Poliquin Lifestyle > Tip of the Day Articles

Tip 110: Squat All The Way Down For Healthier, Leaner Legs

by Poliquinâ„¢ Editorial Staff
2/26/2013 7:39:31 AM

Do full squats in which you go all the way down to build healthier, leaner legs. Don’t worry, squatting all the way down below the point where your upper leg is parallel to the floor won’t hurt your knees.

In fact, performing full, deep squats can improve balance between the muscles in your legs for stronger knees. Deep squats also require a large degree of flexibility, so regularly training them can help you increase range of motion.

The idea that full, deep squats are bad for the knees is one of those strange fitness myths that is completely unfounded in scientific research. Long-term studies suggest full squats have no negative effect on knee ligament stability, nor do they place the knee joint at risk of injury. As mentioned above, they can actually improve stability and heath. Plus, they reduce the stress on the lower back and train your abs.

Tips to start doing full-range squats include the following:

Avoid excessive forward lean. If you lack flexibility in the ankles or hips, you need to work on range of motion in these joints, but in the meantime, squat with your heels elevated on a slanted wedge or weight plates under your heels.

The knees which should track in a line close to the border of the first and second toe. If you have structural imbalances and are unable to do this, start with split squats and step-ups before doing two-legged (bilateral) squats.

Use proper hand and elbow placement when doing back squats by keeping the elbows below the bar. People often incorrectly lock their elbows back behind them, which can increase forward lean. Instead keep the elbows below the bar with the grip slightly wider than shoulder width.

To come out of the squat, drive with the legs and squeeze the glutes during the upward motion. Avoid tilting the pelvis at the top—just squeeze the glutes, but shift your pelvis forward because this will put stress on the lower back.  
Keep your chest held high and look straight ahead. Do not look upward at the ceiling or excessively bull the neck because doing so interferes with the connection between the brain and your muscles (called neural drive).