T Nation

Squat Help Needed

Hi all:

Some quick background: female, 39 yo (today!), been cycling for 25 years. Started lifting last week, and have given up the cardio for the winter. Also, I work out at home, and have no intention of joining a gym.

Here’s my problem: I can’t get the bar over my head for my squats exercise. The max weight I can lift over my head is 55 lbs, which is far less than I can squat; at least I assume so because I can squat 55 lbs all day. I also do dead lifts, which I like.

My max on that today was 75, but I could have added/done more. I’m trying not to do too much because it’s only my first full week adn I want some baseline #'s.

So, what exercises should I do so that I can lift more weight above my head?

And what exercises should I do in the meantime for my legs? Doing only 55 lbs for squats is very frustrating and leaves me feeling like I have done no workout at all.

Thanks!

You could try the hack squat:

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBHackSquat.html

Man, I need to learn how to do links. Anyhoo, in the mean time, what do you mean that you can’t get the bar over your head? Are you trying to do squats without a squat rack or similar?

Hmm, sounds to me like you don’t have a rack at all.

Are you doing sort of a “hang clean” to get the bar up to your shoulders and then “pressing” it overhead to bring it down behind your head?

Hang Clean
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/HangClean.html

Press
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidAnterior/BBShoulderPress.html

Anyway, short of buying a rack, you may be able to work on doing some front squats for a while. That might keep you from having to get the bar overhead.

Front Squat
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/FrontSquat.html

Anyway, since you are in the beginner forum, I’ll say to make sure you watch your form on everything… especially since you work out at home and may not have anyone to critique your style.

If you are going to stick with this and get serious, start looking into buying some type of rack or cage.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Hmm, sounds to me like you don’t have a rack at all.

Are you doing sort of a “hang clean” to get the bar up to your shoulders and then “pressing” it overhead to bring it down behind your head?[/quote]

Yes. I lift the weighted bar to my shoulders, then lift it over my head and down onto the back of my shoulders, then do my squats.

[qote]Anyway, short of buying a rack, you may be able to work on doing some front squats for a while. That might keep you from having to get the bar overhead.

Front Squat
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/FrontSquat.html
[/quote]

ok, I’ll try that in the meantime.

Specifically though, to solve the problem of being a weakling in the upper body, should I add lifting the weighted bar over my head on my upperbody days to get stronger generally?

I will. thanks.

MsStabby,
Happy Birthday! I think it is great that you are just starting to lift and anxious to squat! Having said that, however, you will never be able to get enough weight over your head in able to do an acceptable back squat.

Some others here have given you some alternatives to the back squat, like the hack squat. There are other alternatives that use less poundage than a back squat such as an overhead squat or a front squat. You may be able to get enough weight “up” to be able to do these exersises.

I sense that you are looking to do back squats with acceptable weight. The only way to do that is with some type of stands (Or a really big guy who could lift it up there for you :slight_smile: )

[quote]MsStabby wrote:
Specifically though, to solve the problem of being a weakling in the upper body, should I add lifting the weighted bar over my head on my upperbody days to get stronger generally?[/quote]

Sure, the standing press (watch out for over arching) would be good. However, it’s not likely you’ll get strong enough at pressing to lift enough to provide for challenging squats.

Let’s see, without equipment other than BB and DB you can do pushups, handstand pushups against the wall, dips, single leg lunges and squats (not arm work of course), and various rows and raises. A chinup bar is fairly cheap as well if you have a place to mount it.

I’m sure there are lots of other ideas I’m missing as well. You can do a lot before getting into serious equipment, but eventually you’ll need some to keep progressing.

If you are looking for some inspiration you might want to check out the t-vixen forum (if you haven’t already).

Great advice above I will add do some unilateral work (one leg) this will lower the poundages needed to get the intensity up. Lunges, high step ups, single leg squats, split squats, etc etc.

Hi, I have the exact same problem and cleaning my max for every set of front squats sucked. But I found that the countertops in the kitchenette in my home gym are close enough together to rest a bar on. I set up in there and use it like a squat rack then carefully walk back into the gym for squats. I’m sure if you look around your house you can find someway to makeshift your own rack.

I use the corner countertop for dips too, if you ever want to incorporate those into your workout.

HAHAHA! Ignore my advice. I was using the counters for squating and shifted the bar to one side too much and ended up putting a nice sized dent in the counter. So yeah, as of today my parents are getting a squat rack for the gym.

On a very general note, you may be surprised what can be had pretty damn cheap if you shop around and watch for sales at places like Sears.