Ask Nate at Elev8: Squat Depth

Throughout the years there have been a lot of debates on how far down you should squat. The debate normally revolves around knee health. There are some who say that squatting below parallel is better for knees and others that say never to go below parallel.

I used to be completely for ATG (ass to grass). If you didn’t go ATG I almost didn’t consider it a real squat. However, as the years went on and I read more studies, I now personally recommend squatting to parallel.

To reduce even more knee issues, I recommend lightening the load and doing a slow eccentric phase. 4 seconds down, 1 second up. Don’t be one of those lifters that load the bar up with way too much weight and do quarter reps. That will get you nowhere. Except maybe a trip to the hospital.

A lot of people aren’t even flexible enough to do a true ATG squat with proper form. So it’s better to just stick with parallel.

In general I really don’t like the barbell squat. I think there are a lot better and safer ways to build up your legs. It is an excellent exercise for athletes to build power and strength. However, for general public I rarely recommend it. But that is a topic for a different article.