It manifests as a... Roasted Bone Marrow with Rosemary & Garlic, My Favorite Way to Play: Ultimate Frisbee, 5 Ways My Workouts Have Changed in My 60s. Hello Mark Sisson, Thank you so much for telling 9 worthy alternatives to the back squat. Essentially, they prevent injury and greatly improve strength and, of course, balance. Another fantastic and low-back friendly alternative to back squats are the single leg squat, split squat or lunge exercise variations. In this case, the available options are to push through the pain which I certainly do not advise, or to seek alternative exercises. You can either be seated or do it lying down depending on the variation you pick. I am ok with doing regular squats right now and have no problem with them. Feet should be a little wider than shoulder width apart and the knees kept out as you squat down. It’s a better alternative to dumbbell squats in my opinion. Squat down, carefully letting the bar rest on your lower quads. I’ve been doing Stronglifts 5X5 (https://stronglifts.com/5×5/) for about 3 months after Mark referred to it in an article. It saves a ton of time and lifts like this have been shown to boost many functions from metabolism (through muscle gain) to testosterone production. Don’t forget the Pistol squat – I’m talking going down slow, hold at the bottom, and bottom means bottom sitting on your foot, not these “half pistols” that many gym trainers claim are pistol squats – hold for 1 second, and slowly come right up. Instead of weights, you’ll grip a resistance band at chest height. Being able to do the shrimp easily makes it easier to progress to the pistol. Lower the height if you find your back arching or your torso tilting too far forward. I'm a big believer that avoiding direct spinal compression can help alleviate pain during the Squat—at least until you feel comfortable going back to traditional Barbell Squats. It matches the range of motion of a parallel squat, while sparing the pelvis and lower back. I hate lunges haha, such an awkard movement. My favorite is the staggered stance squat These exercises offer similar benefits to the anterior loaded squat variations given above. This One Mistake Could Be Keeping You Stuck, How Stress Affects Gut Health (and What to Do About It). Alternatives? Extend one leg back slowly and make sure your knees don’t extend beyond your toes. STACK Expert Justin Ochoa provides squat variations you can perform without aggravating your back. This is especially important because many back injuries can be traced back to a dysfunctional midsection. Make sure everything you do in the gym benefits you in some way. Missing out on gains And yes, I'm not allowed to touch barbell back squats, barbell bench press, and now, deadlifts When performing this  movement, most people elevate their rear foot on a bench, but I believe a bench is too high for someone with back problems. Don’t think you can work your quads without heavy weights? No bar? Whatever the case, there are countless ways to stay strong while you have a minor injury. If you have problems with lunges, play around with the torso angles. The problem is that this article assumes that you can easily get all these exercises set up in your local gym and it’s not possible. Maintain your balance while you do a series of slow squats. I see lot of people doing fronts squats with a back squat position, and they would be a lot more effective if they got the rock bottom potion right first, which usually for the front squat means using wider knee travel and narrower foot placement, which also makes staying vertical easier/possible. Let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives. The best progression is the standard Barbell Front Squat. – To find you correct foot/knee travel position for either the front or back squat, I suggest using an empty bar going all the way down, finding what position seems solid for you there, and then this dictates your foot placement and knee travel when starting from the top. That is actually a really great tip. Remember, movement is medicine. Most back pain isn't rooted in the actual bony structures of the back, but in imbalances near the area. If you have bad knees, though, you don’t want to be doing lunges—and it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out. This is, of course, a good way to improve your balance, and exercise core muscles of all sorts. Most exercises begin with the eccentric portion. Instead of a traditional squat, grab a stability ball, place it between your mid-back and the wall. An alternative to pistol squats are shrimp squats. The Landmine Press is great because it forces you to get into a comfortable position and squat efficiently. I just saw them today on the Breaking Muscle website. My current back routine is this:-chin ups 3x8-close grip lat pull downs 3x8-seated cable rows 3x8 I used to have deadlift for 3x5 but after tonight, I decided to remove it permanently Any alternative exercises for replacing deadlifts? Overhead Squat! This helps you open up your hips, evenly split the load, and get a true single-leg workload when performing the Split-Squat. However, the back squat is not your only option. Almost every athlete with a moderate amount of experience under the bar experiences back pain at some point in their career. It’s funny how culture colours our perception of the squat. no thanks! I now have a mental image of a shrimp scratching his little head and murmuring, “Hmmm, which legs shall I squat today?”