Exercises You Should Be Doing: Barbell Rolling Squat

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Hope everyone had a lovely July 4th weekend this past weekend. We sure did.

Lisa and I were up in Maine – Pemaquid Point to be exact – for a wedding, and it was a stark reminder that it’s the perfect anecdote to the hustle and bustle of Boston.

Having a few day’s reprieve from honking horns, sirens, and people in general was amazing. Plus, the air in Maine is so much more crisp and clean. I highly recommend going if you ever get the chance.

We got back into Boston early yesterday so that we could partake in our annual July 4th Epic Walk of Epicness.

Nothing out of the ordinary since we walk around the city all the time. However, going for a “long-ass walk” on the 4th is something Lisa and I started doing a few years ago and we’ve continued on with the tradition.

Plus, there aren’t many cities that do July 4th better than Boston.

We left our apartment around noon and when it was all said and done we covered nine miles and had our fair share of cookie and pizza pit-stops.

That’s how we roll.

Anyways, as thrilling as it is reading about my walking prowess, I’m sure you’d rather me get to the meat and potatoes of today’s post.

Barbell Rolling Squat


This can also be considered a poor man’s version of the hack squat. Except, you know, without the $1000+ piece of equipment involved that can only be used for one thing.

So, a more apropos way of putting things is that this is the “savvy business man’s” version of the hack squat.

Who Did I Steal It From: Greg Nuckols during one of his and Omar Isuf’s Lifting Lyceum presentations.

NOTE: If you have a chance to hop in on their next go-round, you’d be stupid not to. It’s a wonderfully detailed resource that goes into the nitty gritty on squat, deadlift and bench press technique as well as program design.

Go HERE for more information.

NOTE II: I receive no monetary value or kick-back in telling you to check it out. Unless you count a video of Greg lip-syncing Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” as a form of compensation. Which it should.

NOTE III: Lets make it happen Greg….;o)

What Does It Do: The rolling squat serves as a nice accessory movement to better target the quadriceps.

As Greg noted during his squat presentation, and I agree with him if that means anything1, many lifters have been programmed into thinking the squat is ALL posterior-chain, to the point where having weak quads may become a limiting factor.

When the goal is to lift as much weight as humanly possible, there’s definitely merit to utilizing the posterior chain to a higher degree. However, this doesn’t imply the quadriceps should be ignored.

As far as the quads being a limiting factor is concerned, this is most apparent when you witness someone come out of the hole on their squat and their hips shoot up way too fast, to the point where they run the risk of falling too far forward onto their toes.

Having stronger quads (or the ability to engage them to a higher degree) will help people better put force INTO the ground and maintain a more upright torso.

READ: This IS NOT to imply a forward lean is frowned upon or wrong. It isn’t. Just, you know, falling forward onto your face will tend to stagnate things.

Key Coaching Cues: You won’t need a lot of weight with this. For most guys, 95-135 lbs will be more than enough. For women, 45-85 lbs will suffice.

Also, use BUMPER plates.

In addition, it helps to have a very forgiving training facility to perform these. A brick or cement wall is best. Doing this exercise against a drywall won’t end well.

Hoist the barbell overhead and set up as you would for a normal squat. Lean back towards the wall until the plates are resting, adjust feet to shoulder width apart, scoot a few feet forward, and then squat down as low as you can.

These are best done for high(er) reps, in the 10-20 range.

PS: I’ve gotten a few comments from people on why this exercise is any different than “regular” squat, even with the suggestion of moving my feet forward a bit away from the wall?

Answer: Because I’m LEANING INTO THE WALL. Hence the name “barbell ROLLING squat.” Apologies for not making that more clear on my end….;O)

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Granted I squat roughly 20,000 less lbs. than him, but I know a thing or two about squatting

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