Many people do not like squatting. I think part of the reason is that it is hard to learn how to squat correctly without a coach. One problem many people have is that they cannot see what their form looks like when they are squatting. Additionally there is no way to be sure of how low you went unless you have someone watching you. The only way to get around this would be to squat all the way to the ground. Unfortunately this method of squatting does not lend itself well to bodybuilding or physique enhancement. The type of squatting that Olympic lifters do focuses a great amount of tension on the peripheral muscles of the hips. That is all well and good for low rep squatting, and sports performance, but not ideal for bodybuilding. Additionally this type of squatting is more intimidating for the beginner or intermediate, and puts un-needed stress on the back. For these reasons I believe squatting just below parallel, or to just before the low back starts to round is ideal for most people. You get the majority of the benefits of full squat with almost none of the added risk.
The parallel squat, or just below parallel squat, is ideal because it allows you to use the widest range of repetitions. For example, the full squat, when utilized for high reps, will begin to fatigue the lower back and hips flexors more than the quads and gluteus. When choosing an exercise for bodybuilding you want an exercise that can be done across rep ranges with little to no change in form or muscle activation. This is where a good set of lifting shoes and a Squat beeper come in.
Lifting shoes provide the elevated heal position that allows the majority of stress to be routed through the hips and quadriceps. Squat shoes allow the trainee to maintain a neutral spine. Normal trainees can throw on a pair of squat shoes, and go down much lower while maintaining the curve in their back. Additionally, these shoes make it easier to route the majority of tension through the intended muscles. This allows the trainee to focus the stress on the intended muscles, and receive the most benefit from training. The majority of issues about form will be taken care of by using a good squat shoe.
The next problem is the depth the trainee needs to hit in order to receive maximum benefit. In order to get the most out of the squat, the trainee needs to go to near or just below parallel. This has to do with the tension created in the muscles surrounding the knee joint. Anyone who has ever tried to squat below parallel has recognized how much more difficult it is then squatting to just an inch above parallel. Once a trainee has become familiar with the parallel, or below parallel, squat they need to make sure they are hitting the same depth every time they squat. This is where the squat beeper comes in. This is a little device originally developed by BFS in order to assist high school athletes in learning the squat. Though the device never received mainstream popularity, it is fantastic. It allows the user to squat to just below parallel, and hear a clear beep as soon as they hit the proper depth. The device even has a low and high setting so that you can hear the device in a crowded gym even with music playing.
When you combine a good squat shoe with a squat beeper you can be sure that your squat is picture perfect every time. You will be able to easily maintain a neutral spine as you descend to just below parallel. Perhaps one of the most important points is that you will never have to wonder how low you squatted. You can go as heavy as you want, and never have to have anyone watch to tell you if you went to parallel. You can jump under the bar and just focus on pumping out reps. AS anyone who has walked under a heavy squat bar knows that last things you want to be focusing on when you are working are depth and form.