There's only so much of "try to sit up straight" before you just go back to sitting the way your body has adapted to sit. In general, your body doesn't want to change. You need to provide some sort of external stress that forces an adaptation. Squats are great for this.
 - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/kb/recommend...
 - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/sq...
Squats are great for building leg strength but have a high risk of back & knee injury under heavy loads if done incorrectly. Even if you do them correctly, a heavy load might force you to lean forward which can damage your back. There are much safer lifts for those of us who aren't experts, such as hex bar squats.
Of course as anything in fitness it's always up for debate.
That is, rather than lifting the bar using the legs, lifting the bar by bending back. Of course, Rippletoe would never recommend doing this, and while leaning forward doesn't guarantee improper form, it can sure make it easier.
Leaning forward is okay while doing squats. A heavy weight causing you to lean forward out of your position is bad.
Leaning forward damages your back? Then why are you suggesting deadlifts?
Squats are not hard to do correctly. Risk of injury is probably not higher than deadlifts. And squats work more than just legs. They do work the legs hard, but they also work the back. Front squats will also work the upper back quite a bit.
I agree, front squats are great! But I personally feel squats do minimal to back muscles.
The amount of work the lower back does is directly related to how far forward the body leans (at the hips; I'm assuming we're not discussing bent-back lifts). The lower back does a lot of work in a deadlift to counteract the torque the weight creates via the upper body lean. In a low-back back squat, the amount of work the lower body does is reduced somewhat because the lean and therefore the torque reduced. It's reduced even further in a high-bar squat, and in a front squat the back muscles are mostly doing isometric work in conjuction with the abs to keep your spine from collapsing.
Even if your squat form is bad and you're leaning excessively, you're probably not putting more stress on your back than in a deadlift. Unless maybe you're dive-bombing your squats and letting your lower back round a ton at the bottom.
Edit: Shrimp squats are an exception, I suppose.
Well, yes and no. In unnatural movements like the hip belt “squat” where you have no range of motion and have almost created an isolation movement, sure. In more natural movements like a lunge or squat, where the muscles must work together and you use reasonable range of motion, not necessarily true. It’s more commonly the legs that fail in a squat.
You do realize that the glutes and hamstrings are part of the legs, right? They execute the hip hinge that makes bending at the hips possible. When you take the back out of a squat, you largely remove these as well.
> Also there is only a limited amount of repeated compression that the vertebral discs can handle.
This is a definite “citation needed” sort of claim. The spine produces synovial fluid and heals like the rest of the joints.
Obviously there are limits to how much it can heal, but that applies to every joint and consistently studies indicate better joint health among strength training individuals. A few dozen squats a week is definitely not the maximum the spine can handle.
Back squats and front squats are good because they involve the posterior chain.
Often all of that has to work together. A squat with a small load will show you where you are deficient and will help you improve as you learn to squat properly.
> At best, we might undertake ［squatting］ during Crossfit, pilates or while lifting at the gym, but only partially and often with weights (a repetitive maneuver that’s hard to imagine being useful 2.5 million years ago)
I kind of go along with that. Squatting with a bar on your back is a weird maneuver.
Wouldn't our ancestors carry far less, maybe max 90kg, then people do today? It doesnt make sense to brutally punish your joints with much more than that for part of that action and completely ignore the other part of it.
For the doubters who think you need heavy weights, try to do:
- 1 arm pull-ups
- 1 arm, 1 foot pushups
- Dragon flag (for abs)
- 1 leg squats (pistol squats)
Of those I can only do the 1 leg squats and 1 arm-1 foot pushups (working on the rest ;)).
Also search YouTube for "calisthenics" to get a bunch of stuff you can do. There are things from absolute beginners to insane.
Yes you CAN. That doesn't mean it is not a hell of a lot easier to get the same results by using other tools though.
If you want to get fit (build muscle), and you're not using a barbell, you're most likely making things harder for yourself. If that is what you want to do, fine, but recognize that you're taking a more difficult route.
Using weights indeed allows you to fine-tune your workouts more. Want to do 8 reps instead of 5? Just take some weight off. This is indeed harder to finetune with bodyweight progression.
