T Nation

Squat Getting Worse, Help

I’m Anna, 17yrs old, 5ft, 90lbs. I started lifting 3 yrs ago and now have a best squat of 185lbs, deadlift of 260lbs and bench of 125lbs.

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my squat. I ran Candito’s 6-week strength twice. The first time, I increased my squat max from 175-185, but the second time, I actually failed 175! My bench and deadlift both increased both times. Now, I’m running a GZCL program to switch things up, but my squat is still weak ( 155x5 felt like a grinder even though I did 155x8 three months ago). My legs don’t feel too challenged, but I get a weird lightheaded feeling when squatting that makes me dump the bar. What’s wrong?

Ps. I did not change sleep, stress or nutrition, but did loose around 3lbs over spring break

Please Help!!!

Could be due to weight loss, 3lbs is a lot when you weigh 90. I weigh 240, if I lost 8lbs in a week I’m sure my lifts would be down.

1 Like

Did you lift over spring break? Sometimes a week away will make you initially weaker bc of the time not practicing the movement. Keep at it and it will come back.

I don’t think it’s related to the weight loss otherwise her bench wouldn’t have increased. last summer I lost 20 pounds and didn’t lost strength, actually gained a bit in lower body.

Maybe your form is not perfect. When I did my first strength program my DL and squats increased by 50kg in like 4 months. But I was using to much back and hips, too wide a stance in the squat (my strongest points)

I think a vid should help

Unless her form suddenly got worse then it wouldn’t explain the situation here either. There isn’t enough information here to conclude much, all we know is that her squat is still not doing well and she lost a few lbs.

Perhaps the focus should be on improving your squat (and bench, and deadlift) rather than trying to figure out what went wrong. If you are fat and weak then losing weight might not affect your lifts, but for just about everyone else it will so aim to at least maintain weight if you aren’t trying to gain.

Ok so I checked the program. It is percentage based so that might be an explanation. If she used her new squat PR it might have proven too intense (week 4 is 3 reps @91%, week 5 is 1-4 reps @97%). Plenty of people like Thibaudeau and Wendler recommend to use 90% of your true max.

Make sure nutrition and recovery/sleep are good.

I’d recommend laying off programs for a few months and train a little more instinctively.

Have a heavy week and work up to a heavy 3 or 5 and the following week keep it down around 60% for reps. Rotate that cycle and see what happens. It does just come down to putting in work and being consistent. I wouldn’t worry too much. Its just part of training.

At a guess: you’ve accumulated fatigue so your performance temporarily drops. Recover and you’ll be stronger. Or possibly you’re simply at the stage where progess stops being so linear, which TBH ties into that first bit.


Thanks for the help!

Always re-examine technique first when a lift stalls.


If this helps, this is my current training and nutrition:
Last Training session (squats, GZCL week 2)
T1: Back Squat: 3x4, 1x3- was supposed to be AMRAP set but got lightheaded and lost focus, at 155lbs (supposed to be 85%)
T2: Lunges: 1x12/leg, 1x11/leg, 1x10/leg at 100lbs (65%)
HIIT: 4x(20sec pistol squats+20sec jumping lunges+20sec rest); 4x(20sec burpees+20sec high knees+20sec rest); 4x(20sec box hops+20sec mountain climbers+20sec rest)
Abs: same structure as HIIT but w/ 5 groups of 2 exercises
(I would usually include a glute exercise like pull throughs as T3 but I ran out of time)

  • I train 6x/week, 60-100min/session

Nutrition (rough estimates, my parents don’t allow me to track:
Breakfast: 2 slices of Eziekel toast +2 boiled eggs + 1 cup almond milk
Snack: fruit
Lunch: large salad- huge pile of spinach+5-6oz chicken, on weekends lunch is the same as dinner
Snack: 1 scoop whey protein of a quest bar
Dinner: 1 cup black rice+ 5-6oz meat (usually stewed w/ a pressure cooker) + stir fried veggies (idk how much oil)

Are you a crossfitter?

Are you only doing one actual work set?

That HIIT stuff is unnecessary if you are trying to get strong.

1 Like

No all sets are at 85% of 2- rep max (training max)
I’ve actually always done the HIIT and hadn’t had any problems with it. It’s fun and keeps me cardiovascularly fit

Not really but I like to do crossfit style workouts as “HIIT” sometimes if I feel like it. I love anything with HSPU, deadlifts, burpees and pistol squats.

1 Like

You would be better off increasing volume on squat, bench, deadlift, and variations. As far as cardiovascular fitness, you can try something like 65%x4x8-10 sets with 60 sec. rest in between, that will actually improve your lifts as well. You can of course do whatever you want, but you did ask for advice in a powerlifting forum.

1 Like

Okay Thanks!

Let us know when you’re interested in getting strong

This goes in line with what @chris_ottawa is saying. But my suggestion (for what it’s worth) would be to make sure when doing your HIIT or Crossfit, that you pick movements that will have more of a direct carryover to your big 3. This will be most effective if you know your weaknesses too.
So using Chris’s suggestion, an example might be:

5 Rounds
Squat 65%x7
Ab-Wheel Roll out x10

Or another idea: barbell complexes. They are pure torture but they will also add some muscle.

Something like RDL - front squat - overhead press - barbell row, do 10 reps of each without putting down the bar (weight is obviously light, can even be an empty bar at your size) then rest 1-2 minutes and repeat. You can add reps, add weight, add sets, and shorten rest intervals to make it more challenging. Search online for barbell complexes and you will find other ideas, I just came up with that off the top of my head. You could do other stuff like lunges, power cleans, whatever, it’s basically just HIIT with weights. I still wouldn’t do this but it’s way better than burpees and mountain climbers.

1 Like