We’d never say that the barbell back squat is a terrible exercise—especially since some might argue, persuasively, that the movement The king of all workouts. But for the average gymnast, this heavy weight may not be the best move for his or her training needs and needs.
It might seem like crazy on leg day to even wonder if we should squat, especially given the many benefits – from building strength and power, burning fat, improving core strength and posture to name a few. But unless you’re a professional athlete or weightlifter your only goal in the weight room is to lift as heavy as you can (Specifically in a back squat!), you may not need to rely on a back squat like your spine on your leg day.
You may put yourself at a disadvantage, especially if your physiology isn’t perfect for the movement, or your goals don’t quite align with what a back squat will do. according to men’s health fitness manager Ebenezer Samuel, CSCSAnd the Matthew Forzaglia, NFPT, CPT, Founder of Forzag Fitness, there are plenty of effective lower body workout options that can provide the same benefits and possibly do more for you to maximize your leg day gains.
“There’s a very, very good chance that for all of your leg goals, whether you’re trying to get more athletic, whether you’re trying to get stronger, whether you just want to burn some calories and just want to move around a bit there’s a range of exercises besides the squat,” says Samuel. A back squat will be safer than a back squat and still achieve all your goals.”
Why back squats might not work for you
You don’t need squat support if athletics isn’t your goal
Sorry to hear the news for you, but unless your goal is religious squatting like a weightlifter or you’re a professional or amateur athlete training for a specific sport or activity, back squats shouldn’t necessarily be your go-to leg exercise. They do this because it is part of their job or goals. On the other hand, you can take advantage of any other variation without having to stick to the mechanics of the squat.
“Select athletes learn the back squat because the back squat itself is a combination of two ideas,” Samuel says. “We have the idea of the squat where we drive down, but we also have the idea of the hinge where we push our butt back a little bit and you have to fully understand these two mechanics before you even think about jumping into a back squat that takes time is not something you do on your first personal training session.”
Back squats may pull in the rest of the exercise
back squat Difficult. Starting from the setup and holding the bar on your back can be difficult, especially if you have shoulder mobility issues. Stacking a 45-second stack on your back will not only speed up your shoulders’ shivering; The stress will target your lower back, too.
“It opens a window for us to transition as we descend into the squat. And when that happens, we start to put more load on the lower back and we don’t really need it,” Forzaglia says.
Limited back squat for sports
You might see NFL athletes loading crazy weight into the squat bar for a few reps, but along with these feats meant to test their ultimate strength, their workouts aren’t strictly dictated by back squats. What you won’t see on social media are the leg and core movements that enhance the sport – they’re not as visually appealing as the 500-pound squat, but just as necessary. That’s why when it comes to sports, you need more than just back squats to train you.
Try these 3 alternatives to squatting
3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Holding a dumbbell or a bell in front of you forces you to work from a more upright position while also focusing on keeping your core nice and tight. This makes this variation more spine-friendly than loading a bar with heavy weights on your back. At the same time, you can also hit your legs like a heavy back squat day.
3 to 4 sets of 5 to 8 reps
This specialized bar, which provides handles to help manage the load, eliminates the potential discomfort you might experience from back squatting. The safety bar gives you more freedom to move your shoulders while forcing you to create a lot of core tension. And just like the back squat, you can pile on weight without straining the shoulder.
3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
You may know that this move is the Bulgarian split squat. This one-legged exercise is very beneficial to help eliminate muscular imbalances. And while a pro career may not be in the future, back-footed split squats can definitely help improve your everyday athletic fitness and functional fitness. You can even go heavy with this movement, too.
Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle & Fitness magazine, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.