T Nation

Getting Rid of Barbell Squats?


#1

I know everyone always says that Squats are one of the best exercises, and that every training plan should include them, but im starting to think differently.

Please hear me out and read what i have to say, and then if you have comments feel free to share them.


I agree that squats are a great exercise, and that every athlete should be able to squat a fair amount, but im just not convinced that squatting huge loads is as necessary as people say. Depending on the sport, i think squating near your body weight for reps is plenty.

Taking a pure functionalist approach, I dont understand why athletes think they need to be able to squat so much. When was the last time outside of the gym that you had to stand up with 300lbs draped across your shoulders? Unless your a pro wrestler, im guessing never. This view may be flawed, but it does kinda make sense that you dont need to prepare yourself physically for a situation that will probably never happen.

Squatting with heavy loads does have the benefit of potentially increasing spinal bone density, but this can be done with a far lesser weight over a period of time.

So the main reason im thinking of ditching heavy squats is that I feel the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits, and there are many other alternatives that I feel may get similar if not better results.


So heres what im thinking of using instead:

1-leg squats:

I love these, they put a huge load on your legs and no load on your spine. On top of that, they work balance and flexibility.


Stepups:

Pretty much the same as 1-leg squats if you minimize touching the ground, but with less flexibility demand, so you can use more weight.


Deadlifts:

Im definately a deadlifter. These will help me with lower back strength, as well posterior leg strength.


Snatch:

My favorite lower body exercise. Although i dont think they help much with max lower body strength, they are great for explosiveness/power, and also for conditioning.


Leg press:

Theres much debate with these, and i honestly haven't used them much, but am thinking of using them, just so i can get some wide stance squat type stuff.


Lumberjack squats:

I havent tried these yet, but they seem like a great exercise, and may be very functional.


Jump squats:

I know a lot of people say you should be able to squat twice your Bw before doing these, but that really doens't make much sense to me. Theres no spinal load here, you just need stable joints and flexibility as well as leg strength. If you can do 1-leg squats, you should be able to work with jump squats.


Thats about it, but i would like to include sled dragging, and tire flipping, but I dont have access to this equipement.

What do you guys think, is this a horrible idea, or are these viable alternatives?


#2

I don't understand why you denegrate squats for being an unrealistic exercise (paraphrasing) and then bring up leg press.

Unless you live a very intersting life, you won't be replicating the leg press motion very often.

PS: Shut up and squat.


#3

I hate being one of these dudes... but stop being a pussy and squat!

Honestly man... from your logic, when in the hell would you ever use the leg press motion? You are going to deadlift but not squat???


#4

This is the 3rd thread you've started in the last few days about squatting. They're all about why you can't squat, why you should choose leg press instead of squats, or why you shouldn't squat.

I honestly don't see why it is you are making every effort to avoid having to squat. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, man. If pretty much all the top strength coaches recommend some form of heavy squats, that means you should probably do some form of heavy squats. It doesn't have to be back squats, you could use front, but the point is that you should SQUAT.

As far as the functionality, they do their function which is to get your legs stronger while forcing your body to be able to stabilize heavy loads. No weight room exercise is like a real life movement and they're not supposed to be.

They're supposed to get the muscles that you use in real life movements stronger. If you want functionality, perform whatever movement you're trying to get better at. That's functionality at it's finest.


#5

Do tell...

OK

Um...plenty for what?

There is nothing more functional than the squat. Athletes use it because it helps them to run faster, jump higher or out-muscle players on the opposing team.

True enough.

Also true in context. Everyone has to make their own determination as to when the risks outweight the rewards.

I've not heard of these...don't all squats use the legs? Do you mean lunges?

excellent exercise - use them myself to repair imbalances and strengthen the bottom end of squats.

To a point,perhaps. I find my deadlift stalls if I stop squatting and goes up as my squat goes up.

Another movement that depends heavily on leg and back strength in the pull and receive portions of the lift - Best developed by squatting...

