Once upon a time I published a post on this blog titled “Barbell Squat : the Worst Exercise in Existence?”. As it turned out, barbell squat
fanati fans were not pleased with this post.
In fact after they got done kindly telling me how upset they were with my ideas, they proceeded to link my post from the front page of every major “fitness” forum on the internet, so all of their buddies could join in on venting bottled up rage from early childhood abuse.
Excuse me, leaving entertaining and constructive comments on my blog for the betterment of mankind, care bears, and unicorns.
Okay, let’s get serious. This post is being produced because I’m not done criticizing the stupidity that is the illustrious, the worshiped, the magical, the super-natural, and our lord and savior, THE BARBELL SQUAT.
(In this post, I am specifically addressing the free-standing-barbell-back-squat, rack or no rack. Unless otherwise noted, front loaded barbell squats, belt squats, dumbbell squats, body weight squats, squats performed in a smith machine or similar device, etc, are excluded from this discussion).
Top Ten Reasons NOT to Barbell Squat
These are presented in no particular order, unless otherwise noted.
Reason # 1
The favorite, most highly touted exercise of the world’s dumbest men, is the barbell squat (500+ sources).
Reason # 2
The barbell squat requires “good form” they say, indicating that it is a skill (unlike say walking, which requires no measurable degree of skill for a normal human being, or a horizontal leg press which requires categorically less skill than a free standing barbell back squat – something grandma can do).
Well, skill based movement in a fatiguing and progressive protocol = a recipe for disaster. (source)
Reason # 3
“But I’ve squatted for many years with no injuries” : says the turkey. Well here’s a quote from The Black Swan for the turkeys of the world.
Consider that the turkey’s experience may have, rather than no value, a negative value. It learned from observation, as we are all advised to do (hey, after all, this is what is believed to be the scientific method). Its confidence increased as the number of friendly feedings grew, and it felt increasingly safe even though the slaughter was more and more imminent. Consider that the feeling of safety reached its maximum when the risk was at the highest!
That last part is especially important for the “experienced” trainee aiming for a personal record, or even just “squatting heavy” on a given day.
Reason # 4
A barbell squatter’s ability to walk is one pulled muscle, one fallen eyelash, one “freak accident” away from being at immediate risk.
(The Wizard of Oz called by the way, he said the straw man is unavailable due to a medical emergency; something to do with a barbell and straw).
Reason # 5
There is an absolutely, definitively, and entirely better alternative to the barbell squat (all forms) : the little known hip belt squat. (Disclaimer : this is just a generic link to a website many will recognize. There are better sources of information on the hip belt squat available elsewhere).
Author and speaker Bill DeSimone has called this exercise “the most congruent lower body exercise conceivable”.
Reason # 6
The structure of the spine does not suggest that it is suited for top heavy loads. (source).
Reason # 7
The creators of the dictionary called me.
They said “The new definition of “wishful thinking” now includes the idea that the muscles surrounding the human spine track in accordance with the growth of the largest and strongest muscles and bones of the body”.
Reason # 8
There is nothing on earth to suggest that making your spine the “middle man” between a multi-hundred pound barbell, and your legs, is a particularly good, or even safe idea. (source)
Reason # 9
Looks like heavy squats can (and if it can go wrong, it will go wrong) cause nerve damage to the shoulders. (source and discussion).
Reason # 10
This is a redundant point, but it is worth repeating : the barbell squat is the most popular exercise on the planet among dip shit meat heads.
What in the world makes you think these people have good, sound ideas? I have no doubt many of these people are big and strong.
What I doubt is that there is anything going on upstairs. (source).
Further related reading :
Edit 1 : what was inside the ( ) in #9 was updated/expanded.
Edit 2 : it should be noted that I am not saying everyone who currently performs, or has ever performed a barbell squat, is a dip shit meat head. I am saying that the demographic of guys who most commonly practice this (alleged) exercise, are dip shit meat heads.
Nuns for example, are not a demographic who are known for their performance and unanimous support of free standing barbell back squats.
Companion podcast/audio version of this post.