We are proud to present this guest post by Dr. Lon Kilgore.
Interrogative: How deep should professional fitness trainers teach their trainees to squat?
Evidence: The NSCA Essentials of Strength Training & Conditioning, The NSCA Essentials of Personal Training, the NSCA Basics of Strength and Conditioning, the NSCA official Website, and the NSCA Position Paper: The Squat Exercise in Athletic Conditioning, all offer different instruction to trainers on how deep they should allow their clients to squat. To wit;
Instruction 1 – The body should be lowered until the thighs are parallel to the floor
Instruction 2 – The body should be lowered until the mid-thighs are parallel to floor
Instruction 3 – The body should be lowered until top of the thighs are parallel to the floor or lower
Instruction 4 – The body should be lowered until the knees are 90 degrees
Instruction 5 – The body should be lowered until the knees are 115 degrees
Analysis: For instructions 1 and 2 there are no anatomical landmarks provided for the professional fitness instructor to use in this determination. For instruction 3, the anterior surface of the thigh is a convex curve and the floor is flat, this renders the instruction non-viable unless two points along the convex curve are identified as representative landmarks for a parallel determination, which is not done. For instruction 4, this joint angle does not approximate the parallel condition stated as desirable in instructions 1, 2 and 3. Instruction 5 is included in an NSCA-branded video presentation where a 90 degree knee angle depth is also presented as acceptable.
Summary: NSCA publications referencing squat depth are sufficiently incomplete, contradicting, and confounding to a point suggesting that any depth of squat may be acceptable.
Commentary: The self-proclaimed world authoritative materials promulgated by the NSCA are inconsistent in recommendation, incomplete in scientific support, lacking definition, inadequate in anatomical description, and impractical in application. The said publications and recommendations create an environment where education of professionals on squat depth is inconsistent.
The authorship, editorial, or graphical issues present may ultimately have negative effects on individual fitness results and the safety of the public, as correct technique cannot be reliably determined from the published position statements, texts, and videos.
About the Author
Professor Lon Kilgore graduated from Lincoln University with a bachelor of science in biology and earned a Ph.D. in anatomy and physiology from Kansas State University. He has competed in weightlifting to the national level since 1972 and coached his first athletes to national-championship event medals in 1974. He has worked in the trenches, as a coach or scientific consultant, with athletes from rank novices to professionals and the Olympic elite, and as a collegiate strength coach. He has been a certifying instructor for USA Weightlifting for more than a decade and a frequent lecturer at events at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. His illustration, authorship, and co-authorship efforts include the best-selling books “Starting Strength” (first and second editions) and “Practical Programming for Strength Training” (first and second editions), recent releases “Anatomy Without a Scalpel” and “FIT,” magazine columns, textbook chapters, and numerous research journal publications. He is presently engaged in the most difficult task of his career: recreating the educational track to becoming a professional fitness
practitioner. The second stage of this effort is the creation of a one-year university qualification in fitness practice at the University of the West of Scotland.