Squatting Deep, Squatting Safe

18 09 2013


Slowly, the world is regaining some sanity. New research from the Institute of Sports Sciences at Goethe-University in Frankfurt has emerged about the safety of squats. There has been a long-standing myth that squats are “bad for the knees”, but as I’ve pointed out in the past, this information is completely unfounded. The findings of this new research? Full, deep squats are an excellent exercise for building strength and actually protect against injury. Quarter- and half-squats on the other hand can be detrimental to the knees and spine.

Why, you ask?

  • In the full squat, ligaments and tendons will adapt to increased loads
  • Once you pass 90 degrees, the stress on the knee decreases; this “wrapping effect” results in greater load distribution and enhanced force transfer with decreased stress on the knee
  • Full squats do not have a negative effect on the stability of knee ligaments; our bodies are designed for this movement
  • Full squat training causes the spine to adapt with increased bone mineral density and strengthening of the back muscles
  • At the turning point of a half squat, there is more compressive stress on the knee and a smaller support surface for the quadriceps tendon (In the videos below, notice the knees breaking over the toes, demonstrating stress on the knees instead of proper muscular load distribution)
  • When half-squatting, a significantly greater load is necessary to create the same training stimulus (when compared to the full squat), which in turn puts even more compressive stress on both the back and knees

Moral of the story? Don’t be this guy:

Not only will you look stupid, but you’ll get hurt, you’ll get weak, and your friends will stop hanging out with you. Don’t be that guy.

Squatting is a compound movement that requires patience, practice and commitment. I’ve been squatting for years and I’m still working to improve my technique. Not sure if you’re on the right track? Check out my post on How to Squat. Still unsure? You know how to find me!

Again, please, please don’t be this guy:



Why Everyone Should Be Doing Squats

17 01 2013

Yet another great article from Charles Poliquin: Six Reasons Everyone Should Do Squats.

I couldn’t agree more with everything written in this article. Squatting is the single best exercise that anyone can do. Period. Benefits include:

•    Better functional mobility and faster walking speed
•    Greater bone mineral density and less chance of breaking a bone
•    Stronger core musculature to prevent lower back pain and injury
•    Faster running speed at short and long distances
•    Greater vertical jump height
•    Better sports performance on the court or field

All this, and we haven’t even begun to talk about how this multi-articulated exercise uses the majority of the largest muscles in the body, which taxes the body more than less compound movements, leading to the ability to burn more fat, increase muscle density, pack on mass, etc. No matter what your goals are, squats are the King of all exercises.

willy meme

Again though, good form is absolutely paramount. Please learn proper form before adding weight to the bar. You should be able to do several easy, ass-to-the-grass body weight squats before even thinking about using weights. Do yourself a favour and work on this before attempting any kind of heavy squatting.

Happy squatting!