Why You Should to do Full or Deep Squat?
It is called with different names: full squat or “deep squat” for English speakers.
The American expression “Squat Ass to Grass” for the buttocks up to the grass, is more correct because it puts in perceptive a more correct amplitude. But whatever the term used, all refer to the exercise of the squat performed in maximum amplitude, and therefore below the thighs parallel to the ground (unless you have the mobility of a Playmobil).
Small reminder, the squat is a compound exercise, which mobilizes most muscles of the lower body (and also to a lesser extent the upper body). It is for this reason that it is considered one of the most essential movements to develop strength and muscle mass. Paradoxically, it is the most controversial movement, because there is a great deal of confusion regarding the safety and the good execution of this movement, especially in full amplitude.
Some say squatting or as deep as possible is great for enjoying the benefits of squatting. Others think it can screw up your knees and lower back.
Personally, I’ve been squatting on the floor for many years, and since I’m lucky enough to work in medical imaging, I check the condition of my knees every year on the MRI. Result: no meniscal lesion, impeccable articular cartilage, no sign of beginning osteoarthritis… But what does science say about this? Here’s what you need to know.
A natural movement
To begin, I would like to remind you that before living in a sedentary society, our elders were used to doing all kinds of movements that most adults would have difficulty doing today.
To tarnish crouching, for example, was a commonplace stance in everyday life (for picking, hunting, cooking, eating, etc.).
These people therefore regularly performed a complete squat, which allowed them to maintain a certain flexibility and motor control to achieve.
In our modern societies, in addition to the fact that we no longer perform certain movements, we spend more and more time sitting on chairs, which contributes to a loss of mobility of the hips and ankles, and greatly affects our ability to squat.
It also results in a loss of neuromuscular control that allows us to properly execute a complete squat.
As a result, below the sitting position, most people are no longer in equilibrium.
Are complete squats more dangerous?
Although there are benefits to deep squatting with respect to muscle development and performance (we will see them right after), the safety issue should not be overlooked.
From my point of view, bodybuilding aims to forge a solid body and perform over time.
What is the point of burning the stages by quickly muscling,
well done in a few months or years and finally having a body completely ravaged because of a bad technique or doping products?
We will see what the scientific studies say about the complete squat.
On this subject, the most important of the studies is German. Directed by the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, it is based on more than 164 articles to conclude that contrary to popular belief, deep squats are no more dangerous either for the spine or for knees. Many other studies demonstrate this.
This other study for example shows that there is no difference between a partial, parallel or deep squat on the knee joint at the patellofemoral joint.
As you can see in the diagram below, the knee joint is protected against shear stresses during leg flexion thanks to anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligaments (PCL) and research shows As the tension forces on the ACLs and LCPs decrease, the knee is bent, which means that with a full squat, the ligament pressure is not greater. Another important fact, contrary to what some people think, deep squats increases the stability of the knee.
The benefits of deep squat (deeper is better)
What does it matter to go lower and why is the deep squat more beneficial?
- The deep squat allows a better general muscular development. Quite simply, squatting again requires more muscular work, especially the lower muscles of the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings and glutes).
- Doing a squat on the floor is also more effective in developing strength .Concretely, squatting to the parallel with a heavy load is less effective at increasing strength than full squats with a lighter load. If you want to get muscle and gain strength, do not try to do as the guy who loads his bar with more than 200 kg and a few centimeters down each rehearsal. Take a bar much less heavy and go down much lower.
- A full and deep squat assures you a more effective recruitment of the gluteal muscles (the most powerful muscles of the human body). This study of the Department of Health and Exercise Science of Furman University in the United States shows that the gluteus maximus is 25% more activated when doing a complete squat compared to a squat performed until the parallel .
- The squat in full amplitude also allows a better adaptation (growth) tendinous at the level of the kneecap and the muscles of the thigh which will be a solid protection of the joints of the knees. This is the conclusion of a Canadian study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in August 2013.
- According to another Canadian study, complete squat also allows for better development of the strength of hip extensor muscles, knee extensors, and ankle flexor muscles .
- Finally, if you practice a sport that requires a good relaxation, this study shows that the complete squat is also more effective to increase your performance on jumps.
It is recommended that I do not do full squat
It’s quite rare, but there are some “coaches” who are pushing for mediocrity and advising half-squats or squats when mobility and flexibility have been lost. “Do not do full squats”.
The funny thing is that in most cases these counselors do not know how to do full squats themselves.
What to do then?
Look for ease and do half-squats?
Or work on mobility, flexibility and coordination to achieve complete squats?
In view of all the scientific evidence cited above, I think you have your answer. If you’re not convinced yet, I’ll let you read these articles (in English) by Jim Stoppani (Doctor of Exercise Physiology), Poliquin, and T-Nation.
Have you ever tried deep squat?
How to do a complete squat? With a lot of concentration! A complete squat is more complicated than a squat until parallel and, if performed incorrectly, the risk of injury is higher than with the “classic” version.
The exercise must be done in a thoughtful way, it is not a simple curl for the biceps.
There is a huge number of joints and muscles that work together in a very wide range of motion to perform this exercise. Special attention should be given to mobility, flexibility, stability and coordination.
Also be careful if you have a problem with your knees or a history of injuries, consult a professional to make sure that you can perform this movement safely.
If you have never done a deep squat, you may not have enough mobility, flexibility, or strength to do it with a heavy bar. So do not start with your usual load, and especially not alone.
Helping a competent graduate coach is more than recommended to properly learn how to perform the movement and not take a bad habit.
Personal advice to finish: contrary to what is usually recommended, to perform a deep squat, it must be done as if you wanted to sit between your knees rather than thinking of putting your butt backwards.