Does Everyone Need to Squat?

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In a word: No. Actually, much like everything… depends.

But before I get a fusillade of hate mail for making such a heretical comment, hear me out for a second.

There’s a huge dichotomy between the word need and want.

Need and want are too different things.

  • Do you need to crush beers on the weekends?  No, but you want to.
  • Do you need to bench press three times per week?  No, but you want to.
  • Do you need to remind your boyfriend that he’s not Channing Tatum, every…..single….day?  No, but you want to.  We get it ladies.  Channing Tatum can dance. And he has abs that could deflect bullets. And yes, his index finger probably has more sex appeal than the entire East coast.  But do you have to throw it in our face every minute of every day?  We have feelings too, you know!

This whole subject was spurned a few weeks ago when, after my most recent T-Nation article about shoulder pain went up, some internet warrior decided to chime in to bust my balls and made a comment that he stopped reading once he saw that I stated my best bench press was 315 lbs.

Trust me: I’ll be the first to admit that my bench numbers are pathetic, and that I should have a few points revoked from my man-card.  

I replied back with: “Yeah but my internet max is like 405. That has to count for something, right?”

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with squatting, but it speaks to the incessant chest bumping and bravado the pervades the internet, and the fitness industry as a whole.

Peruse any fitness forum and you’ll invariably notice one common denominator, especially when it comes to squatting:

EVERYONE squats ass to grass.

And everyone, seemingly, squats 600 lbs.

For reps.

With Mila Kunis on their back.

This, my friends, is utter bull to the shit.

What’s even more comical (or scary) is that the same people that claim to lift these world renowned numbers are also the same ones who call out people for not squatting ass to grass, or chastise those who refrain from squatting all together.

As a strength coach (and some parts meathead), I’d be remiss to poo-poo on the squat.  I want people to squat as I feel they’re an invaluable exercise that helps build strength, power, and helps to improve athletic performance.  Moreover, you’d be hard pressed to find another exercise which helps burn more calories.  So, for those more concerned with fat loss or aesthetics, squats are unparalleled.

Taking it a step further, though, I also feel squats do a fantastic job of offsetting many of the postural imbalances we see from those who spend a vast majority of their lives sitting.

Someone who can perform a proper squat demonstrates that they have the ample ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, t-spine extension, core stiffness, and glenohumeral ROM (to name a few) to do so. Which is saying a lot given many people can’t sit down onto a chair without blowing out their back.

So I guess the question isn’t so much “does everyone NEED to squat,” but rather……

……..“which squat variation is the safest and most effective for that one individual?”

While I’m all for people squatting with a full ROM, sometimes it’s just not feasible, and borderline counterproductive.  Make someone with chronic anterior knee pain or Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) squat ass to grass, and you’re setting them up for something bad to happen.

And, you’re an a-hole.

Likewise, take someone with a degenerative disc issue or who has any number of postural imbalances, place a bar on their back and make them squat, don’t be surprised if your eyes start bleeding.

Conversely, even if someone does have crazy mobility and demonstrates that (s)he can squat to depth, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve worked with a handful of dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, and Yogi’s who could contort themselves into a human pretzel and could easily squat all the way to the ground, but because they weren’t able to stabilize within that ROM, I felt it was not in their best interests to squat.  That low.

We still squatted.  Just within a ROM that was safe for THEM.

More to the point, I place a priority on technique (regardless of depth):

– Groove a proper hip hinge pattern (learn to sit back).

– Push the knees out.

– Learn to engage core stiffness (get tight).

– Learn to engage the lats to provide more stability to the spine.

– Maintain a “neutral” spinal position.

– Try not to pass out.

And the list could go on and on.

Look at something like a Goblet Box Squat:

[Video credit to John Gaglione]

To me – and many other fitness professionals – the Goblet squat is about as idiot proof as a squat can get.  The anterior loading forces the trainee to engage their core, and the box helps to keep them “honest” and learn where proper depth actually is.

Additionally, if I have to bring the box up due to any number of issues – FAI, knee pain, whatever – I can do it and still reap many of the benefits.  Really, all I care about is grooving proper technique anyways.

