How to Bottom-up Squat and Why Would You Want to?

Bottom-up squats are squat variations that help increase mobility and go lower when performing squats. In this article, we dive deep into the benefits of doing bottom-up squats and how to get them right.

a woman doing a squat on a black floor mat
a woman doing a squat on a black floor mat

Squats are a great fitness move for anyone who desires to be physically fit. Coordination of muscles in the upper body and lower body is a must when performing squats. When squatting, the lower you go the more effort it takes to come up.

Bottom-up squats which are also sometimes known as ‘dead-stop squats’ are generally performed using a squat rack where the pins are used to indicate the horizontal thigh position. With bottom-up squats, we focus on squatting below the horizontal. These squats help increase core stability.

How to Set Up and Perform a Bottom-Up Squat?

  1. Perform a bodyweight squat (without any additional weights) and pin down your lowest possible point.
  1. Adjust the pins to this position in the squat rack.
  1. Fix the bar on the pins and load the weights to match half your repetition maximum (the maximum possible times the weight can be lifted before you are exhausted.)

NOTE: Online calculators could help you find your RM

  1. Get below the bar and by appropriately placing your feet, start pushing upwards using your quads and squeezing the gluteals.
  1. Pause at the top for a while.
  1. Begin to descend the bar and put it back on the pins for two seconds, get your muscles relaxed, and continue this process until your reps are completed. (The bar has to be descended with control to obtain the maximum out of your workout session)

A rep count of 8-10 reps x 4 sets is recommended depending on how fit you are.

What Muscles Work During Bottom-up Squats?

Bottom-up squats work most of the lower-body muscles whilst also engaging upper body muscles. To perform the squats with proper mechanics you’ll need to have a clear understanding of the muscles coordinating to complete a rep:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Adductors
  • Calves 
  • Hip Flexors
  • Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus
  • Core 
  • Spinal erectors
  • Upper back

The mechanism involved:

  • At the lowest position of the squat, the most engaged muscles are the quadriceps because your knees will be at a higher position relative to your lower body. 
  • The core muscles and the spine erectors will remain active to prevent yourself from flexing due to imbalance at the lowest position.
  • When you are standing up the Adductor Magnus (inner thigh) comes into play. These muscles help in lifting your hip upwards.
  • In addition to your muscles, squats also require a compound functioning of joints such as the knee, ankles, and hips as well.

Advantages Of Bottom Up Squats

a man doing squats at a gym
a man doing squats at a gym

Here are some of the benefits of bottom-up squats;

1. Provide postural stability

Bottom-up squats help newer weightlifters get used to the squatting movement quickly by promoting tension management and correct posture. 

2. Boosts the rate of force development

Bottom-up squats are an excellent solution for those with poor start force, positional difficulties, and pausing while weight lifting. It helps build the explosiveness required for multiple squat exercises.

3. Minimizing injury risks

Bottom-up squats improve the strength of tendons, bones, and ligaments thereby helping in minimizing the risk of injury.

4. Burns Calories

Generally, we have heard of burning calories through activities like jogging, cycling, and swimming. According to research, it is found that a person could burn calories even by engaging in high-intensity compound exercises such as bottom-up squats.

5. Improving the strength of lower body muscles

The lower body consists of some of the strongest and regularly used muscles in the body. Performing bottom-up squats promotes the strengthening of your muscles and tones them well. This in turn helps in day-to-day activities and athletic movements.

Getting it Done Safely

Although it's one of the safest exercises to perform, keep in mind some of the safety measures while squatting;

  • Never push beyond the lowest possible limit. Consider your level of comfort when setting the pin on your lowest point. Forcing yourself too low might result in injuries.
  • Always squat in a place with proper space. Failure to do so will result in incorrect posture causing problems in your knee joints. 
  • Make sure that you always maintain your spine in an upright position with your head neither facing too high nor too low.
  • Refrain from curving your shoulders.
  • Don’t stress yourself too much by adding weight that you can’t handle.
  • Keep your core muscles actively engaged.

Who Should Avoid Bottom-up Squats?

  • Lifters with poor lower body strength. 
  • Lifters without proper hip or ankle flexibility.
  • Lifters who are unable to maintain balance due to asymmetry.
  • Lifters with poor core muscle strength or issues with the spine.

Why Pick Bottom-up Squats?

Finding the right balance between adding weights and retaining control is key. It’s best to focus on the quality of your movement while performing squats, eventually increasing the weights.

It’s best to add in more reps with bottom-up squats because getting hardwired to it gives significant outcomes. It is recommended to avoid having a heavy workout session on the following day. One which is light on the lower body is considered best.

Spending a few weeks perfecting your movement is ideal for better development in mobility and strength. 

Closing Remarks

Here on our website, our goal is to encourage readers to switch to home gyms because of the obvious benefits. If you are interested in making the switch too we recommend you to start with this article.  

For some in-detail guidelines on the equipment required for weightlifters, you can refer to our articles on the best squat stands, the best budget squat racks, and the best half racks.