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Super Depth on Squats

Hey guys,

(This question may be more suited to strength sports, so mods please feel free to move if you wish)

My understanding is that when performing squats, you should keep your feet fairly wide and the lower you go, the better. This approach makes sense to me from a pure bodybuilding point of view, but since I lift for mainly for strength in basketball, I do my squats slightly different.

I tend to keep my feet about shoulder width apart and only go down to the point where my knees are bent about 70-90 degrees. This basically replicates how I would jump in basketball, and the 70-90 degree point is a little below the lowest I would ever bend while gearing up for a jump in game.

The reason I do this is because it allows me to load much more weight, obviously because it’s easier to not go so low on a squat. My theory is that higher weights with this technique will allow me to develop more explosive strength in the relevant ROM. My thoughts were that trying to squat any lower wouldn’t be as effective for my specific goal of jumping ability (and general speed).

Is this reasoning flawed? Would it be better for me to lower the weight and go lower on my squats?

Thanks guys.

It seems to work alright for all those football players on youtube that never, ever hit parallel.

[quote]Scorched Soul wrote:
Hey guys,

(This question may be more suited to strength sports, so mods please feel free to move if you wish)

My understanding is that when performing squats, you should keep your feet fairly wide and the lower you go, the better. This approach makes sense to me from a pure bodybuilding point of view, but since I lift for mainly for strength in basketball, I do my squats slightly different.

I tend to keep my feet about shoulder width apart and only go down to the point where my knees are bent about 70-90 degrees. This basically replicates how I would jump in basketball, and the 70-90 degree point is a little below the lowest I would ever bend while gearing up for a jump in game.

The reason I do this is because it allows me to load much more weight, obviously because it’s easier to not go so low on a squat. My theory is that higher weights with this technique will allow me to develop more explosive strength in the relevant ROM. My thoughts were that trying to squat any lower wouldn’t be as effective for my specific goal of jumping ability (and general speed).

Is this reasoning flawed? Would it be better for me to lower the weight and go lower on my squats?

Thanks guys.[/quote]

Ever try box jumps or jump squats, they may be a bit more sport specific.


You argue your point well, but your reasoning is nonetheless deeply flawed.

The ability to jump is an explosive move that requires a quick and efficient recruitment of muscle fibers. The problem is most of us have a somewhat inefficient muscle recruitment pattern. One advantage of a deep squat is it stretches the muscles in your legs prior to the concentric phase of the lift. Excluding the inherent advantages of mobility that the ability to squat deep and heavy conveys, there is a saying that a stretched muscle is an activated muscle.

That is to say, if a muscle is stretched in the eccentric phase it MUST contract in the concentric phase to complete the lift. Strengthening these untaped muscles fibers in this fashion will allow you to recruit more muscle fibers explosively and efficiently even in a shorter range of motion.

Also, a shoulder length maybe slightly wider stance is appropriate even in a deep squat. A wide stance squat where the lifter only goes down to parallel is more in the powerlifting style and will not necessarily develop the explosiveness I think you are looking for (Pyrros Dimas is a great example of a deep squater who is amazingly explosive and can jump . . . see image).

Finally, if you are really intent on challenging upper portion of your squat you might consider incorporating some bands or chains into your workout while still squatting deep.

I hope I have helped. Now go get strong.

To the OP, you are absolutely correct. Squats over a lesser range of motion allow more weight to be used in the relevant ROM. For this reason, many jumping athletes perform quarter and half squats almost exclusively.

However, if you do not include assistance work for your glutes and hamstrings (GHR, RDL, etc.) then you will develop an imbalance over time. Also, by only squatting with a reduced range or motion you are increasing your chances of knee and back injury. If it were me, I would squat deep most of the year and only limit my ROM prior to periods in which my performance needed to be at a peak.

When you squat lower(atg) you are recruiting more of your glutes and hamstrings which are the main muscles in jumping and running.

Thanks for the replies everyone.

I guess I’ll start incorporating deeper squats into my training, to ensure balanced development in my legs.

Don’t make your program more complex then necessary. Specially if you play alot of basketball. If you do play alot, your more likely to need leg strength then explosive plyometric strength. Do a proper athletic stance squat to parallel or a tad below. Between 8-15 reps for a few sets and your vertical will shoot up. Once it starts to stall then work on other concepts.

Most basketball players I know have extremely week legs compared to there vertical jump if they don’t lift weights.

[quote]azman wrote:
You argue your point well, but your reasoning is nonetheless deeply flawed.

The ability to jump is an explosive move that requires a quick and efficient recruitment of muscle fibers. The problem is most of us have a somewhat inefficient muscle recruitment pattern. One advantage of a deep squat is it stretches the muscles in your legs prior to the concentric phase of the lift. Excluding the inherent advantages of mobility that the ability to squat deep and heavy conveys, there is a saying that a stretched muscle is an activated muscle.

That is to say, if a muscle is stretched in the eccentric phase it MUST contract in the concentric phase to complete the lift. Strengthening these untaped muscles fibers in this fashion will allow you to recruit more muscle fibers explosively and efficiently even in a shorter range of motion.

Also, a shoulder length maybe slightly wider stance is appropriate even in a deep squat. A wide stance squat where the lifter only goes down to parallel is more in the powerlifting style and will not necessarily develop the explosiveness I think you are looking for (Pyrros Dimas is a great example of a deep squater who is amazingly explosive and can jump . . . see image).

Finally, if you are really intent on challenging upper portion of your squat you might consider incorporating some bands or chains into your workout while still squatting deep.

I hope I have helped. Now go get strong.[/quote]

The advice is the post quoted is spot on, squat deep and eventually factor in some chains which will strengthen the top portion of the movement. You can pretty much ignore the rest…