If you talk about bodybuilding, max strength gains, etc, I agree you need to use weights for the fastest/best results.
But if your goal is to "get fit", my personal opinion (or preference) is that there is nothing better than bodyweight. Different muscle groups working together, balance, etc.
I guess it all comes down to personal preference. I got bored lifting weights, but absolutely love those bodyweight trainings. All I'm saying is that it's a viable option where you can build a lot of strength. Is it optimal for size, strength or endurance? Probably not. But it's not something to dismiss either.
Your body needs time to adapt to exercise, and body-weight exercises can provide a longterm plan to get that growth without threatening some serious injuries.
Also, that's a false comparison. Nobody said that you need to get off the couch and go straight to squat 500lbs to be in shape. You need a proper training plan with reasonable progression, and you need to start as low and as light as necessary, no matter the training stimulus (BW, barbells, dumbbell, kettlebells, bands, ...). The difference is that weights can provide an external force that can be scaled to your strength in many ways that BW training cannot, because in BW training the only weight is your body and you need to use leverages to modify your training stimulus.
Finally, BW versus weights is a dumb debate. They complement each other, and a well-rounded athlete should do both.
*to be fair, I'd recommend that a new trainee start with anything but barbell stuff. Simple bodyweight training 3-4 times a week, playing a real sport once-twice a week and doing some form of cardio twice a week should be the starting point of any athletic career, at least for 3-6 years. I started training with people who had an athletic past like this and they blew past me at an incredible speed progress-wise, and ended up stronger, healthier and in better shape than I ever was.
Fast forward a decade, and my right shoulder still remembers these pains - I dunno if the weights caused it or some previous injury, but when I started training with my own weight, one sign that I was getting ahead of myself was that small pain. Now I can progress slower, but still I have to be very careful. Some of the exercises with heavy weights are just not natural for the body and simply exhaust/strain it more than it should. If you are experienced, you can work around these limitations, but I prefer body-weight exercises now.
You were increasing the weights at a rate that your body couldn't handle. It is very frequent with new trainees because the neurological adaptations that appear at the beginning of training are always impressive: you finally learn how to use those muscles you always had and make them work towards a simple common goal, lifting that barbell. The main problem is that the rest of your body sometimes cannot keep up with that speed, and that results in this sort of issue. Had you been to a professional strength coach, he or she would have forced you to lower your pace and think about long-term progress over short term gain, which would probably have been at your 16 year old self's annoyance (as it was to mine).
Get a ironmaster superbench + attachments / or powerrack + bench, and some suspension trainers. Makes a huge difference on what body weight exercises you can do
For example, I do bulgarian split squats. But I have a TRX suspension trainer on a ironman adjustable bench, so I can have one leg suspended and have a more natural movement doing bulgarian split squats. This is a much easier progression going into a pure 1 legged pistol squats.
I use a modified reddit r/recommended routine /bodyweight fitness / callisthetics
/r/fitness also has a great wiki with a number of programs, including a recommended progression of programs.
I wouldn't recommend powerlifting to everyone, but some kind of weight training and especially the squat and deadlift. You can pick a weight training style to suit your goals though. I have moved to a more powerlifting / bodybuilding regiment as I have reached the strength level I am happy with at my current bodyweight.
For example, I used to be a fencer, and as a result my left leg was much stronger than my right. I thought I was doing squats correctly, but a trainer spotted that I was tilting my hips as I was doing the exercise.
Little humans (kids) have great mobility in their ankles, hips, and shoulders.
Big humans (adults) generally have poor ankle/hip/shoulder mobility. The body compensates by doing more with the knees, back, and neck. Hence the preponderance of back problems, knee problems, neck problems.
Everyone has unique bio-mechanics but sounds like your trainer started off diligently.
Goblet squats are a good way to groove and re-train the squat pattern in adults with bad mobility. Dr. John Rusin, a physical therapist, has quite a few easy to understand articles on his site. Here's one on goblet squats.
