T Nation

Evaluate Program & Squatting Situation


Hi, I'm a beginner and I wanted to start the following program:

Squat 3x5
Bench 3x5
Press 3x5
Extra workout (i.e curls, plate shrugs, etc) nxm

The next time I do the workout I increase the reps by one. So, they all go up to 3x6. On my last rep I'll often go to failure. Each workout I add a rep (i.e. 3x7, 3x8, etc) and then when I hit 3x10 the next workout I add 5 lb and go back to 3x5. I plan to keep doing this cycle until I plateau on this program.

Just a quick point, I'm in the process of creating a home gym, but all I have is a 300 lb Olympic Barbell set, a bench and a barbell stand, which isn't connected to the bench so it allows me to do squats.

Here's the worst part of it all. I can't squat for shit. I simply lack the flexibility in the hips. I read the article Third World Squats (http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1856085) and I can barely even squat like the guy in the business suit.

Assuming my program is okay, which I'm curious if you guys think it's fine. I'm wondering if I should even start it given that I have such horrible hip mobility. Should I spend my time just focusing on improving my hip flexibility first and then when it's decent start my program or should I start regardless?

Also, given my lack of flexibility will I ever be able to do a third world squat? If so, how long will it take tell I get to that level of flexibility.


Do goblet squats. Just 10lb should be more than sufficient for most. The counterbalance will help you get into the squat position, as many people can't squat initially because of both flexibility and balance issues.

Go as deep as you can and hold it to stretch the muscles out. Also do reps.

Or you can just practice squat/stretching as that article suggests. I personally found goblet squats to be far more helpful though.

Once you can goblet squat confidently, you can probably start barbell squats. Don't try to go all that deep and heavy. Focus more on getting the balance right.

Do hip flexor and groin stretches.


I agree with the goblet squat recommendation. It teaches you motor patterns that carry over very well to back squatting. While at the bottom of the goblet squat, just shift your weight around and let everything loosen up. You can do the same thing at the bottom of a light (45 or 95) lb barbell squat too. This is very functional-specific stretching.


Okay, I'll do goblet squats. Thanks! HoweverThanks!, all I have is plates...no kettle or dumbbells.

What about my program? I figure anything works in the beginning. I mostly want something with lots of volume over time so I can practice the form more.


The program is a pretty classic way of doing things. If you still want more volume and your ego isn't stopping you, another approach is: 3x3 to 3x10, then 4x3 to 4x10, then 5x3 to 5x8 ... and THEN add weight. You'll probably be able to add 10-15, maybe even 20lbs when you then add weight. Just another approach.

And you can do goblet squats with any weight, as long as you can hold it in front of you.


I'm presuming this is done every other day or 3 days a week?

I'd really like to see something for the back. A row, deadlift (watch the volume), hang clean/power clean, or figure out a way to do chins (leave the barbell on the rack if it's stable or pick up a $20 doorway bar).

I'd start with a 25-pound plate, or even a 10. A 45 would be too awkward to hold in front, but progressing to two plates at a time should be doable.

Of course you'll be able to get into position eventually. How long depends on exactly how bad your issue is, how often you work on it (with mobility stuff, high frequency practice is awesome), and also exactly what's causing the issue in the first place. If it's hip tightness, that'll be relatively-faster to address compared it if there's a pre-existing knee injury or something more significant.


Wow, I completely missed that. x2 on back work.


Yes, it's three times a week. I was planning to eventually add deadlifts and do them once a week. However, like you mentioned about watching the volume, I don't know how I should handle the progress on deadlifts in this program. Should I be doing the same thing with deadlifts? Adding one rep per workout? Should I be doing deadlifts 3x5 and then 3x6, 3x7...to 3x10? It seems wrong, because I've seen programs where all they have is 1x5 on deadlifts. Like I said, I'm confused about how to work it in so if anyone has advice in that area so that it progresses similar to my other lifts I'd appreciate the advice.

I'm effective going to replace my current squatting with goblet squats. My guess is I should tone down my calories, because with goblet squats it doesn't seem I'll be having an intense enough workout to justify the calories.


Replace the squat with the deadlift.

Alternate between press and bench.

Alternate between row and pull/chin-up if possible. Otherwise just row.

But I suppose that effectively becomes SS.


Replace "should" with "do you think that doing X will help me get my goals of Y". There's also no "right" or "wrong". Both of those are pretty important changes in the way you think about training.

Without getting into that any further though. One of the simplest ways I've seen to program deadlifts is to do them once a week. Do one set with a weight that you're able to do 5-10 reps. If you get 5-7 reps, add 5 lbs for next week. If you get 8-10 reps, add 10 lbs for next week. If you get less than 5, keep the same weight.

It's simple enough it keeps you thinking too much about it.

However, that's also assuming you have relatively safe deadlift form... which, in my mind, just means little to no lower back rounding. Most other form tweaks will help you lift more weight when you start stalling, but that one's related directly to safety.

Warm up though with lighter deadlifts; I wouldn't jump directly into the work sets. Same for your other lifts. I'd get at least 5 sets of warm ups at lighter weights before hitting your work sets.

To justify your calories for what? What are you training and eating for?


My one year goal is to add 1 lb of muscle per month over the next twelve months. I'm about to turn 34 years around, but I'm assuming my age isn't too big of issue. I figure most of my gains will come from doing squats and adding muscle to my legs. So, I figure if I'm doing something like goblet squats I'm not really taxing myself like I would if I was doing back squats. Hence, the reason I think I might have to dial back the calories until I start lifting more heavy weight.

Okay, I will take your deadlift advice. Thanks! However, I'm going to start off with just 45 lbs plates. I'm guessing I can jump right into 1x5 reps and no need to do warmup sets. However, I guess as I add more weight I'll obviously do more warmup sets.

Here's a reworked exercise. Please tell me if you think it's any good:

Workout A:
T-Bar Rows

Workout B:
Deadlift (1x5)
Farmerâ??s Walk

Workout C:
Inc. Bench
Dips/Pullups (rotate)
Upright Rows (Plate)

My plan is to keep rotating between bench/press. So, in the above week I'm doing benching twice. However, the following week I'd press twice and bench once.


I did goblet squats today with a 10 lb plate and my form was terrible. I keep bending forward too much to make myself go down more and my back goes too flat past a 45 degree angle. It's pretty bad. I plan to do goblet squats everyday to fix my issues.


Doing goblet squats is starting to pay off. I was able to bring my hips below parallel today. I'm starting to feel hope that I'll be able to do a proper barbell squat some day.


How about just going to the gym for the time being and using the leg press machine while sorting out your mobility issues?

Honestly, if you are not built to squat, you are unlikely to get the desired leg hypertrophy results as opposed to someone who is, unless you tweak the range of motion or do a more suitable variation for your leverages.


I hate going to public gyms. I'm in the process of building a gym at my home.

Anyway, I'm starting to notice some improvements in my squat so I think there's hope. I think I'm going to stick with the goblet squats and stretching regiment I have for about a month or so. After that I'll see if I can move on to barbell squats. Can anyone learn to squat if they put in the effort? Or are some people just not capable of that sort of hip flexibility?


Haha ok understood.

Yes, anyone can squat. How beneficial it would be for their individual goals will vary.

I suggest you post a video of yourself squatting with a loaded bar so we can see if there really is a severe mobility issue or simply an issue of adjusting your squatting style to suit your leverages.


FWIW i can't do a "third world squat" either and i can squat with no problems, though i utterly sucked at olympic lifts even with some coaching.