What is Heavy Squatting?

Heavy Barbell Squatting has been a topic of great debate among lifting enthusiasts. Barbell Squatting involves placing a great amount of iron weights onto a barbell bar positioned on the rear your shoulders and having your body slowly go down by bending on your knees. It has been the mainstay of bodybuilding programs within the past decade.

During the mid to late 90s the resurgence of Dorian Yates as an abbreviated training proponent put the limelight the squat again. Being one of the Three Big Lifts along with the dead lift and bench press, the squat was considered to be an essential part any training regimen.  The squat is a lift that is difficult to perform with the prescribed heavy weight form. This has led to it to being classified as a real bodybuilder’s exercise.

Being Parrot-Preached

“If you want increase your arms by an inch then start squatting heavy!” These were the words of a famous bodybuilding champion. The internet forums being as they are, parroted this mantra for years and years. Legions of newbie 150 pound lifters started taking this as gospel and ridiculed whoever said that squats shouldn’t be heavy and done all out. “Squat ’til you drop,” was often a phrase used to answer someone looking to go over a plateau. If you had any weaknesses in any body part it was thought that the squat would magically eliminate this weakness. “Perform squats religiously and watch your chest grow,” was quite common to hear.

Repetitive Craze

This went on and on for almost a decade as the rabid internet newbie bodybuilders continued to preach on the squat. This was highly apparent when 8-time Olympia Champion; Ronnie Coleman was seen squatting 800 pounds in a video just a few weeks before the Mr. Olympia competition. Some attributed his domination to never backing down on extremely heavy lifts. This included the dead lift, bench press and squat. It was absurd that his fellow competitors were considered sissies and weaklings because they never really went all out on the barbell squat.

Lots of Bodybuilders Were not Squatting

As the bodybuilding cycle continued, the squat started to become less and less of a focus to the e-bodybuilders. With the fall of the unbelievable king Ronnie Coleman the squat mantra seemed to have waned. Then super celebrity bodybuilder, Bob Cicherillo voiced out publicly that squats were not the “be-all, end-all” of leg exercises. This has seemed to place a gag order on squat mania. Dexter Jackson also put a lid on the squat sensation that has swept the bodybuilding community for years by winning the 2008 Mr. Olympia. Dexter Jackson is not known to be a heavy squatter.

The Verdict

The bodybuilding scene is a funny one. When a dominant bodybuilder arrives in the scene he magically transforms the basic tenets of bodybuilding. His domination seems to fuel the desire of under developed bodybuilding fans to place his success on a single bodybuilding principle. And this is what exactly happened during the last few decades with the barbell squat. The past two decades were dominated by strength focused athletes: Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates. And being a hardcore strength exercise the squat mantra followed their successes.

These two Olympians no doubt used the heavy squat as part of their arsenal to dominate bodybuilding. But others have done the same with relatively lighter barbell squats. Recent champions Jay Cutler and Dexter Jackson are not known for extremely heavy weight training methods.

How does this affect the normal everyday bodybuilder? Use the squat as part of your arsenal. Never blindly follow the fad that comes in the bodybuilding industry. Like the e-bodybuilders in most forums, fads come and go. Develop your leg muscles with the squat along with a comfortable leg press machine and less stressful leg extension.

If you want your chest to grow, hit the bench press.

Is Heavy Squatting Really Necessary For a Bodybuilder? by Al M. Kind