View Poll Results: Those who squat routinely (variation or barbell), do you favor parallel or deep?

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  • Parallel

    9 42.86%
  • Deep

    10 47.62%
  • Neither over the other, per se

    2 9.52%
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  1. #1
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Primary squat: deep or parallel?

    Currently toying with the idea of only squatting deep - maybe not ATG but at least clearly below parallel, so that there's no ambiguity for having hit depth, but also for a more full utilization of the leg musculature.

    The last couple of times I've squatted, I've gone truly as deep as I could while keeping the brace and even the warmups were somewhat hard. Not sure if this is mostly a neural adaptation thing or if this is significantly harder to do in general. Greg Nuckols says that the ROM below parallel shouldn't meaningfully add to the difficulty since the sticking point tends to be about 45 degrees above parallel anyway, but so far that is not looking to be true in my experience lol.

    I know this is a common thread but since our current demographic isn't represented previously, I'd be interested to see a show of hands on opinions for this, and why you think so.

    Some of my thoughts...

    Advantages of squatting deep:
    - More yield from the exercise per a greater range of motion
    - Carryover to parallel strength for a comp lift (much like deficit deadlifting does for conventional)
    - No ambiguity on whether or not you hit depth (aiming for exactly parallel can be stressful)
    - More involvement of posterior chain

    Disadvantages of squatting deep:
    - Involvement of posterior chain is superfluous and wastes recovery against better alternatives
    - It might be so much more difficult that progress actually suffers due to reduction in load relative to squatting heavier at parallel
    - It causes butt-wink for some people and this is something that ought to be avoided
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Currently toying with the idea of only squatting deep - maybe not ATG but at least clearly below parallel, so that there's no ambiguity for having hit depth, but also for a more full utilization of the leg musculature.

    The last couple of times I've squatted, I've gone truly as deep as I could while keeping the brace and even the warmups were somewhat hard. Not sure if this is mostly a neural adaptation thing or if this is significantly harder to do in general. Greg Nuckols says that the ROM below parallel shouldn't meaningfully add to the difficulty since the sticking point tends to be about 45 degrees above parallel anyway, but so far that is not looking to be true in my experience lol.

    I know this is a common thread but since our current demographic isn't represented previously, I'd be interested to see a show of hands on opinions for this, and why you think so.

    Some of my thoughts...

    Advantages of squatting deep:
    - More yield from the exercise per a greater range of motion
    - Carryover to parallel strength for a comp lift (much like deficit deadlifting does for conventional)
    - No ambiguity on whether or not you hit depth (aiming for exactly parallel can be stressful)
    - More involvement of posterior chain

    Disadvantages of squatting deep:
    - Involvement of posterior chain is superfluous and wastes recovery against better alternatives
    - It might be so much more difficult that progress actually suffers due to reduction in load relative to squatting heavier at parallel
    - It causes butt-wink for some people and this is something that ought to be avoided
    -
    I only do bulgarian split squats but from my limited experience with either back or front squats the number dropped dramatically when I did ATG...

    For me increased ROM makes any lift harder. When I plateau what usually works is to drop weight and use increased ROM and slowly work my way up.
    Last edited by EiFit91; 08-18-2021 at 07:59 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Entirely depends on whether you physically can squat deeper without pelvis tuck..
    Most westerners can't with back squats.

    I'd save deep quad heavy stuff for hacks, Platz, Belt squats.
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    Personally, I bury all my squats.
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  5. #5
    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Parallel for raising the weight and developing power. ATG takes more effort to keep a neutral back but it has a distinctive training curve for the legs and its thorough range of motion. Doing ATG might help a host of strength deficiency from back/hip flexibility to complete leg activation, but if you aren't able to keep a neutral back like you are with parallel then it's not worth trying to switch over with the same intensity but start from a basic level. There's also the hole sticking-point focus which is an obvious distinction.
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  6. #6
    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Why limit your self to a 'primary' squat variation if you have no sport specific needs? Bare minimum I have 3 "main" Variations of any pattern I'll use in any given micro or week if I'm winging it.

    I can squat atg lowbar with a flat back.. Hardly anyone else I've seen squat can. I can also squat to meet depth and get a disgusting rebound with an appropriate stance.

    What do I mostly do? Deep Medium stance ssb squats.. Easiest on my shoulders and I can do a **** tonne of work if I choose to... No better for growth but they feel nice.

    If I had the kit?
    My most frequently used would be ssb wide box squats vs 10-20% chain. Medium stance deep ssb and medium stance lowbar to pl depth
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  7. #7
    Registered User safcpaul's Avatar
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    As low as you can go before lower back rounds which for me is just below parallel
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  8. #8
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    I can squat atg lowbar with a flat back.. Hardly anyone else I've seen squat can.
    Interesting. Seems "as low as possible without compromising back neutrality" is the consensus on the best way if maximum difficulty is the desired end...

