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Mike Rinderle

Is Squat Depth Overrated? Interesting article

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Mike Rinderle

Obviously, if you are training for, or competing in, a powerlifting meet; depth is critical.  But this is an article by two peeps that know their stuff on why it may not be that important (and maybe even harmful) for others based on their goals and body structure. 

My opinion: everyone should go as deep as they comfortably can.  

https://www.t-nation.com/training/forget-about-squat-depth

 

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Climber028

I would disagree with a lot of that, tho I think a heavy a2g squat isn't necessarily a priority for everyone. I think anybody should be able to do or be working towards an unweighted deep squat, and spending plenty of time in that position for mobility and pelvic floor health reasons but if strength is your objective you'll be fine going just below parallel when the weights get heavy. 

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Mike Rinderle

The article pretty much agrees with you.  Bodyweight ATG squats for everyone.  

If your sport doesn't require you to perform below parallel squats and your hips aren't built to do it with weight, do you really need to go below parallel with near max weight?  Or would you be better off staying just above parallel in a more athletic stance with even heavier weight?  It's an interesting article.  My first reaction was "BLASPHEMY!"  But they make a very strong case.

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Climber028

I don't agree that above parallel is adequate, unless you're either on the path to gaining the required mobility or you are specifically trying to overload your top end strength. 

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Mike Rinderle
2 minutes ago, Climber028 said:

I don't agree that above parallel is adequate, unless you're either on the path to gaining the required mobility or you are specifically trying to overload your top end strength. 

What if your hip joints aren't built to safely go below parallel (about 25% of the white population due to genetics)?

What if you are an offensive lineman who only cares about top end strength in that somewhat shortened range of motion?  Is it worth tearing your hips up and shortening your career to hit an arbitrary bro science depth?

Not arguing with you.  Just curious.  I think everyone should go as low as they can safely.  

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Kluv#0

IMO, regular squats overrated in Gripsport. Look at the top guys and they are not great at squats with the exception of Gil and maybe couple more. Heck, last year at Odd's contest I beat Jon Call( Jujumufu) overall and he squats over 600lbs and he didn't lift an ounce more than me on the axle- that is with me being at 70% health due to sciatica and could barely move and have not done regular squats in a quarter of a century, LOL- meanwhile, he was doing backflips onstage very much healthy!!

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Joseph Sullivan
5 minutes ago, Mike Rinderle said:

What if your hip joints aren't built to safely go below parallel (about 25% of the white population due to genetics)?

What if you are an offensive lineman who only cares about top end strength in that somewhat shortened range of motion?  Is it worth tearing your hips up and shortening your career to hit an arbitrary bro science depth?

Not arguing with you.  Just curious.  I think everyone should go as low as they can safely.  

I agree and concur

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Climber028
7 minutes ago, Mike Rinderle said:

What if your hip joints aren't built to safely go below parallel (about 25% of the white population due to genetics)?

What if you are an offensive lineman who only cares about top end strength in that somewhat shortened range of motion?  Is it worth tearing your hips up and shortening your career to hit an arbitrary bro science depth?

Not arguing with you.  Just curious.  I think everyone should go as low as they can safely.  

So many things to address, not really sure on most. In general I don't think any exercise is good or bad, it all depends on the application and your goals. I was under the impression that hip variation affected a deep squat, not necessarily a normal parallel squat, might need to brush up on some research to discuss that. 

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Aleksandar Milosevic

Not a single sport requires you to be in a full squat position, and there's no reason to train it that way if you're not competing in powerlifting, strongman, or God forbid crossfit. But everyone should be able to squat below parallel just for health reasons. If I'm a long jump athlete, why would I ever do deep squats, when the angle in my knee joint never goes below 120 degrees? Why deep squat 100 kg in the range of motion that I don't need, when I can squat 200 kg easier in the range of motion more specific to my activity?

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Kluv#0

Sorry Mike for veering  off-topic- not my intention:)

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Mike Rinderle
1 minute ago, Kluv#0 said:

Sorry Mike for veering  off-topic- not my intention:)

No worries brother.  I would have liked it, but I'm out of likes.  

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Mike Rinderle
26 minutes ago, Climber028 said:

So many things to address, not really sure on most. In general I don't think any exercise is good or bad, it all depends on the application and your goals. I was under the impression that hip variation affected a deep squat, not necessarily a normal parallel squat, might need to brush up on some research to discuss that. 

Yea, at around 90 degrees of hip flexion, those with deep hip sockets (Celtic Hips) start pretty much grinding bone on bone.  You can go lower, but you are going to tear your hips up if you regularly squat past this point with heavy weight on your back. 

