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Squat Help! Need Help!

Okay, just recently I have realized my squat really sucks. I mean, my max parallel squat is at the most 255lbs and I weigh damn near 170lbs. Truly pathetic, I know. And, the sad thing is, I’ve been squatting on and off for about a year now. My reasoning for training and working out mostly revolves around me wanting to jump higher, as this greatly helps your performance in basketball. I need some big time help with my squat, It just never seems to go up, the weight seems so heavy on my back (especially 225). What should I do? I want to get my squat into the 300lb range before I am satisfied. Is my goal realistic? Can I reach it in 6 months or so? Somebody give me a workout that I can follow that will up my squat dramatically. Appreciate it!

Quit it with the false modesty, some of us should be so lucky to squat 255.

More of this is mental than you might believe. Start your workout with machine pressing and some isolation movements. When you’re warm and feeling powerful after about a half hour, move to the squat rack.

Load the bar with 135. Then 185. Then 225. Then 255. Then 265. Rep scheme is 5-4-3-2-1. The further you progress, the more angry you should be.

Better also that you should squat wider with a belt. You’ll be upright, and glutes and hammies will fire to a greater extent; it takes a hell of a lot more posterior chain to jump than quads.

DI

Quest4Glory, try an unusual number of sets/reps that is 1 set of 20 reps but with a load that you would use for 10 reps. This exercise is called the 20 reps breathing squat. References can be found in Mc Callum’s “Keys to progress”, Strossen’s “Super Squats” and Ian King’s “The bulk building routine”. This exercise followed by a straight arm pullover and a bench press is also an effective way to bulk the upper body.
Concerning your performance, it is not bad at all. In a paper concerning “decent performance” for Squat a 125-150% of bodyweight for 15-20 reps is reported.

Knight, there is no self-flattering in my statements, I really do think my squat is low for my relative bodyweight. I’ve got friends in football, and all of them, aside from 1 or 2, can squat much more than I can. Nonetheless, that workout you prescribed looks pretty nice, I’ll give it ago some time this week. One question though, don’t squat belts take away from your overall performance when squatting, like knee wraps would?

Great info too, luca. The 20 rep breathing squats seem like they would work for me quite well. I mean, I squat 185lbs upwards of 15 times, but for some reason it doesn’t translate to my maximum squat, which should be higher in my opinion.

Side Question: Have any of you guys used the Smolov Squat Cycle, and how did it work for you? If you have never seen it, you can check it out at JOESKOPEC.com in the calculator section. Tell me what you think, I’ve heard people gain 50lbs+ easily with that squat routine.

Try this – before you do your work wet with 270, or whatever, load up the bar with something like 325 or 340. Set up, unrack and walk out, and just hold it a bit. Then rack it again. Don’t try to do a rep with it, just hold it and rack it. Then drop down to your work weight and it’ll feel light by comparison. Rep away.

If you want to get better at the squat, you have to squat. You said it yourself, you’ve been squatting on and off for the past year. Maybe you should squat consistently. And also do some assistance exercises to help strengthen your squat (good mornings, glute-ham riases, reverse hypers, stiff-legged deadlifts, front squats, lunges, step ups, etc.).

I highly recommend something like CW’s Strength Focused Mesocyle or Westside for Skinny Bastards.

Getting stronger could be a matter of how you’re training and the loading parameters you’re using.

IMO, high rep squat programs aren’t designed to build strength…if you have been doing high reps so far maybe that’s why your squat sucks…
don’t do the smolov…it’s just for advanced lifters.
try the russian squat routine…you’ll squat 3 times a week for six weeks, i think you can find it here if you search the archives.
one last thing, if i were you i would go all the way down and not just to parallel…just my opinion though.

good luck

Volk

Belts and knee wraps TAKE AWAY fromy our squat ability?

Why would you think that? If it were true, what would the rationale be for ANYONE to wear these items?

At 225 max squat, you do not need a belt and you definitely do not need knee wraps.

You need better form, more practice, and a teacher.

Hey Man,

I agree with Nate Dogg. If you want to squat well then squat often. Squatting on and off isn’t going to cut it.

What is with this parallel nonsense?
You’re not a powerlifter so you should be going rock bottom. Your ego will take a hit (you won’t be able to MOVE 255), but your squat will definately improve in the long term.

I also agree that doing accessory type exercises will bring up your squat. However, you have to ask yourself if it is your squat that you want to bring up or your vertical jump. You may have to decide which is most important to you as the pursuit of one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be better at the other.

