Are Squats Bad For Your Back?

You probably know that you SHOULD squat if you want to get strong, lean, and fit. However, you avoid them like the plague because every time you try to squat, you hurt your back. 

So you've stopped squatting and have come to believe that squats are bad for your back.

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Squats are not bad for your back.

The way you're performing them might be bad for your back. It just so happens that the way you're performing them is bad for your back because of everything you've ever been taught about how to squat. 

There are two huge mistakes most people make when they try to squat. 

Mistake # 1 is thinking that the knees CANNOT pass the toes when you squat. 

This is just flat out wrong, and it is 50% of why your back hurts when you squat. Let's start by saying that there is no good scientific evidence that having the knees go over the toes has any harmful effects. I will make the argument that allow them to go forwards is actually the best way to have healthy knees from squatting, as long as the heels stay down and the hips move back and down properly.

The problem is that when you try to sit too far back instead of down, you place undue stress on the lower back and hips. Instead of staying upright and squatting normally, you sit back, pitch over, and place all the stress on the back. In addition, you will run out of room in your hips, and will extend (over arch) your back to complete the lift. Instead of squats working your legs, they're now working your back overtime.

Mistake #2 is thinking that squat means "Barbell Back Squat"

Ask anyone if they squat in the gym, and their mind goes straight to a barbell back squat. A squat is a movement pattern, not an exercise. There are so many ways to squat, but for some reason everybody thinks they need to squat with a bar on their back to get strong or fit. At Adapt, we almost never have our adult clients squat with a barbell on their back. We almost always start them with a Goblet Squat, progress them to a 2 KB Front Squat, and then if and only if they need it, we will progress them to a Safety Bar Squat.

All of these variations of the squat place the weight out in front of you. This forces you to stay upright, which places the stress on the quads and glutes where you want it, rather than the lower back. If you do try to keep the knees back and lean over, you will simply drop the weight. These are self limiting exercises that have a much smaller risk of hurting your back! 

If you're struggling to workout because you can't seem to find a way to get in shape without hurting yourself or feeling stiff, you are in luck.

I wrote a currently FREE report to show you how you can workout to get in the best shape of your life, even if you've gotten hurt in the past or are worried about getting hurt in the gym. I'll teach you proper technique and exercises to help you get fit without any of the aches and pains that usually accompany it. 

To read the report, CLICK HERE