From there, we can progress the exercise to a lower box, or to a free-standing squat (no box).  Or maybe even a goblet squat with pulse:

And then we can gravitate towards more “aggressive” squat variations like front squats or box squats or whatever we deem appropriate.

In the end, I just wish more people would consider that not everyone can show up on day one and squat, let alone ass to grass – especially without taking into consideration someone’s health history, injury history, postural imbalances, compensation patterns, and experience.

So to bring this all back around again: I DO feel that everyone should learn to squat…..the right way. But more importantly, to choose the appropriate variation that suits they’re needs.

Whether or not someone wants to squat is one thing. That’s a can of worms I don’t want to open here  Do we need to squat?  Well, that depends.  I want to say yes given the plethora of benefits that squats have to offer.

But given how a lot of people move nowadays, it might be one of those things that’s not worth the effort – at least to start, and it’s better to approach things on a case-by case basis.

I’m obviously not going to go through every squat variation and say who should be doing what. That would take forever.

If anything, I hope this post at least starts a conversation amongst those reading and it gets people to take more of an objective look at how they go about making recommendations and programming for their clients.


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Comments for This Entry

  • Lars Krogstad

    good one today coach!

    July 19, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply to this comment

  • Lars Krogstad

    good one today coach!

    July 19, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply to this comment

  • RS

    Tony, As usual, your posts are a breath of fresh air. I have been actively training (not working out) for three years now, and I have only seen three guys that could safely do ATG squats. I can not and likely never will be able to, but I'm fine with that.  I love the movement, get in some variation at every training session and it is my nemesis. It is the one movement where I have to REALLY grease the skids, lest I over-think and things go awry. I've started heavy, slow-eccentric kettlebell goblet box squats once a week, and that's helping me diminish the mental aspects of the lift while homing in on technique.  RS

    July 19, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Couldn't agree more Ronell. If we were just talking plain ol' bicep curls, that's one thing.  But squatting (correctly) - as much as I love it - needs to be coached.  A lot. I do feel that EVERYONE should be squatting to some degree - it's just the VARIATION that's going to differ.  

      July 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply to this comment

  • W0lf9nightmare

    Good stuff Tony! I've recently fallen in love with the jackknife squat for people without any knee problems

    July 19, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply to this comment

  • Todd Bumgardner

    Great stuff, Tony! The exercise has to suit the person and the purpose--you're dead on, my man. This whole Channing Tatum thing really makes me want to take a chest hair growth accelerator and grow a beard Grizzly Adams would envy.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks for the kind words Todd.  Always nice when other coaches whom I respect are on the same page as myself. I'd like to throw Ryan Gosling on the Channing Tatum train, too.  He's all over the place, and I hate him because, well, I'm not him.....;o)

      July 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply to this comment

  • James Weise

    I'm doing Dan John's Mass Made Simple right now and one thing I've added to my warm up is a deep KB Goblet Squat where I hold the bottom position for about 10 seconds for 5 reps. It seems to help my hips open up.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      I did that program last year too, and loved it. I love Dan John programs in general because they're just so plain simple to follow and there's no fluff.  Glad to hear that you've seen some progress thus far.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Bret Contreras

    Has anybody told you lately you're a funny motherfu%&er?! Good stuff Tony!

    July 19, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply to this comment

  • CodieD

    Thank you for this article. It's exactly what I have been considering. I recently just started trying to lift heavier weights for the first time and I met with a personal trainer to learn proper form.  Right away she put me with a barbell and decided I should be squatting around 95 lbs and leg pressing 210.  I am at a desk about 40 hours a week, so I do have tight hip flexors.  I feel like just because I have some flexibility to get lower that doesn't mean my body should go that low just yet. I have never squatted much more than 50 lbs (ball wall squats).  I feel like my legs can handle the weight and maybe even more weight, but my core is not ready to be doing that kind of weight.  I can tell that my upper body has some stability issues.  She just kind of brushed me off and said it will get better and I can keep adding weight.  I wish we had some better trainers in our small town.  I just feel like something is missing or like I should have acted like I was dying to get my point across.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply to this comment

