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    verve88's Avatar
    verve88 is offline Junior Member
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    Squat: Below parallel?

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    Hi guys,

    I'm no pro power lifter/Olympic lifter, just a regular guy crossfitting and working out in the gym with some basic power lifts on the side.
    I'm 5'8, 68kg (fairly slim) so this is mostly all new to me.

    There's something that I've been getting conflicting advice from however, regarding braking parallel in the squat!

    I went to Chad Vaughn's oly lifting seminar at my local cf gym earlier this year, and he was really harping on about making sure to go below parallel to the point that your quad muscles release, then bring the weight back up.
    He said if you were the stop higher up in the squat, it puts too much strain on the legs and becomes an unnatural/forced progression of movement.
    It totally made sense to me, and I've been training my squats like that ever since.

    I am very very flexible and can go very low on a squat, but I also have a tendency to have a tight psoas muscle on the front of my hip.
    This means that when I get to the bottom of the squat, even with my butt out throughout the entire movement, it dips under a little at the bottom of the squat.

    I've had 2 people mention it to me in passing this week (both strangers) and although I'm very grateful for them having pointed it out, I'm so frustrated that they both told me I was going to low?
    What is too low?
    Is it because I'm a long limbed, slim body shape that this kind of depth just looks funny on me?

    I want to train my squats correctly from the get-go, so I'm very interested to hear what your opinions are on squat depth...

    Thanks in advance!

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    RichMahogany's Avatar
    RichMahogany is offline Senior Member
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    Post a video.
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    jfreaksho's Avatar
    jfreaksho is offline Senior Member
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    That tucking under you describe can cause a lot of pain and suffering in certain conditions.

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    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    I went to Chad Vaughn's oly lifting seminar at my local cf gym earlier this year, and he was really harping on about making sure to go below parallel to the point that your quad muscles release, then bring the weight back up.
    I think you mean slacken rather than release. I'm surprised to hear anyone actively coaching that this is desirable, aside from a bodybuilder who might be trying to isolate the quadriceps group.

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    He said if you were the stop higher up in the squat, it puts too much strain on the legs and becomes an unnatural/forced progression of movement.
    Did he say strain on the legs or shear force on the knee? There is such thing as squatting below parallel (so the hamstrings pull on the distal end of the knee equalizes the quadriceps' pull on the proximal end) but not "ATG" to the point that the hamstrings slacken, and this is the squat mechanics taught by Mark Rippetoe. You should read "Starting Strength," it handles this better than any other text that a layman like you or I can understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    It totally made sense to me, and I've been training my squats like that ever since.

    I am very very flexible and can go very low on a squat, but I also have a tendency to have a tight psoas muscle on the front of my hip.
    How do you know that the psoas muscle is tight? Who told you this and what was it based on?

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    This means that when I get to the bottom of the squat, even with my butt out throughout the entire movement, it dips under a little at the bottom of the squat.
    This may or may not be a problem. If you're rounding your lower back to hit the depth (which often causes this phenomenon, which is sometimes referred to as "butt-wink,") you need to learn to stop doing that. Rippetloe describes it as your hamstrings competing with your erector spinae for control of your pelvis, a battle which the erectors have to win if you want to efficiently transmit force up your trunk to the barbell. Also, you probably need to work harder to shove your knees out, since impingement of the hip joint can cause you to lose the ability to reach depth, which trainees often compensate for by rounding the lower back.

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    I've had 2 people mention it to me in passing this week (both strangers) and although I'm very grateful for them having pointed it out, I'm so frustrated that they both told me I was going to low?
    What is too low?
    Depends on the model of the squat you're trying to follow. In the low bar back squat, with moderately placed feet and toes pointed out about 30 degrees, too low is where the hamstrings slacken, as I mentioned above. This will be below parallel, but maybe just barely. But if you learned from an olympic coach, you were probably taught a high bar model which incorporates less posterior chain musculature.

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    Is it because I'm a long limbed, slim body shape that this kind of depth just looks funny on me?
    Can't see you from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by verve88 View Post
    I want to train my squats correctly from the get-go, so I'm very interested to hear what your opinions are on squat depth...
    If your goal is to get as strong as you can, I recommend the low bar back squat (not to be confused with the wide-stanced powerlifting squat) laid out in eloquent detail in Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition.
    The Champagne of Beards

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    verve88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    I think you mean slacken rather than release. I'm surprised to hear anyone actively coaching that this is desirable, aside from a bodybuilder who might be trying to isolate the quadriceps group.



    Did he say strain on the legs or shear force on the knee? There is such thing as squatting below parallel (so the hamstrings pull on the distal end of the knee equalizes the quadriceps' pull on the proximal end) but not "ATG" to the point that the hamstrings slacken, and this is the squat mechanics taught by Mark Rippetoe. You should read "Starting Strength," it handles this better than any other text that a layman like you or I can understand.



    How do you know that the psoas muscle is tight? Who told you this and what was it based on?



    This may or may not be a problem. If you're rounding your lower back to hit the depth (which often causes this phenomenon, which is sometimes referred to as "butt-wink,") you need to learn to stop doing that. Rippetloe describes it as your hamstrings competing with your erector spinae for control of your pelvis, a battle which the erectors have to win if you want to efficiently transmit force up your trunk to the barbell. Also, you probably need to work harder to shove your knees out, since impingement of the hip joint can cause you to lose the ability to reach depth, which trainees often compensate for by rounding the lower back.



    Depends on the model of the squat you're trying to follow. In the low bar back squat, with moderately placed feet and toes pointed out about 30 degrees, too low is where the hamstrings slacken, as I mentioned above. This will be below parallel, but maybe just barely. But if you learned from an olympic coach, you were probably taught a high bar model which incorporates less posterior chain musculature.



    Can't see you from here.



    If your goal is to get as strong as you can, I recommend the low bar back squat (not to be confused with the wide-stanced powerlifting squat) laid out in eloquent detail in Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition.
    Wow thanks for the amazing feedback, I appreciate it.
    I have the SS book, and although I referenced it and it's training methods/technique earlier this year when I started training, I think I'm in need of a refresher.
    Ill work on this, and the suggestions you've layed out here and post a video of my progress soon.
    Thanks again
    Last edited by verve88; 11-28-2013 at 11:37 PM.

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