To squat parallel or below parallel? That is the question.
A controversy as old as “the chicken and the egg.” (Kind of)
Why do people think that squatting below parallel is bad?
Is it because it’s difficult to balance?
Or does it feel uncomfortable?
Might it hurt your ego because you can’t squat as heavy?
Or is it because the movement itself is harder than a thermodynamics class?
The truth is anything is going to be hard if you do not practice it, but there are many pros and cons from squatting with a greater range of motion.
The Pros from squatting below parallel are listed below.
- Engages Hamstring, Glutes, and both Hip Adductors and Abductors.
- Generates more recoil.
- With practice, creates a higher potential for more weight.
- Greater Range of Motion = more Time Under Tention
- More Time Under Tention = Hypertrophy (More Gainz)
The Cons that are commonly tied in with Squatting ATG (Ass to Grass)
- Knee pains
- Hip strains
- Limited ankle mobility
- Knees caving in
Each of these problems represents a weak underlying recruitment issue that needs to be addressed. The human body was built to be strong in a deep squat, take into consideration how easy and comfortable toddlers are in a full squat. Have you ever read the article about how toilets in the United States are doing us harm? If not here is the link.
The typical problem with knee pains and hip strains is the range of motion is so new that you cannot transfer the weight that you parallel squat to a full squat. Train it, like a completely new movement, leave your ego at the door and start fresh. Growing with the movement will avert any knee pains that can occur in the near future.
If you aren’t a competitive sprinter, a gymnast, or somebody who’s constantly pushing their feet into dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, chances are you’ll have ankle mobility issues. When performing a full squat with poor ankle mobility, the ankle tightens up and the foot tends to shift its weight to its toes, thus causing the unbalanced feeling. The PROPER way to correct what would be stretching to increase the flexibility of the ankle. An easy TEMPORARY fix, would be to slide a 2.5 – 5lbs plate under your heels and squat that way. This way, the range of motion is decreased under a full squat resulting in a more comfortable method. Hence how powerlifting shoes have a raised heel. *Winks*
The knees caving in when shifting the momentum of the weight are caused by weak hip abductors. The knees pushing out when shifting the momentum of the weight is caused by weak hip adductors. In the effort to address this problem, perform the exercise with a lower weight and focus on resisting lateral movement in the knees. Both the hip adductor and abductor machines can help with this as well.
Squatting below parallel is NOT bad. Squatting below parallel with heavy weight and without practice IS bad. Don’t make excuses, it’s a hard exercise, I have a rod and screws in my ankle what’s your excuse?
“For what you really want in life, you make happen. For everything else, you make excuses.”
Top Dead Center Fitness