Other good people to learn from are Eric Cressey (uses a bit more technical language) and Ben Bruno. Not a mutually exclusive list though by any means!
Standing in a standing / treadmill desk is not something you do all day. What it does it give you more oppurtunities for positioning yourself while at your desk. Sitting at a desk only has so many ways of sitting down (foot hammock, foot on desk, foot on footrest, normal position, etc)
I currently have about 10-15 variations of sitting / walking / standing up at my standing desk. Differnet foot hold mounting options, different modes of sitting on my varidesk seat, different standing postures.
By adding more variants of being at your desk, you can adjust yourself as you see fit depending (1) how long your at your desk at a time(2) what muscles you have currently fatigued (post workout).
That and also working out helps too, I do mostly bodyweight fitness. Pullups, squats, body rows, pushups, etc or anything on a suspension trainer
What you should buy if your interested in a standing desk is actually either an (1) transformable adjustable standing / sitting desk + a chair or (2) a treadmill desk + a varidesk chair for overall ergonomics.
Drink water, refill it when empty, go to the bathroom more frequently as a result.
Take breaks to go outside and lap the building or parking lot a couple times a day. When I worked with smokers, I would take a break every time they did, though I'd go for a walk instead. That worked out particularly well because when a boss tried to call me on it I asked why the smokers were able to take so many breaks but I wasn't (I was outside for no longer than they were, and often less time as I aimed to complete the lap quickly, not leisurely).
Collaborate with colleagues in person rather than via your office's messaging app when possible. Not to the point of disrupting them, but if they ask you a question that is reasonably complicated, go to them and communicate it in person. If they're free to answer yours, go to them and hear the answer.
I don't know about the other people here, but I'm not coding, documenting, etc. for 8 hours a day. It's maybe 4 hours a day with the rest being communication and thinking time.
- take a 5 min break every ~hour and walk around office (in my country it is legal requirement that for every hour you spend in front of computer, you get 5 min break, so I don't have to explain that to anyone or look for excuses).
- do simple exercise at desk from time to time (like standing up and down, moving head, stretching hands and back etc.)
- walk to/from work (~5 km one way) whenever it's an acceptable weather outside (I use this time for thinking as I've found out that walking helps to concentrate).
- exercise 3 times a week (well, at least I try to).
I've never been a fan of standing desk, because due to my physical condition my back and knees start to hurt after some time standing still.
Why preclude a stand up desk?
I have at least five different positions I use at my office that I switch between periodically:
1) Stand up desk, up
2) Stand up desk, down, seated (office chair)
3) Stand up desk, down, seated (balance ball)
4) Meeting room, laptop on table
5) Random chair around the office, laptop in lap
I also try to stay hydrated and intentionally use the restroom furthest from my office to just get a few steps in throughout the day, which helps more than you might think.
The stand up desk makes a massive difference. I can't handle working from home now.
* Have various computing positions and alternate
* Swap out chair for a kneeling chair if you still have okay knees.
* Currently experimenting with: Head Mounted Displays with yoga bolsters
My back still has issues from sitting all day to program.
Lie on your back. Knees bent / legs up, so your back is fully supported by the floor. Arms at your sides, hands on your stomach or whatever the most neutral position is. Small pillow / book under your head to keep that portion of your spine properly curved.
Source: family member is an Alexander Technique teacher, also personal experience.
I'm actually surprised by the legs part since i would've thought proper pose is legs down.
People tend to think that sitting is "not doing anything" but your muscles ARE working to keep you upright. The wonkier you're sitting, the worse the effects will be.
I struggled with lower back pain for over 5 years, visited lots of doctors / physios / chiropractors and nobody could give any decent advice. "You're too old" (at 38!), "it's the electromagnetic rays from your computer screen!".
In the end what helped me was a routine of body strength exercises that I developed myself from online research and with the help of a young physio who finally knew what he was doing.
I'm now basically pain free, as long as I do my routine 2 or ideally 3x per week.
I highly recommend anyone struggling with lower back pain to build up a simple routing of core strengthening exercises.
