T Nation

Ass to Grass or Parallel

Okay guys I’ve been on 5x5 since february 2008. I gained 30lbs and outgrew my boxers which is good progress in my books.

I’ve run into a problem however. You see, I think I have been squatting with broken form ever since I broke the 200lbs squat mark. I’ve been squatting to just about parallel, the bottom of my hamstring would be horizontal.

Today I was going to squat 245lbs but instead decided to drop to 135lbs and squat to the ground. I’d say I squatted so low my nipples were as high as my hamstrings were before at parallel.

Should I go back to near parallel squat or continue from ass to grass and re-build the weights?

Personllay i would drop the weight a bit, and perfect form, explosive power at the bottom the squat etc you mentioned you have to drop down to 135lbs to pull off a decent squat, whilst you can squat 200lbs thats quite a drop, yes yes you should aboslutely be perfecting your form and power, squatting in broken form is not good for anyone, and youll probs get injured before you know it.

If you cant pull a clean squat off after 135lbs then something is lagging behind perhaps also, you mentioned hams, might be your core, hips, flexors dont forget these, but youve got to decide on that issue. And by squatting in broken form your only throwing your body more out of balance.

The bottom line is perfect form is key.

Ass to grass is the only way…

I used to have similar issues. Drop the weight and perfect your form.

You will get much stronger, much faster, if you get in the habit of breaking parallel.

I you haven’t yet, read the first part of this article and decide which is better for you.

It sounded from the original post that squatting ATG is NOT a problem, so if so the article cited doesn’t seem to apply to the question.

If it’s not, then given the situation described, I would go ATG.

[quote]TRAIN2Failure wrote:
Personllay i would drop the weight a bit, and perfect form, explosive power at the bottom the squat etc you mentioned you have to drop down to 135lbs to pull off a decent squat, whilst you can squat 200lbs thats quite a drop, yes yes you should aboslutely be perfecting your form and power, squatting in broken form is not good for anyone, and youll probs get injured before you know it.

If you cant pull a clean squat off after 135lbs then something is lagging behind perhaps also, you mentioned hams, might be your core, hips, flexors dont forget these, but youve got to decide on that issue. And by squatting in broken form your only throwing your body more out of balance.

The bottom line is perfect form is key.[/quote]

That’s the thing, once I pushed 245lbs I was getting a pain in the lower back and that got me thinking I was doing something wrong. I must lost track of form as I added weights, slowly squatting higher and higher. I was afraid of the following workout (this morning) because I would have to hit 255lbs. I could have done it, but the form would have been off and I would of suffered additional pain.

I also found I got a HUGE rush on my quads only dropping to 135lbs and going ass to grass. Nothing else felt anything really since I am used to having over 200lbs on my shoulders. I think I did a good thing.

It’s funny however, since most of my other lifts are maxed except the dead lift. I suppose I can start pyramidding those other lifts to try and peak them as I rebuild my squat.

I had always used ATG, I am 6’3" and much like the guy in the article above I have great mobility and a long spine.

I shredded my back from doing these. I think ATG squatting is not suitable for all people.

Squat as low as you can while maintaining good form.

[quote]thekrown wrote:
That’s the thing, once I pushed 245lbs I was getting a pain in the lower back and that got me thinking I was doing something wrong. I must lost track of form as I added weights, slowly squatting higher and higher.[/quote]

Sounds like what the majority of people do in the gym anyway, trading ROM for more weight. Fortunately, you’re a member here and we can smack some sense back into you. :wink:

Alwyn Cosgrove talked all about parallel vs. ATG in the first part of his Leg Training Myths Exposed article:

Bottom-line is that your body wants to squat through a full-range of motion, not just to parallel.

[quote]chainsaw1 wrote:
I had always used ATG, I am 6’3" and much like the guy in the article above I have great mobility and a long spine.

I shredded my back from doing these. I think ATG squatting is not suitable for all people.[/quote]
I could be mistaken, but I think Eric Cressey recommends front squats for taller lifters (though he classifies “taller” as 6’4" and up), for just this reason. If it’s still bothering you, maybe shoot him a note in his Locker Room.

[quote]dwall33 wrote:
Squat as low as you can while maintaining good form.[/quote]

Agreed. Not a lot of people have the hip and/or ankle mobility to perform a squat the way Oly lifters do. The point is to go as deep as possible given your current ability. This will also depend on stance and bar position, but even with a low-bar, wide-stance squat you should be able to get to parallel. This means the top, not the bottom, of your leg should be parallel with the floor.

If your main goal is numbers and muscle mix it up. If your main goal is athletic performance, ATG.

Squat as low as you can without your tailbone starting to tuck underneath you.

Do a bodyweight squat parallel to a mirror and watch your but as you go low. There will be a point where your tailbone and pelvis will “tilt” underneath you. This takes the spine out of proper allignment, and can cause back pain.

I squat to the floor with light weight, but its not really a good idea with really heavy weight if your spine is coming out of neutral.

I’ve had a menisectomy, been laid up several times with ligament damage etc. Obviously I need to be careful with my knees.

That said, I squat ATG and wouldn’t do it any other way. Just the idea of trying to stop at parallel and start the lift from there makes my knees ache.

Going deep means I can just sit back into the hole, pause, make sure everything is ship-shape (I’d rather bail onto the safety bars from an inch or two up while I’m squatting than have things go fubar half way), and then explode.

Going parallel means I have to focus on stopping myself as I go down rather than just going till it feels right. I usually wind up bouncing out of the “hole” and I’m not as well balanced so my back feels all squiffy.

I have a semi wide stance

[quote]bhetz864 wrote:
I squat to the floor with light weight, but its not really a good idea with really heavy weight if your spine is coming out of neutral.[/quote]

This.

Can get great results by mixing the two

alternate them each week to keep variety

[quote]bhetz864 wrote:
Squat as low as you can without your tailbone starting to tuck underneath you.

Do a bodyweight squat parallel to a mirror and watch your but as you go low. There will be a point where your tailbone and pelvis will “tilt” underneath you. This takes the spine out of proper allignment, and can cause back pain.

I squat to the floor with light weight, but its not really a good idea with really heavy weight if your spine is coming out of neutral.[/quote]

This.