The True Value of Squats and Deadlifts: Balancing Strength and Safety
In the world of strength training, squats and deadlifts reign supreme as the kings of building foundational strength. However, the question often arises: are the benefits of these exercises worth the risk of injury? This debate was recently highlighted in a discussion between Dr. Peter Attia and Dr. Stuart McGill, where they explored the necessity and frequency of these exercises, especially as lifters grow stronger and older.
Dr. Peter Attia And Dr. McGill on the Benefits of Deadlifting vs Risks
Dr. Attia, a proponent of deadlifting, shared his personal experience of becoming more in tune with his body through years of training, recognizing when to push harder and when to ease off. On the other hand, Dr. McGill emphasized the importance of reevaluating one's goals as they age, suggesting that the pursuit of personal bests in deadlifts might not align with the long-term goal of maintaining health and functionality into older age.
The conversation delved into the physical toll of pursuing personal bests, with Dr. McGill pointing out the risk of microfractures and other injuries from frequent heavy lifting. He used the example of Ed Coan, a professional powerlifter, to illustrate the need for significant rest periods after intense competitions to allow the body to recover fully. But his example is irrelevant because, well you are probably not a competitive powerlifter deadlifting 1000lbs.
This discussion raises an important point: the approach to squats and deadlifts should evolve as one ages. The goal for older adults, especially those between 40 and 60 years old, isn't necessarily to lift the heaviest weights possible but to maintain strength and health to enjoy a high quality of life.
It's crucial to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. Beginners should focus on building strength by training hard and heavy, appropriate to their capabilities. More experienced lifters may need to modify their routines, they will still lift heavy but with less frequency. But before you reduce the frequency you need to understand if you are a novice or not in the weight room.
Moreover, incorporating movement into daily life, such as walking 10,000 steps a day, complements heavy lifting by promoting joint health and overall well-being. It's a reminder that strength training is just one component of a healthy, active lifestyle.
Embracing Strength Training for Longevity and Quality of Life
In conclusion, squats and deadlifts are not inherently dangerous and can be incredibly beneficial for building strength and improving longevity. The key is to approach these exercises with a mindset of gradual progression, listening to your body, and adjusting your training as needed. By doing so, you can reap the benefits of these powerful exercises while minimizing the risk of injury, ensuring that you can stay strong and active for years to come.