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Old 28-Sep-04, 02:02 PM   #1
Klinger
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Parallel squats versus deep squats


Found this article and thought it was a good, short read. I'm in the parallel camp, for the record. I understand the idea behind @ss to grass, but I was never convinced that it was worlds better than simply getting parallel (Note that Venuto is pro deep-squat).

Should I be squatting below parallel?
By Tom Venuto

Going beyond parallel or going “rock bottom” is definitely optional. Getting to parallel is important, however. Fred “Dr. Squat” Hatfield writes, “You should learn how to go down into the squat position low enough. The top of your thighs should be about parallel to the floor or slightly lower, in a well-executed squat. Higher than that, and you’re losing some of the benefit to your quads.”

There are no gender-based differences in optimal squatting depth, but there are anatomical differences from person to person: For example, long femurs can put greater stress on the knee joint while providing poor leverage, making it more difficult to do full squats. (When was the last time you saw a 6' 7" NBA star doing rock-bottom heavy squats?). Personally, I have very short thighs and I am completely comfortable squatting totally rock bottom, until my calves and hamstrings are touching.

Going to parallel is the general recommendation, and your results will be fine just going to parallel. Parallel is defined as where the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. I believe I get better results (hypertrophy-wise) from breaking parallel, but that’s just my personal opinion.

Being unable to reach parallel or just below parallel means that yes, you probably need to work on your flexibility. In particular, look at ankle/achilles flexibility. It’s not just quad, hamstring and hip flexibility you need to do a full parallel squat. In fact, the ankle is often where the problem often lies.

In the meantime, as your flexibility gradually improves, what you can also do is experiment with stance width. If you lack ankle flexibility and lose your balance squatting narrow, a wider stance will help. Very narrow squats require very flexible joints; otherwise you must bend too far forward to maintain your center of gravity.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 02:30 PM   #2
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Good article. I personally don't ever squat past parallel. There really isn't enough difference in the load to the quads to matter. Offset that with how hard it is on your knees and there you have it. If some people can do them, great but, both of my knees have gone out on me and i'm not going to risk that kind of injury again. I've got some heafty legs either way. I say to each their own, within safe means. :
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Old 28-Sep-04, 02:50 PM   #3
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I've found that since I've started doing "ass to grass" squats, it's harder to do parallel squats. Do the 2 styles work slightly different muscle groups? As in, if going to the floor works certain muscles, then the push from that point will 'bypass' some muscles that you would normally use to stabilize yourself at the parallel point?
Does anyone else have that problem? Maybe it's all in my head
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Old 28-Sep-04, 04:06 PM   #4
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I would say that if you can do below parallel squats no prob, then you should have no prob doing them to parallel only. I am 5'11" tall and I have fairly long legs...but I can squat, hack squat etc way below parallel with no problems. I obviously am very flexible as well in the ankle, calf, hamstring areas, so I have not been injured from going far below parallel. I actually feel that I get way more out of the movement when going below parallel...which makes sense I guess considering that I am working through a greater range of motion overall.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 04:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adamh
Do the 2 styles work slightly different muscle groups? As in, if going to the floor works certain muscles, then the push from that point will 'bypass' some muscles that you would normally use to stabilize yourself at the parallel point?
The more you go beyond parallel, the more your glutes become involved.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 04:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd
The more you go beyond parallel, the more your glutes become involved.
Ahh that would explain it...
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Old 28-Sep-04, 05:08 PM   #7
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My attitude is, if you can't go all the way down, then you're not ready to increase the weight.

Clarence Bass (65 years old) goes all the way down:
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Old 28-Sep-04, 06:58 PM   #8
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You dont' see NBA stars doing deep squats because that will add mass lol, not cause he has long femurs.

I have long femurs too and they have MUCH LESS STRESS on my knees than when i used to do parallel squats. I can feel it far more in my quads and all my leg muscles doing deep squats than when i just went to parallel.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 06:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lift2Live
Good article. I personally don't ever squat past parallel. There really isn't enough difference in the load to the quads to matter. Offset that with how hard it is on your knees and there you have it. If some people can do them, great but, both of my knees have gone out on me and i'm not going to risk that kind of injury again. I've got some heafty legs either way. I say to each their own, within safe means. :
I generally agree with you on most everything Lift2Live, until you made this comment: "I personally don't ever squat past parallel. There really isn't enough difference in the load to the quads to matter."

You CANNOT be doing them right then if you feel no difference. I had to knock off 80 lbs from my parallel squat to complete a set of 6 heavy deep squats.

And they are EASIER on the knees. I saw a great article somewhere about how the forces on your knees are far greater at the parallel mark than going all the way down.

Theres a reason why a parallel squat is known as a HALF squat, and a Deep squat is known as a FULL SQUAT.

EDIT: Oops you know what Lift2Live, i must apologize. It's the glutes as Todd mentioned that get more involved. But then I'd have to ask...why are you only concerned about the quads when a full squat will train the entire leg much much much better than a half squat? I still feel it more in my quads, hamstrings, glutes, everywhere when i do deep squats.

