4 Reasons You Shouldn't Squat
Written by Keith Hansen
December 9, 2016
Everyone knows squats are the king of all exercises.
Ray Williams just set an all-time, jaw-dropping world record RAW squat at 1,005lb, so they obviously build crazy strength.
They build massive thighs (just look at mine), and if we believe the girls on Instagram, juicy booties.
Squatting is a basic human motion that homo sapiens have performed since the dawn of time.
But should you throw weight on a bar and fight gravity?
If any of the following 4 apply to you, take a break to reevaluate your squatting.
You want a big ass
If you think squatting is going to give you a big ass think again. I wrote about this in a previous blog post but let me reiterate.
Most people suck at squatting, and unless you have had professional training, you probably suck too.
It is easy to skip out on glute activation when squatting and allow your quads and back to do the lion's share of the lift.
Even in a perfectly executed squat your hamstrings will do more work than your glutes, and so will your quads.
The result? Massive thighs and a mediocre booty.
My squat and deadlift are both well over 500lbs, but I don't do any glute specific work.
From the side, my hamstrings stick out about as far as my glutes, and my glutes are not small by any means.
If you're looking to have a booty that pops lay off the squats and get to hip thrusting.
I'm not being mean here. I'm being honest.
We teach people how to squat every single day. We use hundreds of cues, hands-on coaching, mobility exercises, stretches, assistance work, take videos to break form down in slow-mo, we draw diagrams, and assign homework. We cover every angle when teaching the squat. It's our specialty.
And you know what? Sometimes we still fail to teach people how to squat in that first session. Or even the second. Or third.
Do you want to know why? Despite our best efforts your body may just not be physically capable of squatting well. Yet.
It could be due to the fact that your weight has caused you to develop incredibly strong quads but has left your glutes & hamstrings underdeveloped. That has to be corrected.
It could be that a sedentary lifestyle has caused major mobility restrictions that must first be addressed before you can squat well. Break out the foam roller.
It might be that the extra padding around your joints just won't allow you to get into the necessary positions for a good squat.
If you don't take the time to address muscular imbalances & mobility restrictions you are setting yourself up for a very frustrating, pain-filled squat experience.
We have a rule at Seriously Strong Training: it takes 10,000 good repetitions to master a lift. Note that I said good repetitions. Bad repetitions cancel out good repetitions.
If you learn to squat with bad form every rep is actually making you worse at lifting, and creating more work down the road.
Your knees hurt
Squats shouldn't hurt your knees. Ever.
The fitness industry is plagued by lingering myths about squats being bad for the knees.
Listen: squats are good for your knees. When done right.
A good strength training program will begin to load your joints with reasonable resistance, and slowly increase. This results in your tendon, ligaments, bones, muscles, and joints slowly getting stronger.
If your knees hurt during or after a squat session your body is trying to tell you something. It's telling you to change what you are doing.
Maybe you're loading the squat too much and you need lighten the load. I see this all the time in people doing quarter or half squats. This also happens when you try out a new squat pattern. An ass-to-grass front squat is going to load the knees significantly more than a parallel low bar squat. Sure, you are strong enough to front squat that weight, but you need to work your joints up to the stress of a new pattern first.
Maybe your squat pattern sucks and you are trying to do all of the lifting with your quads & knees instead of your hips. Take a video of your squat from the side. If your knees move forward before your butt moves back your squat sucks. If your butt moves backward before your knees move forward...your squat still sucks.
If your knees hurt from squatting something needs to change.
You don't have a coach
I'm an athletic guy. I was an all-state wrestler. I am an avid reader, and I browse forums and YouTube videos to educate myself.
I've lifted weights for 14 years, and I squatted poorly for the first 10 of those years, and permanently injured my back in the process.
Why? Because I didn't have a qualified strength coach.
It wasn't until I started squatting 3-4 days a week, watching videos every single day, critiquing videos of my own form, reading blogs and forums, and retooling my squat form multiple times before I figured it all out.
That process took me a year.
Above I talked about our coaching process when we teach people to squat. I can proudly say we have most people squatting perfectly within their first few sessions save for those with major imbalances/restrictions.
That is the power of having a qualified strength coach. They will ensure you are learning the correct form, the necessary exercises and mobility work to get your squat where it needs to be in the shortest time and safest manner.
Learning to squat without the supervision of a qualified coach who provides immediate & direct feedback can lead to injury, frustration, and at the very least a long, drawn-out learning process.
The squat is one of the hardest lifts to learn to do well. Don't make it harder by learning on your own.
Check out our Youtube Playlist on how to Low Bar Squat for an indepth walk through.
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