21 minutes ago, Aleksandar Milosevic said:

Not a single sport requires you to be in a full squat position, and there's no reason to train it that way if you're not competing in powerlifting, strongman, or God forbid crossfit. But everyone should be able to squat below parallel just for health reasons. If I'm a long jump athlete, why would I ever do deep squats, when the angle in my knee joint never goes below 120 degrees? Why deep squat 100 kg in the range of motion that I don't need, when I can squat 200 kg easier in the range of motion more specific to my activity?

I agree 100%.  You need full range of motion for life, but not for any sport I can think of, other than maybe climbing.  So everyone should work on hip mobility and be able to do a bodyweight  full squat for sure.  But, if you are looking to increase sport performance outside of powerlifting or olympic lifting, these guys make a pretty compelling case that you are at best wasting time & potential, and at worse risking career ending injury by going too low. 

I would say that the second (above parallel pic) is a much more athletic stance.  I would definitely rather meet a running back or absob a check in that stance than the left one. 

 

 

ROM.jpg

Edited by Mike Rinderle
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JasonL

Its all specificity.  One only needs to train the ROM they need. Some cannot do to genetics, leverage and injuries.  If your a regular Joe, you don't need to train to parallel in the squat or below, y?  You can go to almost parallel. Then do lunges or other glute and ham work to make up for it.  Do what you want.  Pick a sport, arm wrestling :). most guys are not doing full range work for this, why would they?  Genetics and specificity rule and that is coming more and more apparent in todays generation then others.

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climber511

I'm been lucky enough to actually talk to JL about the subject and while the guy might be a musclehead but he's a very smart one.  The issue really comes down to the advent of Powerlifting and it's "parallel" rule.  IF you had never heard of PL what would you think about squat depth?  JL is right that some people are not built to go rock bottom under load - and they shouldn't obviously keep banging on depth and tear themselves up joint wise.   Louie's "sit back" style also changed the way many of us look at "squatting".   The first way I think about a Squat is what do I do when I want something off the bottom shelf of my cupboard.  The trouble starts when we add load and then keep wanting to add more and more weight on the bar and so keep trying to justify less and less depth to make us "feel" stronger.  There is a trend right now back towards "health" in training for the average (especially older) trainee.  Its not all that hard to figure out what squat depth works best for you if you take your ego out of the picture.

 

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Rick Walker

Mike,

Here is another article (read part 2 as well) to get you thinking about squat depth: https://www.elitefts.com/education/the-squat-and-athletic-development-how-weve-all-been-fcking-it-up/

My research project for my Masters is actually looking at below parallel squats versus what some would deem a "half-squat" and the implications on vertical jump, 10-meter sprints, 30-meter sprints, and long jump. I have been finding some very interesting things in terms of athletic development.

I am on board with what most have said, unless you compete in a sport such as powerlifting that requires a below parallel squat, you are better off doing what the article shows is a "half-squat". Any sport from wrestling to football to basketball to track and field basically starts in this athletic position of a half-squat. 

I also agree with Chris Rice that we should all, if mobility allows, do some ATG squats during our training. It does not need to be the main focus of your squatting, but it does help with flexibility and movement patterns.

-Rick

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Mike Rinderle
On 10/15/2018 at 12:13 PM, Rick Walker said:

Mike,

Here is another article (read part 2 as well) to get you thinking about squat depth: https://www.elitefts.com/education/the-squat-and-athletic-development-how-weve-all-been-fcking-it-up/

My research project for my Masters is actually looking at below parallel squats versus what some would deem a "half-squat" and the implications on vertical jump, 10-meter sprints, 30-meter sprints, and long jump. I have been finding some very interesting things in terms of athletic development.

I am on board with what most have said, unless you compete in a sport such as powerlifting that requires a below parallel squat, you are better off doing what the article shows is a "half-squat". Any sport from wrestling to football to basketball to track and field basically starts in this athletic position of a half-squat. 

I also agree with Chris Rice that we should all, if mobility allows, do some ATG squats during our training. It does not need to be the main focus of your squatting, but it does help with flexibility and movement patterns.

-Rick

Good stuff Rick.  Thanks!

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The Under Table

I squat underneath the table when I am losing.

