T Nation

Girlfriend Can't Squat


After months of running my gf decided she was ready to start hitting the weights. BuckeyeGirl was nice enough to send me a routine she used when first starting, and with a few slight modifications I hit the gym with my gf to show her how to do some basic exercises.

We hit a roadblock though, because she's too weak to squat. After demonstrating form for her several times, and taking her through the first steps, she could not do an empty 35 lbs. barbell. The problem is she can't go to depth. She could get to maybe half-depth if she initiated the movement with her knees, and used only her knees to bend, but obviously we don't want that. With good form she could only drop her ass maybe 3". So we tried it with just bodyweight...same thing. She gets past 3" and she just falls backwards. I tried box-squats...just as disastrous.

What should I do to help her build up her posterior chain?? We had to settle for her using a leg-curl machine, but is that really adequate? I could use some help here, I'm not sure what to tell her really. Any input from the gals who may have been in this situation previously would be appreciated. Thanks!


Have her watch this:


She is MORE than able to squat an empty bar, it's just technique.

Run her through the Goblet then the Potato Squat, and she will be flying.


Try putting a Busu Ball up against a wall between her back and the wall. Have her do body weight squats like that.


Do you mean a stability ball? I can't see a bosu ball sliding against the wall very well with her leaning up against it.

I had a similar issue with a girl I'm training and putting a stability ball up against the wall and squatting with that is a nice place to start. It also allows them to hit adequate depth which is such a challenge in the beginning. A few sessions/weeks of that should ease her into free body weight squats.


Goblet Squts or bodyweight squats, either way it should give her a good base to start squatting with the bar. Also make sure that she works on her back as well so that when she does start squatting her back is strong enough to handle the bar on it, either way you are starting an awesome conquest good luck!


thanks for the ideas! I forgot about goblet squats....I'm going to have her use a ball on a wall next time.


If you can run, you're strong enough to squat. If she's having that much trouble, you need to make the exercise easier.. elevate her heels, give her something to hold on to like holding onto a squat rack so she doesn't fall backwards and just have her practice with bodyweight. As she gets comfortable with those, slowly take away the assistance tools.


I guarantee he does this and his girlfriend will complain of knee pain. Very bad idea.

Squatting to a bench or something lower like a stack of aerobics steps will work. With a somewhat wide stance, make sure she initiates with her hips and doesn't let the knees come forward at all. Give her a med ball to keep her balance. Have her try to keep tension until she's sitting, then have her stand up without shifting her knees forward.

You can worry about free squats once she develops some posterior chain strength. Throw in pull-throughs, swiss ball leg curls, reverse hypers...you know, stuff that doesn't load the spine.


Definitely agree with the goblet squat recommendations. They will improve her form significantly in the regular back squat.

How is her flexibility?


Weak hamstrings are the case. I would build her balance, strength and coordination before attempting something such as squats, IMO. A couple good exercises are a single leg dead lift (little advanced for her maybe), Bulgarian slip squats (body weight), and lunges into a bosu will build all those things up. Deep leg presses with feet set high will help with her range of motion in getting low in squats and not falling over. Good for butt growth!

Have fun!


goblet, plies, front squats with dumbbells lying on top of her shoulders, and lunges (lots of lunges) helped my wife (g/f back when she started) to squat with an empty barbell and eventually up to a 25lbs plate on each side.

Another thing I did at the start was to get a long dowel with 5lbs ankle weights on each side - I called that her "ghetto" bar. I increased that to 7lbs on each side, then 10lbs. In about 6 weeks she was able to squat ass to the ground with a real bar for reps.

As others have said, it's a matter of technique. Poor technique will make a feather feel like a ton on her back - this is specially true if she is the petite type. A 45lbs bar is a hell of a lot for a novice petite lifter under 120lbs.

Another thing we did was to get her to do deadlifts before learning how to squat. She got to the point before her pregnancy to dead lift her own weight (using 25lbs plates to get the bar even lower). That's another thing that you might want to try with her.

Anyways, good technique and trial and error will do the trick for her. The good thing is that she's committed, and that's the most important part of the battle.


You're a bad coach. Have her squat with no weight at all. Tell her to squat down like she is gana pee in the woods. Then tell her to get off her toes and bring her knees back closer in line with her toes. Once she gets a feel for the bottom position, she should be alright. Have her do 20 bodysquats with no weight and make sure she goes BELOW PARALLEL every time.


How is Squatting with a ball behind her different than what Dan John was teaching in the video, where he supported that guy by standing behind him? Not trying to argue Its just not something I'm familiar with yet, and would like to know more about....





i was thinking the exact same thing. Squats are one of the hardest exercises to learn especially for those without an athletic background. SLDL, leg press, Bulg split squats and tons of lunges will do her well.

and if she needs help balancing, let her hold onto your hands or something


I'm sorry but WHAT ?

My 5 year old cousin can sit in squat position NO problem ..........

Your meant to NATURALLY be able to "squat" it's not fricken rocket science.

Stop making it into something it isn't, it's one of the most basic exercises you can do.

Watch the Dan John fitcast i posted, see how simple it is.


okay lets put a bar on his back and see how he does then. Kids are far more flexible at a early age. We are talking about his girl friend that cannot get down to even parallel without falling over, not some 5 year old cousin you have.

EDIT: OH and have a look at the range of motion your 5 year old cousin has to travel in order to squat. I rest my case.


Oh I get it.... you're an idiot



What do you mean you rest your case, if this somehow negates the fact for his g/g squatting in your head, then common sense must be on vacation.

And as i said watch the fricken Dan John link i posted on how to fix "flexibility" to squat. Seriously, he makes it as easy as possible, no weird flexibility programs or anything.

Molehill ----->>> Mountain as only T-Nation can do


Most people once they watch that video adopt it, as it's the simplest way.

And if the person is not a mate / g-friend then them sliding down you may be awkward client wise should be one of those idiotic Personal Trainers.


Its a well known fact that bachelor party hating feminists can't squat......ever.