Here’s an article by Ian King called “White Men CAN Jump” specifically designed for jumping performance.

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=460127

squats and deadlifts. Do them a lot, it’s the only way to get better.

Don’t just go heavy, do some speed days, do some technique days (UTILIZIE GOOD FORM, ASS TO THE GRASS, EXPLODE UP HEAD FIRST!). Practice, practice, practice.

The more you do, the more you will be able to do!

A lifting belt will let you focus completely on the leg drive. If your back is a weak point, the extra stability will help.

Before you start pounding out heavy sets, squat perpendicular to a mirror and check your form. If the base of your spine is rounding at the bottom of the lift, you’re going down too far for that foot position. Push your legs out farther to achieve the same depth.

This is a temporary solution. Ideally you would have the hamstring flexibility to squat well below parallel.

Vic:

[quote] Belts and knee wraps TAKE AWAY from our squat ability?

Why would you think that?[/quote]

A belt can become a crutch if used too often. It may help to reach a new max, but it can also defeat efforts to improve back musculature. In short, yes, an over-reliance on accessories can lessen ultimate ability.

That was a stupid thing to say. His max is 255. And how could you know whether he needs a belt? Is 255 such a paltry sum? Are you familiar with his medical history? Since when does any one maxim apply to everybody?

DI

I find that form is number one for a big squat. For me that was learning to: 1. Go low enough, 2. Stay tight as hell 3. Learn to explode on the way up…

Plus, glute-ham raises and tons of other back work has made it so what used to feel heavy on my back (225) feels like nothing, and heavier weights (for me) like 405 don’t really “feel” all that heavy anymore…

Don’t put down your lifts, Q4Glory. If I remember from your other post you’re 16, right; 255 is fine for a 16 year old. Hell, 255 is fine for a lot of people. Don’t compare yourself to others, just compare and compete with your own lifts.

That being said, I think you can take something from everyone that has responded so far. If you are squatting for athletic and sport purposes you definitely should be going ass-to-grass. You will do less weight this way, but, like someone else said, you’re not a powerlifter.

So, now I see 2 posts from you; one wanting to improve your squat and one wanting to improve your bench press. There are a lot of great training programs in the archives that will help you develop both without neglecting the rest of your body.

I still don’t think you should be specializing in one lift, but if you’re going to I would rather see it be the squat than the bench. But, like I said you don’t need to specialize; work both.

To get good at squatting heavy you really need to squat heavy and get used to the crushing feeling on your back. It can be really intimidating trying to walk out a heavy weight you have never sqautted before. Trying to get in you stance with the bar and gravity trying to compress you can easily make you think negatively about your ability.

I highly suggest trying different exercises with a weight on your back. Good mornings, box squats, lunges, jumping squats. There are several varieties of these exercises that you can try.

Next, there has got to be close to 20 different types of squats. Try them all(but please not in one session). Back squats, box squats, pause squats, 1 1/2 rep squats, jump squats, front squats, zercher squats, etc. Get used to the motion of squatting and getting back up with heavy weights. If anything I think you really should try box squats(below parallel) or pause squats to get used to being in the weakest and most uncomfortable position of the squat. Try to get used to the compression at the bottom and not be intimidated by it.

Finally work on form and technique. Get you foot placement down. Get comfortable with your arms, elbows, and bar placement. Don’t let your knees drift inward. Search the archives and find some good squatting articles.

Good luck and get squatting,
Todd

I forgot to add; make sure you are doing some deadlifting and other work to strengthen your lower back. You don’t want to start toppling over at the bottom of your squats.

I am genuinely thankful for all the thoughtful and very meaningful posts from everyone. Right now, I am not nearly as bummed out about my squat as I was yesterday, when I had a horrible squat workout. Here’s what I’ve gathered from all of the posts in the thread…

1.) Train the body as a whole, and don’t necessarily focus on a single lift, such as benching.

2.) Squat frequently, 2 - 3 times a week on a consistent basis.

3.) Get a squat belt.

4.) Use a plethera of squat variations

5.) Before a squat workout, get thoroughly warmed up and ready for an intense workout.

6.) Don’t be afraid of the bar. Make the bar afraid of you.

7.) A little trick to prepare the CNS before a heavy squat routine is to stack on an extra 50lbs+ onto your maximum squat, unrack the weight, and stand in a position as though you are about to squat, for ten seconds. Do your workout from there, the weight shouldn’t be nearly as heavy as it normally feels.

8.) Full Squats are the way to go if you are an athlete (and even if you aren’t).

