Squat Depth?

Sorry if this has been covered before but, How deep should sprinters be squatting? I was told that near 90 degrees would suffice and that anything more is unnecessary

Any thoughts?

On Thursday there was a lecture by a well-known physio here. She was saying that in a camp in Arizona a couple of years before the Olympics one of the four sprinters getting the gold eventually in the relay had persistent hamstring problems (yes, that’s him :)). When she joined them in the gym (the value of being there…), she realised that his squats were quarter squats, half squats at best. When she asked him “Why?”, he said “Linford does it/used to do it this way…”
Within two weeks and after bringing about the same weight to the whole range of movement, the hamstring problems eased off -along with extensive therapy, of course…
Note: the hamstring problems were particularly evident during/after block work.

Within two weeks? How many squat sessions is that? Sounds like rubbish to me.

Regardless of the sport, the squat should only be performed as deep as a neutral spine can be maintaned. Range of movement is of secondary importance to safety - as deep as you can safetly go is your best sprint specific option.

I Agree for the safety,but not on the neutral spine and full squat.
Why WLifters can do a huge amount of full squat with huge amount of weights(losing the neutral spine in the last degree of squat) ?

Makes sense to me. We obvioulsy don’t know what other work he was doing but if it was predominantly 1/4 squats (and from what i’ve heard about his gym work from witnesses he was probably doing something like hamstring curls as his hamstring work) then there would clearly be an inbalance in strength and muscle stiffness.

I never get soft tissue problems. That I believe is thanks to the full squat. May be I’m full of problems at my joints. Specially my knee and back. Which makes a lot of people tell me to stop the full squat. But no. I now have a very very bad back problem and my knees are not feeling very good. But when I’m under the full squat bar, pretty heavy too, nothing really hurts at all. They just hurt at the track. So I see it very very safe. Because even when I have back and knee problems I could still work full strength 100% on the full squat.
I’m with you nik.

I agree with you as well, but not for the weightlifter reason. What’s possible (especially for joints) and what is healthy are two different things. I believe that most individuals (especially experienced athletes) should have the balanced stability/mobility relationship that would allow appropriate squat depth. Maintaining neutral spine below 90-degrees (the classic question is: are we referring to knee flexion, hip flexion, or both?) is definetly possible. Another question is, are we performing hip-dominant or knee-dominant squats? Front squats or back squats?

And if someone can’t squat that low, you should target their flexibility before increasing their squat poundages. If someone (especially athletes) can’t squat low, they can’t squat, period.

as a track ahlete would it be preferred to do hip dominant squats, knee dominant squats or both??

For both Back squat and front squat

Both. Knee dominant exercises would help more for acceleration and hip dominant exercises would assist more at top speed (in general).

It has been my experience that most novice/intermediate athletes have the most to gain by using hip dominant movements.

Personally, i only ever have had hamstirng problems during block and short work. Usually at the insertions near the knee.

I now beleive this is because i was over striding out of the blocks - trying to push with the legs rather than allow the hand to lead. Perhaps he has a similar problem when he is thinking about what he “should” be doing rather than just doing it?

Coming out of the blocks the errector spinae can play a major part as well (hip dominant work), but i know what you mean.

Perhaps this is the case as well. Although you wouldn’t necessarily see the improvement in his hamstring in the following weeks -according to her comments- and perhaps you wouldn’t expect to find this sort of problem for an athlete of his level -or would you? :slight_smile:

Another reason for overstriding -apart from your explanation of different technique- is the level of developed strength at those angles and the confidense that this gives you to maintain proper technique…

…i’ll never say:“ok,they are doing this,so i could do this too”.
Mine was only an observation.
I agree,if you have the mobility,stability and strength won’t be a problem to do full squats.
But,looking at the spine,in the last degrees the most of the person lose the straight lower back…that’s normal because of one ligament .
Now,many physiotherapist can scream to end the movement at this point…
I dont’ agree on this.If you are trained on this angles (and if you don’t have other problems of course) you can squat safely also without the above “neutral spine”

I agree 100%. My response about the weightlifters was simply that just because lifters do something, doesn’t automatically mean that everyone should be able to do the same thing. No real argument from me, just a point to consider.

I’m re-starting my weight regime, and I’ll be doing a month or two of circuit weights. How deep should I do my squats at circuit weight? Should I start as shallow as comfortable and go deeper? Or should I start deep, but with light weight and build up that way?

That’s what I think…
Let it get as deep as good technique and flexibility allows you; don’t start with bad habits…
Hope it helps!

PS good to see middle distance running & resistance training, it’ll be fun -for us! :wink:

And how wide would you guys suggest for an athlete?

Currently, I’m squatting wide and 'till parallel (powerlifter-style). Any problems with squatting like that?

Nothing wrong with squating wide, just make sure your hips are not getting too beat up from it.

Personally, i like to vary my squats a lot, especially in GPP. I used to be really into just squatting full with a narrow stance. Now i squat both parallel and full, with a variety of stance widthes and occasionally with a box. I don’t know if it is helping me too much, but the variety makes the weightroom a lot less boring.

Is this Physio AR by any chance?

Unless Hams touch calfs with good form it is not a proper squat