Top 10 Reasons NOT to Barbell Squat

squat injury

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

Russian roulette with a multi-hundred pound barbell x 500,000 trigger pulls = someone getting hurt.

“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 :

Barbell Squat : the Worst Exercise in Existence?

The Cross Fit “Attitude” : A Disease

CrossFit™ : A 100% Chance of Injury?

 I No Longer Give a Squat About The Squat


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.


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 and


429 Responses to Top 10 Reasons NOT to Barbell Squat

  1. Josh February 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm #


    While I agree with a few of your points, most are devoid of any factual evidence to support them. The barbell squat, along with the deadlift, is probably one the most effective exercises that can be used. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time, nor the patience, to debate this subject back and forth, but if you had even the slightest understanding of exercise science and physiology, you would retract most of the statements. Forget all other exercises… the most useful exercise to train is heavy squats, for a multitude of reasons: 1) Activates a significant number of muscles in the body, because the motion is compound by nature, 2) It builds strength in what is arguably the most important muscle in your body– your legs, 3) Strengthens surrounding muscles and joints (when done correctly), and 4)

    I’ll close by saying that I also disagree with your assessment of the typical guys that perform barbell squats. Most guys I see in the gym have bird legs and don’t bother to train legs… these are the douchebags that work upper body for two hours on end and have sticks holding them up. Ask any woman what they think and they’ll gladly confess that it looks ridiculous and completely “beta male.” The guys I see doing heavy barbell squats in the gym are few and far between… and most of the time, they have a physique that any guy would gladly take as their own.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      Hey Josh

      Thanks for commenting. In response, I’d like to point out some of the points put forward in your comment, that are nothing more than regurgitations of popular, pre-existing, unsupported opinions.

      – The barbell squat, along with the deadlift, is probably one the most effective exercises that can be used. (opinion)

      – but if you had even the slightest understanding of exercise science and physiology, you would retract most of the statements (personal attack)

      – Forget all other exercises… the most useful exercise to train is heavy squats (opinion, although you regurgitate some unoriginal ideas after the fact)

      – It builds strength in what is arguably the most important muscle in your body– your legs (and your position is that this is not accomplish-able with other movements or loading points? Ridiculous and unsupported).

      – Strengthens surrounding muscles and joints (when done correctly) [okay this is not an original idea, it is not an opinion I was unaware of, and it is an overall meaningless statement that fails reason #2 from my post]

      – The guys I see doing heavy barbell squats in the gym are few and far between… and most of the time, they have a physique that any guy would gladly take as their own. (And what does this have to do with anything? Most NBA basketball players have a height I would gladly take as my own. Am I to infer that running up and down a basketball court makes these men tall?)

      The activity of heavy barbell squats attracts a certain genetic lot, because said lot excels at the activity by default of birth.

      – Anthony

      • Max February 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        If squats are so “bad for you” why do high school, college and professional sports teams use them?

        • Kani April 27, 2013 at 7:20 am #

          Hahahaha, Max, I thought at first you were being serious!
          Very funny guy 🙂

      • Lord Vladamir June 13, 2013 at 2:19 am #

        Do you even lift?dipshit

        • Anthony Dream Johnson June 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

          Bro, I lift my lift’s lifts.

          • Tyler August 1, 2013 at 4:27 am #

            I severely doubt that. You look dyel anyhow and any bodybuilder will tell you squats are an essential lift. Promotes a strong core, and works out your abs, back, legs and glutes… this is an amazing exercise if you KNOW how to DO it properly. Biggest mistake beginners make, like you, is not working your core which will increase your lifts overall.


          • Dustin June 5, 2014 at 12:04 am #

            1. It’s not an opinion when someone says squatting is one of the most effective. I live off of squats when it comes to building legs and guess what? It works. Professional athletes use them often, and they don’t really like getting injured in the off-season so they DON’T. The point isn’t about how dangerous the lift can be, it’s about how well it will build your legs.
            2. Most people who DO have a strong foundation of knowledge in this subject disagree with you. Who are you to tell them they’re statements are incorrect because they told you that you’re ignorant of the subject? That’s an opinion but your opinion of them is just as foolish.
            3. Just because a group of fan-boy squatters tell you to forget EVERY other leg exercise because they believe squats are supreme, doesn’t mean the exercise itself is enough to denote all other exercises. That’s an opinion so stop taking their opinion and using it as an argument against the exercise.
            4. Now your last point was by far the most idiotic. One can train for strong and/or big legs. I can’t train for height (no shlt, sherlock). I was tiny prior to taking weight lifting serious, and I achieved bigger legs. Did I do hip belt squats? Not even once. Were you trying to say that hip belt squats are supreme and that I should forget an entire exercise? (hmmm that kind of sounds like the meat heads you were bashing, probably induced from early childhood abuse).

            Oh yeah, by the way, i’m 100% confident the most popular exercise is the mother f^cking bench press. Even a monkey could have told you that. Squats are hard, nobody likes to do work.

            … Call me a turkey if it makes you feel better but I have been squatting for over 3 years with no serious injuries. Since starting, I am faster, stronger, bigger, and more appealing. I rarely get injured nowadays from sports, although I play hockey (league), and recreational rugby and football. My knees, shoulders, and back are very healthy. What could have I done in those 3 years to make my progress better? I achieved what I wanted, didn’t I?


      • Joanne June 26, 2013 at 9:42 am #

        Dear Anthony

        – but if you had even the slightest understanding of exercise science and physiology, you would retract most of the statements (personal attack)

        Is not a personal attack, it is in fact what supports all of his other statements, if you looked up the subject you are talking about and attacking. You dismiss it as an attack because if you educated yourself, you would find you were wrong.

        all of your points are also opinion not actually backed up with any ‘facts’. If they are I would love to see the links to credible sites and sources backing you up.

        Yes there are other exercises which could be done, but not compound motions including the entire group of muscles meaning it will be difficult to train them all to the correct proportions separately.

        You are highly derogatory and clearly have not spent a lot of time in the gym if you believe this to be the case in regards to the people who perform barbell squats, or if you have you clearly have not spoken to any of them to glean in anyway what they are like and their intelligence.

        I am glad people like Josh reply to people like you, and I know all I will get in response is a mildly offensive post where you try to tear the answer apart but rather cement the argument against you and your lack of education and intelligence. (See that is a personal attack) And I hope that the other reads read your statements and laugh as well.


      • Squat queen July 7, 2013 at 5:33 am #

        Wow,sour grapes! I will definitely squat more after reading your blog:)

      • Amanda Adams July 23, 2013 at 10:53 am #

        So you call people who choose to squat “dip shit meat heads” but then to state that “but if you had even the slightest understanding of exercise science and physiology, you would retract most of the statements” is a “personal attack”? Seriously?

      • jj February 6, 2014 at 12:35 am #

        You are really stupid Anthony. I am not gonna have any tact about this. You are just really dumb and don’t back anything up with studies or anything. That doesn’t even matter. Do squats, squat heavy, feel amazing.

      • jared February 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

        You would think with you graduating from the IB program Anthony that you should know that you do NOT use Wikipedia as a source (Reason 8). You should be in the group “of the world’s dumbest men” for doing that. Obviously your not the brightest person so ill explain it to you that the guy in the Youtube video (Reason 10) is making fun of douche bags like you who think they know everything about the gym and human body when your degree is from UCF in interdisciplinary studies, with a minor in entrepreneurship. By the way you don’t start with 500 pounds you start with a 45 pound bar maybe a 10 gram pencil for you and the bitch pad cause you don’t have the muscle to rest the bar on. Then you work your way up and your body becomes strong enough to handle the weights. You should read an anatomy and physiology book before you open your uneducated mouth.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson February 21, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

          I don’t have a degree, I am a college drop out. Your focus on my academic history is bizarre to hear though. I don’t care about it at all.

          • anthonyWhoDoYouThinkYouAre May 31, 2014 at 1:13 am #

            Nobody cares that you don’t care about having a degree. However, it is unsettling to think an unqualified, uneducated drop out is misinforming the masses. You should learn more about the topic you’re “reporting” on before you make any more posts.

      • Dr j Keating March 23, 2014 at 6:01 am #

        Why argue with this guy. He wrote this article to get people’s goat. This is a special type of trolling. I guess each reader has to decide if they want to believe every sports medicine university study and fitness experts like ripptoe or this author stating random opinions. He wants a fight. Just let him believe what he likes.

      • mark April 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

        Al that nonsense about danger, haveyou ever seen kids falling of things in the playground, do al of them die? Nope, because the body and the structures are strong enough. Extremes are never OK but within reason squats are perfectly safe.
        This is a bullshit discussion

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

          You are equating squats with barbell squats, which is retarded. Maybe you are illiterate, as I never said I am against squats. I squat all the time, but I never, ever use a barbell to do so.

      • Mike April 18, 2014 at 7:46 am #

        Since I am not a fan of Rippetoe, I decided to Youtube more of his Starting Strength Series to SEE MORE INJURIES in front of my eyes..AND SEE HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE TO FIND A VIDEO INJURY..THE VERY FIRST interview I went to was a young early 20s up and coming Powerlifter Mike Tuscherer..I went to YouTube on him & came up & you can YouTube it—Talking Deadlift with Mike T/SuperTraining.TV..About the 13 second mark, he injures himself and threw his back out Deadlifting..That’s how quick I found an injury..

        Our anatomy is not designed to lift very odd oblong objects like a straight bar..It is a very closed hydraulic like pressure to the body-the straight bar..Not a very open like hydraulic like pressure to the body..We were evolved carrying objects since Caveman Days but of lesser oblong objects than putting a index finger and thumb exactly around the circumference of the straight bar around the whole length of it..

        The rest of the shot on that YouTube site was seeing this Powerlifter look like a contortionist of showing what a fetal position is like in a woman’s womb..With straps around his body and in total pain in the rest of the Video…Its amazing people cant get what Dream is talking about..Anytime you have thousands of straight bar injuries (particularly from straight bar squats & deadlifts),its due to enormous pressure points on the anatomy that the body cant adapt especially over long periods of time..Then the side effects are herniated disks, fusion of vertebrae of the lower back (like Ronnie Coleman has had recently from barbell squatting) or replaced hips like Ed Coan..

        Proof of bad pressure points are bleeding through the nose as I have seen countless times of a squat especially in competition & in the deadlift..I will pay someone a 1000 dollars if someone can either find someone whom during a backlift have blood pouring out of his nose during a heavy lift or interviewed someone that this has happened to..Not one case you will find..You can YouTube all kinds of people backlifting or even ask the likes of athletes who practiced this lift in their strongman career like Gregg Ernst, Steve Justa, Kevin Fast or Steve Schmidt..I have never heard of that happening even one time & they have lifted poundage well over the ton mark (some over 2 tons) in this OldTime lift..And more importantly, I have never seen blood pouring from the nose from a backlift myself..Why-the backlift is a more open hydraulic pressure to the body than any straight bar exercise..

        Straight bar squats is a terrible pressure point on the body..Dream is right–one day, straight bar squats (didn’t say squats in general) will be passe..This transition will save a lot of injuries..Any exercise where you have constant coaching as to form like you see Rippetoe constantly talking about form in the Deadlift & Straight Bar squatting is a recipe for disaster..Exercise should be natural not a constant interrogation of your mind always asking your body to pay attention to form..Do you think Caveman in their evolution of movement paid close attention to form? Any exercise that you see blood pouring out of the nose, back injuries, blown out knees even in a squat rack is a disaster exercise..I can put my index finger around the bar with my thumb..You are almost putting it the farthest away from your primary target–the thrust of your legs & making your delicate vertebrae your middleman..

        Observing an injury from Deadlifting at the 13 second mark on a young 23 year old on YouTube-Talking Deadlift with MikeT/SuperTraining.TV is proof enough for me..Sounds like a reasonable exercise..Form Form Form Rippetoe will say..No,Its called a bad pressure point exercise on the body..Its stop stop stop..Don’t use the straight bar for squats or deadlifts..Trust me on this one..I can name many famous trainwrecks that happened with either exercise..

      • MikeHunt84 June 7, 2014 at 4:15 am #

        Not sure if trolling or truly this pig shit ignorant. It’s ironic you claim all squatters are stupid, yet have done zero effort to demonstrate that it is in fact, bad for your spine.

        Yet, when I look for studies, I notice things like: The lifetime prevalence of back pain occurring in 31% of sedentary men, with only 23% of weight lifters having experienced back pain.

        Or the 2% variation in developing degenerative disc disease among two twins, where one recipient did activity to load the spine.

        I’ve not found anything that scientifically explains, and is not based in pure anecdotal evidence, that has shown squats to be bad for the spine, knees, etc.

        You post your “citation” for weightlifting supposedly being bad for your nerves, by linking to an article which referred to a study by Science Daily. This piece explains the dangers of backpacking with heavy weights for long periods of time.

        Then you link to a video from a personal trainer.. who emphasizes that he has no academic background in any profession related to neurology, and use his opinion as your “citation”. While simultaneously accusing others of basing their statements merely on opinion.

        • MikeHunt84 June 7, 2014 at 4:19 am #

          Linked the same study twice..

          First link:

        • yigalev94 September 19, 2015 at 9:38 am #

          Thank you …im weightlifter (superheavy)since20years ago…i USES barbell back.SQUATS and i neverinjuried my back but never i do maxi in back squat..its no interresting.back squat is 5 times more benefic..for very big squat …..i limity backsquat allways in relativly long serie (3/5 reps)….with 90% of my maxi one rep front squat… !!! If i exceeed that i loose my good back position and im sure to be injuried in all these years…and pulled hight is more profitable for clean a bar…with front squat its perfect.

    • alan June 29, 2013 at 4:06 am #


      Just let this guy be. Anyone has the right to write whatever they want. If this guy thinks that the squat sucks then that’s his opinion. He’s probably the type of guy who doesn’t really care about his legs and hates on the squat so he wont have to do it. So worry about yourself and let this guy live with his chicken legs.

      • Anthony Dream Johnson July 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

        Yeah, all of this is false. My legs are the biggest and strongest area of my body. They respond the best and I have the best control over them, relative to upper body pushing and pulling movements. I’m even pro-squat. Because of that, I’m anti-barbell squat, which is stupid, counter productive, and completely unsafe.

        • Michael Flemming Pedersen September 6, 2013 at 8:45 am #

          Shut up and SQUAT!

        • Jack fucking Sparrow (Corson Nikkel) February 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

          Helllooo brohan!!!!!

          3 years later I love the squat trolling, but not the spam mail. would you mind unsubscribing me from getting notifications for this? Just ordered 21 convention’s ebook btw…..

          • Anthony Dream Johnson February 22, 2014 at 10:57 am #

            I have no idea why you would be getting e-mail from TDL. Did you subscribe to the RSS feed?

    • Leslie Landberg November 29, 2014 at 4:34 am #

      To be clear, we are discussing the pros and cons of using the barbell when performing squats, and, to further clarify, we are talking about heavy loading. Although our host seems dead set upon repeating his premise while offering up virtually nothing substantive by way of proof, this in no way negates his premise – it merely makes him possibly the lamest debator on Earth, and robs his argument of weight (no pun intended).

      However, as both a lifter and a trained massage therapist with a heavy emphasis on structural integration I have often witnessed firsthand the awful cumulative damage done from loading on the spine. Exercise physiologists, professional trainers, athletic coaches, generally miss this.

      The physical and medical culture here in the United States is backwards, careless and slipshod. Many avoidable injuries, notably in this instance, compression injuries such as ruptured and herniated disks, compressed nerves and rotator cuff injuries are the direct result of substantial regular loading onto the spine and shoulders.

      I am constantly begging my clients to switch to the incline press, where form is much less of an issue and all weight is transferred off the spine and localized into hips and legs.

    • Kevin October 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

      All you guys are so insecure. Judging each other, calling each others dipshits and douchebags because you want to convince yourselves that your work was more worthy of the effort.

      I mean shit… Just focus on yourselves in the gym and stop acting like snotty bitches.
      If you have to judge another man’s body, then you aren’t a man yourself… You’re just lifting weights so you can feel like one.

    • Williams September 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      I like guys doing barbell back squats and bigger butt workouts I like when guys do barbell back squats bigger butt workouts eat bigger butt food I like their butt I like watching guys do barbell back squats and bigger butt workouts I’m a fan of guys doing barbell back squats bigger butt workouts eating bigger bigger butt food I love them making their butts bigger I’m a guys doing barbell back squats bigger butt workouts eating bigger butt food fan

  2. Revo Luzione February 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    I commented on the original article. I asked you for evidence, since, as is the custom in debates, the burden of proof is on the affirmative, in this case that means Anthony D. Johnson ought to provide some epidemiological date for the purpose of backing up a claim that seems rather specious on its face, namely that squats cause catastrophic injuries.

    Got tired of waiting, utilized my scholarly research aptitude, went out & looked for something that would either demonstrate or repudiate your claims.

    Behold: an epidemiological study over six (6) years at the US olympic training center on elite male weightlifters to determine injury rates and prevalence, analysing all injuries that occurred in this population during this period of time. The population included both resident US olympic team athletes as well as any visiting junior athletes.

    Full text PDF is available as a free download, scroll to the bottom.

    From the full text:

    Results: 3.3 injuries per 1000 hours of training. Average training time lost per injury: 1 day or fewer. The majority of injuries were minor, long term, and chronic in nature, and included strains and tendonitis (68.9%). Injuries to the back were primarily strains. (74.6%)

    In 6 years of training at the USOC, there were 6 fractures, 5 subluxations, 4 neurotraumas, 1 avulsion, and 1 concussion, out of a total of 560 injuries.

    Now this is a population of weightlifters who do not compete in the squat, but utilize it heavily as assistance exercise for their primary competitive lifts, the snatch and clean & jerk. Yet any criticism of the back squat can easily be leveled against any of the olympic lifts for they are far more dynamic and with a greater need for proper technique to avoid industry.

    Comparison to other studies: another study found that running yields an injury rate of about 13 injuries per 1000 hours of participation. Ashtanga yoga, in another study, yielded an injury rate of about 1.18-1.45 injuries per 1000 hours.

    Conclusion: Complex multijoint explosive lifts, like the back squat, snatch, and clean & jerk are about 4 times safer than running, but about twice as dangerous as yoga.

    I’ll take those odds, and continuing to squat, deadlift, as well as practice yoga, and occasionally run.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 27, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

      The affirmative?

