By Strength Sensei CP
Publication Date: 2004
I’m often asked about the correlation between full squats and parallel squats. The question often comes up when athletes are tested in the squat.
First, consider that there is a difference between training for a sport and training for testing. Take the 40-yard dash. The 40 tests what is referred to as a “positional speed,” which is how fast you go from Point A to Point B in a straight line. Good to know, but what does this have to do with football speed? It’s rare that any “skill” player in football runs 40 yards during a single play and certainly not in a straight line. As for offensive and defensive linemen, their skills can often be described as “Move your right foot, then your left foot — then get into a fight!”
Getting back to the squat, an athlete can certainly squat more to parallel than they can with a full squat. This is especially true with the wide stance, low-bar parallel squat used by many powerlifters. However, the strength developed with a parallel squat doesn’t translate as well to a full squat as a full squat does to a parallel squat. Also, there are many additional benefits from performing the squat through a full range of motion.
If a coach permits athletes to squat only to parallel when testing, I would advise those who are full squatting to squat only to parallel for about two weeks before being tested to get used to the motion. This approach should add about 50 to 100 pounds to their testing result and make them look better on paper. Then they should go back to full squats!