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Is The Barbell Back Squat Safe?


Listen to the post, Is The Barbell Back Squat Safe?, on our Live Lean TV Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

Squat Progressions For Beginners

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, we’re discussing if the king of all lower body exercises, the barbell back squat is safe for you to do, as well as some “safer” beginner squat progression exercises.

Today, I’m going to be talking about the barbell back squat.

Specifically, is the barbell back squat a safe exercise for you to do?


Also, be sure to keep reading to the end of the blog post, as I’m going to show you how to do a few beginner squat progressions.

Table Of Contents – Jump To:

This blog post is in response to a post I did a few weeks called, “The Strength Building Exercise You Need To Stop Avoiding”.

The Strength Building Exercise You Need To Stop Avoiding Live Lean TV

This was a video on deadlifts, where I showed you various versions, from beginner deadlifts all the way up to the more advanced and traditional barbell deadlifts.

Back Squat Benefits

Similar to the deadlift, the barbell back squat also creates the same fear in people’s minds.

However, let’s be real.

The squat movement is as functional as it comes.

Think about it, how many times do you sit down in a day?

The barbell back squat has been shown to be one of the best ways to:

However with all that said, typically everyday people still say that barbell back squats are dangerous for your back.

The Problem With Barbell Back Squats

I have to say it again.

Barbell back squats are bad for your back when they are performed incorrectly and are overloaded with too much weight.

When you’re squatting with proper form, you have good mobility, and are using a load that creates tension in your leg muscles, and not based on your ego, then you’re safe.

However the issue is, so many weekend warriors let ego get in the way.

They load way too much weight on the bar, thus transferring the focus of the exercise from being a lower body exercise, to being primarily a lower back exercise.

For most people, the lower back is the weak link versus their legs.

Thus when people lift too heavy of a weight, the lower back takes on too much of the stress, which then can lead to injury.

These people are also paying no attention to improving their mobility, so the rounding of their lower back continues to happen, and then overtime, the lower back gets seriously injured.

This is when overloading weight on your spine can be dangerous, specifically your lower back, during barbell back squats.

So with that said, does this make the barbell back squat dangerous?

Bottom Line: When It Comes To Barbell Back Squats, Be Smart

Yes, it can be more dangerous than a leg extension, as you’re loading your spine with weight.

However, you can also injure yourself doing a leg extension, when you do it wrong.

Focus on the barbell back squat movement and the form first.

If you can’t perform a bodyweight squat properly, you have no business adding a barbell to your back, yet.

So yes, doing barbell back squats can increase your risk of injury, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

However, when you do know what you’re doing, the strength, the muscle, and the fat loss benefits are worth it.

How To Safely Squat Without Overloading Your Spine

If you’re worried about loading your spine with too much weight, consider cutting the weight in half and training your legs independently, with movements like the dumbbell bulgarian split squat.

Or simply take the weight off your spine by switching out the barbell, and hold dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides, or hold it in a goblet position.

Dumbbell Goblet Squat Live Lean TV

11 Squat Progressions: Beginner To Advanced

Just like I showed you beginner progressions with the deadlift, here are a few beginner progressions with the squat.

I’ll start with the most beginner bodyweight versions, as well as some single leg unilateral versions, and then moving up to the more advanced versions.

Depending on your fitness level, start at the beginning, get comfortable with the squat movement, then progress up the ladder.

The full exercise demonstration videos for all of these squat variations are linked below, so you can learn and listen to all the coaching cues.

  1. Air Squat
  2. Prisoner Squat
  3. Y Squat
  4. Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
  5. Single Leg Bench Get Up
  6. Dumbbell Goblet Squat
  7. Dumbbell Front Squat
  8. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
  9. Barbell Back Squat
  10. Barbell Front Squat
  11. Alternating Pistol Squat

All these exercise demonstration videos are on our other Live Lean TV Daily Exercises YouTube channel.

While you’re over there, be sure to subscribe to that channel so you never miss an exercise.

One last thing.

If you’re not yet hanging with us on our new Live Lean TV Instagram page, go find us at @LiveLeanTV to see more videos of how to Live Lean 365 days a year.

Keep Living Lean.


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