Alternatives to squats

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rrcalcio
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Joined: 07 Feb 2005, 03:58

Alternatives to squats

Post by rrcalcio » 19 Apr 2005, 15:01

Im a tall kid, about 6'3" and found that squats hurt my back as well as my knees. Are there any alternatives to squats that work the same muscles but dont leave the lasting pain on my knees/back?

B Heck
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Location: Washington state

Post by B Heck » 21 Apr 2005, 17:47

First, don't give up on squats. It will take some time to learn to do the movement smoothly and correctly. Stick with very light weight and focus on coming up smoothly and explosively (with acceleration). When rehabbing injuries, I've used nothing but a broomstick for several weeks until my form felt right, then slowly increased weight by ten pounds per week. That's 500 pounds in a year! It will also take some time to strengthen the weak links in the chain. To strengthen those weak areas, do what powerlifters call "assistance exercises". These aren't substitutes for squats, but they allow you to build up weak links. Deadlifts, hyperextensions, and good mornings (be careful with these) are good for back, glutes, and hamstrings. Lunges for quads, knee and hip stabilizers. Lots of ab strengthening will also help your back. Learn about the many variations of a squat too - high bar, low bar, medium and wide stance, front squats, PL squats. Different styles stress different areas and match different body types. A good resource is drsquat.com, go to the training articles. Have a competitive lifter help you if possible. Most love to help new lifters (after they've done their workouts).
When training for strength, do multiple sets of 5 reps with the same weight. You will find that your second set is smoother and faster than your first one. You want to train for maximum force development, so speed and acceleration are more important than the weight used or your ability to grind out higher reps.

Stay away from machines. They have little carry-over to athletic strength since they isolate a few primary mover muscles without building stabilizers and coordination. Or as Fred Hatfield of drsquat.com says, "there is a good, a better, and a best way to do something." Squats are the best leg strengthening exercise, period.

bsoccer531
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Location: Connecticut

Post by bsoccer531 » 21 May 2005, 02:11

sounds pretty good, thanks. but everytime i go to do squats my knees crack. the crack on the way down and pop on the way up, and it's really painful. what should i do. i don't want to give up on squats cuz they do help a lot.
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE

B Heck
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Posts: 159
Joined: 21 Apr 2005, 16:40
Location: Washington state

Post by B Heck » 21 May 2005, 04:37

It's difficult to troubleshoot this sort of thing over the internet. Can you do a deep knee bend without popping? Are your knees moving forward a lot? Watch this clip of Roger Hendrix and see how little his knees move: http://www.joeskopec.com/joeskopecsquatform.mpg

Try doing deep knee bends while holding onto a pole and sitting back more with less knee movement. Does widening your stance help? Most people do well to have their feet in the same direction as their knees, so as you widen your stance, your toes should point out more. You should notice that sitting back into the wider stance and not moving your knees shifts stress to your backside, away from your knee joint.

Here's a view of a really wide stance squat: http://www.joeskopec.com/733.mpg Watch how his knees hardly move but his hips shoot backwards as he descends. This is exactly how a toddler and a sumo wrestler squat too. Somehow we unlearn this and mistakenly think that the knee should move far in front of the feet while the hips stay over the heels.

At the other extreme, you can also try front squats, but I bet they hurt worse: http://www.joeskopec.com/joeskopecfrontsq.mpg

Knee pain is common in growing teenagers across the pattella. The bones lengthen, but the muscles have to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. It is very important that you stretch out your quads after training several times a week.

bsoccer531
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Posts: 23
Joined: 04 May 2005, 19:49
Location: Connecticut

Post by bsoccer531 » 22 May 2005, 03:29

thanks a lot, that was an awesome post. the websites didn't load, so i'll have to come back tomorrow or sometime and check em out. i'll also have to try all the different things you mentioned and see what my problem is. thanks.
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE

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