How deep should I squat?


How deep should I squat? This is one of the oldest arguments in the history of strength training.

The reason I am bring this up now is because of a conversation I had on Saturday. I observed two promising young sprinters squatting. These guys are hugely talented and quite strong. They were squatting 160 kg for reps. The only problem was that their technique was terrible. The squats were half squats at best. I know these guys so we had a chat. There problem stems from lack of knowledge and poor advice. These guys have a fear about getting a big arse from squatting. They also fear getting slow from squatting too deep. My conclusion from this conversation was one of “here we go again”.

There are still people out who think they know everything and who dish out bad advice. The half squat is not even an exercise, is it? Here are a few points I would like to make:

- Squats won’t make you slow, deep squats that is. I’m not interested in some jerk off throwing some research paper at me that included 8 subjects which shows that deep squats are bad for athletes. Deep squats make you stronger, more powerful and faster. Isn’t that commonsense?

- Full squats will lead to balanced leg development. By this I mean quads, hamstrings, glutes etc. Again, I not really interested in research. Let’s focus on commonsense. It is pretty obvious to me when I compare technique and results.

- Full squats aren’t bad for your knees. Movements with a full range of motion is a good thing.

- Powerlifters squat below parallel because they have to in competition. This is measurable. The objective is to lift as much weight as possible within the rules. Power squats are an effective technique for all athletes as they build powerful hips, glutes and hamstrings. The objective for the athlete is to get stronger and this can be measured and achieved.

- Bodybuilders squat with the bar higher on their shoulders and with a more erect torso. The objective is quad development but I believe it also leads to overall balanced leg development. This technique is a good alternative for athletes but again they need to squat deep. I believe the best gains are achieved when real depth is achieved and the glutes are sat right down on the hamstrings.

- Another issue with half squats is that the range of motion gets shorter as the weight gets heavier. I see this all of the time. Load up the bar and cut the depth higher each set. What is the result? No real gain as the squats get higher and higher.

I think it is time to dispel the myths. Full squats are much more difficult of course. But it is a case of investment and return. My advice- go back to squatting school. Deload the weight and learn to squat below parallel for power squats and as deep as possible for bodybuilding/Olympic squats. If you want to get stronger and faster, squat deep.

I am interested in the views of other as always.

bigger stronger smarter

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