The most functional movement that will change the way you look, move, and feel is the Parallel Squat. That’s because we use it constantly throughout our day when we sit down and get up…even when you walk you are taking a mini-squat one leg at a time.
The large, powerful muscles of the entire backside and front of the thighs are used when performing the Parallel Squat.
It is referred to as the Parallel Squat in order to differentiate it from the full-range squat. The full-range squat has given a bad reputation to the squat exercise in general. This is due to the fact that there is more risk than benefit to the increased range of motion for most individuals when performing squats to this below parallel depth range over a period of time.
The two most basic and effective exercises for your complete leg workout are the Squat and the deadlift.When done in the same workout, the “stiff-legged” deadlift will be a perfect opposite to the Parallel Squat. However, the bent-knee deadlift would not be a good choice with this Superset training approach for the legs as it engages the quadriceps, thus incorporating the same squat movement.
Start above a target to which you can lower yourself down to touch.Commonly called bench squats, this target method is used to focus on proper depth of the movement. Often a bench is used, but then there is a tendency to sit down and bounce back up which can be jarring to the spine. My preferred target is not so stable, just an exercise ball chosen for the right height. Once good strength and control is gained, advance to barbell Parallel Squat training where much more weight can be used for even greater strength gains.
Progression can start by performing Dumbbell Bench Squats.Theses are the most functional variation lending to real daily living movement patterns. Holding a pair of dumbbells-one in each hand with arms serving as hangers for the weights will allow you to gradually add weight to your Parallel Squat.
Details and Additional Ways to Perform the Parallel Squat
Performing good functional Parallel Squat movement starts by tilting the pelvis and pushing hips behind you forming a good arch in the low back, as though positioning to have a seat on a chair. Recommended range should not exceed a depth lower than thighs parallel to the ground. Hence, the name of the technique! That is, keep the hip joint no lower than knee level. Risk in doing so outweighs benefit. You can vary the arm position with and without weight. Parallel Squat are known as the king of lower body exercise.
Vary your stance in performing the Parallel Squat to focus the workload on either inner or outer thigh by choosing a wide or a close-footed stance.You can target the outer aspect of the upper thigh and hip area when assuming a close-footed stance with feet about 4-6 inches apart to enhance benefit to the Parallel Squat. However, you will feel more powerful in a wider stance, which recruits more inner thigh.
Another good functional Parallel Squat variation is the split stance, which can be a lead-in to the single-leg Parallel Squat.The same good form and technique applies to all Parallel Squat variations. Training intensity can be increased without adding weight just by progressing to more challenging single-sided variations.
You can perform your Parallel Squat followed by the stiff-legged deadlift and repeat the alternation without waiting for a muscle rest period. These are considered agonist-antagonist muscle movements, so as long as you are not completely out of breath you can go right from Squat to stiff-legged deadlift and back to squat. However, the bent-knee deadlift would not be a good choice with this Superset training approach for the legs as it engages the quadriceps, thus incorporating the squat. This Squat to stiff-legged deadlift sequence is an ideal approach for progressive weight training when applied to the Body-for-Life training method.