A$$ to Grass

Dec 13, 2009
A$$ to Grass

How low do you go? is it good or bad?

Do you know Squat?


A few weeks ago I was in a big Globo Gym squatting, not very heavy, but squatting none the less. As I finished my fifth set or so a "trainer" approached me and said, "Dude, that's bad for your knees"! "What's bad for my knees? Squatting"? I replied. "No, going all the way to the floor like that." He said. I didn't want to argue with this young, enthusiastic, over zealous trainer, so I just basic response was, "this is how I've been squatting for twenty years and I cannot do it any other way."

Old School


It's true though, very rarely do I see people performing good old fashioned butt to the floor squats.(or at least below parallel) I remember days back in the early eighties where we had full on squat workouts and if you didn't bottom out and puke you weren't leaving the gym.


We would pull up a bench, pull out the knee wraps and grab the nearest trash can and see who would puke first. Seriously, we had some fun. There would be at least 6-7 of us on a Saturday morning or late night, after the gym closed, and we went at it.


What does that have to do with anything you ask? Well, I feel I've learned a lot through trail and error, squatting with some great powerlifters and bodybuilders and I've also done some things wrong along the way and that is the best teacher of all. I just want to share some of my squats on the difference between "half squats" or "full squats"


Half Squats


Here is the problem with "half squats", as I see it. First of all it's not really functional. Typically when you squat in life you go all the way to the ground or at least to parallel. Think about it, the toilet is below parallel, your car seat is at least parallel if you sit on the floor or squat to play with a baby or a dog that is way below parallel, so it would stand to reason that you should train in a similar way to how your body functions. That's the basic common sense explanation.


Scientific explanation in layman's terms


Your knee joint is at it's strongest when it's in it's fully flexed or fully extended positions...not in between. If you are doing "partial squats" there is a really good chance that you are creating a muscle imbalance by just strengthening your quads, and not your hamstrings and glutes.


That would be more of a reason people suffer from sore knees, not just because you do full squats...follow me? Muscle imbalances are a big reason many people suffer from pains like lower back and knees. The squat, in my opinion, is one of those desert island exercises that you would choose if you could only choose one. The reason being is that it works your entire body and it is very functional in nature.


If you do decide to squat a little deeper, be sure to start light, go slow and work your way up. Also be sure to use proper form and stay focused.


The following are just a few pointers that I've learned throughout that I truly believe will help you become a better squatter.


1). Position of the bar-


Low on back, the bar should fit in between your lower traps and rear delts. You'll find there is a nice little groove in there.


2). Chest is up-


This will keep you from rounding your back


3). Eyes to the horizon-


Some trainers will tell you to look up, personally I do not recommend this for a number of reasons.

a). Where your head goes, your body follows.

b). It puts unnecessary strain on your neck.

c). Thee isn't anything on the ceiling I;m interested in seeing. Really, it just comes down to good old "spinal alignment"


4). Foot position-


Feet just about shoulder width and feet facing out about 30 degrees.


5). Knee alignment-


Imagine a line down the center of your knee, keep that tracking directly over your toe next to the big toe.


6). Hand position on bar-


Not too narrow as this can be very uncomfortable, but also not too wide either. I like to go just outside shoulder width.


7). Weight distribution-


Try to avoid squatting by pushing from your toes as this could possibly result in patellar tendon issues or becoming "quad dominate". I like to have my clients imagine driving through the floor pushing from the heels as opposed to the toes.


It is my belief that if you follow these simple guidelines you'll be much better off and of course try to go all the way down heels to butt. The only reason I feel this isn't a wise choice is if you have some pre existing condition that would limit this ability.


Always use safety as your guideline first and foremost and never do anything you aren't comfortable with. Having a good spotter always helps.


This basic protocol has worked well for me throughout my twenty five plus career in this industry as a bodybuilder, model, personal trainer and gym rat.

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