I No Longer Give a Squat About The Squat

Last year I said my goodbyes to the classic weight lifting exercise the bench press in the post My Bench Press Sucks and I Don’t Care. In that post, I listed 5 reasons why I no longer do the bench press. In this post, I will say my official goodbye to the most sacred exercise of them all: the squat. I actually stopped doing squats years ago.

The benefits I received in the early years of squatting were eventually replaced with injuries and back pain. Over time I stopped squatting as a pain avoidance strategy. When I did squat, I lowered the weight and did fewer reps and sets. I often felt guilty about feeling too broken to squat.

Anthony Dream Johnson just posted an outstanding blog post titled Barbell Squat: the Worst Exercise in Existence? I highly recommend reading it and watching the accompanying video. Anthony goes into the biomechanics and risks of spinal loading using ideas from the works of Bill DeSimone. It is all great information.

Congruent Exercise: How To Make Weight Training Easier On Your Joints
Congruent Exercise: How To Make Weight Training Easier On Your Joints by Bill DeSimone

Now I am going to explain how I arrived at the same conclusion.

Why Did We Start Squatting?

When we first start a weight lifting program our primary motivation is to build muscle. We then quickly learn that the squat is the most anabolic exercise one can perform in the free weight room. This is likely true. Books have been written on the squat, so there is clearly something to this exercise, especially for the untrained beginner. Not only will it make your legs stronger, but all your muscles will grow.

The problem with the squat was stated clearly in Anthony’s video. The muscles in the legs will get stronger at a much faster rate than the muscles supporting the spinal column that is being compressed during a squat motion. This is exactly what I experienced. When my squat went from 115 pounds to 275 pounds, I felt great. My legs got much stronger and I gained muscle. Then came the injuries. The result was years of back pain and scaling back on the squat in frequency, weight, and volume.


My old home gym back in my squat days. 

The Myth of the Perfect Rep

I can already hear the critics that say that if one chooses a safe weight and your form is perfect then injuries are unlikely. The CrossFit crowd says the same thing. “If only” we choose a safe weight. “If only” we pick the exact number of repetitions or sets. “If only” our form is perfect every time. But not every rep is perfect – even in elite Olympic athletes. We get emotional. We add too much weight, do one too many reps, or rush back to the gym before we’ve fully recovered from a prior workout. We get injured. We age.

Compound movements that use high amounts of weight and demand perfect form put the individual at greater risk of injury when that form is compromised. And fatigue is a factor in compromised form. The stakes are low when we first start squatting because the weight usually isn’t significant. As we get stronger and the weight gets heavier, the risks begin to exceed the benefits. That is my opinion. As a 6 foot 3 inch ectomorph, the risks exceeded the benefits as I approached 300 pounds. For a short young endomorph, that number might be higher.

Gym Survivorship

I’m going to go back to a point that I often make on this blog: survivorship bias. I started lifting weights in 1994. Since then I’ve lifted in many gyms across 5 states. Every single one of them had guys squatting serious weights. I would estimate that 98-99% of all the lifters that I’ve seen squatting more than bodyweight are under 35 years old. This ratio has held true every year since I began lifting weights. I suspect it will continue to be true.

Where have all the old squatters gone? Those 30-year-old guys who were squatting double their body weight 10 or 15 years ago are gone. They’ve been replaced with another generation of young lifters. People do not voluntarily en masse quit activities that they demonstrate excellence in performing. No matter how busy life gets, someone who has worked up to a double bodyweight squat doesn’t just walk away from the iron game without a reason. I believe that reason is pain and injuries. They’ve been removed from the pool so we don’t see those failures.

The Squat Axiom

I know I will receive some negative feedback for this post. The critics will point to the successful ones and then try to extrapolate back to justify the squat. My finance background forces me to look at the problem differently.

[A] A high percentage of muscular and healthy individuals at the gym built their physique using squats.

[B] A high percentage of individuals at the gym that regularly performed squats are muscular and healthy.