    I know this is light but is this not a neutral back? This is pretty well below parallel. Also not sure if low bar or not, as the notch between traps and rear delts is a natural hold for me. Paused and well below parallel made it easily twice as hard, if not more.

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  9. #9
    Registered User safcpaul's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Interesting. Seems "as low as possible without compromising back neutrality" is the consensus on the best way if maximum difficulty is the desired end...

    I know this is light but is this not a neutral back? This is pretty well below parallel. Also not sure if low bar or not, as the notch between traps and rear delts is a natural hold for me. Paused and well below parallel made it easily twice as hard, if not more.

    You're going too low in my opinion. You should go as low as you can before your pelvis tucks. Love the fact you're trying to go as low as possible though. Shows real grit. You're risking your lower back doing that though
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    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Yeah you're working to get down. You lose hip flexor leverage and spend time getting back into position well on your way up before your legs get complete control.
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  11. #11
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    Full range full benefit, I go as low as I can without breaking form.
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    A neutral spine /flat back is a range..
    Everyones back moves thru about 30'+ of flexion and extention when it looks flat.

    'buttwink' isn't really Injurious.. It must more stress on the area.. It's certainly less efficient if numbers matter tho for most

    Do what feels good to you and is trainable...if you don't compete then the absolute number yon the bar doesn't really matter
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    I’m just about to enter a block where I only do ATG pause squats. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Also, AFAIK squatting ATG doesn’t recruit any more posterior chain than a parallel squat. That only happens when you widen your stance and sit back more - which makes it nigh impossible for most people to hit ATG depth.
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    I’m just about to enter a block where I only do ATG pause squats. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Also, AFAIK squatting ATG doesn’t recruit any more posterior chain than a parallel squat. That only happens when you widen your stance and sit back more - which makes it nigh impossible for most people to hit ATG depth.
    Cool, will be curious to hear your results and observations.

    Still a novice with this lift. It's far more technical than I originally thought.
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    I’m just about to enter a block where I only do ATG pause squats. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Also, AFAIK squatting ATG doesn’t recruit any more posterior chain than a parallel squat. That only happens when you widen your stance and sit back more - which makes it nigh impossible for most people to hit ATG depth.
    Well yeah your glutes can only stretch so far, after that if you aren’t built to rub your ass on floor when you squat, the body is gonna compensate in other areas.
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    I have primarily done A2G squats for years, and saw no drawbacks aside from my "regular" squat losing top-end strength. I also had bulgarian squats and other squat variations in rotation, so my legs were getting worked just fine, progressing, etc.

    Since I didn't keep parallel squats in rotation, I basically de-trained myself out of being able to maintain my form/form strength when it came to weights that were beyond a certain level. I never much liked extra-heavy squats anyway, so that didn't matter to me. I get far better results with lower weights. I feel like they work your glutes better as well.
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    I usually have to consciously stop myself from going too deep, like it’s all fun and fine with lighter weight but once I’m ****ing with 8 reps or lower it starts to threaten my lower back esp if I’m not perfectly braced, but even then it wears on me. I do a lot of casual deep ass squatting throughout my day to clean the floor, wait in line for stuff etc. so it’s just what my body wants to do.

    I always hear “squat as low as you can” but that’s not always viable for me. If I’m feeling extra loose in the limbs that day for whatever reason, my low back tends to suffer.
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    oderint dum metuant irmocool's Avatar
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    It depends on your goals. My personal philosophy - If you want big squat numbers, parallel is better. If you want strong mobile legs, full is better.
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    Originally Posted by GrouchyUSMC View Post
    It depends on your goals. My personal philosophy - If you want big squat numbers, parallel is better. If you want strong mobile legs, full is better.
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    Probably going to go with some clearly obvious range of degrees below parallel that there's no question on depth, but not complete ATG... Not sure if it's a skill or skeletal thing, but if the butt wink is a problem then I'd probably better steer clear of it. I've got narrow hips and long legs, so squats are particularly hard to begin with. Going all the way down seems to necessitate the pelvic tuck.

    Is this something you can train yourself out of or is it impossible past a certain point of depth for some frames?
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Probably going to go with some clearly obvious range of degrees below parallel that there's no question on depth, but not complete ATG... Not sure if it's a skill or skeletal thing, but if the butt wink is a problem then I'd probably better steer clear of it. I've got narrow hips and long legs, so squats are particularly hard to begin with. Going all the way down seems to necessitate the pelvic tuck.

