T Nation

People Who Aren't Built to Squat - Any Experience?


Hello Coach,

As long as I knew myself, I hated squatting. It always felt unnatural and hard, as opposed to other big lifts like Benching and Deadlifting, which feels very natural and smooth. I do have a decent technique, however it never felt good or enjoyable and I probably don’t have the build for squatting. No joke, even squatting an empty bar is more arduous than pulling plates of the floor.

After years of squatting, my personal best is merely a 315 x 3, which is closer to my bench than my deadlift. Plus it continuously bothers my knees, which I’m scared it will catch up as I age.

Have you ever worked with an athlete that has the same problems any chance? If so what was your solution? Zercher squats for some reason doesn’t bother my knees and feels somewhat more natural than Back & Front Squats, do you think it would be a decent substitute as a main exercise for strength? As an ex athlete, I don’t currently compete in PL or any other sport, and go to gym to be strong, athletic and somewhat decent looking.

Thanks a lot!


If your goals are to be strong, athletic, and to look good then do what you enjoy to reach those goals. Lunges, split squats, Zerchers, etc can train your legs to reach those goals.

We all tend to get caught up on “the big basics” but if we’re not competing then we have no reason to do them (unless you enjoy them).

I seem to be built for pulls also. Power cleans and deadlifts feel great and I can move some weight. Squats? Ha! Unfortunately, I can’t brag about squats.

Unless you are competing there is no reason to get hung up on a specific lift. Just think of movement patterns that you need to do to reach your goals and pick the best exercises FOR YOU.


As long as you are training the squatting pattern you will be fine. If you don’t compete in the squat you don’t have to practice it. In many regards the Zercher is superior to regular squats. A friend of mine only use Zercher has his squatting exercises and is having solid results. There is no such thing as a “mandatory” exercise if you are not competing in a lifting sport.


Indeed go with the kind of squatting you prefer. You don’t have to do regular squat if you’re not competing. Some super strong people like Bryan Shaw or Brian Alsruhe use the SSB as main exercise…

Personaly my favorite is the low bar but’s that because I have long legs, strong back and glutes. I cannot not bend forward a bit. That’s why my weakest squat is the front, then the high bar, because these are the ones where you have to stay straight.


Gotcha. Thanks a lot for all the responses!