-January 7th, 2020-
The Back Squat.
Probably the most well known and used exercise for leg strength, it is an exercise that we do not program.
Now I am not saying squats are bad, in fact every single athlete/adult that trains with us will learn to squat properly as it’s a fundamental movement pattern.
We just will use other variations, like a Goblet Squat or a Front Squat.
There are 3 main reasons we do not use the Back Squat:
1) Compression of the spine.
Would you ever load up a barbell with 200lbs and place it on top of the back of your hand? So why place it on your spine when you can load this movement more effectively other ways?
2) The Lower Back is a Weak Tansducer of Force.
Every single failed squat looks almost the exact same. You squat down, but as you start to stand up the upper body leans forward while the legs actually drive up putting the lumbar spine at risk.
So the legs are strong enough to control the weight, the lower back isn’t strong enough to maintain safe posture. If you know how to squat properly, and load up to get to your maximum weight, every single time you fail it will look the same. So it’s the lower back preventing us from training our legs as much as we need to.
Which leads us to point 3…
3) Bilateral deficit.
A Back Squat is a Bilateral movement (meaning done on 2 legs). We use Unilateral (Single Leg) movements to help us gain even more leg strength.
Say you can Split Squat (Unilateral) 200lbs with each leg. That would mean that you should be able to Squat 400lbs (Bilateral). 200lbs x 2 legs=400lbs.
But that is never the case! You can never Back Squat as much as 2 times your Split Squat.
As an example when I turned 40 years old I decided I would test myself on the Major 3 Powerlifting lifts: Back Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift. The goal is to combine all your totals and be in the 1000lbs club (spoiler, I hit 1000lbs on the dot!)
I worked up to a 1 rep max on Back Squat at 350lbs. But to get there I was training Split Squatting with 225lbs for 3 reps. There is just no chance I would have come close to 450lbs! I was 100lbs short and giving it my all (and was sore for days).
That is Bilateral Deficit. Add in the fact that almost all sports are played on 1 leg at a time (you run 1 leg at a time, skate 1 leg at a time) and the Unilateral work makes even more sense because you need both legs to be strong and not let your dominant one, dominate.