Why are internet lifters so concerned with Squat depth?

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Alternate title: Why do most of my article titles end in a question mark?

While I’ve been slowly plodding my way through Thinking Fast and Slow I’ve naturally been thinking about the various concepts introduced and how they apply to my own experiences. One of these concepts is the Substitution Heuristic whereby an individual answers a difficult question by mentally substituting an easier one, often without realizing. This, of course, made me think of Squat depth…

We’ve all seen the youtube videos where a lifter will be performing a very impressive max or near max Squat but the comments are filled with individuals asking whether it was to depth or not. Now, let’s be fair, the rules do specify depth as a requirement for a good lift in competition. But that’s hardly a requirement for a lift to be impressive. A Squat half an inch above parallel is not that different from one half an inch below.

I would posit the reason these comments are so common is the fact that there are a lot of new lifters on the internet and because they’re so new they don’t really comprehend what it means to Squat that heavy and the only thing they know how to judge is Squat depth. So in reality these lifters are substituting “How did that Squat look?” with “How deep was that Squat?”

When you think about it this way, sure they’re annoying, but they just don’t know any better. Until you’ve had to grind for months and months to add another plate on the bar it’s hard to conceptualize how much work it takes to reach these significant poundages.

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