One of the biggest issues we see on a regular basis is athletes sacrificing depth and form during the back squat in favor of loading up the bar with heavy weight.
By shutting down the range of motion to just a partial squat, athletes are minimizing many of the intended benefits that can come from improving baseline strength. First, they eliminate one of the biggest athletic advantages there is – movement. They are completely neglecting one of the most foundational movements in life, let alone athletics. For our money, an athlete will see far greater results perfecting an air squat than working with heavy partial squats. Especially at their age – they need to establish good habits or it will hold their progress back in the future, poor movement begets strength plateaus. Second, they are wasting their time. Sure, partial squats can play a role in a good performance training program, but not as a Core Strength lift. They are literally performing less work (work is a product of force and the distance traveled) in any given set. Those sets are crucial for increasing time under tension and metabolic stress which are responsible for all of those things you’re working towards: muscle hypertrophy, strength gain, conditioning, etc.
Worse, it’s during these misguided attempts that we see the “ugliest” reps – you know the ones we’re talking about: knees driving down and in, the chest dropping forward, bar rolling towards the head, lower back and neck compensating for poor form. This is where injury happens, it’s just common sense. You’re at a far greater likelihood of failure and injury when the weight on the bar is something with which you could never perform a full rep.
It’s our job, as coaches and teachers, to make sure we are holding athletes accountable. Make sure they know the benefits of perfecting their movement first, reinforce good habits, and set them up for success!