View Full Version : Full (deep) squats or Parallel squats

03-29-2004, 03:55 PM
I used to do deep squats (I now do parallel -- the trainers at my gym advised me to do so...).

I'm thinking of going back to deep squats but... Would like to know what others are doing, and would like to know why...



03-29-2004, 04:13 PM
Hi, Manic! http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Thanks for bumping that thread on this subject.

I did deep squats for a short while, when a proselytizing powerlifting friend tried to get me to compete. I couldn't move but about half the weight (admittedly variations on a known exercise can be more difficult to learn than a new one) and felt considerable DOMS in the posterior chain with little complaint in my quads. Very anecdotal evidence to be sure http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

There are plenty of good reasons for deep squats, but I am lifting to grow. I have built awesome quads by going to parallel and my joints prefer this depth. Reasons enough for me to stick with my old standby...


03-29-2004, 07:14 PM
I go pretty low, but not like this dude:

or this...

03-29-2004, 07:30 PM
I used to squat like the second guy (picture), but with much less weight...

Kate (thanks for your answer! http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif ) : you said that your joints "preferred" going to parallel. Were they aching when going deep?


03-30-2004, 09:49 AM
Quote[/b] (Manic @ Mar. 29 2004,7:30)]you said that your joints "preferred" going to parallel. Were they aching when going deep?
http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif My right hip was screaming after a few weeks of deep squatting. Admittedly my form was new and my right hip has always been the first to complain. It's quite possible if I'd stuck with it, I could have nailed the form, gotten stronger... maybe even improved the mobility in my hip.

I wasn't willing to take the risk. If I want to get low and heavy, I deadlift. Once I pull the first one off the ground, I know I will get my reps. I don't want to end up looking like that guy with his butt on the ground and be unable to get up. I've done that on the leg press, and let me tell you, it is not pretty http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blush.gif http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

My recipe for making this kind of decision:
1. Establish your primary goal
2. Weigh risk vs. benefit

When you squatted low in the past, what did your joints "say"?


03-30-2004, 10:49 AM
from even a power lifting view point, that guy in the second photo is much lower than he needs to be to have the lift deemed legit. You just need your hip joint to be visably lower than the knee joint, thats all. The only reason i can think to go any lower is so that you can take advantage of momentum and bounce the weight back up.

In terms of what you 'should' do, my opinion is that you should go as low as you can safely. ie as low as you can go while maintaining a good tight back arch; as low as you can go while managing to keep your hips moving back as knees are bending (at no point should your knees be bending without your hips moving backwards); as low as you can go without having your knees moving towards each other.

Everybody has slightly different body mechanics. Therefore, there is no one way to squat that will suit absolutely everybody. Its something you need to assess with regard to your own body (risk vs. benefit, good post kate http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif ). Along the same lines, some people might find that leg press suits their body far better (thats not me, but i am not you&#33http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif in which case why would you contiune with the squat at all?

03-30-2004, 01:55 PM
Thanks for your comments.

Kate :

Quote[/b] ]My recipe for making this kind of decision:
1. Establish your primary goal
2. Weigh risk vs. benefit

These are good points.

My goals are hypertrophy, flexibility and general body-health. And, like most of us, I don’t want to go for unreasonable risks…

But which avenue is riskier : deeper or parallel? This is what I’m trying to sort out.

Some people actually say that stoping at parallel (or close to 90deg.) is actually more dangerous than doing the full squat : “Most interesting to me is the problem with what is usually recommended as "safe": squatting to parallel. At parallel (where the thigh is parallel to the floor, higher than the depth of a full squat by about 30 degrees), the compressive forces on the patella (kneecap) are actually at their highest (Huberti & Hayes, Journal of Bone Joint Surgery, 1984: 715-724). Decelerating, stopping, and reversing direction at this angle can inspire significant knee pain in even healthy people, whereas full squats present no problem. Another exercise which is supposedly "safer" is the leg extension, even though patellar tension and shear forces on the knee joint are demonstrably higher with such an exercise (see sidebar).” learning the squat (http://www.stumptuous.com/learnsquat.html).

Since I’m actually squatting to parallel (maybe a bit lower) these kinds of comments make me think...

As for flexibility and health, full range is sometimes recommended: "In fact, there is strong evidence that squatting actually improves knee stability! The increased strength, balance, and proprioception from regular squatting can make a substantial contribution to keeping knees healthy." learning the squat (http://www.stumptuous.com/learnsquat.html)

Regarding hypertrophy, some articles suggest that "As squatting depth increases, quadriceps-muscle activation also increases, and thus expanding the depth of squatting should be associated with augmented gains in quad strength." How safe is squatting? (http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0827b.htm). I guess the quads are also much more streched in that position, which would probably cause more microtrauma.

Now what... well, I guess I'm just trying to see if squating "deeper" is actually as safe as some specialists (like Kreighbaum) say.Squat Analysis (http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Squats.html#anchor4522492), or maybe even better than parallel.


Quote[/b] ]When you squatted low in the past, what did your joints "say"?

My joints seemed to be okay. But I became worried when, like I said, the trainers at my gym advised me not to deep squat. They said it could be okay NOW, but that I’d suffer latter on… Which of course is not what I wish. I need my knees!


Quote[/b] ]as low as you can go while maintaining a good tight back arch; as low as you can go while managing to keep your hips moving back as knees are bending (at no point should your knees be bending without your hips moving backwards); as low as you can go without having your knees moving towards each other.

These are all good points about good technique. Have you been “deep squatting” lately?

Quote[/b] ]Everybody has slightly different body mechanics. Therefore, there is no one way to squat that will suit absolutely everybody. Its something you need to assess with regard to your own body

True, but aren’t there some general rules? Like you said : “as low as you can go while maintaining a good tight back arch; as low as you can go while managing to keep your hips moving back as knees are bending (at no point should your knees be bending without your hips moving backwards)”. These are general rules which can be applied to different contexts, different body mechanics.

** So could that be considered a good answer to the deep/parallel issue : go as deep as you can, as long as you put into practice “x” and “y”? ** (x and y being hypothetical parameters to "assure" safety)

Other considerations?

(I’m sorry if my English is not great (it’s not my first language)… Hope that the content comes through…)



Bryan Haycock
03-30-2004, 02:53 PM
Quote[/b] (Manic @ Mar. 30 2004,11:55)]...I guess the quads are also much more streched in that position, which would probably cause more microtrauma.
Yes, its true the quads are in a more stretched position, however, they are inactivated to a certain degree. If they weren't your quads would contract and kick your feet right out from under you. So picture that guy above with his butt to the floor. Now picture him doing a leg extension right at the bottom. You see? He would fly backwards if his quads engaged fully.

It is actually your butt that gets the most work beyond about 90 degrees.

Use leg extensions for full range contractions if that is what you are after.

For fitness, go ahead and do deep squat jumps up onto a platform. Use no additional weight.

03-30-2004, 03:23 PM
I do parallel, mainly for the assumptive reasons Brian confirmed above. I dont feel it in my quads past a certain point.

03-30-2004, 11:14 PM
Thanks for the info, Bryan. I greatly appreciate.

Shouldn’t something about the deep squats/parallel squats be added to the FAQs? Maybe it's just me... http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blush.gif


Scott S
03-31-2004, 02:03 AM
Right now, I'm working on my glute/ham flebility and plan to switch to full squats when I can maintain the arch all the way down. Whoever suggested bouncing at the bottom of a full squat, THAT'S how you injure your knees! Don't do it!

I think that squatting ATF with good form is the best way to get the most out of the squat and also to maintain flexibility. I challenge anyone to prove that full squats done with good form are more dangerous than squats to parallel.

As for Insane_Man's pic, that guy was squatting when the powerlifting standards were not what they are today. PLing was in its infancy, and "as far down as you can go" seemed to be the rule, whether that was to the ground, or barely to parallel.


03-31-2004, 08:58 AM
I think one of the big questions is what is it about deep squatting that is supposed to be 'dangerous'? Is it really the shear forces in the knee joint?...and are these forces really increased even if excellent form is adhered to?

I agree that you are not doing your knees any favours if you bend your knees without accomodating the bend by moving hips backwards. Also if your knees begin to move inwards; or having your knees bend out in a different direction to that which your toes are pointing (ie toes pointing out, knees pointing forward is really gonna cause problems). Resting in the bottom position may cause knee problems as will bouncing up from the bottom. But if you squat with immaculate form, then i really cant see a problem.

If your form is good until parallel and then suddenly deteriorates after parallel, then you need to rectify your form. If you cannot simply due to body mechanics, you have two choices, either stick to a depth suitable for your body or drop the squat altogether.

03-31-2004, 12:11 PM
i actually had a stiff knee before i started squatting. i go past parallel and never have joint problems. in fact, depth is NOT what causes joint problems. It's whether you squat straight down or sit back. Imagine sitting on a chair or toilet. The first thing that happens is your butt goes back and your hips start moving back and down. Nobody stands in front of a chair, bends their knees, then scoots their butt back. As long as you warmup and sit back and not down, keeping your shins close to parallel, your knees should be fine. Especially w/ HST, where you don't do less than 5 reps.

Stance determines where the power comes from. A close to medium stance is more from the back and quads, where a wider stance will activate the hams and hips more.

03-31-2004, 02:17 PM
I do squats just above parallel because I do not have the ankle or hip flexibilty to squat any deeper (for now). If my body allowed me to do it with proper technique I would try and sit on the floor while keep my feet flat on the floor. Also, the heavier the weight I use, the less my body will allow me to perform the exercise as deep. I believe that you should squat as deep as you can with proper technique. But there is way more to proper technique than keeping the lordosis and having the patella track over the second toe. Just on example is people deviatiing to one side in the concentric pahse. I think that the majority of the people out there are doing it wrong when they try and squat to parallel.

Therapists direct patients "to squat to a 90 degree knee angle. A knee angle of 90 degrees can be reached far before a parallel squat is reached. Strength coaches do not define squat depth by knee angle but rather by a parallel relationship of the femur to the floor, which often results in a knee angle greater than 135 degrees if the athlete is an ankle-dominant squatter. This type of ankle-dominant squatting is frequently seen in athletes with knee pain or patella tendinitis."

03-31-2004, 06:52 PM
But the thing about parallel squats is that the quads are at the most tension at parallel so the quads get conditioned to that amount of tension thus eventually the other part of the rep will be less effective for hypertrophy than at parallel. But with full squat tension stays mostly the same on the quads except for the decrease near the bottom thus leaving most of the parts of the rep equally effective for hypertrophy.

03-31-2004, 07:00 PM
But, even if that was the case, why not just load the bar up with more weight and perform the exercise with correct technique rather than going to parallel just cuz that's what you think you should do? Almost everyone I see squat in the gym to parallel does it wrong. Whether it be using the ankles too much, leaning forward too much, rotating to the side, having the tailbone tuck under etc etc etc. Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe the deeper one can squat the better (assuming that they do it properly).

03-31-2004, 07:57 PM
Yeah, squatting is certainly complex and form is very important.

In one article Bryan discourages squatting for newbies (or something to that effect) because of this.

At my gym most people do it wrong too. Personally I'm going to record myself squatting as soon as possible so that I can critique it for myself. Often I'll ask somebody for a spot and ask them about my form, they say it's fine, but most people don't even know how to properly spot for a squat.

The Pencil Neck
04-01-2004, 01:01 PM
What most people consider "parallel" is actually a half squat with the hip joint much higher than the knee joint. You can lift a helluva lot more weight that way and your knees aren't in their strongest position when you stop and turn around. So I'd say this has the greatest chance of injury: more weight + weaker biomechanics. But. If you're thinking of the squat as a quad exercise, then this is the way to go. And keep your stance relatively narrow. These high squats also have a greater carryover to sports where you have to jump from a semistanding position like volleyball and basketball.

IIRC, your knee is at its weakest right at parallel. The muscles/tendons are lax at that point. So if you take your half squat weight and go to "real" parallel... you're going to have a problem.

I'm a powerlifter. I consider the squat a posterior chain exercise instead of a quad exercise. I try to always go below parallel and I use a wider stance. I consider this a much safer exercise than the half squat and it makes you stronger over a wider range of motion.

If I want to work my quads, I usually do front squats (@$$ to the grass), single leg/bulgarian squats, or high step ups.

But that's just me.

04-05-2004, 03:55 PM
Quote[/b] (Bryan Haycock @ Mar. 30 2004,8:53)]It is actually your butt that gets the most work beyond about 90 degrees.
Use leg extensions for full range contractions if that is what you are after.
Just to clarify, Bryan - are you defining 90 degrees as the angle of the knee joint, or as thighs parallell to the floor?

04-05-2004, 04:01 PM
The study:

Caterisano A, Moss RF, Pellinger TK, Woodruff K, Lewis VC, Booth W, Khadra T., The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles., J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):428-32.,
Caterisano A, Moss RF, Pellinger TK, Woodruff K, Lewis VC, Booth W, Khadra T.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science, Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, South Carolina 29613, USA. [email protected]

The purpose of this study was to measure the relative contributions of 4 hip and thigh muscles while performing squats at 3 depths. Ten experienced lifters performed randomized trials of squats at partial, parallel, and full depths, using 100-125% of body weight as resistance. Electromyographic (EMG) surface electrodes were placed on the vastus medialis (VMO), the vastus lateralis, (VL), the biceps femoris (BF), and the gluteus maximus (GM). EMG data were quantified by integration and expressed as a percentage of the total electrical activity of the 4 muscles. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukey post hoc tests indicated a significant difference (p < 0.001*, p = 0.056**) in the relative contribution of the GM during the concentric phases among the partial- (16.9%*), parallel- (28.0%**), and full-depth (35.4%*) squats. There were no significant differences between the relative contributions of the BF, the VMO, and the VL at different squatting depths during this phase. The results suggest that the Gluteus Maximus, rather than the Biceps Femoris, the Vastus Medialis, or the Vastus Lateralis, becomes more active in concentric contraction as squat depth increases.

Scott S
04-06-2004, 02:07 AM
Interesting stuff, Blade.

04-06-2004, 07:08 AM
Some of you may find this bit of info pleasing. A study that looked at knee torque in relation to where the knees are during the squat found a very small increase in torque when the kness went over the toes on the eccentric. However, when the knees were kept back, the torque on the lumbar region went way up. The researchers concluded that a person with healthy knees may be better off letting the knees travel past the toes slightly considering that the torque increase is meniscule when compared to the torque increase on the lower back when one forces their knees to stay behind their toes. hmmmmm.....
I will try to find the reference for this study again and post it if necessary. It was cited in an article I read in M & F (I know, I know, it was left at the gym, so I read it).

04-06-2004, 04:09 PM
Can I conlude, seeing that study, that partial but heavyer squats are better thights buider than parallel/deep squats?

04-06-2004, 04:36 PM
Quote[/b] (boggy @ April 06 2004,4:09)]Can I conlude, seeing that study, that partial but heavyer squats are better thights buider than parallel/deep squats?
Well, to me,

Quote[/b] ]There were no significant differences between the relative contributions of the BF, the VMO, and the VL at different squatting depths during this phase.

