Today we’re getting into a subject that I receive lots of questions about. I’ll be going over tons of details to help you grow stronger as an athlete, so we’ll be splitting this up into a two part series… We’re talking about the best squats for athletes.

The squat is a staple movement of lower body training when it comes to athletes. While there’s endless variations, today we’ll get into the nitty gritty: choosing what’s best for you and the goals of your training. 

Athlete Performs Back Squat

First let’s focus on the depth and stance of your squats. 

The squat is your best exercise for training hip extension and strengthening the glutes. Both of these are critical to athletic movement. When training with a squat, it’s important to first activate the glutes and maintain mobility in the hips. 

1. Depth of Squat

When it comes to training for athletes there’s lots of conversation over what’s better:

“Ass-to-Grass” squats or a Parallel squat.

Based on research, they’ve found that hitting either depth doesn’t have much of an effect on EMG or the activation of the nervous system and muscle activation.

However, in my experience the full depth squat can be problematic for Athletes. Going “ass-to-grass” in a squat utilizes the quads far more as you begin to move past the parallel point.

So what’s the difference?

As a general rule for athletes – I always recommend staying away from too much quad stimulation. Doing deep squats often, can overtime create an imbalance as the quads become too strong and the glutes become weak. 

Athlete Performs Back Squat For Strength

Whatever depth you’re able to comfortably hit in a squat will be based upon your mobility and strength.

If an athlete is more mobile in the hips and ankles, allowing them to hit their best squat at lower than parallel – that’s fine assuming it feels natural to them. For some guys who have less range of motion, I’ll have them squat only as deep as parallel and that works for me. 

Find your edge.

2. Squat Stance

Your squat stance is also going to vary based on your mobility.

Some guys will have to squat with their feet and toes turned out wide because it’s the only way they’ll be able to hit parallel. Other athletes might be able to hit that same depth with their feet directly under the hips.

Again, find what works best for you.

When working with an athlete that’s new to squatting or is reevaluating their squat pattern, I’ll have these guys start with their feet just outside of the hips and toes turned as forward as possible. What I’m looking for at this point, is the best position for that athlete to produce a lot of power and torque through their movement. 

Proper Squat Stance for Athletes

Best Squat Stance for Athletes

Torque when it comes to your squat, refers to the action of externally rotating or “screwing the feet into the floor.” When you do this it allows for true glute activation and gives you the ability to power up from the bottom of a squat. 

When it comes to the best squats for athletes, you should play around with your depth and stance to find what’s best for you. Your best, will be where you can produce the most power under the bar.


Above I’ve shared just the initial elements to hit your best squats. Check out Part 2 for THE best Squat Variations for athletes Athlete Squats for Power and Speed

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