Squat depth is a topic of conversation in every barbell gym, and it can be a topic of controversy at powerlifting meets.
There are A LOT of powerlifting federations, and each one has its own rule book. Not all federations use the same language when describing what qualifies as depth.
Beyond that, the language is open to interpretation. For example, in SPF, “crease of the hip” could mean the red dot or the green dot. The problem with that? There are 2-3 inches between the two. You might get a white light from one judge and a red from the other two. Unfortunately, it's subjective.
So what is depth?
Who needs to worry about hitting depth?
If you are a competitive powerlifter, you absolutely need to worry about hitting depth on every single rep. It's incredibly frustrating to spend months training for a meet only to miss all your squats due to lack of depth.
But what you're not a competitive lifter?
- If you cannot squat to depth without lumbar flexion, you should NOT SQUAT TO DEPTH.
- If squatting to depth causes you JOINT PAIN (hip, back, knee, etc), then squat to a PAIN-FREE DEPTH - not any deeper. (And make an appointment with your doctor to figure out what's causing the pain!)
- If you can squat to depth with lighter weights, but as the bar gets HEAVIER YOUR SQUATS GET TALLER, then take some weight off the bar. Every rep should be to the same depth, regardless of the weight on the bar!