Squat thoughts

One of the readers in the comments posted the link to Maxwell's blog post on squat: here. While some Maxwell's comments may be right, some points of his critique of this exercise are wrong.

The first video of his post demonstrates supposedly technically good squat. Maxwell especially fond of the curvature of the lower back by this trainee. while admiring the lordosis though, he misses the fact that this squat is done above parallel. We can start arguing if it was above or just at, however if there is any doubt it means this squat is too high.

The second video demonstrates the loss of lordosis as the trainee goes deeper. This is true, the guy is a nice example of this problem. However, this does not denigrates squat. Developing flexibility necessary for good squatting is not that difficult, especially for a young and slender guy on the video. This is especially strange that the critique comes from Steve Maxwell, the coach who knows a thing or two about stretching.

As alternatives Maxwell proposes pistol, goblet and other variations of the squat. Once again, some statements are outright wrong.

Take pistol, for example. Done the way it is demonstrated on the video it loads lower back quite significantly. How fo I know that? Because when I had problems with my lower back I tried doing loaded pistols. To my surprise even doing them with 5 kg caused considerable lumbar pain. I am not good at physics, but someone who is interested can estimate the load on the spine when the weight is held by the arms outstretched far forward. Pistols also encourage the loss of lordosis, far more than barbell squats, and in combination with the weight held in fromt of the body lumbar flexion can lead to problems.

Goblet squat is not a bad lift, but not as a substitute for barbell squat. it is actually a great exercise for the development of sufficient flexibility and technique for doing heavier squats. It teaches you to push the knees out, helps keep the back concave and encourages to go to the very bottom.

As Maxwell's blog is devoted mostly to martial arts I can see the point that lighter variations of the squat may be more useful for fighters and grapplers. I don't have a problem with that. Wrestlers probably don't need huge absolut strength, and that is Maxwell's area expertise.

I, on the other hand, squat for the sake of squatting. My goal is to squat more. You can argue about functionality of this goal, but I don't really care about it. I am sure though that it is impossible to look weak if your squat numbers are decent. I have never seen a squatter with thin arms, and while all squat variations are useful and in many instances safer than the conventional one, none of them with give you the satisfaction of being very strong. The first video on Maxwell's blog post has to be watched on Youtube. Incidentally, that page has the link to the video embedded below.

I don't think goblet squats or weighted pistols can produce strength similar to this. Somehow this guy manages to squat right down without loosing lumbar lordosis. Could be the result of right coaching: get flexible instead of bitching about how dangerous squats are. While I probably never be able to squat with this amount of plates on the bar, I understand the feeling it gives you.