T Nation

CT and Others: Squats In The Beginning...


If you were faced with a young, HEALTHY absolute beginner (which I currently am!). They have NO training experience, but are otherwise totally healthy.

Their strength is poor; they have “chicken” legs…and as you are evaluting them, they can’t even perform a MINIMAL squat without their trunk moving forward and their heels rising…

1)Where are beginners USUALLY weak in these scenarios?

2)What would be your step-by-step process for working them up to full, “butt-to-grass” squats?



I am not CT(obviously) but from seeing friends who have never done free-weight squats before they generally have stabalization issues. These issues seem to be related to weaknesses in there core.(lower back, abs, hip flexors)

Focusing on there core definitly helped them improve there squatting.

It may not be an issue of weakness, it may be an issue of flexibility. Have them stretch their glutes, hammies, and CALVES. Then teach them to overhead sqaut. After that, back squats become second nature. After all, if you’re starting from scratch, you may as well do it right the first time around.

Here’s what I would do:

4-6 weeks Peterson step ups. Hyperextensions and seated good mornings to strength the spinal erectors. Work on hip, hamstring and calf flexibility. Low to moderate intensity, higher volume and higher reps.

4-6 of Squats with heels elevated,standing good mornings moderate intensity, 6-8 reps for moderate to high volume. Continue to work on flexiblity in lower body.

By now, their squat form should be up to par. If not, I would use box squats with thin mats covering the box. Have them squat down till their glutes hit the box and then have them flex off the box. Remove one of the mats and have them repeat until either their form breaks down or voila they’re full squating.

BTW, you may want to do the squating and hamstring work on separate days.

start with a wide stance and work your way to a narrow stance. laters pk

Just a “BUMP” for CT!

(Thanks for the input, guys!)


Check out Gray Cook’s progression for the deep squat. It can be found in his latest book which EFS carries.

It could be the low weight that is bringing your trunk forward and your heels off the ground. If you up the weight and do lower reps - it should keep you pinned a bit more effectively and balance will no longer be such an issue.

5 ways to go deeper by Ian King. Excellent


Is “5 ways to Go Deeper” a book or an article? Where can it be found?


What is the name of Gray Cook’s book?

(Note: I’ve done a few searches to no avail…also, on the EFS site, it’s not clear which book in Gray Cook’s).

Thanks guys!


[quote]Mufasa wrote:

Is “5 ways to Go Deeper” a book or an article? Where can it be found?


Here ya go



Thanks, Il!

Anyone know the name of Gray Cook’s book?


mufasa, good question, hope i can add something to the ton of good advice you have already received.

i am not or never been a personal traininer, though i have helped out many friends and acquaintances with exercise programs. i am a meat and potatoes guy. all my programs center around 5-6 movements, squats, deadlifts, pulls, rows, benches, chins, overhead pressing.

when working something out for a total novice, i often started them right with the “meat and potatoes” just at lighter loads, like free squating a broomstick for example. but you would not believe how many people out there that cannot even squat there own bodyweight with correct form.

as a result, i often hurt a lot of people, usually there low back.

recently, i have taken a diffferent approach.

my most recent experiment was with my ladyfriend mirtha. she is a 33 year old mother of two, who has been an athlete all her life, soccar, basket ball, gymnastics, volly ball ect.

but never any weight training.

for six full weeks 3-4 times a week i had here doing core (abd-low back) and hamstring work before i let her get under a barbell. i had here doing 3- 4 abd movements like leg raises,standing cable abds, side bends, stability ball cable crunches, ect. and 45 degree back raises, reverse hypers, ball leg curls, ski squats, band leg curls, one leg stiff leg deadlifts with dumbells, ect. and a load of forward sled dragging.

i gradually worked in barbell romanian dl’s, front squats and overhead squats with medicine balls, then an empty ez-curl bar(25lbs), then an olympic(45lb) bar. to make a long story short, the FIRST time i had this 145 lb 33 year old mom under a squat bar, she nailed 200lbs for reps ass to ground RAW. not because whe was a freak, but because she was in condition.