In an earlier article we discussed the benefits of and muscles worked in the half squat, a slightly controversial exercise in strength and power sports. Additionally, we then compared the half squat vs full depth variation, concluding that both movements are in fact beneficial for most lifters.
In this article, we will go deeper into the specific benefits of the half squat to help coaches and athletes justify cutting depth in the squat for some athletes and situations.
Half Squat Exercise Demo
The half squat can be done using a barbell, either in the front or the back rack position. Often, this exercise is done to increase overloading stimulus or train a specific weakness in the squat. In the below video the barbell half squat (back rack) shown, which is done nearly identical to the standard back squat however to only half the amount of depth.
5 Benefits of the Half Squat
While back squatting should mostly be done to full depth (parallel or below) or overall performance in sport, muscular balance, and movement integrity, half squats do offer coaches and athletes a unique training stimulus to increase the below five training variables. Note, that half squats done with the barbell on the front rack can also impose similar benefits, however may have a greater stimulus on upper back strength and core stability due to the barrel placement.
Break Through Sticking Points
The half squat has the ability to increase force production and tensile strength specific to the angles found at the hip and knee in the half squat. For some lifters, this may be a key training exercise to increase plateau busting performance. Additionally, the half squat angles at the knee and hip are very similar to the power position in the snatch and clean, and can boost strength receiving loads in that position.
Add Quality Quadriceps Muscles
By training the half squat you can increase quadriceps isolation due to the partial range of motion. Increasing the muscular demands and isolation of the quadriceps via the half squat can drive muscle hypertrophy and strength. This is key for some lifters who may find they lack significant leg mass or have balanced between the hamstrings and quadriceps.
Neural Training for Bigger Lifts
By shortening the range of motion and minimizing the deep knee and hip flexion, the lifter is typically able to handle heavier loads on the barbell. By doing so, you can increase loading similar to squat walkouts, while also increasing a lifter’s neurological abilities to handle submaximal loads and increase bracing capacities.
The more time a lifter spends under your previous 1RM or near maximal loads, the less hesitant a lifter may be mentally (and neurologically) the next time you need to get after it. Simply performing squat walkouts and half squats allow you to overload a lifter to become more familiarized amounts of loads to make the lifter more confident in their abilities under a heavier load.
Improve Jump and Sprint Performance
Half squats train the specific angles at the knee and hip that are found in jumping and sprinting mechanics. Jumpers, sprinters, and other explosive athletes can benefit from training these angular specific angles if looking to have a greater sports performance improvement. It is important to note that the half squat does not minimize or replace the need for the full squat, but rather can be used as a variation and/or supplemental exercise.
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