First of all, don't get the wrong idea – squats are a great exercise! … These people with back problems should use machines like the leg press … a whole body exercise working the small stabilizing muscles as well as all the large leg muscles. The back squat is one of the finest muscle-builders out there, taking centre stage in the training plans. The benefits are endless. The squat is one of the primary compound lifts. It places significant strain on the quads, hamstrings and glutes.