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Old 07-08-2011, 09:02 PM   #1
David Strand
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Squat ROM

Hi all,
I'm wondering about what sort of range of motion I should have with my squats, both front and back. My current understanding is that legs should bend at about a 90 degree angle, but when, if ever, should one go deeper or more shallow in their ROM? Is 90 degrees a safety thing, or what? I've noticed the lower past 90 degrees (or, I guess, having my things parallel to the floor) I squat, the weaker I am. Hopefully there isn't some thread on this already that I missed, if so please simply redirect me to it.
Thanks!
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:20 PM   #2
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Squat ROM

Well, yeah, squatting to full depth is harder than squatting to above parallel. But an above-parallel squat is not a good rep, any more than stopping your chin 2" below the bar is a good pullup.

Since you're about to start a strength training program I highly recommend you buy Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book (and DVD if you learn better that way) and read it cover to cover first. It's basically the best resource out there for teaching the 5 major lifts (squat, deadlift, press, bench, power clean) and does a pretty good job of explaining anatomy and physiology as they relate to barbell training.

And once you get started lifting, post videos in the digital coaching forum for feedback.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:15 PM   #3
Steve Bray
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Re: Squat ROM

squating below parrallel is actually better and safer for your knees than stopping. i cant remember the reasons why but it is.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:26 PM   #4
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Squat ROM

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Originally Posted by Steve Bray View Post
squating below parrallel is actually better and safer for your knees than stopping. i cant remember the reasons why but it is.
It has to do with the fact that a full-depth squat involves the glutes and hamstrings, while squatting above parallel doesn't involve them and relies mostly on the quadriceps which causes a powerful shearing force across the kneecaps.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:04 PM   #5
David Strand
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Re: Squat ROM

So does that mean I should be going really low to the ground with my squats? Or does going with thighs parallel to the ground offer adequate glute/ham involvement?
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:13 PM   #6
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Squat ROM

Read Starting Strength or watch the DVD--if you're asking questions like this it leads me to believe you would benefit greatly from its instruction on how to squat.

Full depth is full depth--if the crease of your hips does not go below your kneecaps, it's not a squat, it's a partial squat. Partial squats don't count. Some people can go deeper without losing lumbar curve because of their flexibility or because they're squatting high-bar rather than low-bar. Olympic lifters typically practice squatting to rock-bottom depth because it makes them stronger squatting out of cleans. But for a normal low-bar squat, the standard is below parallel.
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Old 07-09-2011, 04:40 PM   #7
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Squat ROM

A 90 degree bend in the knee is nowhere near deep enough, IMO.
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:05 PM   #8
David Strand
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Re: Squat ROM

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Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery View Post
Read Starting Strength or watch the DVD--if you're asking questions like this it leads me to believe you would benefit greatly from its instruction on how to squat.
OK, I'll definitely look into getting both that and the GSLP book.. and start squatting lower. I think I've been doing alright with depth, but I tend to accidentally fudge my final squat(s) in the later sets.

Thanks for the tips everybody!
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:40 PM   #9
Troy Becker
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Re: Squat ROM

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Originally Posted by Lincoln Brigham View Post
A 90 degree bend in the knee is nowhere near deep enough, IMO.
That's because a 90 degree bend in the knee doesn't bring the thighs parallel to the ground.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:35 PM   #10
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Squat ROM

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Originally Posted by David Strand View Post
OK, I'll definitely look into getting both that and the GSLP book.. and start squatting lower. I think I've been doing alright with depth, but I tend to accidentally fudge my final squat(s) in the later sets.

Thanks for the tips everybody!
If you're unsure about your depth, get some videos and post them in digital coaching. It doesn't have to be fancy, video from a Flip camera or smartphone is more than good enough.
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