Learning How to Squat with good form (and Breaking Parallel)

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You may already know that you’re supposed to squat to parallel, but why?

First, lets make something clear, squatting to parallel or lower (some people even have the flexibility to go ass-to-grass or ATG) is very important, but technique is more important that depth. And here are two of the most important pointers you can get:

  1. Butt back (bending at the hips first);
  2. Knees out (for structural stability of the joint).

Now, if your knees hurt, it’s most likely because you’re not following these rules throughout the movement. So get your stance right and start squatting!

Disclaimer: NOT everyone should squat deep or at all. But for the vast majority of people, there are many advantages to squat to good depth.

If you want to be strong and athletic, you know you should squat deep. If not to improve strength indefinitely, at least to maintain your squat. And here are 3 reasons you should squat every week:

1. Increased ROM

Instead of reducing your Range Of Motion (ROM), the full squat enables you to improve flexibility and maintain it. Full range of motion is definitely the way to go and depending on your starting points (in terms or mobility, posture and strength), using correct form will keep you from injuries and provide very satisfying gains. But the form needs to be right, and it’s ok to take your time.

Side Note: The half squat – Many people do it, good form or bad. But even done properly, half squatting can create imbalances, bulking up only a portion of your legs, the quads. Performed improperly, you may even be putting your knees at risk, which often happens when people don’t bend at the hips (remember: not bending at the hip joint puts your knee joints at risk).

2. Body Function & Transferability

Just look at any toddler and you’ll see him squat deep every time he pick something off the ground. So we’re supposed to be able to squat. And we all did at some point but lost it due to our way of life and mobility problems developing over time (hip, ankle, lower back, hamstrings, etc). Mobility dysfunctions are why many people have a hard time squatting down, but our bodies were designed to be able to squat.

Just reaching that point where you’re able to do it with good form and stability will take you a long way in injury prevention. Plus, it translates really well to other movements in power-lifting, olympic weightlifting and athletics. And since it’s a total body movement, you’ll be stronger in everything else. So how do you get back to it? Answer: Gradually and with the proper technique!

Squat section videos: Front / Back / Overhead

3. Muscle recruitment

Because partial squats are easier (less weight displacement), some people will like the fact that they can rack more weight on the bar. Please! let your ego aside and go full range on this. It’ll be safer and you’ll get the full benefits of the squat, which is NOT a quad-exclusive exercise.

This leads us to our next point: the Squat recruits the quads, but should also be a call for the glutes, hamstrings, abductors, erectors, back, calves, abs and arms in order to strengthen your muscles evenly and provide good body mechanics.

(On that note : we advise against the Smith machine for squats. If you do, it can lead to bad patterns and muscle memory)

Going down to parallel is what makes it a full body exercise, and the more muscle you get into the mix, the more gains you get!

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