Just quit whining and squat deep!
|Oct 20, 2009 11:13am||
HA HA! Funny video on Youtube that some of you will love.
But, I warn you there is some cursing.
|Oct 20, 2009 2:41pm||
Ha ha ha, that’s awesome. :-)
I think the robotic drone of the voice synthesis gets kind of surreal and adds to the hilarity.
|Oct 20, 2009 3:39pm||
“Can squats cure cancer?”
|Oct 20, 2009 4:13pm||
Hilarious, although I dont agree with ass to the ground like most other brainless meat heads. Parallel is good enough.
|Oct 21, 2009 9:17am||
I suppose you’ll have to forgive this “brainless meathead” then, since I do think that a deep squat is a great exercise. In the reading I’ve done, deep squats are better for your knees then parallel squats, so there’s another reason to do them.
|Oct 21, 2009 1:15pm||
I guess it depends on how you define parallel. I wouldn’t consider alot of peoples version of parallel as being deep enough. It’s been my understanding that the 90 degree knee angle is the least stable. So, those people going above parallel, because they’re loading the bar to impress thier friends are the most likely to have knee issues. Supramaximal quater squats aren’t impressive……neither are dumbbell curls with 90’s!
My “rack” is set so that the rails are a couple of inches below parallel, but high enough that I can still drop all the way down and rest the bar if I need to bail. I usually workout alone so this is important.
|Oct 21, 2009 1:19pm||
From working with my PT on a knee injury he had me doing “mini-squats” because he didn’t want me to further the injury. He talked a lot about the angle of the knee and nothing about being parallel or etc.
I’m pretty sure if I tried to do a true deep squat I’d never come back up – well maybe once I fell over and then stood up…
|Oct 21, 2009 1:32pm||
Funny video. I have read those powerlifter comments before and some are true but not in the sense that if you don’t do it your a ^&.
I like deep squats and squat to about 6" from floor most of the time (not bad for 46 eh?). However, when I am going for a multi-rep PR, my squat depth is more like 10". Still way below parallel.
And parallel refer to top of thigh not underneath…
|Oct 21, 2009 8:42pm||
Look, I’m just going to do some machines and lunges. I get a massive burn from them!
|Oct 21, 2009 10:55pm||
Pardon me while I hijack…
Can someone give me a form tip so I can go deeper on my barbell squat? I’ve never had a problem going deep on bodyweight or dumbbell squats, but the barbell messes with my center of gravity enough that I don’t think I’m getting parallel. It’s not the weight (I think) because I have this problem with an empty bar (45#) and I was doing more than that with dumbbells.
Back on topic: Hilarious video. Thanks for sharing.
|Oct 22, 2009 5:00am||
I’m not sure why that would be. I think that I’d need a pic, video, or much better description to give you any ideas.
|Oct 22, 2009 7:12am||
Witeowl, have you tried squatting onto a box or chair? One of the best things I’ve seen is to squat to a seated position on a chair, and then push through your heels to stand back up. As you get more advanced, you can use a lower chair, then a box, then a milk crate…so you are going lower and lower. It’s a progression that should help you get more comfortable with a deeper squat, and you won’t have to worry as much about parallel.
|Oct 22, 2009 8:57am||
Also, you can try front squats. I find that its dificult to mess those up. As long as your heels are on the ground and most of your weight is on the heels its hard to do it wrong.
|Oct 22, 2009 9:30am||
I agree with CHaddukes on this one. I find back squats difficult to do correctly, but front squats are easier to do right, and I find I don’t need as much weight to kill my muscles.
|Oct 22, 2009 9:45am||
Front squats are great for the quads and upper back, but they don’t require nearly as much work from the hamstrings and glutes as back squats do, so it’s really worth trying to get the form correct and doing back squats.
To keep your balance on a squat, the bar should centered over the middle of your foot, which for most people would be slightly in front of the front of your ankle. Assuming it’s centered when you’re at the top (otherwise you’d tip over when you unrack the weight), think of sitting down and back more than simply just dropping your butt down as low as you can get it. The exact amount of lean will depend on your body dimensions; the only rule there is to keep the bar over the middle of your foot, or you’ll tip over.
