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Old 08-09-2010, 11:33 PM   #1
Justin Arnold
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Default Deep Squats & Long-term Knee Health?

Hello all,

Due to some kind of genetic gift and years of stupid human tricks (yoga), I'm very, very flexible in the hips, knees, and ankles. My bottom position in the squat puts my tib/fib almost exactly parallel with my femur, with my butt only barely kept off my heels by my hamstrings and calves getting in the way. All of that with zero stretch in the quads, hips, or calves, even when cold.

I've only recently started lifting weights with the goal of actually getting strong and becoming proficient in the olympic lifts, and have adopted a squatting technique that uses every inch of my range of motion. Being strong out of the hole seems like it can only help.

Over the years I've definitely picked up the idea that a majority of people consider very deep squats bad for the knees. Thing is, I'm skeptical of anecdotes and hearsay.. What I'm looking for is personal experience from people squatting as deep as I do or close to it. Or, advice from someone who coaches people with similar technique. Do squats this deep inherently lead to knee problems down the road, as long as everything else about my squatting form is good? My squat numbers aren't very impressive.. only about 125kilos @ 88k body weight (back squat), but they are increasing steadily and I'd like to be sure I'm not wrecking my knees in the process.

I intend to try and get some video of this.. but I don't consider it a priority, as you've all probably at least seen someone going this deep. While the people at my gym seem impressed, I doubt it's anything you've never seen before.

For the record, I don't use knee wraps of any kind.

Many thanks for any advice,

Justin
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:10 AM   #2
glennpendlay
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Justin, what I believe is that this is not ruin your knees. I also believe that as you continue to get stronger and grow muscle, your bottom position will change, and with bigger muscles, you won't be able to get your femur and your lower let to a position close to parallel.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:06 AM   #3
Jay Cohen
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Buy and read Starting Strength.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:34 AM   #4
Justin Arnold
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Thanks Glenn. Makes sense.


Jay, I've carefully read the squatting section 3 times now. Thing is, that form doesn't really apply to my goals. I'm looking for advice from within the realm of olympic-style squatting.. since that is what I do, only deeper than most.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:55 AM   #5
Steven Low
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Deep squats involve hamstrings more which is critical for correct muscle strength and hypertrophy ratios between the quads/hammies in the thighs

If you don't squat deep enough it's likely you may be led to get some quad dominance which leads to the good old stuff like patellar tendonitis, patellofemoral syndrome, IT band issues, etc.
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:32 PM   #6
Robert Callahan
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Relevant study:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16558570

Abstract for above study(relevant stuff bolded):

Quote:
OBJECTIVE: To determine injury types, natures, anatomical locations, recommended amount of time missed, and injury rates during weightlifting training. DESIGN AND SETTING: We collected and analyzed medical injury records of resident athletes and during numerous training camps to generate an injury profile. SUBJECTS: Elite US male weightlifters who were injured during training at the United States Olympic Training Centers. MEASUREMENTS: United States Olympic Training Center weightlifting injury reports from a 6-year period were analyzed. Data were expressed as percentages and were analyzed via x(2) tests. RESULTS: The back (primarily low back), knees, and shoulders accounted for the most significant number of injuries (64.8%). The types of injuries most prevalent in this study were strains and tendinitis (68.9%). Injuries of acute (59.6%) or chronic (30.4%) nature were significantly more common than recurrent injuries and complications. The recommended number of training days missed for most injuries was 1 day or fewer (90.5%). Injuries to the back primarily consisted of strains (74.6%). Most knee injuries were tendinitis (85.0%). The majority of shoulder injuries were classified as strains (54.6%). Rates of acute and recurring injuries were calculated to be 3.3 injuries/1000 hours of weightlifting exposure. CONCLUSIONS: The injuries typical of elite weightlifters are primarily overuse injuries, not traumatic injuries compromising joint integrity. These injury pattems and rates are similar to those reported for other sports and activities.
Granted it is a profile of elite weightlifters, which we are not (at least I am not ) but it demonstrates that people doing LOTS more, and heavier deep squatting than you and I have perfectly healthy knees.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:40 PM   #7
Gant Grimes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Arnold View Post
Jay, I've carefully read the squatting section 3 times now. Thing is, that form doesn't really apply to my goals. I'm looking for advice from within the realm of olympic-style squatting.. since that is what I do, only deeper than most.
The point of back squats is to get your legs as strong as possible, not to mimic the ROM of a clean (that's what front squats are for).

Elite lifters aren't hyperflexible because that is counterproductive to the goals of being big, strong, and worthwhile. You'd be better off cutting depth and adding weight to the bar, which will add inches to your thighs, in turn adding more weigh to the bar.
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:40 AM   #8
Jay Cohen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gant Grimes View Post
The point of back squats is to get your legs as strong as possible, not to mimic the ROM of a clean (that's what front squats are for).

Elite lifters aren't hyperflexible because that is counterproductive to the goals of being big, strong, and worthwhile. You'd be better off cutting depth and adding weight to the bar, which will add inches to your thighs, in turn adding more weigh to the bar.
Thanks Gant, wasn't sure how to reply.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:17 PM   #9
Justin Arnold
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I'd rather use (and therefore be more likely to retain) my flexibility, provided it doesn't cause other problems... which Robert's study seems to confirm. Thanks for that..

Either way, I appreciate the feedback. I'll bow out of debating the merits of individual squat techniques, and just say that I PREFER what I'm doing now.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:37 PM   #10
Robert Callahan
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I think everyone will agree that as long as you are doing some kind of relativity heavy squatting you are doing better than 99% of the people out there, regardless of the specific type of squat
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