“Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it. … Success is shy — it won’t come out while you’re watching.” – Tennessee Williams
So it’s been awhile since I’ve put up a reader question. Usually I wait until I get multiple questions on the same topic. Squatting (or, more specifically, the lack thereof in my workouts) comes up quite often. The following is representative of those type questions:
Ari says –
I”ve been a long time follower and reader. I noticed you don’t place nearly the same emphasis on squatting as those in the Rip or 70s Big camp. You seem to have much more of a clean/DL/sprint emphasis. Would love to get your thoughts on this.
Good question, Ari; and thanks for asking. I think the first thing to realize right off the bat is that this is a very n=1 question. I know this sounds as if I’m setting myself an “escape hatch” here, but it’s true. Each athlete/trainee is wired and put together different. The thing for me is this: for my build, and as viewed through the lens of my own Five Ts assessment, the back squat — whether the high bar (Oly), or the low-hold (powerlift) version — is simply a less effective exercise for my situation.
For me, it’s more a matter of pushing the deadlift, while maintaining the squat…while at the same time, not allowing my sprint speed to suffer. Now, if I do squat, it’s either a front squat version or, more infrequently, a safety bar squat. And, too, I perform a lot of squat cleans within my overall routine, so I have to take that work into account as well.
Something else to consider is the fact that I do *a lot* of force-velocity curve “surfing”. This means that I have to be very choosy in my exercise selection, if for no other reason than I don’t have an unlimited number of training hours in the week — or recovery ability, for that matter. Every thing I do has to have a purpose.
The result of this is that I have to put a premium on each exercise selected to cover each aspect of the force-velocity curve. So, you’re much more likely to see jump squats or some other version of dynamic squat in my routine than you are a straight-up Oly or low-bar version of the squat.
Now, please understand that this is *not*, in any way, shape or form, an anti-squat rant. Noting could be further from the truth. What I am advising, rather, is that trainee/athlete question exactly *why* they are performing a particular movement, then assess whether or not that movement, in fact, offers the biggest bang-for-the-buck in their particular circumstance. Simple as that. To perform an exercise or modality simply because someone else has great success with the movement/modality is to slack on doing the due diligence work of knowing thy self.
For instance, many of my Efficient Exercise clients get a steady dose of machine-based hip pressing — coupled with RFESS (rear foot elevated split squats). For these particular clients, this mix offers some tremendous muscular in-roading without clobbering the lower back in the process. Again, could they squat? Sure — and sometimes we do. However, the risk vs reward for them tilts the scales more toward (for instance) a press/RFESS combo.
So it boils down to the old axiom of there not being any bad exercises, just bad exercise selections under specific circumstances. If you’re a powerlifter who’s built to squat, then by all means squat away! And I think that all newbies, even if they’re not built to squat, should at least work up to a decent proficiency in the exercise before moving on to concentrate on unilateral versions of the movement.
In health, fitness and wellness –