No More Squats Part 3


Depending who you talk to this week I am a genius or just an idiot. In case you have been under a rock Pat Beith, my partner in Functional Strength Coach 3.0, posted a video clip he called The Death of Squatting. The clip is the talk of the internet forums.  I just want to take a moment to clarify. As I said last week, I did not make this decision on a whim. I have been thinking about this concept for years. Look at the definition of the word transducer below:

Transducer- An element or device which receives information in the form of one quantity and converts it to information in the form of the same or another quantity

The conclusion I arrived at is that the back is a poor transducer. The back actually prevents the legs from being fully worked in the vast majority of the population. The act of squatting terminates when the lumbar spine can no longer effectively bear or transfer load. I have watched thousands ( maybe millions) of squats and rarely have I seen the legs fail. It is always the back. As a result, single leg work just makes sense. Take a minute and read the article if you haven’t already done so.

PS- We haven’t stopped doing bilateral exercises or, lifting heavy weights. We still Trap Bar Deadlift and Olympic lift. I also think that bilateral exercise is crucial for beginners. However, if you have experienced athletes and you want to keep them healthy and get them strong consider the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat.

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15 Responses to “No More Squats Part 3”

  1. Adrian Bazemore Says:

    Hey coach I read your article. I couldnt agree more cause when I played football and ran track I always had a hard time squatting. The front squat and overhead were fine but the back squat always gave me problems. My strength coach didnt fuss at me cause there was other athletes from other sports having trouble also. I just stopped doing all together especially after I got hurt (acl tear in competition). Now that I’m the other side (training, coaching) I let my athletes feel it out. Most of them will just do a speed squat, some will just do the overhead and front. Thanks again for coming forward with your insight about the subject.

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    I guess my issue is that the increased neural drive idea is sketchy. Why does a heavy spinal load equal increased neural drive? Food for thought.

  3. Craig Hirota Says:

    Coach, thanks for replying so quickly. I read both articles, your posts and the video. I’m certainly not doubting your expertise. I’m just trying to follow the process. In your 2007 article you cite unsupported static exercises as being tri-planar with little carryover from a stability standpoint to static supported exercises like the Bulgarian. Assuming you still believe this to be so, I inferred that you chose the split squat for purposes of loading primary extensors without inhibition from the low back.

    That’s why I asked about the leg press. I agree it isn’t a ‘functional’ movement but the 2007 article suggests that the split squat isn’t either since it isn’t a true unilateral exercise.

    I also asked about stability because the bilateral squat’s pyramid base is inherently stable thus allowing the lifter to take advantage of this and recruit external rotators and abductors in the ‘ spread the floor’ action. That activation might not directly contribute to the extensor action but wouldn’t the increased neural drive be beneficial if max force output is a goal?

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    To start, I would never leg press. In terms of lower body mechanics, leg press equals less functional where single leg exercise exercise equals more functional. Did you read the article or just the post? Just curious. Ask yourself a few questions. Aside from beginners is there a fundamental need for bilateral squats? Or is that just what we have been told? Second, why would an exercise that requires significantly more hip stability result in a decrease in hip stability. I’d be interested in your answers.

  5. Craig Hirota Says:

    Coach Boyle, if the goal of the single leg squat is to load the lower body without the limiting factor of the low back, why not take the low back out completely and use a leg press, either single or double legged? Are you noticing any relative weaknesses in hip stability either statically or dynamically as a result of not conventionally squatting? Do you find that deadlifting and oly lifts cover the needs of training the fundamental movement of bilateral squatting without actually doing a conventional loaded back squat?

  6. mboyle1959 Says:

    Brandon- I like the Trap Bar because it a hybrid. It is almost a squat with the weight in the hands. You get upper back development ala deadlifts but, more of squat mechanics. I dislike conventional deadlifts as most lifters have difficulty doing it well. The Trap Bar makes it simple. I like simple more than conventional.

  7. Stop, Coach. Just stop.

  8. Brendon Ziegler Says:

    Coach why the trap bar deadlift? It seems it enables a weak back by shifting the load toward the center of mass and not out in front, thus artificially creating a vertical torso. With the bar out front the athlete learns how to use the lats and middle back errectors. This really seems to help prevent injuries during play. If they lack the ability to hold good posture with the bar on the floor start them at block below knee. I might be totally wrong but just my two cents.

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