Breaking the Above Parallel Argument

Let me begin by saying that the “hip crease below knee” standard that is commonly adopted when performing any squat variation is, in fact, made up. There isn’t a strength fairy that grants you legitimate strength on repetitions in which you go below parallel, but withholds her strength building magic when you don’t. 

In fact, there are a number of schools of thought that embrace and evangelize specifically squatting above parallel. Why?

  • The math is simple. Quarter squats are heavier than full squats. Bigger loads drive more adaptation than smaller ones. 
  • Quarter squats don’t discriminate against inflexible movers. 
  • Quarter squats offer almost all of the benefits of full squats without faults that often arise below parallel (i.e. lumbar flexion, valgus knee, etc).

While these are all legitimate points of advocacy for the above parallel squat, there is an important reverse logical argument to consider here. That question, of course, is:

“What would it mean for an athlete who isn’t able to demonstrate strength in the full expression of the knee, hip, and ankle for a below parallel squat?”

It would specifically mean a lot of things that the coaches who evangelize the above parallel squat wouldn’t be proud of for starters. Most coaches justify how much more load their athletes can move above parallel and mention the reasons why their athletes can’t get below parallel safely. Yet, we never discuss those facts in reverse. Almost no coach would be proud of the following statements:

“My athletes are incredibly vulnerable in positions of knee flexion.” 

“My athletes have reinforced a liability in 50% of the function of the lower half.” 

Like most any either/or proposition, can we elevate this argument to include the benefits of the above parallel squat and the complete system development of the full squat? I think so.

9/8/21 WOD


Complete 4 rounds for quality of:

5 Sandbag Squats + 50 Foot Carry
50 Yard Kettlebell Farmer Carry

Then, with a partner, complete the following for reps of:

Barbell Front Squats (95/65)
7th Street Corner Runs
Double Dumbbell Viper Press (40/25)

-Rest 1 min between rounds-


Complete 4 rounds for quality of:

8 Goblet Squat
8 Incline Barbell Bench Press

Then, complete 4 rounds for quality of:

10 Alt. DB Press (ea)
12 Strict Bar Dip

Then, complete 3 rounds for quality of:

300’ Waiter’s Carry
*switch half way


Take 12:00 minutes to work up to a heavy single sandbag load (48/40)…

Then, complete 4 rounds for quality of:

:30 Hollow Hold
8 Double DB RDLs
100′ Sandbag Carry

Then, complete 3 rounds of the following for total reps:

In :60, max rep sandbag loads @ 60-70% of heavy single (48/40)
-Rest 2:00-3:00 minutes-