Full Depth Squats for Real Strength
We have all seen the myriad of t-shirts and posters proclaiming the “If you’re not squatting you’re not training” ideology, and guess what, they are right!
The squat is the primary exercise in the development of lower body strength and muscularity, and along with the deadlift and press, forms the basis of all effective resistance training.
Squats not only develop the lower body, but they also recruit and maximise all of the core muscles.
They also provide very effective stretches. WHEN PERFORMED CORRECTLY. In other words, squats must be performed with good technique, which requires full depth to be attained with every repetition.
There are many variations on the conventional squat, however here we will deal with the back squat only as this forms the basis for all of the squat variations. Total body power originates in the hips. Full depth squats are necessary to fully engage the entire hip musculature, full depth requiring the greater trochanter to be lower than the superior aspect of the patella. Simply put, your butt lower than your knees.
The knee joint is stronger and therefore more stable in both full flexing and full extension. If the squat is only partial, than the glutes, hamstrings and adductors, will not be fully involved, creating an imbalance and subsequent instability at both the knee and hip joints. This in turn means that shear force will then be produced at the knee joint with the quadriceps pulling the tibia forwards.
This produces many of the knee injuries over time that are blamed on squats. ACL injuries can also often be attributed to incorrect squat depth. This is because the ACL prevents the tibia from sliding forward, relative to the position of the femur, a function in which the hamstring muscles also assist.
As we have previously discussed, full depth squats fully employ the hamstrings, partial squats do not. In fact properly performed squats can be safely completed by athletes missing an ACL, even when utilizing heavy weights. This is due to the fact that the hamstrings can provide full posterior stabilization.
Another of the problems associated with partial squats is weight load based on the “I can squat 250kgs” attitude. Case and point, partial squats allow for very heavy loads to be lifted, however the lower back is loaded dramatically when reversing the movement, thus predisposing the athlete to a variety of spinal injuries.
Many novice lifters cannot perform full depth squats due to flexibility issues, usually involving the hamstring, calf or other associated tendons. Squats completed over time incorporating the maximum depth possible, encourage the stretching of such tendons and hence proper flexibility. Squatting in this way should of course be done either with a light weight or even no weight at all.
Because they can be considered an overall body exercise, full depth squats are a critical component of any resistance program.
Brett has spent over 20 years in the industry both as an international athlete and as a Personal Trainer, so he truly understands what it takes for a person to achieve their goals and be the best they can. To contact Brett for questions or more information, email him here: Brett@lee-annewann.com