9.) Add deadlifting, reverse hyperextensions, GHR’s, good mornings, and other “lesser” lifts that will really hit the posterior chain.

10.) It’s 90% mental, 10% physical.

Whooo, I sure did learn a lot, thanks a million. By the way, I wrote that list strictly off of memory ^_^. Anything I left out? I want to make a list of 10 - 20 things that I can read before a squat workout to get me hyped and ready.

[quote]Quest4Glory wrote:
I am genuinely thankful for all the thoughtful and very meaningful posts from everyone. Right now, I am not nearly as bummed out about my squat as I was yesterday, when I had a horrible squat workout. Here’s what I’ve gathered from all of the posts in the thread…[/quote]

We all have bad days at the gym. It happens. It’s when you have bad weeks or months that you should re-evaluate what you are doing. Just stay at it and you will grow and learn.

At your stage I truly believe this. Build a strong body, first. You can always specialize later.

People’s opinions vary on this. I think you should definitely do some type of squatting once a week. Then I prefer to do something else that will benefit my squats once a week, i.e. GM’s, deadlifts, etc. I personally don’t like to do actual squatting more than once a week. However, many do like it and have benefited from it. Test your body and see what works for you.

This is another item of prefernce. I don’t personally own one. I may in the future, but for now I feel fine without one.

Yes. Variety is the key, always, and not just with squatting. One word of caution, don’t use such a variety that you lose sight of your goals. To get better at squatting, you still need to do actual squats. But, change is always good. It keeps the mind fresh and the body away from boredom.

Warmups vary from person to person. Some people need more of a warmup some need less. Listen to your body and find what you need. Don’t wear yourself out with extra and unnecessary warmups.

The bar is metal and soulless. It has no feelings and cannot experience fear.(I’m kidding. I actually like that quote)

I wouldn’t do this all the time, though. Just so it every now and then if you think it will help. If you perform any trick too often, it loses its effectiveness.

Unless you are a powerlifter or in some sort of competition, I see no reason not to go past parallel.

The posterior chain is very important in running, jumping, and other athletic activities. And it helps your squat.

[quote]10.) It’s 90% mental, 10% physical.

Whooo, I sure did learn a lot, thanks a million. By the way, I wrote that list strictly off of memory ^_^. Anything I left out? I want to make a list of 10 - 20 things that I can read before a squat workout to get me hyped and ready.[/quote]

Pretty good list there. It may seem like a lot but don’t be overwhelmed by it. Just absorb it and apply it. Keep us posted on your results and never be afraid to ask for help.

Happy training,
Todd

Thanks malone, you’re a good guy. I feel much better now than I did yesterday, when my squat was horribly low. It could have had something to do with the backyard work that I did in the morning for 3 hours (shoveling rocks into wheelbarrows), the 6 hours of sleep, or the diet… either way, I’m glad I asked for help, this forum is going to be my new home.

Try out Charles P’s 1-6 Training principle for bench pressing and adapt it to your squat work.

My squat went from 305 - 450 in 6 months and I only weight 195 at 7-8% BF and I am a true ectomorph.

PPP

[quote]KnightRT wrote:

Vic:

A belt can become a crutch if used too often. It may help to reach a new max, but it can also defeat efforts to improve back musculature. In short, yes, an over-reliance on accessories can lessen ultimate ability. [/quote]

The question was for the original poster, not for you. He said he’d heard that “belts and wraps were bad fot you”. My point was that, if belts and wraps are bad, why does anyone use them? The answer is because they are not, in themselves, bad.

[quote]At 225 max squat, you do not need a belt

That was a stupid thing to say. His max is 255. And how could you know whether he needs a belt? Is 255 such a paltry sum? Are you familiar with his medical history? Since when does any one maxim apply to everybody?

DI[/quote]

I might ask you the same thing. Do you recommend everyone use a belt, then? Is it necessary to have a medical degree to make general statements? Where, then, did YOU go to medical school?

I manintain that, at a max squat of 225, he does NOT need a belt. If you cannot support and maintain 225 with good form, you need to bring up your secondary exercises to improve your strength and stability. A belt is no substitute for this, and won’t be helpful in this regard.

I have not read all of the posts, so forgive me if this was mentioned prior: Do not squat parallel! Do a full squat. You will engage many more of your “jumping” muscles this way. And believe it or not a full squat is safer than a partial squat.

Also, forget about how much weight you are using. Just do the movement correctly and regularly and you will have great gains!

Take care,

Zeb