Published on Mar 22, 2012
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Hey there - this is Mehdi from StrongLifts.com. And in this video I'm going to show you how to Squat with proper form... and I'm also going to show you the number one mistake you must avoid when you Squat if you want to gain strength and muscle while losing fat and without injuring your knees.
But first I want to talk about why the heck you should Squat in the first place. You can see me in this video doing a Squat: just get in the power rack, always use free weights, and put the bar on your back. Now step back to get into the starting position and then squat down and squat back up. It's that simple.
Now most guys, usually the ones stuck with the muscle magazine split routine mindset of training only one bodypart a day, they think of the Squat as a mere leg exercise. Of course, the Squat does work your legs because those are the ones moving the weight. But a lot of other muscles are also working hard during a heavy Squat.
For example: your lower back and abs have to work to keep you from collapsing under the weight when you Squat... and that's how you build six pack muscles and a strong lower back from squatting. Even your arms have to work hard to hold the bar on your back when you Squat, which indirectly helps to build bigger arms. So the Squat works your whole body as one piece, with heavy weights.
That's why if you want to develop overall strength usable outside the gym, and you want to build lean muscle while losing fat by burning the maximum amount of calories... and you want to accomplish all of this without using drugs or steroids and without spending your life in the gym, then you have to Squat.
Now the most important thing you must do when you squat is you have to hit parallel. This means: your hips must go below your knees on each rep when looking from the side. Some guys will go lower, that's fine too but not necessary, hitting parallel is the key.
Most guys in your gym will never hit parallel when they Squat, they'll do half or even quater squats. The reason for this, and they'll tell you that so watch out, is that they believe going lower is bad for your knees. And that's actually bullshit: Squatting parallel is not bad for your knees, it's actually safer and healthier.
Here's why: when you hit parallel you strengthen your quads AND posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings). On the other hand, when you do quarter and half Squats, only your quads work, not your posterior chain. As a result: the quarter and half Squats develop muscle imbalances, and that's how knee injuries happen. Hitting parallel prevents muscle imbalances and builds strong and healthy knees.
If you're skeptic - I've been Squatting for 13 years, almost every week, usually several times a week. I've always hit parallel on every single rep, sometimes going even lower, and never injured my knees. This isn't because of my genetics or whatever, quite the opposite, I actually have lousy genetics. Check my skinny wrists and ankles in the video: they're so thin a lot of people would categorize me as a hardgainer - not built to be big or strong. I wasn't born with strong joints, so I should be the first one to injure my knees and yet I haven't in thirteen years of Squatting parallel, with a current best squat of 400lb which is almost 2.5x my body-weight.
If you still don't believe me, even Arnold Schwarzenegger who was a competitive strength athlete for several years before he became 7x Mr Olympia, was doing Squats hitting parallel on each rep. Fact is Squatting parallel is a perfectly safe movement, every single baby will sit in parallel position naturally when picking up something from the floor. So if you can't Squat parallel without getting knee pain, you seriously need to start working on this instead of avoiding the movement, because otherwise you're going to end in a wheelchair soon.
Quite frankly, the real reason most guys don't want to hit parallel when they Squat is because they know that is a lot harder and that it would force them to lower to weight to get their reps. But obviously, everybody knows that the more challenging an exercise is, the better it is for building lean muscle and real world strength while burning fat. That's why the strongest and best built guys, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to his mentor Reg Park were all doing the Squat. And they were doing it hitting parallel on every single rep.
So you got to Squat, and you got to make sure you hit parallel on each rep, with your hips going lower than your knees
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