Stick your butt out and lean over more than you probably think you have to on the descent, keep your knees out to allow your back the best shot at staying in lumbar extension, and drive up with your hips as though somebody has their hand on your sacrum trying to hold you down.
Start with just the bar, and slowly add weight while you get the form worked out. Starting too heavy generally results in the knees sliding forward at the bottom, and the resulting loss of balance puts a ton of strain on the lumbar region and can easily end up in an injury.
|Oct 22, 2009 5:52pm||
Thanks for all the tips! I think I’ll stick with back squats for now, if I can. I’ll try better following your directions, banthafodder, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try the chair/box suggestion from lizanneh. Good stuff.
|Oct 26, 2009 3:05pm||
Well being 1) a degreed engineer with education in physics, mechanics, etc., which all apply to biomechanics also, and 2) being a certified personal trainer through NASM, ACE, and Cooper, I’d say that what you are reading is the minority opinion. Some people do feel comfortable doing below parallel squats, but those people are a slim few. The gains you see from doing below parallel squats are in no way worth the risks associated with loading your joints and pushing them past their range of motion. Basically a rule of thumb to live by, if it hurts exceedingly, then your body likely shouldn’t be in that position. There’s a reason all sanctioned powerlifting rules use the definition of parallel as a legal squat.
Also, as if there’s any more of an explaination needed, but if a person goes below parallel, then their knee absolutely must advance forward of the toe position in order for them to even be able to balance the weight without falling backward. It is a known fact from many studies that the further your knee travels forward of your toe position, there is a higher risk of knee tendon injuries. Not to mention the amount that your back will have to bend forward to also balance the weight in ass to the ground squats. This extreme forward postion of your shoulders in comparison to your hips puts huge amounts of strain on the lower spinal erector muscles. And Liz, I’m not talking about light weight squats here either, I’m talking about heavy squats of 1.8 to 3 times your bodyweight. Try going ass to the ground then, and you will likely be having someone pick up the weight from your crumpled body.
This advice is coming from someone that was on the Army powerlifting team for 3 years also. ;)
|Oct 26, 2009 5:27pm||
Not that Liz needs me to come to her defense, but I feel the need to point out that Liz was trying to help me fix my not-even-parallel squats more than she was advocating that I squat deeper than parallel. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone recommend against box/chair squats. (I had just forgotten about them.)
|Oct 26, 2009 6:52pm||
I think a lot of it depends on how you get your depth. If somebody can go substantially below parallel while keeping his/her back in proper extension, he/she has got some crazy flexible hamstrings. Those last couple of inches around and past parallel really test your hamstring flexibility. For most people, this is the limiting factor in assuming proper depth, because without a sufficient hamstring stretch, the lower back rounds, and injury often results if the weight is heavy.
If you do go waaaaay below parallel, it allows your hamstrings to shorten again, and if they’re already shortened, they can’t help you drive out of the hole. Ideally, you want to go deep enough to let your hamstrings stretch as far as you can get them, then lightly (LIGHTLY) bounce off of them to get a nice stretch reflex and drive the weight back up.
Now that I’m typing this out, though, it occurs to me that I should probably say that it’s much better to focus on form first rather than try to get that stretch reflex going; work on that once form and depth are perfect. Attempting to do any kind of bouncing with poor form will probably end up busting up a knee.
Anyway, if you really want to learn the ins and outs of squats, check out Starting Strength ( http://www.aasgaardco.com/store/store.php?crn=1… ) for the gory details. Lots of anatomy and explanation. It’s very much worth the cost. While that’s in the mail, the Squat RX videos on YouTube (the first one is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rq8CWv8UPAI) are good too.
|Oct 26, 2009 7:43pm||
Box squats are good to teach depth and to get used to the form at that depth and also to teach consistant depth. Box squats can also be VERY dangerous because some people dont understand to just barely touch the box then go back up. Instead, people could come down hard with lots of weight loaded up on their back, then cause some disc compression or something worse. Basically when doing box squats, never put weight on the box with your ass. Box squats in another form are also meant to have a box that is higher than the parallel squat depth, and train on doing much heavier weight than you can do down to parallel so that you can get your muscles used to heaver weight than they are used to. It also helps you overcome the mental block of heavier weight than you are used to doing.
|Oct 27, 2009 9:16am||
Thanks for your comments and your perspective. That’s impressive that you are a degreed engineer with education in areas that apply to biomechanics. That’s also great that you are a CPT through some reputable organizations.
