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April 21, 2021

Should You Back Squat?

Should you back squat with Annie Miller

Short and VERY surprising answer? NO. You don’t need them.

Sure.

Depends.

What’s your goal?

Allow me to explain.

You need a squatting pattern or several of them. But that doesn’t mean you need to specifically back squat. Take it from a controversial and OG professional in strength and conditioning, Mike Boyle. I was so offended in college when I read about Mike Boyle on T Nation (this was one of my top three places to learn before insta became educational as well).

I had been a lover of the back squat since I was 16. And here was Mike – a professional I was told to look into by my mentors, saying they’re not needed and he doesn’t use them with his athletes. His methodology challenged mine. And still does.


The argument (in that time) was that the sum of unilateral (single leg in this case) force produced is greater than that produced bilaterally (both legs). This is known as the bilateral deficit.


Buuutttt science has since called out an issue with this. Hello force-velocity curve. Basically a greater “force” is produced by the single leg because it is at a slower velocity. Whereas the bilateral is ”lower” force because it’s at a higher velocity.

Tracking?

Even with that little hiccup factor, the benefits to single leg squatting can’t be denied.

  • Often less stress on the low back. And yes, we can still axially load single leg work (barbell on the back or front)
  • We can address strength and movement discrepancies side to side
  • MAY be able to produce more total force when primarily training unilateral strength.

Now, with all that said, I still vote that yes, you should back squat.

But I hold biases. Do you NEED TO? No.

You can progressively overload and work end range strength via:

  • Other squatting patterns like zercher squats, goblet squats, front squats.
  • Step ups.
  • Split squat variations.
  • Lunge variations.

All are squatting PATTERNS. All will potentially = gains in muscle development and strength. Are you still here!? Great job!

Most people will benefit in resistance training by squatting in some way shape or form. But if you thought you HAD to back squat, you likely don’t, unless directly required for your sport. You can absolutely make gains without them.

If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist. BBA is currently open to the waitlist and you don’t want to miss it!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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