      99.9999% of the barbell squat practicing population has *no idea* and has *never given serious thought* to whether or not a barbell squat is safe. The movement is performed entirely under the pretense of a herd mentality, and even worse (and more brain dead), tradition.

      “Everyone’s doing it and has done it for a long time so it must be safe and effective”, says the turkey in early November.

      To the contrary, there is evidence observable by a 7 year old familiar with “Jenga” that barbell squats may pose serious injury to the user.

      You wanna tout with the rest of the world that the barbell squat is some super-ultra-awesome exercise, or is even fundamentally safe and appropriate in a strength training routine? I want to see the proof, cause I’ve yet to hear even a fart about it.

      Yes, run to pub med and scan for information that confirms pre-existing ideas and affirms years, decades, of cumulative personal experiences and investments of time and effort.


      Now when you come up with an original idea or direct address to some basic points I’ve made, come back and we’ll talk. Till then I’m not interested in a circle jerk exchange of studies performed by Bill Nye the Science guy anymore than I am a pencil in my eye.

      • Revo Luzione February 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        Yes, you. Affirmative. Your affirmative case is this: that the barbell squat causes a significant prevalence of catastrophic injuries. That’s the case you’re trying to make. Since you’re the one making the case, you need to back it up with science, or it’s simply opinion of one dude. Hey, I have an opinion, too. Everyone’s got one. Some people actually base opinions on observable phenomena, on evidence. Others, not so much.

        You haven’t made the case that squats have significant risk with evidence. You’ve offered links to youtube videos, wikipedia, and an article about what happens when kids chronically wear backpacks that are too heavy and/or poorly designed & poorly fitting. Newsflash: wearing a backpack is not a barbell squat.

        My pubmed search was an open-minded one, looking simply for information on squats and the prevalence of injury. I was and am totally willing to concede that the squat is dangerous if the preponderance of evidence suggests that’s so. So far, I’ve found no evidence of that anywhere, not from you or from anyone else. In fact, the American Journal of Sports Medicine places exercise with free weights 7th on the list, *below* exercise with machines.

        According to the CDC, alpine skiing offers the highest injury rate per 1000 hours of activity (the gold standard in measurement), at around 69 injuries per 1000 hours. I ski in the alpine style, and I’m not planning on quitting any timesoon. After more than 35 years of skiing, certainly over several thousand hours, I’ve had one injury, a small labral tear. I think I’ll keep skiing, squatting, doing yoga, running. If I get hurt, I will rehab.

        As Coach Rippetoe says, injuries are the price of not sitting on your ass.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

          – Revo, I see no evidence to suggest that a barbell back squat is a fundamentally safe exercise. (And you are mis-representing the points in my article via your comments).

          – Statistics are less than meaningless here. Please read over reason #3 from the main article.

          – The fact that you continually cite statistics reveals that you don’t understand the basic premise of the discussion.

          Allow me to spell this out for you : I am interested in knowing whether or not the barbell back squat is a fundamentally safe movement to include in a strength training routine, over a life time; which in paradox, indicates that it is fundamentally safe.

          The only way this is possible is *if* a barbell back squat respects human anatomy and bio-mechanics. Worded differently, and to sorta-steal from Bill DeSimone, *bio-mechanics are not a polite suggestion*.

          Let’s apply your logic to a very closely related “exercise” :

          This variation of a leg press is considered universally ridiculous in 2013. How much do you want to bet studies could be performed showing similar numbers to those you cited?

          Your studies are futile. Join the borg.

          • Jimmy April 19, 2013 at 2:34 am #

            That variation of leg press is no longer practiced because we use leg presses now. Same motion and body position, but no risk of it falling on you.

            How do you pretend to be such a scientific, logical, well-thought genius when 2 of your reasons are simply “I don’t like the people that do them because I think they’re dumb”, That’s stereotypical and quite ignorant. I know bodybuilders with PhD’s that routinely squat heavy, including one with a PhD in muscle science.

            And isn’t the point of being in the gym lifting weights to get in shape and, most importantly, build muscle? Then maybe it’s not such a bad idea to do what the big, muscular guys do. Squats activate more muscles in your body than almost any other exercise. That’s why they are so effective in bodybuilding.

            Is there a risk of hurting yourself while squatting? Yes, of course. There’s also a risk with anything you do in the gym. The most serious injury in my life came from a tennis racket, not the 300 pound bar I put on my back. But everyone would rather write about the dangers of lifting weights because it’s socially acceptable to make fun of “douchebag meatheads” like you are.

            But go ahead, twist my words all you want, I’ll keep squatting and enjoying having a physique that makes every girl turn her head at a beach

            • Anthony Dream Johnson April 19, 2013 at 10:57 am #

              A 300 pound bar on your back eh?

              You should tell that to the kid who put a 295 lb barbell on his back and snapped his spine in half.


              Putting a barbell over your spine is incredibly fucking stupid. Having a PhD and putting a barbell over your spine just adds insult to “injury”.

              • grinch June 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

                “Junior quarterback Matt Bollig said he was doing a box step-up drill with 295 pounds on his shoulders on Wednesday. He lost his footing, the weights fell on top of him and broke his back.

                box step-up drill….you can’t go saying that back squats are dangerous because some idiot does box step-up drills with tons of weight on his shoulders.

              • NIKHIL June 11, 2014 at 3:32 am #

                That’s box step up. Do you realize, the Box step up with weights, actually give an uneven distribution on the spine? which = injuries. Squats have equal distribution of weights.
                Don’t mix your facts up.

              • ME August 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

                I think barbell squats are a fine idea, but not so much stepping ups with a barbell. That’s insane. You don’t go climbing stairs when you squat for reasons that should be obvious. Much less BACKWARDS (since you have to step back down for each rep). Are you reading the articles you cite as evidence? Before you go shooting down peer-reviewed scientific studies of other posters, perhaps you should read your own links?

      • Dave April 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

        You’re not making anyone very willing to find you credible when your mainstay argument is that people who squat are “brain dead” if not “dipshits.”

        Do you have any argument that is not ad hominem? Perhaps fact based?

        We would all be willing to listen.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 19, 2013 at 11:00 am #

          I’m still waiting for evidence that a squat is safe. My claim is ultimately not that squats are dangerous — that is a derivative conclusion — the real claim is that you have no proof of real, absolute safety. To the contrary, the squat zombies cite “form, form, form, technique, form, form, form”.

          Guess what? If it can fail it will fail.

          Furthermore, “good technique” does not grant you a magnifying glass into your spine on a daily basis. Squatters have *no fucking idea* what is, or is not happening to their spine incrementally over time.

          • tim June 18, 2013 at 6:04 am #

            Pretty much all of your arguments are opinionated and stereotypical. Infact they seem downright unintelligent. Everyone around you is provided perfectly relevant arguments backed up scientifically and your replies seem to be ranging from stereotypical generalisations such as “they are all dipshits” and links to videos of accidents. If theres one thing we have learnt from the media it is just because something is caught on camera a few times doesn’t mean it is common place and happens all the time. If you are going to debate play by the rules don’t twist peoples words, acknowledge when proper relevant evidence disproves what you are saying and don’t just use biast “I don’t like them so they’re wrong” arguments it just makes you look bad.

          • Amanda Adams July 23, 2013 at 10:58 am #

            It seems you really, truly believe that what you’re stating is true. That’s cool – people have differing opinions. But, if you have any interest in helping people (because you think barbell squats are dangerous) then why be so nasty and aggressive towards them? It doesn’t seem like you want to help people at all, you just want to make yourself feel superior by putting other people down. Do you mean to do that or is it something that you weren’t aware of?

            • MC July 28, 2013 at 4:59 am #


              That’s the first post he really did on barbell squats. If you read the comments, you’ll see the kind of people he was dealing with. “Dip shit meat heads” is pretty accurate.

              He’ll also probably tell you he doesn’t blog to help people.

      • ME August 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

        Oh come on, this is absurd. The guy comes with hard scientific evidence and you call that “unoriginal.” It’s called citing a source. You cited this Bill DeSimone guy a bunch of times, does that make you unoriginal? No, you’re just trying to back up your points like this guy, only Revo has better sources (peer reviewed science FTW, buddy). That’s a very weak rebuttal. You didn’t address a single point. It’s almost like you’re far more interested in being right than having a discussion or (god forbid) learning something.

        Many but not all of your statements about the squat and the dangers it could pose have at least a toe on the reality side of the line (good for you). But what is really lacking here is perspective, which is provided by Revo’s post. Of course squatting can cause injuries. So can any lift, period. So can running (a lot!). So can yoga, as Revo has shown. So we already know there is some risk associated with athletics (just as there is a risk in not performing athletics). The question is how does squatting stack up to these other activities (or inactivities). Do you have any data to demonstrate why squatting is worse than running? Because I was already of the opinion that running causes more injuries. If you want your point to be persuasive (and why else would you post it?), then perhaps you can tackle that end of the argument.

        Until then, this post doesn’t really advance its own argument. Speaking of which, your hostile responses in the comments, as well as your needlessly insulting verbiage in the original screed, are the opposite of persuasive. You may think you are scoring Internet Points with quick smackdowns and flames, but you just come off looking uninformed and rude.

  3. Mike February 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Josh, for a guy who said you dont have the time to debate this back and fourth, you sure did throw a lot on the table. First “your legs” are not a muscle.

    Second, in the context of fitness, once you initiate in some way shape or form the phrase “ask any women” or any of its derivatives- you have taken yourself out of the discussion, and no one should be listening to what may follow from then onward, its not even orthognal to the topic. AJ is making a point on a movement, and your talking about “what women (which ones? 3.5 billion of them?) find subjectively attractive in males)- irrelevant at best.

    Dave Tate and Lou Simmons, have both alluded to “not having any body parts left” due to the stress/injuries incured over years of doing the big 3. Dave Tate made a blog post outlining the various exercises he can no longer perform due to injury.

    1 point I agree on is that most meat heads are in fact not doing squats, curls in the squat rack are common, but heavy barbell squats are most certaintl not.

  4. butch February 28, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    No one can deny the benefits of the squat done properly. But we must emphasise “properly” as there are undeniable risks when done wrong.

    however just because it takes proper form and experience to do it well does not mean it should not be done.

    Like anything in life that’s worth while there are risks, it takes time, determination and intelligence to get somewhere with it.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Hey Butch

      Thanks for the comment. I realize it was made with good intentions, but the truth as I see it in your comment is that it is, yet again in this thread, a regurgitation of conventional wisdom, commonly accepted ideas, etc.

      You say “no one can deny the benefits”. This is a meaningless statement.

      I am denying them (on a cumulative, long-term basis – I’m not saying a barbell squat won’t build muscle, for now). Try to realize that it is completely irrelevant how temporarily effective a barbell squat is if there is any looming injury in your future, with that movement, or as directly resulting from the movement. “I was just tying my shoes and threw my back out. What a freak accident!”

      “Like anything in life that’s worth while there are risks, it takes time, determination and intelligence to get somewhere with it.”

      Again this is just intellectual vomit, and a straw man argument. You’re saying “everything has risk, so I’ll just do anything and hope for the best”.

      I’m not saying every physical activity does not carry some level of risk. I’m saying there is no real evidence to suggest that a barbell back squat is a safe idea. Doing it and not getting hurt is not evidence of such. It’s evidence that *you didn’t get hurt that particular time, in that particular moment*.

      • butch February 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

        The argument has an analogy:

        Diving a car has risk (far greater risk) yet you cannot recommend that people refrain from driving just because its an acquired skill, and a momentary laps can cause your and other peoples death.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

          Please read :

          • BigJeff5 February 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

            I think you should read that article much more carefully, because I don’t think you understand what a straw man argument is. I’ll give you a hint – nobody has made one so far that I have seen.

            A “straw man” argument is when you take someone else’s argument and change it such that it is either oversimplified or simply altered to the point that it is no longer the same argument, and then arguing against the changed argument. Politicians do this a lot.

            For example, a straw man of your argument would be that only stupid people perform squats, and they do it because they are stupid, so if you want to be smart don’t do squats. You notice this isn’t actually (part of) your argument, but it’s close enough (and simple enough) that it can overshadow your actual argument. These straw men are often easily argued against, and can therefore turn people against your actual (potentially) valid argument.

            Mind you, just because someone argues against you or disagrees you and makes a point against your argument does NOT mean they are committing the straw man fallacy. Your argument might simply suck.

            Now, what Butch did was make an analogy. I’m surprised you missed that, because he even said it was an analogy. Analogies are perfectly valid in an argument as long as the relation is the same. Think of those SAT questions that go like “green is to plant as red is to firetruck”. The two relations are the same, so as long as the analogy follows the relation it is valid. They are often used to reveal flaws in an argument (as Butch’s analogy did).

            Remember, reductio ad absurdum is a perfectly valid argument. It’s only when the argument is changed instead of / in addition to being simplified that it becomes a straw man argument (and therefore invalid).

            • tim June 18, 2013 at 6:07 am #

              ^^^This 🙂 I believe you just won.

  5. xoxo? XO! February 28, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    I’ve read elsewhere about the dangers of squatting, I think it might even have been in one of the 21convention videos, what that video was focusing was on how the spine and discs are built, and which areas are supposed to be carrying what amounts of weight. I remember the conclusion being that squats are not a good idea. Me personally? I squatted in a VERRRY good form, I’ve researched how to squat for a few good days, I loved squatting, annnnnd, I also got now like 2 herniated lower back discs. I suspect squatting was one of the main reasons. Squatting and some other stupid thing I did for the abs.

    The reason I loved squatting was because it was the only exercise I knew that gave my legs a pump – for me to push on the machine 200kg was just irrelevant, It was the maximum and it did shit for me, even when done 12 sets 12 reps, just wasn’t doing the trick.

    I was, however, unaware of good alternatives, Anthony – I blame you. Couldn’t you have written this article some 8 years ago when all of this was going down? *sighs* ask one of your speakers to build a time machine, and then email me this info. OR ELSE! TAM TAM TAAAM! :).

    To everybody else who are like “no squatting is awesome! It can be done SAFELY!” – good luck. Seriously, good luck, I hope perhapes your genetics or luck or whatever sufficiently protects you from injury. Herniated discs are not fun. Psychologically it is a lot to deal with, especially if your Ego is leaning upon strength as a definition of “manly”. I recommend you get into Eckhart Tolle, for when you fuck yourself up you’ll have easier time adjusting to the new reality *Grins*. Or maybe you never get injured. Maybe you’re a FUCKING BEAST. I sincerly hope you end up well, I can’t say herniations are a BIG problem, but it is an adjustment. You have to suddenly learn to walk better, straighter, sit differently, lift things VERY carefuly and VERY differently. Fights? Finish those fast or risc re-herniation. Extreme sports? Haha, goodluck with that.

    What I suggest to people who are on the fence is this: Research lower back herniations, L4/L5… See what your possible future has in store for you. just… Be safe kids :).

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Sorry to hear the bad news bud. Hope things improve. Glad to hear you’re not squatting though!

      • xoxo? XO! February 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

        ‘s all good ;). Just an adjustment, ya know? *shrugs*

    • Mark March 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Considering that most of the “stupid things” one does “for the abs” require flexing the spine,(exactly the opposite of proper squatting’s neutral-to-extended form), those exercises should do more than share the blame for your herniations; they likely take full blame.

    • Nazz January 23, 2014 at 3:28 am #

      You don not get a hernia from squatting, you get it from several other factors that has made your body suck before you started squatting.
      Fix those things and squat safely for the rest of your life, or dont, but dont blame squats because you “suspect squatting was one of the main reasons.”
      Anthony is just trying to get some attention.

      • Anthony Dream Johnson January 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

        False. I had no idea my barbell squat posts would become popular when I wrote them, nor was that the goal or purpose.

        I write these posts because I believe the ideas are true and important and I enjoy creating them. Lots of people being upset by them is just a side effect – a welcome benefit at that =D

  6. Daniel February 28, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    After reading this article and his crossfit articles, I realized Athony Dream Johnson is a giant vagina. Apparently every non-HIT program can get you hurt and make you cry. If this hole thing is about being a man, you need to grow a pair. I guess you sleep with a night light so you don’t trip and “injury” yourself on the way to the potty to wipe your vagina. It makes sense for you to endorse the hip belt squat since you don’t have a chance in hell of your vagina getting in the way as opposed to a dick and balls.

    Getting hurt is a part of life and so is lifting heavy things, even over head across your back. You need to spend a day or two on a farm, or doing physical labor. This cry baby crap is a joke and men don’t need to listen to this nonsense. We have enough government, experts, sources, and other idiots to feed this crap to men to make them bigger pussies that can’t protect themselves or family because they may get hurt.

    All that being said I’m an Orlando native that lives in Georgia. You are more than welcome to come spend a weekend being a man. Whether its cutting firewood, shooting a deer, getting it out of the woods, on your back, or rotating the tires on a car. Enough of the careful you may get a callus crap on a site intended for the ideal man. Unless this whole blog is leading up to you finding your “ideal man,” which I truly hope is not the case…

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Hey Daniel

      Thanks for commenting. Now I’m going to do you a favor.

      I’m going to be the first person in the world to tell you that chopping firewood has nothing to do with “being a man”. In fact this idea is beyond primitive. It’s pathetic.

      You seem to sincerely believe this, so I will also inform you that, you are a pathetic human being, and will remain so until this idea changes.

      Now, when you’re done fucking your sister-aunt-baby’s-momma-war-elephant, try not to kill yourself.

      • Big Burt April 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

        Daniel, if you are still alive, I hope you have taken Mr. Dream’s advice seriously. I hope you have asked your girlfriend/ wife (i guess this is synonymous with “war elephant” in Mr. Dream Johnson’s life) to chop all the wood, do all the physical labor, and lift all the heavy objects for you. I hope you have asked her to do this so that you can start a blog instead, and start blogging like a real man. I hope you’ve become less pathetic by avoiding all exercises, outdoor activities, car maintenance, calluses, scratches, and activities performed on two feet or sitting down with objects heavier than a keyboard. I hope you have done this so that you have more energy to blog. Most importantly, I hope you have internalized Dream Johnson’s message, which is that you can compensate for a lack of strength, intelligence, willpower, honesty, personal accountability and testosterone by whining on your blog that all that stuff you lack doesn’t really make you any less of a man.
        And always remember that if anybody disagrees with you Daniel, and points out that by definition, as you’ve so generously provided bounteous evidence via your blog, that you in fact are all those things you once accused Mr. Dream of, do the the manliest thing Mr. Dream could think of, and call them names.

        stop doing physical labor and start blogging like a real man,
        Big Burt

    • jt February 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

      Bravo (golf clap). This is the shittiest, most nonsensical blog i have ever stumbled across. Every response in blue is hardly readable. “The Dream” is clearly a moron. All he is saying is “be careful guys, let’s not try anything could be considered dangerous. No hiking, no skiing, no horse play, all if these activities could cause injury”. Does anyone know if you can block websites, making them inaccessible from my computer?

