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Squat Down - But how far down??

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  • Squat Down - But how far down??

    When doing the squat exercise do I want my upper legs to be parallel with the floor or my arse to pretty much touch my heels before I drive back upto the standing position?

    Arse to heels is best is it not, because then I'm getting full range of motion but will this have a negative effect on my knees?
    www.paleotrainingbible.com

  • #2
    As low as you can without pain or sacrificing form. Check out this article I wrote about squats.

    By the way, I am a big Elliott Smith fan myself. (Unless your screenname is your real name and not a reference to the late, great singer songwriter.)
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

    "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

    My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

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    • #3
      Thanks for the swift reply. I can go right down without any pain but the weight has to be less than going parallel with the legs to the floor. So will stick at this and see how things progress.

      Elliott-Smith is my surname, not a reference to the singer/songwriter.
      www.paleotrainingbible.com

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      • #4
        The ass-to-grass thing will definitely build bigger legs and more defined legs (if that makes sense). However, to get the benefits of hormonal release and posterior chain strengthening, parallel works fine since, as you said, you can do heavier weights that way. It's more of a choice rather than one thing being better than another. Depends on your goals.
        I only go to parallel because I want to use heavier weights and want explosive power in my legs, for instance.
        People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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        • #5
          I think to really benefit, you go slightly below parallel to activate the posterior chain and take the pressure off the knees.

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          • #6
            If you get below parallel with your toes pointed outward at about a 45 and press your knees out as you descend you'll get to a point where there's a rebound effect....that's the bottom and sweet spot for me.

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            • #7
              Watch yourself sideways in a mirror as you go down - at some point your spine will start to round, and that's the point beyond you don't want to go with reasonable weight on your shoulders. That's according to Bill De Simone - so if anyone wants to accuse me of making this up, please take it up with Bill instead.

              BTW: Instead of loading insane amounts of weights on my shoulders, I prefer doing overhead squats with light weights, and with those I go down well beyond parallel.
              MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
                BTW: Instead of loading insane amounts of weights on my shoulders, I prefer doing overhead squats with light weights, and with those I go down well beyond parallel.
                I've tried to do OHS and I have a hard time getting to parallel, let alone below. (I can go ATG on regular barbell front and back squats) Any tips? I'd love to be able to do these and appreciate any advice.

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                • #9
                  @Yodiewan: Practice with some PVC pipe and get the form down. It's a bitch and a half. I'd rather throw on heavy weight onto my back than do OHS.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                    I've tried to do OHS and I have a hard time getting to parallel, let alone below. (I can go ATG on regular barbell front and back squats) Any tips? I'd love to be able to do these and appreciate any advice.
                    Just use a really light weight - ideally just a broom or any other long stick. You need to lock out the elbows and really bring the arms back. When I tried it first I also struggled to even reach parallel while keeping the arms locked out behind, but I made quick progress. When you add weight: Be prepared to drop the barbell in front of you when you lose balance - trying to hold on to it and to put it down safely will put your wrists in danger.
                    MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the tips Mike and Abu.

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                      • #12
                        OHS are the devil.
                        People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
                          Watch yourself sideways in a mirror as you go down - at some point your spine will start to round, and that's the point beyond you don't want to go with reasonable weight on your shoulders. That's according to Bill De Simone - so if anyone wants to accuse me of making this up, please take it up with Bill instead.

                          BTW: Instead of loading insane amounts of weights on my shoulders, I prefer doing overhead squats with light weights, and with those I go down well beyond parallel.
                          Not to be nit-picky, but I wouldn't turn and look in the mirror squatting down with a loaded spinal column, that's just asking for trouble IMO and he's not going to be squatting heavy that way, anyways.

                          I'd just use a camera to record your form and troubleshoot it every workout. That way you can focus on your squat and watch it later and watch it several times, too. I take mine with me when I need to work on form.


                          OP,

                          I'm a firm believer in full depth olympic squats, but it takes a long time to work up to it. You need both hip and ankle mobility or you'll be bottoming out with the dreaded "butt wink" and risking injury.

                          You need to roll the bottoms of your feet, your calves, IT band, quads, hams, etc before squatting. Also stretch your hips, hamstrings, and calves. If you're worried about your knees, pick up some Tommy Kono kneebands or Rehband knee sleeves just for warmth, they're thicker than Franklin or whatever you'll find at the store, and they dont add poundages and are more comfortable than something like an APT or Inzer wrap. A belt is up to you, but a lot of olympic lifters don't wear one.

                          You can try box squatting, but I've always felt that the Olympic squat, which most people should be doing, is more of a ballistic movement anyway. The box squat is great for geared or powerlifting squats, but not so much the olympic squat directly.

                          If your form is atrocious, do shoulder racked from squats. It's easier to stay vertical.

                          Finally, you can try plates under the heels for more ankle mobility. Most olympic lifters wear olympic lifting shoes that raise the heel about an inch and have a solid wooden sole. I wear them myself. They help you hit depth safely, and odds are you don't have the ankle mobility anyway. 5 or 10 lb plates are usually a good substitute as long as you use a solid soled shoe like a Chuck Taylor or a wrestling shoe.

                          But, as others have indicated, just go as deep as you can safely and work at it over time. Stretch a couple of times every day and it won't be long before you can bury a squat.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Open_Cover View Post
                            Not to be nit-picky, but I wouldn't turn and look in the mirror squatting down with a loaded spinal column, that's just asking for trouble IMO and he's not going to be squatting heavy that way, anyways.
                            You can do that while doing a body weight squat - which is what I would recommend of course. As you go down beyond a certain point your spine will round not because of the weight, but for purely biomechanical reasons - just as your lower legs (shins) will rotate slightly because of how the knee is constructed.
                            MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                            • #15
                              For me it's important to not lean forward too much when I squat. Go down as far as you can until your knees start to go over your toes. That's the point when you're effecting circulation and it can cause problems and pain. I have to try to keep my lower legs at a right angle with the floor and dont bring my knees too far forward. It hurts after a while when I have bad form.
                              Proud Bangmaid since August 2009

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