Back pain during squat


I set my 1RMs yesterday and right after the squat received a little jolt in my lower back. It wasn’t terrible so I did my first hypertrophy day today but, by the last set of squats, was trying to figure out a novel way to get the bar up onto my back :smiley:.

I finished the other exercises w/o issue but I noticed my back kinda lit up putting the plates back.

Skip squats a day or two? Lower the squat weight? Both? Weight belt?

I watched ~20 videos on squat form so I think I’m sorted there.

About me: 1st time gym go’er. Long time cyclist. Desk work. Very thin build & skinny arms.

Hi @george_f - here’s one more squat video:

Best thing to do is to take time off like 2-3 days until your back does not hurt and come back to the plan in 3-4 days. Its better to be safe than sorry with back pain.


Ok will do.

Thanks, @FRANK

Skip[ squats for a week or two. See a chiropractor and I recommend never, ever using a Smith Machine!


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Once your back feels better have someone video record your squat. Watch your low back very closely. See if your low back starts to round at the bottom of the squat (bad). If this happens you should work on flexibility or don’t squat as deep. Good luck with recovery.

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@tgoods , I think my lower back rounding out (excessive lumbar flexion, or butt wink) at the bottom of the squat is what caused terrible lumbar pain for me. It took me a while to realize that doing squats is not like riding a bike where you can just jump in and start squatting. I had to take it seriously or I would risk injury/pain during the strength building phase each year… There are some anatomical barriers such as a shallow hip sockets, but ‘controlling your controllables’ such as warming up (the 30 minute spin), stretching (e.g. frog stretch), modifying my technique (e.g. a wider stance), and not going past parallel (or as Coach Frank puts it “ass to grass”) have helped me tremendously… oh, and how could I forget: Foundations… no back pain ever! I know that routine by heart now!!

Good luck, @george_f .


I did my first week of the 12 Minute Foundations… I hate it… in a good way. It really pinpoints a lot of weak/tight muscle groups. I’ve struggled with low back pain on hard rides. Hoping Foundations helps resolve that.


What do you guys think about Goblet or Bulgarian squats with dumbbells to replace the squats, until I can get back to full strength? I am enjoying going to the gym and want to maximize where I can.

I’ve added in cat camels and some other stretching before warming up on the bike, then I jump over to leg press and leg curls.

Definitely will be putting all these suggestions to work once I can get back under the squat bar w/o pain. Thanks, everyone!

I did dumbbell squats last year because I couldn’t do back squats with a barbell. My experience was that it was pretty good for the first time through the plan, and not having a weight lifting history. However the limiting factor for me was grip strength, and I only got to a max of 180#. But that was still a massive step forward and I could see the growth in the thighs. This year I’ve been doing hip belt squats to avoid the grip strength limiters. This technique took the entire upper body out of the loop, and has really shown the difference, allowing me to max out at 2 reps at 350#s, so twice what I could achieve a year ago. I can’t say how either of these options might affect your lower back pain however.

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I have anatomical barriers with the hip socket as traxxtar says. I tried doing traditional back squats for years, worked with several strength coaches. None of them could fix the lower back pain. But the last two coaches noticed the hip problems and said I should try Bulgarian split squats instead.

So this year I’ve been doing Bulgarian split squats instead of traditional back squats. They don’t hurt my back. They are a unilateral exercise rather than bilateral which has advantages and disadvantages. But I’ve read many articles that say this type of single leg squat can make you just as strong as traditional back squats.