T Nation

Squats vs. Step-Ups

the verdict?

also, what do you think of this: www.bodybuilding.com/fun/md44.htm

Step-ups are an alternative to lunges, not squats. I don’t get this article. If you want to take the weight off your back, do front squats.

Both!? Why would only pick one or the other?

Interesting article.

Here are my thoughts:

While it is true that full squats load the lower back a lot in the bottom position (especially if there is a lot of forward lean), the injuries are a result of improper form, not the exercise itself. Squats don’t lead to injuries, squats done improperly lead to injuries.

Actually the loading, of the lower back and of the legs, is the main benefit of heavy squats. It is important for the lower back/core to be strong enough to stabilize the spine in any sport.

Also, since the body will recruit the minimum number of muscle units needed, heavy loads enable more fibers, especially the fast-twitch fibers that are recruited last, to be used. Single leg exercises cannot recruit the fibers to the extent that the squat can. I thought that this was the main benefit/reason for doing heavy squats for sports.

Lastly, isn’t it a lot easier to get injured doing step-ups with max/near max weight? Balancing on one leg using the range of motion required from a high step-up supporting max weight on your back seems like a recipe for injury to me.

It seems like the flexibility benefits of step-ups can be had with less weight.

[quote]tweaker wrote:
Step-ups are an alternative to lunges, not squats. I don’t get this article. If you want to take the weight off your back, do front squats.[/quote]

Or barbell hack squats, a quad killer fer sher.

Or get a hip squat belt from Ironmind.com.

Belt squats are awesome as they really allow you to do some heavy work on your legs without having to have a load on your low back all the time.

You can use it for weighted dips and pullups too.

I think some of you guys are missing the point. Any heavy load held in any position is going to place substantial stress on the back. Which will agree is not necessarily a bad thing is certainly not great week in and week out. Changing to a hack of front squat really isnt going to change that. Reducing the load can help you alot.

Also it IS possible to use enough load to stress your fast twitch fibres with single leg excercises because the total number of fibres being used to lift the load has HALVED. So long as you still are using roughly half of your previous load there is still plenty of intensity. It might take a little practice to get to that point but it IS doable.

They also have more in common with movement patterns for sport then squats.

I HATE single leg lifts, they are hard to do but they DO work. In my view if you are deadlifting you are squating. Those movements have so much in common that phasing one or the other out doesnt really stop your progress. So long as you keep one. Which will let you spend more time on these types of excercises which have unique benefits.