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.