T Nation

No Squating for Legs


#1

Lately i've been getting some lower back pain while squating . Before i never use to get them until the past few months . I usually get them on my 4th or 5th set and then i have to call it quits.. At first i thought it was my form but i've asked several people (people on the football tearm,wrestling team,other lifters , and coaches) to check my form and they all said it was fine.
I'm thikning of doing some mobility work/stretches to see if that could maybe take away the pain. I've also switched to a wider stance as well.

If the problem persists , i'll most likely take away free way squats from my routine and just do hacksquats(machine) and leg press for legs. I'm still a newbie and a lot of people tell me all the time you can't build big legs without free weight squats so yeah..


#2

Do you dedicate any part of your back days to the lower back specifically. The erector Spinae often goes overlooked in many people’s workouts, but it plays just as important a role as the abdominals do in providing core strength. I would say you should first have a doc check you out just in case you have a disk out of place; following that I would say you should incorporate some lighter sets of deadlifts and back extensions into your routine. Maybe you already do, I don’t know, but if not it is worth your time to target the stabilizer muscles.


#3

Front squat and box squat.


#4

[quote]jhew86 wrote:
Do you dedicate any part of your back days to the lower back specifically. The erector Spinae often goes overlooked in many people’s workouts, but it plays just as important a role as the abdominals do in providing core strength. I would say you should first have a doc check you out just in case you have a disk out of place; following that I would say you should incorporate some lighter sets of deadlifts and back extensions into your routine. Maybe you already do, I don’t know, but if not it is worth your time to target the stabilizer muscles. [/quote]

I never really did any lower back work. Maybe i could add some rack pulls on my back days and disk out of place?Ill check that out as well.

Thanks for the advice.


#5

Probably a form issue.

Everyones ideal form is a bit different. Unless the people you asked are in tune with how you used to squat pain free, their current assessment isn’t all that helpful as it wont pick up any minor changes that could be affecting things.


#6

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:
Probably a form issue.

Everyones ideal form is a bit different. Unless the people you asked are in tune with how you used to squat pain free, their current assessment isn’t all that helpful as it wont pick up any minor changes that could be affecting things.

[/quote]

Do you have any videos that you recommend for me to watch to learn how to squat then? Theres a lot on youtube but you never know who really has correct form…


#7

While you don’t need squats for leg growth, they are certainly beneficial and arguably are best for building a foundation of strength that will help you progress on other movements.

If you’re having lower back pain, I would try front squats or heels-elevated front squats. When my lower back is sore, front squatting tends to be totally fine whereas back squats suffer due to the core/low-back involvement.

Leg press and hack squats can be great alternatives and potentially even better for hypertrophy if used correctly.


#8

[quote]DazeDolo wrote:

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:
Probably a form issue.

Everyones ideal form is a bit different. Unless the people you asked are in tune with how you used to squat pain free, their current assessment isn’t all that helpful as it wont pick up any minor changes that could be affecting things.

[/quote]

Do you have any videos that you recommend for me to watch to learn how to squat then? Theres a lot on youtube but you never know who really has correct form…[/quote]

There are some basic guidelines but if youre squatting to be a bodybuilder it really comes down to squatting in a way thats pain free and also put the emphasis on the target muscle.

What I said in my first post was that copying someone elses ‘perfect’ form may not work unless that person has the exact same body structure as you.

Mess around with foot placement, bar placement, and ROM to figure out what works.

It could be an issue of simply going heavier than you can spport. Forcing you to lean slightly forward and basically doing a good morning to get the weight up.


#9

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:

[quote]DazeDolo wrote:

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:
Probably a form issue.

Everyones ideal form is a bit different. Unless the people you asked are in tune with how you used to squat pain free, their current assessment isn’t all that helpful as it wont pick up any minor changes that could be affecting things.

[/quote]

Do you have any videos that you recommend for me to watch to learn how to squat then? Theres a lot on youtube but you never know who really has correct form…[/quote]

There are some basic guidelines but if youre squatting to be a bodybuilder it really comes down to squatting in a way thats pain free and also put the emphasis on the target muscle.

What I said in my first post was that copying someone elses ‘perfect’ form may not work unless that person has the exact same body structure as you.

Mess around with foot placement, bar placement, and ROM to figure out what works.

It could be an issue of simply going heavier than you can spport. Forcing you to lean slightly forward and basically doing a good morning to get the weight up.
[/quote]

I’d second that… it could be possibly that your erector spinae may be a “weak” point. Have you recently increased weight? /do you do any “lower back” exercises? my lower back is always a little bit uncomfortable/tight after leg days, although i do both squat and DLs that day.


#10

[quote]DazeDolo wrote:
Do you have any videos that you recommend for me to watch to learn how to squat then? Theres a lot on youtube but you never know who really has correct form…[/quote]


#11

[quote]ebomb5522 wrote:
While you don’t need squats for leg growth, they are certainly beneficial and arguably are best for building a foundation of strength that will help you progress on other movements.

If you’re having lower back pain, I would try front squats or heels-elevated front squats. When my lower back is sore, front squatting tends to be totally fine whereas back squats suffer due to the core/low-back involvement.

Leg press and hack squats can be great alternatives and potentially even better for hypertrophy if used correctly. [/quote]

Agreed, generally the more upright you can keep your torso while squatting, the less likely the lower back is going to be the limiting factor. Front squats allow you to do this nicely, and pretty much totally remove the possibility of rounding the lower back forwards or performing a “good morning” as the bar will simply roll off your shoulders if you try to do that on a front squat.

Also, since the OP’s main goal is bodybuilding and not powerlifting, then he first has to decide what muscles he is primarily trying to build with his squats and make sure they don’t cause him any pain, supposing his form is correct (like Bonez said) and therefore not necessarily get locked into the idea that there is only one way to squat, or that say back squats are automatically better than front squats or vice versa.

For instance Tom Platz squatted differently than Matt Wenning from that video above suggests, but Platz was primarily concerned with making his legs bigger, while Wenning is primarily concerned with moving the most weight possible from point A to point B, and back to point A. Both styles of squatting are technically correct, but call on different muscles to greater or lesser extents and produce different results. Also individual variances in terms of limb/lever lengths can cause some styles of squatting to be more of less comfortable for different individuals.


#12

[quote]jhew86 wrote:
Do you dedicate any part of your back days to the lower back specifically. The erector Spinae often goes overlooked in many people’s workouts, but it plays just as important a role as the abdominals do in providing core strength.[/quote]

This!
If your low back is the weak link, make is stronger.


#13

if your lower back hurts / is limiting…

  1. train it more.

  2. accept the fact that there is less muscle mass supporting the lower back than most other regions and see what you can do to get everything else up to par in order to minimize the work that the lower back has gotta do.

the lower back is not really a majorly muscled region. often back pain comes from the lower back doing more work than it needs to in order to compensate for tight hips / thoracic region that is preventing other muscles from taking more of the load.

do you have a relatively long torso? do you squat with the bar in a relatively low bar position (thus your ‘good form’ squat will have a lot of forward lean which might be upsetting your lower back).

all i really wanted to say was that i’m puzzled why people have a ‘train it more then’ attitude towards the lower back and to share that in my own case the best thing for my lower back was 1) to leave it the hell alone and 2) to learn to activate my abs properly (since my lower back was taking over pretty much all the work of core stabilization). stupid little pilates moves. can your abs do that??


#14

Are you bracing your abs?


#15

Even though people are telling you that your form is good, they may not be seeing the whole picture. Are you showing them examples of a first set, or a 5th set? For a lot of people, and potentially you, form degrades with more sets. You might want to get someone to watch all 5 sets, OR VIDEO ALL OF THEM AND SHOW YOUR VIDEOS TO COACHES. Videos tend to be the best way to analyze form.


#16

Also are you working your hamstrings? How is the flexibility of your hip flexors? Things like this can cause an imbalance and therefore things like pelvic tilts which will smash your back when thinking about things like squats. Also bar placement,i.e where the bar sits on your back is a big thing, I see a lot of people have the bar too high I am led to believe this puts a lot of stress on the lower back also!


#17

[quote]jayrm88 wrote:
Also are you working your hamstrings? How is the flexibility of your hip flexors? Things like this can cause an imbalance and therefore things like pelvic tilts which will smash your back when thinking about things like squats. Also bar placement,i.e where the bar sits on your back is a big thing, I see a lot of people have the bar too high I am led to believe this puts a lot of stress on the lower back also![/quote]

Actually a “high bar” placement usually allows one to stay more upright during their squats (provided like you said they have the requisite hip and ankle mobility) than a low bar position (since the center of gravity is further back with a low bar squat and therefore requires more forwards lean to counter balance).

And since free weight lifting is highly dependent upon leverages, this actually puts less stress on the lower back. In fact, of all the squatting variations (that use a bar) front squats (and zerchers, but they’re less practical for heavy lifting IMO) are the easiest on the lower back, next is high bar squats, and last is low bar squats.


#18

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

[quote]jayrm88 wrote:
Also are you working your hamstrings? How is the flexibility of your hip flexors? Things like this can cause an imbalance and therefore things like pelvic tilts which will smash your back when thinking about things like squats. Also bar placement,i.e where the bar sits on your back is a big thing, I see a lot of people have the bar too high I am led to believe this puts a lot of stress on the lower back also![/quote]

Actually a “high bar” placement usually allows one to stay more upright during their squats (provided like you said they have the requisite hip and ankle mobility) than a low bar position (since the center of gravity is further back with a low bar squat and therefore requires more forwards lean to counter balance).

And since free weight lifting is highly dependent upon leverages, this actually puts less stress on the lower back. In fact, of all the squatting variations (that use a bar) front squats (and zerchers, but they’re less practical for heavy lifting IMO) are the easiest on the lower back, next is high bar squats, and last is low bar squats.[/quote]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC5-g1Ugmgc Mark Rippetoe disagrees.


#19

I’ve tried bringing my abs into it and taking deep breaths and none of that works… Tomorrow im planning to do some sets of deadlift(8-10) to help build more mass down there. Also when i do low bar squats , i dont really feel it on my lower back but i also dont really feel it on my quads. I guess ill try to do some front squats. Thanks everyone.


#20

[quote]niksamaras wrote:

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

[quote]jayrm88 wrote:
Also are you working your hamstrings? How is the flexibility of your hip flexors? Things like this can cause an imbalance and therefore things like pelvic tilts which will smash your back when thinking about things like squats. Also bar placement,i.e where the bar sits on your back is a big thing, I see a lot of people have the bar too high I am led to believe this puts a lot of stress on the lower back also![/quote]

Actually a “high bar” placement usually allows one to stay more upright during their squats (provided like you said they have the requisite hip and ankle mobility) than a low bar position (since the center of gravity is further back with a low bar squat and therefore requires more forwards lean to counter balance).

And since free weight lifting is highly dependent upon leverages, this actually puts less stress on the lower back. In fact, of all the squatting variations (that use a bar) front squats (and zerchers, but they’re less practical for heavy lifting IMO) are the easiest on the lower back, next is high bar squats, and last is low bar squats.[/quote]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC5-g1Ugmgc Mark Rippetoe disagrees.[/quote]

Sir Isaac Newton disagrees.

I don’t care if Rippetoe wants it to be as he states in that video, a low bar squat (where the torso must lean further forwards to compensate for the resistance being placed more poteriorly) will result in an increased lever length between the hips and the shoulders. And an increase in lever length means that more force must be generated to produce the same effect on the resistance. The laws of physics in regards to levers have long since been scientifically verified and are not open to coach Rippetoe’s interpretations.