Back Squat: Safe Alternatives

The squat is a fundamental exercise that belongs in everyone’s program.  This movement hits all the large muscles of the legs: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes.

The prevailing variation, with the bar across the shoulders, is depicted in this image.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It’s a great exercise.  However, I’ve moved away from programming this version for my clients.  I outline my reasoning in my newest vlog.  Incidentally, when I recorded this, I neglected to mention a safety aspect. Some people may not have the shoulder mobility to position the bar correctly.

Squatting with the bar across your shoulders places a load on your spine.  Moreover, outside stress on the spine, spinal compression and spinal flexion can all contribute to back pain.  

Conclusion:  everyone benefits from including the squat in their strength program.  But different variations will be appropriate for different people.  My go-to is the goblet squat or some variation of the single leg squat.  They pose less injury risk and get my clients the results they need.