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climber511

The introduction of the "goblet squat" I think helped many people to understand their hips better.  Weight location (front or back) also matters.  People can often front squat (comfortably) much deeper during a front or goblet squat than during a typical back squat.   Six decades ago when I started lifting bodyweight squats (and lightly loaded squats) were often done on the toes - and it's easy to go ass to grass this way - which should tell us something about the role of the ankle.  Since I've went and gotten "old" I now work with people my own age a lot and the ability to squat down - get a can of soup off the bottom shelf of the cupboard is way more important to them than load on the back (or front).  The common sit back powerlifting squat really doesn't help for that.  We can sometimes see some pretty good "squats" done while doing trap bar dead lifts as far as what many "athletes" need if a low enough bar is used (but not too low).

Rick I'd love to read your paper when it's done.

Edited by climber511
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Mike Rinderle
1 hour ago, climber511 said:

The introduction of the "goblet squat" I think helped many people to understand their hips better.  Weight location (front or back) also matters.  People can often front squat (comfortably) much deeper during a front or goblet squat than during a typical back squat.   Six decades ago when I started lifting bodyweight squats (and lightly loaded squats) were often done on the toes - and it's easy to go ass to grass this way - which should tell us something about the role of the ankle.  Since I've went and gotten "old" I now work with people my own age a lot and the ability to squat down - get a can of soup off the bottom shelf of the cupboard is way more important to them than load on the back (or front).  The common sit back powerlifting squat really doesn't help for that.  We can sometimes see some pretty good "squats" done while doing trap bar dead lifts as far as what many "athletes" need if a low enough bar is used (but not too low).

Rick I'd love to read your paper when it's done.

I think trap bar deads are the best strength building exercise for young athletes out there.  Safer than squat or dl.  

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Stephen Ruby

What are your thoughts then on a front squat being better for athletes since it forces better posture which aligns with various sports? In most sports you want to maintain a good upright posture when your squatting to use your leg strength effectively. Since I have focused on front squats myself I don't have the same knee and back pain I got with back squats and I have noticed my core get much stronger. If shoulder flexibility is a issue to get under the bar you can always use straps to eliminate that issue. 

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Mike Rinderle
10 minutes ago, Stephen Ruby said:

What are your thoughts then on a front squat being better for athletes since it forces better posture which aligns with various sports? In most sports you want to maintain a good upright posture when your squatting to use your leg strength effectively. Since I have focused on front squats myself I don't have the same knee and back pain I got with back squats and I have noticed my core get much stronger. If shoulder flexibility is a issue to get under the bar you can always use straps to eliminate that issue. 

I think front squats are awesome.  But now that I have an SSB, I'll never do another one.  Safer way to get the same exact muscle activation.

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climber511
12 minutes ago, Stephen Ruby said:

What are your thoughts then on a front squat being better for athletes since it forces better posture which aligns with various sports? In most sports you want to maintain a good upright posture when your squatting to use your leg strength effectively. Since I have focused on front squats myself I don't have the same knee and back pain I got with back squats and I have noticed my core get much stronger. If shoulder flexibility is a issue to get under the bar you can always use straps to eliminate that issue. 

I think it's highly individual.  Many people can back squat with with good positions - many cannot.  I think one of the biggest problems we all have is "load".  Load is not the only goal to consider with athletes other than those in strength sports.  What "athlete" are you talking about?  There are huge differences between how I would train American Football - Track and Field (runner - jumper - thrower) or rock climbing (yes that's a sport ).  In many (most) athletic pursuits strength per pound is as important if not more so than raw strength.  As weightlifters we tend to get hung up on the numbers - more is not always better if body weight increase outstrips the strength gains or the strength is what might be called "slow strength" or as can happen - it results in decreased ROM.  Front squats can be great but having seen a room full of teenagers turned loose on them without adequate preparation - I hesitate to say they're the answer for everyone.  In preparation for a climbing trip a while back I turned to "step ups" and was pleasently surprised - there seems to be as many ways to train athletes as there are athletes to train.  I had like everyone heard how squats were so much better than step ups - I no longer believe that one for every purpose.  Weighted step ups worked extremely well for me and what I was trying to achieve.  

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Rick Walker
On 10/17/2018 at 9:55 AM, climber511 said:

The introduction of the "goblet squat" I think helped many people to understand their hips better.  Weight location (front or back) also matters.  People can often front squat (comfortably) much deeper during a front or goblet squat than during a typical back squat.   Six decades ago when I started lifting bodyweight squats (and lightly loaded squats) were often done on the toes - and it's easy to go ass to grass this way - which should tell us something about the role of the ankle.  Since I've went and gotten "old" I now work with people my own age a lot and the ability to squat down - get a can of soup off the bottom shelf of the cupboard is way more important to them than load on the back (or front).  The common sit back powerlifting squat really doesn't help for that.  We can sometimes see some pretty good "squats" done while doing trap bar dead lifts as far as what many "athletes" need if a low enough bar is used (but not too low).