    Is this something you can train yourself out of or is it impossible past a certain point of depth for some frames?
    You can do it, you just need to teach your body to remember it.

    Try this.

    https://www.t-nation.com/training/th...d-world-squat/
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    I squat for quads, so I don't care about parallel. All I care about is knee flexion (hamstrings to calf).

    That could mean just parallel but with heel elevation, depends on your structure
    Last edited by jk202; 08-24-2021 at 02:54 AM.
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    Atg will hold you back for powerlifting, if you make it your primary squat movement.

    Muscle memory, train your meet lifts till it’s so second nature that you can find tune every breath you hold in and have total control of the lift.

    If you focus on atg squat, you’ll start going beyond parallel and your competitors won’t. They will have an advantage over you. I did pause “to deep” of squats and it took like a year to fix fully, but without really getting much stronger just a better, more strategized form, my squat went up a lot.

    It’s like sumo is ok but traditional deadlifts will always have more control and power


    Now, if you’re squatting for looks, atg will give you more glut definition and quad. It’s more about reps than weight.

    If you want the benefits of atg but your goal is to train for strength for meets I’d add sissy squats instead
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    The sticking point for squat is meant to be just above parallel so powerlifters don't need to go much below legal depth.

    Bodybuilders should aim to get full ROM in the target muscle in at least one exercise - but this could also be accomplished in sissy squat (say) if you can't get as low as possible without compromising lower back position in a regular squat.
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    Thanks for all the feedback - interesting responses.

    Yeah, I am actually interested in powerlifting and possibly competing eventually once I'm strong enough, so it'd probably be best not to train ATG primarily, especially since it's not second-nature for me and I'm still intuiting a lot of the cues of the squat in general.

    Of course that said I still love/hate this exercise... Once I can reliably get 4 plates I'll be content to focus on bench and deadlift again for a long time lol.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback - interesting responses.

    Yeah, I am actually interested in powerlifting and possibly competing eventually once I'm strong enough, so it'd probably be best not to train ATG primarily, especially since it's not second-nature for me and I'm still intuiting a lot of the cues of the squat in general.



    Of course that said I still love/hate this exercise... Once I can reliably get 4 plates I'll be content to focus on bench and deadlift again for a long time lol.
    do you use a belt? And by use I don’t just mean wearing one. I imagine with your dl tweaking your squat form, it could make your numbers go up a bit. Also, low bar.

    To get better at exploding at the bottom for power/strength banded barbell and reverse banded squats are really helpful. It fixed my too deep squat issue and pausing to long in the hole. Aka at the bottom of my squat.
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    I find if I go too deep I can lose tightness and that's what makes it harder. Buttwink moves your back out of position and lose tightness. I imagine it's more the lost tightness than the rounding itself that can get one hurt.
    Low bar, I can't get much past parallel. With low bar there's more of a forward lean, so quads hit the core sooner. And I'm pretty lean. I can front squat much lower.
    I don't want any dilly dallying in the hole trying to find depth. F*** with depth too much and I don't know where I am, take too long in the hole, and can't get out as easily.
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    -If you are a competitive bodybuilder using the squat to build a specific part of your leg, and are using a specific range of motion to keep tension on it. Alter your range of motion shorter.
    -If you are a competitive power lifter you only need to squat to competition standards. So it would be stupid to go deeper.
    -If you have an injury that prevents you from squatting too deep. You should alter your form so your not getting hurt.
    -If you are anyone else you should probably be squatting with as deep a range a motion as you can without breaking form.


    If your going to start altering form to load on more weight. Why not do it across the board? Why not load the benchpress down with weight and stop with the bar 10-12" above your chest?

    Why not load the lat pull-down and stop before the bar reaches the top of your head?

    If your deadlifting why not just stop the weight when the bar gets to knee height and drop it from there?


    I don't know what it is about the squat and the leg press but people like to put a ton of weight on them and use an incredibly short range of motion. Sometimes its as little as 1/4 reps.

    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Greg Nuckols says that the ROM below parallel shouldn't meaningfully add to the difficulty since the sticking point tends to be about 45 degrees above parallel anyway, but so far that is not looking to be true in my experience lol.

    -

    If this were actually true power lifters would squat well below parallel in competitions so there is no question as to legality. Is that what we see? No. We see guys stopping at parallel exactly. To the point where we have to debate if it was legal and for ****s sake some guys miss lifts because they stopped an inch or two high.


    Anyone who tries to claim that ROM below parallel doesn't add difficulty is lying. If not their ass to grass and parallel squat would be the same numbers... Its not. If it were the same thing we'd be seeing powerlifters show off by dropping their depth.
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    i do parallel simply because it feels better and safer. used to go deeper but i remember having some issues with the groin area most likely from going below parallel
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