…doesn't seem to suggest that.

But… if you don't want to stress your glutes too much (gluteus maximus), you might as well do partials. Keep in mind that some articles suggest that "As squatting depth increases, quadriceps-muscle activation also increases, and thus expanding the depth of squatting should be associated with augmented gains in quad strength." (How safe is squatting? (http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0827b.htm)). Also, partial squats performed on a regular basis might decrease flexibility (if you ALSO do full squats with or without weights, it might be okay though).

Manic http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

04-08-2004, 04:19 PM
my reasoning was:

if there's no significant diff btween leg and glutes contributions (which,in my maybe wrong understanding,means that load distribution on legs is the same in partial and parallel squats) partials are more effective when trying to get bigger legs bcause you can load more weight.

I am only asking if this makes sense... http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/dozingoff.gif

04-09-2004, 02:43 PM
Partials are generally not that highly regarded as far as their hypertrophic potential (but I guess it depends how much "partial" it is). Here's what I found :

Quote[/b] ]Posted by: Bryan Haycock on Mar. 09 2004,9:37

The problem with most people's application of partial rang of motion reps for bodybuilding is that they train in the wrong end of the range of motion.

For hypertrophy, rather than benching with safety bars doing only the last 3-4 inches of the rep, one should train from the chest up to about 6-12 inches off the chest. In other words, train the muscle in the most stretched position.

Quote[/b] ]Posted by: micmic on Mar. 10 2004,3:11

Sometimes partials can be useful if you want to focus on one joint. Like in overhead presses, you may choose to lift the bar only slightly above your head, since after this point triceps work more than deltoids (watch Lou Ferigno's military presses in "Pumping Iron").

Quote[/b] ]Posted by: Blade on Feb. 27 2003,3:30

It doesn't work for a number of reasons - one is that you need stretch for optimal hypertrophy, the other is that it only improves strength in the strongest range with poor transfer to full ROM.

Quote[/b] ]Posted by: Blade on Jan. 13 2003,9:04

Decent strength gains in the strongest range - which transfers poorly to full ROM (some even lost strength on their regular lifts), and zero hypertrophy.

Might work for a while in beginners, but I strongly advice against not working muscles through a full ROM simply for injury potential

Hope that helps...


07-11-2004, 11:24 AM
I've read that the deeper you go, the more your hamstrings are used in addition to your glutes.

Based on my experiences, my recommendation is to squat as deep as you can physically go without losing the arch in your back or your pelvis starting to curl under (due to a lack of flexibility in your groin and hamstrings). Doing so places enormous strains on your spinal muscles, and you also can tend to move your disks out of position and create nerve impingement and other, larger issues. The importance of keeping your back set increases with increasing load, so I tend to do full squats with my lighter warmup weights and then go only to parallel with the heavier warmup and workout weights. (My pelvis starts to curl under when my hip joint is about 1 inch below by knee joint.)

I doubt there are any knee issues from going deep, unless you have some pre-existing structural deformity or injury. After all, infants, toddlers, and young children natually deep squat all the time, but of course without any weight on their backs.

Jonas Olofsson
07-12-2004, 03:29 PM
I have gone from half squats to full squats because:

1 I have easier to keep my back tight without leaning forward when I go down all the way. When I stop halfway I have a tendency to lean forward a bit when I start to move upwards again.

2 I dont bounce in the lowest position, which my knees apreciate.

3 I feel my quads doing the work more, the deeper I go.

So, it sounds like Im not built like the rest of you guys...


07-12-2004, 03:48 PM
That's an ooooooooold thread guys. http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif Still fun to see it's still around though.

There are other huge threads on squats if you're interested.

Old and Grey
07-14-2004, 04:55 PM
Parallel for 2 reasons:

Going beyond parallel puts my knees in front of my toes which causes stress on my knee cartilages which have already been operated on, and

I don't want a big arse. That is just added weight and stress on my cardiovascular system that I don't need.

I also do no do a full stretch on leg extensions for the same reason.

08-09-2004, 01:22 AM
i do parallel... i'm starting to think i should do full.

08-12-2004, 02:53 PM
I do full and am wondering if i should do parallel. http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/dozingoff.gif

And i do have a huge arse, lol.

04-02-2005, 02:28 AM
so in summary:

-proper form is what matters more then squat depth?

-squat depth makes a difference in what muscle groups are worked?

-a deeper squat will fill out your @$$?

I still wonder about the knees over the toes part though, you are saying letting your knees rock forward a little puts a tiny bit more stress on the knees, and lessens stress on the lower back right?

I keep my shins close to parallel and my knees don't rock over my toes. I don't have any lower back pain that I know of but my knees are a little sore sometimes, not usually from squats but from jogging, downhill skiing and extended sessions on my dirtbike over the last 23 years...

BIZ, if you could find that study that would be apprecieated.

