Barbell squats to a bench--good or bad?

I have recently added barbell squats to my routine, and started paying more attention to what other folks are doing. I have seen three different guys squat down to a seated position onto a bench then get back up again. This strikes me as a bad idea, because it throws your center of gravity behind your feet and seems like there is a potential for back strain just as you begin the rise from seated, and you are not doing a full stretch of the glutes. There is also tendency to drop the last few inches instead of controlling the weight all the way down.

Are there trainers who teach this method? What is proper form?

It’s primarily a form reminder. You don’t put weight on your butt, you just tap the bench.

I remember reading about this technique for people with bad knees. It helps keep you from going over 90 degrees on the knees.

I’m not sure how accurate it is. Although I have really bad knees, I never tried actually doing this.


You’re not supposed to go past parallel with your thighs to protect your knees. This is a form reminder. Also it acts as a spotter of sorts.

The ones I’ve seen are coming to a full rest on the bench. So it sounds like they are not using proper form.

Also, the form I’ve seen (and read about here) is to go down until the thighs are parallel to the floor, which definitely goes past a 90-degree knee angle.

Moved to the Game Room.

General Questions Moderator

They might be doing box squats, or they might just be doing useless crap. Hard to tell without seeing them.

I vote useless crap. Coming to a full rest on a bench would put your center of gravity too far behind you.

The concept behind “bench-squats” is similar to that of squat-racks in that you are only able to take the weight down so far before you are stopped by the bench. It is a safety and form precaution and it is NOT meant to be used to come down to a full-seated position.

Moving over to IMHO.

I came in here to say this. It’s supposed to teach the person to ‘sit back’ and to squat to depth. It’s useful for low bar back squatting (notice the position of the bar on her delts) since if you are too far forward it’s hard to break parallel.

My PT recommended bench squats for just this reason. It does tend to give me slightly more than 90, but it’s far better for my knees than going all the way down. +1 on the butt bump on the bench, not actually resting your weight there.

I think this is a bit unclear; here’s the definition of parallel from USA Powerlifting: (I suggest going to the site to look at the pictures)

Rippletoe and others, IIRC, recommend deep squatting for proper knee health and to prevent muscle imbalances - the idea of stopping at parallel to protect knee health seems to be bunk:

This link has reference to research:

Some other information:
From ExRx:

Squat Myths: