When squatting, how much weight you use and how low you go at the bottom of each rep have always been major sources of confusion. Fortunately, research findings released in late 2012 might help clear things up a bit.
Faculty in the Physical Education and Recreation Department at the University of Alberta, Edmonton (Canada), had 10 trained women perform barbell squats with 50 to 90 percent of their one-rep maxes while measuring the “relative muscular effort” of their glutes, quads and calves. The results showed that quad RME increased with greater squat depth but not higher loads, while glute RME was increased through depth and load. (Calf RME was increased only with load.) The take-home from this study? Building bigger quads doesn’t necessarily require huge weights but rather getting down low at the bottom of the rep (quads parallel with the floor at the very least); for bigger, stronger glutes, big weights and good depth are key.