10-04-2005, 05:09 AM
Quote[/b] ]I tend to do full squats with my lighter warmup weights and then go only to parallel with the heavier warmup and workout weights

I do the same, just yesterday, went ATF or ATG up to 80 Kg. but could not do the same for 100 Kgs. so, I went still beyond parallel onto a decline (15 degrees) bench, till my rear end touches (or just about) and back up again.

Squats are the ####, I keep saying they are a must in my program.

It is a pity thought that I have not seen my strength capabilities on a leg press, would like to sometime http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif

10-28-2005, 07:28 AM
The BNBF Squatting Experiment: Does squatting involve the same amount of muscular activation as leg press or hack squatting?

In order to establish the most effective resistance exercise for quadricep development the BNBF sanctioned a scientific investigation, collaborating with Napier Universities sports science research department. The investigation was prompted by varying opinions on the optimal resistance exercise to induce muscular hypertrophy in the quadriceps of body builders. Many body builders and trained coaches believe that conventional squatting is ineffective at producing large quantities of muscular hypertrophy when compared to such exercises as hack squatting and leg pressing. In order to establish whether these views had any scientific grounding, a series of controlled experiments were undertaken in a private resistance training facility.
Three trained body builders with at least five years resistance training experience were recruited for this micro study. Each of the subjects had refrained from leg training 2 days prior to the commencement of the experimental protocols to ensure neuromuscular fatigue and myofibril damage had no influence on results. The testing was separated into three phases, squatting, leg press and hack squatting conducted in randomised order to eliminate any potential influence of fatigue on the results as previously stated. The exercises were as follows; wide and normal stance squatting at 3/4 depth and 90 degrees (parallel), wide and close stance leg press and finally close and wide stance hack squats. Each subject performed 3 repetitions of each exercise at 90% of there 1 repetition maximal established 1 week prior to the testing session. Five minutes recovery was given between trials.

Muscular electromyography was used to measure muscular activation during each trial in millivolts. A four channel EMG was attached to the Vastus Medialis, Rectus Femoris and Vastus Lateralis of the right quadriceps and also the Biceps Femoris of the Hamstrings. The average of the three repetitions was taken as the result for each exercise. After the completion of the testing the results were collated and subsequently analysed.

The results demonstrated that shallow ¾ squatting (68º knee flexion), both wide and shallow stances, produced the greatest amount of quadriceps stimulation. Shallow squatting elicited 20% more muscular activation throughout the three quadricep muscles measured compared to full 90º squats. This is likely due to the constant load applied to the quadriceps during shallow squats. During full squats the load is assisted by the gluteus and hamstring muscles during the concentric drive phase of the action which reduces the load and subsequent activation of the quadriceps. This was evident from the EMG results, with the Biceps Femoris muscle being stimulated 50% more during full squats compared to shallow squats.

Hack squatting and leg press both produced similar muscular activation patterns for those measured during close and wide stances. However quadriceps activation was 30% and 15% less when compared with shallow squatting and normal squatting respectively. Biceps Femoris activation however was significantly reduced during leg press compared with all other exercises. Activation of the Biceps Femoris muscle was 18%, 200% and 450% greater for hack squatting, shallow squats and full squats respectively compared with leg press.

These results suggests that leg press isolates the quadriceps muscles better than squatting or hack squatting. However in relative terms, squatting shallow and to a lesser extent full squatting, produces more muscular activation of the quadriceps in relation to the relative load applied compared to any of the other exercises tested. Squatting also utilised more of the biceps femoris (hamstring muscle) than leg press or hack squatting as previously stated. This translates into a more complete utilisation of the leg muscles during each contraction. Also full (90º) squats elicits the utilisation of the gluteuls which again provides a more complete leg workout compared to hack squatting or leg press. Therefore squatting should provide more muscular stimulation and subsequent development compared to other exercises. A greater level of muscular activation results in a larger percentage of the muscle fibres being utilised during the activity allowing for more muscular damage to result. As the body is an over compensatory system, if enough recovery is given the body will not only repair the myofibril damage but muscle hypertrophy will result. If this form of training is continued with a constant progression of the imposed load, the result will be larger stronger muscles which is the ultimate goal of the body builder.

Accordingly squatting to 68º and 90º of knee flexion should produced greater gains in muscle mass and strength in the quadriceps compared with leg press and hack squats.
However squatting below parallel will noticeably shift the implied load away from the quadriceps and induce greater activity within the hamstrings and gluteuls. This may reduce quadricep development. However squatting below 90 degrees will shift the emphasis from hamstrings to gluteals. Accordingly squatting to 85º will likely induce the optimal ratio between quadricep and hamstring / gluteul development in one exercise and result in greater overall leg development compared to leg press or hack squats. Therefore squatting, preferably to 85º should be an essential part of any bodybuilders leg workouts.

Written by Scott Macrae,BNBF Scientific development officer.
Bsc Honours Sports Science.

10-28-2005, 08:05 AM
An interesting article faz! http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

No doubt, so 85° is then the ideal, hey?

I can only perform full squats to about 80 Kgs, after that I go to slightly below 90°, but hey, if 85° is teh way to go, then yep, sounds promising!

Thanks mate!

