T Nation

Knee Problems From Going Too Deep?


So I was doing front squats yesterday fairly light as part of my deload week. I was going deep, around the level of my calf covered by my hamstring sort of like the catch in a full clean. So my "strength and conditioning coach" who is pretty old, probably like 80s or so comes up to me and says I'm going too low and I'm going to stretch out my patellar tendon. We don't go over form or anything for any lift even olympic but luckily I've learn from other sources. He also said if you do any sort of unilateral leg work you'll pull your groin. He also makes us do bicep curls which is a joke for athletics but since he is the coach I have to do what he says.
I respect the guy and love him to death but some times things he says don't make sense to me.

I just wanted to know if going too deep will "stretch" your patellar tendon?


I'll be honest and "harsh". An olympic lifting coach and a coach that tells you going as deep as possible in the squat is something you shouldn't do is just bullshit.

I don't know if that stretches the tendon and why/if that is bad... I'm pretty sure you stretch it too when doing... you know.. stretching.

In any case, if he tells you its better to go to parallel or half squat instead of full squats, I would start considering 99% of what he says as probably bad advice.


I just wanted to add... don't get the wrong idea... its not that squatting won't give you knee problems. Ask anyone who has done weightlifting for a long time, even with near pefect technique and they will tell you they have had knee problems. I myself currently have tendonitis on both my knees. Part of the "game" is to not give up/get discouraged from minor injures and figure out how to train past them and get them healed and get back into it.

Its just that when it comes to squats, full squats are the safest and best for knee health(and for getting stronger and generally best for olympic lifting). Doing half squats with ~30-50% more weight is far worse for the knees.

If you want to get anywhere in olympic weightlifting you will have to do full squats and accept the fact that you will sooner or later have some trouble. But you also won't have to listen to bad advice and do half squats and mess yourself up worse for far less benefits :wink:


I understand after time you might have aches and pains but he was talking about now more than later.

I always have thought that deeper is better. Plus the point you made if you can't squat that deep how do you expect to catch that low?

Thanks for the answers


you mean hurting while squatting?


Squatting deep can hurt your knees a bit IF you're not prepared for it. I find that I get aches and pains in my knee if I don't keep up with stretching my anterior chain, but I don't have any issues if I just stretch every now and again. Otherwise, my weightlifting coach said it best "there's 2 things you will never find in the world; a woman too beautiful, and a squat too deep."


yes, stretching is essential. My coach says some russians that had come to train with him stretched an hour a day and barely ever had injuries or problems.

I also think foam rolling helps. And lastly of course if you are new to deep squats(or any exercize really) start with lower weights even if you have the muscle strength for more


Its funny that this topic has come up because its something I've recently been discussing with some folks.

I just started O lifting and have recently switched up my back squats from low bar, parallel to Oly style. Anyways, the question came up as to whether I should squat ATG with heavy, low reps or do high reps, lower weight.

So one person, a certified coach, told me that unless i'm planning on competing I should treat the back squat as an accessory to the clean and jerk/snatch which means they should be a little lighter, more volume with emphasis on technique. And that when you go really heavy on a squat like that and that deep the rotational knee forces and low back flexion that occurs could be dangerous.

However, I emailed one of my Oly coaches and he said (I'm cut and pasting here - cuz i'm lazy):

As for going deep, it's safer!!! The half squat puts the most rotational torque on the knee when the thighs are parallel to the floor. That's when the hips are the greatest horizontal distance from the knee and the longest lever exists to the knee from the hip. And at this moment of greatest torque on the knee, you are required to stop the descent and change direction! It always amazes me that general body builders and power lifters think this is better on the knees that an oly squat.

With the full squat, you can rest in the bottom position and relieve the tension on the knees, and when you start back up you are at the sticking point..that is the hardest part of the lift. If you can start to ascend, you're knees are safe as the hip flexors get recruited for the rest of the lift.

Now most folks can squat much more with a half squat than an Olympic squat�¦ that's because of the sticking point in the bottom position. In my opinion, more weight and greater knee torque for the half squat makes it more dangerous and it does not load the muscle during the full range of motion. Can't see much benefit for that for anyone except the half squatters. They will get better at half squatting

And low back problems? We teach excessively to keep the back arched. Nothing better for the core than an arched back squatting with a heavy weight.

Anyways, I'm still not sure of what the consensus is on this - should i still go "heavy" on front and back squats? (i do 5x5 rep scheme)

What do y'all think?


Go heavy and A2G! My coach says the very same thing as above!


what the olympic coach said. Thats what I was trying to say, he just said it better.


I agree with that also. Going to parallel hurts my knees but going lower doesn't. I used to have some knee problems but they rarely bother me now.


x2 People look at me like I'm stupid when I say the deeper I squat the better my knees feel. I know one big part is that my vastus medialis (which helps with acute angle knee flexion) got way stronger from doing this and that helped fix any tracking problems I had with my patella. One caveat is to make sure you are flexible enough (see above posts), a big butt wink will kill your lower back and make this much harder than it needs to be.


Two answers here. Go heavy on front and back squat... countless benefits from this. Not only in your O lifting but physique and health. 2. Not everybody is qualified to squat. Takes alot of mobility to squat PROPERLY. We have kind of gotten lax about what a squat is. Just because it's deep doesnt make it a good squat. There are some great squatting examples from the Chinese at the arnold on youtube. But again proper mobility will allow the bar's center of gravity, your center of mass and your base of support to all be in line. This greatly reduces the stress placed on the knees and lower back and actually does a great deal to strengthen and prevent injury in the knees and groin. It's when you have lacking mobility and your hips go back and your shoulders come forward in a squat that your lower back takes a beating. And the shift posteriorly, that's a word right?, of your hips puts alot of sheering force on your knees and can cause achondromalasia, mess up your cartiledge, and tendonitis. The best in the world squat in excess 8x and are relatively injury free when compared to powerlifters who may squat 1 a week and are amongst the most injury prone lifters. not knocking you guys, it's just part of the game. When I predominantly O lifted, I would squat 4-6x and Clean just as many times a week with 3 out of 4 weeks heavy, greater than 80% of 1 RM. And thanks to mobility work, I had no symptoms of overuse or injury. So incredibly long post short, check your mobility, check your footwear and squat low and heavy as soon as you are able.


I have heard a couple Oly lifters say that squats can hurt your knees if you bounce hard out the hole. What they seemed to have in common was the feature that their hammies literally smashed into their calves before they got to the end of their hamstring length. I have a slightly wider stance so my butt would hit the platform rather than that. Guess I gotta be careful that squatting doesn't hurt my tailbone :-/


That would be an injury you could truly be proud of


heh. this isn't me. i've posted it a couple times already, but don't think it can be viewed too often, really.


im not even mad.... that's amazing


Only issue i see with squatting deep is that with lack of mobility or flexibility you can definitely fuck up your knees squatting deep

A while back i had pretty bad patellar tendon pain but i did have flexibility issues

Now i have some knee pain because i have a tight hip so when i hit past parallel i twist a little at the hips and that puts alot of pressure on the knees