. It’s a one-legged squat where you grab your leg behind your body. Plenty of other knee flexion exercises are worth doing. Required fields are marked *. This creates a more stable “shelf” of support for the weight. Explosively jump up, land soft, and lower your body back into a squat position, taking a full count of four to get there. I think you missed out on the double kettlebell squats. Ask any child who has lived through war how much spiritual development he or she experienced as a result of shock, pain, fear, loss, poverty, hunger, and disease. Instantly download your Guide to Gut Health. I typically stack two or three 45-pound rubber bumper plates and use that as my elevated surface. The advantage is that you work so much of your body with one exercise. Goblet squats are easier on most bodies than back squats for two reasons: less weight is used (because you have to hold it in your hands at chin level) and they promote a more “natural” squatting technique. You just have to choose your exercises wisely. https://www.stack.com/a/the-best-squat-variations-for-people-with-back-issues There are loads of squat alternatives out there, all with slightly different benefits, so have a read and find out which is right for you. The Double Kettlebell Front Squat will prep you to perfect your Barbell Front Squat form. I call it the Sass Squat. The Zercher squats sounds promising. I am not trying to build a lot of bulk, just trying to stay strong. Some people hate them, some love them. Doing squats on a Smith machine are popular in the fitness community, but they might not be the best exercise for muscle size and strength growth. An alternative that you may wish to try are Hip Belt Squats. It can get your pelvis in a compromised position, causing you to hyperextend and worsening your back pain. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples. So you've got a bad back, huh? Another squatting option is the sumo exercise called “shinkyaku”. The highest risk alternative is doing the diddly squat. What's More Important When Training Athletes: Technique or Weight? The lower back machine has entirely eliminated the serious back pain issues I went through a few years ago. You may be ready to ax squatting from your workout program, but I'd advise you to think twice about that. Weighing the saftey of a good leg press machine vs. the dubious benefits and definite dangers of squats of any kind, its like duh! For athletes outside of the iron sports, the single-leg deadlift does a better job preparing the body for your sport. I follow the hint I saw on a poster in a Physical Therapy office: Squat your age every day! Plenty of squat variations can help save your gains while you recover. The bar sits significantly lower on the body (at the midsection, not up high on the back), which reduces the compressive forces on the spine considerably. Especially now, when gyms are closed and it’s difficult to get your hands on a barbell, you might be looking for alternatives to back squats that will keep your legs just as strong. The intent of the exercises is to make sure you can continue to maintain or even build your strength, your power, and your musculature when it's become clear that the regular back squat isn't working for you at this time. But bodybuilders, health coaches, and fitness fanatics agree on one thing: squats are a the king of lower body exercises. 75% Upvoted. These 10 squat alternatives are perfect if you have bad knees, ... followed by your right. References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19002072https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22237139. Slide your left heel out to the side, keeping hip, knee, ankle, and toes aligned, while squatting with your right leg, until your right foot is flat on the floor, and your centre of gravity is just inside your right heel. For resistance band Zercher squats, hold the band just below your chin, just as you would with a goblet squat. In my opinion, the Double Kettlebell Front Squat is the safest and most beneficial Squat variation for anyone lifting with back pain. I have tried pistol squats, but I find them very difficult (and this comes from someone doing years of barbell squats). At minimum, think about air squats. As for the weight resting on the arms, it hurts at first, but you get used to it. In the West, squatting is almost always considered working, whereas in the rest of the world, squatting is resting. Lunges Key Pointers: Your legs should be staggered in parallel, and pelvis and spine should be neutral. Early Specialization vs. Just be sure to take things slow and control your tension. What more would I possibly get from it? While there are dozens of articles imploring you to mobilize this or that joint and work out the kinks in this or that muscle so that the back squat will work, and those can be very informative and helpful, some people just don’t want to back squat. I will definitely try this at home. Squats and many of the alternatives listed here work everything from your feet to your upper back all at one time. I think the danger comes with the weight. Thanks for these options. ... the movement could do you more harm than good — and that’s why it’s good to have a few alternatives in your back … – Personally , I think holding dumbells is a more effective way to add weight for the step-ups than a barbell, especially if you are using a high box. 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