More On Why We Don’t Squat
A recent thread on our StrengthCoach.com site made me realize I need to continue to write about why we don’t squat. I still don’t think people realize that my decision to stop doing back and front squats was not a knee jerk, attention grabbing ploy but rather the culmination of a twenty year long thought process. Our changes were based on years of lifting, coaching and observation. Our decision to switch to unilateral exercises was based on three thoughts:
1- Number of back issues we were seeing in our groups. Our number one mandate is “do no harm”. Although we did not have many serious back issues I would say at any given time in our collegiate strength program a minimum of 10-20 percent of our athletes would be dealing with back pain that limited the athlete and caused us to modify their training. I struggled to accept the idea that some peoples back were just going to hurt.
2- Number of athletes trained in a group environment. This is important. Any change in our programming has to be wholesale. You can’t run a collegiate strength and conditioning program or a private one without a philosophy. I felt we either going to use the back squat or front squat as a major lift or we weren’t. Any in between was going to cause problems. In our “monkey see, monkey do” world it is tough to explain to athletes why some will use one lift and others will not. What we do with one person effects everyone else in the facility. You can’t let someone squat and then someone else not. It just creates problems.
3- The “functional” thought process. Although some might view this as most important, the previous two occupied more of my thought process early on. However, it’s tough to avoid the idea that we primarily run and jump off one leg?
My decision to switch to a program of primarily unilateral exercises is really about psychology and group think. I think squatting might be fine if you only did personal training and no one ever saw anyone else train.
However I’m not sure how realistic that is.
Lets be honest, there is a real minority of people who are naturally good squatters. I’d liken it to a Bell Curve. 20% were made to do it and do it right the first time. 20% are awful and will probably never do it well. 60% are somewhere on the curve?
It’s 80-20 in reverse. ( This is the start of another article/ blog post I think). 80 percent of people you will deal with will have trouble squatting. The remaining 20% who squat well will then spend lots of time criticizing those of us who acknowledge the 80%. Just remember, it’s rarely a bad squatter with back pain who is advocating squatting.