I could write an essay on why humans should squat deep -breaking 90 degrees.
I’ll save that for another time but ALL decent coaches should know how to “fix” a squat that isn’t deep enough.
If you have a trainer or a coach that doesn’t understand basic human anatomy and the most common, basic reasons why people can’t do movements the way they should be done, it might be time to look at other options!
I think there are 9 reasons why a person won’t or can’t do a deep squat.
2-Laziness, masked by items 3 and/or 4.
3-Poor body and spacial awareness, indicating item 2.
4-Someone influential to them (usually someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about) told them not to squat deeper than parallel.
5-A weak core.
6-Tight or poor range of motion in the calf and achilles.
7-Tight or poor range of motion in the hip flexor muscles.
8-Tight or poor range of motion in the upper back muscles.
9-Inactive or lazy glute muscles.
The first 4 items on this list are fairly quick to deal with. Injuries are more specialised and a good coach will seek advice from other health care professionals to work towards squat improvements. Items 2-4? Well in my opinion if you’re dealing with someone that makes a fuss over any of these issues, then they are probably the same kind of people who get dietary advice from the standard food pyramid, listen to trainers who say women shouldn’t lift ever more than 3lbs, think wholegrains are a healthy food group, believe that vegetarianism will save the world from global hunger and assume that everyone in Europe is a socialist left wing hippie.
As amusing as these types of people can be in small, measured doses, they are also likely to give you a headache. They are better off doing endless, repetitive spin classes and Zumba. Leave them be! They are beyond help!
Items 5 to 9 on the list are diagnostic tools that ALL coaches should know. Even if they are woefully under-qualified and have just done a weekend CrossFit Level 1 course, they should have studied the course material, read some extra stuff on human anatomy and physiology and be knowledgeable enough to understand why. Realistically this probably isn’t the case but I live in hope!
The test for a weak core is simple. When you hold a plank position (on elbows or hands) does it hurt your back or do you feel it in your abs? If your back starts hurting and you start sticking your arse in the air like you’re doing a fantastic pyramid impression the chances are your core is weak and needs help. A decent coach will know how to remedy this. Doing endless situps is not the best way!
Tight calves are manifested when the would be squatter raises their heels off the ground when they go into a deep squat. Running shoes with a massive spongey sole don’t help things so throwing those huge foot boats away and doing some stretching and foam rolling will help. Another old school assisted movement is squatting with your heels on a small weight plate.
Tight hips? The butt wink or tail bone tuck is a tell tail sign. A good couch stretch and some Bulgarian split squats work wonders.
Upper back tightness? The test is to squat with your arms overhead. If your arms tip forwards like you’re at a Neanderthal prayer recital, your upper back is probably tight. Ask your coach about how to stretch it and roll it out.
Inactive glutes? When your squat below parallel your knees cave in like a newly born Bambi deer. Foam rolling, stretching and using bands for assisted work go a long way. Again a decent coach will show you how.
It can take months of regular (at least 3 times a week) for some or all of these issues to be addressed. Most of the time your daily activity, work or daily bad habits will reinforce old behaviours so you have to be working at this stuff a lot to break those habits.
Get to work and get your squat deep!