As someone who tried this, I'd recommend seeing a medical professional to ensure it's actually going to help first. I made things far far worse before getting help and making them better.
My knee jerk reaction is that I don't trust the family doctor to really know much bio-mechanical stuff and will trust a well-referred fitness coach. Maybe you meant you saw a physical therapist?
I've had lower back pain on and off my entire adult life. When I started investigating how to fix it, I came to the (same) conclusion that strengthening my core muscles would help - as someone who trained quite heavily I was confident in my ability to perform basic core exercises without injuring myself . These only exacerbated the problem, and after 2 weeks of doing them I was bed ridden, and in agony.
I had been to a GP who referred me to a neurosurgeon that I was able to get temporary relief from by multiple epidurals, and some severe pain relief medication. Got better again after a few weeks, and I ignored it for 18 months until it came back. Took an experimental procedure that bought me another 18 months. I then saw a physiotherapist who walked me through some of the basic exercises that they give to people who are recovering from spinal fusion (which I had been referred for but held off on). I still get waves of lower back pain every few months, but I'm aware of the early symptoms, and can begin with the PT exercises for a few weeks at a time, until they subside (which they have done every time so far).
Overall, it was about finding what worked for me, as you said, but I definitely wouldn't recommend making that journey on your own.
 offhand, cannot remember exactly what I did, but would have been some basic version of some of the exercises from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multime...
The physical therapist that eventually helped (even cured) me showed me basic routines of much less "aggressive" exercises (basically the same as what the other person replied to you).
I then used those routines a base for further research and now always try to switch up the exercises I do, it gets boring otherwise. /r/bodyweightfitness has a good suggested routine.
My challenge is flexibility. I did yoga for three years, twice a week, and while the whole of my body became much more flexible (amongst other benefits) my ankles did not yield very much at all. If I try to squat on a level surface, I have to force my arms forward to maintain balance, and it's not comfortable at all.
In Iran several toilets had slightly angled surfaces for the feet. With the toes pointing downwards just a few degrees from level, it was very comfortable.
My wife is from South Korea, a country where squatting in the home is still practiced regularly, especially by the older generations. It always struck me as a very relaxing way of passing the time, though I couldn't quite do it.
Perhaps there is a physiological aspect to this too. Japanese and Korean people appear to have different skeletal proportions to Europeans. I'm curious if this changes anything, or whether it's just a matter of culture/practice.
Here's an amusing explainer video: https://youtu.be/YbYWhdLO43Q
To predict a Westerner's skeletal inflexibility, I think it's enough to ask if he took up activities that required flexibility at an early age. In Japanese and Korean cultures that's plain squatting and sitting on your heels. Not that there aren't different kinds of flexibility. By Westerner, I mean someone with an excessively sedentary lifestyle.
I agree with this. However, I reckon that the ability to perform heavy squats does depend slightly on race. For example, short femurs provide beneficial leverage, and Asians tend to have shorter femurs than other races on average. I think this goes a little way towards explaining the dominance of China in Olympic weightlifting. If you look at the Lü Xiaojun, he has the perfect proportions for squatting and associated movements.
Have you tried putting a stool or something in front of your toilet so you can bend your legs in a squat-esque position? It's a bit more practical and feels much the same to me.
Is there another kind? ;)
> There are even stools marketed for squatted position on western style toilets.
I've seen these -- of all places -- in Costco here in Japan. They seem moderately popular since they're sold out sometimes. Personally, I think it's a bit overkill and would rather just plop my feet on a pack of toilet paper. :)
The main problem is that my ankles are not flexible enough. When I try to squat, my heels inevitably raise above the ground so that I find myself resting on my tiptoes, struggling to keep my balance.
How about timeboxing 15 minutes a day for body maintenance? Start out just reading some articles, then watching videos, then try out your first stretch, feel sore the next day, take a week off, then try out a different stretch routine, then progress, then increase your time per day because you see improvement, and one day, out of the blue, you're squatting. What do you think?
If it's something you're willing to work at, from personal experience I know it can be improved.
I can't do that, my leg can't stretch fully. This prevents me from squatting properly.
