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Full or Parallel Squats


Which is better for the knee's: Full Squats or parallel (sp)? What about the same questions for front squats?

I am doing the CT's Mutation series and was wondering about this question. Got into some debates with some friends about it. Any insight would be great. Thanks



Full squats (as low as you can go comfortably). There are SEVERAL articles and numerous posts about this on the forum. Do a search and read up on the reasons why. I believe Eric Cressey is one of the people that wrote about this recently in one of his articles about the "myths" in bodybuilding/training.


If you're not going into deep detail with your mate... when you're at parrallel, the joint of your knees are quite open, and when you push up, they grind. The stress isnt so much on your muscles.

However, when you go lower, the emphasis goes on to your posterial chain, moving the stress from your knees and putting it onto muscle.

Correct me if I'm wrong :slight_smile:


Great thanks guys...thats all I needed.



The debate for full and parallel squats will never die. Several things to be aware of while performing full squats. Full Squats are more beneficial for quad development than parallel squats as Tom Platz said "Half squats Half legs". The VMO are highly recruited at the bottom range of full squats hence why Charles Poliquin recommends 1 and 1/4 squats or myoatic squats. To perform full squats, you must keep yourself upright and let your knees come over your toes and lower yourself down on to a full squat position. Lower down for 4 seconds and lift for 2.

Never bounce in the bottom position. Although there is some extra stress on the knees, you can't handle as much weight performing squats this way as in a restricted squat or powerlifting squat where you push your hips back, avoid the knees going over the toes and where there is forward lean of the torso, so the extra stress on the knees is counteracted. This type of squat recruits the quads heavily and minimises the stress on the lowerback.

Before you start using this type of exercise you must have excellent flexibility of the hamstrings, hipflexors, quads and calves. Your VMO must be quite strong. You could start with light resistance and build up or use petersen step ups to strengthen the VMO. Powerlifting squats where you push your hips back as you squat cause more forward lean. Stress is placed more on the hips and lower back. Using this style you tend to squat as far as parallel or just below. This type of squat places a high emphasis on the posterior chain and allows you to use very heavy weights. Quadricep recruitment isn't as high as the latter style as you use your posterior chain(erector spinae, hamstrings, gluteals do the bulk of the work).

Stress is placed more on the hips and lowerback and the stress on the knees is less than an upright full squat. Eric Cressly has written an excellent piece about this. Check it out in the archives.

Decide what you want and use the style that meets your needs. Or alternate both styles to get the best of both worlds,


Check out debunking exercise myths 1@2
some great info provided



My personal experience is that full squats are definitely better. After running track and cross country in high school, I had knee problems for a long time. Then about a year ago I read my friend's copy of Super Squats, where Strossen explains that partial reps are bad for your knees, and that proper form can be good for them. I then started squating to the point where the tops of my thighs were at or below the tops of my knees. This wasn't bad, but my recent transition to going as low as my natural shape allows has felt great. These days it makes me sick when I see people tearing at their knees at the gym.


Agreed. I ran track and cross country at a pretty high level as well for years. And I've had my share of knee issues. Even tore my ACL. Squats themselves can irritate my knees when the volume and weights get too high. Of course I still do them-I just take precautions. But full squats hurt my knees no more than parallel squats. Probably less. I don't see whey they would be worse for anybody unless your form's shit.


If you can keep good form and go all the way down, Id do it...there are tons of variables that could come into play of injuries, but personally Ive torn and fractured all kinds of weird things in my lower body and back in lifting and football/MMA related things...but I never had a knee problem (knock on wood) other than the "usual" stuff...Ive been doing butt cheeks to the floor bobbing for apples squats for 15 years now without a hitch. Any athlete I coach I try to get them as low as possible.


Have had many knee problems and I had many more when I did partial squats than when I did ( and do now) full squats. So if you are flexible enough do full squats.


Squatting is a very natural movement; In most of the world?especially Asia and Africa?people squat to rest, to eliminate, and to perform many tasks including giving birth. I was in the gym last week and a guy approached me and told me he was frustrated with his lifting, etc. I asked him about squats and he told me that he was unable to squat. I told him that must be really tough when you have to have a bowel movement! Human bodies are designed to squat! Having said that, there is a certain learning curve associated with the full squat and it?s very important to learn and implement the technique correctly.

I advocate the full barbell squat as one of the core exercises in most any weight-training program. If you are an aspiring powerlifter, then you will need to spend some time performing squats in a powerlifting style in order to prepare for competition. I believe that the full squat will be of tremendous value in laying down a proper strength foundation. There are individuals who may have structural problems (knees, back, etc) which prevent them from squatting at the present time. If this is the case, then those problems need to be properly evaluated and some type of corrective or rehabilitative action taken. When it comes to your health, don?t be afraid to get a second or even third opinion. I don?t have a whole lot of confidence in health care professionals whose only advice is to avoid exercise or activities as I fail to see the positive benefits of physical atrophy of the human body.

Many fitness experts warn against performing squats past the point of parallel for fear of potentially damaging the knees. As a general rule I disagree with those experts though there are certainly individual exceptions. When the full squat is performed correctly and with total control through a complete range of motion, the knees are strengthened, not weakened. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, an estimated 50 million North Americans have suffered or are suffering knee pain or injuries and six million of them will visit a doctor for knee problems each year. The majority of these problems are degenerative in nature and are the result of disuse of the knee joint. Squatting keeps the knee joints mobile and free of pain. There are several joint facets on the inside of the kneecap that are all used only when an individual squats.

When the squat is performed to a parallel depth, it is the knees, which take the majority of the stress involved in stopping the downward momentum of the squat. When the squat is performed to a full depth, this same ?braking? stress is transferred to the larger, powerful muscles of the hips, hamstrings and buttocks. It is obvious that the squat must be performed with a great deal of control and that any type of rapid ?rebounding?, whether it is done at parallel or at full depth will be detrimental to the knees.

I have always found that when a person squats to "break parallel" that they use up a lot of nervous energy wondering if they actually went deep enough or not. You might go 2 inches one rep, 1 inch below the next, on and on and so its difficult to be consistent. When you go all the way down you take the guesswork out of it and can just concentrate on strength and power.


Sweet good info. Started to do fulls and damn did my weight decrease...but I guess thats expected.

Thanks for helping a newb



After reading Keith's reply, I think I'll bookmark this thread. :smiley:


Already did :slight_smile: