Fix Lower Back Pain from Squats!

John Grimek, father of bodybuilding, used to write for decades for the fitness and bodybuilding industry. The following piece of training advice was taken from John Grimek’s column “Your Training Problems”. Fans would send letters with questions to Grimek and he answered. And when Grimek speaks we have to listen! – Mr. Berg

Question: “Why is it that every time I use the squat in my workout I get a sore back. I know my back doesn’t remain straight when I use a heavy weight, but how can I develop my legs and increase my endurance if I don’t use heavy weights? I hope you have a solution to my problem. I’m at loss as what to do or how to train. Can you help me?”

John Grimek: “Inasmuch as you are aware that your back aches when you fail to keep it straight, why use such heavy poundages that cause you to round your back and thus invite trouble for you? Endurance is not acquired through the use of heavy weights but from the use of higher repetitions. I suggest doing them with a weight that you can at least 15 to 20 squat and repeating it in two or three sets.

After completing these squats you should increase the weight by at least 20% and do some half or partial squats not over six counts but not less than three. Repeat these squats in as many sets as you like, but preferably not over five. In this way you will be combining both the light and heavy system of squatting and give your thighs plenty of work for strength and development.

Another detail of importance; with the lighter poundage you should go into a full and low squat, but with the heavier weights you should not go beyond the point where the thighs are parallel to the floor, in other words, something of a half squat. Always remembers to keep your back flat and straight. If the weight causes you to round it, use a lighter poundage.

A number of fellows have experienced some degree of back trouble when they allowed their backs to collapse and become rounded while squatting. This method of squatting puts a great strain on the lower area and causes trouble for many.

Doing squats in this fashion is only inviting trouble, especially when you’re handling weights that are heavy for you. Try to avoid this awkward squatting position as you are only risking trouble. Instead follow the suggestion outline here and I’m sure you will be more than happy with the eventual results, minus back trouble.

As you may know there are many other fine exercises for the legs besides the squat that you can include for variety, such as partial or one-quarter squats, leg presses, the straddle or Jefferson lift, leg extensions and many others that can be done with iron boots.

The thighs themselves are not too difficult to develop, but they do require through work if complete development is expected. I’m sure the above advice will prove helpful to you.”

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