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Are barbell squats bad for your back? [Article, Free Download]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 1, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Are barbell squats bad for your back

Are barbell squats bad for your back?

Barbell squats can be bad for your back when executed wrong. Take your time to learn and load the movement. When you pay attention barbell squats bear the same risk of injury as other physical activity that actually makes a difference. 

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What is your why 


Before we go into the details of whether barbell squats are bad for your back or not let me ask you a couple of questions: 


  • Why do you want to barbell squat 
  • Why do you want to get stronger 
  • Why do you want to build muscle 
  • What happens when you do 
  • What happens when you don’t 


These questions are important for your long term success. They will propel your forward and guide your actions. If the answers to these questions are poor, your results will be poor. If the answers are strong and detailed, your results will be. Most people do not take time to reflect on these questions for their training. The usual default mode is: 


  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 


Everyone knows what they want. Fewer make a detailed plan on how to get it. Almost no one knows why they want something. This is a great way to make yourself unhappy. What we want changes hundreds of times a day. It depends on who we see, what we talk about and where we are. With this operation mode, you will be chasing your own tail. Something interesting happens when you flip the order on its head:


  • Why do you want something 
  • How will you get it 
  • What do you need to do to achieve it 


If you start with why all of your actions and thoughts will be connected. This gives you more purpose and satisfaction in your everyday life. Also by this everything will compound as it ties into one single purpose rather than running in all different directions at once. 


The barbell squat 


The barbell squat is one of the most interesting movements in the gym that many are afraid of. The main fears with it are


  • That it is bad for your back 
  • That you can be buried under the barbell 
  • That you are too weak to do it 


If you are not strong enough to do the barbell back squat try variations of it. You can either go for a barbell which is lighter than 20kg or uses kettlebells instead. I would not recommend the smith machine. The smith machine only gives you a gals sense of security. It is actually more dangerous for heavy squats as you have no stop safety and you can not unload the weight. 


The risk of being buried under the barbell during the squat is real. There are quite a few people who do not know how to protect themselves against it. There are two ways of doing it. 


The first is squatting in a rack. Squatting in a rack will enable you to get safety pins in place. These safety pins will catch the weight in case you can not complete the lift. The most secure way of using the kind is to set them up just a tad below your lowest squat. In case you fail lower yourself controlled to the pins and lay on the ground. The pins will catch the weight and you can exit beneath it. Avoid dropping the barbell in a rack. It might bounce and hit you. 


The second option is to use a squat stand and a lot of free room around it. This can be an option if there is no rack and you are more athletic. It is also the more dangerous one. With this setup, you will have a lot more room around the squat stand to drop the barbell. Basically, if you fail, just throw the barbell off your back and get forward to build distance. 


The squat is bad for your back. Any exercise is bad for your back as it exposes it to a higher risk of being injured than sitting on the couch. The barbell back squat can injure your back, especially if you lean forward during the movement. The straighter you can keep your back, the better. 


Are barbell squats bad for your back 


They increase your risk of injury just like any other exercise. As long as executed with a straight back they are relatively harmless. The more you bend over, the higher of a risk barbell squats become for your spine.

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Topics: Lift stronger, Squat, Fitness, Strength, Barbell