    • Mark

      CodieD, I hope this doesn't come off as condescending because that is not my intent at all, but I think you should keep in mind that at most gyms the vast majority of people don't use enough weight when they squat (and still do 1/2 squats on top of that). The see photos of people "squatting" little pink dumbbells or one of the small fixed rate bars and think that is okay. I don't know you or anything about your situation, but 95 lbs isn't that much, even for many beginners. It may seem really hard, but squats are supposed to be hard - that is what makes them so good. The fact that you suggest you could have "acted" like you were dying makes it sound like you had more in you. If you don't push yourself, you won't adapt. Don't be stupid, but don't be afraid to push yourself either. You're likely stronger than you think!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply to this comment

      • deansomerset

        First, I will commend Codie for getting into the gym and working on getting into better shape. Second, as a trainer in a "typical" commercial gym I see a lot of people who work at cubicle farms for extended periods each day, and to simply say that 95 lbs isn't that much only takes into account what your frame of reference is for the lift in question. Knowing nothing about Codie's posture, hip mobility, core stability, or any feature that could be considered important in determining what he should be lifting, and then throwing him under the bus for not measuring up to your standards is pretty limited in vision. Regardless of weight lifted, a limitation in core stability can create issues, and if he doesn't feel stable during the movement it's a valid concern.

        July 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply to this comment

        • TonyGentilcore

          I agree Dean. I think it's fantastic that Codie is going to the gym, and without taking into consideration any mobility restrictions, experience, and training history, and then to go and say that "95 lbs isn't that much" is a little pigheaded if you ask me. Codie: keep doing what you're doing. Like I said, stay CONSISTENT. Show up. Good things will happen.

          July 20, 2012 at 6:29 am | Reply to this comment

      • Mark

        It appears I'm not able to reply to dean's comment so I'm replying to my own. In my post I specifically said "I don't know you or anything about your situation" which may not have been clear, but I was thinking precisely along the lines of "Knowing nothing about Codie's posture, hip mobility, core stability, or any feature that could be considered important in determining what he should be lifting". It also certainly wasn't my intention to throw him "under the bus" but rather to encourage him. My opinion of most personal trainers is likely no different than just about everyone else here, but the situation where a trainer suggests a weight that a client should be able to do fairly easily only to have the client say it is too hard is very common at most commercial gyms. The fact that he said he considered "acting" like he was dying makes me think he wasn't actually suffering that much. If anything, most commercial trainers are too conservative with exercise intensity because they don't want to scare clients away. A lot of people hold themselves back simply because they don't know what they are actually capable of. That's what this sounded like to me (again, I'm not there so I could be wrong). Sometimes people need a dose of reality. I considered carefully what I said and knew that it may make me sound like a bit of a dick - but IMO that is worth it if encourages someone to perform at a level they are capable of. Finally, if the issue is mobility or posture related then I would think the solution would be to change the type of movement rather than reduce the weight. So again, my intent wasn't to say "you're a pussy" but rather "don't be afraid to really push - you may surprise yourself with what you can do".

        July 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Codie -  I'm really glad this post hit a chord with you, and I'm even more glad that you've taken it upon yourself to get into kick ass shape!   While I'm not a huge fan of the leg press (I feel your time could be better spent elsewhere), at least your trainer is taking some steps to ease you into things, and there's a lot to be said for that. Just stay CONSISTENT with everything, make a concerted effort to get better every week, and good things will happen.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply to this comment

      • CodieD

        I replied to the post above.  I am still kind of new to blogs, but a friend of mine (a girl) told me to keep an eye on your blog.  She said you are crazy funny, give great advice and you want girls to lift heavy shit!!  Thanks to you I found Girls Gone Strong and I have been following them as well. I will do my best to stay consistent. I can't wait to see what the weights do since I've never been in any sports or stayed consistent with exercise before. I am 31 and have been going to the gym for 2.5 years now!! yay! Time to hit the weights and cut back on the fluff classes. Now, if only I could talk my husband into going to the gym and lifting.....

