I just say a post on Facebook saying that running produces just as much spine compression as squats. Hmm. Wouldn’t that depend on the poundage you have bearing down on your neck?
That’s kind of like saying riding a roller coaster does as much bodily trauma as a car accident. You need to define the car accident. Crashing into an 18-wheeler at 70 mph head-on probably does a bit more damage than Rolling Thunder—like possible decapitation (guess that’s more of a “head-off” collision).
Seriously, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against squatting. I do it, just not with crazy poundages (that’s what my 4X mass method is all about: moderate-weight, high-fatigue growth-threshold training). In fact, to make it even safer, I often do a 4X sequence of leg extensions before squats to make the poundage even more manageable–and less spine crushing (I already have some spine damage from powerlifting years ago, thank you very much). Leg extensions first is becoming more and more common in gyms everywhere.
In fact, many top pro bodybuilders use that modified pre-ex method. They will do a number of longer-tension-time leg extension sets before moving on to squats. Even Jay Cutler, whose quads are pretty gigantic, rarely goes over 405 on squats–and he usually uses less than that.
Another concern is hip stress. A number of bodybuilders have had to have hip-replacement surgery later in life–one I know before the age of 60. Heavy squats may be at least partially to blame because some people are just not genetically designed to squat heavy. Hip pain early on may be an indication. Try pre-exhausting with leg extensions and/or exchange back squats for front squats.
Front squats allow you to stay more upright with less hip-joint stress—and better quad activation for most people. Sure, they take some getting used to, but it’s better than having to go under the knife for a titanium joint implant before retirement age. (Does titanium set off the metal detectors at airports?)
Stay tuned, train smart and be Built for Life.