T Nation

Beginners need to Squat !!

Mufasa got me thinking after reading and replying to the “seven chest excersize” post. There are entirely too many beginner weightlifters that do not understand the importance of Squatting and Deadlifting. (along with other multi-muscle basic lifts.) When I first started out, i didn’t have anyone tell me that i needed to squat, therefore i didn’t do them for quite awhile, well, like a lot of other beginners, they just look at squatting as very hard, and they rather have a big bench and have big arms. if any of you were in a senario to where a teenager or young adult was wanting to start bodybuilding and asked for your help, how would you inspire them to want to squat/deadlift ???.. kind of teach the good habits of training right at the start and it should carry them throughout their training days… I know there’s probably a lot of beginners who read this forum who could use the advice you all have…

`I am not genetically built for squats (if you must use a wt. plate under your heels) so I only tried them for one month. I only squatted 135 lb. and felt like I was on a tossing boat, very unbalanced. Also, since I simply was born with more leg mass, I don’t “need” to do either exercise for growth. I probably would be the one who wouldn’t tell anyone that they “have” to. I do understand the hormonal release by these 2 compound leg moves benefits the muscles of the entire body–so if you can, do those. The all upper, and no lower build (beach build) does need to be balanced as you say. I would tell them doing leg work provides for the base of upper body developement and power. Legs do the lifting in everyday life generally–so why skimp on those?

You are not “genetically built for squats”? What, your knees don’t bend? Sorry, but if you are at all interested in building strength and/or improving your appearance, squats and deadlifts are a must. I’m not “built for running”, but I do it anyway, because it’s a necessary component of my training program. To simply quit squatting because something isn’t working or is too hard is not acceptable to me (or most of the other posters here, I’d wager). Quite simply, squats and deads are the most important lifts for almost any serious athlete, and should be treated as such. They both have direct and positive effects on upper body development, and should not be excluded.

I just read QUESTS reply to this, and that is the worst excuse I have ever haerd for not dong squats. My training partner is 6’3" long legs and he can do perfect squats. If you dont have any serious knee or back problems I dont see any reason for not being able to do them

Squats and deadlifts are as much a staple as a steak for the serious weight trainee. If ya got really, really serious back issues, I’d say “find something else” - but you can’t get around having to do the Big S and the Big D.

This past summer, I had to train a ex-coworker (female) in the gym. You know, showed her the "what's this" and the "how to do that" in the gym. Showed her squats and deadlifts. She was very happy - cuz I also showed that she doesn't need to spend "umpteen" hours in the gym for results. VERY happy.

Yes, newbies should be shown the basics. And the usual advice applies: start with the bar, if necessary, to get the form and technique down. Check out T-Mag for the photos that display the correct form in performing a barbell squat and deadlift. Use the mirror to watch your form. And always remember, form and function are important and strength will follow.

How can you be not genetically built for squats? Please clarify. By what you said it sounds like poor form and to much weight, in other words your stabilizers were not in sync with your well developed legs.

I don’t do back squats either. Front squats or T-bar deads with wrist straps to focus on legs. Deads or fine. I am well versed on proper squatting, but I can’t. I have this one vertabrae (sp?) which, for one reason another, sticks out more than another. It’s not in all in my head either. Other people have seen it and commented when I take make shirt off and allow my shoulders to roll foward. Yet, it does not appear when they follow the same movement No matter hard I keep my should blades pinched, my shoulders shrugged up into the bar, I get sharp pain. In fact, immediately after a set of squats the only truly noticeable bar mark is about the size of quarter directrly over that bone. I get a pinched tight feeling up to my neck for days after. Sometimes the flesh there swells quite a bit for days. I imagine because of the protrusion the muscle tissue and nerves are just being crush against this bone. Wait let me amend something. I can do very low bar squats. But, the reason why I even do any squats is to act as a quad dominant. Yet, low bar shift to much to my hips. So I tend to use Front squats as a quad dom. exercise and regular deads to for him dominant. Quest I would open your stance open more and allow the bar to come lower if you’re going to back squat. Maybe over time you can bringer your stance in more and more until you can keep your heels on the ground. Or, try using smaller and smaller plates or whatnot under heels until you are weened off of them.

quest why not lower the weight? like to 95, then all the doods who curl in the squat rack will go like: “wow that dood is gonna curl all that? he da man!” then when they turn your head squat… you’ll be their hero! 135 I could do that the first day (of squatting) 2wice before knowing that I was risking seriously hurt myself if I continued so I dropped it the weight and continued.