10-28-2005, 08:48 AM
your welcome fausto http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif ..i used to do full squats but allways had back problems..since i have changed to parrallel(i use a bench as measurement) no problems http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

10-28-2005, 09:26 AM

I can sympathise with you my back has been sore ever since, even though I felt good after doing the squats ATG.

I also use a bench as a measurement, we used to do that in athletics and I have kept that practice ever since, but I must say I had to try the full squat version.

My dillema now, how to I get rid of the pain-in-the-@$$? http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Serious it is my second week of SD and my lower back is till bugging me http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/dozingoff.gif

10-31-2005, 11:40 AM
fausto try dropping squats for your next cycle..try leg press for a while..and when you go back to them just go down to parrallel..

11-01-2005, 06:26 AM
Wish I could mate!

I train at home, there is no chance with the equipment I've got. http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Pitty I've been wondering how much can I push seeing tha my squats are up to 130 Kgs.


11-01-2005, 10:09 AM
I just read a similar threat in a german forum and I do not have the power to wright all the stuff I wrote fife minutes ago!

In short terms:
1. To do only parallel squats caused knee problems in my case!
i fixed it throught deep squats. Train full range or get injured !

2. To avoid huge glute! Do squat only max effort or dynamic effort (wsb stuff) use Bulgarien split squat , leg press for Leg mass, iso exercises .... (parallel squat also create a huge glute )....
3. Huge glute deepends on anatomic structure (short legs ;-) Powerlifter body)
4. Sowjet training Rules say:
Mix Deep Squat with Parallel Squat, depending on your sport-> Vollyball 25 % deep 75% parralel Ski jumping 25% parallel 75% deep
5. Read squat analysis at exrx.net
6. Dorrian Yates said on T-mag that you can avoid the huge glute Problem by doing squat in a power rack and change body position!
7. conclusion : do both!
Conclusion: Do both .....

11-03-2005, 05:56 AM

Try doing bench step ups or lunges in place of squats.

Training through injury is not a wise idea.

12-04-2005, 12:27 PM
I always thought the key to total muscular development was full range of motion. Wouldn't going halfway down only work half the muscle?

02-12-2007, 05:03 AM
To add my penny's worth to this thread, the bottom line is that you have to work within the constraints of your OWN body.

I'll explain. I'm 6' 3", so when I started squatting, I was squatting to just above parallel with a fairly wide stance as this felt most natural for my body's bio-mechanics.

However, everthing I read told me I should be squatting to at least parallel and that my stance was too wide, so I changed my stance and the depth of my squatting. This ended in me having sore knees / lower back, as once I broke 80 degrees, I couldn't maintain an upright posture and my knees moved too far past my toes. Needless to say that I went back to squatting as I had started.

Then I discovered the HST site and everything squat related suggested ATG squats. Again I felt the need to change only to suffer the same side effects previously mentioned. Its been 2 weeks since I've hit squats with any anger to allow my lower back to recover. I spent 45 mins last week just experimienting with different stances, plates under heels etc to find the most comfortable position. Ultimately, I ended back where I started, widish stance to about 80 degrees. I can maintain my posture, press through my heels and feel the quads working all the way through the movement. I have fairly decent leg development so I'm not getting hung up on the fact that I never will be able to squat ATG or even to parallel.

Moral of the story? Work with YOUR body. It aint worth the pain of trying something that is just not natural for your body.

02-12-2007, 10:51 AM
Post #12 by Stevie = excellent advice.
Anecdotally, I did leg presses and occasional parallel squats for years. My legs are nonresponsive for the most part. I've always done leg curls. I quit free squats because of back and knee pains, switching to lever squats, the knee pains continuing to where I had to wrapknees for anything over 350.
Recently, I'd switched to ATG (still using the levermachine) and quit doing curls. My knee pains are gone, and I'm doing 550 without wraps. Adding in the Madcow 5x5 program grew me 1/4" or so and my hams are just as strong as ever.
As my back rehabs, I'm building a squat rack to get back into freeweights, which I'll start with an empty bar and progress slowly focusing on form. If the back won't take it, I'll return to levers. We have to do what works for us.
ATG rules!!! http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

02-12-2007, 12:25 PM
(rpopple @ Feb. 12 2007,10:03)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Moral of the story? Work with YOUR body. It aint worth the pain of trying something that is just not natural for your body.</div>
Also, you may need coaching to spot areas where your flexibility or technique is limiting your performance. Proper ATG squatting requires a good deal of practice to get the movement just right.

There is some good on-line tuition. Here&#39;s a link to one of Dan John&#39;s Strength Seminars:

The Video FitCast- Episode 6 (http://video.google.com/url?vidurl=http%3A%2F%2Fvideo.google.com%2Fvideopl ay%3Fdocid%3D-6529481301858251744%26q%3Ddan%2Bjohn&docid=-6529481301858251744&ev=v&esrc=gvpl&usg=AL29H21PGBRSZXAHB3P9QzjHQuD4yoJ5XQ)

02-12-2007, 01:56 PM
rpopple, post #44:

I had the same problem and fixed it slowly over time with very wide squats off a box - 2x shoulder width or more. This taught me to go to paralell.

