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Are barbell squats bad for your spine

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 9, 2020 9:00:00 AM


Commonly asked questions about barbell training

Are barbell squats bad for your spine

This is a selection of commonly asked questions around barbell training. This is not a complete list but a start. You can find more on this blog by simply entering it in the search bar.
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Are barbell rows good

Barbell rows are a great exercise and often not used enough. The bench press usually takes priority in barbell training and programs. The row is a great tool for being up grip strength and back strength for the deadlift. Elite powerlifters like Cailer Woolam and Ed Coan agree that’s the barbell row is one of the best exercises to bring their deadlift up. 
For bodybuilders, it helps to build a thicker back. Dorian Yates Attributes his well-acclaimed back size and definition mainly to the Yates row, which is a very heavy and risky variation of the bent-over barbell row.
Regular rowing will help to make you a more complete athlete and deliver some literal pull. 

Are barbell curls good

Barbell curls are controversial as there seems to be a group of people who insist to do them in the squat rack and block them up for others. Apart from this, it is a great exercise to develop your biceps.
On the barbell curl, you can go heavy. The fact that you hold on to a straight bar also makes it harder to “cheat” by building momentum from other parts of the body. For me personally, it is the exercise which provides the most pump for my biceps. I would still recommend rotating the barbell curl with other curl exercises. 
The main disadvantage of the bar will curl is that it will hurt your wrists. Once this happens, rotate the exercise for preacher curls or dumbbell incline curls for a week to a month before rotating the barbell curl back in. 

Are barbell squats bad for your spine

The short answer is yes. Your spine will be under more stress when doing barbell squats compared to doing nothing or other exercises. That being said, all sports activities which aim at an increase of performance and not just general fitness or weight loss bear injury risk. Ice skaters can fall at high speed, marathon runners can bust up their knees, Olympic shooters get all kinds of eye diseases from looking through a scope all day. Even chess players can suffer from severe, debilitating migraines. 
Train smart and listen to your body to avoid injury. In most high-performance scenarios it will be very hard to impossible to get away with none. 

Are barbell squats necessary

Whether barbell squats are necessary entirely depends on your personal goals. There are only two things necessary in life which are dying and paying taxes. Everything else is a choice. If you want to get to the top in your respective sport, talk to your coach whether barbell squats are necessary. They will have done the research. 
Chances are that in full-contact sports the answer will be a yes. Most likely also other sports where being big, strong, fast and heavy is an advantage. In other scenarios, your coach might point to the leg press or box jumps as viable options to build leg strength apart from the barbell squat. 


The barbell is a great tool to keep you fit and I loved it since the first time I laid my hands on it. Thy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the be all, end-all tool for strength. As Bruce Lee says: 
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

Topics: Barbell