Damn, and I was doing the “beach muscle workout”. I guess I’ll start with the squats and deadlifts.

Here’s a question though: last time I did either of these, I was in highschool. Back then we did sets of 10 reps, 5 reps, 3 reps, 5 reps, 8 reps. Then moved on to leg extensions and leg curls. Deadlift was on a different day, the the rep counts were the same.

One to the questions:

  1. to get into squatting and dead-lifting for the first time (or the first time in a long time), what should I do ? For first couple of weeks, go light, perfect my form, and then start adding weight ?? Like: a warmup (10-15 reps), then three good sets of 6 to 8 … ?

  2. I’ll do a search in a minute, but what’s a good “beginner” approach to these big monster lifts…? Should I just jump in with both feet (er… legs…?) ??

  3. Lastly, is there any gain in my learning to do power cleans … ? I was never good at these in the first place back then, and always felt kind of weird doing them (unstable, etc.)



take em to a college football weight room for 15 minutes. Make sure you ask the strength coach if you can peek through the window or sit in the corner or something. Watch as big, fast maniacs guys do 500+ pound squats. Take them home and if they don’t run to the power rack then don’t worry about them, it’s too late.

seriously most kids in 7th-8th grade and up can’t squat even close to right the first time they try. I recommend 3 or 4 weeks of box squats, and trap bar deadlifts then they won’t be so shaky as to look like death under a 30 lb bar.

If you have not already, go through Ian King’s limping series. In 12 weeks, you’ll learn to squat, deadlift and do a whole host of other lifts. You can find the links in the FAQ.

: I’m so glad I learned to do Power Cleans. The one reason to keep in mind on why you should learn these big bad exercises is that they create options for you in the gym. This summer, when I’m all done with competiting, my routine is gonna look something like this: Saturday: Power Cleans Sunday: Back Squats, Deadlifts. Mondays: Shoulder Presses (everyday, abs). So, nice and simple. Cleans, Deads, and Squats are compound

They're important building tools to help you get BIG and STRONG

I was lucky, I watched my boyfriend perform cleans and he watched my form. That' s the best thing to do: find someone who knows how to properly perform cleans, deads, squats and watch them and have them, in turn, watch your form.

I guarantee, you'll be happy you learned how to do 'em. Wow, typing out all them html tags, is tiring!

I was referring to the free-standing barbell squat. There’s myriads of other types of squats that I can do. Where I can go deep enough to feel the deep stretch. There is usually more than just one exercise or way to reach the same fitness and muscle building goals. I always believed legs are important–they are on-half of the body.

Jason -> Thanks for the info. I think that I’ll get out of the “beach muscles workout” and add leg training by starting with the “limping” articles.

Then, I’ll get into a workout that includes more (volume) of the bigger movements (plus learn how to and then include power cleans). Those articles have an awful lot of pre-exhaustion!!


You know, there is a trick to the HTML tags if you either a) don’t know them all (and I sure don’t), or b) just don’t like to do it manually:

If you have frontpage or some like HTML editor, write the message WYSIWYG. Then go to the code preview window, and you can cut-and-paste the code for the sections of test you want to keep into the posting window for the forum. (you don’t need all the header info, in the cut-and-paste, just the relevent text).

I don’t usually do that, unless I forget the HTML. I did some PHP programming a while back, and happen to remember some of it, so I gave it a shot, and low and behold it worked!


Of course, the other added bonus is that you can spell check the whole mess that way… Something I probably really need to do…


I really like all this fancy writing, I forget the name of the guy who started it, but he is cool. Quest, I understand. I don’t bench press 'cause I’m really big in the chest. I tried to bench press over 30 pounds for a couple of weeks, but it kind of hurt so I figured “hey I’m pretty big and strong in the chest anyway”… 135?!

I remember my first few sets of squats. It was so comical to watch my legs wobbling side-to-side. My shoulders and the bar were steady, but those legs were teetering back and forth. But I stuck with it, and in very short order, my form became stabile as the muscles learned to stabilize themselves under new loads. I assume other beginners may run into this phase. You just have to work through it.