Then I dropped the weight really low and started doing ATG, again gradual improvements and less knee pain. I&#39;m only 6&#39; so that may have a bit to do with it though.

The only thing doing it the way you&#39;ve describe that is a bit scary and you&#39;ve got to watch out for because it may sneak up on you is that as the weights get heavier and heavier you may find that you are squatting higher and higher. Eventually, one day with a heavier weight, you go a bit deeper than usual and there goes your back.

If you must squat higher, find a bench or something at the right height (for your body) and put it under your butt to help you gauge depth. Then you will know the higher squats aren&#39;t sneaking up on you.

If there is a way to hurt yourself...I&#39;ve found it. Just sharing so you don&#39;t make the mistakes I&#39;ve made.

02-13-2007, 02:04 PM
I actually go parallel, and oh it hurts....

02-13-2007, 02:06 PM
<div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">If you must squat higher, find a bench or something at the right height (for your body) and put it under your butt to help you gauge depth. Then you will know the higher squats aren&#39;t sneaking up on you.

If there is a way to hurt yourself...I&#39;ve found it. Just sharing so you don&#39;t make the mistakes I&#39;ve made.</div>

This is why I may go back to safety squats or leg press since I lift solo.

02-14-2007, 04:38 AM
Further to my previous post, I had my first proper squat session on Monday since changing my squatting style.

Stance, slightly wider than shoulders, toes pointed a little outwards, I squatted until I could not maintain upright posture and the body was going to have to lean forward to compensate for the depth, which was a little above parallel (80 - 85 degrees). The weight was moderately heavy for me, 100kg for 3 x 8.

For the first time in a long time the exercise felt great, no lower back pain whatsover and very taxing on the quads. I also felt the quads overall had a better workout, although this is at the expense of hams and glutes, due to not breaking parallel.

I agree with vagrants comments that there is potential for injury and therefore, attention to form is key, expecially ensuring that knees don&#39;t buckle inwards on the way up.

This may be a controversial statement, but I feel for the sake of training in the long run and the health of my lower back, squatting in this manner is best for me

I&#39;m going to hit the squat again today with a little more weight so we&#39;ll see how that goes.

03-05-2007, 11:31 PM
I go butt to calves until I use anything 315 or higher. Too much strain on the back at that point and I get nothing extra in my quads by going so low, just a bigger butt. Does help with the flexibilty when I warm-up with below parallel squats, but that is about it.

03-06-2007, 05:24 AM
I&#39;ve traded my pastor my old bench for a pair of very antique looking York Barbell stands- and begun my freeweight training, along with studying and participating in the video Lol posted above. I find that I lack flexibility in the hole and have trouble staying off my toes, so I&#39;m doing bottom squats after my last set with light weights (135-185) to train as Sci recommended.
Thanx to my rotators, I have trouble doing a narrow grip on the bar, but with a manta ray I don&#39;t need it for the bar support, but I stay narrow as I can to keep the chest out. I feel new muscles (unworked muscles) coming into play getting off my lever machine, so it&#39;ll be a while before I have any decent numbers I think.
Because of ROM lessening as the weight increases, I&#39;ve limited my sets so far to 295, in order to keep form. I suspect I may need to stretch my achilles tendons...?

03-11-2007, 07:42 PM
<div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Because of ROM lessening as the weight increases, I&#39;ve limited my sets so far to 295, in order to keep form. I suspect I may need to stretch my achilles tendons...?
You got it quad. *You answered your own question. *Keep working the deep squats, stretching your calves (with knees bent as well as straight), and you should see your flexibility go up. Another issue is obviously lumbar strength with heavy loads, especially as you get into the bigger loads. My butt and back take a beating if I go too low on heavy squats (~5RM).

03-11-2007, 09:39 PM
From you other post (Biz) I&#39;m not sure if I should be actually trying to hit the dirt with the heavier weights all the way to my max. I seem to be in the same exact position as on my lever machine, but I&#39;m rocking forward onto my toes a bit and feeling stiff as a board. I&#39;ve been ATG hitting 560 for reps in the machine, but I actually have a little trouble getting 300 off the bottom with freeweight, partially due to balance issues I&#39;m sure, but my neck, torso, hips, shoulders - feel like they&#39;re crammed into a box or something. I can barely look up, but my neck is 19&quot; too.
I&#39;m stretching just about everything when I can and doing the bottom squats with just 175 on it at the end of my sets. I&#39;m hoping that will give flexibility and some bottom power, unless you have a better idea.

03-11-2007, 11:34 PM
Quad...By the looks fo your pics, you have a thick neck/trap area...maybe tight in the anterior shoulders too? *I know I am from powerlifting. *All these things add up to one uncomfortable rack position for the back squat...to the point where you may experience wrist pain from having them hyperextended so much, experience fatigue in the upper back do the increased work you have to do to pull your scapula back because your anterior delts and pecs are pulling them anteriorly. *Elbows may even hurt some. *Any of that sound familiar?

If not, I am not sure what to tell ya except that the monster loads you lift just overpower your structural muscles and you lean forward, or maybe your torso is a bit out of proportion with your lower limbs, making a deep squat very difficult to achieve without a lot of forward lean and shifting of weight to the balls of the feet to keep from falling over.

Over-head squats and front squats with nothing more than an empty bar coupled with stretching of the lumbar spine, glutes, Achilles tendons, and hip flexors has helped some of our athletes here at the university improve their squatting technique. *For the tall guys or the ones who just have an abnormal frame, they end up doing more safe squats than back squats, and when they do back squat they only go as deep as they can without rounding the back and going onto their toes. *Just have to work around the genetics of people. *Heck, their is no code (although many will argue otherwise) that says you have to squat ATG to get big and strong. *Personally, I&#39;d rather nail 560 lbs going to parallel than 315 going ATG. *The overload on the muscles and the satisfaction of hoisting that much weight would be worth it.

03-12-2007, 06:23 AM

That makes me feel a whole lot better, as you do exactly what I do, when the weight gets too heavy you simply go parallel, I do box instead (not much difference).

The point is that I can hoist 140 Kg on box instead of only 100 ATG. There is a difference is the amount of DOMS from doing ATG compared to box but surely the legs get worked enough (well at least research says so).

Lifting N Tx
03-12-2007, 06:09 PM
I&#39;m not even close to a squat form expert, but I have a few random observations/impressions.

First, I think that this whole question of squat style is highly affected by both personal preference and body type. I like having ATG squats be a more compound exercise, and find them to be easier on my knees. However, I went from doing half squats in the mid-upper 200s to ATG at not much more than 100 lbs. Now, 6-8 months later, my 5RM is around 200lbs ATG, high bar, pretty upright torso. Better, but still not exactly an ego booster. Same thing that Biz noted, just at much lower weights. http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

I will say that my impression is that most guys who have trouble with ATG squats either have flexibility issues or pre-existing injuries. It may be that my body type lends itself more to ATG, though. Maybe ATG is not the best term-if I go hams to calves I&#39;m still not too far below true parallel, and my knees are far forward, but with a fairly upright torso. It&#39;s not that far from the form of a front squat. The fact that my torso can remain fairly upright no doubt spares my lower back, which isn&#39;t affected a lot by squats. My quads, however, are highly affected by ATG. If I try to keep my knees far back PL style, even only going to parallel, it&#39;ll wind up being almost a good morning. Long legs, medium torso.

I guess in summary, for those who have knee issues with squats, try ATG. Make sure to work on flexibility. For those whose backs are bothered by squats, work on flexibility and squatting without so much forward lean. In doing so, the knees will come forward, and ATG will be better to help avoid stress on them. Some who have good backs but tender knees may benefit from more of a power lifting style, posterior chain emphasizing squat, which won&#39;t be ATG. Some may have a body type that makes it very hard to go ATG without a lot of forward lean, but I&#39;d work on flexibility before concluding that was the case.

Those are my thoughts, and as I say I&#39;m no Mark Rippetoe with expertise in coaching the squat. As I mentioned, my bias is for ATG, but to each his own.

scientific muscle
03-12-2007, 07:39 PM
I am having a problem with squats. *When I get below parallel, my torso bends forward (I have a very long torso) and I feel more strain on the back than in my legs. *I don&#39;t think it is an erector weakness, but more a form problem. *I can&#39;t seem to keep my torso upright and go ATG. *My spotter noticed it today and my back felt destroyed after the squats, while my legs felt fine. *Maybe let my knees go more forward? *I feel like I can&#39;t balance ATG with out bending way over.

Once I get in &#39;the hole&#39; I feel like I am falling forward, if I stay upright I feel like I can&#39;t balance and will fall backward.

scientific muscle
03-12-2007, 09:58 PM
I found an answer to my problem over at Elitefts.com. Dave Tate wrote an article about box squatting to develop hip strength/flexibility. In the article he addressed this problem and that box squatting is essential to developing proper depth/ hip drive. Will start these soon&#33;

scientific muscle
03-12-2007, 10:12 PM
Dave tate quote:
<div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">As far as the definition of &quot;parallel,&quot; it&#39;s defined as when the crease of the hip is in line with the top of the knee. Remember, most people have very poor hamstring and hip strength to squat properly in the first place. If they tried to squat without the box they&#39;d fall over backward. The box is the best way to teach proper squat form while bringing up their weak points. The box squat also breaks the eccentric/concentric chain. This is one of the best ways to build explosive strength. The box squat also causes you to squat from a static contraction to a dynamic concentric contraction, another very effective way to build explosive strength.</div>

03-13-2007, 02:38 AM

Thus the reason why I still perform the box squats, I also came across Dave Tate&#39;s opinion&#39;s and truly, they work&#33; http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

So for me, hams to calves up to a certain weight then box squats from there&#33; http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

03-25-2007, 08:35 AM
Fausto, what do you mean they work? Are your legs now growing or getting stronger where they were not before? Or could it merely be the continuance of progression? I just wanted a couple details.

03-25-2007, 03:09 PM
I just got starting strength so I&#39;m very happy with my squat form. http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif