Squat Roundup

I’ve been really busy lately with T21C stuff and as a result feel that I have neglected this blog. That will change soon, and in the meantime, here’s a roundup of squat related posts as well as some current thoughts.

The Classics

If popularity is factored into the “worst” equation, I am more convinced than ever that the barbell back squat is indeed the worst currently in practice. Nothing comes close to the wishful thinking, magical claims, and doctorate level/slightly homosexual broscience surrounding this exercise.

The First Responders

Demo Vids and Misc.

Some Current Thoughts

I chose the picture at the beginning of this post for a specific reason : it is a simple depiction of a body weight squat. But body weight squat is a redundancy in terms. The squat pictured is in a sense, the only squat that exists. It precedes all others.

All other “squats”, are just that : variations on, and deviations from the original, primary movement; for better and for worse. This is an important distinction to make, so I appreciate the clarity in posts like this from MAS. As for the rest of humanity, they are busy blurring the lines between “squat” and “[freestanding] barbell [back] squat”. Notice the lines are so fucking blurred I can’t even say “barbell squat” and be 100% accurate.

Because when barbell squat is used it is automatically implied that the barbell is loaded on the upper back in some manner, over the majority of the spine, and said barbell is not on a track system of any kind (such as a smith machine).

This is how utterly fucking sloppy the herd-thinking zombie mass of broscience has gotten in this context. It’s disgusting, disgraceful, misleading, and ultimately dishonest.

In Defense of the Squat

I’ve come to the conclusion that if one really values strength training, and the squat in particular, you have to necessarily be against the free standing barbell back squat, to at least some minimal degree. As Greg Swann has put it in other contexts, this does not mean you have to run around pulling intellectual weeds 24 hours a day — a waste of time.

But when you see fraud, you need to call fraud, even if you just leave it at that. And the “barbell squat” is a fraudulent exercise proclaimed as a gift from god upon the gym rats, when it is nothing more than the single worse variation on “a squat” ever practiced.

There are only two ways I know of to top the “barbell squat” in terms of stupidity and risk of injury :

  • Unevenly load the barbell
  • Weld the barbell to a metal hard hat before usage

Well I suppose you could invent more, but those are the first two that come to mind — loading methods that some people might actually be dumb enough to try in a vague attempt at “working more stabilizer muscles”.

I mean come on, what better way to work the neck than to stick a loaded barbell on top of the head as big as a man.

In the end and all jokes aside, I am a big proponent of strength training and of the squat. That’s why I’m so passionate about calling out bullshit in this area when I see it, and this holy grail of an exercise is a huge offense to intelligent strength training in general, and intelligent squatting in particular. It’s complete nonsense and there is no excuse for it.


Edit :

It should not be misinterpreted that anyone and everyone who has ever done or advocated a free standing barbell back squat “is stupid”. I did them myself throughout high school. In fact, they were the only leg exercise I liked out of what was available to me, especially after multiple knee dislocation events. I even did a few bbb squats in college.

I am not stupid, but, the exercise itself is about as “stupid” as a concept can be, and I was completely wrong to do them at any point in my life. Anyone who advocates them today, well, that action is their responsibility, not mine. The exercise remains stupid regardless of how great or how poor the advice in general is from such advocates otherwise.

The exercise does not get a free pas when otherwise very intelligent people recommend them.


Image Source

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

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16 Responses to Squat Roundup

  1. staticfloor June 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Off topic but do you know if Dr. McGuff killed his website?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson June 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      No, I think something happened with the domain registration. A lot of the software was really out of date though, so maybe there are other problems as well with the hosting account. They will probably have it sorted out soon.

      • Donnie Hunt June 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

        I wondered what was going on with Doug’s site as well. Thanks for the info Anthony.

  2. Carl June 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    What are your thoughts on squats with a trap bar? Low center of gravity, no way to get pinned. Load is still applied to the top of te spine via arms & shoulder girdle.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson June 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      Um … you mean a trap bar dead lift? If you do, I think they are better than barbell back squats, for the reasons you mentioned. A lot better. I don’t do them though, havent done any in a long time, and see no need for them with better alternatives around.

