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Can't barbell squat [Article, Free Download]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

May 16, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Can't barbell squat

Can't barbell squat

The most common reasons for not being able to do the barbell squat are a lack of strength, mobility, and technique. This article explains each of them in more detail.

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What is your why 


Before we analyze why you might not be able to barbell squat 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 if you do 
  • What happens if you don’t 


While you might think “what does this all have to do with squatting, just give me my answer” take a deep breath and stick with me. Having solid answers to these questions will determine whether you will succeed or fail. If you can’t barbell squat now that is ok. Time and dedication will fix this. It won’t be fixed if you are not dedicated to investing time. If you take time to answer these five questions I posed to you it will be a lot more likely that you will stay dedicated to your goals and reach them. Whether you need the barbell squat to get there is a different matter altogether.


Most people go about life in this fashion


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


Almost everyone knows what they want in a specific moment. You want that bagel right in front of you. You want that cigarette after you get rejected. You want that sweet sweet new job because the current one just sucks. With this approach, you will keep chasing your own tail. What you want changes constantly based on what you are exposed to. This will not be connected to a real purpose. You first have to find it to connect the dots. If you flip your thinking on its head, this is what you get:


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


Reflecting on your purpose before you act will connect your actions and thoughts to purpose. Even better, you will connect them to a purpose that is meaningful and important to you. This will make it more likely to reach your goals faster. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's book thinking fast and slow. If you are still not convinced, watch Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle. He makes a very compelling case telling the story of the Wright brothers. 


The barbell squat 


The barbell squat is one of the three big lifts which form the sport of powerlifting. It is also used in bodybuilding and weightlifting to improve performance. 


It mainly works your quads. You will also train your back and core as you support the weight on your shoulders. 


There are two main variations of the barbell squat. These are the high bar and the low bar squat. The low bar squat is usually preferred by powerlifters. Weightlifters routinely choose the high bar squat. The low bar squat creates a bias towards strength over speed. The high bar squat will set you up for speed over strength.


Limitations to the squat 


There are three main areas which can keep you from performing a barbell squat. Keep in mind that there are veterans who barbell squat with limbs missing. So technically you do it really have an excuse. However the main three limiting factors to the barbell squat are: 


  • Strength 
  • Mobility 
  • Technique 


Strength is the most obvious one. If you are very small and light and never lifted a weight before in your life, a barbell can be heavy. Barbells are standardized to 20kg for men and 15kg for women. Most gyms stock only 20kg bars. If you weigh 45kg, this is already a pretty hard weight to work with. Look for a lighter bar or start with variations of the barbell squat to progress to it. 


Mobility is another limiting factor. Most people lack the necessary mobility in the hip to squat to depth. This can be remedied with practice and proper stretching routines. For the beginning lifter, these mobility issues can have a significant impact.


The last point is the technique. The barbell squat is all about being like a rock. You have to build maximum tension to make it work. Not everyone is executing hard enough on building tension in the setup and during the lift. 


A combination of these three factors usually leads beginners to dislike the squat. Give it some time. 


Pros of the barbell squat


The pros of the barbell squat are that it is a fu body exercise, builds big quads and has a lot of carryover to other barbell movements. 


Cons of the bar bell squat


The cons of the barbell squat area high injury risk to the spine, the long road to mastery and that many gyms have not the right equipment for women. 


Alternatives to the barbell squat


Alternatives to the barbell squat are 


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