  7. jt February 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    How the Fuck did i get on this retards mailing list?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      You’re not on a mailing list.

      • Big Burt April 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

        mr dream,

        i don’t have any circus clowns on my mailing list. you can be the first.


        big burt

  8. Rob February 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    All Anthony is saying, in his over the top incendiary way, is that the barbell squat is a potentially injurious movement, with very grave potential consequences if an injury should occur. That is a rather obvious point looking at the exercise, and, in and of itself, should not be controversial.

    The folks taking issue with his post(s) are mostly end-running around this point. It’s not a matter of how often a given injury has actually occurred, it’s more a matter of do you really want to be there if it does. Not many folks are injured skydiving, but …….

    Say your goal is to get big, there are other, far less potentially injurious, ways to train the muscles of your upper legs and hips. The degree of actual inferiority of these exercises to the squat in achieving this goal is based on little more that anecdotal claims and statements of tradition. Anthony is saying that this is not a firm enough foundation for him to stand on with a barbell across his shoulders. And though he is making damn sure to insult everyone who believes the squat to be worth any risk, I think is main point remains basically unchallenged.

    What’s the worst case injury sitting in a seated eg press machine with 300lbs on the stack vs. a squat with 300lbs balance across your upper back? Volleyed accusations of meathead-ness and pussy-tude aside, is there really any point to argue here?

    • BigJeff5 February 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      Unfortunately he makes his arguments while giving absolutely zero evidence, which means we (or at least myself and a few others reading this) have absolutely no reason at all to believe anything he says. I’ve actually heard of studies that would at the very least tangentially support his argument, but does he cite any? No, of course not. The best you get is some guy giving a seminar who I also have absolutely no reason at all to believe.

      He also mixes in insulting personal remarks against people who do squat, and of course he does so without any actual evidence of any kind.

      Not a great way to make an argument, honestly.

      • Anthony Dream Johnson March 1, 2013 at 12:59 am #

        You’re confusing “evidence” with “studies”.

        Studies are not *evidence*, studies and resulting conclusions are one form of evidence.

        Blowing a knee out during a barbell squat, is another form of “evidence”.

        Interlocking vertebrae are another … etc etc.

        • Hugh Jackedman March 4, 2013 at 8:41 am #

          Studies collate evidence in order to form an independant conclusion. Blowing out knees and interlocking vertebrae are biased anecdotes.

          • Anthony Dream Johnson March 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

            And the award for this post’s dumbest comment goes to “Hugh Jackedman”, for citing human anatomy as anecdotal evidence.

            However he’s still runner up for the life-time achievement award, which goes to this guy from the first BB squat post.


            “This dude hates squats AND doesn’t believe in God. Coincidence? I think not.”

            • Teige May 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

              Hugh’s point about the value of studies is spot on. And you are being a prize moron in your responses here.

            • Blake June 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

              …that IS anecdotal evidence, if it’s just one person’s experience. It’s no different than an individual saying, “I squatted for years and didn’t hurt myself!” That proves nothing either.

              If you want real proof, you need peer-reviewed scientific studies. Anything less is anecdotal and insufficient.

              I’m a newbie to all this, and while I’m interesting in looking for squat alternatives, I wouldn’t take the specific advice from you. You come off as a haughty windbag, and your standards of proof are lacking. I hope you’re not like this in real life.

        • Rog May 29, 2014 at 6:26 am #

          Technically it’s true. Studies are not evidence. However I would be very reluctant to simply disregard studies done by the medical profession or scientists about the dangers of going unvaccinated into some third world countries, simply because a study isn’t technically evidence in itself.

  9. Mark February 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Agreed, but conditionally: -Unsupervised-, (uncoached), barbell squats are indeed not a safe choice, but with a coach, squatting skill is easily learned during the first rep, w/a safe, light weight. With coaching, used as a strength -building- exercise, there are virtually no injuries occurring. (In this regard,no essential difference from learning ‘safe’ protocols: Even ‘SuperSlow’ subjects use coaches.) The great majority of injuries occurr among those who train heavy singles, (another matter entirely; not recommended for -any- exercise). Ok, but why incur -any- risk at all, no matter how minimal?: Well, the barbell squat is -still- the single most efficient exercise. Safer free-weight squat methods exist, (hip belts, Frank Zane’s product, dumbells lifted from floor…), but none equal the total-body effect of a bar on the shoulders. Arthur Jones himself made greater gains with squats than he was ever able to recreate with his Nautilus machines.

  10. JOSHUA TRENTINE February 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    #1 reason not to squat- You would like to be able to fit your favorite pair of skinny jeans.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm #


      • tim June 18, 2013 at 6:22 am #

        I’m just curious do you have the same views towards other common activities such as driving? Because similarly to squatting there is a risk of injury whilst driving. This risk can infact be quite severe especially amongst those who are not very practised. Oh that’s right just like squatting or any other activity! So in summary activities with a high risk of injury such as running, squatting, driving are too dangerous to do? This is the gist of what I have understood reading your posts.

        If it’s not true then why do you support activities that are much more dangerous than squatting e.g. running, driving (see other posts above for peer reviewed university studies supporting this) but not support the much less dangerous action of squatting itself? Now before you say there are alternatives well yes there are alternatives to running and driving to. I can see your train of thought but I myself would rather live life than try and never expose myself to anything remotely dangerous.

        Also is this a huge troll to get publicity to your blog? Is it perhaps to get back at people who you are jealous of? Do you not train legs? and Have you ever been injured seriously squatting and you are trying to seemingly get back at the exercise? Please answer it will help me form my opinion of you before I judge to quickly and try not to respond with insulting, unintelligent or immature responses like your previous posts.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson June 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

          Do you read anything I write? I’ve answered this question before. It’s easy enough for a 7 year old to understand. An activity like driving is not performed for the purpose of improving one’s health. Exercise is, very strictly. Injury from exercise is not just an unfortunate accident (like in driving), it negates the fundamental and primary purpose.

          Support running? Running is very stupid and counter productive. I don’t think I’ve ever written in support of “running” on this blog in its current iteration (the actual domain itself).

          I train my legs. There are recent videos of me doing so on the blog. No I’ve never been injured doing a barbell squat, or any other exercise for that matter.

          • tim June 20, 2013 at 2:56 am #

            The thing you don’t understand is that lots of people don’t just do exercise for improving ones health. Similarly people don’t just drive to get from A – B. If that were so and people were just after practicality why would we have people driving turbo v8’s, racing cars etc. There are many people who weight train either professionally, as a hobby, so they can get better and see their improvements or just because they like it. Your argument is valid I just don’t agree with it. In a way it could be related to an activity such as riding a motorcycle. I don’t own a car I ride a motorcycle yet practicality is obviously not my main goal if it was I would have stopped years ago (due to safety, weatherproofing)

            • Anthony Dream Johnson June 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

              You clearly don’t understand what *exercise* is. You are interchanging it with “physical activity”, which is false and misleading. True, people can perform exercise to show off or some other nonsense, but if this is a primary purpose of the activity for a person, they are misusing the invention. You think this is a matter of teology but it is a matter of ontology, of what is actually going on irrespective of any person’s personal desires, values, goals, or intentions.

              • Sound logic fan June 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

                Exercise is not just used for improving your health. It is used for improving your physique, to improve your ability to do everyday tasks such as picking stuff up. It is also used to improve athletic performance in sporting endeavours. You say running is stupid exercise but practising running is an evolutionary imperative. If someone pulled a knife on you the risks of running away are far less than the risks of staying there and hoping they don’t stab you.

                With regard to squating, there are a multitude of studies done by far better qualified strength and conditioning experts than you which unequivocally state that for overall body strength there is no better exercise than the barbell squat. Now if you don’t care about gaining strength then by all means avoid the squat. If you do care about gaining strength then the squat is one of the most essential parts of any successful routine.

                Of course there is risk. There is risk of crossing the road but you still have to get to the other side. the most efficient way to do that is to cross. Ofcourse you could dig a tunnel under the road or find an alternative route which doesn’t involve crossing where traffic won’t potentially collide with you but that is a massive waste of energy when the risk really isn’t very high.

                If you want to get strong, of course there are alternatives which will get results and are safer, but they will take a lot longer and the strength won’t be as functional because these safer exercises don’t engage stabilising muscles and can only train one direction of movement which is not typical of real life strength engagement. Personally I would prefer to cross the road rather than dig a tunnel underneath it

                • Anthony Dream Johnson June 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

                  Ya, you completely missed my point. I’ll make this as clear as I can : what you want to do with the effects of exercise has nothing to do with what exercise actually does, first and foremost, and as a primary.

                  Do you understand that? Your goals with exercise do not have an effect on the facts of exercise.

                  Your “studies” and “experts” and “unequivocal statements” are old news BS. These experts endlessly circle jerk themselves into an ongoing squat bukaki surprise of broscience. Your risk stuff is old and primitive too. Ya, even breathing carries risk of injury. I get it. What you don’t get is what this looks like properly applied in reality : risk as close to zero as possible.

                  The fact that all these “bros” have to advocate “proper form” proves my fucking point. You need good form, all the time, because the exercise is fucking dangerous. This isn’t rocket science. If form can break down it will break down. Never mind said form needs to be maintained at a high level through a fatiguing protocol. So you need to maintain a skill as you exhaust yourself – two opposing forces.

                  There are not just alternatives to the barbell back squat — the barbell back squat is inappropriate and ridiculous on its own, independent of whether or not any other compound leg exercise exists in all the universe.

          • Mike Marsh March 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

            Actually I agree with you Anthony..Your body performs best when pressure of gravity is more even like a hydraulic pressure being more open than extremely closed..It is best to avoid where the pressure is real great in certain areas that are essential to the anatomy.A straight bar across the top of your spine is real small in circumference and putting an extreme pressure that is more closed instead of a more even pressure and against a spine not designed for pressure on top and at the back end..

            In 1999, me and a fellow who threw the shot put, designed a device of 3 telephone poles looking like a V shape with 1 big pole on the bottom, the other 2 forming a V on top held by those nylon ties of freight on trucks in 3 places..One end on a old wagon, the other at the bottom of a hill that flattened out on his Uncles farm..It had a drilled hole in the bottom of the main pole on that end and we put a still rod thru it into the ground..So it wouldnt move forward – on the wagon end..We did back lifts almost near the center of the poles & our back felt great & knees..He gained more mass, he weighed 285 at 6’1/2 inch and I did 2 at 5′ 10 and 246 pounds..

            He and I never squatted again and our back and knees feel great..Again, why? Because the weight is evenly distributed across the back as we straightened our legs and push with both hands above the knees..We would put a beer keg and other objects inside the groove the V shape telephone poles..The back squat is like a closed hydraulic pressure to your body..That’s why I never use the straight bar ever on anything..I have performed backlifts between 1500 and 2500 pounds since & my knees feel great & my back..

          • Tony October 29, 2015 at 3:35 am #

            You train your legs? With what? Bag of pencils? Shut your pie-hole dipshit and write again when leg circumference gets larger than your biceps.

    • Rob February 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      That’s my problem (yep- bragging with no pictures to back it up). The only muscles to which the creator assigned me above normal genetics are my thighs and ass. I have to wear carpenter pants or baggy chino cuts without any lifting at all.
      I leg press once a week – not to failure- and ballet plie once a week – not to failure, to keep my legs in shape. If I raise intensity, my thighs puff up virtually overnight. I really wish I had this curse with my delts, bis or calfs.

      For all that, I’ve never trained with the back squat. Tried to learn it when I was in high school, and attempted it several more times over the years, but it always ends up a lower back exercise for me. I have long legs and get a very high degree of forward lean. Front squats weren’t much better – they caused discomfort in my knees with anything other than a really wide stance. Dumbbell squats and goblet squats work fine though.

      • Mark February 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

        To varying degrees, low back is the weak link for virtually all squatters, thus pre-exhausting the quads is common in bodybuilding. A lean, (more correctly, a sit-back), keeps knees from extending out past feet, which is hard to avoid with, (the not-recommended), front-squats.

  11. Mark February 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    The most efficient aspect of the squat isn’t a matter of opinion: (Once again, properly done); The dynamic contraction of glutes, quads, hamstrings, & intense isometric contraction of the upper & lower back, hips, & abs, are not equalled by any other exercise. If the “upside-down pyramid” bother you, deadlifts come close.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Deadlifts I think are a bit less ridiculous than a barbell back squat. Even so, I think the correct assessment of what you listed are “flaws”, not features or benefits.

      • Mark February 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

        Please explain.

      • Mark February 28, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

        Some very successful therapy/exercise, ie, “Foundation Training”, (incidentally, FT’s Eric Goodman’d be a great guest for the 21Convention), includes what strongly resembles a barbell squat without a barbell, thus I must assume that the only real problem you have is with the weight on the shoulders, not the muscles that contract in a squat.

  12. Mike February 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Anthony… this is GREAT satire. Well done. It’s funny how people get so fired-up and think this is a real opinion or valid article. Haha. The best part is there REALLY are imbeciles out there that probably do believe there are valid reasons not to squat (presumably males that have been castrated).

  13. Mark February 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Aside from the essential incorrectness of your assertion, you can’t disallow ad hominem arguments, as the first sentence of your article is ad hominem.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      I’m not disallowing ad-hominem statements. I welcome them, even if I point some of them out. No comments of this sort will be deleted. Scouts honor.

  14. Drew Baye February 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Properly performed with an appropriate amount of resistance and with the proper equipment the squat is a highly productive exercise and is reasonably safe for most people. Like most things, it depends a lot on the individual.

    I think the real problem is most people squat like complete idiots. When training in gyms I rarely saw anyone squat correctly, including the so-called personal trainers.

    However, since the same general strength, performance, and health benefits can be achieved just as effectively and more safely with other exercises it makes sense to do those instead when the option is available.

    • Rob February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Drew –
      Your second paragraph says in all (and nicely negates your first).

      When I was in high school, I remember one guy at my local gym who impressed me with his squat. He was the owner of a tae kwondo studio in the same strip mall. He would load the bar with two 45’s and two 25’s and do super smooth 3 seconds down, 3 seconds up, breathing a few times in between for about 15 reps, with a zen, no expression face and no verbals beyond labored breathing

      Most everyone else I’ve seen does a near drop descent, bounce, ram-it-up ascent, with all the associated sound affects. I actually heard a guy in the gym I attend now complain that he can’t squat because they have a no grunt/yell policy.

  15. Ian Sturrock February 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Didn’t your buddies already lose the election to some liberal communist type, or something? 😉 Why are you trolling for hits again? Hoping to sell your domain name to some SEO firm?

    Brb, safely squatting weights that would snap your tissue-paper spine, like I do five days a week…

  16. Scott February 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Half a million trigger pulls? Were you planning on doing 5×5 twice a week for a couple of hundred years? Because that could indeed cause an injury or two….

    • Anthony Dream Johnson February 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      The arbitrary number cited does not pertain to an individual. It was posted to indicate the sum of all barbell squats performed in the US (although I am not claiming the number is accurate, it is probably much higher). I am implying that barbell squats are the functional/fitness equivalent of Russian Roulette, except the “trigger pull” is a group activity performed by the whole town.

      Inevitably someone walks up to the revolver and blows their brains out. This is true because the movement is permanently and fundamentally flawed, in and of itself, independent of the user, form, performance, etc.

      Even if you narrow this fitness version of Russian Roulette down to an individual starting at 20 years old, by the time he reaches 40 he will have performed over 26,000 repetitions of a barbell squat, with just ONE session of a 5×5 per WEEK.

      Strictly and only accounting for acute injuries (ignoring cumulative “wear and tear” and other invisible damages), at what price would you put a gun to your head and play Russian Roulette with a 26,000 round revolver?

      Now what if we point that revolver at your right knee?

      At your spine?

      You’re an imbecile to play, regardless of the odds. Exercise must improve your health, not lead you directly into an injury of an unknown and unpredictable degree.

      • Mark February 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

        Max singles, high volume, overtraining, explosive reps, cheat-technique: All less than desirable training practices, no matter what exercise is used. Yes, it takes a few minutes more instruction to learn to do a squat correctly, but I’ve witnessed more bad backs & torn tendons from cheat-curls than from squats.

      • Rick May 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

        I am a 55yo cancer survivor. Prostate removed 2-1/2 years ago. Started squatting a year before the surgery and after surgery I had to take 6 months off to recover the abdomen from the 5 holes in my midsection.My max was 265. I am 5’8-1/2″ and 195. Stocky might be a nice way of describing me (I like beer..and food). I have had chronic back pain for 30 years due to the stupid stuff I did growing up and working in a warehouse for years. I now squat 2 to 3 times weekly and I am up to 405 max but my working sets at 365. My back feels great. I have had a stiff and sore back at times from doing the “Crap! Bent over real fast to pick up the paper I dropped and my back is whack!” numerous times. At the end of a squat session, my back is loose and painless. I am still learning the squats as I have had no training other than countless hours on line looking for info. I am a huge fan of Dave draper and subscribe to his blog. The guy is in his 70’s and is awesome. I have no desire to or will to become a body builder but lifting heavy (heavy for me) clears me of my daily frustrations and gives me confidence. Squats rock. I’ll keep doing them. Also, Mr Johnson…I am no preacher but did you notice I didn’t use a potty mouth or make a personal attack on anyone else here? I mean I can cuss like a sailor but isn’t this string about all of us getting better at being more fit?

  17. Jack Frost February 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    Not sure why I’m on a mail list, but troll session! Wooh!

    I wanna know why you decided russian roulette instead of comparing it to medieval torture devices??????