  3. Derek August 6, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    It could not be more transparent that you continue to post nonsensical squat articles because those are the only posts that drive any significant traffic to your blog.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson August 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Actually I think the highest viewed post on this site is a book review … this blog does not provide a salary either. I run this blog for personal reasons primarily.

  4. Sifter August 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    Interesting that infantry and other specialized ground units usually recommend against loaded squats. They often blow up the thighs beyond what is desirable for mobility and agility reasons, and ultimately can cause lower back issues. Lunges, long conditioning hikes with loaded backpacks, and even ‘twist’ squats (Chinese wrestling conditioners) are often preferred method of strengthening legs with mobility and endurance in mind as fitness goals as well. (Twist squats are basically feet parallel, left foot turns to 9 o’clock, right foot follows but with heel up, torso goes straight down, straight up, then back to neutral, then twist to right, right foot points to 3 o’ clock….same thing, etc.)

  5. qe2 (@qetrader2) August 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    What do you think about the deadlift? You load a huge weight on your lower back too. I see all the rage on the squat but the deadlift is just as bad. Twinmuscleworkout agrees.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson August 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      I havent cared to comment on it much, partly because it doesnt get so much magic associated with it. Some, but no where near the worship that the BB squat gets, from what I’ve observed.

      I don’t think its quite as bad. For one, there’s no bar to get crushed by. If you fuck up, you fall over. Bad news, but probably not life threatening. The load is also reaching your body through your hands first. My current thinking is that this gives the trainee a lot more sensory feedback than a BB squat. Too much weight, or something is “wrong”, you can let go.

      Complete opposite is true in a BB squat.

  6. Joe January 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    If you’re going to make claims that the squat is the worst exercise ever you really need to provide objective evidence. Do you have a degree in kinesiology? Have you ever taken a biomechanics class? Have you ever coached or been part of a legitimate and respected S&C program? You have no credentials that would make me respect your opinion or believe it without information to back it up. I have a B.S. in human physiology, am currently enrolled in a DPT program and have spent 3+ years training athletes and I have NEVER met anyone who shares your view on squats. The only argument you have is that the spine doesn’t look like it should be loaded top down. 1) during a correct BB squat the bar is usually no higher than C7 and 2) How extensively have you studied the spine? What makes you an expert on its osteo and arthrokinematics? Until you provide real, objective data showing that BB squats are dangerous I will continue squatting deep and reaping my gainz

    • Anthony Dream Johnson January 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      This is a better comment and I appreciate you making it. However you seem fixated on credentials rather than what is actually going on with and during a BBB squat. Credentialism doesn’t fly on this blog.

      • Joe January 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

        It seems to me that your understanding of exactly what is going on during a squat is incorrect. If you don’t have any background in kinesiology then you really don’t understand the joint mechanics during a squat. This is why I think you’re opinion by itself doesn’t hold much weight. Again data showing that squats are more dangerous than other exercises would help strengthen your assertions.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson January 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

          Wow, that went in one eyeball and out the other.

          Allow me to translate

          “If you don’t have any background in kinesiology then you really don’t understand the joint mechanics during a squat.” = If you lack formal education you are completely ignorant.

          Gee, sucked into the system much?

          Please sit down and think about the word “credentialism” before writing another comment.

          • Joe January 18, 2014 at 12:56 am #

            So asking for ONE source to back up your claims is credentialism now? Ok good to know. I’ll just accept the misguided OPINIONS of an interdisciplinary studies major from a safety school

            • Anthony Dream Johnson January 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

              Your asking for a source is not what motivated my comments. It is what I see as an obsession with credentials, and more specifically, truth from authority, rather than authority from truth.

              Re college : ha! I’m much better than that, I’m a college drop out! Interesting that you call it a safety school. I’ve never seen that phrase before (that I recall). I probably should have attended a less expensive university, but never the less it was not chosen for its “safety”.

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