I've been slowly stretching the hamstrings but I'm still not there. I remember having the same issues when I was a teenager.
Ankle flexibility is more frequent cause of not being able to squat properly. Hips also, but not because of hamstring.
and then the first part of of a series of more general ankle flexibility exercises you can do: 
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBLDJMJiDE
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apCIhoPmHW8
The ankle part can be trained separately by flexing them, I would believe. If your heels keep raising and you really want to be able to do it, have someone take a video of your attempt and study where your center of gravity travels. It should move towards the floor in a straight line. Chances are, you are simply not extending your behind outwards enough because there are other parts of your core muscles that are not flexible enough.
It's an exercise worth practicing and should be much more popular than the typical "pushups/crunches" routine that many non-athletes do at home. (This is where I will be taken apart by someone who knows more details:) Pushups and crunches train precisely the muscles that will pull your back and shoulders forward. A complex exercise such as squats and a good extension-stretch for your back will go a long way of making office dwellers feel better.
You'd probably be surprised by what happens after years of this.
But I can't emphasize how important the point of daily routine in the article is - it doesn't take much to get quite an amount of flexibility back, but habit
Your doctor was probably right to give that advise for walking.
But when lifting weights it is a much more stable position for many, and as long as you ensure your knees track a line over your feet rather than at an angle it's not generally a problem.
I can hold a low squat indefinitely now because of it and my neck and back feel amazing!
Took a couple months to feel 'safe', and not have to constantly check my pants weren't in the way.
Never got comfortable enough to read on the toilet.
My issue was my trousers kept falling on the wet floor. In the end I just took them off whenever I needed to go :D
You haven't really experienced a squat toilet until you've had diahrrea though (pretty common for people travelling abroad for first time / not used to differences in bacteria culture / not taking food medication).
I had some terrible experiences
It's been very difficult to get full function back, so for anyone reading this - try to avoid making the same mistake I did. I overlooked the issue for too long. I will certainly overcome it, in time, but it sucks and it's a long process because my body has become used to not needing my legs 95% of the time.
Bench press is also good but that's it for chest, I wouldn't do more. Squats, bench press and dead lift as a core of your routine is a good idea. You can add some other minor components but you should keep focus on the big three.
But to be fair, one should not skip leg day.
Personally I think squatting as a form of sitting is not going to be happening too much with larger framed people. Smaller and slimmer people will obviously have a much easier time of sustaining a sitting squat comfortably.
> So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range—if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees—the body says ‘I’m not being used’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.”
> A 2014 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that test subjects who showed difficulty getting up off the floor without support of hands, or an elbow, or leg (what’s called the “sitting-rising test”) resulted in a three-year-shorter life expectancy than subjects who got up with ease.
As far as the first one, I'd say, so what? More fluid means healthier? Why?
As far as the second one, correlation doesn't prove causation. We should stop pretending this is the case with everything.
I often find myself squatting while working at my laptop. Frankly, it's just for a few minutes, because at some point my feet will hurt.
I wonder whether this is just a matter of exercise, or whether squatting for too long (in that position, with a laptop on the thighs) is unhealthy.
Most often I do this while in public transport, where I don't always find a seat. It happens rarely within the train but more often at the station, where the seats are even more limited.
In the beginning, I often looked for a wall to lean my back against. But I soon discovered that I don't really need it. Walls are cold and, in the end, they are just a help for balancing.
Unfortunately, I found just one good picture of that kind of squatting position, which is NRSFW (not-really-safe-for-work): https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/woman-weight-scales-checking...
It was my default position playing outside in the dirt or the sandbox. I didn't like getting my clothes dirty so squatting, as opposed to sitting on my behind or knees, made sense.
These days when I'm working on anything below waist height I'm usually squatting. People always remark how child-like it looks and I remark how comfortable and easy on the knees it is.
e.g. playing video games at a desk whilst sipping coffee/soda/alcohol.
I can't explain why this is but intuitively I think it's to do with our locus of attention being out of the body and into abstract ideas. In the developing world their locus is more 'in the body'.
