If you read any popular fitness magazines, fitness blogs, or maybe you’re just Google master of every new fad workout you hear about, then you’ve undoubtedly gotten a ton of conflicting advice. Being that social media has ruined the fitness industry, and attempting to get an education on the topic, there are a ton of un-qualified people to weed through. With any training i always go back to the risk to reward of anything i’m going to do. Now in high school, going on a personal level here, the goals were get a starting position on the football team, and improve all of my track times and throws, in combination with not wanting to be the chubby athlete anymore. So your training, is tailored around these goals. You aren’t worried about achy joints and rotator cuffs when you’re 16-18 and trying to win states, you’re worried about winning states. As we get older, you think about things differently. Well, i’d like to keep some knee cartilage, i’d like to be mobile enough to throw the football with my son one day, i’m going to NOT do dumb stuff every day. You’ll hear me ask this question a lot in advice sections, “does your training fit your goals?”
This question is super important, because unless you’re going to be a professional athlete, professional power-lifter, or professional crossfitter, (whatever that is) then there are a lot of exercises you should probably avoid. Should you be doing olympic lifts your 3rd week of exercise? Should you be doing them in a group setting at all? Should you be jumping as high as possible hopefully not eating your own face on a stack of plates at your “box” you just joined, should you be wrapping your knees up while you squat 185 lbs bro? The answer to all of these, is probably not.
Most people reading this article are none of the above. We’re just aiming to achieve our own piece of bad ass-ery in every day life as we drink our Starbucks from the office chair, anxiously awaiting our favorite time of day; the gym. We’ve already posted our motivational meme, making us feel above everyone else on our Facebook pages that don’t even lift, which is a pump up pre-workout in and of itself. Now, for most of the average american gym member, you might hit the gym with vigor, but really aren’t getting a whole lot of “training” done. You’ve ripped out an article, perhaps printed one off of your favorite athlete’s page to try out at the gym. You’re definitely going to get the 1″ arm increase in one day today, because “that guy” who’s totally “all natural bro” told you it works.
For example; someone said you’re stupid for NOT incorporating box squats in your routine, because how do you think you’re going to break PR’s if you DON’T do them!!!??? How dare you. Well, let’s use that as an example and break it down. If you’re a competitive lifter, and worried about an extra 20-30 lbs on your 1 rep max, maybe this is beneficial for you. I’d argue that even then it is not beneficial. Bio-mechanically, let’s walk through this. In a squat, yes we’re talking about a back squat, because that’s what a squat is. Anything else is a variation from the traditional “squat”. Weight is on your back, resting up high, compressing everything from your muscles is rests on, the muscles used to support this movement, through your spine, pelvis, knee joints etc all the way through your feet into the floor. So this weight is spread out over a lot of different mechanics. Enter the box squat, you’re lowering yourself to your glutes, allowing the weight you’ve chosen to now compress just from glutes/tailbone/pelvis through the point where the weight is resting. Let’s just use 2 plates as an example, you have 225 lbs on your back, lowering it down to your seated position. The moment you sit, this weight is now transferred to your spine and pelvis, sacrum, and the strongest supporters in your body have just been taken out of the equation. Now your spine and back muscles are the only supporters until you rock back on to your feet and stand with the weight. For some, this may create no problems. I’ll acknowledge this first. For most, if you’re taking care of your body the way we try to teach you, your chiropractors just cringed, but are also appreciative of the continued business. Box squats for me, using myself as an example, have done nothing but create an unhealthy pelvic tilt, SI joint problems, and unnecessary spinal compression. I’m around 200 lbs, squat approximately 500 lbs, and deadlift about the same. I’m in no way a competitive lifter. But, i’d say above average. I’ve made consistent gains with traditional lifting patterns, yes always using supporting lifts to improve the major #’s, but the risk to reward is always in my mind. I don’t want to be in constant physical therapy. I don’t want to have spinal problems, herniated discs, etc. So for me, i stay away from high risk movements, the reward, being that i’m not a professional lifter, is not worth it. I’m writing this article right now from behind a desk. For me, my goal is a mix of being as strong as i can be, constantly making gains, and looking the part for me is just as important. If you can deadlift 1,000 lbs and look like a giant turd, to me that’s no fun at all. In closing, my point is, don’t just believe everything you read, see if it even fits for your life. We are teaching you to train for longevity, to be built for life, not just until your next injury.