Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator of DVRT For Better Backs, Knees, & Shoulders and Co-Creator of DVRT Restoration & Pelvic Control)
It is a very passionate argument, it is a very personal one as well. Should YOU squat or not?!! Nothing like getting people going like a discussion on the necessity of squat workouts in a program.
I have seen some of the top industry professionals get into HEATED battles over this topic. You want to see steam rising, you see it come about FAST!
You hear all types of different rationale, “you need to squat because you poop!” Okay, not sure how much is in your stomach, but I doubt you need to squat double bodyweight to squat to the toilet.
“You need to squat if you are going to get really strong!” Okay, I guess that depends on what “really strong” means to you. I think in a moment I may change your mind.
Then you have the single leg camp. “You need to just do single leg exercises because we are one leg a lot!” Yea, I guess, but not typically when we pick up heavy things. Although running and jumping do require us to put A LOT of force into the ground, so not crazy. How many people actually walk more than 5,000 steps a day. Not a lot! Does that mean single leg training is not important? Nope. However, many people don’t have the ability to perform single leg exercises initially.
To me these arguments miss a lot of bigger points. Should you squat? Probably! Not for necessarily the need to squat on the toilet, or to get tree trunk legs or perfect butts. Rather because good squatting also demonstrates great mobility in the ankle, knee, and hip. I know this doesn’t sound as sexy as telling you that squatting will help you dominate the world and become a social media rockstar, maybe I’m being too honest, but sometimes it is the most subtle things that are really important.
Why do I bring up the mobility in the ankle, knee, and hip? Well, for one, having good movement in these areas have been linked to decrease likelihood of low back pain. I don’t know about you, but that sounds oftly good and important! Freedom of movement in these three areas of the body will also allow you to express more power in things like running and jumping. Hmmm, could be kinda good too.
For us in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training the question is far less “should you squat”, but rather, “what type of squat and when should you use them?”
While most argue SHOULD you squat, we like to think that it really isn’t much of a discussion. You do get stronger squatting, if you do it right, you do get more mobile, if you do it right, you do get better, if you do it right. See a trend? If you DO it right. So, what are we talking about when I say such a thing?
Is Back Squatting Best?
What gets most people is not the act of squatting but the truth is the position of load when squatting. It really isn’t an issue if you understand the squat purpose. The more upright your torso during a squat more of the legs you train and less of your low back you stress. I know some powerlifters will argue that such a squat isn’t ideal for lifting giant loads. Well, they are right! However, such a squat is our natural movement pattern, keeps us healthy, and transfers to the real world better than any other.
Actual EMG measurements show that Back and Front squats use the SAME amount of muscle even though the Back Squat used 45 MORE pounds than the Front Squat! What?! So? What’s wrong with Back Squatting? Well, for one, it places more spinal compression than the Front versions. After the age of 30 about 70-80% of us will have some sort of disc bulge in our backs. It may not be painful, but it is there. You know what disc bulges don’t like? Spinal compression! Okay, you don’t hurt now, that fine (notice I said now?), let me give you an even BETTER reason.
According to researchers, “it may be that the greater trunk lean occurring throughout performance of the back squat would exhibit greater shear lumbar loading, a theory supported by Russell and Phillips (1989). As previously stated such an increase in shear force, under regular high loading conditions (e.g.: 1 RM), may predispose an athlete to injury if these forces continually exceed the strain capabilities of the joints connective tissues(Comfort and Kasim, 2007).”
This isn’t just a matter of the low back but also the knee! As researchers have shown, “the front squat exhibited significantly less tibiofemoral compressive forces and knee extensor moment (1).”
Squatting isn’t just a lower body exercise, but rather whole body, especially the core. Now some will wear weight belts because they lift more loads not having the core be a limiting factor in the squat. Guess what, they are right! In the real world, your core and lower body have to work together. So, having monster legs but a disconnected core doesn’t make you REAL WORLD stronger. One of the BIG reasons people can’t squat the same in the front as the back position is due to the role of the core. Yea, that annoying real world strength thing can really get in the way of looking strong in the gym;)
Just the other day I was in the gym. While pulling out some of my Ultimate Sandbags I overheard one of the trainers asking, “does this bother your back?” I had to turn around to see what they were doing and guess what, it was back squats. I thought to myself and couldn’t remember the last time I had to worry about someone’s back using our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Squat variations.
The truth is that most people find our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Bear Hug, Front Loaded, Front Load Fists, and Primal Squats some of the most challenging for both their legs and core they ever experienced. Don’t believe me? Try our MONSTER Squat Challenge HERE. Most people find they can’t even use HALF the load of Ultimate Sandbag as they can on the barbell, you know why? Cause the Ultimate Sandbag challenges your whole body to work and you can’t hide those weaknesses.
The Squat SHOULD be a full body exercise and the Ultimate Sandbag Press Out Squat is a great way to teach the importance of the upper body and core in better squat technique.
More Than One Way Squat
I know, if I ask most of you to demonstrate a “squat” you will almost all default to the classic two foot squat. What if I told you though that wasn’t the only way to squat? That in actuality there are MANY ways to squat and they make you WAY better than the classic squat?
In DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training we use the squat to set a foundation, but as we progress through our system, we see that we begin to alter body position of the squat. How do you do that? It starts simple and gets challenging really fast! Best part is you will NEVER outgrow your Ultimate Sandbag when you go through these progressions.
-Bulgarian Split Squat
These are to just name a few! Now we really get to tap into natural movements!
Different directions, planes of motions, all stress more muscles and do more for the body than you could ever imagine. You can’t hide your muscle or flexibility weaknesses. No, these DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training variations JUST make you better!
Watch these two NEW DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training videos and see how you will see the squat WAY differently and the question will be simply “which squat?” for your training! Yea, we even threw in some kettlebell work in just to show you how DVRT expands to a whole big world of fitness!
Learn how to move smarter, better, and safer with our DVRT programs. Save 25% on our Online Programs HERE with coupon code “strong” or see why some of the best professionals in the industry are coming to our live DVRT educational events HERE
“Education in my opinion is paramount in this industry! It doesn’t matter how good the piece of gear is, if you don’t know how to use it or even more importantly, if you can’t coach someone else how to use it, it is useless. I have been incorporating the Josh Henkin”s DVRT training system into my practice for almost 2 years now and I can say without hesitation it is one of the most effective systems I have come across in years. From his principles around progression to coaching, Josh’s system is simple to understand and easy to communicate. As far as the Ultimate Sandbags themselves as a modality, well there are vey few tools out there today that can provide so much bang for your buck! Strength, stability, mobility, Power, Motor control you name it, and you can train it using Ultimate Sandbags! I use Ultimate Sandbags almost daily with individuals’ young & old and with athlete’s amateur to professional. Its is one of those tools you almost love to hate because you know once you pick it up, something both challenging & great is about to happen!”