- Do you currently have trouble with your squats because your range of motion (ROM) is inhibited?
- Are you looking for a way to correct and improve on your squat ROM?
- Are you looking to make bigger gains with your training?
- Are you looking to give your strength and conditioning program a significant upgrade?
Improving your squat ROM is crucial if you’re serious about getting results from your training and about optimizing the function of your body from head to toe. If you’re limited with your squatting ability then your function is limited which in turn means you’re body is not performing up to standard. To help you resolve this I’m including 4 exercises here to help you improve your squat ROM and to get you into optimal function. If you’re trying to do it then you might as well do it right!
Improving Your Squat Range Of Motion (ROM)
When looking at your typical squat there are a couple of things to consider. First, you want to understand what your limitations are before you can work to improve your squat ROM. You want to focus on eliminating whatever the limiting factor is so you can settle into a quality squat ROM.
With that being said there are two possible factors to consider when evaluating what’s inhibiting your squat ROM. These two factors boil down to you either having an immobility issue, or a stability issue. Assuming you are consistent with your strength training and have difficulty performing the squat movement with full depth let’s look at the exercises I’ve outlined for you here to help you resolve this issue.
1) Loaded Saddle Stretch: This exercise is going to be an awesome first step in helping you to open your adductors (groin) allowing your hips to settle into a more full depth during your squat movement. Tight adductors will inhibit your squat ROM in a hurry.
The saddle stretch by itself is a tremendous stretch to help you with this and as a good rule of thumb you should be able to sit upright in this position without the aid or help of using your hands, or with having to lean with your back up against a wall. With that being said once you’re more proficient with this movement you can use a kettlebell or some other form of passive resistance in helping you pry into a deeper stretch.
Recommendation: Hold the loaded stretch for 1 to 2 minutes using the weight of the kettlebell to slowly assist you in prying your hips by pulling you forward. Make sure your knees are extended and firmly pushed into the ground.
2) Ankle And Knee Primer: When talking about the squat movement you’ve got to have quality mobility in both your knees and ankles if you expect to perform a respectable squat.
Like the hips the ankles and knees can get tight and restrictive and this exercise is a great way for you to pry the ankle and knee on each leg into flexion so that you can get closer to achieving a more full squat depth. Once you put yourself into position with this exercise track your knee out over your foot forcing it into a more flexed position.
As you do this you’ll notice your heel of the foot on the grounded leg will try to come up off the ground. Work to keep your heel pressed firm into the ground as you track your knee over it. This will give you a huge stretch in both joints, as well as your hips.
Recommendation: Work to pry this stretch for about 1 to 2 minutes prior to activity.
3) Hip Thrust: Proper firing of working muscles is crucial for you if you’re going to be able to perform movements with greater performance. When it comes to squatting you’ve got to have your glutes and hamstrings firing so that you can get into a more quality squat.
One way to ensure this is by you including in some hip thrusts prior to squatting. By lying on the ground and performing the hip thrust you want to focus on activating your glutes at the peak of the movement. You’ll probably also notice that you’ll feel a significant stretch in your thighs and hip flexors when performing these as well.
Recommendation: When performing this movement make sure that you keep your low back (lumbar spine) firm into the ground eliminating any space between your low back and the ground. As you lift our hips up your low back should lift off the ground first followed by your glutes. As you return to the ground make sure that your lumbar touches the ground first once again eliminating space between your low back and the ground. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps prior to squatting.
4) Goblet Squat: Well if you’re looking at improving your squat technique then what better way to do it than to practice doing actual squats? One of the best squat variations you can implement to do this is by utilizing the goblet squat.
With the goblet squat you can use the front loaded kettlebell (or dumbbell if necessary) to serve as a counter weight for helping you to stabilize into the descent of the squat movement. Because the weight is anteriorly loaded you are also forced to brace your core midsection creating greater core stabilization.
Recommendation: Allow the weight to rest at your chest and use your hands to shelve the weight allowing it to rest in position rather than trying to muscle it at the rest position. Ideally as you descend down into the squat try to reach enough depth so that your elbows touch the insides of your knees. Maintain a neutral spine and good posture throughout the ROM. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps as a good start on your leg day.
Improving Your Squat: The Takeaway
If you’re looking to get the most out of your strength gains then you’ve got to work to remove the inhibiting factors. Joint mobility and stability are key factors and as you get into improving your squat you can apply the 4 drills I’ve included here in order to get your body performing up to standard.
Are you currently working on improving your squat ROM?
What exercises have you used to improve on your squat depth?
Post up and share here in the comments below!
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