T Nation

Squat Help Please!!


Not that new to training, but I’m new to squats.

When I do other exercises,bicep curls for example, I go to failure and it’s because the bicep is full of Lactic acid or too punished to lift ( with good form) another rep. However, when I do squats, on my last rep, my quads aren’t dead but my whole system is stressed - and that’s the reason I go to failure. Not because of muscle failure, per se - well certainly not leg muscles. I just feel f%%ked.

Is this a case of

  1. Welcome to the world of squatting
  2. I’m doing something wrong
  3. I’m not fit enough to do squats - and you have to be very fir to feel the squats oin the legs - so that the reason for failure is leg muscle fatigue?

Mostly, I would think a combination of the first two.

As for the third, that depends on whether you are using proper form or not. Have somebody watch you squat. If you are keeping your back straight, going low enough and using a good weight, you will feel it in your legs.

Of course, you will also feel it in your back and stomach since you will be bracing your body to maintain the proper position. That can take its toll on you just as much as the weight you are pushing.

Squats are a full body exercise, which is why you feel your whole system being stressed. That is also why it’s difficult (and not smart) to go to complete failure while squatting. Going to true failure on squat, or loading up more than you can handle is a good way to get hurt.

Squating is also highly mental. Take the weight you think you can only do 10 times, do it 20. Dan John mentioned this not to long ago in an article. Unless you are doing a true max, you can very often do “one more” if you take a few deep breaths and concentrate. I tried this a couple months ago (with only 225) and by the time I hit 20 I felt just like I used to in college after running the 400. But now I know I can do it, and one of these days will do it again with more weight.

Anyway, don’t worry about the failure, worry about using the right amount of weight and vary your set/reps. The true sign of a good squat workout comes the next day, when you can’t walk.

Yeah mate,

Squats involve so many muscles that, if you are doig them right, you can almost always grind out another if you take a few breaths and mentally push your self. That’s the theory behind the 20 rep squats program, and it works good.

Just make sure you have good hot form and you are using good weights. If for whatever reason you want muscle failure then get a safety bar or cambered bar and up the wieght. I would recommend in almost all cases not to go to failure. unless you only train a few select times per week going to failure will elongate your reccovery time and not always necessarily help your gains. It pays to stop one or two reps short and get that extra set in after wards or get another whole go in tomorrow. basically failure allows you to do less work over the course of the week than not. unless you are a recovery animal.


The squat taxes a lot of big muscle groups. So your hart and lungs need to push around a lot of blood to get them the oxygen they need.

In other words, you need more cardio.

Not sure if you guys addressed this, but, I NEVER feel a burn in my Quads when doing Squats. What I feel when Squatting is my soul and my life force being drained with ever rep. Its a type of pain that hurts you on the inside and drains your soul.

Now on leg press and leg extension, I feel the burn…but machines are also for pussies…anyway

I never feel a burn in my quads during a squat workout either. I sure can feel it the next day or two though.

Exactly it so huge complex and mental that you can seemingly ALWAY grind one damn more if not at a maximal load. Its just the nature of the beast and why squats DL’s oly lifts etc have such HUGE payback.

Just get under that bar and squat. Your work capacity will raise a TON as you body gets accustomed the the stressors.

Thanks guys,

The last 3 of you are agreeing with me - it IS your soul that’s worked, isn’t it?

I guess I’m not really sure what you mean. Do you mean you just don’t feel motivated to do any more, or you’re absolutely sure that if you did one more you wouldn’t make it all the way up? I don’t feel a “burn” in my muscles on any of the big three, but I know when I’ve hit failure.