    • Jack Frost February 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      ALSO, I forgot to mention for those who are doubting squats/mad about this etc. ;

      Just go to the single leg press. No risk, your other exercises will “work the spine and core” and you reap essentially the same benefits in your vertical and long jump and yadda yadda yadda.

      I suppose I could provide research on it, but, eh. Fuck it.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 1, 2013 at 12:57 am #

      You’re not on a mailing list. There are no more emails coming (ever).

  18. Justin February 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Don’t feed the troll, guys. This nincompoop tried to pull this nonsense a few months back as nothing more than a ploy to get hits on his blog and youtube account. He was monstrously successful in getting lots of troll feeding ninnies to do just that, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–so he is back at it, Leave it be–this guy knows not of what he speaks… and one look at the other things he is into and it is quickly clear this nutt-job is just too weird for his own good. Move along folks… nothing to see here… move along.

  19. Superman March 1, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    LOL, I got the “one” time email, not a bad read. I am feeling the new background, DBZ, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged…love it!

  20. MC March 1, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    I don’t think many people get it. Even if you have perfect form, the free standing barbell squat is not the best exercise to work out the muscles of your legs. It doesn’t seem like a great idea to put your spine through barbell squats.

    It’s also unnecessarily dangerous, considering there are better exercises you could do that don’t pose the same risks as free standing barbell squats. The hip belt squat is probably the best alternative.

    That’s what I basically got from the post.

    You wrote it in english, so I don’t see what the problem is. It doesn’t even sound controversial. Though I understand some of the language you used might upset them, they didn’t exactly show themselves to be the kind to argue intelligently or with respect the last time you posted on barbell squats.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 1, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      As usual, you get it with perfect clarity. Always good having you around man.

      • MC March 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

        A lack of indoctrination in all subjects, a lack of credentials, and lack of “expertise” in the given subjects has served me well : ]

    • Mark March 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Aha, well now we’re on rational ground. True indeed, -not- -the- best exercise for your -legs-, (at least not without a pre-exhaust of the quads). If that’s the issue , by all means replace squats with hip-belt squats. However, with correct form, (not as difficult to learn as some seem to think, really), the “danger” to the spine become the best exercise for all of the back’s muscles. As far as the tone of the debate, Anthony set it on course, others merely followed.

    • Paris March 3, 2013 at 2:38 am #

      Only one point out of the entire 10 in any way deals with the concept of squats not being the most efficient exercise for leg muscular development. The other 9 specifically deal with the danger and inadvisability of the the barbell back squat.
      I think I can see why most people didn’t get the same from the article as you. Beyond that I think the main issue is that there’s a huge population of people out there who aren’t necessarily meatheads but who legitimately think barbell back squats are a good exercise, both through their own experience and through evidence of controlled studies. They object I think to what I would call largely subjective and baseless claims by Anthony about the danger and inadvisability of the the barbell back squat, based on poor quality evidence.

  21. JB March 1, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    You’re on drugs mate. Better ease up on the crack, because it’s made you a full fledged retard. Everyone knows you never go full-retard.

  22. Aiston March 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    You’re confusing “evidence” with “studies”.

    Studies are not *evidence*, studies and resulting conclusions are one form of evidence.

    Blowing a knee out during a barbell squat, is another form of “evidence”.

    Correct. According to the nyaya-darsana, system of logic in Hinduism, there are 4 forms of evidence;
    pratyaksa (direct perception/personal experience)
    anumana (inference, observation of the experiences of others, observation of cause and effect on a larger scale outside of one’s own personal experience)
    upamana (comparison, that would include “studies”)
    sabda (evidence from authorities in any given field).

    What’s interesting in this thread is that I see attempts at many of the following 16 principles which comprise the ancient Nyaya System;

    1) pramana (evidence; the means to obtain factual knowledge) ,
    2) prameya (that which is to be ascertained by real knowledge) ,
    3) samsaya (doubt about the point to be discussed) ,
    4) prayojana (a motive for discussing the point in question) ,
    5) drstanta (citing instances or examples) ,
    6) siddhanta (demonstrated conclusion of an argument) ,
    7) avayava (component parts of a logical argument or syllogism) , 8) tarka (persuasive reasoning) ,
    9) nirnaya (deduction, conclusion, or application of a conclusive argument) ,
    10) vada (thesis, proposition, or argument) ,
    11) jalpa (striking disputation or reply to defeat the argument of the opposition) ,
    12) vitansa (destructive criticism; idle carping at the assertions of another without attempting to prove the opposite side of the question)
    13) hetv-abhasa (fallacy; the mere appearance of a reason) ,
    14) chala (deceitful disputation; perverting the sense of the opposing party’s words) ,
    15) jati (logic based merely on false similarity or dissimilarity) , and
    16) nigraha-sthana (a weak point in an argument or fault in a syllogism).


  23. Marcus March 1, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Spamming my e-mail with this bullshit? You sir are a troll with no knowledge of exercise science whatsoever. You don’t even lift buddy.

  24. Loki March 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    You’re small, you don’t lift, and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Stop emailing me.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

      I’m happy with my strength actually. And I love working out, although correct, I don’t “lift weights”.

      My equipment is much less primitive =).

  25. Donnie Hunt March 2, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    I’m wondering, do most people that do squats do them viewing them as a “functional” exercise? Do they do them because of all of the simultaneous muscle involvement?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Some people do, I’m sure, but for many, it’s probably a rationalization after the fact of trying to strengthen the legs with a piss-poor exercise.

      As other commenters have indicated, they interpret “trying to prevent the rib-cage from collapsing”, as a magical, comprehensive benefit to the body, which is utterly fucking stupid.

  26. Hunter March 2, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Hey Anthony, why are you so fixated over the whole issue with the barbell squat? Didn’t you already put up a post talking about how bad it is? And besides, the guys that follow you regularly already know about how bad the barbell squat is since you put up the video of Bill DeSimone’s speech from T21C 3 years ago.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Hey Hunter

      I think the topic is worth re-visiting from time to time, because it is a particularly dangerous and counter-productive exercise, if it can even be called an exercise. It’s unlikely I’ll write on it again until another 6-12 months have passed.

      You are correct that regular readers of TDL are already familiar with this knowledge, however, I don’t write for them. I write for me, and this was a fun post.

      – Anthony

  27. Paris March 3, 2013 at 2:25 am #

    Haha, god damn Anthony ‘Dream’ Johnson you are a kook. What a spin out!
    I get it though. You want to make a career out of this you have to have an angle, and being a Barbell Squat Denier isn’t a bad angle to get publicity, even if it is a fucking stupid one.

  28. Brandon Montgomery March 4, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Do you even lift?

  29. Nicole Weeks March 4, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Fine by me. You can squat less and I wil just look better on stage, run faster, and be stronger because I do

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Yes I’m sure you will, until you don’t, when a cumulative injury surfaces, or you suffer one of those “freak accidents”, that are highly predictable.

      • Nicole Weeks Boyers March 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

        Don’t drive, you might get into an accident. Don’t play sports, you might get hurt. Don’t eat rare steak, you might get sick. Don’t eat anything not organic, you might get cancer. Don’t go outside, you might get a life.

        Dude. If I die in perfect physical condition then I didn’t live hard enough. To not push my body to the extremes is to take this incredible gift from God for granted. If you want to live in bubble wrap, go for it. But get out of everyone else’s way and let us give it 100%.

        SHUT UP AND SQUAT!!!!!

  30. Robert March 4, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Hey Anthony,

    Just wanted to let you know that I did a full round of barbell squats this morning, and only now do I wish I had listened to your advice in your original post bc I did, in fact, die as a result of my squats. My spine exploded under the pressure and the EMTs found my heart in my underwear. My funeral is being held this Sat in Houston and I’d love for you to come out and preach the dangers of barbell squats and extol the virtues of your TRX 9000 workout machine at my wake. Plenty of whiskey will be available if you’re a drinking man.

  31. Mark March 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Someone brought up yoga as being on the joint-safe end of exercises choices, yet, as an unsupervised teen, I did much harm to my knees w/yoga, while no harm since then from squats. Virtually anything can be done w/poor form & thereby cause harm. Statistically, there’s no reasonable chance to hurt yourself w/squats. Anthony implied that squat-related injuries often manifest after the fact, (picking a penny off the floor, or some such thing), & thus aren’t a matter of record. Indeed, they’re -not- a matter of record, but rather, a matter of Anthony’s imagination.

  32. Mark March 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    As a career move, I believe the anti-squat thing’s a big mistake. I assume your #1 interest remains the “21convention”: Always filled w/positive advice, including exercise info. No comment need be made re what you -don’t- recommend when you’re stressing what you -do- recommend, the implication is there for those who wish to infer. Let the listener try the advice, & make their own decisions. The point: No one gets alienated; more potential clients who will perhaps soon be convinced to try your methods. Why someone in your position would want to piss off 100s of potential customers is beyond my understanding. Surely you don’t want to limit your clientele to those who already agree with you about everything!

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Mark, I cannot put into words how happy I am to have pissed off so many people. I am not saying this with sarcasm or anything of the sort.

      This has been great on a personal level, and it inevitably (even if unintentionally) benefits the business as well.

      Please, everyone, continue the outrage. I promise to do my best to continue upsetting as many people as possible, to the highest degree possible.

      • Darren June 14, 2013 at 3:46 am #

        Im not sure I see how it benefits you or your business Anthony. Im a subscriber to 21C, have read your book, and watched several videos from your conventions.

        I then read the two squat posts and basically see you insulting your readers, making claims and opinions but refuse to back those up with any evidence whatsoever while simply ignoring all the posts providing evidence, research, and studies. To my mind it displays a certain level of immaturity, lack of respect to your readership, and quite frankly a total lack of integrity, which is disappointing.

        And yes, I squat. I squat based on my examination of the available scientific literature and accept the consequences should anything happen. Its my choice and ive no interest in arguing for or against it.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson June 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

          You sound like a typical confused barbell squatter. You squat. So do I. I love squatting. In fact, I’m wise enough to load the squat properly, and defend the exercise from people who advocate idiotic loading methods.

          Equating squats with barbell squats is really misleading and primitive. It drags the entire exercise down as a whole. Learn to squat by taking the barbell off your spine.

          As for my readers, I usually love the company of people who actually read this blog — online and in real life. As for the random hit and run barbell squat zombie, I love upsetting them. They usually deserve it because most are a bunch of assholes. The ones that arent usually stick around because they realize no matter how much of an asshole I can play on the internet, I’m right on this, and that is much more important.

      • tim June 18, 2013 at 6:32 am #

        “Mark, I cannot put into words how happy I am to have pissed off so many people.” Was this infact the goal to begin with because if you need another list of controversial topics you can cause arguments by bringing up for entertainment and attention I can help: you could write about how you support 1) rape 2) sexism 3) the holocaust and much much more. If pissing people off really truly does give you satisfaction then for extra satisfaction may as well go the extra mile. I wish you complete luck in your fulfilling “life” as a keyboard warrior striving to piss people off so someone might actually pay you some attention in a risk free environment. Good luck 😀

        • Anthony Dream Johnson June 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

          Did you just say I support rape? I’m a big advocate of individual rights. The right not to be sexually assaulted fits pretty squarely in that mix. So on this note, go fuck yourself. As for “rape”, it’s been raped into grammatical hyper-inflation to the point of meaning almost anything, and as a result, can mean “everything” under the right conditions. You don’t seem to understand that, or give a shit, but that’s your problem.

          I don’t understand your sexist comment as it stands. You’d have to elaborate.

          I support life, liberty, and the pursuit of one’s happiness. Genocide is uh, not conducive to these things. So I don’t know what the holocaust comment means either. In fact I’ve blogged quite a bit about the horrors of government on this blog …

          • tim June 20, 2013 at 3:04 am #

            You obviously completely missed the point of that comment I honestly can not be bothered re writing it as i’m not sure you would understand. I did not say you support any of those things.

  33. eric March 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Interesting article, and I appreciate your active replies to comments. If you are in to it perhaps we could speak a bit deeper as to why weighted squats, and a handful of other loaded exercises are allowed to remain in programs even though they tend to hurt more than help. Good work, someone sent this my way this morning. Glad they did. –

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Hey Eric

      Thanks for dropping in. You can email me via the contact form at the top of the blog. You may benefit more though from speaking with Bill DeSimone, who has significantly more technical knowledge than me.

    • Mark March 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      In squat’s case, its because they -help- more than they -hurt-. Over the last 40 years, or so, more & more machine alternatives have come into use, so the statistical sample of barbell squatters has become a relatively small sub-set of resistance trainees, but in the 60s, -everyone- who trained for strength or muscle squatted. In school, every wrestler, footballer, & shot-putter was required to squat, and many others joined in when they saw the progress the squatters were making. In a high school of 4200+, w/an equivalently large # of athletes, we had a -lot- of guys squatting, & -no one- was getting hurt. (That whole bit about “hidden squat-related injuries” manifesting later on non-lifting occasions is the purest of BS.) All the anatomical explanations re why squats are unsafe seem to make perfect sense, but in practice, they don’t translate into as many injuries suffered by yoga students, low back injuries caused by improper leg press technique, or back & elbow issues from explosive barbell biceps curls.

      • Anthony Dream Johnson March 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

        A) other exercises are not in question here, stop de-railing the issue at hand – free standing barbell back squats.
        B) your siding with 50 year old cosmetic observations rather than basic anatomy and bio-mechanics

        Have you actually followed up with these thousands of students and athletes? Not likely.

        The facts are on my side, and if anyone ever gives a shit enough to really track on a day to day basis what’s happening to the spine, the more explicit science would side with my arguments overwhelmingly.

        This is abundantly obvious when your sense of self worth is not tied up in lifting heavy things and following the crowd in the gym.

        • Mark March 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

          A/ Other exercises -are- in question here, perspective. Claim something to be dangerous, it’s valid to ask: “Compared to what?” (& “What’s the risk-reward?” & “Who are you to claim anything?”) B/ Yes, I’ve maintained contact with these people: Some face to face, some via mutual friends, some online reunions, some actual reunions, many who’ve remained friends throughout. not thousands, but until proven otherwise, a better sample of healthy squatters than you have of…anything. C/ “If” indeed. Good luck with that. D/ A basic tenet of strength training is to build all of the strength, & commensurate muscle, that your genetic potential allows. -You- should strive to become a better example of results from the exercises -you- believe in before you bother to voice an opinion on an exercise that -has- played a major role in producing many impressive results. Even the 21C sycophants, (who publicly agree with you), whisper: “dilettante”.

          • Anthony Dream Johnson March 11, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

            My physical condition has nothing to do with exercise.

            Whether I am positively jacked to the max, a paraplegic stuck in a wheel chair, or anywhere in between, it is an equally stupid move to depend on physical results that are determined above all by randomness.

            I am not playing your game, I reject your basic premise, and I think you are an imbecile to cite my results for any meaningful purpose.

            Keep fooling yourself.

            • Mark March 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

              You’re mistaken. While it’s not the only criterion, what your claimed knowledge has done for -you- is certainly one of them. There’s also what your claimed knowledge has done for -others-. In this case, directly, nothing. Further, there’s your depth & duration of serious relevant study & real-world observation: Close to zero for each. You have an opinion, & you have the means to express it publicly, but that’s all you have. Thus, I repeat, you are indeed a dilettante. Even most of the experts you’ve brought to your seminars disagree with you. (Thanks for the “imbecile” response;-)

              • Mark March 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

                Again: 1/Squats are “dangerous”, compared to what? (EXS: Running, many yoga poses, virtually any explosive resistance training..) 2/ Do the typical rewards outweigh the possible dangers. (Clearly, yes.) 3/Who are you? (Not ad hominem, but rather, a real question.)

                • Anthony Dream Johnson March 12, 2013 at 11:28 am #

                  1) I have seen no evidence to suggest that barbell back squats are safe. Therefore I am going to assume they are unsafe, both acutely and cumulatively. Drop me a post card when you prove otherwise. Also, I didn’t say compared to anything. Why change the subject? I don’t need to point 2 guns in someone’s face to prove one or the other is unsafe in that position.

                  2) Contradictory question. Injury in the pursuit of health is the pinnacle of stupidity. The very act of weighing “rewards” against “possible dangers” is ludicrious and contradictory.

                  3) Why do you care? Why are you asking? Are you looking for letters after my name? Grow up and grown a brain.

                  • Mark March 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

                    1A/You haven’t -looked- for evidence.EX: the large number of healthy, uninjured, strong life-long squatters. 1B/Nothing exists in a vacuum. Proper squatting’s safer than most exercise choices. To not say so is misleading. To not know so is ignorance. 2/-Every- act has a risk / reward ratio, and each must be considered, from eating sushi to crossing the street. 3A/I don’t “care”, but I also don’t ask bums on the street for their opinion on sqautting safety.How are you any different from those bums? (Aside from internet savvy.) 3B/Not letters after your name, just any indication you’ve put meaningful time & effort into backing up your opinion. You haven’t. 3C/”Grow up and grown(sic) a brain”.What a grown-up,brainy response;-)

              • Anthony Dream Johnson March 12, 2013 at 11:31 am #

                “In this case, directly, nothing”


                Nothing. Now you’re getting it. Not getting injured is nothing. Nothing happens. A great nothing!

                Something tells me you attended too much schooling.

                • Mark March 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

                  You’ve devolved into stream-of -consciousness? In case you sincerely didn’t catch my meaning: In addition to you obviously not having put in the hard work it takes to be fit & strong, you haven’t helped any other person improve their physical well-being. You simply have zero credibility on the subject you wish to pontificate on.

                  • Anthony Dream Johnson March 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

                    What makes you think I have any direct interest in helping people? I don’t recall saying that. Nor do I “check” to see how many people you, or anyone else has helped.

                    That number is irrelevant to the discussion.

                    • Mark March 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

                      I already informed you that whether or not I “care” about something is irrelevant. Now I apparently have to also inform you that whether or not you “have any direct interest in” any particular thing is also irrelevant. It’s what you -do-, that pertains to your credibility, not what you “care” about, or have “interest” in. So, what exactly -do- you do, Anthony? Why do you seem to think that anyone should “care” what you think?

                    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

                      “Why do you seem to think that anyone should “care” what you think?”

                      Because I’m probably right haha.