I often sit semi-squatted at my computer; basically my feet on the seat and thighs against my chest. I've actually avoided this consciously since it seemed like 'bad posture'.
I wonder if I have actually been actively avoiding something I should be doing more of. It's always felt more comfortable this way.
Next month I plan to add one other excersise. Either squats or crunches.
It is really about the angle of your feet and the width of your stance, most anyone without a debilitating injury can learn to squat in a few minutes when given correct instruction.
No, you don't need to be a gymnast but there are still plenty of people for whom the angle of feet and width of stance is totally insufficient to do a squat below parallel because they lack the necessary hip flexibility.
If you can touch your toes with straight legs, you can probably squat below parallel for at least a short while - it's not like it takes a huge amount of flexibility. But that too still requires weeks of training for a surprising number of people.
It's not hard to get there, but to write it off as a myth is not helpful.
However, there's still a huge difference between getting your hip crease below your knee for a moment, and being able to sit in the bottom of a squat for a prolonged period in comfort.
I can clearly remember at school, 10 -12 years old, during winter after heavy snow, my friends all sliding downhill, feet absolutely flat on the floor, sat hunched as low as possible.
Absolutely impossible for me - I couldn't get my backside within 30-40 cm off the ground no matter what I tried.
"So should we replace sitting with squatting and say goodbye to our office chairs forever? Beach points out that “any posture held for too long causes problems” and there are studies to suggest that populations that spend excessive time in a deep squat (hours per day), do have a higher incidence of knee and osteoarthritis issues.
But for those of us who have largely abandoned squatting, Beach says, “you can’t really overdo this stuff.”"
I thought about runner's knee. I started googling around. I found some contradictory info initially, but in the end there seems to be consensus squats not only don't harm a knee, they make it stronger! You're essentially building your exoskeleton.
What I found gives me best results is wall-facing squat.
It's difficult to start. It took me weeks, perhaps even months to feel benefits, but now I'm a squat addict. Wall facing squat is very good because it makes it impossible to cheat. You have to develop better stance, balance, and flexibility. And you have to think how to get there.
As a nerd who played computer games A LOT, I was so inflexible I could only straighten my leg about 120 degrees when lying on my back and raising the leg vertically. Now I can grab my heel with leg perfectly straight, or touch my forehead with my knee. So don't think you can't do that. You just need to be persistent, systematic and don't force it (especially if you're starting to feel pain).
Nowadays I try to incorporate those wide wall-facing squats into every raising movement I make. I get some odd looks (I don't do it at work, though), but I don't care. When I raise from bed, I don't use my hands. Same for couch, chair, and other platforms.
Don't get obsessed with numbers. Numbers don't mean a squat if they come at the price of bad technique. Bad technique is like building a tower on skewed foundation. Repeat that movement enough times, and the tower will start leaning, then fall (injury). So once in a while I lower my weekly number of squats, when I feel I can get even closer to wall. At first I thought I'd never manage it, but every couple of weeks I can exercising closer to wall. It's better to perform smaller sets of perfect exercise than lots of bad. Too bad I learned it the hard way.
Aside from feeling very flexible at thighs and legs in general, it's rewarding because my knee feels very stable. A few years ago, when I was shifting my weight while standing, I could feel it rotate in various ways. Now I feel more confident because I feel it supports me better. My balance also got a lot better and I'm leaning over tables and other objects in ways that seemed impossible before. I naturally adjust my stance when walking upstairs, downstairs, or running downhill. It feels like my entire leg works through the entire range of motion. I get bonus points when cycling, I can power through some smaller hills at full speed where previously I would be soaked with sweat.
In general, anaerobic exercise like squats gives your body more HP (Hit Points), making you more resistant to injury, increasing bone density etc. The last one is especially important for women, who are prone to osteoporosis when getting older.
I'm getting the itch to resume long distance running, and now I could probably pull it off. I learned to listen to my body, and prevent injury in advance by adjusting my stance and movement until I feel no pain or discomfort of any sort. I dig the endorphin, the runner's high. I don't know if i will find enough time, but worst case scenario is I will just focus on cycling.