I believe A is true and B is false. Humans are blinded by successful outcomes and we ignore the failures. We shouldn’t be looking for the exercise that produces the most successful outcomes without examining the downside risks. We should be seeking the exercise that produces the most positive results with the lowest failure rate.

A Better Way Forward

What is the point of being brawny at 30 and broken at 40? For me, fitness is not a point in time and I don’t need to impress the bros at the gym with my squat numbers. My goal is to increase strength while doing everything in my power to reduce the risk of injury. That will be the topic of my next post. I will outline a few exercises I’ve used to transition away from the barbell back squat. My back has been thanking me ever since.

UPDATE 2019: If I Gave a Squat About the Squat


Add yours

  1. Hey Michael

    Excellent post, and thanks for the link! Glad you enjoyed my squat post.

    Good work on the bench post as well … it was (is) my next topic to tackle!

    — Anthony

  2. I like your blog Michael. Longtime lurker; you always seem to cover something I have considered or attempted myself.

    I squatted for maybe a year (closely adhering to Starting Strength, which I proudly told others had “42 pages about how to do a squat!”) but never found it as magical as Rippetoe and the “squatz and oatz” legions. (Also, irrelevant, but I don’t want to look like Mark. He is strong, no doubt, but he’s not the picture of the healthy guy I want to look like in 20 years. And that puts me off someone’s ideology, wrong-footed as my thinking may be.)

    Anyway I love me the leg press. I made the call to work out with a slow-protocol trainer (Body By Science-esque) a year ago and have never looked back. It’s a joy to destroy the hell out of my legs for ~2 minutes on a quality machine, and I challenge any squatter to tell me it’s somehow not as magical as the squat.

    (Moreover, I’ve continued to add weight over the past year despite being both on a lengthy ‘cut,’ and leg-pressing only once (!) every three weeks. Utter blasphemy!)

  3. There are old squatters and there are bold squatters. But there are no old bold squatters. 😉

    The squat is still probably my favorite core-building exercise although I do them with dumbbells and max out at 55 lbs per hand which isn’t much. But 10 slow squats at that weight is a great set for me.

    Sit-ups and crunches are things I used to do with regularity and my back suffered greatly. Fortunately, there are entire books being written these days detailing what terribly ill-advised exercises these are.

  4. @Anthony – I look forward to reading your bench press post.

    @John D – Wow, every 3 weeks. I hadn’t considered extending the break out that long. SuperSlow and static holds are amazing.

    @Dhammy – I love that quote. You also figured out correctly that the weight is irrelevant once you slow the movement down. And if you run into trouble it is far less weight and you can drop it easily.

    I never did situps (post Army basic training) because I never liked them. I also thought I’d wait until that magical future date when my body fat was low enough that it would be of benefit. Then Drew Baye showed how ab work is not needed at all.

  5. @MAS re: 3 week breaks, I do a 3-way split routine on my legs, so they aren’t totally resting. W1 is leg press and calves; W2 leg curls and extensions; W3 adductor/abductor. But despite not squatting three times a week as everyone knows you are supposed to do: continued (albeit slow) gains, from about 640 to 680lbs in the past ~9 months.

    AND I’ve lost 20lbs at the same time! Mostly leangains-style eating, which you’ve also detailed very nicely.

  6. Bill DeSimone

    Jun 4, 2012 — 11:15 am

    Best to you Michael. One single dissenting approach, vs. all the pro-squat material out there, and the squat-lovers freak. I don’t get it, myself, because if I spent my time writing pages on things I don’t agree with on the internet, I’d never get anything real done.
    But, my experience is, for all the guys who post trash about the material, there are ten who lurk, who are saying “finally someone else gets it”. And they subscribe to the You Tube channel, and “like” the Congruent Exercise page, and eventually buy the book or attend the presentations.
    So enjoy what will follow, but if you’re not pissing someone off on the internet, you’re not reaching enough people.
    Bill DeSimone

  7. I’m really looking forward to your promised post, especially if it includes an alternative to the leg press machine, which is obviously the savest – and an expensive – option for a home workout.

