of motion or round your upper back to shift the center of gravity to get to a deeper squat.

👊How to fix:

The best way to improve your ankle mobility is by doing some specific exercises and stretches such as the calf stretch, ankle mobilization drills, and the dorsiflexion with a band.

Banded Toe Points

Ankle preparation is essential for squats and other lower body movement patterns. You can also perform them as warm-up exercises to improve your ankle mobility before a squat session.

Here’s a complete guide for calisthenics warm-ups: 📍 The Ultimate Calisthenics Warm-up Guide

💪 How to perform:

  1. Sit upright on the floor with legs extended.
  2. Set your resistance bands on the balls of your feet.
  3. Hold the band according to your skill level.
  4. Point your toes forward as much as you can while resisting using the band.
  5. Pause at the end range.
  6. Slowly release back to the flex position while still resisting.
  7. Repeat for reps.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Adjust the band resistance depending on your skill level.
  • Aim for max range for both flexion and extension.
  • Keep your body upright.
  • Engage your full legs when performing the movement.


🤕Tight Hamstrings

Hamstrings lengthen in the deep squat position which is why having them hammies will give you a massive disadvantage when performing deep squats.  When your hamstrings are tight, they will limit the range of motion in your hips and knees, preventing you from getting low in a squat.

👊How to fix:

To fix this issue, you need to focus on stretching and strengthening your hamstrings in a full range of motion. Some great hamstring exercises are the lunges, single-leg bodyweight deadlift.

One of the best ways to improve hamstring mobility for the purpose of improving deeps squats is to introduce a partial range of motion.

Yes, you read it right! PARTIAL range of motion.

No. We haven’t gotten mad. A partial range of motion can be used to improve your strength and mobility towards the deep squat. To implement this, simply do squats to a range of motion you are currently comfortable with.

Gradually increase the range of motion as you get stronger. This will help you loosen up your tight hamstrings while directly improving your movement pathway for deep squats. You can use assistance by holding on to a bar or a wall to help you get deep into your squat safely as possible.

Box Squats

Limiting the range of motion by placing a stool behind you when you perform squats is a great way to improve mobility and strength at the same time. You can gradually move into a lower stool as you improve and remove the chair when you are ready.

You can also get a higher chair if you’re mobility and strength is not quite there yet.

💪 How to perform:

  1. Place a stool behind you.
  2. Position into the squat.
  3. Lower down your hips until your bum touches lightly on the chair.
  4. Push off the ground and use your quads and glutes to return to a standing position.
  5. Repeat for reps.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Follow the basic technique for performing squats such as the straight and upright upper torso, engaged core, etc.
  • You can sit down on the floor when you’re still working on your strength but aim to brush off the chair lightly.
  • Don’t lean forward too much, especially at the bottom position.


😲Biomechanical disadvantage

Sometimes, it’s not your fault you can’t squat deep. It could be due to your bone and joint structure which might give you a biomechanical disadvantage. Your portions and different anthropometry affect the quality and capability to perform deep squats.

For example, if you have long femurs (thigh bones), it will increase the distance the hip has to travel when squatting down. This makes it harder to get low in a squat.

The same goes for having a short torso and long legs. This combination will make it harder for you to maintain an upright posture when squatting down and will cause your chest to collapse forward, making it difficult to go deep.

👊How to fix:

There’s not much you can do about this if you have this disadvantage. BUT this doesn’t mean that deep squats are impossible for you. This simply means that you need to work more on your weaknesses to address the issues.

Also, find the proper squat stance that works for your anatomy. Working on assisted deeps squats help you build the necessary strength and mobility while pinpointing any weaknesses when compensation arises.

Assisted Deep Squat Hold

💪 How to perform:

  1. Find a sturdy surface to hold on to.
  2. Prepare into a squat position.
  3. Lower down to your deep squat while holding on to the surface to lessen the demand.
  4. Hold your bottom position for a specified time.

⭐️Coaching pointers:

  • Maintain the proper squat techniques and cues.
  • Go into a deep position that your mobility allows you to and use the assistance to push you there slowly.
  • Gradually go deeper as you improve.


There you have it, reasons why you can’t squat deep, and what you can do about it. It’s not just about the strength or the mobility, but a combination of both that needs to be addressed in order to perform deep squats with proper technique.

Start with working on your mobility first, then focus on your strength. Progress slowly and be patient. With time and consistency, you will be able to squat deep with proper technique.

Most importantly, have fun while training!

If you found this helpful and would like to learn a BETTER method so you can perform certain movements or exercises to squat deeper, then taking a personalized approach is your best option.

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