4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Barbell Back Squat
The traditional barbell back squat is a, if not, the granddaddy of all exercises when it comes to strength, power, size, function and full-body benefits. It not only will make your whole body bigger and stronger it also has the potential to rev-up your metabolism better than distance running.
Yes, a properly performed back squat is a true display of strength, power and intensity. As primitive as it is simple seeing someone squat to the floor is rare and should be applauded in these days of shallow ranges of motion, overloaded bars and overinflated egos.
But what if your one of the unlucky few who simply can’t squat correctly much less safely? A bigger question is: Should you squat? Is it right for you and how important is it really?
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4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Barbell Squat
Reason #1 – Your form sucks and you lack professional help
A properly performed squat has the potential to be a rather technical exercise, especially for those lacking experience, body awareness and muscular control. The funny thing is the actual body movement of the squat is primal.
We’ve done it as babies without suffering any knee, hip or back pain. As you get older wear and tear can accumulate and that’s life. But there are other factors at play that can break down your natural form and technique over the years and wreak havoc on joints, muscle and overall functionality of your body.
Your move: That is where a second party needs to intervene. Asking an experienced and knowledgeable individual to assess, troubleshoot and correct your form and technique will save you time and pain.
Having access to this type of help isn’t easy, however. You wouldn’t want to rely on your local distracted personal trainer who is more worried about sales to teach you to properly execute a squat; an effective, muscle-building squat that will only create strength, size and proper function.
Seek only a qualified professional to honestly assess where you went wrong. There are countless factors at play when it comes to squats so swallow your pride, lighten the load and get used to becoming the student once again.
Reason #2 – You have a substantial injury or structural flaw
Not everyone is built to squat properly. Taller guys (and girls) tend to squat and tip there upper bodies forward in order to compensate for balance. Asymmetrical limbs or tilted pelvises can also hinder proper form and manifest substantial pain in the hips, knees, lower back and ankles.
These are all structural flaws that you can only correct or compensate for so much. You may need to seek other forms of the squat to help alleviate any discomfort or pain.
Any injury that has left you with chronic problems or pain can also be a hindrance for squatting properly. Again, this is something that, unfortunately, you can only manage to a certain point.
Your move: Again, have a qualified, experienced individual assess your form and technique. Also, a health care professional such as an athletic trainer or physical therapist can also identify limiting factors and possibly recommend specific stretches, rehab exercises and other strengthening practices to help you along the way.
Depending on your specific situation and state of bone/joint health you may need to seek alternatives to the traditional back squat. The last thing you need in your life is more pain and misery for the simple desire to squat a lot of weight.
Reason #3 – When you could benefit better from other forms
The good ole-fashioned barbell back squat is a beast of an exercise. It not only will get your legs jacked, it will also help your entire body grow. Your entire body must brace, if done correctly, and you will reap some pretty crazy metabolic benefits as well; namely an insane increase in your calorie-burning capabilities.
That ever sought-after EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) or the ability to burn calories after training is said and done is a nice bonus. But if you’re one of the unlucky souls who have structural problems or are just not built for back squats there is hope. There are plenty of alternatives to pack into your leg training arsenal – and no, the leg press isn’t on the list.
Your move: Here I am talking of squat variations and there are many. For the taller trainer the front squat is a perfect alternative. Enabling the squatter to assume a more upright position taking stress off the lower back and more toward the quadriceps is a quick and easy fix.
Rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squats allow you work each leg unilaterally (one leg at a time). This will alleviate hip and back stress and enable you to use less weight and also target each leg individually shoring-up your weak side.
The list can go on: Single-legged squats, pistol squats, trap bar deadlifts, dumbbell and kettlebell sumo squats, goblet squats are just a few more to consider.
Reason #4 – If you don’t want muscular, athletic, well-functioning legs
If you are healthy, with seemingly no structural flaws and are able to squat (with a little practice) and have no desire to do so then you aren’t ready. If your goals don’t include improving function, athleticism, muscularity and overall body strength then you shouldn’t squat.
Or you possibly aren’t privy to the benefits of squats and would rather spend your time on the leg press, leg extension and other machinery designed to make life easier. But take an honest look at your lower body status. Are you where you want to be with regard to progress or do you find yourself in the proverbial rut?
Your move: Maybe it’s time to go back to school and study up on the old but effective ways to build muscle. In other words, you may want to learn to squat – properly. The goal isn’t to be able to squat a ton of weight, using partial ranges of motion and to try to earn bragging rights around your friends. It’s to learn (or relearn) the age-old practice of squatting to improve balance, overall body strength, power and build some muscle along the way.
You will soon find your other lifts will increase in performance as well. Do yourself a favor, learn to squat the right way, challenge yourself and don’t look back. Oh, and leave your ego at home, you won’t need it.