    Doug McGuff mentions how his Big Five can be transferred to dumbbells here (truly wonderful episode):

    Is a bench a must in a minimal HIT protocol ?

  8. @John – Thanks for clearing that up. I have only recently began playing with the leg curls and extensions.

    @Bill – I experienced a flood of comments from the Cult of CrossFit a while back, so I know what to expect. I find they pause when they try to explain what happened to all the great squatters from 10, 20 or 30 years ago went. Maybe they all got abducted by aliens, because they certainly aren’t in the free weight room anymore. At least not the drug free ones.

    @Michael – There will be a few exercises in the next post that don’t require the leg press or other machine based equipment. I am a huge fan of Dr. McGuff. If I were the POTUS, I’d nominate him to be Surgeon General. As for the bench, I have moved from free weight barbell to machines, however you can use push-ups in a way that drives up intensity to HIT levels.


  9. Dwayne Wimmer

    Jun 4, 2012 — 11:54 am

    I like the sewable information that is coming out of the posts I have been reading. Much of which I have been preaching for years. Keep it up and I look forward to reading more posts.

    Dwayne Wimmer
    Vertex Fitness Personal Training studio

  10. It’s amazing how much fire the Squat gets recently. Thanks for putting up this post, really interesting.

  11. Interesting post Michael! I’m still a big proponent of the squat but only if you are VERY careful with form and weight… and unfortunately I think you’re right; a lot of people aren’t careful and do far too many reps or use far to much weight.

    I’m looking forward to your next post!

  12. @Becca – From my observations I don’t see the same progression from scrawny to brawny to broken with women. They typically are limited to lower weights, which I am sure their spine appreciates. Also women tend to be shorter, which is a favorable attribute for the squat.

    The risk versus reward will vary from individual to individual and change over time. I’m not endorsing the back barbell squat for anyone, but I would guess your risk vs reward profile would be better than mine.

  13. i’ll agree that the squat is not the safest exercise option. i feel the body is a collection of intertwined systems that rely on each other and work together for optimal health. i also believe that joints and muscles should be trained and exercised in unison for optimal health. there are plenty of other standing, free weight exercises that can mimic the barbell back squat in a much safer way.

  14. Great post, as was Anthony’s original one. Shockingly for a activity that attracts high testosterone young men, there’s a lot of macho mythology surrounding strength training.

    I tried squatting for the first time over the past year and I definitely could see where the accolades come from- it does feel much different than the leg press. I’ve been doing it less and less frequently because as I got to 300 pounds, it just never felt entirely safe. I’m sure my form was bad and all that, but I just never liked the feel of the bar on my back and after I got tired I was very aware of the risks. Reading this I’ll probably just stop entirely. I was forcing myself to do it, but there’s really no point.

  15. Great post.

    I go away for a few days and all this happens!

    Bill is right on the squat and you and Anthony have explained things well.

    The wall sit and split squat do it for me. Static holds and superslow.

  16. John (aka Wish I Were Riding)

    Jun 5, 2012 — 7:48 pm

    I don’t have (or want) gym access, and I’ve never don’t a barbell squat. But that’s probably because I’ve never been a gym goer.

    Anyway, I have a 46lbs kettlebell. That might not be my max, but I think if thats a weight I can feel and is easy enough to hold, I’d rather do those than figure out if I can squat 2x my body weight. I’d rather just be in better shape.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  17. Teddy Roosevelt kept boxing daily until he went blind in one eye after having his cornea knocked loose.

    You should pay a visit to Seattle strength and power– one possible alternate explanation instead all the guys quitting en masse due to injuries is that the most successful went somewhere else and the rest stopped going because they were eatin a crappy diet, got old, and life got the better of them. There’s at least a dozen 45+ 2 x body weight quatters there including a bunch of women’s world record holders.

    Example Paula Houston now 51, was squatting 380 lbs, 6 years ago at 45 being about a 150 lb female.

    There’s also a 60+ year old woman in there that squats like a beast. Generally, at the meets I’d say the 45+ crowd is by far the largest (and sometimes most competitive).

