T Nation

Newbie & I Don't Know Squat

Hello all. I’ve been lurking and reading for quite a while now and decided to join up. Here’s my short story and question.

Last year a friend got me back into working out which I haven’t done since college 12 years ago. After a year’s worth of work I’ve managed to bring up my bench to 215 and my dl to 335 (@ 165-170BW) but my squat is seriously lagging at 245.

Most of that year was spent at my employer’s gym which only has machines, so I’ve basically been doing squats and deadlifts for the past month since I joined a gym (i.e. fitness center).

I try to go to parallel on every rep, and I usually do both w/ similar volume on leg/back day (squats first). In October I had a 1 week pass to Gold’s and I did 275x2, but I now think I didn’t go anywhere near parallel.

I thought maybe my hams and glutes were weak so I started good mornings and glute-ham raises about a week ago.

Without ever having seen me work out, what do you think my problem is? Should I lay off squats and focus on the DL? Does one exercise carry over to the other better?

Not totally sure what you’re asking, but here are the 3 main ingredients to a strong squat:

Strong legs
Strong lower back
Strong abs

Having some meat on your bones helps too and so does having a strong upper back to support the bar. It sounds like you are lagging in that department.

Honestly I feel like you probably just need more overall strength. I think you kind of have “skinny guy” syndrome in that you can pull an okay weight relative to your scheme of things, but you can’t squat for shit. Just keep working on building the strength in your legs and hips and getting stronger all over so you can support the bar better.

Maybe ask some more specific questions?

[quote]jtrinsey wrote:
Not totally sure what you’re asking, but here are the 3 main ingredients to a strong squat:

Strong legs
Strong lower back
Strong abs

Having some meat on your bones helps too and so does having a strong upper back to support the bar. It sounds like you are lagging in that department.

Honestly I feel like you probably just need more overall strength. I think you kind of have “skinny guy” syndrome in that you can pull an okay weight relative to your scheme of things, but you can’t squat for s***. Just keep working on building the strength in your legs and hips and getting stronger all over so you can support the bar better.

Maybe ask some more specific questions?[/quote]

Well, I guess my main question was: shouldn’t my squat be closer to my DL than my bench, like 290 or something? I don’t consider myself ‘strong’ by any means, although I am much stronger than I used to be. (E.g. my bench last year was < 200 on a machine which was probably more like 100 lbs true resistance.)

It sounds like you’re saying I don’t have a ‘weak point’ per se but am a weak point overall. I’ve always had well-defined calves but fairly skinny legs. It just seems to me that having improved my DL to a near 2xBW # should’ve made my squat climb as well. Then again, I don’t really know my true starting squat #.

Could you clarify ‘strong upper back’ a little? I once attempted unracking 345 just to feel the weight on me and I was able to stand there about 10 sec supporting it, though I made no attempt to even quarter-squat it. I can also do 10 pullups/chinups. Maybe you can toss out some numbers to give me some perspective.

Thanks for your help.

Um NO DL and Squat apples and oranges. Its very dependent on the person and there leverages as well My squat is always near 80-100 behind my DL. Just keep hammering the squats the DL will come up a lot from just doing that as well

Phill

[quote]Phydeaux wrote:
jtrinsey wrote:
Not totally sure what you’re asking, but here are the 3 main ingredients to a strong squat:

Strong legs
Strong lower back
Strong abs

Having some meat on your bones helps too and so does having a strong upper back to support the bar. It sounds like you are lagging in that department.

Honestly I feel like you probably just need more overall strength. I think you kind of have “skinny guy” syndrome in that you can pull an okay weight relative to your scheme of things, but you can’t squat for s***. Just keep working on building the strength in your legs and hips and getting stronger all over so you can support the bar better.

Maybe ask some more specific questions?

Well, I guess my main question was: shouldn’t my squat be closer to my DL than my bench, like 290 or something? I don’t consider myself ‘strong’ by any means, although I am much stronger than I used to be. (E.g. my bench last year was < 200 on a machine which was probably more like 100 lbs true resistance.)

It sounds like you’re saying I don’t have a ‘weak point’ per se but am a weak point overall. I’ve always had well-defined calves but fairly skinny legs. It just seems to me that having improved my DL to a near 2xBW # should’ve made my squat climb as well. Then again, I don’t really know my true starting squat #.

Could you clarify ‘strong upper back’ a little? I once attempted unracking 345 just to feel the weight on me and I was able to stand there about 10 sec supporting it, though I made no attempt to even quarter-squat it. I can also do 10 pullups/chinups. Maybe you can toss out some numbers to give me some perspective.

Thanks for your help.[/quote]

I think you are on the right path but just adding a few things…

Squat and deadlift aren’t necessarily going to be the same and sometimes increasing one won’t increase the other. Some people have bigger differences than you do…

I know when I hit 455 deadlift for the first time I don’t even think my max squat was 335. Although, improving squat tends to improve deadlift more than the other way around, which is why many people squat more frequently in their program than they deadlift.

By “strong upper back”, I just mean the ability to support a heavy weight and keep it tight all the way through the descent and the lift. So abs and lower back are there too. It sounds like you definitely just need to get stronger all over and particularly in the legs.

It’s tough to say, “if you can do X weight on this, then you should do Y weight on that” because things are so different from person-to-person. This is where a training log can come in handy… you can look back a few months ago and say, “well I got stronger in this movement and my squat went up, so I want to make sure I keep that movement in my program.”

Thanks for all the help. I was on the verge of dropping squats and just focusing on deadlifts. But then after thinking about it for a while, I had somewhat of a revelation. I go full ROM on the bench and dl, why am I worrying about hitting parallel on squats?

So I just revamped my squat motion and starting going all the way down on Friday. I feel a lot better about it; in fact I’m excited to do squats again.

Instead, I may stop deadlifting for a while. I’m close to stagnation there and I think my grip is the weak link. So I think I will focus on squats and timed holds on rack pulls. I can hold 275 for only 10 seconds before the bar completely slips out of my hands. I figure that I need to hold a bar at least 20 seconds w/ the 1st 10 of those being a solid grip (no slipping).

How often you deadlift. You could always do rack pulls on days where you don’t deadlift. Forearms are fairly quick with recovery from what I’ve seen and experienced.

[quote]Skrussian wrote:
How often you deadlift. You could always do rack pulls on days where you don’t deadlift. Forearms are fairly quick with recovery from what I’ve seen and experienced.[/quote]

I normally DL 2x/wk, same days as (and right after) squats. I think I’ll skip DL for the next two weeks and substitute single rack pulls w/ timed holds to work on grip.