To Top

Squatting Below Parallel? Here’s The Truth

Forget everything else and train to achieve your specific goals.

By Raphael Konforti MS, CPT


Visually it’s impressive to squat ass to grass with the plates loaded. Whenever you see someone load up the weight for squats, you can’t help but watch and wonder: “How low will they go?” No one wants to be that guy who puts on tons of weight, barely dips down and then have that moment go viral on the Internet. Whether squats should go below parallel or not is a debate older than low or high intensity cardio. It actually depends a lot on your goals and body. Here’s the truth on whether you should be squatting below parallel.


Squatting Below Parallel

Before thinking about squatting below parallel you need to honestly evaluate if you can squat that low with stability and comfort without using weight. If not, that means you are compressing your joints and connective tissue into positions they can’t naturally move into. On the other hand, if you can squat that way but it takes you 20 minutes of foam rolling and stretching to get there, it isn’t any better. Extended periods of stretching can lengthen the sarcomeres, or muscle fibers, and that's been shown to reduce the amount of force those muscles can produce. So you may squat lower, but you won’t be as strong. The truth is that squatting below parallel exposes you to a much higher risk of injury without a worthwhile increase in benefits.


Squatting To Parallel

Squatting to parallel has long been the standard and for good reason – it’s relatively safe and you can load up a lot of weight. The biggest naysayers to squatting to parallel claim that the smaller range of motion means less muscle activation and thus micro-trauma, which creates the opportunity for recovery and growth. While that does hold clout for most exercises, when it comes to squats, going to parallel is already a substantial range of motion. Going further can lengthen the muscles so much that it takes them out of an optimal length to produce force. Plus, you can load up the bar with significantly more weight to build more strength and muscle.


The Bottom Line

Virtually everyone benefits long term from squatting to parallel – and not below – for working sets. If your focus is to build muscle, look better or get stronger, then parallel squats are for you. The only exceptions are if you’re competing in Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit or a sport that requires you to be strong in a deep squat position.

What you need to remember is that you have your goals. Don’t be swayed by what you see or hear others doing. Your goals, not someone else's, are what matters. You have to remain mentally strong with your exercise choices so that you can reach your physical goals. Squatting to parallel gives you the stimulus you need for your goals without unnecessary risk.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Featured Post

  • Get A Good Workout with Mike Rashid

    Muscle sensation Mike Rashid, whose motto is “Train Your Mind as Hard as You Train Your Body,” explains his shoulder massifier step...

    Cindy MamJuly 16, 2018
  • Interview Q&A with Amber Dawn Fokken

    It’s hard not to be captivated when looking at Amber Dawn Fokken. Her striking blue eyes and perfect physique are a...

    Cindy MamJuly 9, 2018
  • Making The Right Decisions

    What you put into your body goes a long way to maintaining your health. By Jay Campbell and Jim Brown  ...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 24, 2017
  • Are Macros The Key To Your Goals?

    The difference between looking good and feeling good is more than just a number. By Raphael Konforti MS, CPT   “You...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 23, 2017
  • Abs, Now!

    The exercises and focus you need to craft the eye-popping abs you want. By Adam Clark, CPT   Summer is gone....

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 20, 2017
  • 5×5

    This isn't some math problem. It's your solution to build power and strength. By Eddie Avakoff   What attracts me to...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 19, 2017
  • Add Power And Size To Your Shoulders

    A routine sure to bulk you up! By Heather Neff, CPT   Want bolder, stronger shoulders with better definition? You came...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 18, 2017
  • 5 Step Guide To Successful Time Management!

    These tips will ensure nothing gets in the way of succeeding with your workout goals. By Kris Gethin   In this...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 17, 2017
  • Total Knockout!

    You already fell for Lindsay Christiansen with one simple glance. Are you man enough to dive into who she really is?...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 16, 2017