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The question NO ONE wants to ask

Alright, I admit it. Until a few months ago, I hadn’t squatted in 5 years. Why? Hernia squatting in high school wrestling condition that sidelined me. Squats scared me.

To add to the fire - I work out alone (partner moved to California, no one else around that I can find on my schedule). I’ll give you one more - there is no squat or powerrack in my gym. I have a gasp smith machine to work with.

So, been squatting on that. Plus, added some lighter weight free bar front squats. However, I am noticing pains that I’ve never had before, particularly in my tendons behind my left knee, and a few “tweaks” in my lower back.

So, finally, the question. Given that I have little or no working knowledge of how to properly do a squat (I mean, I know the basics, but no one there to correct my form), and I only have a smith machine, are they worth it? Should I stick to something more like Ian Kings limping program? Should I give up lifting for ultimate frisbee?

Seriously, any advice on smith squats or other alternative squats (hack, zerg squats maybe?) would be much appreciated.

A few things…

  1. Front Squats (power clean the weight if there is no rack). Check out the article “Forgotten Squats” to learn proper form.

  2. Barbell Hack Squats (again, check out the article “Forgotten Squats” to learn how to do them. They work great).

  3. Deadlifts

  4. Cleans

  5. Snatches

  6. Complex training (use a lighter weight to do a back squat to push press to front squat to push press complex. Check out Coach Davies’ article about Complex training).

So you don’t need a rack. And you can build impressive legs with lighter weights if you are doing some of the above stuff (Complex training). Otherwise, heavy weight with Deadlifts and Barbell Hack Squats will do wonders.

Check your form. Check out those articles.

One thing I think you need to do is work on your lower back strength. I used to get lower back sprains doing squats until I started seriously working on strengthening my lower back. The best thing is hyperextensions. But go slowly with building up your lower back strength. Sore muscles in lower back are of a totally different magnitude from other sore muscles. Squatting with good form is very safe. I do use a squat rack, but I have never even been close to having a problem.

I think nate dogg is on point with this one. My best advice would be to add complexes, (like the bear, and many others) But you can also try one leg squats. You can find a good description of these in an other Coach Davies artical at (well I’d give you the addy but the friggin search engine won’t work). But I belive its his third artical.
Good luck

Thanks for the replies!

I should probably fill you in on the rest:

I do two leg workouts a week - day 1 quad dominant, day 2 ham/glute dominant.

So, on quad day I do front squats, heels up squats, deep squats, leg press, and extensions.

On day 2 I do sumo squats, hack squats, hyperextensions, stiff legged dead lift, and straight legged good mornings.

I’ll take your advice and build up lower back strength, as well as sub in regular deads and cleans.

I second the strengthen your lower back with hyperextentions but do it slowly sentiment.

Avoid exhausting these muscles, you have a whole day of standing around, an evening of watching television with poor posture and a couch and then a lot of sleeping to do with these muscles. If they’re exhausted you risk injuring yourself on the most mundane movement.

Nate nailed it.

Fronts rule.

If I read right, you are doing five variations of squats in two workouts. I don’t know what kind of volume, but overuse could be the pain problem. I would suggest you pick no more than two quad squats and really work work on back squats to pefect your form and your strength will follow.

hope that helps Guru X

Eeck… don’t squat in the smith machine!

I know smith machine bashing is stereotypical, but I think in this case it is VERY applicable.

Think about it, you could stand literally two feet behind the bar and squat in the smith machine. Do you know if your form is right in the smith machine? Probably not. There’s no indicators.

NO dude


even little kids do it… the whole idea is


if u dont have it - dont squat.

discipline to start slow, to notice your form, to back up when you need to…

I learned squating on my own, no one helped me , and I can squat 4 wheels each side. and I never injured my self in a squat (only pressing…)

Its because I gave the squat the most attention… focus wise - I got back the most results.

Hope u r going to squat.


btw - the key for me was to squat ALOT - go and squat wityh an empty bar on off days and realy burn the correct form in the memory of your motor units.

Rumbach, Howza bout hip belt squats? No pressure on the back at all. They are a quad killer and a nice change of pace from back or front squats.


Nate gave the correct respond. Although, if your gym has a adjustable cables (the only time you can use a weight belt other then an injury or going heavy) is hook the cable to your belt and squat from there more of a sissy squat.

Hope this helps.

In Health,