    I don’t know how good of a sample set the main mainstream gym is, because people do stop going particularly once life gets to busy with kids, work, etc. Perhaps tracking a large cohort of young guys and performing an ANOVA… if only I had infinite time.

    I find the trainers instructing clients to hyperextend their back while balancing weights on a medicine ball far more hazardous than properly doing squats.

    Better video for why not to squat Big bach:

    Why not to do overhead lifts unless you enjoy your face being accelerated into the floor:

  18. @Matthew – I almost embedded the Big Bach video in this post. I like the one I selected, because you can hear him cry in pain at the end.

    We can disagree about my survivorship bias thesis and maybe my 18 years of observations are worthless, because it really doesn’t matter who is right. What is important is the consequences if we are wrong.

    If I am wrong then *maybe* I’ve sacrificed some extra muscular potential that the squat may have provided over and above the exercises I currently do. If you are wrong… well you saw the videos. That guy that walked out of the cage with 685 pounds on his back clearly had to be a skilled athlete to even get to that point. Probably had 20+ years of squatting success and then one day he has one bad rep and he comes tumbling down. That can’t happen on a wall squat or a SuperSlow leg press.

  19. @MAS & matthew

    I train at 2 gyms. 1 globo gym and the other an underground type powerlifting gym. at the globo gym, the cardio equipment is by far the most popular. i suspect it is because this equipment is the easiest and safest to use and also it is perceived to be the best way to lose fat. these people are not models of good health. sure this is just observational but it is consistent every where i go.

    on the other hand, the other gym has no cardio equipment. the people that train there are robust, strong, and appear healthy. how they train is more dangerous though.

    there is definitely a fine line to be walked between safety and effectiveness. this goes for many things in life in general. safe doesn’t necessarily translate to the best long term outcomes. the squat alternatives you illustrated are great as are many other alternatives involving free weights while standing on your own 2 feet.

  20. Glenn Whitney

    Jun 10, 2012 — 7:00 am

    Very sensible.

    I struggle to imagine how very heavy squats replicate anything our ancestors did in the ancestral environment. It doesn’t seem like a Primal/MovNat kind of thing to me…

  21. @Glenn – Paul Chek wrote a book where the fitness portion was broken down into 7 primal movements. He did include squat as one of them.


    Your comment made me wonder if Paul had any caveats, but I don’t have the book in front of me, so I can’t check.

    My guess is if we lived in a warrior tribe and someone needed to squat lift a dead animal – that person would be the 20 year old warrior and not us. 🙂

  22. What a great article. I concur wholeheartedly. I never excelled at the squat until I watched a Rippetoe video where it was finally made clear to me to drive up with my ass rather than my quads. That was great and I (like you) went from a very light weight to 275 for reps. Of course, 275 is nothing compared to the #’s you read on the Internet forums but I’ve yet to actually see many people squatting more than 315 in an y gym I visit (in good form that is).

    Anyway, once I hit 275, the knee issues began. I couldn’t walk up stairs without pain, and if I sat too long with my knees bent I would have to stretch to stop a sharp pain that would come on. I asked around online for help and advice and pretty much got told to suck it up, push my knees out etc. Meanwhile when i showed a video of my squat they started to say that I mut have had a previous knee issue that was being irritated by squatting. Yea, sure, whatever.

    Listen, if an exercise requires a masters in exercise science to do without pain the it isn’t practical, natural, or functional. I’ve since switched back to Leg Press and have had ZERO knee pain. I can only imagine all the knee pain that is going to hit the young generation of Rippetoe kool-aid drinkers. Rippetoe himself says if he does bench presses he can’t sleep at night due to the pain. Uh, so why are you recommending the stupid exercise to people then?

    The squat is good for a certain % of the population of lifters but most people are better off without it.

  23. @John – Well said. The skill component for doing a perfect squat rep is high. Doing thousands of perfect reps is near impossible – especially as the load increases – and the fact that some people can do it is not proof it is safe for the majority.

