10 Myths About Barbell Squats

Myth 1: Squats will make your waist bigger and “spoil” your physique.

Many bodybuilders believe that their mid-section will get out of proportion, if they perform heavy squats regularly. While it’s true that squats strengthen your abdominal muscles, your abs will never gets so big that they look out of proportion.

Myths About Squats

via: sculpturealley.net

The guts that IFBB bodybuilders display today are caused by abuse of GH (growth hormone) and insulin. It has nothing to do with squats nor deadlift and if you are a natural bodybuilder you should not worry about “your waist getting too big”. If your waist is big, it’s because your bodyfat is most likely higher than you think.

Truth: Squats strengthen and thicken the abdominal region but your mid-section will not grow to the point where your physique is “spoiled”. 

 Myth 2: High bar squats do not provide enough stimulation for the posterior chain compared to low-bar squats.

This myth was started by Mark Rippetoe and his books. While it’s true that low-bar squats place more stress on your hips and posterior chain, the high bar squat provides plenty of stimulation for your rear muscles (glutes, spinal erectors, hamstrings).

All weightlifters do high bar squats, and all of them have developed posterior chains. Of course, they also perform other exercises and many pulls from the floor – but so do you.

Truth: High bar squats hit the posterior chain hard and provide enough stimulation regardless of what “experts” tell you. Don’t worry, your butt will still get big from high bar squats.

Note: Both the low bar and the high-bar squat may require you to perform additional hamstring work such as Romanian deadlifts.

Myth 3: You can’t build strong legs without squats.

Squats are an effective lower body exercise, but they are not the only one in the world. Regardless of what “experts” say you can build strong legs without barbell squats. Resistance is resistance and there are many ways to provide some of it. Good exercises to consider when looking for squat substitute are: kettlebell front squats, pistols, sprinting, dumbbells squats, sumo-deadlifts, leg press…etc.

Truth: Strong legs can be built without doing a single barbell squat in your life. The body only knows when it hurts, the name of the exercise is only in your head.

Myth 3: Squats are as good as steroids for the beginner lifter.

In 2007 Mark Rippetoe launched a lot of disinformation in the muscle game. Many novices were convinced to believe that squats and milk were as effective as anabolic steroids. This is a complete lie and pure marketing hype that has nothing to do with reality. Squats are just an exercise and the belief that unreal amount of testosterone is being released in the body after heavy squats is a myth on its own.

Truth: Squats are just an exercise, not a muscle hormone.

Myth 4: Squats will make your mind stronger and you will become an Alpha male.

Many believe that when they squat they are fighting invisible armies. The exercise is hard and tends to cause similar thinking. However, it’s just an exercise and it won’t make you Rambo. Many people who squat heavy are quite insecure. In fact, almost all bodybuilders are insecure individuals who don’t quite believe in them. Many times this is caused by the absence of a strong male figure in their lives.

Truth: Squats don’t make you an Alpha male, if destiny did not plan for you to be one in the first place. There are people like Martin Luther King Jr. who never performed a single barbell squat in their lives, and are more “alpha” than any squatter in the world will ever be.

Myth 5: You have to squat heavy to build big legs.

Many people measure their self-worth by how much they squat. The heavier the squat, the more worthy they become. That’s why most start to chase arbitrary squat numbers in their quest for big legs. What they don’t know is that big legs can be built with high repetitions and light weights. For example, if you can do 20 deep squats with 225lbs/100kg your legs will be well developed, for a natural bodybuilder.

Truth: Higher repetitions build big legs. There is no need to squat heavy for low reps, if your goal is leg hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Myth 6: There are secret squat programs.

Regardless of what the “experts” tell you there are no secret squat programs. Many advanced powerlifters use very basic programming and still get the job done. There is no need to complicated the subject more than it already is. Just stick to a solid and proven plan. Otherwise you are risking paralysis by over-analysis.

Truth: There is no need for fancy secret societies likes squat programs. Simple works.

Myth 7: Everybody should squat.

Not everybody was built to squat. Some people don’t have the bio-mechanics needed to squat properly. Just because authorities are telling you to do something, it does not meant that you have to do it and that it’s good for you.

Truth: The squat is a very effective exercise but sadly not everyone can do it safely. If that’s you, don’t cry – there are hundreds of legs exercises to choose from.

Myth 8: Squats will make your arms bigger.

While squats truly strengthen the a huge part of the body, having big arms is not a requirement to be a strong squatter. The myth that squats build big arms was started by uninformed and logic deprived individuals.

Truth: Squatting for big arms is like bench pressing for big legs.

Myth 9: You should squat until you puke to get results.

Squatting until you puke is not a requirement to get results. The only thing that you are doing is torturing your nervous system and causing damage. Train hard and smart, not hard and stupid.

Truth: There is no need to torture yourself in order to get results from squatting.

Myth 10: Squatting with spotters is safe.

Even if you have spotters squatting can be dangerous. The weight is heavy and you need at least two knowledgeable spotters to protect you. Unfortunately, most spotters don’t know what they are doing and you may get injured as a result. The safest way to squat is in the power rack with the safety pins ready to catch the weight if you fail to complete a rep.

Truth: Finding competent spotters could be a hard task. That’s why squatting in the power rack with the safety pins set at the right height is the way to go, if you are training solo.


  1. Yuval Goldstein

    Heavy leg exercises do trigger the release of Testosterone (not particularly squats). It is also not true that squats have nothing to do with upper body musculature. Heavy leg training does contribute to the development of the upper body. I personally can attest to the fact that heavy leg exercises trigger the release of Testosterone. A few years back I had a very good leg session at a Gold’s Gym in California and about 10 minutes after the workout my libido skyrocketed.

  2. EJ

    Dude! seriously your still banking on the no male figure stereotype! I find that people who worry so much about hyper-masculinity are the most insecure of all! Otherwise a very informative post.

  3. Personal Trainer

    I have never seen someone squat ATG 225 for 10 reps with little arms, Squatting recruits so much muscle that it triggers GH and Testosterone in the body, the bench press is similar but not enough to trigger leg growth. I quit accessory lifts and saw massive upper body improvement, including bicep growth from simply deadlifting, cleaning, snatching and squatting. 17 inch biceps with 8% bf and squatting 455 @ 150 pounds. Those myths come from methods that actually work sooo…

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