Skip to main content
South West Sports Centre


Should I squat lower or add weight to my squat?

  1. Home
  2. South West Sports Centre News
  3. Should I squat lower or add weight to my squat?

Published 30 November 2023, updated 06 December 2023

If you want to get stronger, and perform at a higher capacity for longer, then using high rep training to build strength endurance will make it happen. And if you want to maximize the gains, perfecting your squat is a great place to start. Rob Lee, Les Mills’ expert technical adviser and physio delves into the science and explains the best approach.

What is the ideal squat depth?
During a BODYPUMP™ workout, the ideal squat range is 90 degrees of knee flexion. Although there are range variations utilized within the workout, the full range 90-degree squat is the predominant range depth.

At 90 degrees of knee flexion, the load of the bar is at its furthest from the knee, creating a mechanical disadvantage and essentially meaning it needs more force to be created by your muscles to be moved back up again.

That is why we see the highest muscle activation of the muscles moving the knee joint such as the quads in this part of the range. The glutes that primarily drive the hips in the squat, kick in extra hard here, and we see very high activity in them as they help the quads out through the toughest part of the squat. You will often hear coaching focusing on squeezing and driving the glutes from the bottom of the squat to encourage you to work at this depth effectively and consistently.

During a BODYPUMP workout, the slower squat tempos like the 4/4 is a great opportunity to make sure you are hitting this depth, as there is plenty of time to reach it. Technique-wise, shifting the hips back and down should help you reach the 90-degree range and reduce the likelihood of overloading the knees.

Hitting the 90-degree range may enhance results, strength gains and intensify that BODYPUMP burn. So taking note of your own range and ensuring you’re hitting this depth is a good place to start before adding load.

What is the ideal squat weight to lift during BODYPUMP?
Following the coaching of doubling your warm-up weight if you’re new, or increasing it by 2-4 times if you’re advanced, should land you on the ideal weight.

This has been specifically designed to allow you to keep up with the class and keep you in the strength endurance training realm. Adding too much weight is essentially self-limiting – this is the genius of BODYPUMP choreography.

Everyone has a different relative strength, so finding your own sweet spot is key. You don’t want to be going to absolute failure or fatigue.

Adding load will increase the average and peak activity of your glute max in particular. This means that making small incremental additions to your load while still staying within the guidelines could increase your training effects.

This piece originally appeared at