I recently was recruited to write an article for Spotmebro.com on the three best exercises to build an attractive physique. And as you can imagine, squats and deadlifts didn’t make the cut.
This is because this exercise hits the VMO harder, the tear drop shaped muscle just above the inside of the knee. Building muscle with the BSS exercise will build legs that look much more aesthetic than the turnip shaped effect that the squat and deadlift physique promote.
The turnip shaped effect (TSE) is where your legs are top heavy and skinny near the knee. What’s more, Bulgarian split squats are much easier to learn, are safer and they promote balance and knee stability without all the spinal compression.
Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t squat and deadlift. But if you were going to rely on three movements to promote the best looking physique; incline bench, weighted pull ups* and bulgarian split squats are the way to go, hands down!
*Make sure you’re using a high-quality weight belt that makes weighted pull-ups easy.
What Did My Recommendations Do To The Site?
I probably don’t have to tell you, but selecting three exercises other than squats, bench and deadlifts created quite an outpour. And the spotmebro.com site went down. I had crashed it by going against the grain.
Guys were furious that I didn’t pick squats and deadlifts. They were in essence blinded by group think. Almost every major fitness writer has stressed the importance of squats and deadlifts as the king of exercises.
And when I didn’t allow myself to be swindled into group think, when I stuck to my guns and told it how it was, I brought out a ton of anger and resentment. All of the sudden, I was a ‘moron’ that is weak as shit and has no idea what he’s talking about.
What’s funny is that there is nothing inherently magical about squats and deadlifts, nor is there anything inherently bad about them. They’re just two exercises that people have labelled as the king of all exercises.
This Is Where The True Problem Lies
To which I say, the king at what? And that’s where the problem lies. People have lost sight with why they’re training. In many cases, people have become goal hijacked by group think itself.
Guys that initially wanted to build a natural and great looking body like Brad Pitt in Troy or Daniel Craig in Skyfall are now just obsessed with squatting and deadlifting and packing on as much size as possible.
To what purpose? So you don’t feel like a pussy? Because after all, if you don’t squat and deadlift, you’re a pussy, right? Wrong. If you don’t squat and deadlift, you don’t squat and deadlift. That’s it.
What if you had injured your back and you’re no longer able to handle the spinal compression of squats and deadlifts? Does that mean you’re doomed?
That you’re going to turn into a 12 year old girl? Of course not. But this is the fear mongering that most fitness writers today are going for.
They want you to believe that your only chance at becoming strong and muscular and masculine is to bow down and pay homage to the squat gods. Squat or Die!
This Is The Difference Between Being Dogmatic And Being Objective
Naturally these squat enforcers will try to project their values onto you with outlandish claims and harsh insults if you don’t validate their ways. Hell, I love the incline press. It has done wonders to my physique. But I’m not going to call everyone that doesn’t do the incline press a pussy.
Nor am I going to masquerade and pretend as if by some form of bro magic, incline presses will turn you into a man, grow hair on your chest and add inches to your dong.
Nor will I disillusion people into believing that if they don’t incline press, that their chances at building a great physique can be all but forgotten.
This is what people have been doing with squats. Squat, squat, squat! Funny enough, squats are relatively easy to get good at. Sure they’re tough, but getting strong on squats is nothing to feel special about.
What’s far more impressive than squatting is being proficient at jumping. Which, essentially, is the ability to be extremely strong proportionate to your bodyweight and also be able to display that strength quickly. This is a much more useful test of your power and athleticism.
How To Turn The Tables
In fact, if I wanted to promote the most athletic physique possible. I would encourage someone to get really strong at power cleans, weighted chin ups and overhead presses. Power cleans build incredible lower body power. Most olympic lifters are notorious for possessing world class sprinting and jumping abilities.
Chin ups are the ultimate test of relative strength and pulling power. Just look at most street workout artists. They have become masters at pull ups and chin ups and it has turned them into physical bad asses, both aesthetically and physically.
Finally, standing overhead presses require tremendous pressing power, while maintaining postural integrity and serious core stability. The ability to express tremendous upperbody strength while maintaining a rock solid core and whole body stability is something you don’t want to mess with.
Make no mistake, I’m not married to any specific exercise. Exercises are nothing more than tools. And there’s plenty to choose from to get to a goal. Some people have specific limitations that prevent them from performing a specific movement. Perhaps an injury or technical issue.
No problem! It’s not some magical exercise that produces results. But rather consistency, solid effort and sensible programming and workout design.
Do You Need To Avoid The Back Squat?
My intention isn’t to scare you away from squats. But rather to encourage you to think critically. Barbell back squats are just an exercise – that is it. If you want to do them, great. If you don’t want to do them, there’s other exercises to get the job done.
And of course, I decided to share a little fitness compilation video I put together! I’ve built my physique with very little traditional back squatting. I instead focus on weighted pistol squats, calf raises and power hang cleans for most of my lowerbody training.