  34. Frank Fuller March 11, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    You make some good arguments, but everything here is debatable and not necessarily written in stone. The fact is, for some trainees squats (ie football players, sprinters, other athletes who have proper coaching) work very well and for others- they have no business doing barbell squats (ie 70 year old grandma with osteoporosis, teenagers who ego-lift with bad form..etc), but I’ll address these arguments one by one:

    “Reason # 1 -The favorite, most highly touted exercise of the world’s dumbest men, is the barbell squat”

    …your opinion. Sure lots of meatheads love the squat for no other reason than simple indoctrination but the same can be said about the guys who spend all day doing bench presses and barbell curls.

    “Reason # 2- The barbell squat requires “good form” they say, indicating that it is a skill ………….Well, skill based movement in a fatiguing and progressive protocol = a recipe for disaster. (source)”

    It’s only a recipe for disaster if you squat with improper form. Sure, your form can get messed up if you take it all the way to fatigue/failure…but that’s the point- all you have to do is stop one rep before you hit failure or before your form breaks. Anyone with a few months of training under their belt can easily sense when performing another repitition will cause a break in proper form.

    “Reason # 3- Russian roulette with a multi-hundred pound barbell x 500,000 trigger pulls = someone getting hurt….That last part is especially important for the “experienced” trainee aiming for a personal record, or even just “squatting heavy” on a given day.”

    Injuries are inevitable in any sport or athletic endeavor if you do it long enough. Going back to my last few points, you can minimize injury by not sacrificing proper form and ego lifting. We can’t refrain from doing all activities because their is some component of risk. I’d say you’re playing russian roulette with a multi-hundred pound piece of metal when you go out and drive your car everyday. Car accidents happen all the time, but if you drive safely and don’t do stupid shit, you’ll minimize your chances of having a bad wreck.

    “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.”

    Again, this is your opinion. A pulled muscle isn’t going to stop anyone from walking and it is an easily recoverable injury. A freak accident may indeed happen, but you’re much more likely to lose your ability to walk playing tackle football (I can sense the screams of “strawman” coming now).

    “Reason # 5- There is an absolutely, definitively, and entirely better alternative to the barbell squat (all forms) : the little known hip belt squat.”

    Again, this is your opinion (and Bill Desimone’s)…doesn’t mean it’s actually better or more “congruent”. If anything, it just introduces a new element of danger: the hip belt around your waist will pull you into a deeper lumbar lordosis. If you are already have tight hip flexors and paravertebral muscles with weak abs and glutes, doing this can expose you to developing a spondylolisthesis in the low back, especially if you jack up the weight on the belt. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do a hip belt squat…but just to counter the opinion that this is necessarily safer than a barbell squat.

    “Reason # 6-The structure of the spine does not suggest that it is suited for top heavy loads. (source).”

    Bill Desimone talks about this but this is actually a false argument. He is correct that the spine does have a pyramid structure with the largest vertebrae at the bottom (sacral and lumbar) and the smallest on top (cervical). His premise is that you shouldn’t load from the cervical vertebrae at the top of the spine. This argument is false for two reasons:

    1. Even high barbell squats aren’t loaded at the cervical spine. The bar is always places at the first few levels of the Thoracic spine depending on how low you put the bar.
    2. The thoracic spine actually is MORE stable than the lumbar and the cervical spine. Think about it, how often do you hear people complain about mid back pain…it’s always low back pain or neck (cervical) pain. That’s because the orientation of the facets on the thoracic vertebrae coupled with their attachment to the ribs make them highly stable, much more so than the lumbar spine..and this is precisely where squats are loaded from.

    “Reason # 7”
    I’m not going to address this because I’m not sure what you are alluding to.

    “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)”

    Again, proper form, without ego-lifting, and your spine will be okay. But this entire point doesn’t really make sense. If you’re doing a bench press, your forearms, hands, and sternum are now the middle man between hundreds of pounds and your pecs. What’s your point? that we have interconnected joints and sometimes we have to load a muscle far away from it’s insertion point?

    “Reason # 9-Looks like heavy squats can (and if it can go wrong, it will go wrong) cause nerve damage to the shoulders.”

    Heavy squats MAY cause nerve damage to the shoulder. Dropping a dumbbell on your face MAY fracture half of those bones. Exercising bare foot MAY cause plantar fasciitis. The key word is MAY…nothing is definite or set in stone, no matter how good the fortune teller sounds.

    “Reason # 10- 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?”.

    Maybe on internet forums…but in the real world, just my opinion, but the bench press seems to be by-far the most popular exercise amongst “meat heads”. And just because a “dip shit meat head” likes a particular exercise, doesn’t negate the value of that exercise. The exercise itself may still be valuable just don’t perform said exercise in a “dip shit” way.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Hey Frank

      You are confusing “trainees” with “athletes”. One does not equal the other in all cases and contexts. More importantly, athletics has nothing to do with exercise.

      Your comment is huge, I’ll respond more when able.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      You called reason #4 an opinion? hahahahaha.

      I think you mean “this is your (accurate) application of an objective risk of injury”.

      You’re not very good with words sir.

      • Joe January 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

        This is a pretty stupid commentary all around. Of course there are risks with performing squats, just like anything else. It would be much safer if everyone walked instead of driving their cars but people still drive since its a much faster way to get from point a to point b. Similarly if you are looking to get strong or improve your overall fitness, there are few exercises better than the BB squat. It would be more convincing if you could give some (or any) actual data on the injury rate among squatters (injuries specifically caused by squats).

        I wish that you could have an actual discussion on the pros and cons of BB squats but judging by your other responses it looks like you’re just interested in being a snarky asshole to other people who disagree with you.

  35. ads huminham March 13, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Your inability to distinguish between ad hominem and ad personam is itself ad hominem, entitling you for a full refund for your supposed education

  36. Blake March 14, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    hahah says the 160 pound pussy..whats the last athletic endeavor your participated in and excelled at? frisbee golf? i really love how your all about paleo, it pains me to think that unlike our ancestors of that wonderful era i am no longer allowed chase you down beat your ass to death and take all your food and females for that is surely what would of happened to you in those times. you truly are an enormous vagina and sadly just another part of the ever growing pussification of the modern male. your the type of guy whose girlfriend “dipshit meatheads” like myself stuff with dick while your shopping for scented hand lotions at bath and bodyworks

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Hmmm… ya… I don’t think so.

      Also, why do you think I’m 160 pounds? I have a recent DXA scan posted on this blog putting me at over 180 lbs.

      This degree of misjudgment by you and every other meat head that reads this makes me think I am a lot stronger than a majority of you.

      I’m probably leaner than a chunk of you as well. Go look up the DXA scan via the sidebar if you’re curious.

  37. X March 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    This is the equivalent of a chess player, watching a hockey game and commenting on how dangerous it is. The guy looks like he hasn’t done anything athletic his whole life, has the strength of the average 13 year old girl and falls for “snake oil” equipment. The squat will be around forever because it has shown it’s value and there are many people who have performed it for long periods of time with little/no injuries. Your little “timed static machines” will be gone before you know it. Unless you manage to get dimwits to listen to you and set themselves up for failure. Squats healed my knee injury (mainly by increasing mobility and fixing muscle imbalances) and I’ve never had an issue due to them. They have also been proven to significantly increase bone density and strength.

    At this point, I don’t think you even believe you’re right. I could see this being a great way to get views on your site from all the enraged “meatheads” (that are all 8x as strong as you could dream to be). There are tons of riskier exercises that can warrant this article, but a squat is not one of them, especially if it’s purely based on ignorance of the human body.

    But please, the last thing I want is an e-mail from you to spark the life of your blog. Simply glancing over your articles makes me drop a couple IQ points.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Your comment is meat-head level typical and reminiscent of herd-thinking. You are also fooling yourself re healing yourself. For all you know your knee healed *in spite* of barbell squats, not because of them.

      Re bone density and strength … it doesn’t mean anything. Eating genetically modified wheat is also proven to prevent death by starvation. What the fuck is your point?

      These points are elementary at best. Go learn how to think, come back, and leave an original comment.

      Edit : that should say “rough equivalent”, or alternatively, the wheat part needs improved word choices (away from prevent, towards improvement).

  38. Tonez April 12, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    Interesting points you brought up. After checking through your sources all I found was youtube videos, blogs and wikipedia articles. Can you post up some credible sources to back up your claims?

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 12, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Sure, look in the mirror at your back.

      Half joking.

      I am arriving at these conclusions through basic observation and thought experiment. I have no interest in scanning pubmed like a crack addict without his fix.

      Seriously, this is not that complicated. This is not biochemistry. Don’t put a fucking barbell on top of your spine. Its stupid, dangerous, counter-productive, and completely unnecessary.

      You like weighted dips? Tighten the chain up and do squats with the dip belt on, very slowly. This is 100 x safer and more effective than a barbell squat.

      If you’re really convinced a systemic load on your body is a good thing, dead lift with extreme caution.

      • Mark April 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

        Arthur Jones, Drew Baye, & Doug McGuff disagree. Barbell aren’t their 1st choice , but they’ve each done them when other options weren’t available.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

          Yeah I’m aware of that … and they are all wrong on this. Not the first time in history someone, or some number of people were wrong on something.

          At what point did I pin my position on what they have said in their lifetimes?

          They have been, and will continue not be be *perfectly flawless* in their conclusions.

          • Mark April 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

            Oh, right Bill DeSimone, he’s the flawless one. (Along with you, of course. Congratulations on that.). Good luck with your “BodyBlade” workouts 😉 They’re infinitely safer than squats, I’ll give you that. (So is sleeping, as long as you don’t count getting into & out of bed.)

      • Mark April 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

        Oh yeah Keith Norris, too. That pretty much covers all your mentors/sources on exercise. All have squatted with a barbell on their back; at least 2 of them still do on occasion; & all of them accept it as a safe effective exercise. Yes, there are preferable options, sometimes available, sometimes not, but as your betters know, there’s big difference between not recommending an exercise as a first choice & flat-out condemning it. The probability of your “probably(being)right” is rapidly approaching zero:-)

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

          Do you even lift, bro?

          • Mark April 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

            (Yes, I do, but you don’t, “bro”.) So four of the most credible experts in the art of safe effective exercise, (disregarding that Keith’s not too good with the English language), whom you often rely on for your own credibility, agree with each other, but not with you, and -that- proves that -they’re- not flawless? Welcome to your own little world, Tony.

      • Big Burt April 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

        mr. dream,

        i want to caution to you in the facts that deadlifts can injure people 2. OK> this one time, my cousin Cecil was in his garage, doin deadlifts, cuz he’s crazy, got no sense of extreme caution, and he lifted up, but tipped sideways, because he couldn’t stand two good with only one rollerskate on, and so all his neighbors hear is him goin WHOAAA WHOAAA for 5 hole minutes before he finally balanced, but then because a freak nerf football that jiggled loose out of top shelf where he kept his paint cans hit him in the ear, he panicked and hurled the barbell sideways, end over end, through his garage wall, and landed the neighbors pool, but dumb Cecil had his other foot tied to the bar, as usual, told him he shouldn’t tie his feet to the barbells, so he’s through the garage wall, so now he’s in the pool with the barbell, and the whole fire department is over here tryin to get Cecil out of the pool, so people, don’t deadlift unless you want to end up in a pool with Cecil with your foot tied to a barbell and another with a rollerskate on it.

  39. lagman April 19, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    you don’t even lift bro

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      But bro, the question is not to lift, or not lift, but to lift while in the process of lifting thy fellow lifters lifts that subsequently lift themselves and the uplifting yet independently lifting world of bro-lifting around them.

      Tis not the lift that counts, but the lifter’s lift’s lifts.

    • Mark April 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Operating on principle that the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation, think I get your method now, Drew: Smoke and blog. explains a alot

  40. Big Burt April 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    People squat because they are interested in getting strong. The most effective means of getting strong is the barbell squat (this isn’t up for debate).

    As in any worthwhile goal, the most effective means of getting there can be uncomfortable. These uncomfortable activities tend to sort people into two groups: 1) people who are interested in doing the work, withstanding the discomfort and achieving the goal and 2) people who are interested in pretending or talking loudly or avoiding discomfort.

    Being in the second group can engender feelings of exclusion, contempt, insecurity, and envy. Since the self-selecting criteria for that second group is an insufficient propensity to withstand discomfort, it follows that those people will avoid looking in the mirror and acknowledging from whence their lack of merit derives. Rather, they’ll brainstorm rationalizations that make those negative feelings palatable (since brainstorming excuses is easier than squatting, or being honest).

  41. Big Burt April 20, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Now to address Mr. Dream:

    Sir, your article concerns weightlifting. People lift weights, and develop ideas thereon, to achieve goals. Goals in weightlifting are of the most objectively measurable variety. The ideas implemented in service of those goals therefore have that most excellent outlet with which to resolve questions concerning their proximity to truth: objective feedback. What I mean is, and stay with me Mr. Dream, though this will no doubt escape you: barbells don’t lie. This is wonderful news for individuals such as yourself that, despite lacking academic or intellectual credentials, invest so much energy in, as you put it, “basic observation and thought experiment” concerning weightlifting. For in my own “basic observation and thought experiments” in weightlifting, I have never once observed or dreamed a philosophy whereby a ideas applied in practical reality (this is different from the blogosphere), which render the human body incapable of applying sufficient force, have nevertheless convinced, cajoled, lampooned, or derided a barbell into motion.
    Now, this next point will surely comfort you (because it concerns that to which your livelihood is tethered): we live in the so-called ‘internet age’. There is no easier way, in any field of knowledge or activity, to garner credibility than to post a video of yourself performing a physical activity and, by the evidence provided in the aforementioned video, demonstrate the veracity of your theoretical treatise/blog-post/thought experiments. Thousands and thousands of people have summoned up the courage to do this. And even more people courageously expose their ideas to the barbell, which, as I have mentioned, by my count, hasn’t lied to anybody.
    In other words, it is your sad misfortunate that this topic doesn’t exist in one of those theoretical planes where, as you put it, conclusions are derived from “basic observation and thought experiment”. Until that barbell starts lying and typing “I am right” for 10 reps of 10 sets twice a day causes that barbell to move, it will be really, really, really easy to tell who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t. But, avoiding that honest, objective measure of your ideas’ value does have the advantage of providing you safe hiding behind your keyboard.

    And stop telling people that you squatted 320 in high school. Nobody’s impressed that you got to half-way to first base once, and then decided to turn around because nobody was on hand with empirical evidence that girls are safe.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 22, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      And …. we can chalk another one off as hopelessly confused.

      • downinclemsc April 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

        Anthony, what’s your opinion of working ‘da core?

      • Big Burt April 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

        Your weak response and your weak stature have more in common than might immediately occur to you. Despite your confusion being entirely expected, you are not hopeless. Much like getting under a barbell and squatting to an appropriate depth can seem hopeless, because it exposes those physical and mental limitations one has acquired via a life spent blogging, reading can be equally humbling and demanding. Performing the requisite work required to achieve a respectable effort in the weight room produces that common side effect of discomfort which also can result from diagramming sentences, making frequent trips to the dictionary and retiring to a quiet place to brood on the larger meaning that personifying inanimate objects might represent. Now, Mr. Dream, everybody that’s read this far has already made this connection and in all likelihood has understood this basic idea for quite some time, but I will cater to your reputation and spell it out for you: the parallel that connects your weak mind and weak body is a predisposition to avoid discomfort, or work.
        Now, Mr. Dream, you’re undoubtedly not privy to the esoteric mystery I am poised to unfold, whose origin dates to the ancient gentlemen who first bore arms and has withstood the torrents of time, war, floods and famine, but I’ll tell you anyway, because a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear: an exercise performed in which one could simultaneously send a text message, play a video game, or twirl pizza dough does not count as ‘work’. Work, Mr. Dream, is not the same thing as fun. Fun, to frame it in terms you will understand, is that feeling you get when you pout/ blog a list of excuses that justify your mediocrity, like a six year old that’s dropped his sweets in the dirt.
        The reason that you are not hopeless unfortunately coincides with the reason you will continue imitating a six-year that’s dropped his sweets in the dirt: work can entail perilous risks to your safety. Work, such as a barbell squat or a trip to the dictionary, entails the distinct risk that you will be mentally and emotionally exposed to what we in the English language colloquially refer to as “reality”. You risk even more mental confusion in the process, such as the question: how come all those fitness blog posts aren’t moving this barbell? You risk your emotionally safety when you get out that “how to start a business” syllabus and you admit: there are no “dip shit meatheads” anywhere in the world, no matter how drunk they are, that are stupid enough to fail a class twice that was invented to be an easy A at a university invented to be blown through with one’s eyes closed. I’ve made great effort thus far to pander to your standards of emotional, physical and mental maturity, but I cannot with a sound conscious go so far as to pamper you with the notion that there are “dip shit meatheads” that exist on this planet of any age or sobriety that are that stupid.
        I can also not guarantee that there are studies on hand evincing the safety of your mental and emotional constitution under the duress of work, honesty, reality, or effort, but that doesn’t matter because it is your stated mission in life not to find out.

  42. Mark April 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    You already admitted that all but 1 of your most trusted exercise mentors don’t agree w/your theory on squatting, so, in fact, there’s no “we”, there’s only -you-. “Reasons” why something’s dangerous are meaningless when almost no one’s actually getting hurt. After over a 1/2-century of squats as an often-performed exercise, the extremely low #s of squat-related injuries prove the opposite of your claim. Olympic lifters, who practice the most explosive, deepest, heavy barbell squats, front & back, have next to no back & knee problems during their careers or retirement, (meaningfully less than the non-lifting public, drastically less than runners). Apparently your smug self-satisfaction up for lack of evidence. Lucky you.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      “After over a 1/2-century of squats as an often-performed exercise, the extremely low #s of squat-related injuries prove the opposite of your claim.”

      Haha. False, and irrelevant. Statistics are also uninteresting — what is much more interesting, and revealing, is whether or not there is a barbell placed on top of your spine.

      This is even more insane than putting a barbell over your face, neck, jaw, teeth, etc during a barbell bench press.

      Furthermore, Olympic lifting is a sport. Specific sports attract specific genetic lots. Specific genetic lots of people, may have abnormal resiliency to activities which may damage normal, healthy human beings, acutely, as well as in accumulation.

      “Covering up” real damage and making it difficult to observe. I’m gonna take a SWAG that the “bro-ness” of Olympic lifting also comes with certain personality types, that are less likely to even accept a twinge/pain/injury, never mind report it and attempt treatment.

