Author Topic: Alternatives to squats?  (Read 8504 times)

Offline abstract

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Alternatives to squats?
« on: November 07, 2011, 07:27:49 PM »
So I tried my first real squat today and I couldn't stand that bar cutting into my shoulders. My neck still kind of hurts. I've just been using the leg press machine for about 2 years and I've gotten some gains on that and I do about 300 lbs. I'm not sure how much real weight that equates to but I tried 125 lbs with the real squat and, yeah I can't deal with that bar on my shoulders. I did some hack squats on a free weight machine instead.

So, what alternatives are there. I do prefer the "machines" that are more like free weights in that you add weights and you just push the shoulder pads up, no cables or pulleys (I don't know what these are called). Should I combine some different machine leg workouts to get the equivalent of a squat?

The rest of my workout is dips, pull-ups, leg raises and shoulder presses and they seem to be working. I just need a safe leg workout that I won't hurt myself with.

Offline el cogollero

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 11:54:01 PM »
Bulgarian split squat (see youtube) - as suggested by wlfdg


Offline blot

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 08:10:34 AM »
 I am definitely not a weightlifting type, but for that reason I've looked at technique closely.
Some people suffer with lower back and/or knees which puts them off squatting, but you should definitely not be feeling distress in your neck. It is almost certain that you are holding the bar far too high on your shoulders if this is happening.
Something that may help is a cambered bar -but these are rare.

If you are just leg-pressing, might be worth including deadlift.
The closest machine to the squat, I have heard, is called the 'Tru-squat' machine , but these are also rare.

Offline blot

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 08:51:23 AM »
hmmm I might have a go at that Bulgarian split...

Offline abstract

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 08:05:06 PM »
I'll have to try those Bulgarian squats. I think I can handle those. I'm pretty sure my form was fucked when I did those squats. I still have a knot on the back of my neck that's pretty sore. Do the bulgarian squats cover all the muscles that I need to hit though?


Offline Rollin

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 12:48:49 AM »
abstract you may want to consider adding an exercise to strengthen the posterior chain, Romanian deadlifts, Goodmornings etc...

My bb squat is woeful but the way I setup is with a narrow grip, shoulder back/blades pushed together, elbows pointing down, the bar sits on the meaty part created.

Offline Il Capo

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 09:11:22 AM »
the alternative to the back squat is the front squat.
If that still bothers you, all the dumbbell variations: dumbbell front squat, Goblet squat.
If that still bothers you, Bulgarian dead lifts.

Offline abstract

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 06:44:18 PM »
I tried the bulgarian squats today. They were fine, but my balance is bad. I have really narrow, long feet so I was a little wobbly. Also I felt a little light headed after sets and had to wait a bit. I have a bit of a problem with lightheadedness though so it wasn't terrible abnormal.

I will check out some of the other moves mentioned. I really want to keep my workouts to the essential moves as much as possible so I thought I needed to get into squats, but damn my neck still hurts. Oh well, I'll keep tinkering. Thanks for the suggestions.

Destor

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2011, 05:50:19 AM »
Feeling light headed is pretty common when doing squats I think, at least if you're pushing yourself at all.

Offline jman

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2011, 12:54:51 AM »
Try and get hold of a copy of starting strenght by Mark Rippletoe.  It has a great description of how to perform squats properly.

It will make different bits of you hurt and ache for a while, but the gains in total body strength as worth it in the long run.

Offline chromagnumman

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2012, 04:13:07 PM »
If your neck is hurting, this is often indicative of a grip that is too wide. Narrow your grip, bunch your beefy trapezius muscles up to make a pillow for the bar to sit on.

Also, be wary of squat machines. They often force your body into un-natural alignment in terms of knee and hip position. They are geared towards people with low flexibility. Using a squat machine robs you of all of the benefits of free weight squats. Namely, activation of all of the joint and core stabilizers.

Also, if you are going to be doing squats, make sure you work on ankle flexibility. Contrary to popular belief, popularized by nautilus machines in the 80's/90's full squats are not bad, and your shins should not remain perpendicular to the floor.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/ebUT4G6Akk4

This guy has poor ankle flexibility, notice how is butt and hips starts to squeak out behind him? This is the hallmark of a "typical backsquat". It is hard on your spine, knee's and neck. This is a typical "power lifting" technique and does not infact exercise the entire range of motion of your legs. It is however, easier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzT1lY-q-hg
This guy has pretty good technique, although he is crashing at the bottom a bit. Notice how as he bend his knee's the angle between his feet an shins increase so that hit butt and hips move directly up and down? This helps insure that the force vectors acting along your spine remain straight up and down. This is a good thing, as your spine and joins are NOT designed to handle lots of shearing or lateral forces. Notice the intese Quadriceps femoris development along with sick gastrocnemius (calf muscle) development? You can't get that without proper full squat technique :)

Notice how is neck isn't pushed too far forwards, his hands are in such a position that his traps are bunched up to form a pillow at the back? This will limit pain during the exercise. There is also a certain amount of "just getting used to it" as well.
 
This is coming from an ex Olympic style weightlifter with a degree in Kinesiology and Physiology, so keep in mind that I come from a functional muscle vs beach muscle background.  :P

« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 04:14:39 PM by chromagnumman »

Offline jmontalto21

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2012, 06:44:41 PM »
Try and get hold of a copy of starting strenght by Mark Rippletoe.  It has a great description of how to perform squats properly.

It will make different bits of you hurt and ache for a while, but the gains in total body strength as worth it in the long run.

Yeah this is a great program.  The book goes into great detail and picks out all common mistakes. 

I have a hard time doing squats with my sciatic nerve, so recently I have been just doing leg press instead. 

You might want to also work on your shoulder flexibility.  This way when you squat you can get the bar further down.  I know it is hard at first, but if you stick with it you will get there.

Offline stuward

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 10:57:21 AM »
This is kind of an old thread that has been resurected but if you are planning on not doing squats because it hurts your shoulders, you should start lighter, do it more often, and get used to it.  It does get better.  The combination of front squart, RDLs and hip thrusts is a good replacement for someone that can't back squat, and are all good to do in their own right, anyway.  Back squats are still the most efficient overall exercise there is, and it is worth your while to become aclimatized to the weight on your shoulders. 

Offline el cogollero

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2012, 07:24:37 AM »
I've done a few sessions of the bulgarian split squats - yesterday I went up from 36kg to 40 kg and I am seriously feeling it today, especially when I walk down stairs. The balance difficulty is a good thing I think, i.e. it helps train your balance...

Also note that 40kg, for example, means you have most of the 40kg and most of your own bodyweight on the one leg - so it's quite a load.

Offline oracle1880

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Re: Alternatives to squats?
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2012, 12:19:29 PM »
I do kettlebell training - still just a beginner, but I do one of the basic exercises that include a squat-like motion while not being hard on joints or the shoulder. The reason is that as you swing the kettlebell back and forth, you're not actually lifting the weight but trying to create a counterbalance to stay in place and not fly away with the weight :) So it makes the muscles work very effectively, but doesn't actually put weight on the joints.