  24. Great article.

    I consider myself a well informed guy when it comes to health nutrition and weightlifting.

    I’m well versed in the info on the benefits of squatting, e.g. GH boost, and overall mass building compound king of lifts.

    Been Doing so for years with as correct form as I could manage. But I always realised going too low or beyond (320 pounds+) would strain my lower back. Anyway I have decided the constant pain is not worth it. Also, my legs weren’t really benefiting from them, it was more my lower back. My legs could take the weight and much more but my back couldn’t. So hell no to the so called king of mass!

  25. @Darren – Glad you liked the article.

    After I gave up the back squat, but before I transitioned to the leg press, I started doing very slow goblet squats. having the weight in front of me took the load off my spine. The movement also allows one to use a much lower weight for the same level of intensity. And much safer.

  26. enjoyed your blog. I’m a 60 year old male who sometimes wonders why I continue to do squats. Always go light, high reps, slow reps. That said–google John Grimek on squatting. There are claims that he squatted w/over 600 lbs for reps into his 70s. I wonder at this. your thoughts. I mean, John Grimek, one of the legends. But at that age squatting so much. I wonder. Have a good day

  27. @Paul – Glad you liked the blog. To me this is about survivorship bias. Modeling our workout on the successful outliers and ignoring the high rate of failures is a recipe for pain.

    If ten people run across a minefield and one makes it across alive, that doesn’t make the minefield safe or mean we should model our technique on the guy that survived.

    Because the squat does not have a 100% injury rate and some people can thrive on high levels of stress, it will give the illusion that “if only” we have perfect form, perfect rest, perfect progression – then we to can make it across that minefield.

    There are alternatives that are much safer. Risk vs reward.

  28. Couldn’t disagree more, although I appreciate the post. You obviously put a lot of thought into your article. I think you aren’t quite comparing apples to apples though. The video was a nice touch – a great emotional hook to further convince the reader. But that’s where your article comes off the tracks.

    Powerlifting is a completely different animal than squatting for bodybuilding.. Those powerlifters are all about “how do I put up the heaviest weight possible?” Throw in a competition with an audience, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

    If you watch the video in slow motion (or lots of pauses) the reason for the injury is clear: 1) Too much weight which led to 2) a severe breakdown in form. While he was still well above parallel, he almost pauses (VERY bad for the knees at that point in the lift) and loses form on his left leg. See the left knee angling out severely? That put the weight off balance, loaded it almost entirely to his right side, and that’s where he lost the whole maneuver. That guy KNEW he had too much weight when he unracked it. You could see it in his eyes.

    The video is nothing more than a very good explanation of how NOT to do a squat: too much weight, too much machismo, and a breakdown in form.

    Bodybuilders, on the other hand, subscribe to the philosophy of form before weight. We work only with as much weight as is challenging, while able to maintain form. Squats performed this way will ALWAYS challenge you, and they will NEVER injure you.

    I think this is nothing but a scare piece. And anyone chiming in saying they agree and they don’t squat anymore, and it’s because of knee pain, or back pain, has clearly been squatting with bad form. Squats are like anything in weightlifting: do them right, do them safe, and they’ll work wonders for your body. But don’t do them wrong and then complain they’re unsafe. That’s just silly.

  29. @Jim, You said something important. I’m currently far away from home. when I get back I’ll do a post response. Probably around June 1.

  30. Great post. At 45, I too have been reevaluating a lot of what I’ve done in the gym. It was good when I was in my 20’s through mid-30’s, but the big three don’t suit me anymore. My body is telling me that machine-based and bodyweight exercises are the way to go for progressive resistance training.

  31. If you don’t see any old people squatting tons, it’s because you’re in the wrong gym. Most powerlifting records for the squat are set by guys in their 30’s and 40’s for the precise reason that they’ve stuck with it for most of their lives successfully- ie injury free. Most people just never squat correctly or add in deadlifts (which do strengthen those lower back muscles you were talking about) so they chicken out before even squatting 300 lbs (which, imo, isn’t very much – most beginners hit that mark around 5 months in if they weren’t completely weak at the start). So quit squatting, and appreciate your chicken legs, lack of endurance and speed, and your overall weakness – because that’s what you signed up for.

