Just did a squat session with one of the members in the gym to help him with his squat technique. This was also a question posted many times by some of the members and my clients. How low should they go in the squat?
From my point of view, the depth of your squat provides a good assessment of your physical capabilities.
A deep bottom position simply means that you have good mobility in the hip joints, flexibility in the posterior chain muscles (i.e. the glutes, hamstrings and calves) and strength in the full range of motion of the squat. By doing deep in the squat also allows you to develop the glutes and hamstrings which results later on in better muscular balance in the lower limb muscles. A deep squat position also indicates that the thoracic region of your spine has sufficient mobility for you to keep a neutral spine under load.
A short squat (quarter-squat) suggests to a Strength and Conditioning Coach that the person is tight in the hips and the musculature around the hips, resulting in limited range of motion in the squat. More work is required to help loosen up the muscles to get into a better bottom position and eventually a bigger squat and stronger legs.
So the next time you squat, see how low you can go. Are you able to go down low with your knees going over your toes and outwards? Or are you really tight and you can barely get halfway down in the squat without losing the neutral spine position? By knowing how you squat, you can easily point out the areas that require work and attention to help improve your squat and enhance your leg strength.