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What is Your Opinion on Partial Squats?


What is your opinion on partial squats?

I’m thinking of implementing 1/2 squats in my training. I’ll do them in a way where I’d set the barbell on a certain height on the pins of the power rack, then I’d duck under the weight and squat it up.

I know Paul Anderson did these, and I have a good feeling about them.

What do you think? Are they safe? Do you think they’ll have a positive effect on my regular squats?

Thanks in advance.


They might help if your sticking point is on that exact spot of your ROM. But only might, since your lifting mechanics differ when starting the lift from the halfway point.

The main benefit however for me at least is that you can handle a lot bigger loads which mentally conditions you to not fear them. I had that problem with squats and bench in the past and doing half squats with an isometric hold on the top with as much weigh as possible helped me a ton psychologically. I tried actual sets with reps once but doing only half the ROM irritated my knees to no end.


Given how much you pause your squats, I think partials probably aren’t necessary. The pauses should get you strong enough out of the hole that your sticking point probably won’t be much of an issue.

What I would suggest would be to do some comp style squats regularly to stay in the groove (I saw your question to Amit Sapir). Also do assistance to strengthen your weak point: so if you fall forward at any point, hit your lower back and abs, if you find your chest collapsing work your upper and middle back etc. If you’re finding that driving your hips through past halfway is your sticking point I would think lunges and split squats would be a good idea as they’d let your strengthen your hips.


I believe that Paul Anderson used a progressively increasing range of motion, he would gradually set the pins lower each workout and then eventually just squat the weight. I have heard of people injuring their backs with Anderson squats because it is very awkward to set yourself up under the bar in a low position. There is another similar exercise, usually called “pin squat” where you set the safety pins where the bar will be at the bottom of your squat or sticking point but you perform the squats top-down like normal, just stopping on the pins to break the stretch reflex. If you set the pins high it will allow you to handle more weight than normal, with the pins in the bottom it will increase your strength out of the hole.

If you are looking for an overload exercise you could try reverse band squats. I have heard of some raw lifters using knee wraps as an overload but personally I hate them, they also shift more of the weight to your hips so the movement pattern is slightly different. I think the main reason that Anderson squats never became too popular is because there is a high risk of injury.


Another variation to help with mid-range sticking points: squats paused above parallel. Squat like normal but instead of coming up all the way you stop at the last place you would ever want to stop. Sheiko uses these with his lifters, you can also find some videos on YouTube of Chad Wesley Smith doing those.


I like what Chris said about squatting to the pins. You could also just squat to a high box.

Personally, I don’t like not being set up properly under a heavy weight. Too risky.

As far as Paul Anderson’s squats - necessity was the mother of invention.


Chain suspended ROM progression Anderson squats were how I managed to squat 500lbs for the first time. An awesome movement.


I get a lot out of pressing/pulling or squatting off pins. The problem people run into with joint pain is from not progressing into intensity or ROM slowly enough. Partials and pins will go a long way in improving tendon and ligament integrity. Ted Arcidi has an article out the floating around called “Strengthen Those Sinews” and the way he Incorporated partials. The original may be hard to find, but it can be found copied and pasted on LIFT. Third post down.


I will help you get used to having heavier weight on back , my old coach used a 200lb over load walk out before top set, scary watching a 68 year old man weighing 185,do i walkout with 800lbs on back and do a 6 inch squat ,and want you to spot him.
Same with bench put about 25% top set then just do a set up with unrack.
Then go down to top set . Weight will feel lighter.


I actually found I could handle less weight doing pin squats, contrary to a lot of the answers in here. I tend to squat wide and dive fast in to the hole, so I am thinking I benefit greatly from the stretch reflex to propel me out of the bottom. Pushing weight from the pins say, 2 inches above parallel, almost feels like an awkward good morning to me since I have no velocity to start with.

So my point is, it depends. Try them and see.


It only allows you to handle more weight if the pins are set high enough, it would be more like a half squat. If you set the pins below parallel it is significantly harder than a regular squat so I can imagine that 2 inches above parallel would still not be an overload. With the pins set low it’s kind of like a low box squat, the point is to break the stretch reflex and teach you to drive up out of the hole.


I didn’t have much luck with these. My main complaint is technique, you could easily do a half squat with more weight with different technique required for a full ROM squat so in a way it made doing a full squat harder because I forgot the movement pattern or at least didn’t get enough practice with it. Reverse band seems like it would fix this but I’ve never tried them.


Just to add to this, Layne Norton used top down pin squats during his recent recovery and Dave Tate has used box squats for years though he no longer competes. Both men have videos that are easy to find. My wife switched to box squats because of her limited mobility, but her goal is to simply stay in good physical shape, not compete. I think the trick with any of these is answering the questions of why you are using them, and does that purpose match your goals.


Just Squat. Seriously.


You don’t use any variations?


Front Squat or SSB Squat if my shoulders are bothering me but other than that no not really. Still very much same movement and pushing Volume. Definitely no partials, no bands, no chains, just push volume on standard squats and you will grow. You don’t need a bunch of variations or techniques like partials for overload. Just unrack the bar, sit down, stand back up.


Couldn’t agree more. I used to use variations but my best progress has been since I just squat more.