Do squats make you shorter?

The best mass building exercises are squats and deadlifts. Doing these exercises regularly will not only make your legs bigger and stronger, but it will also build size and strength in your upper body. In fact, increases in the squat lift will translate into increases in the bench press. Unfortunately, the saying “everything in life is a tradeoff” is very true and these exercises are no exception. Do squats and deadlifts make you shorter?

The answer is yes. I spoke to several weightlifters at the gym where I train. Everyone has told me they lost 1 inch in height. A weight lifter had his height measured at a doctor’s office and was able to verify a 1-inch loss. I know from personal experience that I have lost an inch in height.

Squats load your spine through an axial load. This creates a compressive force on the discs, in effect, pressing down on the spine. By shortening the spine, squats shorten you. The same is true for the deadlift or any other vertical lift, such as standing calf raises or seated shoulder press. That compression force is especially bad if you have a history of lower back pain.

What do you do for a living? No man likes to lose an inch in height, especially if he is under 6 feet. The leg press is a poor substitute; creates significant shear and compression forces on the spine. This is due to the backward rotation of the pelvis during the movement. Isolation exercises like leg extensions and leg curls generate huge shear forces on the knees and are also poor exercises for building mass.

The best alternative is the single leg leg press. By placing one foot on the ground, you direct kinetic energy to the ground instead of your spine. Of course, the weight is much less; doing any single-limb exercise is much more difficult due to the greater need for stabilization.

So what do you do if you’ve already lost an inch in height? There are exercises to help you regain height and even gain an inch. These exercises will be discussed in the next article.