      Get it through your skull. Barbell squats are primitive, dangerous, absurd, and entirely unnecessary for anything.

      • Big Burt April 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

        Mr. Dream, I’m just wondering, to you condone the practice of statistics? Can u plz. do next article: “top ten reasons NOT to do statistics”
        also, just some housekeeping: you forgot to include the disclaimer that your caution against barbell bench presses is for people either 1) without opposable thumbs or 2) individuals who have spent the last half hour sitting on their hands and have lost all feelings and motor control from their forearms to their fingers. Not a good time to bench press. Please wait until feeling has returned to hands before bench pressing. Thanks Anthony. hint hint: “top ten reasons NOT to bench press after sitting on hands or if you have no thumbs”.
        You’re of the opinion that twinges require immediate medical attention. Well this morning, I was lifting weights, and then later as I was taking off all my protective knee-pads, shin guards, elbow braces, motorbike helmets, etc (b.c. of the dangerous barbells I was using) I felt the strangest twinge, just like you sez ppl do, and I thought coincidence? Anthony thinks not! And then I sez, only a “bro” or a personality type predisposed to lifting weights could ignore this and not seek immediate medical attention (just like Mr. Dream sez), and then it got worse and worse and finally, right before I was about to call an ambulance I had a big sneeze and the twinge went away in my nose. But then I saw your post I sez to myself I sez, I must be one of those people “covering up real damage” and making it “difficult to observe” b/c I was merely “accepting” my twinge and not “reporting” it or “attempting treatment”, and now I think I might call the hospital back. Thanks Anthony.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson April 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

          Burt, when Mark says “the extremely low #s of squat-related injuries”, this is an euphemism for “a lot”, and “an individual is virtually guaranteed to get hurt over a lifetime”.

          This is absolutely unacceptable in exercise. Any movement that carries this risk cannot be regarded as exercise. Walking into the gym must be more dangerous than the exercises themselves.

          • Big Burt April 23, 2013 at 3:00 am #

            Mr. Dream, three points, each more important than the next. First, when you say “you cannot prove that squats are completely safe”? it’s a basic fault of logic, you’re a fan of Ayn Rand, you know you can’t prove a negative. It’s impossible to prove that squats cause zero damage, hurt, injury, danger, or risk.
            Second,when you say, “an individual is virtually guaranteed to get hurt over a lifetime”, it’s a euphemism for, you don’t know what “virtual guarantee” means. Not a big deal, don’t get mad about it, though when people speak that no more about it than you, you would do better to listen than to make memes. It’s just stupid, basic causation: two variables occurring together does not entitle you to draw a line with an arrow on it, nor does a sophisticated statistical model with highly reliable and valid data and measurements, which you don’t have either. Since you’ve generalized your observations to the point of meaningless abstraction on multiple fronts, you no longer have recourse to the observations with which you started, which were that in several circumstances it makes sense to conclude that squats caused acute and cumulative injury. I’ll explain this in greater detail if need be, but you might have to read some college statistics hand-outs.
            So you can’t say “squats are not 100% safe” and you can’t say “squats have a 100% chance of injuring somebody over a lifetime”.
            But you also say, squats have a better alternative. Well, not by performance metrics. A person with a higher back squat than you will always out “hip-belt” (HB) squat you, and they will put more force into your machine that you’ve posted on youtube.
            This is so easy to prove, just go find somebody with a higher squat than you and post the video.
            And for a gentle thought experiment, consider why, in the presence of exercises that produce a better adaption in leg strength or power, every athlete that’s shown up at the Olympics in weightlifting for 50 years has squatted, and often at the exclusion of all other exercises sans the lifts themselves. Same goes for powerlifting, same goes for power sports.
            So you can’t say squats are more effective at improving lower body power or strength, but you also claim hip-belt squats are safer. Back to causation: You haven’t taken into account the effect of performing any activity near one’s genetic potential, which leads to a higher incidence of injury. You have no idea whether squats cause injuries, or if the cause is that squats have a high association with people who push themselves to their genetic limits no matter what exercise they’re doing, and therefore, what we’d call a “high achiever” attitude causes the injuries. And we’ll never find out, because nobody interested in performing to their maximum ability does hip-belt (HB) squats, because if they were interested in getting their HB squat as high as possible, they’d back squat to accomplish that. And since nobody performing HB squats is interested in performing near their genetic potential, that population’s risk of injury is lower.
            So that leads to the third point, which is that in the same way that all those students that destroyed you in high school and college didn’t study because it was “healthy” or “good exercise” for their brain (the risk here being opportunity costs, such as time and energy spent running a blog), nobody gets under a barbell and squats to depth for their entire lives because it’s “healthy” or “good exercise”. Nobody interested is getting a light sweat going gets under a barbell, or does cross-fit for that matter. It’s what’s called: having better reasons to be in the weight room.

            • Anthony Dream Johnson April 23, 2013 at 10:06 am #

              Broski, you’re leaving too many comments that are super long. Please make a better effort to keep it concise.

              • Hamboni April 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

                Big Burt… you have such good comments. KEEP THE COMING… What is your opinion on good mornin’ing low bar squats whenever you have okay form?

              • Mark April 24, 2013 at 11:42 am #

                Careful Burt, Drew might injure his eyes from reading, & you could injure your fingers from typing.

      • Mark April 24, 2013 at 11:36 am #

        Apparently -many- of us of us here have a genetic resiliency that allows us to achieve injury-free strength improvement from squats. At 64, I’ve done so since 1966.. (still waiting for that “accumulation…damage” to kick in:-) the meantime, I can out-work & out-fight, (yes, it has occurred), guys like you. Sorry about your lack of resiliency.

  43. Big Burt April 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    4) “If I don’t have to logically defend it, I don’t have to logically defend it. Same way I don’t have to explain to you why I have a right to my life”.

    -where do you get this stuff from dream boat? at some point, you should consider the integrity of plagiarizing, and learn how to cite sources.

  44. Michael April 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Last time I was in the gym I tore a tendon when I was bicep curling, broke my arm on bench press, sprained an ankle on the treadmill and took an arrow to the knee dead liftingn! Guys, listen up! This guy is seriously onto something! Exercise is DANGEROUS.

    Beware, squats doesn’t build immense muscle in your quads, glutes, hams and strengthen your core. It’ll shorten your life and you’ll die of aids.


  45. Jerry Y May 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    I would like to thank you for your writing this article and the time you are taking ot answer the questions. Now in my own experience with squats they have hurt my spine and I do not trust them for myself or the athletes I train, because of my own logic ( and others help with more advanced concepts) regarding the basic anatomy of the spine, physics addressed to the spinal colmun, and my experience. I think hip belt squats are a great alternative. I have a question though. I am trying to find safe and effective lower back exercises that will not jack up my athletes and me…….. do you have any suggestions??? I was thinking trap bar deadlifts,, reverse hypers ( louie simmons machine which a lot of people say helps their back tremendously), 45 degree hyperextensions, dumbell deadlifts and certain exercises with bands only.
    Thanks for your time

  46. Eddie May 8, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Not squatting? That’s the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. The squat is king of lower body body functional strength exercises. The problem is not with the exercise.
    -It’s that so many people have no idea how to do it correctly.

  47. Andy May 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Why are you people getting so butthurt about the opinions of a fucking self-help guru? You basically fucked up by even engaging in the conversation. Squat or don’t. Definitely don’t sit at your computer and argue with the Ideal Man.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson May 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      I don’t think it is accurate to call me a “self help guru”. I run a (awesome) blog, and build conferences.

  48. Mark May 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Thanks for the latest e cna add jolly to thelistof youkspkeaers wh idagree with you re squats, (see 23:57).

    • Mark May 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      Sorry, my fingers are numb from squatting;-) But seriously: Why didn’t you stand up & challenge Jolly when he recommended squatting as one of the best ways to achieve strength, health & longevity?

      • Anthony Dream Johnson May 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

        First of all, T21C is not a debate forum. It would be inappropriate for anyone to start arguing with Jolly in the middle of his presentation. It would be especially inappropriate for me to do so as the owner, operator, architect, manager, producer, and director. At most, someone could have asked him to dig deeper into squat safety and bio-mechanics.

        Second, I didn’t hear it, in the middle of running a conference.

        • Mark May 9, 2013 at 2:38 am #

          All great reasons. Nonetheless, I do so enjoy almost every one of your hand-picked speakers disagreeing with you on this point.

          • MC May 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm #


            I don’t think they really disagree with him. Drew above said about the barbell squat:

            “since the same general strength, performance, and health benefits can be achieved just as effectively and more safely with other exercises it makes sense to do those instead when the option is available.”

            That’s not really a disagreement. Just a willingness to do the exercise if there are no other options. He’s just willing to take the risk. You’re just delusional if you think there aren’t safer options that are just as effective.

            And Jolly only gave mention of squatting, which is kind of vague. No where did he disagree that other squats are safer and just as effective as barbell squats. You’re kind of just putting words in his mouth based off him mentioning the words “go squat.”

            • Mark May 10, 2013 at 2:47 am #

              “Squatting” is not vague, especially when it’s said in the same breath as “lift heavy weight”. Jolly didn’t say “only if there are no other options”; or “hip belt only”. “Lift heavy weight…Squat” is the only option he named. Please, we all know that means: “With a barbell on your back”. Nor did Anthony say “only if there are no other options”, but rather, he insisted that -no one- should -ever- squat. One guy said “squat”, another said “don’t squat”. Sounds like a disagreement to me:-)

              • Anthony Dream Johnson May 10, 2013 at 8:48 am #

                Wait a second, did Jolly even mention “barbell squat” in the presentation?

                If he didn’t, you are a fucking moron. “Squat” means, just that, squat. Not “barbell back squat”, a specific type of squat. Truly, it sounds like Jolly didn’t even disagree with me. I’m all for squats. Safe squats. Bodyweight squats, hip belt squats, etc. Barbell squats are for dummies.

                • Mark May 10, 2013 at 11:14 am #

                  Oh my God! Hold on! Stop the music! Yes, indeed Anthony, LET’S W A I T just a gosh-darn S E C O N D!!! We’ve got a MAJOR issue to resolve here. Just because Jolly said to LIFT HEAVY WEIGHT, -&- to SQUAT doesn’t mean BARBELL squats. What world are you from?, you funny guy. IF, against ALL odds, Jolly meant hip-belt squats, (bodyweight squats ain’t “heavy weight”, & there IS NO “etc” among the squat choices) he’d SAY so., and you KNOW that, so stop pretending to be an even bigger moron than you already are. (Ok, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you ARE that big a moron.)

                  • Mark May 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

                    Interesting that you admit Jones, Baye, (Darden, Norris, Tanner, Alexander, etc), and McGuff disagree with you, but that “they’re wrong”, yet you try so desperately to keep Jolly out of the dispute. Why don’t you just ASK him 😉

                  • MC May 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

                    Jolly said lift heavy things. If you’ve been around the paleo movement for a good length of time you’d know Jolly borrowed that phrase from Mark Sisson’s 10 primal laws.

                    Lift heavy things does include body weight exercises. Your body is heavy.

                    He said something along the lines of:

                    “I mean lift heavy things. Deadlift. Go squat. Sprinting. High intensity interval training”

                    He was just giving examples of exercise. He wasn’t going into super detail. Using him as an example of someone who disagrees with Anthony is disingenuous.

                    • Mark May 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

                      “Examples of exercise”, indeed, but surely NOT examples of exercises Jolly thinks you -shouldn’t do-! (Or am I making another unwarranted assumption:-) Any sane person knows that the word “squat”, in an exercise context, with no modifying terms, means with a barbell on your back. Not a hip-belt, not on a toilet, not giving birth in a field. To pretend that you don’t know that is truly disingenuous. (Or are you actually insane?)

                    • Anthony Dream Johnson May 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

                      Dude you’re just a ridiculous troll at this point. Barbell back squats are popular, so what? If weighted vest squats start “trending” tomorrow, nothing changes. Both have been squats, you know, by definition, 100% of the time.

                      See, when the word “squat” is in an exercise, it’s a squat, regardless of how the resistance is being applied to your body.

                      You have some serious hang ups buddy.

                    • Mark May 11, 2013 at 3:05 am #

                      Every off-topic name-calling session has begun with -your- insults, troll indeed. Who said anything about squats being “popular”? Not me. Simple fact: When people use the term “squat” without any qualifier, (bodyweight, hipbelt, etc),they mean barbell squat. You’re a damn liar to pretend you don’t know that. That’s my “serious hangup”: liars like you. I repeat: ASK JOLLY WHAT HE MEANT.You know him, remember?

                    • MC May 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm #


                      Don’t kid yourself. You’re the only one being disingenuous by trying to turn Jolly into somebody that disagrees with Anthony based on him saying the words “go squat.”

                      He could have very well meant barbell squats, who cares. The squat itself is what’s important. The weight or resistance needed to fatigue the muscles is variable.

                    • Mark May 12, 2013 at 11:53 am #

                      “Don’t kid” myself? “He could very well have meant barbell squats”. (Ahem): That IS the disagreement. Welcome to the real world. Perhaps you’ll understand better in story form: Joe comes back from the gym. Pete asks: “What’d you do?” Joe: “Squats”. Does Pete ask if they were Goblet Squats, Zercher Squats, HipBelt Squats, Bodyweight Squats, Wall Squats, Ball Squats,Thrusters, Jump Squats, Pistols, Hindu Squats , Isometric Squats, Band Squats ,Chain Squats, ARX Squats, or Front Squats. NO, because all of those, & any others, use the modifying term to differentiate them from the Barbell Back Squat, which, in real life, is simply called a “Squat”, (except by you & Dream, of course;-) using the word ‘heavy’ in the same breath makes this even more of a sure thing. This is my point: There IS a disagreement, between Dream, Jolly, & every fitness expert Dream associates with, except BillD. I find that meaningful 7 entertaining. You may find it indicative of whatever negative personality traits you think you discern in me, but that, & “the squat itself is what’s important” are irrelevant. The disagreement is real, and the desperate denials make it even more entertaining.

                    • MC May 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

                      “who cares. The squat itself is what’s important. The weight or resistance needed to fatigue the muscles is variable.”

                      That means it’s not important what squat Jolly was referring to. When it comes to proper exercise they all have the same purpose.

                      It’s just stupid for you to latch onto his words like a leech trying desperately to prove he disagrees with Anthony.

                      I get it. You like doing barbell squats and have done them for years. That’s nice of you.

                      Here’s me no longer caring.


                    • Mark May 13, 2013 at 2:45 am #

                      Look, nobody ever said it was “important”. I posted that it was –ironic-, -entertaining- to me, & -enjoyable- to see how virtually -every- one of Dreams trusted, hand-picked speakers disagrees with him on squats. (And yes, they -do- disagree with him. He’s admitted it regarding all the others, why not Jolly? ) No matter how unimportant it is, it’s nonetheless -true-. -Nothing- here is important, in case you didn’t notice. Of course you don’t care, you never did. Last call: ASK JOLLY.

  49. Dave May 10, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    This blog is well crafted from a marketing stand point in order to get people to talk, debate, share etc. Well done if that was your point.

    I’m not going to argue with you whether you are right or wrong. The one thing I will say though is it’s not a black and white issue.

    There are some pretty incredible athletes (millions) that have back squatted for years and have no back related issues (yes that’s an assumption because nobody has ever individually asked every person that has ever back squatted so please don’t reference that was only an assumption). On the contrary there are individuals who have back squatted and gotten seriously hurt. So this argument could go both ways until the end of time. (throw in the amount of weight, biomechanics, preexisting injuries, properly performing the movement etc.)

    Just understand that.

    Sometimes the extremist point of view actually lowers your level of credibility (that is not a personal attack that is just a general statement). I understand this is a blog so viewership and all that are important and more power to you for writing this whether flawed or not 😉

  50. Frank Fuller May 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Dream, I respect everything you’ve done with the 21C and you’ve had some phenomenal speakers here (Matthew Hussey comes to mind right away) but you have to stop citing false claims like “the danger of loading from the top of the spine”. As I’ve mentioned, This is a false argument.

    Barbell squats are NEVER loaded at the cervical spine. EVER. The bar is always loaded at the thoracic spine even in high barbell squats. And the thoracic spine is MORE stable than the lumbar and the cervical spine. This is why you never hear people complain of mid-back pain as often as you do of low back pain or neck pain. The orientation of the facets on the thoracic vertebrae coupled with their attachment to the ribs make them highly stable, much more so than the lumbar or cervical spine and this is precisely where squats are loaded from.

    I’m not sure why you continue to perpetuate false information.

    • Robert May 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Citing “facts” take away from the troll. If Johnson was correct, he’d have sources to back him up, if he had sources, chances are this would be a widely held belief and therefore the controversy would not exist. But in this case, he has attacked the bread and butter movement of everyone in the strength game, called them idiots, meatheads, and morons simply because putting a bar on your back didn’t “seem” right or safe to him. As such, this post and his previous anti-squat post have been linked to 100s if not 1000s of message boards, forums, and websites all over the net, which is getting him massive page views. Anthony Dream Johnson is not interested in making a factual argument, he is a troll out for attention. And based on how I’ve seen him defend his position in these posts, I wouldn’t touch the 21 Convention with a 10 foot pole.

    • MC May 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      The lumbar has to support the weight above it, meaning it’s still a problem for your lower back if you’re loading from the thoracic instead of the cervical.

      All you really said was that you won’t get neck pain cause the load doesn’t reach the cervical spine, but is rested at the top of the thoracic spine. You’re still in danger of low back pain.

      Though I’m not entirely sure if it actually does rest on the cervical or thoracic, either way, not good for your lower back.

      • Robert May 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        The human body is far more resilient and adaptable than you people are giving it credit for.

        • MC May 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

          With that kind of logic, one shouldn’t even have to worry about bad form, or biomechanics.

          • Robert May 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

            Yeah, might as well throw it out the window. Look around the comments. Look at the comments from the first “Squatz r deadly” post from a year ago. According to Johnson, form doesn’t matter. If you put a barbell on your back, you’ll get hurt at the least, die at the worst. So screw form and biomechanics right? Because in the end, the only safe exercise is the Super ARX T-100 Exercise-A-Tron who’s ads keep popping up every time I come here to reply to a comment.

