Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Death Of The Conventional Squat?

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but a few people have emailed me to comment on Mike Boyle's recent statement that "squatting is a low back exercise" and "Don't do conventional squats anymore". I posted most of my thoughts to Dave Draper's Iron Online Forum, but I'll add a few things here.

In September, I had a discussion with Pavel (and when I say "discussion" I really mean he did most of the talking and I listened) about lunges and Bulgarian split squats. His point was, and I certainly don't disagree, that both exercises have their share of contraindications. There's a lot that can go wrong. More dangerous than a squat? I don't know and that's not the point. The point is that there is no perfect exercise for everyone and their individual needs.

I've done more than my share of Bulgarian split squats. Truth be told, I love them and think they are the shizzle. Doesn't mean I'll be recommending everyone to give up back squats however.

The 'either... or...' mentality is what gets us into trouble. There are few absolutes in training. Dogma and hyperbole bog us down and prevent us from finding creative solutions. I give credit to Mike Boyle, because I believe that it takes a lot of courage to say, in a world that loves squatting, that his athletes do not squat. He has attempted to bring the pendulum back to center, and that is always a good thing, but the 'Stretching is DEAD!', 'Squatting is DEAD!', etc. hyperbole is tiring.

My grandfather died of emphysema. He was never a physical man to begin with and for the last probably 10 years of his life, getting out of a chair was a metcon workout. I believe that a diet of squats strategically placed somewhere in his lifetime would have made a significant difference in his quality of life. Would squats cure emphysema? Maybe not, but squats; back, front, high-bar, low-bar, parallel, or full would have impacted him positively. I believe that, done properly, they can do the same for just about everyone. Is it possible to have a good program without them? Yes, but squats are a keystone exercise - period. Inclusion of squats or a variant or modification is an absolute necessity (in my opinion).

I've never met Mike Boyle, but I like his stuff a lot - always have. His new book Advances In Functional Strength Training is great. I will post a more complete review soon. Mike Boyle is clearly a very thoughtful and competent coach. His athletes have success and what better gauge of a coach's ability and methodology is there really?

Ultimately YOU (not me, not Mike Boyle) have to make the hard decisions regarding what is best for you and your team. You can put everyone on the same cookie-cutter program, or you can tailor according to need and motivation. Modifying and differentiating instruction is the mark of a superior coach and teacher.


Jennifer said...

Much wisdom here. I think many of us "train for life," constantly working on improving quality of life now and for the future. Sit for a while in any place where people come and go, sitting while they wait. The squat, a.k.a. "getting out of a chair", is difficult for much of the population.

I literally tripped over your blog while cruising around tonight. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. Thanks for the time you put in here.

Boris T. said...

Great post, and yes I too find Squats (regardless of Variants) to be fundamental to any training program.

Personally I am more inclined towards the Front Squat as I find it has more application to my goals.

Boris said...

Thanks Jennifer - I'm glad you made it here!

Thanks Boris. I like them all I guess. Never cared much for Zerchers, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Boris. I appreciate the kind words. Lots of internet folks have not been so open minded.

Boris said...

Coach Boyle,
I've enjoyed your new book and I'll try to have a review up soon. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know you had a blog which I'll be looking forward to checking.

Thank you for stopping by!