What and Why Full Range of Motion?
If you’ve been with us long enough (at least one day) you’ve likely heard your coach tell you that the standard depth for any squat variation is that the crease of the hip (A) must travel below the top of the knee (B).
Simple enough to understand, but why is this the standard and not something else? Say, hip crease even with or higher than the top of the knee? Or lower, sitting on your ankles?
Let’s look first at a high squat, hip above the top of the knee. Research shows us that a full depth squat, like the depth we teach is safer on the ligaments of the knee compared to a high squat. In fact, the stress on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL, the one you here about in every football game…) is highest during the initial descent of the squat. Other ligaments (MCL, PCL, LCL) have similar findings, dropping to appropriate depth is actually safer for the knees than performing a high squat (sometimes called half and quarter squats).
So if just below parallel, like we teach at CFFC, is good, then lower would have to better, correct? Not exactly. We want our athletes to use the greatest effective ROM. If you squat well below parallel, or ass-to-grass, we must relax muscle in order to get to that depth. We’d like to maintain tension throughout the movement, again making the movement safer. The added range of motion also increases the movement time, and when our workouts are timed, every second counts.
Squatting to where the hip crease drops just below the top of the knee allows us to use the greatest amount of muscle, is the most effective range of motion, and is the safest way to perform the movement.