        July 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply to this comment

    • CodieD

      Thanks Mark, Tony, and Dean for the comments. I totally agree that a workout should be challenging!! I am a girl. I guess I should have mentioned that, so I don't know where that puts me on the beginners list.  In the 5 weeks I spent with my trainer, I have to say I LOVE the results!! I slipped off the wagon the last month or so because of vacations etc. but I can't wait to get back in there and lift some weight!! (I think it was 3 years ago a trainer had me do a lunge with just a barbell and I couldn't get back up. I have come a long way with lighter weights, plyo and spin. My goal before was to make the gym a habit, meet a couple of people so I dont feel like a stranger, and have fun ...mission accomplished.)   I guess I was complaining a little because I have noticed that I have some soreness in my hips that I haven't experienced with other exercise. It's not while I am doing squats or other exercises. It seems to come later.  I noticed with the leg press recently that my pelvis/sacrum tilts up when I lower as far as my trainer had me doing (the plate my foot was on actually touches the rest when I lower all the way).  She didn't notice that my pelvis was doing that, so when I asked about it she did mention not to go that far down. I already knew the answer, but I felt she needed to know that was happening.  If it continues I will probably get it checked out just to be safe.   I read these posts by Tony about mobility and I wonder where I fall.  It's the little things that beginner trainers may not pick up on.   I did recenlty order Nia Shanks's Lift like a Girl to have some sense of what she is doing. I am becoming a believer of the traditional exercises/compound movements that really work for strength. I want to get stronger, but not spend a lot of time doing isolation work unless it's necessary.  My gym isn't quite set up for dead lifts yet, but I plan to find out how.  I am going to a very small town gym in the Idaho panhandle, but the owners are great and so are the people. Anyways, keep doing what you do! I love reading all the stories and the motivating tips!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply to this comment

  • dj

    Funny and informative post. Just a clarification from as a newbie trainer; in the first video, the client's toes are popping up. Is this bad? Is he carrying too much load? Is it OK? I was taught no toe curl of any kind on a squat of any kind — it indicates over load or ROM that is beyond the client's safe capability. Maybe this is just one of those blanket rules they tell new trainers to err on the side of safety? Maybe not? Inquiring minds want to know... Really appreciate your posts.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Marianne

    Tony, I was laughing my ass off at this! The "And, you're an a-hole" bit, the human pretzel ... hehe! Of course the points are excellent too ;-)  Cheers for the dose of laugh medicine!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Josh

    Tony, Great post. How do you assess the best depth to go to?  I'm assuming you check t-spine mobility, quadruped rocking, and Hip IR.  Is there anything else you check to determine depth?

    July 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Those are actually great starting points - especially the quadruped rocking.  Too, I have them squat!......;o) I know weird, right? If I find that they get to a certain depth and they start tucking under, I know I'll need to work on a few things: ankle dorsiflexion, hamstrings, maybe core stability?  If they're able to get to depth with no issues, then I'll use it. But I do tend to start off with a table assessment first and then work my way to floor based stuff to standing/dynamic stuff.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Teresa Merrick

    Does everyone need to squat--YES!  So they can sit down and rise from a chair without pushing with arms, so they can sit down and rise from a (Western) toiled without having to catch themselves with their hands/arm.  And IMHO it should be assessed and introduced at the beginning of a person's program.  I'm not talking about an overhead squat test a la NASM, simply a box squat that is around the height of a chair or toilet (14-15 inches).  Everyone needs to use at least a bodyweight variation that mirrors what they must do in daily life.  Does everyone need to to ATG?  As you pointed out, no.  Does everyone need to work up to a boatload of weight--front or back?  No.  It depends on person's needs and goals as to how far you take him/her.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Aravind Sithamparapillai

    Love it!  I love the extra variations you throw in too.  always gives me new ideas for my workout programs!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Erik Young

    I have always had issues with my knees, hips and lower back when it comes to squatting.  As such I have been following Bruno's and Boyles recommendations on single leg movements like reverse barbell lunges and walking lunges. I have always wanted to be proficient with RFESS's, but they always hurt my ankles..... Anyway, great piece I love reading your work!!

    July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Erik - Have you ever had someone actually watch you squat?  It might not be a bad idea to just ask someone who knows what they're doing to watch you and see if they catch something you're missing with regards to your technique.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Stephanie

    Great post Tony! I appreciate this both personally and professionally. Personally - I don't squat ATG, and never will due to hip issues, but I work hard to get a good depth for me -- using videos has helped me to figure out at what point I start to get the little "butt tuck" and curve in my Lumbar spine. Training to MY proper depth has been going very well (and safely!) And Professionally speaking, I am an athletic trainer and get frustrated when I see strength and conditioning coaches who won't "let" athletes squat due to form or poor mobility. Just because they can't squat ATG doesn't mean they can't benefit from some of the other variations or a different depth! 

    July 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Stephanie - Thanks for that message, and I'm glad to see that I was able to get my message across without coming across as some meathead strength coach.....;o)  I couldn't agree with you more on all accounts.  Back in the day I was pigheaded and used to think that EVERYONE had to squat ATG.  Needless to say I was trying to pound square pegs into a round hole, and it took me a while to figure things out. Now that I know better, I'm just hoping I can spread the message and help make the industry better Thanks for the kind words!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kellie

    Great post as always. This solidifies my response to the question, "And why I am not doing barbell squats," as "because you are not good at them."  I kid, I kid.  But not really.  PS- Channing Tatum is overrated. Any guy who gets his own first and last name confused is a dud in my book. It's Tatum Channing. Get it right! 

    July 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Lauren L

    omg Channing Tatum is so hot

    July 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Lauren L

    Oh there was more article after that. I love the goblet squat and I think I either found it through you or EC, can't remember who first. But I totally agree, it's completely foolproof and I use it with virtually all of my clients. LoveitLoveitLoveit (Molly Shannon kicking her leg to the sky). As far as people for whom squatting is a contraindicated exercise, could you do/ have you done an article discussing these folks? Or could you link me to some recommended reading? I mean, we all squat in every day life, but I also understand that the "functional argument" doesn't hold up in every case (just because it's a movement we do in everyday life, it doesn't mean we should train it all the time: risk vs. reward).  I'm thinking about a 60-something year old woman I know from the gym where I work whose doctor said she should never do squats because of her chondromalacia in her knees. But doesn't she need to squat? Shouldn't she be taught how to do it correctly? I hope this wasn't too confusing.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply to this comment

    • Teresa Merrick

      Hi Lauren, A major part of my research interests is physician communications on exercise and health in general.  Sadly, doctors aren't trained in exercise and when they tell a person to never do squats, it begs the question "so can't I ever sit down on the toilet (or in a chair) again?".  They are prone to the same misconceptions about squats that other execise "laypersons" are. I saw a knee ortho about 6 months ago for some arthritic issues in my left knee and told him I lifted weights and squatted and he said "well, you shouldn't squat".  With an innocent and serious look on my face, I asked him that same question--"so I can't ever sit on the toilet again?" (I had been keeping that question ready to ask).  He thought for just a split second, then chuckled because he knew I was jesting and said "well, lifting heavy weights".  I replied to him that ironically, lifting heavier weights caused less problems than the day-to-day stuff of stair climbing or simply squatting to pick something up from the floor.  So I say that the 60-year old woman at the gym definitely needs to squat and taught to do it correctly, even if you limit it to the height of a typical toilet (14-15 inches high).  Her physician's advice in this area is based on ignorance and ultimately is counter-productive. Teresa Merrick, Ph.D./Bellevue, NE

      July 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply to this comment

      • TonyGentilcore

        Well stated Teresa. Thanks for that. I remember back in 2005-2006, I worked with an 82 year old woman and started off doing bodyweight box squats with her. Not long after that, I had her doing box squat with a 10-15 lb aerobics bar on her back. EVERYONE can squat. Assuming no major issues, it's just what type of squat is the question.

