Gaspari Nutrition

Ron Harris


Squatting Q and A’s
02/13/2013

Q.

"Ron,

Not too long ago you put out a Q & A regarding shoulder injuries and squatting. You recommended the inquirer use front squats rather than traditional squats. This would allow the person to continue to squat and focus more on the quads and also said getting a bigger butt with regular squats was disadvantageous. When I originally read that, I thought how are you going to engage the rear chain effectively by substituting front squats for regular squats? At first I thought the person will figure it out. Now, however I feel I need to speak up because I would be upset if I went along with front squats being an effective alternative to traditional squats.

Many people have this same issue. I have read Dave Tate now uses a yoke bar to do back squats because he has trashed his shoulders over the years. Many people may not have access to this type of bar, but I feel it is a better option. Also, if they are going to do only front squats, they better make sure they're not ignoring their rear chain (gluteus, hamstrings, lower back). They should be doing plenty of Stiff Leg Deadlifts, leg curls, and better yet glute/hamstring raises. Please accept my disagreement with the utmost respect. Perhaps this is something you agree with but just forgot to mention it.

Respectfully,

Mike Maddox"

A.

Mike,

Good points, and there is no disagreement between us. First, I want to address the big butt issue. Unless you are one of those people whose glutes grow out of control from heavy squats, you can't understand how this would be an issue. Take it from a man whose glutes have their own ZIP code - it can be a problem when they are overdeveloped, mainly throwing off your proportions from an aesthetic point of view. If you're not a pure bodybuilder and thus not overly concerned with such matters, it's really not an issue to build an ass the size of a Mini Cooper.

Next, the Safety Squat Bar is a great alternative that would allow anyone with shoulder pain/injuries to keep squatting. Most people don't have one at their gyms. I don't. A Pump reader named Dennis Ceder let me know recently that you can find them fairly cheap on EBay and Craigslist. Personally, I am not buying something I will be using at my gym, and that the rest of the people at the gym will be using, when the gym owner won't do so himself.

Finally, regarding your concern that people will ignore their posterior chains is unwarranted. Most people LOVE to leg press - in fact you see far more people leg pressing than squatting. Many don't do much for hams at all, maybe a couple sets of leg curls. But anyone serious about bodybuilding, and you would have to be serious about it to even attempt to master front squats (no easy task), would also be the type to include the other exercises you mentioned.

Q.

"Hi Ron

I read in one of your recent Daily Pumps that you recommend doing the basic compound movements for building mass as a beginner. I know how important they are and as a beginner (18 months into training and I'm 19 years old), I use them all as staples in my training. I always squat and always have, but I find that I feel it more in my glutes when I squat, which is a slight worry for me because my butt is already pretty big. It may be because I squat with a slightly wider stance than normal, but that's to allow me to get deep into the squat. Could you please help me with a way to get more stimulation in my quads?"

A.

First off, I wouldn't change your squatting stance. Everyone needs to find their own particular stance that suits their own structure. Telling people they should use a narrow stance, or to set your feet at shoulder width, is terrible advice because for some people that will be unnatural and lead to knee and/or hip problems down the line. As you also observed, often a wider stance is the only way for a particular individual to achieve proper depth.

As for your concern that your glutes may get too big, that's quite legitimate. Should you insist on going heavy on squats for the next few years, you may indeed find that your butt grows so large as to appear almost comically overdeveloped. The front squat is definitely a smart alternative in your case. I wouldn't totally abandon regular squats, but when you do them, I would work hamstrings, then do 3-4 sets of leg extensions to failure. This will pre-exhaust your quads and prevent you from handling as much weight as you could if you did them fresh at the start of the workout. Hack squats are another good choice for emphasizing the quads more and the glutes less. Good luck!

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