How Deep Should You Squat?

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How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby health4ni on Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:06 pm

http://www.fitstoronto.com/?p=2472#/0

Article Summary: The Biomechanics of Squat Depth by Brad Schoenfeld

This article discusses the idea that deep squats may increase knee ligament laxity. One study by Klein using weightlifters who regularly perform deep squats, found an increased laxity in the ACL, MCL and LCL knee ligaments compared to a control group (1,2). However, Klein’s study was performed in 1961 and Shoenfeld points out that there are more recent studies which disprove this theory (3,4,5) as well as evidence to demonstrate the opposite is true (6). A group of male power lifters were found to have tighter anterior drawer (ACL) tests than the control group (6). It would be interesting to see how these figures compare to a group of female power lifters, seeing that female athletes have higher rates of ACL rupture than male athletes.

The highest forces on the ACL occur at 15-30 degrees of knee flexion, with the lowest forces occurring at 60 degrees knee flexion and greater (7,8,9). Therefore, deep squats would not subject the ACL to high shear forces (1). Another benefit of deep squatting is that on EMG, the gluteus maximus muscle activity was found to be greater in a full squat compared to a quarter squat or squat to parallel (2). This is key since:

1. Gluteus maximus is a primary hip extensor (contributing to force production during running and jumping)
2. Gluteus maximus is a muscle which is commonly underdeveloped, as in those with lower crossed syndrome.

Therefore, deep squatting is not contraindicated in people with healthy knees, as it has not been shown to increase knee ligament laxity (1,3,4,5,6). Full squats increase muscle activity in the gluteus maximus (1,2) and should be considered as a useful tool in athletic development. Choosing optimal squat depths in an athlete’s program should take into account many factors such as the athlete’s sport, training goals, and injury history (1).

1. The Biomechanics of Squat Depth, NSCA Hot Topic Series, Brad Schoenfeld.
2. Klein K. The deep squat exercise as utilized in weight training for athletes and its effects on the ligaments of the knee. JAPMR. 15(1):6 – 11.1961.
3. Meyers E. Effect of selected exercise variables on ligament stability and flexibility of the knee. Research Quarterly. 42(4):411 – 422. 1971.
4. Panariello R, Backus S, Parker J. The effect of the squat exercise on anterior-posterior knee translation in professional football players. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 22(6):768 – 773. 1994.
5. Steiner M, Grana W, Chilag K, and Schelberg-Karnes E. The effect of exercise on anterior-posterior knee laxity. American Journal of Sports Medicine.14 (1):24 – 29. 1986.
6. Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Zheng N, Lander JE, Barrentine SW, Andrews JR, Bergemann BW, and Moorman CT. Effects of technique variations on knee biomechanics during the squat and leg press. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 33:1,552 – 1,566. 2001.
7. Kanamori A, Woo SL, Ma CB, Zeminski J, Rudy TW, Li G, and Livesay GA. The forces in the anterior cruciate ligament and knee kinematics during a simulated pivot shift test: A human cadaveric study using robotic technology. Arthroscopy. 16(6):633 – 639. 2000.
8. Li G, Rudy TW, Sakane M, Kanamori A, Ma CB, and Woo SL. The importance of quadriceps and hamstring muscleloading on knee kinematics and in-situ forces in the ACL. Journal of Biomechanics. 32(4):395 – 400. 1999.
9. Signorile JF, Weber B, Roll B, Caruso J, Lowensteyn I, and Perry AC. An electromyographical comparison of the squat and knee extension exercises.Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 8:178 – 183. 1994.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Karlos on Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:40 pm

Trouble is, many people squat deep who shouldn't. Deep squatting requires a surprising amount of flexability. I suffered back and knee pain/injury due to deep squatting with poor hip mobility. ie. pelvic tuck & torque stress on knees.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby health4ni on Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:20 am

^^ yes, I agree. If you can't safely get past parallel (even just a smidge) then I suggest box squats to learn how to do it.

The article is just a good one to refer people to when they still maintain that below parallel squatting is bad for your knees.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby RoB on Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:15 pm

Karlos wrote:Trouble is, many people squat deep who shouldn't. Deep squatting requires a surprising amount of flexability. I suffered back and knee pain/injury due to deep squatting with poor hip mobility. ie. pelvic tuck & torque stress on knees.


