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Why We Squat Parallel at Denison University

Article Submitted by:  Mark Watts – Denison University Strength Coach


– The Glutes and Hamstrings are not fully engaged until the athlete attains a parallel position.

– The Glutes play a significant role in hip extension during running and jumping.

– Not squatting parallel can place overemphasis on the quads and de-emphasize the role of the hamstrings



– Squatting parallel develops the stabilizing muscles of the knee more efficiently

– Squatting parallel enhances strength at a greater range of motion

– Squatting parallel helps minimize the gap between quad to hamstring strength ratio



– Squatting to parallel means a greater range of motion, thus increasing the:

– Motor units and muscles fibers being recruited

– Time under tension, which increases total work done within the same rep

– Joint Angle, which enhances the stretch reflex and connective tissue strength



– Squatting to parallel can increase the athlete’s functional flexibility

– Squatting to parallel helps the athletes become more “comfortable” and confident when bending his/her knees in sport

– Squatting to parallel addresses some problems of “playing low” and enables the athlete to change direction more efficiently



– Squatting with a limited range of motion will increase the weight lifted by the athlete.

– This in turn, will greatly increase the axial load on the spine

– This will also place much more stress on the knee due to the limited degree of flexion


Athletes unable to squat parallel because of postural alignment or lack of experience will be labeled as a PUTS athlete.  PUTS stands for Physically Unable To Squat.  These athletes will be given alternative exercises additional commitments and extended teaching progressions to address these technique and postural discrepancies.