“Don’t do squats, they’re bad for your knees.” – Random Bro #1
“I heard that squats are okay as long as your legs don’t go below parallel to the ground.” – Random Bro #2
NO NO NO! Seriously?!
These are myths people, myths! Just like how they say you have to eat 6 times a day or more to lose fat is a myth, so are the things you hear about squatting. How could someone possibly say such a thing when humans were BORN to squat as part of a natural movement?!
Just look at the picture below of the adorable little babies. I purposefully took multiple pictures of different babies and put them together in a mini collage so you can see that I am not bullshitting you. Notice how low they’re squatting? And these are babies, people. BABIES! Their bodies are not even close to being fully developed and here they are squatting ass to grass! Bad for your knees? Think again.
Here’s another picture that’s been going around the internet for a while now. Not sure where it originated from, but everything here is on-point.
A quick fact about squats: squatting below parallel is not only NOT bad for your knees, but they are actually good for them. Why? Because squatting above parallel actually results in putting unnatural stress on your knees. By not allowing the quads, hips, hamstrings, and glutes to perform the complete range of motion, it creates muscular imbalances that produce shearing forces on the knees. In other words, not squatting below parallel is what’s really bad for your knees and it’s full squats that will actually increase knee joint stability (when performed correctly).
The only way squats can be bad for your knees is if you don’t work on your form. That’s why when it comes to this exercise you have to leave your ego at the door before you set foot in the gym. It’s not about how heavy you can squat, but how heavy you can squat WITH GOOD FORM.
If you can’t perform full deep squats with just the bar (or even your bodyweight), don’t bother attempting to put 315 pounds of weight on your back. Work on your form and flexibility first. Check out this article on JCD Fitness on how to improve your squat just by doing some flexibility work. Usually that’s where the problem lies for most people who can’t go below parallel. After you learn how to work on your flexibility, I promise you that you’ll finally be able to show up the babies all around the world who can squat better than us adults. 😉