You might be going, “Of course you must squat!” But some are wondering if it’s always the case. For example, here is a comment we recently received from a viewer.
“Everybody I know in the gym squats. After I injured my knees I have not squatted and it has been almost 2 months. I don’t feel right about not doing squats but every time I try it my knees hurt. But I’m perfectly fine with leg press and hack squat. And my friend told me the other day that Dorian Yates didn’t do a single free-weight squat and yet he won 6 Mr. Olympia titles. This got me to wonder – is it totally okay for me to skip squats altogether and just do leg press and hack squat?”
What do you think? What would you say to him? Well, what would Dorian Yates say? We have his answer to the question, so we encourage you to read on and decide whether this is something worth considering.
Q: Must You Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press to be Hardcore?
Dorian’s answer: Let’s start with squats. When I started training in 1984, Tom Platz was the man. Prior to Platz, legs had never been a big deal in bodybuilding. Once ‘The Golden Eagle’ came on the scene with those incredible legs of his, all that changed. Tom was known for his brutal squat workouts. In my gym, as in most gyms where serious bodybuilders trained at that time, you weren’t even considered a real man unless you squatted. So I did my best, but my body wasn’t structurally suited for squats. My hips were rather small for my frame, which was a liability when it came to heavy squats. I tore a muscle in my hip and underwent surgery. This was before I even turned pro.
I should also note that as hard as I did work on squats up to that point, my leg development was nothing really special. After my surgery, I never did a single set of squats again. I used Smith machine squats, the leg press, and the hack squat. I found that for me, those exercises did a much better job at working my quads, whereas squats had always involved a lot of lower back and glutes. I still say that the barbell squat is a wonderful exercise for some people. For anyone who plays a sport like football or soccer, they are a great all-around movement and will help develop superb core strength. But in my case, squats never delivered the best results. I managed to win six Mr. Olympia titles without them, and my legs became two of my better body parts.
I also stopped doing flat barbell bench presses very early on in my bodybuilding career. They weren’t doing much for my pecs, so I saw no point in keeping them in my workouts. Incline and decline barbell presses worked much better for me. As for deadlifts, I did them, but at the end of my back workouts. That limited the amount of weight I could use to no more than 405-495 pounds, but I was never hung up on how much I could lift in any movement. The goal was always to develop my physique, not puff up my ego. Also, I only did the first set from the floor. After that, all sets were from the shins up, as I didn’t care to involve the quads and glutes any more than was necessary.
To sum up, those three power lifts are wonderful if they work well for you and you can do them safely. If not, you’re not hardcore for doing them— you’re foolish! <End of Dorian’s answer>
So what do you think? Let us know your thoughts!!