The Back Squat



After listening to THIS and going to a local seminar put on by these folks, we decided to question a few things about the current coaches in the industry and their prescription.
Free article HERE on the squat.
Post in comments your experiences and biases in back squatting, right or wrong, good or bad; tell us what it does for you.


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    1. Christina said over 2 years ago

    I'm biased because I think OPT knows what they're talking about, but -- excellently written, reasoned and well-articulated article/response. It's the first thing that has made me wish I were still on Facebook, just so I could share it. :)

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    2. Kevin said over 2 years ago

    I disagree with Mr. Boyle as well, and the response by Optimum Performance Training was professional and a great article. The one thing I love about James and hhis staff, is they are not close minded. They attend other fitness realms, and see what other people can offer. If it is good, then they use that information, if it is bad, then throw it away. Just as he says, Asses, Not guess at your programming, and from the first time I talk to James through email, and all the times I have followed him, he has evolved into one of the top programmers and minds in the game. I thank you James and staff for your dedication to fitness, and also making me a an open thinker and well rounded trainer, owner of gym, and a better programmer!

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    3. Sean LeFloch said over 2 years ago

    Good rebuttal. I agree with the above statements and the consensus of the OPT community that we have had enough of the claims and promises on the future of fitness. In an other venues of health and business it is a must to have facts and data to back up all claims, but it seems in the fitness industry, all you need is a professional athlete/sports team or celebrity to try your method out and you are golden.

    I think coaches like Boyle should take a page out of the OPT philosophy:

    emperically based, clinically tested, community driven...... In that order.

    Keep up the good work. More content like this PLEASE!!!!

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    4. Ricky Frausto said over 2 years ago

    Well said James and staff. Alwyn, Boyle, etc. have much to learn just as we do. The difference is, we are willing to accept that. For the most part, if they would only walk into a handful of CrossFit/CrossFit-like gyms, they would see something very different that what they have painted in their minds. Thanks for your work.

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    5. Soren K. said over 2 years ago

    well said James

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    6. Jonathan F said over 2 years ago

    The back squat has been a tough exercise for me; mostly, because I didn't learned how to properly squat until I attended my first CF seminar. Even now, the back squat is a practice- a lift that I am continuing to improve as my training progresses. I believe the high bar back squat has been most beneficial for me specifically in the flexibility/mobility of the hips and better carryover to the o-lifts.

    I enjoyed reading the article. Thank-you for pointing out the flaws in Mr. Boyle's argument. I like the point that was made concerning the possible injury risk when strengthening the low back is ignored for the reason of building leg-only strength.

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    7. Ross Blake said over 2 years ago

    Nice. A well put together article.

    First time I saw his YouTube vid (thanks mike fitz) I almost lost it. This shit talk is everywhere and that help put a few demons to rest. Thanks OPT crew.

    Looking into some single leg and adrenal implications at the moment. If anyone has some thoughts on that please email me

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    8. Billy said over 2 years ago

    Good read and with solid reasoning.

    I read the article on Cosgrove a while back and it was laughable as he was anti crossfit etc and then everything about his workouts and set up was a carbon copy.

    At the end of the day they want any type of exposure for their own self interest which is generally financial or to be 'seen' as a renowned leader in the industry. Which is why i couldnt speak highly enough of OPT and the reason i have started the CPP courses. Opt dosen't profess to know everthing (pobably pretty close) but are continually testing and collecting data to back up there prescription and to pass that information on and make better coaches.


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    9. CDDC said over 2 years ago

    When I first saw this video posted yesterday I panicked that OPT had adopted the policy!! I originally saw the video posted some months back on a training blog I follow but thought it was simply Boyle trying to get some attention...

    I am a chiropractic physician who focuses on chronic injury rehabilitation with a very successful clinic. The majority of my clients have been through a medical merry-go-round of MRI's, injections, and passive stretches that don't address their weakness or poor movement patterns.

    I don't deal with a large volume of athletes, but do deal with a large volume of former athletes who now have numerous injuries subsequent to poor training programs in the past. Many have had "back injuries" from the back squat or deadlift. However, each of those comment very soon into the assessment "I was never told to do it this way". Simple cues to keep the spine neutral from low back to skull, bar positioning on the shoulder, breathing mechanics, tempo control, etc go a long way to prevent injury from some challenging lifts. The removal of an exercise due to a history of injury simply spells ignorance.

    I don't clear a client for CrossFit Class until they have a back squat of 10-15% over body weight (with a balance of strength in other lifts relative to this). I have a client who was born with bilateral club foot. He is now 45 years old and couldn't walk without noticable limp, arrived with multiple levels of spinal degeneration in his neck and low back, and had regular pain with working out. He currently weighs 150# and has a below parallel back squat of 205# and zero back symptoms. He also has a lunge squat of 105# x 8 reps and we are gradually increasing the range of motion of his hip flexors to allow a full RLESS. The progression of single leg strength has been integral in alleviating many of the weaknesses of his poorly designed bone structure, but the back squat and deadlift were vital in getting enough weight on his spine to create stability through an ever increasing ROM.

    A correctly programmed and coached back squat will be a part of my program into the future. I don't feel that Mike Boyle has proposed anything in support of its removal.

    Thank you to OPT for the continual search for the optimal and being a wonderful BS filter.

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    10. Ben K. said over 2 years ago

    Very timely article for me....

    Ricky, agree that we can learn from each other , with a piece written from Juan Carlos Santana recently opening my eyes to the box jump and its prescription.

    I have been working single leg with RLESS as a priority exercise 2 x weekly x 3 weeks with a recent transfer to the Russian Step Up looking to enhance my Level 2 athletes BS in the new year. This priority work is mostly followed with double leg posterior chain RDL /DL/GHR/BE .The Barbell has not been on their back for over a month and I am aiming to see improvement in their numbers in January. Will report back data on this.

    Also, based off 150+ assessments I have done with every human that walks through our door since taking the first OPT assessment and program design cert back in Feb 2010, almost all need single leg(step ups/Rless/lunges) as priority before any Back Squatting at all. What I am seeing is putting a bar on an athletes back and pushing weight when sorenson(2 mins) and/or RLESS numbers(at least 15% of BWT in each hand x 8 reps), side bridge(90 secs) are not dialed is a recipe for disaster and injury, because of the overcompensation up/down the line. Loading desk bound males with thoracic flexion and tight hips (half of my crew) and throwing heavy weight on them hasn't been the best prescription either for the same reason.

    Now, be it right or wrong with what I am doing and I am finding out myself through assessing,training ,testing and plenty of trial and error, and I am also LEARNING and GROWING daily through my athletes experiences with this - and I am surely not following anyones path but my own.

    Thank you for this article James. You have allowed me to think critically, always question and not always give me an answer (much to my dismay), always encouraging me to find out for myself and 'run with ya gut' and best of all '' to create your own views on fitness'' .......

    Constantly evolving and open to change.

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    11. CDDC said over 2 years ago

    Amen, Ben K.

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    12. Polo Lopez said over 2 years ago

    Hey James,

    The picture you have posted here is of my athlete Colin Floyd here at CrossFit CFT in Nashville, TN. Just curious as to your critique of the picture and his form. Also, curious as to if you posted the pic as an example of good technique or poor technique and if you feel about the High Bar Back Squat. Any critiques will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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