That being said, I’m credentialied in the financial field, and every day I see people with similar credentials with spectacularly poor understanding of research, giving spectacularly bad advice. My point in saying this is that I won’t automatically believe whatever you say because of your credentials. There are credentialed people who are great, and others who are clueless. So while I respect you for obtaining those credentials, it doesn’t mean that whatever you say is accepted without question, at least by me.
One of the things my education has taught me is how to read a research paper. I’ve used this skill to review research papers on knee flexion, deep squats, proper squat form, etc. Although there are certainly different opinions, and research on both sides, I’ve seen compelling arguments that squatting below parallel, when done properly, is perfectly safe and in fact beneficial for knee flexion and strength.
It’s true that Klein’s 1961 research was widely regarded as proof that deep squats reduce knee stability leading to a recommendation for parallel squats. But as others tried to reproduce Klein’s research, they found contradictory results. Three studies in 1970, 1971, and 1986 did not find the same results as Klein — even though one used the same device to test knee flexion. In fact, a 1986 study found more flexion in the knees of runners than powerlifters. Interestingly, another study that looked at retired powerlifters showed they had a lower incidence of arthritic knees than people in a control group. So I wouldn’t say that these are minority views.
As a caveat, I will say that the amount of knee strain, as you pointed out, does increase with an increased load. It’s also greater in people who are inexperienced, or even an experienced lifter who is fatigued. So it’s important to work up to a deep squat, keep the weight within your limits, and stop BEFORE failure. I’ve certainly seen powerlifters do deep squats with 1.8-3x their body weight, but it’s not something I have the strength to do at this time. I can do a very nice “ass to grass” front squat with a 35lb kettlebell, and a nice deep back squat with about 95lbs (.85x body weight). But then, I really just got back into lifting about a year ago, so it will take time for me to work those numbers up.
Anyway, the NSCA has some position statements on squats related to all of this research, so if you’re interested in following the recommendations of credentialed organizations, this is one place people can look.
My biggest criticism of squat form as it pertains to knee position is the abduction (or “frogging”) of the knees. Many people are so focused on keeping their knees from going forward that they don’t actually keep them in line with the rest of their leg. Furthermore, I haven’t seen credible research that supports the idea that having the knees extend forward towards the toes is really a problem (although this forward movement is be minimized with correct hip position).
You made some great points about box squats. Yes, people shouldn’t be sitting down hard on the box. I like the explanation of telling people to sit down like they are sitting on a cold toilet, because they then “get” that they shouldn’t sit down hard. It also helps to tell them to reach back with their hips.
And isn’t this cool – a funny video has now led us to have a thought-provoking discussion about the merits and supposed dangers of squats.
|Oct 27, 2009 12:06pm||
I really believe that the whole knees past the toes thing is overblown. It depends on your body shape. I’d have to stop well above parallel to stop my knees from going over my toes.
But, it think the bigger issue with ATG squats is the lower spine rounding, and hamstring flexibility; just as banthafodder stated. For those who have that kind of flexibility it really isn’t an issue. It’s all about being able to keep your back in a stable and nuetral position. Some people can do this on an ATG squat.
So, like so many other things, it’s all dependent upon the person.
If you listen to all of the things that people tell you not to do, then you’d have to live your life in a bubble. My doctor told me that I shouldn’t do squats because I have bad knees……but my knees haven’t felt better since I was 18 years old! Instead he would have me run marathons and do arm curls….hmm? Thats exactly what I was doing when I was 21 and blew out my knee?!?!?
|Oct 27, 2009 12:12pm||
@chaddukes And for me it was exactly the opposite – one of the things I had to do most for my bad knee was squats.
|Oct 28, 2009 2:54pm||
Yes, it is much easier to go deeper while doing front squats without too much stress on your knee. But with what I believe we were talking about, are traditional squats. The reason you can go deeper with front squats is because the mechanics are much more different than you would think. Front squats also take a lot of lower back rounding out of the equation by changing the center of gravity while under the load. That forward center of gravity is what makes you able to comfortably go below parallel without falling backwards.