Allow me to introduce the first ever Project Swole Question of the Week. In this section we will be tackling all those important questions like, “What is the best tasting protein bar?”, and “Should gym bunnies be allowed to distract us by wearing spandex while they workout?”
This week’s question is one that has been much debated throughout the years.
My opinion is this: when you squat all the way down, it does put unnecessary pressure on the patella (knee). A lifetime of squatting this way could cause one to need knee surgery in their later years. Often someone that squats as low as they can go, will squat down with a greater velocity than if they had to stop themselves at a certain point (parallel). This greater velocity, combined with the stretch reflex used if they bounce out of the hole, could certainly lead to unnecessary tendon and ligament damage over time. So if you know how to squat correctly, and you do not bounce, and you are not attempting a max effort PR, then I guess I don’t see a problem with squatting to the floor; I just don’t recommend ass-to-grass barbell back squats for the average trainee.
Under no circumstances should you execute a half squat or a quarter squat, unless you are making a rare attempt at a super-heavy load that is higher than your 1 rep max. Occasionally I used this protocol to feel out a new weight just to expose my legs to the load. At one point (e.g. back in college) when I was squatting on average 405 lbs for 3-5 reps, I loaded up the bar to 475 and completed 3 half squats with that weight. Using this strategy helped me to attain a 465 1 rep max, because I already knew what that heavier weight felt like, so I had more confidence when I tried to attempt a similar weight for a 1 rep max.
In conclusion, I would say that 90% of the time, one should only squat to parallel or just below parallel. It is not worth sacrificing your knees just to be able to say “I squat ass-to-grass”. Perhaps you might squat all the way down with dynamic effort low box squats, jump squats, or strongman training when practicing events such as the Atlas Stones.
What do you think?
Feel free to vote and leave a comment explaining your opinion.