            I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt that you really aren’t so dumb that disregarding form is what I was getting at originally, but if you are, keep on truckin I guess. There is nothing more I can say or do to de-program you.

            • MC May 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

              Biomechanics is exactly why he says to not put a barbell on your back. You’re the one saying to disregard that because the human body is resilient and adaptable.

              You also don’t need ARX equipment to replace a barbell squat.

              I’m not deeply attached to any one piece of equipment, so unlike you, I don’t really care if barbell squats are safe or not. Yet I need de-programming right, not you? I don’t use ARX equipment either for the record.

              Continue squatting with barbells. It really makes no difference to me.

              • Robert May 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

                Everyone, I don’t care who they are, can leg press more than they can squat. Why? Because you are removing the need for the support musculature of the abdominals and the spinal erectors and replacing it with a seat that is supported by what is usually 1.5″ welded square pipe. The abs and the spinal erectors are the weak link in the chain, always have been always will be. During the squat, the abs and spinal erectors work in concert to stabilize the lumbar spine with a static contraction. The problem arises when someone squats with poor form(lifting with the back) and the spinal erectors are forced to lengthen when they are attempting to remain shortened.

                Biomechanics are the very reason why its ACCEPTABLE to train the barbell back squat.

                I’m not going to sit here and pretend that back squatting is perfectly safe. It’s not. Beginners to the exercise should be closely monitored by an experienced lifter or coach. Resistance training of any kind increases bone density, so the appropriate progression of increasing weight will allow the spine to support heavier loads as time goes on. That’s where my point on the body’s ability to adapt comes in.

                Where I take issue with Johnson is that he is dealing in absolutes here. No matter what anyone does, the squat will give your cancer the AIDS. If he presented his views as an opinion, or perhaps wrote it with a more inquisitive tone as a “something to think about” post. I’d let it go. Instead, he presents his arguments and wild predictions as fact without supportive evidence, somehow thinks its ok to put the burden of proof on the dessenting opinion(btw, I’m proof. Been squatting injury free for years) all while running down anyone who apparently hasn’t “figured it out”.

      • Frank Fuller May 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

        ofcourse the lumbar spine is loaded in the squat. But guess what? the lumbar spine is also loaded through a leg press and through a hip-belt squat and through virtually every other movement done with your lower extremities. Do you really think a heavy weighted leg press doesn’t put enough load through the lumbar spine to injure it?

        My point was that Anthony keeps saying that you’re loading the squat at the top of a “pyramid structure” which is unsafe/unstable. In reality, you’re actually loading it through the middle of the structure which is far more stable than the bottom or the top because the human spine is NOT a pyramid. Take a look at any photo of the human spine and you will see a S curve in the sagittal plane. There is NO pyramid shape.

        The other point he makes is that because no one has proved that the barbell squat IS safe, he’s going to assume that it’s not. And that’s fine. He’s entitled to his opinion. But the argument is silly for very obvious reasons. Again, the man is entitled to his opinion but when he makes it public in this way, he has to know that he’s going to get called out on this kind of BS. Can’t really hate on the guy as he’s provided a lot of good content for free but I will disagree with him here.

        • MC May 12, 2013 at 1:58 am #

          The reason it’s referred to as a pyramid is because the lower parts of the spine are thicker and not as mobile, and as you move up the spine it’s designed to support less of your body weight so the parts become smaller and more mobile.

          Putting a barbell on your back works counter to that design.

          • Frank Fuller May 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

            What you’re saying is actually incorrect. This is exactly what Anthony is suggesting and it is false information. The spine consists of four sections. From bottom to top:

            Sacrum: fused vertebrae, almost no movement
            Lumbar: Largest vertebrae, highly mobile and pre-disposed to injury
            Thoracic: smaller than lumbar but larger than cervical vertebrae, that are highly stable and attached to ribs. Very few injuries occur at this portion of the spine and those that do occur tend to be traumatic in nature (fractures…etc)
            Cervical: what you would call the “neck”. These are small mobile vertebrae also prone to injury.

            As you can see while the size of the vertebrae does generally go from larger to smaller, the middle section (thoracic) is actually the most stable because of the shape of its articulating surfaces and its stable connection to the ribs. The lumbar vertebrae are indeed larger but NOT at all stable like the thoracic spine, and lumbar vertebrae are far more mobile. All squats are loaded at the thoracic spine, the most stable surface.

            In a pyramid, the foundation (bottom layer) is the most stable. In the S-curved spine, the middle section is actually more stable and less mobile than the lower (lumbar) and upper (cervical) section.

            • Mark May 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

              Indeed. -When- squats -do- cause injury, what structures are actually injured? Is it the so-called “top of the pyramid”, the neck & upper back, supposedly too small to support a barbell, (the main point in DeSimone’s “logic”, blindly repeated by Tony)? NO, almost NEVER. IF it’s part of the “pyramid” at ALL, it’s the LUMBAR that get’s injured, the strong,thick “bottom” of the pyramid.The pyramid argument is thus “kicked to the curb”. But WAIT…NO part of the spine is most often injured; it’s the KNEES that get hurt more often than the lumbar spine. Oh well,there goes bodyweight squats, hip-belt squats & leg presses into the “dangerous” pile. BUT WAIT!: Bodyweight squats, hip-belt squats, & leg presses ARE safe, IF we do them CORRECTLY. Kinda like barbell squats 😉

              • Mark May 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

                On to the ‘black swan’ argument. Previous experience & observations aren’t guaranteed to predict the future? And we’re supposed to just apply that to barbell squats?,not EVERYTHING!? Ok, I’ll humor you, Tony: One crucial difference in your “Russian Roulette” analogy: With squats, you get to check the gun each time to see where the bullet is. If you stop checking, you’ll eventually have a problem: Sure, if you thought your past squats were what make your next squat “safe”, you’d be wrong; it’s doing it correctly each time that makes it safe each time.

                • Anthony Dream Johnson May 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

                  Oh really, you get to check “each time” huh?

                  Feel free to post weekly MRI scans of your spine here on the blog. Till you do, sounds like you are completely full of shit.

                  • Mark May 18, 2013 at 3:28 am #

                    Unless you use an x-ray machine to check if there are bullets in the chamber of your gun, you’re the one who’s full of shit. It’s your own analogy, too bad you don’t have the intelligence to understand it. Even so, your implication that subsequent MRI scans would reveal slowly increasing damage in a squatter’s spine is dead wrong: 1/They -have- been done you know, and they actually show thickening muscles, tendons, ligaments, & bones.2/The subjective feeling of such problems occurs -before- they can be picked up by an MRI scan. Check it out, or, at least, stop making shit up.

            • MC May 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

              @Frank Fuller

              That runs contrary to what I’ve read, and I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from, so I’ll have to look into it further.

              I won’t be doing barbell squats in the meantime though, because they’re still not the best option and they still put unnecessary strain on your back for something that is supposed to be used to workout your lower body.


              “what structures are actually injured? Is it the so-called “top of the pyramid”, the neck & upper back, supposedly too small to support a barbell, (the main point in DeSimone’s “logic”, blindly repeated by Tony)? NO, almost NEVER.”

              The bottom does most of the lifting, that’s why.

              “IF it’s part of the “pyramid” at ALL, it’s the LUMBAR that get’s injured, the strong,thick “bottom” of the pyramid.The pyramid argument is thus “kicked to the curb”.”

              Pressure moves downward and you bend at the waist not the middle or upper back. If we could bend at the middle back, you’d be hearing a lot more about middle back pain.

              “But WAIT…NO part of the spine is most often injured; it’s the KNEES that get hurt more often than the lumbar spine. Oh well,there goes bodyweight squats, hip-belt squats & leg presses into the “dangerous” pile.”

              Yup. Knees get injured so let’s blindly throw out every exercise without any thought as to how the weight’s applied.

              • Mark May 18, 2013 at 3:42 am #

                “If we could bend at the middle back”??? That’s a pretty if “if” 😉 2/Not blindly, -consistently-: Barbell squats hurt knees more often than any other body-part, so everyone should stop squatting. Hip-belt squats & leg presses cause the same problem, so stop them too. How the weight’s applied doesn’t change the effect on the knees; its how correctly any of the movements are performed. If anything, the typical health-club client is so sure that Leg Press machine is safe, that it’s -there- that the most dangerous technical errors are committed. (I made one mistake: More lumber problems also occur from improper leg press technique than any other exercise.)

              • Frank Fuller May 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm #


                I’m giving you this information as a board-licensed physical therapist with a doctorate. However, don’t take my word for it because I’ve also met plenty of other clinicians and doctors who don’t know much about the musculoskeletal system and basic biomechanics. The information I have presented here is available in any of the hundreds of textbooks that have written about the human spine.

                I will reiterate, the thoracic spine is much more stable than the lumbar or cervical spine. This isn’t to say that the lumbar spine isn’t loaded during barbell squats. It is! But via the thoracic spine. The lumbar spine is also loaded during hip belt squats, body weight squats, leg presses and virtually every other closed-chain exercise/variation of the above. There is no way of NOT loading the lumbar spine (unless you simply do leg extension exercises). You will load the lumbar spine regardless of whichever exercise you use. The barbell back squat loads the lumbar spine indirectly through the stable thoracic spine. Done incorrectly, a leg press has the same element of risk/danger, if not more so than a barbell squat…especially if it’s a 45 degree or vertical leg press.

                The “pyramid” argument is completely bogus because:
                1. The spine isn’t a pyramid (it’s S-shaped)
                2. The middle is actually more stable than the top/bottom.
                3. Squats are loaded from the middle

                I will end this post by citing one of your quotes:
                “Pressure moves downward and you bend at the waist not the middle or upper back. If we could bend at the middle back, you’d be hearing a lot more about middle back pain.”

                The first part is correct. Pressure does move downward and when we bend from waist, if your lumbar spine rounds, you will increase the risk of a disc herniation (precisely because of the argument I made prior that the lumbar spine is highly mobile and not stable!). The second part is incorrect. We DO BEND from the middle and upper back. Every crunch/abdominal exercise bends the thoracic spine in forward flexion. Every single one. That’s what your abdominals do. They flex you middle/upper back (ie thoracic spine). The reason you don’t hear about midback pain as much as low back/neck pain is because the thoracic spine IS A MORE STABLE STRUCTURE and is not injured as often.

                • MC May 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

                  @Frank Fuller

                  It doesn’t matter how stable your thoracic spine is. What matters is that the pressure moves downward, and it will be your lower back that will have to deal with that weight, as well as your legs.

                  If I wear a 100 kg helmet, even though it’s being placed on my head, my neck will be what keeps it stable. So arguing how stable my head is, doesn’t mean much.

                  You have an extremely heavy barbell putting weight down, compressing your spine. A horizontal leg press doesn’t have that pressure on your spine. A hip belt squat, body weight squat, same thing.

                  So why do a barbell squat when you have other options?

                  And when I said “bend” at the middle back I meant a bend like the kind that occurs at your waist. In order to bend like that the surrounding structures would have to be very different.



                  • Frank Fuller May 19, 2013 at 1:33 am #


                    I don’t follow your logic; First you support Anthony’s point that loading from the “top” is dangerous because it is unstable and small compared to the larger structures at the bottom of the spine. Now you say the stability doesn’t matter when I point out to you the correct area where squats are loaded on the spine.

                    I understand your argument about the spine being loaded downwards, but you are not looking at biomechanics objectively here. The lumbar spine is loaded during ALL closed-chain exercises involving the hip/knee. A horizontal leg press DOES load the lumbar spine from the feet all the way up everytime you press up on the leg press. The big difference is that in a horizontal leg press, the force is being transmitted at no angle, eliminating shear forces and reducing the risk of a lumbar herniation. Is it safer than a back squat? yes….if you have a risk for disc herniation; Absolutely NOT safer if you suffer from degenerative disc disease. So it really all depends on the individual. It depends on previous injuries and genetic factors to determine “safety”.

                    That being said, for the uninjured trainee, a horizontal leg press has less inherent risk than a squat for sure because there is less that could go wrong. Only a fool wouldn’t admit that. Does that make the squat dangerous? No. It just means that there is less risk. You want to eliminate risk completely, go for leg extensions.

                    As for “bending” like we do at the waist- that’s called flexion. And it exists in the thoracic spine as well like I previously stated. Flexion occurs when your abdominals contract and your thoracic spine bends forward. We DO bend at the middle of the back, the same way we do at the lumbar spine.

                    • MC May 19, 2013 at 3:38 am #

                      @Frank Fuller

                      “I don’t follow your logic; First you support Anthony’s point that loading from the “top” is dangerous because it is unstable and small compared to the larger structures at the bottom of the spine. Now you say the stability doesn’t matter when I point out to you the correct area where squats are loaded on the spine.”

                      The way I understand it, the bottom is the biggest and strongest because it has to support more of your weight, everything above it. The top is the smallest, so it’s already not designed for carrying a heavy weight.

                      The top is also more mobile, so more prone to injury. Then you said it’s not loaded at the top, but middle, which is stable, while lumbar isn’t. Then I said, the weight from a barbell endangers the lumbar because the pressure travels downward so your lumbar spine is dealing with that weight, and since you yourself said it’s unstable, that’s not good.

                      Regardless, pyramid or no pyramid, your spine is in trouble from a barbell on your back. It doesn’t matter how stable your thoracic spine is.

                      “That being said, for the uninjured trainee, a horizontal leg press has less inherent risk than a squat for sure because there is less that could go wrong. Only a fool wouldn’t admit that. Does that make the squat dangerous? No. It just means that there is less risk.”

                      A multi-hundred pound barbell pressing down on my spine sounds dangerous, especially if I have to bend downward to squat with it.

                      My spine would be much better off, not going through that, since the purpose is to workout my legs.

                      “We DO bend at the middle of the back, the same way we do at the lumbar spine.”

                      So you can bend forward at a 90 degree angle from your middle back? If no, then you know what I was getting at.

                  • Mark May 19, 2013 at 4:08 am #

                    Right..the “pressure moves downward” the strong part of the “pyramid”, the same place the pressure would be with leg presses. See if you can grasp this concept: People who squat -know- that they must squat correctly, while the -great- majority of those who use a leg press machine have assured themselves that the machine will put them into correct position, that there’s nothing to learn, no way to do it wrong. This is a major mistake, and -has-led to a higher % of users getting exercise-induced lower back problems than -any-other exercise. Looking into it will cool your sarcasm.

                    • Frank Fuller May 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

                      “The way I understand it, the bottom is the biggest and strongest because it has to support more of your weight, everything above it. The top is the smallest, so it’s already not designed for carrying a heavy weight.”

                      No. This is incorrect. The bottom is larger but because of the shape of its articulating facets and the resulting increased mobility….It isn’t the strongest/most stable. Just the opposite. The lumbar spine is highly unstable when compared to the thoracic spine.

                      “The top is also more mobile, so more prone to injury. Then you said it’s not loaded at the top, but middle, which is stable, while lumbar isn’t. Then I said, the weight from a barbell endangers the lumbar because the pressure travels downward so your lumbar spine is dealing with that weight, and since you yourself said it’s unstable, that’s not good.”

                      When doing a horizontal leg press, the force from the leg press travels axially through the lumbar spine. A hip belt squat also applies an axial force on the lumbar spine although it is more of a traction force. The Barbell back squat applies shear forces at an angle increasing the risk for disc herniation ONLY if performed incorrectly with enough weight. It’s not necessarily or inherently bad. By the way, the force doesn’t just stop at the lumbar spine, it continues it’s way down the pelvis, and lower extremities. My point is that there is ALWAYS a force being stressed through lumbar spine no matter which variation you use.

                      “Regardless, pyramid or no pyramid, your spine is in trouble from a barbell on your back. It doesn’t matter how stable your thoracic spine is.”

                      It does matter. The thoracic spine along with the muscles of the upper back (principally the trapezius) create a stable scaffold for the barbell which will allow you to perform the movement safely. A thoracic spine that is unstable or lacking in thoracic extension will cause problems further down the chain in the lumbar spine, which could predispose you to injury.

                      “A multi-hundred pound barbell pressing down on my spine sounds dangerous, especially if I have to bend downward to squat with it.”

                      Only dangerous if you can not maintain proper form. Lower the weight, simple as that.

                      “My spine would be much better off, not going through that, since the purpose is to workout my legs.”

                      If you prefer leg press, have at it hoss. Exercise choice is your call/personal preference. I don’t have an issue with that. I only take issue with the perpetuation of false information regarding the human spine and biomechanics which this post is chock-full of.

                      “So you can bend forward at a 90 degree angle from your middle back? If no, then you know what I was getting at.”

                      No you can’t. And You CAN NOT bend 90 degrees at your low back either.

                      Normal flexion active range of motion values for the spine are as follows:

                      Thoracic: 20-45
                      Lumbar: 40-60

                      These ranges account for individual differences as well as different ranges between veretbrae.

                      The 90 degree bend that you are talking about actually occurs at the iliofemoral joint (ie at the hip)

                    • MC May 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

                      @Frank Fuller

                      “No. This is incorrect. The bottom is larger but because of the shape of its articulating facets and the resulting increased mobility….It isn’t the strongest/most stable. Just the opposite. The lumbar spine is highly unstable when compared to the thoracic spine.”

                      No shit. You already explained that, but since you said “I don`t follow your logic,” I basically had to walk you through our conversation again. I didn`t write that so you could correct me again.

                      “When doing a horizontal leg press, the force from the leg press travels axially through the lumbar spine. A hip belt squat also applies an axial force on the lumbar spine although it is more of a traction force. The Barbell back squat applies shear forces at an angle increasing the risk for disc herniation ONLY if performed incorrectly with enough weight. It’s not necessarily or inherently bad. By the way, the force doesn’t just stop at the lumbar spine, it continues it’s way down the pelvis, and lower extremities. My point is that there is ALWAYS a force being stressed through lumbar spine no matter which variation you use.”

                      Let me quote myself: “There’s more weight pressing down during a barbell squat then there would be pushing up or sideways during other exercises.”

                      Gravity means more force from certain exercises then others. Barbell squats don`t create the same stress as a hip belt squat on the spine.

                      “It does matter. The thoracic spine along with the muscles of the upper back (principally the trapezius) create a stable scaffold for the barbell which will allow you to perform the movement safely. A thoracic spine that is unstable or lacking in thoracic extension will cause problems further down the chain in the lumbar spine, which could predispose you to injury.”

