Although the theme of today’s post is centered around the differences between full vs. half squat training, it is also focused on understanding context. First, let’s discuss this study that compared 10 weeks of full vs. half depth squat training on lower musculature and full and half squat strength. Training volume as derived from load x reps x displacement and load progression were equated between the two training groups. As shown here, full squat strength improved to a greater degree in those training the full squat as one may expect. However, what is interesting is that half squat strength improved equally between both training groups. Thus, half squat training does not appear to elicit superior depth-specific strength development. As for muscle growth, knee extensor volume (combined data from all 4 quadriceps muscles) increased to a similar degree in both training groups as some would also expect. Although both training groups increased glute max and adductor muscle volume, full squat training yielded a greater relative (%) improvement. What we can take away from these findings is that 1) the squat does indeed stress the adductor muscles and it appears squat depth may impact the degree of their growth, and 2) the squats do provide a growth stimulus for the glutes and the glute max does contribute to the hip extension during the squat particularly at midrange but not so much out of the hole (140 deg knee flexion) (according to Marchetti et al.). Overall, this study suggests the full squat to be superior IN THE CONTEXT of lower body muscle growth and squat strength. This study does not suggest that one should always choose full squats over half squats and that half squats are useless. This is the no context, black and white way of thinking that just doesn’t help anyone. There are indeed benefits to partial range squats such as lower body power development and also for the simple sake of variety. So if you do decide to share this post and add commentary please remember context.
Reference: Kubo et al. 2019, Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes
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