  32. @Trey – If you can’t see that the vast majority of excellent squatters are in their 20s or early 30s then I don’t what to say. The fact a few outliers in their 40s exist doesn’t disprove my thesis.

    Of course world records would be set by those that are older. They have a combination of strength and skill. It is simple math that if you throw thousands and thousands of men at the squat rack that 2 decades later there will be a few bad asses squatting major weight. That doesn’t make the exercise safe or even superior.

    Your last comment is easily disprovable. There are countless examples of people on this planet with strong legs that do not load 300+ pounds on the top of their spine and squat.

  33. It should be worth noting that only a couple years after that video Mr Coan squated well over 900 pounds. And if you think that there are no good squatters at higher ages then you obviously do not follow power lifting as many of the top lifters are usually older. If general fitness is your goal then I do agree that there is other ways to achieve strong legs but I think if we’re talking overall athletic development then your going to be a very limited athlete if you don’t include some form of the squat, barring unreal genetics of course.

  34. @Eric – Never said there are no great older squats. I said they are outliers and we shouldn’t model our fitness routines on them. The failures are hidden.

  35. Do anything for 28 yards and you’ll have an injury. Woodworking, hacky sack, cooking, knitting. I’ve been squatting for 28 years and had one noteworthy injury. Wouldn’t consider it major.

    Sit on the couch for 28 years and I know you’ll have a lot worse than this.

    This year at the age of 46 I approached a 700 raw squat. I feel great. I refuse to go through life wearing bubble wrap. If you do, enjoy.

  36. My wife deep squatted 275lbs. with possibly 20lbs. left in the tank. Then the knee injury came……………..From roller skating about a week later. Food for thought.
    Ed Coan the Michael Jordan of powerlifting who you show missing the 970 squat is 50, and still Squats over 700lbs!

  37. Good article. As a lifter approaching 29 y/o I will keep this in mind. Maybe squatting less weight? I also like the comment someone left that “there are old squatters and there are bold squatters, but there are no old-bold squatters.”

    All very true observations that I probably had noticed, but hadn’t consciously thought about.

  38. My advice: DO NOT DO BACK SQUATS.

    I believe Back Squats are the absolute best lift for building a solid physique, especially the quads. I did Back Squats for about 10 years until a painful neck injury finally led me to quit doing them altogether.

    Unknown to me at the time, my back was out of alignment (most likely because of long hours and poor posture at work). That being said, the first wave of pain was onset by a warm-up set of Back Squats. To this day my neck continues to ache, but it has never felt as bad as when I did Back Squats.

    I believe there are many ways to build the legs without squats. Here’s a short list of other quad workouts that will do the job:
    – leg presses
    – front squats
    – kettlebell squats
    – lunges
    – leg extensions

    Please take my advice and find an alternative to Back Squats. It won’t be easy at first trying to find the motivation to do legs without the glorious Back Squat, but it will keep you healthy – that I promise.

  39. @Jason – Thanks for sharing your story.

  40. I work the squat move but with light load or just bodyweight, and long time under tension. I still hit the burn, which triggers the muscle strengthening/growth signals, but in a more naturally balanced way. Another way to more safely exert tension loads on the associated muscles is what I call drop squats — gravity free fall down to the low squat position with bounce off the bottom. But you have to get loose, gain confidence and ease into these.

  41. Randomcommenter

    Feb 16, 2015 — 4:17 pm

    Just curious, but how often were you squatting and bench pressing? On the internet, full body workouts where you squat and bench 3 times a week are aggressively promoted as the “correct” training method for drug- free lifters and body part splits (where you squat and bench once a week) are dismissed as routines for “steroid using body builders.”

    But every successful natural lifter I know does body part splits, and the “full body” cult is littered with burned out and/ or injured trainees who vow to never squat again.

    I’ve always performed the big lifts once a week, making good progress and staying injury free.

