Testing half squats versus Full squats

I tried a test last night with squats of different depths after speed/plyos.

I found the half squats most uncomfortable. I dont know what it is…

Stopping half way down is just unnatural for me. Maybe I am just too used to full squats. I also found the emphasis on my quads a little more stopping at or just below parallel. (way less ham/glute activation with half squats vs full depth squats)

I had a couple guys (Sprinters) watch my form and technique and everything seemed solid.

I have tripled 330 on full squats before and last night 225 for 3 just at or just below parallel felt very unnatural.

1/4 squats were a waste of time for me. I have done 455 plus on those before and basically felt nothing from them.

Any thoughts? Could it be a limb length/body type issue?


I too have found the same thing. I believe while concentrating on my full squats, I neglected my “quad” complex, because I was sitting back on my full squat like any ex-powerlifter would. This was hindering my speed imho - this year I have been doing both types, full squats, hips back, and high bar parallel squats with knees coming forward, like half an olympic squat. When I started these, I could barely get half my weight, now I am doing >100kg more than my full low bar squat, and my strength on full squats has definitely improved.

I would say it is as simple as one does not necessarily invoke strength in the other, although there is some small correlation.


hmm that is interesting. I notice that the “stopping” halfway down gives me the most discomfort and the most emphasis on the quads. Maybe I will try to incorporate both.

you say you started with half your weight. What do you mean? 50% of your full squat max or BW?

I might start doing both types and split the volume of sets down the middle. If I can add 100kg to my squat doing these that must translate on the track.



When I first started doing “parallel squats” I could barely do 140kg, and I could full squat 170. This is what I meant - I found them extremely hard. I had concentrated so hard on the “posterior chain” that my anterior chain had lapsed. I couldnt believe it. So of course, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Now, of course, it is a different story. I am heaps stronger. Will be interesting to have a few races this season to see how much it has improved my speed.

Funny thing is, now my full squats are WAY stronger - I belive most of the “crossover” from parallel to full is in the weight you can carry - once you can have 280-300 on your back with no belt and not budge, your confidence with 200 doing full squats is unparalleled.

Once you adapt to any particular training system you always need to add in some extra stimuli to keep the same adaption rate happening as you know. Now, because I could handle too much weight to be of any use plyometrically, I am doing “reactive squats” - where i drop, faster than the bar, with say 140kg (about 50% my parallel sq). I then explode upwards, trying to minimise the time between eccentric/concentric actions. I think it is the next logical step.

Another thing - when I was squatting last year, I wasn’t moving fast eccentrically. This may have been another problem, slow controlled movement is fine, but for an athlete that needs to rapidly change between eccentric & concentric action it doesnt seem to be necessary in my experience, it may even hinder your performance. And we all know what effect eccentric muscle action has on muscle damage and soreness, two other unnecessary things in a reactive athletes training regimen.


Thanks for the information. This is very helpful. I think I have done exactly as you described. Concentrated on my posterior chain too much.


I’m glad my own thoughts and beliefs have been vindicated. Everyone always seems to poo poo quads and squatting using quads. People go to the extreme and totally conentrate on the posterior chain, but it’s all about balance - get strong everywhere. There must be a reason why we have quads :slight_smile:

No worries guys.

There is a reason why we have quads! Of course there is. Leg extensions (I am joking). But seriously, posterior chain IS important, but if trained to the mutual exclusion of the anterior chain ??

High bar, knees forward squats are great, so are powerlifting squats. So are parallel squats.

Exercise selection is said to be the least important variable, I believe that is true, as long as you stick to complex movements, cover ALL aspects of the organism, not just those he “needs to be good at” and you are assured continual adaption. For one to improve in one area, you need to improve in all the rest.

If anyone has been doing mainly posterior chain stuff, throw in 6 weeks of parallel, quad busting squats. Tell me if your weights dont go up.



When you say high bar knees forward what exactly do you mean?

I perform typcial OLY high bar backsquats going to the bottom. I was considering adding the same style/technique but stopping right at parallel. Is this the same thing you are referring to?

I never perform powerlifting style low bar wide stance squats. I am just confused on your description.

Thanks again,


I perform my fullsquats with knee going forward and feel quite a bit of quad stimulation, I don’t see a reason to stop at parallel, since the full ROM will recruit the VMO better. I also wear heel raised oly shoes, so this helps that aspect as well :slight_smile:

Colin, the medialis is most active in the OUTER range.

not for me :slight_smile:

Not for me either.

Try doing 1 1/4 squats (down, up 1/4, down, up = 1 rep). Watch your VMO blow up like never before.

I find that my hip flexors (mainly RF) are stimulated quite heavily in parallel squats.

When talking about knees forward, I meant squatting with your knees going forward, rather than squatting with your knees staying in relatively the same place (powerlifting style).

Research suggests their is a big difference between oly lifts and powerlifitng lits, from memory it is :

powerlifitng : hip 2/3 knee 1/3
olympic : hip 1/3 knee 2/3

I cant rememeber the author sorry.


If you use full squats to develop the VMO, the development will tend to occur higher up the muscle (further from the knee), and due to the power profile of the full squat (peak closer to the bottom) the VMO will effectively switch off in the upper range of the lift, although it also occurs when using chains and bands etc …

This can be quite dangerous for a sprinter as the muslces used through this is the range that they are producing most power through when sprinting are not being developed adequately and has a habit of causing tendonitis at the bottom of the VM.

Interesting. Do you have any data on this? What about EMG analysis of sprinting - is it true that the VMO has a high requirement - i would suggest only at start and isometrically/stabilisation on foot contact at high speeds… ? Where did you get the information about tendonitis at the bottom of the VM?


I recieved the info on the VM tendonitis from various physio’s, sports medicine doctors and musculo-skeletal doctors who have witnessed it occuring repeatedly in both sprinters and downhill skiiers over he past 25 years. Fortunately the problem with muscle firing is very easilt fixed and the tendonitis, if caught soon enough , will soon follow.

At the start the rec. fem plays the greatest role of all the quads, whilst at speed the vastus medialis and lateralis do play a stability role (eccentric and isometric) but importantly also play a concentic role (by way of SSC) which produces a great deal of the verticle force of the sprint stride.

If that is the case, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, since I do bulgarian split squats, stepups etc as well :slight_smile:

Well I hit speed and weights last night and here is my experience…

Instead of my usual OLY buried squat I tried parallel squats. I moved from the hips first but also went forward with the knees stopping halfway down.

There was a HUGE difference in quad recruitment. I didnt want to go too far forward with my knees as I was concerned about injury.

I definitely did not hit the pos chain as hard and I have fairly substantial DOMS throughout my whole quad complex today.

To hit the pos chain I did 4 sets of rev leg press after squats. I think I’ll hit a combo of these from now on. Maybe 2 working sets each full squats and parallel.


But here’s the thing Chris

I squat the way you did last night, but I go all the way down. I basicly sit straight down, off course wearing Oly shoes makes this possible, since the heel is raised. In fact I feel frontsquats more in my hams and glutes than in back squats the way I do em, and so I don’t have to worry too much about my quads and VMO, they are huge! :slight_smile:
My VMO hangs over my knees…

Speaking of quads… Do you beat these quads Colin? His name is Obafemi Martins(18 y.o), one of the fastest soccer players in Europe… damn those look POWERFUL!

He is only about 170 centimeters tall though…