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.

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12 Responses to “No More Squats Part 2”

  1. Brendon Ziegler Says:

    My only concern in eliminating bilateral movements such as squats, snatch liftoffs etc is that you lose out on strengthening thoracic spine musculature. It is nearly impossible to hyper-extend the lumbar spine in deeper bilateral positions. This is what I use to get the athlete to strengthend the mid back, lats as stabilizers (although moreso with snatch grip liftoffs with strategically placed isos). I guess I have to get FS 3.0! I am very open to this idea, but I want to know why.

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    Jack- you couldn’t be more right. My only goal is get my guys better and to do it in a way that decreases injury and injury potential. In our case vertical jumps were up on almost every player year.

  3. Basically the litmus test is does including or eliminating an intervention and substituting in something in its place maintain and/or (preferably) improve performance and increase resistance to injury. You results always speak for themselves, Coach Boyle, so even your most ardent haters would have to concede that everything you do is designed to (and does) keep your athletes in the line-up and performing at their highest level.

    If you live and die as a competitive powerlifter, then yes, back squats will need to be in there somewhere, but in any other instance, there’s no reason I can think of why a coach shouldn’t be open to a revision of the old dogma about squatting. It baffles me how any thinking person would believe that you’d intentionally short change your athletes by eliminating something that was the most useful choice in your arsenal. So if you take something out, I have full faith that what is in its place is done because you feel it has a chance of being the new current best option.

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    Brendon- the key is that the back is the weak link that is injured. Our secondary goal is to improve performance our primary goal is to maintain health.

  5. Brendon Ziegler Says:

    Coach, I think you are right., the back should not be the weak link. I guess what I am confused with is why would you remove the exercise further exaggerating descrepancies in posterior chain? Is it to catch up mid back errector strength with more pulling volume?

  6. mboyle1959 Says:

    I don’t believe we said not to strengthen the back, just that the back should not be the weak link in attempting to build leg strength.

  7. Brendon Ziegler Says:

    Ok maybe I am a little confused. If the back is the weak link in the squat it has the potential to be the weak link in many other movements patterns, especially those specific to contact sports. Why wouldn’t you strengthen the back?

  8. If I recall correctly, you mentioned this in your first Functional Strength Coach series which was probably around 5 years ago so I know you’ve been talking about this for a long time.

    I agree to a large extent with what you are saying and I rarely (if ever) use squats in the routines of my clients for the same reasons.

    I’ve taken some criticism for this myself and can’t even imagine how many times you’ve been blasted for suggesting the removal of one of the “staple” exercises. In the end, the results speak for themselves. 🙂

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