For the Squaters.

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by A-Unit, Jan 3, 2006.

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  1. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    "Fitness" gyms are not conducive to squats. Let's be honest. At least my 'World Gym' which has most other equipment, doesn't have a rack. So no rack deads, no rack squats. I improvise.

    I used to Powerlift. Loved it. Squating under Powerlifting guidelines calls for WIDER than normal stance and the feet slightly turned out. More stable, IMO, which hits the hamstrings and quads, BETTER.

    Any comments from the hard-core squaters on how to ACCOMPLISH this.

    []Just leg press.
    []Squat powerlifting style in the fitness gym.
    []Move to a new gym that ALLOWS good squatting.
    []Get a partner to spot.

    The dynamics of squatting boggle me, and I haven't gone down the road. If you check any Powerlifter out, they're legs are BIGGER, BADDER, and STRONGER than a Bodybuilder's. It's almost shame BodyBuilders just don't do POWERBODYBUILDING, and combine BOTH workout styles. [Isn't that what Daunte basically does?]

    Leg presses are GOOD, and my Powerlifting coach thought they were OK (here was a guy 5'5" who could do 500), but he always favored PROPERLY well executed SQUATS. The hormones they release. The strength they require. The sense of accomplish you feel when you move past 300, 400, etc is huge. It's just tougher in FITNESS gyms since they don't really care about fitness. They want your money and to get in SOME shape, but if you start doing HARDCORE weights and grunting, groaning, or moaning, forget it. You're out. Quiet down!



    Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.



    A-Unit
     
  2. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    I feel your pain bro!

    Fitness gyms suck, for the reasons you mentioned, and while there is no true substitute for free bar squats you're not just limited to the leg press: most of these fitness hellholes have at least one smith machine, amidst the droves of the wifebeater-clad, 50-set bad-to-the-bone bicep brigade kids.

    You can do smith squats (same stance as a regular squat), hack squats (including the traditional bar-behind-knees version) and front squats on the smith machine. Added to the leg press you've got four good leg exercises which you can rotate under whichever protocol you wish (I currently train at a fitness gym and use these four in my DC routine).

    And to those people moaning that "It's not a real squat" okay I'll grant you, it's NOT the same as a regular squat BUT if you work your way up to smith squatting 600lbs or more I doubt you'll worry much about your leg size.

    Smith squats are also kinder on the lower back - if you have back problems then consider switching from free to smith squats.

    For the record, I squat PL-style with a wide stance exactly as you describe - any narrower and I find I have knee issues. I do this just fine with a free bar or on the smith machine.

    (ps - people will argue that 'the smith machine has an unnatural path' or other such bollards. they can go back do doing 1 arm db lunges for their legs then).

    As for the other options mate, well.

    1. I'll say that the leg press is an awesome exercise, obviously you'll shift more weight than with squats but if you can still make the leg press machine your *****, chain plates/weights to it and still make progress then your legs'll still be growing.

    2., 4. Do you mean cleaning the bar up to your shoulders and squatting like that? That's fine when your poundages are low but I've got up to a level where I wouldn't trust anyone in my gym to be able to save me if I was in trouble. Don't mean to sound ****y but that's the whey it is. (pun intended :p) I wouldn't recommend this bro. If you've got good spotters though, and you trust them, go for it. it might work. (and if the gym staff tell you it's not allowed, ask them to show you it in writing..)

    3. A viable option if you can afford it, it's convenient, etc. You can always consider using two gyms, one for squatting and one for the rest of your bodyparts (if your fitness membership is cheap, they generally are, then just pay each time you use the real gym.. if you do DC you'd only be doing free squats once every two weeks, it'd probably be fairly cheap).

    The squat is the king of exercises, if I could only do one exercise I'd squat (and still be bigger than 90% of the people out there) and there is NO excuse not to do it if you can - but this isn't always possible, unfortunately. We make the best out of what we have.

    Lastly, if you weigh 170 with a full colon and use a power rack to do barbell curls in (because YOU'RE SO FRIGGEN HARDCORE) while real trainers are waiting patiently to do a squat/deadlift variation in it .. then please shoot yourself now.

    Hope this helps mate. Happy 2006 to you.
     
  3. Double

    Double Master Don Juan

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    lol!

    btw alex can you elaborate on why you wouldl prefer squats over deads when you could only chose one exercise. i mean the upperbody is better involved in deads and the leg work is almost the same.
     
  4. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    I've seen plenty of deadlifters with small (albeit strong) legs but never any squatters with small backs.

    Incidentally, my FAVOURITE is the deadlift over the squat and whenever I lose floor deadlifts out of my rotation I'm hell to live with until they come back, but for pure functionality it's the squat. Maybe the squat won't develop your back as great as deadlifts would but it'll give you better overall growth IMO. Nothing will give you a bigger back than a huge deadlift but nothing will add overall muscle like a huge squat.

    All told, they're both STELLAR exercises for adding mass and strength (the best two exercises, period). Basically, you're short-changing yourself if you don't do both (plus a bench variation) for optimum overall effectiveness.
     
  5. Oxide

    Oxide Master Don Juan

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    I like to say - "Squats are like women, you love them and hate them at the same time"

    For me, i love it because it is impressive to push that much weight and feeling your whole body resist falling on your ass. I hate it, because it drains you more than any other exercise (IMO)

    I always believed squats were vital because they affect so many muscle groups. I would definitely find a way to do em.

    One way i saw guys do this was by holding the bar in front of them on their pecks. and doing a squat. You can't load as much weight, but it could work for a little while.
     
  6. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    That's a front squat. Can be done with a bar or a smith machine, I prefer the latter.
     
  7. MetalFortress

    MetalFortress Master Don Juan

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    Big guys do squats, and if there are IFBB champions who do not do squats, I'll be very surprised (unless they deadlift like crazy, or have an injury that disables them from squatting). When you get power bodybuilding into the mix, you get real freakish guys like In-human (300 pounds, 10% bodyfat) and Dante (290 pounds, not sure of the exact bodyfat but he is cut), and then of course the now-internet-famous powerlifter Dave Gulledge, who cut up to 260 completely ripped.

    In fact, I just recently relearned how to squat, because I knew I needed it but I didn't want my back going out of whack. I'm glad I did, and when I get back into DC (after financial issues are dealt with) the knowledge will be put to good use.
     
  8. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Re:

    I do love squatting, but my bain of the whole scheme is doing it in a 'fitness' gym. For anyone who's done squats, squats done in a PL gym is a wonderful experience, albeit unique.

    The 1 I learned in had NO a/c and NO heat. We dressed in hoodies, sweat pants, gloves, hats, would bring our protein shakes with us and carb reloads, belts, and there was SERIOUS weight. I don't feel I've been in a gym that has 100lb plates aside from the PLing one.

    The PL gyms NORMALLY have a specific RACK for squats, and SQUATS only. AND, they use the milk crate to train you. I advocate anyone who has not, to go train PL for awhile. The principals you learn for strength and growth will EXPONENTIALLY impact your regular lifting style. And the lack of egos and aesthetics is refreshing. This isn't to say they don't care about how they look, fitness, or feel, but that isn't their PRIMARY goal, so it's just a bunch of guys shooting the **** before the sun is up.

    My 'World Gym' has most of the stuff Warboss mentioned, and I've progressed mightily on the Leg Press, but I wanted more, and since I don't lift with a partner, I have to improvise back to my old PL ways. I'll go with Smith Rack Squats and keep upping the weights on Leg Presses. Aside from those, Leg Extensions never make me feel good, or like any work is done since it so isolates the joint it can actually be MORE damaging unlike Squats or Leg Presses which allows you to lean on other joints and muscles should you weaken out.


    A-Unit
     
  9. WORKEROUTER

    WORKEROUTER Master Don Juan

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    As someone who just seems to have a problem with squats due to back trouble (and believe me, I've tried them), I've had to improvise.

    One great alternative to squats are trap bar deadlifts.

    For those with back trouble (or for those with tight hamstrings), trap bar deadlifts are much better because you can keep your back in a straighter position. In addition, you don't have to pull the bar over your knees, as is done with traditional deads, which can ultimately put your back in an awkward position. Also, they seem to target the back like a deadlift but also your quads.

    Another alternative are dumbell push presses. Basically, you hold the dumbells on each side of you, squat down, and then use the momentum (carefully and controlled of course) to push the dumbells up into a standing shoulder press position. Stabilizing your body throughout this motion requires an enormous amount of core muscle strength. Many people complain that their dumbbells don't go high enough in weight for this to be a good exercise. I disagree. Anyone who does not do this exercise should try picking up the 65s in each hand, proceeding into a FULL, deep squat position, and continue the motion. I doubt many in the gym could rep 10.

    As was stated, leg press can also be used. Again, a great exercise if done right. Keep your tailbone always on the pad or you'll strain your back (if flexibility is an issue, focus on becoming more flexible, and gradually increase the range of motion and the weight). I see guys throwing on huge amounts of weight on leg press and not really achieving the purpose of the exercise.

    Make sure EVERY rep is controlled throughout the fullest range of motion possible (again, this depends on your hamstring flexibility). Another great thing I've found about leg press is that it really lets you focus in mentally on the muscles your working. So when you're doing them, try actually FEELING each of your muscles working as you push the sled up. Tighten them throughout the motion and feel them stretching and growing.

    Another great thing with leg press is that you can adjust your foot width for variety. I also like to add in timed reps, where for instance, I'll descend slow but then CONTROLLABLY push the weight up fast while ascending.

    And what about lunges? They're great with barbells because a greater degree of stabilization is required, but they're also great with dumbbells. For a little added treat, try doing lunges w/ dumbbells while holding them OVER your head so that your body has to use its core to stabilize you more (since your center of gravity is nice elevated).

    Speaking of holding stuff over your head, ever tried doing OVERHEAD squats with dumbbells? Those are great too!

    Dumbbells are also great for stepups. Great compound exercise for building balance and overall leg strength.

    Without a powerrack, you can also do Jefferson squats. These are also great if you have some back trouble or inflexible hamstrings. Look em up. Kinda feels like doing trap bar deads.

    And Warboss already mentioned using the Smith machine. I'm going to give that a try. Sounds like a great addition.

    So in summary, here are some barbell squat alternatives that I'm sure you will leave you sore for the next day:

    -Trap bar deads
    -Dumbbell Lunges, holding both to the side and overhead
    -Overhead squats / dumbbells
    -Pushpresses w/ dumbbells (I like these on leg/shoulder day)
    -Dumbbell Stepups
    -Leg Press
    -Smith Machine Squats

    I find it amazing you can't find a gym w/out a power rack though. Every YMCA I've been to has a pretty good workout gym, and membership is inexpensive.
     

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