There are a number of points and questions I would like to make here in whatever order comes in to my head…

First of all, when some people recomend barbell work it’s becuase of the balance they develope. Others recomend them becuase you can use so many large muscle groups with them/ or a combination of the two.

I just do’t think any exercise is perfect. For example, when I squat I believe that I’m actually leaving a lot on the table. I do them hard, don’t get me wrong but there must be something better. My inside leg is 34 inches and I am 6ft 1.5in". If I’m honest I never really responded well to squats, and one of the reasons is long legs. When squatting, x-amount of energy is going in to “prime movement” and x-amount is going in to “stabilization”. I think the ratios(not the best term) vary from individual to individual. I think that those people who have long levers, especially those who have high leg length to torso length ratio are leaving a lot behind when doing the “king of exercises”: barbell back squats.

I am much more suited to pulling than squatting. I can deadlift more than I can squat and I don’t even train the deadlift.
Also, when I squat, I’m probably putting so much energy in to stabilization, and not enough into “prime movement.” For those with certain leverage, this dilema probably goes up exponentially, (the heavier weights they use) thus almost nullifying future gains and dramatically cutting them short of their potential.

I don’t care if u have “ectomorphic legs”. You should be able to DRAMATICALLY increase both your cubic power per square inch, and develope more “inches”.
becuase unless u have a muscle wasting disease, and unless you are WAY past your possible prime etc., your muscle fibres have the potential to GROW and /or get more density and strength.

However, check out this hypothetical situation: (figures are completely made up, but you’ll get the point.)

Joe: crap leverage for squatting.
100kg x 5 reps. 80% prime movement.
20% stabilization.

140kg x 5 reps. 70 % prime movement.
30% stabilization.

JOHN: GOOD leverage for squatting.
100kg x 5reps. 85% prime movement.

140kg x 5 reps. 82% prime movement.
17% stabilization.

John will keep improving for a little while longer than Joe in the barbell back squat.

This brings me to 2 main tangents.

  1. Remedy
  2. Stabilization strength V sport spacific stabilization


In recent years, new machines, better machines have been developed than the smith machines and stuff u see in the gym.
for example, powernetics machines such as the “CAT” machine or “BEAR” machine.
No gym in the UK has these for starters, so don’t anybody go on too much about the machines u see in the gym becuase I’m not talking about the machines u see in most gyms. Anyway, this new breed of weight training machine allows you to work your most efficiant line of power partly becuase of where your shoulders go, and becuase of the movement. They would allow problem squatters/and other squatters) to use a higher % of their prime mover force, and increasing the weights would not change those percentages, thus more potential for short AND long term improvement of prime mover strength.
Of course, the flip side of the coin is that they would not develope much stabilization strength.

3 questions.
A. Is prime mover strength much more influential than stabilization strength(for running speed or jumping)?

  B.  Is sport spacific stabilization(running, plyos, maybe medicine ball/ callisthenics, walking/or jumping lunges/squats without bar)  more influencial than MAXIMUM stabilization strength (barbell back squats) on how fast you can run.

 C.  Is it better to kill 2 birds with 1 stone or kill 2 birds with 2 stones?

My take on it is that if anyone is having a crap time with the barbell back squat or any lift (compared to your other lifts) then stuff that particular exercise.
Do a differant lift, perhaps you r more suited to pulling than squatting.
If you have access to a "powernetics2 machine or something VERY simmilar, USE it.
That doesn’t mean you should get rid of stuff like cleans and high pulls etc, unless u cannot do them.
Personnally, I think that abdominal and oblique exercises combined with other callisthenics, medicine ball, physio, stretching, sprinting, plyos, jumping etc. will do more for your athletic balance than back squats becuase I think they r more spacific to the event, even though they don’t build as much stabilization strenght as back squats. I know people do those things anyway, so why care about the massive stabilization strength that back squats bring?

Weights for useable strength.

Everything else for everything else.

(Olympic lifts may be an exception, dammit… It certainly is a jigsaw puzzle, but I’m happy on my take on it.)

Any thoughts or comments very appreciated.


you may want to check out this article about body type and training strategy:


This has been covered extensively in the archives, and by me on the supertraining site.

Goose, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Supertraining/

Thanks for that article Carson.
Charlie, or anybody, where is the supertraining site?

  1. Avoid machines

  2. Focus on building a bigger engine, just don’t lose sight of your alignment.

  3. “Sport specific stabilization” can only be trained when performing the specific sport.

  4. Utilize many squat and deadlift variations in your program.