T Nation

Learning to Squat and Embarrassed


Hello everyone,
I recently joined a gym where we actually have access to barbell weights. For the past year (on and off) I would lift at my company gym, but it was limited to dumbbells and machines. Switching to barbell exercises has https://showbox.bio/ been a transition, but aside from losing some weight on things like benchpress I feel comfortable now.

Anyway I decided to start squatting yesterday. I have been doing leg press (although I am the WORST about skipping leg days), https://tutuapp.uno/ and can do about 270x5 even after a warm up run (2 or 3 miles, relaxed pace @ 10:00ish). I weigh 200 pounds and yesterday I tried squatting. Now I started with the bar, to try to get my form down. I was stuggling big time with keeping my knees from going too far forward. After a bit I felt much better about my form, so I upped the weight to 105.When I attempted this it was clear I couldnt get a full rep with good form, so I abandoned. I played with my form with and without the bar (after removing the weight) and I struggled big time. It felt like I wasnt strong enough to do it right, but that surprised me given the fact I could leg press OK, and I run about 12 miles a week and walk another 5.

I am wondering if there is a “trick” or something I can concentrate on to make sure I can get good form, or is my best bet to keep doing the bar/body weight until my form improves?


Watch a lot of good instructional videos on YouTube. Try them and post videos here to get feedback. Don’t be embarrassed. Getting good at it doesn’t happen overnight. Not even a few weeks or months. It can take years. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying


I couldnt even squat the bar when I first started. Its takes time but you really need to insure proper form in the beginning or it will lead to all sorts of issues. Having a partner watch your form is good and they help you make corrections while the bar is on your back.

Its a natural form that you once had, you just have to re-learn it.


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Some people do better learning to squat by doing goblet squats.

Many of the popular beginner programs have people starting with the bar only, and gradually adding weight. Squat 3X5 three times a week and add 5 lbs a session, and you will gain proficiency very quickly. I did it until I was squatting 300-315 for reps, then switched programs, because I was resetting every 3 weeks.

Don’t worry to much about forward knee travel at this point. A good reference to learn a basic squat pattern is starting strength. Beware that many of the followers of it are a bit dogmatic, and insist that is the only way to squat. I think it is probably the best starting point, and you can find what is best for you after you learn a basic motion.

Leg press has very little correlation with actual squats. They can be a useful tool to bring up leg strength without taxing the back, but for most they just build the ego.


1 cool trick is to do a few sets of hamstring curls or 45 degree back raises to warm up your hamstrings before you squat.

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270x5 is pretty good for being new to squatting

I could barely hit 275-285 for 1 when I started lifting more seriously, and I was working at a gym. Look into the 5/3/1 stuff about finding your training max and workf off that, then use warm up as technique time. It took a while, but I squat 440 now


100% this.

Or squat with a bench set up behind you, so that at the bottom of the squat, you touch it. That seems to help people sit back.


he did that on leg press. He struggled to squat 100 lbs with a barbell.

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I’ll also sign off on the goblet squat. This is the movement I ALWAYS start with when teaching a new trainee how to squat properly. It’s a great way to ingrain proper form and posture. I’d do anywhere from 5 sets to 10 sets of 8-10 reps to start, with a relatively light weight. This is a ton of volume, but will not be overly taxing. The best way to learn to squat is simply by doing it a lot. It takes time. I couldn’t properly squat an empty bar when I started, and now I can squat 550 lbs. It takes work, but you can get there.

One other thing I like to suggest: when you’re at home watching tv, or you’re not particularly busy, just sit down in a full squat, as low as you can go, and stay there. Maybe start with 30 seconds at a time, if it’s very difficult, and work up to minutes at a time. As long as 10+ minutes if you can do it. Make sure you keep your upper back neutral, don’t hunch over when you do this. You’ll likely feel a strain in your lower legs and hamstrings. This is ok.


Oh I’ll sign of on everything everyone else said then.

I’ve done a similar approach with my wife. I had her do this with barbell squats to work her way up from 3x10 to 10x10, and then add weight overtime.

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When I first started back squatting I could BARELY do 95x5. It was horrible. But you keep learning and keep improving!

If I had to train myself from the beginning again, I would have personally started with Goblet Squats and get to doing 100lbs @ 5x10 --> Then transition to and get to a point where Front Squat 225 @ 5x5 --> and now start back squatting.


Squatting facing a wall with your toes 6 inches from the wall will teach you to sit back into the squat a bit, just don’t extend your back - neutral spine.

The second tip I have is, ASK SOMEBODY. I’ve been squatting on and off during my 10 years of lifting. The other day, a guy was repping 500, ass to grass, and was working with a girl who was squatting 315, also ATG. I walked up to them, complimented them, and mentioned I was having some hip tightness and asked them to take a look at my squat. Sure enough, I was still extending my back a bit at the bottom due to my PPT, despite thinking for a long while that I had fixed the problem. 20 minutes and a ton of light reps later, I had fixed THAT problem. If you’re embarrassed, remember that the TRULY strong people at the gym don’t care how much or little you lift, and have nothing to prove to anyone. They’re usually the nicest people there, and they have good information. Swallow your pride and ask them.


Goblet squat here again. I’ve seen folks turn an ugly ass squat-morning into beautiful squat form over 6 weeks doing just goblet squats and some stretching afterwards.

Potato sack squat is also a good one if you don’t have the upper back/arm strength for goblets.


Agree with others who said it just takes time. I used to lose my balance and fall forward all the time when squatting, never really took them seriously until my 3rd year of lifting.

It took me about 4 months of squatting twice a week before my balance finally started to kind of get better.

Also try out different techniques, most videos I saw said shoulder width or wider with toes out to squat. I actually do better with a narrow stance and toes straight forward.