Rick I'd love to read your paper when it's done.

Chris,

You are spot on about the ankle and the ability to dorsiflex enough to squat correctly. 10 degrees of dorsiflexion is needed just for gait, and around 20 degrees is considered "normal". Most of us can get around this by elevating the heels, but with a flat shoe if the feet externally rotate, flatten, the heels rise, or you have excessive forward lean, chances are good that your dorsiflexion is poor and working ankle mobility will help tremendously. 

We cannot count out hip flexion at the iliofemoral joint either. About 115 degrees is required to squat without low back rounding. Of course, this can also be changed due to long femurs and a long torso. The issue is, you cannot get these measurements without a goniometer or inclinometer and someone to use it on each joint correctly to get precise measurements. 

My personal choice for everyone who struggles to squat is to get them doing Bulgarian split squats. Much easier to learn, unilateral strength gains, and athletic performance enhancements (improvements in ground reaction forces) just as good as back or front squats. I am doing more Bulgarians now then back squats and only back squat on occasion.

Chris, my paper will be due in December (end of the fall semester). I will send it your way if you wish to read it.

-Rick

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climber511
2 minutes ago, Rick Walker said:

Chris,

You are spot on about the ankle and the ability to dorsiflex enough to squat correctly. 10 degrees of dorsiflexion is needed just for gait, and around 20 degrees is considered "normal". Most of us can get around this by elevating the heels, but with a flat shoe if the feet externally rotate, flatten, the heels rise, or you have excessive forward lean, chances are good that your dorsiflexion is poor and working ankle mobility will help tremendously. 

We cannot count out hip flexion at the iliofemoral joint either. About 115 degrees is required to squat without low back rounding. Of course, this can also be changed due to long femurs and a long torso. The issue is, you cannot get these measurements without a goniometer or inclinometer and someone to use it on each joint correctly to get precise measurements. 

My personal choice for everyone who struggles to squat is to get them doing Bulgarian split squats. Much easier to learn, unilateral strength gains, and athletic performance enhancements (improvements in ground reaction forces) just as good as back or front squats. I am doing more Bulgarians now then back squats and only back squat on occasion.

Chris, my paper will be due in December (end of the fall semester). I will send it your way if you wish to read it.

-Rick

Rick please send me your paper when available - I "know" this stuff but not in depth like you obviously do.  Your use of Bulgarian Split Squats corresponds closely with my step ups  discovery for myself.  I choose the step ups as they are much more specific to hiking.  I also needed the eccentric loading to mimic hiking (not a good wording but I imagine you understand).  My thoughts are the split squats will be better at developing strength but the steps ups are easier to use for endurance development.

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Rick Walker
5 hours ago, climber511 said:

Rick please send me your paper when available - I "know" this stuff but not in depth like you obviously do.  Your use of Bulgarian Split Squats corresponds closely with my step ups  discovery for myself.  I choose the step ups as they are much more specific to hiking.  I also needed the eccentric loading to mimic hiking (not a good wording but I imagine you understand).  My thoughts are the split squats will be better at developing strength but the steps ups are easier to use for endurance development.

Your use of step-ups closely mimics hiking, so it would certainly be an excellent choice over other leg movements for the uphill climb and the eccentric loading by doing a controlled lowering phase would be excellent for the amount of downhill I am assuming you must do after you reach the top!

Bulgarians are similar in that I can adapt rep speed for the training effect I am looking for. A slow eccentric with a paused isometric, followed by an explosive concentric movement trains athletes to decelerate and accelerate, great for athletics. For all around strength I can do a controlled speed eccentric and concentric. For power, I can do a jumping Bulgarian with less weight. The benefit is that the back is not compromised while the four global muscular systems (deep longitudinal subsystem, posterior oblique subsystem, anterior oblique subsystem, and lateral subsystem) can all be worked effectively. Too many people dump the back squat onto the erector spinae and it becomes a good morning. Bulgarians, or even step-ups, can eliminate this while reaping all the benefits and still getting a stabilizing effect from the lats, glutes, thoracolumbar fascia, and sacroiliac joint. It is a win-win.

Issues such as knee pain can be fixed by adjusting the width of the stance. The Bulgarians also help eliminate knee valgus (knees caving in) which can also build the stabilizers around the knee and help athletes avoid issues such as non-contact ACL tears.

-Rick

 

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