        July 23, 2012 at 7:10 am | Reply to this comment

    • Teresa Merrick

      Follow-up to Lauren: You asked "As far as people for whom squatting is a contraindicated exercise, could you do/ have you done an article discussing these folks? Or could you link me to some recommended reading? I mean, we all squat in every day life, but I also understand that the "functional argument" doesn't hold up in every case (just because it's a movement we do in everyday life, it doesn't mean we should train it all the time: risk vs. reward)." Why not train it all the time?  If you do the movement every day, you should do it properly every day and every time. For some recommended reading, you might want to check out "Fix Your Own Pain Without Drugs or Surgery" by Dr. Jolie Bookspan.  Her basic premise is you can't just "do exercises" at the gym or in PT/rehab, and then return to crappy ways of moving in the rest of your real life.  You have to do the movement properly ALL THE TIME.   Google "Fitness Fixer" and check out some of her stuff.

      July 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Lauren L

    Ok last comment- love the fist-bumping music in your goblet squat vid lol. Is that how they do it in Boston? ;D

    July 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      1. I'm willing to admit when a man is good looking.  He's good looking. 2.  I know EC or maybe Robertson has written on that topic a lot.  You may want to do a seach on their sites.  Also, go to Kevin Neeld's site and do a search for Femoral Acetabular Impingement.  He's done a handful of posts on that topic that are outstanding. 3.  I'm one of like six people who listen to techno in Boston.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Barath

    I usually squat 600 lbs for reps full depth while fighting alligators. It's the bang for the buck movement I know.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply to this comment

  • LYON Pilates and Stength

    Good one Tony - I have been working with Boston Ballet's SDP this month as a strength and conditioning coach for both the pre-professional men and women - and YES they can squat - it's called a plie  in dancer's lingo - and NO they do not have stability "PARALLEL" and at full ROM - why?  They don't work parallel on a regular basis, are way too flexible and usually have hardly any core strength - oh and shift weight into the heels - they never even heard of that....So dancers should definitely squat to gain strength and stability at full ROM. For women body weight can be enough. Men should add weight - cause they eventually want to lift the ladies. The question now becomes - Should everyone lunge?!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Lyon!!!!  Great to see you here, and really glad to see that things are going so well for you.  Also glad to hear that I wasn't wrong with my assertion that dancers have HORRIBLE stability issues.....;o)  Well, maybe not horrible.  But pretty bad. With dancers, especially female dancers, I'd probably be reluctant to do much lunging with them because of the aesthetic "look" they aspire for.  Maybe things like REVERSE lunges would be more appropriate since those place more emphasis on the hamstrings and not the quads.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Reply to this comment

  • deansomerset

    Great post Tony!! Now I want to go squat copious amounts of weight because squats are tha awesome!!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Chris

    Hey Tony, I completely agree with teaching the squat and its progressions on a case-to-case basis. My question however is this: what would you do in a team setting? I have a team of 10-15 ice hockey players who have no formal training background that I'm running an off-season S&C program for. It goes without saying that just about every one of them has the hip mobility of a crow bar. No surprises there. My strategy thus far has been to work single leg progressions starting up with a DB reverse lunge, moving up to to a DB bulgarian squat on a low box, and finally to a standard DB bulgarian squat on a bench. My first priority was keeping them safe and this was the best way I knew how to do that while improving performance (not to mention hip mobility and single leg stability). Any ideas? Should I throw in some Goblet Squat to gauge what percentage of the kids may have the mobility and/or stability to move to higher progressions? Thanks, Chris

    July 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Chris - You're spot on my man. Teaching in a group setting is a whole different ball game, and can be a shit show (for lack of a better term) if not approached the right way. I think tossing in some Goblet squats would be a great idea! I mean, it only makes sense to gauge who's where and to be able to progress those athletes who need it. Once there, then you have a better idea who needs to stay put (single leg variations) and who can move on to more "aggressive" movements (front squats, box squat, etc). You didn't need me to say anything: you're already on the right track!