                      No it doesn`t matter when it comes to the point I was making. Taking it out of context, then of course it matters.

                      “No you can’t. And You CAN NOT bend 90 degrees at your low back either.

                      The 90 degree bend that you are talking about actually occurs at the iliofemoral joint (ie at the hip)”

                      I´m glad you did know what I was talking about. I was calling the hip, the waist, by mistake. Because we have to be able to bend at the hip, the lumbar doesn´t have the surrounding structure of your middle back. If we had to bend at the middle back like we do at the hip, then you´d probably hear about mid-back pain more often was my point.

            • SteveH June 20, 2013 at 5:54 am #

              @Frank Fuller.

              Thanks so much for your expert explanation of the biomechanics of the barbell squat and other kinds of squat. I’m re-assured that I can continue with the barbell squat, and what you say makes it pretty clear why performing the movement with good form is so important.

              My own experience is that 45 degree leg presses cause me platella injury (tendonopathy). I don’t know exactly why, but I find it a very unnatural movement.

              I don’t fully understand one thing. The load is directly on the thoracic but the compressive force will extend into the lumbar section. Although I’m sure you’re correct that the pyramid analogy is wrong, I don’t understand how the load being transmitted into the thoracic is relevant where it comes to risk to the lumbar section. Do you must mean that the direct compressive force on the surface is into the thoracic? Presumably this doesn’t negate risks to the lumbar. I take it you’re just saying these risks apply to any squat-like movement. Is that right?

              Cheers, Steve

              • Anthony Dream Johnson June 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

                “with good form”, that will ultimately fail in a fatiguing protocol such as hypertrophic strength training.

                45 degree leg presses are bad. Youtube search “congruent exercise 21 convention”. I have little doubt they hurt your knees. The leg press needs to be horizontal.

                • Steve H June 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

                  Good form will only ultimately fail with progressive resistance if an individual lets it happen. You’ve nicely explained to me why I squat weights that are ‘comfortable’ relative to other exercises. However, provided I am disciplined, there is no reason my form will ultimately fail. Virtually every day, I get into a car and drive it. There is massive momentum and massive potential for injury. However, if I drive within my limits and cautiously, there is no reason I need ever cause an accident, despite that.

                  Your claim that form will ultimately fail is ambiguous. Do you mean ultimately for each and every individual? Or do you mean ultimately for someone somewhere? It seems your invokiing a statistical argument in an ambiguous way. I’m willing to bet that conditional on an individual having squatted with good form hundreds of times, it is all but certain the next squat will also be with good form. On the other hand, conditional on a person having exceeded limits in the past (getting away with it) it is likley the individual will suffer injury. This is true of most behaviours that entail risk, and it is the reason people generally pay a much higher premium to an insurance company if they’ve had accidents in the past (assuming they know about it).

              • Frank Fuller August 25, 2013 at 3:51 am #

                Hi Steve,

                Sorry for the late response. I’m glad I could offer to shed some light on the situation as Anthony has completely butchered the biomechanics of the spine with this article.

                To answer your question- Yes, the compressive forces on the lumbar spine apply to virtually any closed-chain exercise of the lower extremities including leg press, hack squat machine, barbell lunges…etc

                The load being transferred through the thoracic spine is relevant because anthony’s initial claim was that the human spine is like a pyramid and you should not load the pyramid “at the top”. My assertion was that we aren’t loading at the top. You load squats through the thoracic spine which is the middle of the “pyramid”. I put “pyramid” in quotation marks because in reality even this is a rediculous assertion. The human spine is S-shaped…no pyramids in your back…and the most stable part of the s-shaped spine is the middle (the thoracic spine).

                • Anthony Dream Johnson August 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

                  You completely misunderstood what I wrote. The spine is “shaped” like a pyramid, in that the vertebrae are larger towards the bottom, and smaller towards the top. Like a pyramid. This fact has nothing to do with whether the human spine is meant to be S shaped, J shaped, or Z shaped. (This fact does not also automatically imply significance for strength training and stability, although I am convinced it does).

                  Were you even aware there is debate over S/J shape?

                  I’m guessing no.

  51. Nick May 13, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    Hey Anthony,
    You argue that the hip belt squat is a safer alternative to squat with an external load. I would agree with that argument but, I would argue that training that movement will never replace the functionality of a back squat or front squat. For example, it takes me 5 minutes to drive to work and I live in Southern California (not the safest place to drive). If I would walk the backstreets where there is less traffic it would be so much safer but, it would take me 45 minutes. I think we would all agree that the walk route is astronomically safer. I’m pretty sure you get where I’m going with this. Second of all, who said that squatting had to be a maximal load? Last week my Mom was planting a garden and had a small bag of soil on her one shoulder and dropped her shovel. She bent down, grabbed the shovel, stood up, and continued to walk to the backyard. I know this seems amazing but, she was never injured throughout that whole event. Now, I’m sure you’ll have some great philosophical argument here so, let me give you an example of why your hip belt squats aren’t going to win me over.
    I was in Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2006 and we were attacked. We took 26 casualties, which about half of those wet NOT walking wounded. So, what did we have to do? We have to squat down to get these, probably on average, 175 lb. Marines with 100+ lbs. of gear on our BACK (back squat) or SHOULDER (font squat), stand up with them, and carry them 200+ yards to the helicopter for a medical evac. We were taking a lot of incoming fire and really didn’t have time to connect these wounded/dying Marines to a belt system to “safely” squat them to get them to safety. So, I would argue that the back squat and front squat, although dangerous in the eyes of the “I justify my intelligence by pointless arguments” type of person, I would say it’s worth every 300 lb. backsquat I have ever done.
    Have fun with this one Anthony, because I’m sure I just gave you enough words to have a good time by your lonely self until the early hours of the morning. Functional movements, such as the back and front squats, will always be around! Sorry about your wasted time in the above article but, I promise there is not more than a tiny fraction of individuals who have switched over to some type of belt squat because of your “intelligent and undeniable” points of danger with the barbell squats.

  52. Harold May 17, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Anthony Dream Johnson. Do you even lift bro?

  53. MC May 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm #


    There’s more weight pressing down during a barbell squat then there would be pushing up or sideways during other exercises. It’s called gravity.

    The rest of what you said is nonsense.

    • Mark May 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      What -I- said was nonsense? You: “More weight pressing down…”? “Up…sideways..”??? What are you talking about? There’s as much weight pushing down as you put on your back, no more, no less. Novices on their first workout often load up the leg-press with more weight than many experienced free weight trainees -ever- use for squats, & just as often the leg pressers don’t maintain a healthy lumbar arch, (reasons being the apparent “nonsense” I posted earlier). You simply can’t -do- a barbell squat as wrong as you can do a leg-press wrong, but you can go on & on “successfully” leg-pressing with the same dangerous lumbar error, & not know it until it’s too late: Everything Dream posted about accumulative damage, while untrue for squats, is often true for leg presses!

  54. Tank May 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Do you even lift?

  55. Tom May 23, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    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 “***********************PARANORMAL 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…

    It’s probably not good practice to apply your paranormal logic to real life things.

    I’m willing bet you don’t believe in the circular belief system either.

    I also like how you state lifters are “world’s dumbest men”

    When you’re an internet blogger.

  56. Big Joe May 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    I remember my first beer too

  57. Craig May 31, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    So much rhetoric, so little lifting.

  58. julius June 3, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    guys he’s a troll, he decided to attack barbell back squats because he knew it would earn him a ton of web traffic, this is probably why he’s calling us all dumb because he knew you’d all take the bait and feed his views. We all know it, so practice it: don’t feed the trolls.

  59. Someone Smarter Than You June 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Some things about this blog post:

    1. The burden of proof is on you to prove to your readers that squatting isn’t safe. You have failed to do this. Personal anecdotes don’t satisfy that standard of proof. You’re making broad, general claims about the purpose and structural integrity of the human anatomy that, sorry, blowing out your knee because you don’t know how to lift weights doesn’t qualify you to make.
    2. You’re an angry guy. I can’t wait for you to tell me you’re not.
    3. Your writing is full of solecisms and incorrect punctuation. You’re a bad writer.
    4. When confronted with peer-reviewed empirical studies on the rate of injuries among people who consistently back squat with barbells, you cop out like a bitch. (By the way, you’ve failed to demonstrate to the same degree that bodyweight squats are safe to do.)
    5. Your blog post isn’t even funny.

    People: This guy is another angry and ignorant 23 year old with a blog. He hasn’t graduated from college, has never studied human physiology, holds no certifications in the realm of personal fitness (not even minor ones), has offered no proof of his claims beyond the fact that he was once injured while squatting with shit form, demands a standard of proof that he himself is unwilling to equal, and has fucking anime characters in the header of his blog—there isn’t a single reason to trust this moron.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson June 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      That’s not true, I dropped out of anatomy in college. Bwahahhahaha.

      Ooohhh I don’t have PT certs. Oh no … credentialism is dead. Long live the broscience! As if there were a difference between a cert in dipshittery and a masters in gym-broscience.

      A barbell squat is a bodyweight squat + a barbell placed on/near the shoulders. No one here is questioning the safety of bodyweight squats while simultaneously arguing for the safety of free standing barbell back squats. Thats like arguing for the safety of marathon running with ankle weights and then attacking the safety of running by itself … wtf.

  60. Steve H June 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Nice article Anthony.

    It seems most people are missing the point: the onus is not on you to show that the squat is dangerous, the onus is on those who claim it is safe to show that it is safe. The basic misconception here is that the default hypothesis is the consensus opinion or view. Unfortunately, this misconception is widespread, even among scientists, in one guise or another.

    Prima facie, a heavy squat obviously involves risk as you have aptly observed.

    Personally, I think most people strive to squat too heavy for the sake of it. I seem to feel it far more when I do one legged squats with lighter weights. I would argue these are likely more functional, since most real actions involve a greater focus on one leg than the other at any given point during the motion (e.g. sprinting, climbing a steep hill, jumping). I also suspect explosive movements, using light weights if safe, are as effective for developing strength. I certainly feel beach sprints, particularly up hills, as much as I do squatting.

    I will continue to squat with moderate weights that are well within safety margin (and using safety/spotter arms) but you’ve convinced me I should place more emphasis on explosive stuff. I think I will get into box jumps, and keep the squats nice and safe. I’ll look into the hip squats also.

    I think that if default hypotheses about good functional movement should come from anywhere, it is by looking at what we’ve evolved to do as homo sapiens. I have no doubt we’ve hauled heavy stuff (branches, dead animals, etc) onto our backs to carry. So I would think the squat, and deadlift, have a place in an exercise routine. However, I’m glad you’re pointing out that the obsession with it really is just that, a bit of an obsession.

    Cheers, Steve

  61. Zen July 8, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Squats used to be my favorite exercise. I don’t do them anymore as I am getting older and have some minor back issues I do not want to exacberate. I loved the workout and overall muscle gains I got from them. You have to be careful. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about squats. Correct form is vital. It can be a scary, intimidating exercise, but I wouldn’t characterize people who do them as stupid, or less intelligent. It is just a great workout. I miss doing them, (though I certainly wasn’t like the guy in the picture at the top of the page doing 500 lbs or whatever.)

  62. fdsafdsafdas July 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

  63. Big nezza July 17, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Hey Anthony, don’t want to get into any arguments with anyone but I do agree with you that squats are a dangerous exercise. I tend to think of it like this – if you are doing heavy squats, one slightly wrong bit of technique can injure you for a long time. Why risk it when there are other exercises out there that can do the same job. I found this one bit of equipment online that looks awesome. Its called a MyoTruk and looks like a sideways squat. They go on about basically doing the same thing as a squat but without any injury risk. Have you seen it before?

    Anyway check out the this youtube link if you want. Think the company is called Gen3 Kinematics, but they are in the UK though I believe.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson July 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      Hey bud

      Had not seen it before. Looks like a bad way to do a leg press …

      That aside, I think you have the general idea right. “the high impact of the highly improbable”. One little slip has the potential for devastating consequences.

  64. Big nezza July 18, 2013 at 3:37 am #

    How come you think it is a bad way to do it? I have actually checked it out some more – firstly its not a leg press, but a ‘triple extension’ movement of the leg muscles. Check this description:

    The MyoTruk is designed to increase leg and core strength safely and works the body much in the same way as a squat, but without the risk of adverse loading on the back.

    It embodies direct-linkage force transmission and has been designed for complex, multi-joint and large muscle mass movement. It also features the patented Broad Biomechanical Correspondence Technology ensuring constant increasing resistance throughout the exercise movement.

    So I know there is some random stuff in there (like what the hell is direct linkage force transmission!) But Ive kind of worked out that basically the resistance gets heavier as you move into full extension, unlike the squat. This activates the muscles better. Also with a Squat, I picked up this cool quote from those guys, “As joint flexion increases, the exercisers capacity to cope with resistance decreases”. How true.

    Sorry to go on, but I love checking out new bits of kit and this actually looks like these guys are on the right track – safety in strength training! Isnt this what this what we all want?

  65. Teo July 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    i wish i knew this earlier i always did my sqauts with proper form but i wanted to push my self (like everyone in the gym once upon a time … ) and now i’m recovering from a herniated disc i even had a spotter watching my form my form was perfect … barbell sqauts suck do not do them … i’m now doing body weight sqauts after 2 month started do 1000 in 1 rep and to my suprise my legs are now bigger then before i don’t know how this happend but i’m never doing barbell sqauts again they will destroy your back eventualy that’s 1 thing you can be certain of great post finally somebody who dares to say the truth much respect man

  66. Jerry July 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    I think people need to calm down and just take a look at this with a little less vitriol.
    Can the BB squat be used safely? Yes many have done it.
    Is the BB squat effective? you bet it is.
    Does the BB squat have any safety concerns because it is a high skill exercise and could be structurally damaging when using higher loads? Yes
    Is the BB squat necessary for training anyone who does not need to do barbell squats as a skill? No.
    And here in lies the key to this topic. If barbell squats are not your skill ( powerlifting, strongman, etc) then there are safer alternatives that can make your legs ( and whole body) just as strong. If there are safer alternatives with the same benefit then why squat? I personally use hip belt squats and variations of sled pushing/pulling, dragging because those are extremely result producing and have experienced the phenomenal results for the lower body that you can get. Plus with the sled dragging there is not only a low chance of injury but you can work them very hard without too much soreness.

  67. JayEmDee July 26, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Just one thing…who the fuck would do 5×5 for twenty years, anyway?

  68. B July 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Honestly, you should be fired.

  69. Lewis August 1, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    Why bother guys? This guy obviously will remain a dyel faggot for the rest of his life. He doesn’t even comprehend basic lifts like the squat. It’s hilarious when amateurs like this condemn an exercise simply because they suck at it. Sounds like a crossfitter’s mentality to me.

  70. Dylan August 6, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    The entirity of this commends section disagree’s with you. It’s safe to say you’re probably wrong.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson August 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Yes that’s correct, truth is a matter of votes and popularity. Thanks for clearing that up.

  71. Matt Longfellow August 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    This might be the single most idiotic article I have ever read. Something tells me you probably hate squatting because you have no idea how to actually squat. Squats are not dangerous at all…squats with poor technique are.

    A quote from you: “I simply enjoy stating the fact that you have no reliable evidence to suggest a barbell back squat is fundamentally safe. Therefore, I make the “good call” to avoid it, and treat it as dangerous until proven otherwise in the pursuit of health, strength, and a better life.”

    No reliable evidence? Countless athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, etc. have gotten big and strong using squats without getting hurt. That’s plenty of evidence for me. However, you choose to use the rare occurrence of a powerlifter getting hurt squatting upwards of 800 lbs in competition. When you’re competing at such high levels, things may go wrong every now and then. Ask any professional athlete who’s torn their ACL or whatever…shit happens. Does that make their sport inherently dangerous? No, but any athletic activity comes with it’s risks. The difference here is that squatting occurs in a highly controlled and (hopefully) properly coached environment, greatly diminishing the injury risk. Yes, squatting 800+ lbs might increase the risk for injury, but the truth is 99.99999% of people reading this will never touch a weight that heavy.

    You make the “good call” to avoid it and treat it as dangerous until proven otherwise? With this piss poor logic, you should be avoiding every exercise known to man. Where’s the reliable evidence to suggest that push-ups are safe, or chin-ups, or whatever it may be? I’ve certainly never seen research on this topic, but logic and experience tell me that any exercise, when performed correctly, is inherently safe. It’s dumb asses doing things incorrectly that get hurt. I’d love to see any evidence you have to suggest that squats are dangerous, but I highly doubt you have any.

    Like I said, plenty of people have gotten big and strong squatting without getting hurt. Not to mention, any loaded exercise can be inherently dangerous if not done correctly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…a properly performed squat is 100% safe and if more people knew how to squat correctly, there’d be a hell of a lot fewer injuries and our society would be in better shape as a whole. Maybe you avoid squatting because you don’t know how, or maybe because you just like to avoid hard work. Who knows.

    Are back squats for everyone? No, and I’m not saying everyone HAS to squat to get bigger and stronger. I’ve coached plenty of clients and not everyone is ready to squat on day 1 and some may never be able to squat. However, my motto is contraindicate the person, not the exercise. As a coach I always take the time to screen my clients for contraindications and…wait for it…COACH them how to properly squat. And guess what…not once in my career has anyone I’ve ever trained been injured from squatting. Who’da thunk it…taking the time to screen clients and coach them properly might actually be a good idea? And for those of you who don’t have a coach, if you don’t know how to squat I’d suggest getting one before you start.

    My point is although squats are definitely not for everyone, to condemn them as dangerous for everyone is just ignorant. If you’re going to give people advice, at least make sure you know what the hell you’re talking about first.

  72. Cloppa August 17, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    This is a bad joke right?
    Any exercise done in ignorance can be dangerous, but if u remove barbell squats from exercise programs and replace with those ridiculous hip belt squats, u can kiss goodbye to any form of sport or exercise that requires strength transfer from the ground to the upper body, ie all sports apart from paralympics!!
    What a waste of time this article is!

    • Anthony Dream Johnson August 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      You’re not making a distinction between sports and exercise. You want improvement in both so you combine the two for convenience. This is lazy and sloppy thinking at best. What *you* want has nothing to do with how anatomy and bio-mechanics work. You should step back and examine your basic thinking before sticking a barbell on your back again.


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