Nothing wrong with the leg press as a change of pace.

It's a squat. therefore, It Is Good.

Really, it all depends on what your goals are. From your post, it looks like the goal is to avoid squatting. Seems like squatting would give you everything you're looking for, but you don't like the loading on the spine. Well, that's completely under your control. I'm not here to say that what you want is wrong,BTW. Your post reads like you're trying to find a way out of doing an excellent exercise. Why do you need an excuse?

Try out your scheme and see if it works for you.


#6

I actually am trying to talk myself out of dong squats, because its been ingrained in my head how great they are.

If im gonna drop an exercise that is so widely known as being great, i wanna make sure im making the right decision.

Theres a lot of information about exercise that is good and the result of research and then theres a lot that is just out there because thats how its always been done.

It seems that all the strength experts love squats because they can build huge muscles and strength, while those with more of a PT or biomechanics background might warn of the potential risks.

Im not one to go along with a training technique, just because thats the way its been done, and others have gotten good results using it. When i was in high school, we weren't aloud to deadlift, because our teacher said it was bad for our backs, but then he had us maxing on olympic cleans. Clearly this "expert" didn't know what he was talking about.

I just really dont see the need to be able to support such a large load on your back. Sure functionalist crap can get annoying, but i just dont see a use for this.

At least with deadlifting, your using a somewhat natural lift. I know from working in previous jobs, that when you lift something from the floor, its usually similar to a deadlift, and not a squat.

Im just gonna have to try some of these other variations and see if they better suit my needs. Its not that i just dont like squatting so im trying to find a reason not to do them.

I workout hard, and dont want to spend my time and energy on exercises that may be causing me more harm than good, when there are alternatives that MAY be better, but just aren't traditional.

This is why i dropped barbell bench, dropped all forms of situps, and switched from barbell clean to dumbbell snatch. Some people might benefit better from the exercises i got rid of, while others might benefit better from the ones i choose.


#7

You probably shouldn't be squatting then. If you don't see the own benefits to yourself, then why waste your time? For my personal use, I find them to be an efficient and incredibly effective strength builder so I will continue to do them. In my training, I would have to spend so much more time trying to work all the same muscle groups individually and at a lower intensity. Or I can train hard and hit them all at once. If you don't like them, by all means don't do them, you shouldn't have to convince yourself one way or another. I'm confused as to why you need to make a thread to stir things up, you already know what people on this site will suggest. You said it yourself, what is good for some may not be good for others.

What have you experienced that suggests that its doing harm? Or are you basing this solely on hypothetical things you've read that might happen to you?


#8

Why don't you try reading Dan John's free ebook "From the Ground Up"? He talks quite a bit about squats and the effects on his performance. Read the book. Listen to the advice of your betters. Then decide for or against BB Back Squats.


#9

So you're afraid of the extreme spinal loading a squat has, but you love deadlifts which has even MORE spinal load. Sure, deadlifts are more natural, but when was the last time you picked up something from the floor over 300 lbs?

You also fear that squats aren't that functional over 300 lbs, but you'd rather do leg presses, which, again, has MORE spinal load, not to mention the gargantuan amount of weight you can use, which means even MORE spinal load. BTW, what physical activity simulates a leg press?

Then you think lumberjacks are more functional than ordinary squats even though they're essentially the same movement; the fact that you hold the barbell in front does not change the fact that there's a load on your spine. Oh wait, isn't a lumberjack a barbell squat too?

Finally, you say that there's no spinal load for jump squats when in fact there is a lot of spinal load whenever you hit the ground each rep, and if you think about it, why on earth are you gonna jump repeatedly with a sack of rice on your back?

Heck, that means snatches must be useless too, coz why hoist a weight up like that when it's easier to just press it?


#10

What I don't make sense from your argument is how many years of EXPERIENCE do you have to make an observation that BB Squats have no benefit for you.

Knee rehab patients are told to squat

Lower back patiens are told to squat

People with hip-joint replacements are made to start squating with below bodyweight to get the groove partterns.

If I understand your argument is that because it has been done countless of times and because so many people are living proof of its effectiveness, you are not sure it is good enough for you and that the mere thought of future illness stops you from doing it?

FWIW

If you have played any sports you are prone to joint injuries later in life

If you have a desk job you are prone to lower back and arm / hand pain you will suffer from arthritis later in life

If you do anything in life worth pursuing (job, fitness, fighting...even sex) for too much too long you will hurt when you are old.

If you do NOTHING you will hurt when you are old.

Choice is yours

Do something and hurt when old or do NOTHING and hurt when old.


#11

Squats are definatley functional, and you can get rid of half the excercises on there just by squating.


#12

What are your goals? If you absolutely hate squats don't do them. You are short changing yourself but who cares except you?

Take a break for a while and then try them again. You may change your opinion.


#13

Ya, im gonna try to do without them for a while. I think with the other exercises i listed, i can build some strength in my legs and then go back to squatting after. I think its that my legs are weak compared to my lower back, so when i squat, my back does a lot of the work.


#14

If it's the loading you're worried about, try overhead squats instead. You get many of the same benefits along with much smaller loading parameters.
There's nothing wrong with the other exercises you mentioned, but they're nowhere near as good as the squat.

I do agree that if you're training for aesthetics then it's not necessary to train like a powerlifter, which is where most of the danger is. It's pretty difficult to injure yourself doing repetition work not to failure. (Certainly not impossible, but far less likely than say max effort singles)


#15

Hey, it's your time. No one can force you to do any exercises that you don't want to do. And honestly, you're not hurting anyone else's performance or results by not doing squats.

If you really want to stop doing them, just stop doing them. I honestly think your arguments are weak and a little irrational. But, like I said, it's your time.

Just don't be surprised (or mad at us for not talking you out of the idea) if down the road you realize that you made a big mistake and just wasted a lot of time not doing one of the single most effective exercises on the planet.

Good training,

Sentoguy


#16

You completely missed or just didn't feel like answering Zaps question. What are your goals?

For a majority of "functional" goals squat is excellent. The problem is everyone has a different function. If your arm wrestling go ahead and drop the squat. If all your doing is picking up things then continue deadlifting. And for the record jump squat is a squat. It's not the same thing as jumping and its not the same thing as squatting so unless your at a fairly high level in both you are not accomplishing as much as you would, by doing either one.

If you think it's just to hard and don't want to do it then fine, but you'll always be #2.


#17

What, no mention of your 1 years worth of experience!?

What this sounds like to me is you're letting your ego get the best of you. You can pull 350, leg press over 700, but your squat is a measly 165 for reps. "I can't squat a house, so I won't squat at all!"

First you say your back is weak, so you don't wanna do squats. Now you say your legs are too weak and your back takes over. How weak are your legs if you're pressing 700+??

Obviously, the decision to squat or not to squat is yours. But like another poster said, you're short changing yourself if you're not squating.


#18

Holy shit my post was added immediately! Woo! No more waiting 20 minutes to see if I'm saying the same thing someone else already said.


#19

whats your training age? You say you workout hard, but what are you judging it on?

Alternative to the back squat w/ less load on the spine? front squats.

Switched from bb clean to db snatch? your asking for shoulder problems. NEVER clean or snatch with a dumbell. Don't like the clean cuz some high school guy taught you to clean and he was a "moron" as you say?

Try full squat snatch.

by the way, there are two squat assistance exercises we use at my club to strength our snatch : Drop snatch and back squat.

imo, everyone should be back squatting unless theres problems with flexibility and back (aka curved spine).

squat is injury prone? Full ATG squats are one of the best exercises to strengthen your body and ligaments muscles and the like. I got 3 friends (who don't do sports mind u) who tore their ACL, and they squat.. ass to grass.


#20

Get rid of that sand in your vagina and put the bar back on your shoulders.