If you are going to do squats, then you might as well do them right..that is of course unless your knees are that bad that you just cant do any squats...
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Old 28-Sep-04, 07:07 PM   #10
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Here's an interesting article about deep squating and injuries...

http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Squats.html
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Old 28-Sep-04, 07:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehawk
EDIT: Oops you know what Lift2Live, i must apologize. It's the glutes as Todd mentioned that get more involved. But then I'd have to ask...why are you only concerned about the quads when a full squat will train the entire leg much much much better than a half squat? I still feel it more in my quads, hamstrings, glutes, everywhere when i do deep squats.

If you are going to do squats, then you might as well do them right..that is of course unless your knees are that bad that you just cant do any squats...
I truly can't do 'deep' squats, my knees won't allow it. They've both blown out and i'm in no hurry to have one of them do it again. As far as half squats and full squats go, i've seen many people consider parallel a full squat and deep squats considered another animal of it's own. Whether or not that's true is of no matter though really. When I do properly formed parallel squats, my glutes, adductors, abductors and quads are all involved by the way I stand and flex on the way up. I can make a parallel squat just as hard as a deep squat by how I perform it. I don't by any means consider them half squats and my muscles afterwards definately don't either. Anytime you can't sit on the toilet for 4 days, you know you got plenty of glute recruitment in. Doing them "right" is all in what each individual can do and I don't think that you can say a deep squat is the end all for the exercise. Not to be rude or cause offense whatsoever but, I personally think that the deep squat is just another of those exercises people use as an ego booster to say they do them.

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Old 28-Sep-04, 08:03 PM   #12
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Like I said if you can't do the deep squats because you have injured knees or whatever, then that's fine. But it's pretty well documented now that Parallel squats put alot more stresss on the knees than deep squats.

Ive never heard of a parallel squat being called a "full squat" when you aren't using the full range of motion. Hopefully you dont' train all your muslces that way because you are just getting half the benefits if you are.

And, there's no way you can do the same max weight deep than you can at parallel which should tell you right there that deep squats are going to give your muscles a bit of a better workout.

Just to respond to your personal opinion about the ego boost, I personally feel that people don't do deep squats because they are "too hard" when in fact they CAN do them but don't WANT TO. Granted, you are going to have peopel that have injuries and CANT DO THEM, but that's not who I am talking about.

I'm not trying to get on you Lift2live, do them however you want. But to say that deep squats have no other benefit other than to "just say you can do them" well thats like saying "I only deadlift so I can say I do it" lol.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 08:08 PM   #13
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in this article...

http://www.menshealth.com/cda/articl...22-639,00.html

A half squat is defined as a parallel squat, and a full squat (deep) is defined as going as deep as possible past the parallel plane.

Anything less than a parallel squat is a QUARTER squat hehe.
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Old 28-Sep-04, 08:37 PM   #14
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You cant squat deep because you blew out both of your knees, however you can quarter squat or only squat to // with no pain? That tells me you dont know how to squat correctly.

You are not doing anything but hurting yourself in the long run by not squatting to full passive ROM. Your ACL,PCL,MCL, LCL are at their strongest postion during flextion or extention. The actual postion your knee is at the most vulnerable position is at 90 degree's because none of the above protective lig's provide any stability.
(I have studies to prove this)

Also the great the ROM the great the motor unit recruitment is, therefor the greater firing rate and fiber activation occures.

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Old 28-Sep-04, 09:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle C
You cant squat deep because you blew out both of your knees, however you can quarter squat or only squat to // with no pain? That tells me you dont know how to squat correctly.

Kc
I can appreciate the difference in opinion but to say I don't know how to squat correctly would be utterly false just because I have no pain at parallel than I do at the bottom. In all actuality, there is no pain doing either. I never said there was. None the less, my knees won't "allow" me to go all the way. If I do, they get "stuck", pop and I can't move the weight. At parallel, whether or not there is MORE strain on the knee makes no matter as it's the bottom position where I have my problems. It has nothing to do with anything more than MY range of motion. You can't put a label on every person because everyone is individual in their issues etc,...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehawk
And, there's no way you can do the same max weight deep than you can at parallel which should tell you right there that deep squats are going to give your muscles a bit of a better workout.

I'm not trying to get on you Lift2live, do them however you want. But to say that deep squats have no other benefit other than to "just say you can do them" well thats like saying "I only deadlift so I can say I do it" lol.
I would never be able to do the same weight, you are correct. What I was saying is that I can make a parallel squat just as hard as a deep squat. The weight is a non-issue as long as you are fatigueing the muscle. I won't take it too personally but to suggest I may not do the rest of my exercises properly is a hair off. I bust my ass 6 days a week with proper form at maximum weights. I've trained with bodybuilders, competitors and lifetime fitness professionals and from that have taken what works for MY body. Everyone is different and has to tweak things to his body's range of motion. I don't think everyone who does deep squats does it just to say they can but powerlifters and olympic lifters sure do. It says nothing about their character as a person, I don't know them and wouldn't presume to speak for them.

As a related topic; I read another thread a while back about the seated cable rows and the straight backed or all the way forward and back range of doing the exercise. It's fairly similar in nature to the squat in that if you sit straight backed you can properly isolate the back, if you go all the way forward, you must first come up and then pull the weight back whereas "most" of the people I see doing this, use nothing more than momentum to move the weight. The full range of motion is the contraction of the back not a stretch then contraction. Even though the extra movement works other muscles, it isn't going to get you the same result. Same thing for behind the neck pulldowns. It throws your spine out of line with the weight and you are forced to jerk the weight recruiting the wrong muscle...
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