We live in a complex world right now, where every idea and thought seems to have an agenda. So, I wouldn’t blame you if you think I have some “evil” reason to write a post entitled, “3 Squats I Just Hate”. Sounds like horrible and cliche clickbait doesn’t it? Well, if you have been following my blogs for the past 20 years you know I don’t resort to such things and always aim to give great information of the why to people.
I’ve been coaching and teaching too long to need to use click bait tactics, this is about thinking bigger and deeper.
Let me put your mind to rest with this…We live in a society where getting people to be active is VERY important. So, I really don’t have a problem doing things I personally wouldn’t choose to use as my activity. Where I get to disliking certain exercises, methods, and tools is when they fall into some categories.
Dangerous: Fitness pros love to borrow from the medical Hippocratic oath of, ” I will keep them from harm and injustice.” In other words, “do no harm”. As simple of a concept as it sounds, it actually confuses many people nowadays. People often make these mistakes in interpreting this idea.
-It doesn’t have to be sudden: Many people that choose to perform and promote risky exercises point to them using them in a workout or even for a period of time and not having injury from their use. Well, the issue is that injury doesn’t have to be a sudden occurrence. In fact, it could be something accumulated over years and then all of a sudden you seem to develop an “odd” injury that you can’t trace. When in fact that exercise could have an accumulative effect either positive or negative. So, don’t think that the only time you get injury is from a single exposure to an exercise.
-It doesn’t actually have to cause injury: Wait, how do you have something that is dangerous, but doesn’t cause injury? Stress, which exercise is, can wear down structures of the body or predispose the body to have issues if not prescribed correctly. Yes, I used the word prescription on purpose because that is what we are doing when we give people training programs and exercises.
-Not everyone responds the same: My favorite example of this idea is when a lifter who trains recreationally, likes to be healthy, and does a multitude of activities asks me this question, “is this exercise good?” Well, my two immediate thoughts are “for what” and “for whom?’ Typically I will get a response along the lines of “oh I saw a blog by this world champion powerlifter and he recommended it.” Not to be a jerk, but to raise awareness I have to ask, “are you a world champion powerlifter?”
It really isn’t to be a jerk but to point out 2 keys. The first is that champion anything have trained for their sport probably a LONG time and built a foundation that likely you haven’t. Second, certain sports are known to work for people of specific body types. The exercise may be perfect for someone of that training background and structure, but not for y0u. For example, I was a former basketball player trying to do Strongman. Let’s say I was the ONLY former basketball player to do Strongman for a reason compared to many who had backgrounds as football linemen.
Time: This one is much more simple and straightforward. We ALL have a limited amount of time and energy to train. When we say yes to one exercise, we say no to another. We can’t possibly fit everything in so training is just as much about prioritizing as it is anything. So for me, a “bad” exercise can be one that simply isn’t productive for the time I have available to train when I have BETTER options at my disposal.
Why Do I Hate These 3 Squats
Now, I realize I am probably going to have squats on here that you do. So, I am going to ask you for a favor. Be open minded, read my why’s, and think about it. If you decide that you want to keep doing them, all the power to you. My goal is to simply give you information, not make you do anything. However, if you are prescribing squats to others I hope you will seriously consider my points.
Overall, I think people really miss the issues with landmines. I’ve outlined some of the biggest one’s in posts like those HERE. I realize people like landmine squats because they THINK it makes teaching movement much easier. If it did, I would be TOTALLY game for it, but here are a few issues.
-Bad Movement of Weight: If you use just about any other training tool the weight moves completely vertical with your body. Due to the nature of the landmine it creates an arc that is VERY unnatural in squatting. In fact, if you position yourself correctly, the weight moves away from you as you raise up from the squat putting more load in the low back. Take it from someone who has low back issues since they were 14 from a spinal disease, it makes a BIG difference!
-Doesn’t Teach How To Control The Movement: Like many instances where people use artificial support to help balance clients (there is a time and place for this but it is very limited), these types of drills don’t transfer to the lifter controlling their own body very well. Why? Because people use the artificial support for balance and don’t learn how to control their own body as they move. Compared to a Press Out, Goblet, or Bear Hug Squat where the weight helps guide, but you control the movement, the landmine does most of the controlling for you.
If you are purely a bodybuilder or someone looking to get a “pump” for the legs, then belt squats are probably fine. However, if you want to teach much more, there are significant issues in belt squats. First, we have to acknowledge the irony that belt squats are largely used by powerlifters who backs bother them from lots of heavy back squatting (hmmm). The point is to take load off the spine and still load the lower body. So? What’s wrong with that?
The concept in theory sounds great, however the reality of how the body functions is much different. When we squat, we require a good amount of core stability to allow the extremities to produce the highest level of force possible as well as allow us to achieve greater mobility (this is the idea of proximal stability for distal mobility). With the belt squat we pretty much eliminate the use of the core which is a MAJOR mistake in helping us transfer our strength to more activities. There are better ways we can reduce the stress on the low back while engaging our core. Funny enough, DVRT Master, Cory Cripe breaks down one of our favor that people misunderstand. Plus, the simplest answer takes us to my least favorite of all squats….
Before all the name calling begins and saying that I’ve never squatted heavy, done back squats, or don’t know how to squat starts up, let me assure you that I have a long history with back squats. Like so many, when I began in the fitness industry I thought back squats were essential in developing strength. When I worked in a Division I Strength & Conditioning program, back squats were for everyone, of course our strength coach was also a powerlifter.
Let me try to simplify this point from actual research...” Front squats were found to produce significantly lower maximal joint compressive forces at the knee as well as reduced lumbar stress as compared with back squats. However, the study discovered that this was accomplished without compromising muscle activation of the hamstrings, quadriceps and erector spinae teals. This suggests that S&C coaches should utilise front squats as an alternative to back squats for athletes with ligament and meniscus injuries.”
And...”In addition to this, while performing the back squat the athlete is required to adopt a flexed upper body position at the mid-point of the exercise in order to maintain an efficient balanced technique. Whereas the front squat allows for a more upright posture throughout. Comfort and Kasim (2007) noted this this increase in trunk lean during a back squat, can result in greater shear forces occurring at the lumbar spine region, presenting a possible injury risk. Thus, Comfort et al., (2011) aimed to explore muscle activation of the trunk during dynamic strengthening exercises using EMG. Results reported significantly greater erector spinae activity during the front squat when compared to the back squat. The study was then concluded that the front squat can be a valuable substitute to the back squat as higher muscle activity levels can be achieved using less weight.”
DVRT Master UK shows that between load position and body position we can get REALLY strong without destroying our knees and low backs!
Soooo, same muscle activity, same strength potential, less stress on knees and low back. Why again would we want to use back squats? The funny part the answer I usually receive is because “it is part of the basics” which I say, “says who” and “we can’t evolve the basics when we get better science?” The reality is that people like the big loads you see on back squats because it is a more stable holding position than the front. If you want to get strong, get muscular, and save your low backs and knees, then prioritizing front loaded position squats is probably ideal.
When you combine that with more single leg squats, you can develop even more qualities and develop greater functional strength and mobility. Isn’t that our goal with squats than how cool our next social media post can be?
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