As someone who regularly deals with changing up my lifting plan, there are certain lifts that I am delighted to take a break from, one of them being squats. I don’t know how you feel about them but, for me, squats have to be the more exhausting lift that there is. I spend a good majority of my mornings with weights in hand but I never feel more relief than when I complete my squats, they are just too awkward of a movement for me to fully enjoy. What had happened, at the beginning of last year, was that I had decided that knee pain would stop me from doing squats for a little while.
I assumed that the knee pain wasn’t starting from the squats but rather from an old sports injury that was coming back to haunt me. Time got away from me and I was in a place where I had stopped doing squats for far too long and my legs were very weak. Knowing that starting back with my old weight of 250 lbs would probably snap my legs like a twig, I had to lower the weight. Starting out with a measly forty pounds on an EZ bar, I was able to effortlessly move the bar behind my head and start squatting. For the first two weeks, re-training my legs on how to squat wasn’t too bad but when I hit 60 pounds, the same nagging pain reared it’s ugly face again.
The pain started in my shins and was far too powerful for me to push through so I had to change up how I did my squats. I had always been a fan of the back squat, because it used to allow me to hold more weight. As a weightlifter gets older, our priorities change, I was no longer worried about how much I could squat, I just wanted to be able to do a single one. I had to change my style and prepare myself to start doing front squats. If you weren’t aware, a front squat is where you will carry the weight in front of you, with bent arms, as opposed to sending the weight behind your head. I had always viewed the front squat as something that was going to hurt, as it never looked comfortable at all, I was proven wrong almost right away. By doing front squats, the pain in my shins had gone, as I was shifting where the weight was being held. As I finished the 8th rep, it felt like someone else was doing the work, I didn’t know a change in stance could bring about such an amazing improvement. When determining which squat type will be more suitable for you, there is one great way to find out and that would be to try them both.
Don’t overload the bar with weight, use a number that is on the lighter side for what you are used to and get to it. I never would have thought that I would give up my old way of doing squats but my knees gave me no choice, I now look forward to using the front style and hopefully making some great progress. Although I have only talked about two different styles of squats, there are numerous other ones that you can try out. One of the reasons that I continue to lift weights is because of all of the variety of movements that we have.