  42. @Randomcommenter – I varied. I probably averaged 2-3 times a week. Mostly splits.

  43. Randomcommenter

    Feb 16, 2015 — 5:38 pm

    That’s cool. You don’t have to do them at all of course. Power lifters in particularly promote squatting frequently and people seem to be listening to them. I tried it and for me it’s murder on the joints and central nervous system. Performing the movement once a week adding reps here and there is manageable IMO. But like I said, squats aren’t the sacred cow so many people claim.

  44. Squats are great for me. Everything comes with a risk.
    Professional Power lifters love the sport, have trained for many years and are perfectly aware of the risks they take.
    I love horses and riding of course, I know perfectly well that one day I may fall down, be unlucky enough to hit my head with a rock and die. Or break my back and stop walking.
    I won’t even get started with the risks that guys who love racing motorcycles have to knowingly take.
    And we could go on and on and on like that with every single sport.
    Like you said, that guy in the video you posted sure had lots of experience, and surely knew the risks.

    You love something do it. Be RESPONSABLE, be aware of the risks, and decide how far should yo go.

    Squats are great and healthy for your body. lifting 600+ pounds in your squat is a whole different thing because people doing it do it out of passion, not prioritizing health and much less thinking in what could happen if one Wednesday morning, 10 or 20 years from now while squatting my third rep of my first set I will get distracted by something, lose my form and injure for life.


  45. I’ve been training since age 15. I am 50 now and quit back squatting about a year ago after the 2nd very painful injury from a herniated disc. Also, very dangerous with a lot of weight on your back. I said NO more after the last injury (should’ve stopped after the first time it happened). It happened when I was coming up and luckily, momentum allowed me to come up far enough to drop the bar on the rack before collapsing to the floor. The pain is so sharp and scary. It shoots out the lower back and down the left leg. A very crippling feeling right when it happens. Like you are temporarily paralyzed. The healing process took about a week after both injuries which were about 9 months apart. Therapy was a lot of stretching the lower back and hanging upside down with anti gravity boots. Not only no more back squats but no more exercises that directly compress the spine up and down like military presses, dead lifts and heavy bar shrugs. I’ve been doing one legged squats, sissy squats, dumbbell lunges, one arm dumbbell squats, dumbbell bulgarian squats and goblet squats along with leg extensions, leg curls (standing and lying) and eccentric leg curls with body weight. Also, now exclusively working out doing HIT with one set per body part including super sets as a set. HIT is the best way to prevent injuries I believe along with very good results being in my best ever shape since doing HIT. Thanks for your site and information.

  46. @Bill – Thanks for sharing your story.

  47. Sorry to be critical but hey not everyone can be a lover! You post that title and I look at your picture and well, I can safely say it shows man. I compete in raw powerlifting myself and I understand if people have injuries etc. But the squat is a great movement when trained correctly. Also I’ve yet to meet a large man that believes ISO holds and static training works. It’s usually Internet ‘gurus’ who take everything to the Nth degree. Not everything is black and white Michael. I do only single rep training and train daily up to a max and im now 110kg bodyweight and low bf. Also boast a 310 kg deadlift and 205 kg bench currently. So different things work for different people. I can send videos/pics to confirm.

  48. well, you’ve obviously never had a herniated or slipped disc in your lower back. Until you have and have experienced the pain, you can’t really cut people down who don’t do squats. I’ve been squatting since my teens and that injury happens over time if you are prone to it but not from squatting wrong. The only choice is to work around it or opt for surgery which is very risky. More power to you for doing your squats. That’s great. There are several other leg exercises to do for your own personal goals. Enjoy your heavy squats and build those legs and stay injury free as you get older.

  49. Indeed. Look at line 7/8 on my original comment. Not cutting anyone down.


    This post is now almost 3 years old. Everything that can be said in agreement or disagreement has probably been said, so I am closing comments.

    To summarize:
    1-we squat to build leg strength.
    2-I think there are safer ways to build leg strength
    3-the fact some people can squat pain free for decades does not negate point #2

    Stay safe.