I don't suppose you've got any links to a decent lower body mobility routine? My hip mobility is crap, and it seems to be getting worse, if I don't stretch for a couple of days my pelvic tuck starts above parralel! I'm convinced it's from all the sitting I do.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby health4ni on Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:24 pm

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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Dtlv74 on Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:43 pm

I alternate my squatting style now - PL style squats just below parallel alternated with full ATG oly style squats every other session.

Not going to say which is best, but certainly since doing both types of squat regularly, have had no knee twinges/aches/pains, which wasn't the case before when I was just doing the PL style squats or before that when just doing the ATG's.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Karlos on Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:24 pm

Start of every session you need to do at least half an hour warmup, mobility and activation imo.

A good exercise to start every session is OH squats, really working the bottom stretching deeper and deeper. you should feel a stretch deep in the hip. Glutes, piriformis and hip flexors needed particular attention for me
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby health4ni on Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:43 am

^^ I think in an ideal world then doing at least 30mins warmup with smr, mobility, activation etc exercises is great. And as an athelete I'd say it's a priority. But for working people with limited time that's too much. A smart 10min warmup and then some smr, mobility etc on non-training days is the way to go for most people.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Rab on Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:50 am

IIve always went back n forth with full depth and parallel squats but the more i train now, the more i feel wee niggles creep in as the weight increases...im more inclined to only do full depth squats90% of the time as i find it much more comfy and natural despite how taxing and hard it is, it seems to be the best option for my knee health.

Only issue is my arse grows at an astonishing rate although not a bad thing for a BB as when your down to low single digit bf and in search of striated glutes....you soon find that it is a very under developed muscle in many people and their trunks are literally hanging off their arse
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Karlos on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:24 pm

health4ni wrote:^^ I think in an ideal world then doing at least 30mins warmup with smr, mobility, activation etc exercises is great. And as an athelete I'd say it's a priority. But for working people with limited time that's too much. A smart 10min warmup and then some smr, mobility etc on non-training days is the way to go for most people.



That's true, but the benefits are so vast in doing it prior to lifting that to anyone who can spare an extra 30 mins, it's well worth it imo. Especially before squats.
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby RoB on Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:40 pm



Thanks for that, definitely going to start doing this stuff religiously.

Karlos wrote: That's true, but the benefits are so vast in doing it prior to lifting that to anyone who can spare an extra 30 mins, it's well worth it imo. Especially before squats.


Don't spose you'd mind writing up what sort of routine you do for the 30 minutes?
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Re: How Deep Should You Squat?

Postby Karlos on Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:23 pm

Sure-

I'll write from start to finish, i'll probably end up missing a few things, but i'll try to remember the main stuff! I generally do - warmup -> foam roll -> stretch -> activation -> dynamic potentiating :) I also do shoulder & thoracic mobility and ext rotator work at the start.


warmup

high knees sprint on spot - 10-20s x 2
Foam roll - I.T band, quads, hams & glutes (20-30s x 2)

Stretch - 30s x 2-3

Quads/hip flexor - rear foot elevated on bench, lunge down and rotate away from stretching sides (also stretches obliques etc.)
Hamstrings - 1 leg at a time, stretched leg elevated on bench. keep lumbar arched (rotate pelv girdle backwards)
Glutes - Search 'pigeon pose'
Hips- Spiderman stretch. I don't do them dynamic though.
More hips- lie on back, pull knee to chest, HARD. Relax hips doing this, you'll feel a lot of pain in your hip. You can mess around with the angle, but the further out your knees the easier it will be. If you want to beable to squat shoulder width without a tuck, this one is important. Do at least 30s x 3 of these.
- Piriformis stretch - sit on bench, put outa ankle of one leg on other knee. lean forward and pull knee and foot towards you.
-cossack squats
-OH squats stretch

Activation

Fire hydrants - draw BIG circles with knee. Both directions.
Single leg sky humps - hah, of your man enough to do these in public ;)

Potentiating

squat jumps x 5 (singles)
squat jump x 5 (plyo style)
Tuck jumps x 5

That's the basis of it. Order is quite important. basically warm->foam roll->stretch->activate

I've drastically improved all aspects of flexibility (still working on shoulders mind :( ), but the difference is massive. Squats without a tuck feel 100 times better. Some stretches will require you to 'mess around' with positioning to get the right target muscle stretching, but kinaethesia is part of the fun.
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