      July 20, 2012 at 6:33 am | Reply to this comment

  • Drew

    Tony...this is one your best posts to date! I can always count on you to give a hard kick in the gonads to some of the bull floating around fitness/lifting websites. One of the reasons I love Anthony Mychal's writing so much. If he gives an example about squatting, he might say something like "If your goal is to finish at 5 reps of 225..." He doesn't feel the pressure to act like everyone out there is squatting 500 pounds haha. So thank you for being part of the fresh air! Question always talk about how crappy your pressing numbers are (though 315 is only "crappy" in powerlifting circles...that's an impressive lift to the general population). After you tackle you deadlift 600 lb goal, will you tackle your weakness is the pressing lifts? It seems like that would be pretty kickass thing for your blog. You take something that isn't your strong point, attack it with all the knowledge and dedication you have at your disposal, blogging about it all the way. It sends the message to your readers "Look, smart and determined training is all you can over come any obstacle nature has put in the way." And it would be awesome for us to hear your insight on how you did it. Just a thought! You da man.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply to this comment

  • Rick

    Am I the only one who thinks that 315 natural without equipment is a pretty damn good bench?????

    July 20, 2012 at 9:30 am | Reply to this comment

  • Naomi

    Love this post - my trainer pulled me up recently on my squat form, I'd become so focused on getting down as low as I could, with as much weight as possible, that I was loosing focus on my knees. So the knees were creeping over my toes by about an inch. So now I've gone back to light weight squats (Olympic bar with only 5kg on each side - in my defense I am a chick & have only been in serious training for a couple of months) and focussing on going as low as I can without the knees slipping forward. I'm feeling it so much more the next day, even though I'm lifting less.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tracy

    "bull to the shit". BAHAHAHAAHAHAA Must. Use This. Seriously great post. I love squats myself; in fact it was a squat that helped me realize I was on track with my road back to good health. I write about it here (it's the "moment with Eeyore" mentioned in the title--near the bottom of the post):

    July 21, 2012 at 6:18 am | Reply to this comment

  • Monika Volkmar

    Great post! You mentioned FAI, and having a few clients dealing with this issue, it's true, having one of them squat as low as they can through the pain, would make me a huge douche. And so true about dancers and yogis having all the mobility, but lacking the stability to squat ATG. 

    July 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Jay

    As someone with FAI in both hips and a love of squatting it has been challenging to find a variation that allows me to unleash my inner meat head without walking like John Wayne for days on end afterwards. I recently read a Tnation post by John Meadows advocating leg curls and gasp smith machine squats. Out of desperation I gave it a whirl and it has worked for me. 6 months ago I would have atomic wedgied myself for using that machine, but as I have read here "excercises are tools in the tool box" and I happened to find one that works for me without causing pain.

    July 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahahahahaha. This made me smile Jay. Not only am I going to steal some of those lines (atomic wedgie myself), but I think it's fantastic that you've found something that's enabled you to still gain a training effect. At the end of the day, that's what's most important. Thanks for sharing!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Top Good Reads of the Week: Edition 7 | LaVack Fitness

    [...] Back Blast for Tragically Latless – Dean Somerset No Pain, No Problem? – Dean Somerset Does Everyone Need to Squat? – Tony Gentilcore I Never(!!!) Read My Own Work, but… – Dan John Sports Massage: Don’t Forget the [...]

    July 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Top Good Reads of the Week: Edition 7

    […] Back Blast for Tragically Latless – Dean Somerset No Pain, No Problem? – Dean Somerset Does Everyone Need to Squat? – Tony Gentilcore I Never(!!!) Read My Own Work, but… – Dan John Sports Massage: Don’t Forget the […]

    September 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply to this comment

  • BRenda

    Thinks I'm 59 and just got diagnosed with chrondromalacic. I have diabetic pain ,spurs in my neck and bad back .Dr. Wouldn't listen to me about other ailments.he just done MRI on my knees and told me to go to therapy. I hardly see anything about older people and what they should do in CHRONDROMALACIC KNEE .So what should we do .i don't have the strength for squats. Can use a stretch band though. Your info. Was the best I've seen for older people.THANKS SO MUCH!

    January 20, 2017 at 1:40 am | Reply to this comment

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