No More Squats Part 2

Yesterdays post set a record for this blog. I have been accused of sensationalizing a topic. In fact I have anguished with the “to squat or not to squat” debate for years. Anyone who knows me knows that my athletes have not done a back squat in over a decade. We are a front squat only group, or at least we were. I wrote an article for t-nation called Build Bigger Legs One Leg at a Time that already addressed this topic.  Take a minute and read it so i don’t have to post the whole article here. The bottom line is this I have decided that the back is the weak link in squatting and that i can get more leg work and less back stress through a Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat.

We have modified this exercise by placing an Airex Pad under the back knee to guarantee depth on every rep without risking injury

The next video is Nashville Predator forward and former BU Terrier Colin Wilson doing 225×5. The technique could be better but, it gets the point across.


12 Responses to “No More Squats Part 2”

  1. mboyle1959 Says:

    In my first book, Functional Training for Sports, I defined functional as “purposeful”. I see no purpose to perform joint actions that never occur in real life situations. Just my take on it.

  2. Hi, Coach.

    Thanks for the reply. I do enjoy your blog (new to me) and your writings on other sites (like TNATION).

    I’m aware and believe that machines are not *necessary* for most clients. That said, I’m also aware of the alleged superiority of closed chain over open chain exercises–though the scientific studies I’ve seen supporting the former, regarding added strength or hypertrophy, usually do not actually demonstrate significant superiority on close reading, or “transfer” superiority on *most* of the variables tested. And the EMG info that is sometimes offered as “proof” is of limited causative value.)

    I also hear the term functional (good) vs. non-functional (bad) quite a lot, and the pursuit of “functional” has indeed led to many fascinating exercises seen in gyms.

    I had thought that any exercise that can increase strength (by hypertrophy or other means) so that a client can perform other (non-exercise) “functions” more effectively was “functional”. But my understanding appears to be incomplete.

    So I understand, would you please define what “functional training” is (I assume, but may be wrong, that the definition can embrace the non-athlete as well)? I assume that non-functional exercises (leg extensions and other machines are often labeled “non-functional”) can not accomplish such improvements in clients?

    Thanks, coach.


  3. mboyle1959 Says:

    Roy- the reasons for not using machines are numerous ( closed vs. open chain, functional vs. nonfunctional etc.) . Bottom line, we almost never use a machine. It’s a philosophical stance as well as a scientific one. I gave my leg extension and leg curl machines away about 15 years ago and have never missed them. Hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

  4. Coach Boyle,

    You wrote in an article on TNATION:
    “Bypass the back, and your legs can handle much heavier weights.

    Backing It Up
    “What gets injured most often in squatting? The back. So how do you train your legs with heavier loads, with the goal of increasing strength and size? Bypass the back.”

    Let’s say I agree with your premise. My question is why not simply use Leg Extensions and Leg Curls, which target the appropriate muscles quite directly–without back involvement? I know so many people hate them (and seems more from tradition, and “functional” hoopla, than from science) but I don’t see any reason why these exercises can not accomplish strength and hypertrophy while also taking the back completely out of the movement.

    And if one then wants back strength, then one can add exercises that directly work the back muscles. But again, why on earth should we not use leg extensions and leg curls to accomplish the stated aim of developing leg strength? Clearly both can accomplish strength and hypertrophy gains even as they are “machines”. And one can go heavy as one’s strength permits–in a focused manner.



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