T Nation

Squatting Opinions


hello, long time reader, dont usually post too often though,

I would like to get some oppinions from the T-Nation on how everyone likes to squat, so my questions to you are:

-Do you squat so your femur is parallel to the floor?

-Do you go so low that your ass is basically touching the ground? (ATG)

In my gym there is a guy around 18-19 years old that is about 5'11 to 6', couldnt weigh more than 180lbs and completely mystifies me, when i first saw him squat he got up to 340+lbs ass to ground, but i noticed he drops and instantly pops the weight up at the bottom with the moment of reflex,

i have spoke with him and he said he hasnt ever tried stopping at parallel and he finds going down resonably quick and using that pop at the bottom to lift the weight is far easier than a slow lift, do you guys find this dangerous? Is he only able to do this because of his age and we havent seen any damaging effects that time would reveal?

ps. 340+lbs isnt a giagantic amount of weight by any means but for a taller person compared to a shorter person of that weight i consider it pretty damn impressive.

I am just torn between doing ATG and parallel and wanted some oppinions and possible progress people have experienced.

Thanks all,


For quad development it's best to do them all the way(or at least below parallel) with toes and knees shoulder width and pointing strainght forward. Obviously weight will drop.

Toes and knees out and stopping at parallel will help use more weight which is practiced by athletes alot.

I prefer all the way for complete range of motion. Guess you should try both and see where they take you.


I prefer full squats as they seem to be easier on recovery than paralel squats with a low position. Plus they work my entire legs a lot more. If you're not a competitive powerlifter, go low.


I feel if you do them, do them right, go low.
As far as the 'popping' out of the bottom, I don't have much experience with that, so I can't comment first hand. I'd guess it has something to do with a stretch reflex, i.e, the stored energy from the decent releasing. It is definetely harder to go slow.

Recently, for a change of pace, I have been doing squats starting from the bottom position. In a power rack, I set the pins as low as I can go and start from thier. It makes a huge difference, I can about 30-40 pounds less that way. But if I do that for a few times, I add weight to my PR doing it the conventional way.


sounds good, the last 2 weeks i have been doing the ATG way of squatting opposed to stopping at parallel, i find the difficulty much higher and i had to drop my weight and reps due to it burning my quads out much faster, the ATG squat seems to really hit the vastus lateralis (outside of the quad) from below 90 to above 90, and its probably a weak part of my leg so the weight drop is necessary, i've been weightlifting for about 4 years but never spent much time on legs and they are definetly my downfall, but its better late then never


Depends on what I feel like. I like to alternate. I agree with all the other points made here.

However, sometimes I like heavy weight, sometimes I like a greater ROM.


I'm trying to retrain myself to do atg squats, and it is definitely hard at first, but once you figure it out, it just kind of clicks. You figure out how to use your posterior chain in conjunction with your quads, honestly, it feels like your legs are a three stage booster rocket. I don't know how well that it explains it, but that's how I would describe it.


if that kid keeps bouncing out of the bottom his knees will be wrecked in no time. count on it. using your tendons like elastics over the long-term is a great way to cause irreversible damage and end your lifting career.

bouncing needs to be carefully regulated and monitored. when you begin to experience pain from excessive bouncing, it's time to be humble and back off the heavy weight, use something lighter, and make complete stops at the bottom of your motions.

this is especially true for the shoulders and knees.


@zarathus, good to know im not the only one that found/is finding the transition to be hard,

Yeah I hope he backs off it a little bit, he is an extremely solid guy/kid, but at weight 2x greater than your body weight a spring off the ligament could be a complete tear and it would be the pateller ligament that went and rehab for a non sponsored athlete would be poor,


i only noticed recently that i never keep my toes straight nor do my biomechanics let me, if i do it hurts my ankles.


I do this too.

This month I'm going to parallel, the next month I'll go ATG. I alternate that way every month.


I take a very wide stance, toes out, and go to parallel/just below.

I've tried the narrower stance, but every time I start to crest over 200 lbs it kills my knees. I end up having trouble walking the next day. Oddly enough, I don't get the same problem doing front squats. So in training I alternate between sumo squats and front squats.


Sounds like that kid is basically using poor technique to get away with lifting more weight to satisfy his ego. If he really wanted to see results (strength and hypertrophy), he'd drop his weight and use his muscles, not gravity and momentum, to move the weight.

As for me, I mix it up - heavier weights to parallel, lighter weights below, different stances.... 'Course it's easy to mix it up when you squat several times a week. Now that I'm cutting back to once a week, I'm going for a happy medium - below parallel, though not exactly ATG, using as much weight as I can handle.


i go below parralel and have my feet just a touch wider than shoulder width and toes slightly out...


I squat the same way. You just drop fast at first then put the breaks on. So you are already pushing up when you hit bottom. When you first try it the lift looks jerky. After years and years of practice it looks like I'm bouncing right out of the bottom, but there is really no "bounce" at all. My OL coach said that squating this way recruited more fast twitch muscle fibers. I don't know what he's basing this on, but I can tell you that it does hit the muscle in a way that can't be put into words.


you can still make excellent size and strength gains by using your stretch reflex.

muscle fibres can be some serious activation when the weight is heavy and you generate a lot of explosiveness when bouncing out of the bottom of a motion.

you need to be careful, however... making a habit of bouncing will absolutely lead to injuries over time.


you're getting more fibre activation because when you bounce, you can push heavier loads... therefore forcing the muscle to work harder than it would if you were mkaing a full stop and losing the power of the stretch reflex.


That's a pretty bold statement and I would love to know what information you have, other than rhetorical or anecdotal, to back that up.

One of the biggest proponents of the RAW 5x5 squatting program lives half an hour away from me. I easily know 15 lifters that have been using this style of training and they all squat basically as described in the original post.

A couple of them are using in the range of 525-565, RAW 5x5's, and have again, been training like this for years and in addition to being brutally strong, I have never heard them complain of knee pain.

Anytime somebody crawls out of the woodwork and starts telling people ,"that will hurt your knees, etc." I have to call bullshit.

The biggest thing that leads to knee injury in people who squat is breaking their knees before they break their hips.

Certainly not coming down in a tight and controlled manner and opening their knees and achieving some rebound.

Hell, I have been front squatting like this for years, and have even done a Russian program where I front squatted 3X per week for 6 weeks like this, with no ill effects.

Again, bullshit.


let me clarify, i'm not trying to say that bouncing is absolutely going to cause injury to the knees if done over time. sorry for phrasing it that way.

however, when people get dependent on the stretch reflex, i've often noticed that trainees 'loosen' up in the bottom of the exercise and don't maintain proper stability in the hole.

that being said, if you're 'loose' in the bottom of the squat you're really placing all of the torque on the joints and not allowing the supporting musculature to stabilize the resitstance on the body. this often causes injuries over time.

same thing is true for those people who bounce out of bench, dips, military press, etc....

however, if stability is maintained throughout the ENTIRE exercise, and in the bottom of the exercise while 'bouncing' and using the stretch reflex, the risk factors for injuries are minimized big time.

i'll be back in a bit.... i'll link some good sites on the mechanics of the squat.

btw, i personally always bounce out of the bottom with squats and front squats.

but i keep my glutes, hips, and abdominals tight when i squat. 99/100 guys who bounce just go loose at the bottom and pray that they 'catch' the lift on the way up.


I don't need you to look up any articles on squatting mechanics for me. Thanks for offering.

You need to understand that you are speaking to lifters with huge variation in their levels of knowledge and/or critical thinking ability.

Making blanket statements, as you did previously, is not helping anybody.

In particular when you come back and say you always do it this way, when initially you were admonishing it.

I would have never, in a million years, guessed that you would respond to my post like this.

You need to bring more clarity to statements like this on the front end.

Not make a 180 after you have been challenged.