Full squat means ‘ass to grass’, getting down as far as you can go. I’ve written before about squat depth and concluded that squatting as deep as you can safely is best for bringing the benefits of the squat to the greatest number of people.
But is this enough? Is this all we should be striving for? How far does a partial squat get us on my Maslovian squat hierarchy (scroll down, it’s there somewhere)?
On the other hand, why bother training specifically to go as low as you can, since ego, competition rules and your own physical limitations say no? Isn’t it a bit like learning to do the splits – yeah, great party trick if you can do them but surely there are better ways to spend one’s training time…
But a recent discussion with Chip Conrad over at strength forum Straight to the Bar (you just know it’s run by an Aussie with a title like that!) made me think about this again. We were initially discussing how often people full squat, but a bit of poking and prodding elicited a more interesting debate about why full squat at all.
So over to Chip.
The squat issue is a program design puzzle. Match your squat to your goals.
Weightlifting meet? You’d be squatting deep several times a week.
Bodyweight trainer? There might be a lot of deep training in your program, but sans any external load.
Powerlifting meet? There’s no competitive need to squat deep, and many top competitors simply can’t, because they train a limited range of motion squat and/or use squat suits, which don’t let ya squat very deep anyway.
General fitness? There are much better reasons to work deep than not. We can squat deep but we’re de-evolving from that ability. The danger isn’t in the squat itself but actually the lack of it. Since we don’t do it enough, there are risks involved in deep squatting if it isn’t treated like a skill that takes practice and time.
But a squat, deep and proud, is something that our bodies should be able to do. Only due to specialization or simple laziness are we not able to squat deep. This might be a bit of a generalization, but I like to think big.
My jaded view is through the biased filter of more is better: load, technique and, in this case, depth.
So perhaps the answer is similar to the one George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Everest. “Because it is there” simply refers to all that empty space between my butt and the ground. It seems like a conquerable wasteland which, when defeated, could also be an indicator that I’m not holding onto tension patterns created from too much limited range of motion lifting.
In other words, lack of ability for full range of motion squatting means that there is tension somewhere. And tension somewhere means that something is working harder than it has to, maybe even at rest.
A competitive powerlifter might covet that tension, using it to their advantage in a partial range of motion squat. But in day to day life, that tension can lead to ouches and damn-its really quickly.
I simply enjoy doing too many things to reduce my possibilities through the tension patterns of limited range of motion movements.
So we can turn the question around and say, why not do full range of motion squats?
The answers have some merit, but not enough to convince me of a permanent limited range of motion application.
“I can’t” isn’t acceptable to me.
“Because I can lift heavier” makes some sense, if that added load is beneficial. But why can’t we strive for a greater load at a greater depth? That’s my cup of tea, but I will agree that huge loads through small ranges of motion have benefit for certain training purposes.
“Because it is safer” has been proven wrong too many times to count.
Heck, if I can do it, anyone can. Sure it takes time if you’re not natural at it, but the athleticism and ability I gain from the years (yes, years… I’m still learning) of practice are, like all training, highly empowering.
Well they don’t give points for style at powerlifting competitions. But I too like the idea of conquering that space. If nothing else, it’s a valuable lesson in humility. And the reward could be a greater sense of achievement.
|Stumble it!||Share||Subscribe to this blog|