Many people do partial Squats. I see it too often, putting on too much weight and trying to squat too heavy or avoiding depth to get more reps. They only squat a quarter or half the way down. This makes the weight easier to squat because it moves over less distance. You can squat more weight or do more reps. But partial squats only work your quadriceps. They don’t strengthen your hamstrings and glutes, which are important for knee health. Many people think partial squats are safer, when in reality,
they create muscle imbalances, which often cause knee injuries. Partial squats create partial athletes.
Ideally, squat technique should be:
- Setup. Face the bar. Grab it tight with a medium grip. Put it on your upper-back by dipping under the bar. Raise your chest.
- Unrack. For dumbbell squats, place the dumbbells between your shoulder and neck, high on your trapezius muscle. Move your feet under the bar/dumbbells. Straighten your legs. Step back with straight legs. Lock your hips and knees.
- Squat. Take a big breath, hold it and Squat down. Push your knees out while moving your hips back. Keep your lower back neutral.
- Break Parallel. Squat down until your hips are below your knees. Thighs parallel to the floor isn’t low enough. You must break parallel.
- Squat Up. Break parallel then Squat back up. Keep your knees out and chest up. Lock your hips and knees at the top. Breathe.
Remember, this is the IDEAL technique. Some of us, due to our bodies, may not physiologically be able to get into these positions. A person with a short torso and long femur will not be able to have their feet shoulder width apart and squat to full depth unless they are very mobile in their hips. Likewise, if you have ankle, hip, or thoracic spine mobility problems you will have trouble reaching full depth in your squats. We must work on these weaknesses in order to efficiently squat and stay safe and healthy.
With proper squat form we will be able to lift heavier weight safer and more powerfully. This will translate to increased speed, higher and more powerful jumps, and all around greater athletic development. Pay attention to your squat and instead of looking at how much weight you’re lifting, look at how well and efficient you are moving the weight.
Colonel Brian Sulc designed and developed the Colonel’s Fitness Program from more than 32 years of experience in fitness. His experience involves the most important aspects of running an organization, including leadership, management, personal training, and group exercise instruction. He understands that leadership develops relationships with clients by listening to and understanding their needs, challenging them, motivating them and ensuring that they are getting what they need (which is not always what they think they want!).
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