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Are Deep Squats Bad for you, And Is Squatting Past 90 Degrees Bad For Your Knees?

Updated on May 13, 2016

Negative View of Squats

Over the years of training and working in the fitness industry I have often come across someone who has been told not to perform deep squats or even worse, not to perform squats with weights. The belief is that deep or weighted squats cause added instability of the knees which can lead to an injury.

Where did this way of thinking come from?

Although we all are affected with our own strengths and weakness, knee pain at times may simple be an issue of the old saying “use it, or lose it”. On top of the no use issue the world was set back due to one particular study. This study was performed by “Klein, K.K. The deep squat exercise as utilized in weight training for athletes and its effect on the ligaments of the knee .” J. Assoc. Phys, 1961“. In this journal (without getting to into the study) found that MCL and LCL had greater instability in the knee and that Deep squats cause an increased instability and parallel squats should be used only. How many of you have heard people say squat to 90 degrees only?

Quick summary of the affects of this study

After this journal was published, there was a general acceptance of his findings by the medical community, and even the U.S Marine Corps removed it from their training program. Afterwards many more studies came out proving different findings from Klein. One such study was Karpovich et al, Teor Praxe tel Vvch (1970)”. Which did a 10 week program of deep squats did not affect the stability of the knee. (If you wish to find more there is plenty out there) Over time it was noticed that Klein performed his own study to match his hypothesis and also was the one who invented the machine that was used to perform the study. This is believed might of lead to a biased opinion. Hmm… maybe they say! J It was then later believed that his findings may not of been accurate and thus not reliable.

The Backlash

With all the new science found and the fact more people where questioning the accurancy, it was all too late. The damage was done. The world was given something in print, and once printed it can take years to get it removed. As well there is a history of coaches, PE teachers, trainers, and even doctors that pass on the information, leading to history of misinformation being passed on. So much so, that even in today’s world of information, you will find the odd person or site that states doing deep squats are bad for your knees or to not use weights.

Why squats are good

Here is just a brief summary of why squats are good to perform.

· They are safe when performed properly

· may prevent injury

· is an effective rehabilitation tool

· can enhance athletic performance

· can enhance muscle strength and power

· can strengthen connective tissue, ligaments and tendons

· may increase bone size

Even more important to many of the people I trained, is it really helps with weight loss. Since big muscles burn more calories, therefore squats must be good for burning calories.

In Conclusion

Through proper progressive teaching of various squat techniques we can slowly remove the misinformation from generations of negative attitudes and bad information and get back to squats can be good, deep or with weights. However they must be done right. Always work within your limits and keep in mind not to overtrain by too much too soon and to take time to rest after workouts.

Different ways to squats

Although there is probably hundreds of ways to squat I’m going to just list some as a way to get started and to give you some idea of progression I have used for some clients. Beginner to more advance.

1) Assisted squats

2) Ball Squats

3) Body weight squat / Chair squat

4) Dumbell Squats

5) Barbell Squats


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