Squat Workout

I did Barbell Squats today and I have a unique device that I use when I perform them. Something that I have not seen many lifters use. I will get to that a bit later. For now take a look at my squat session:

Warm-up no weight- 20 reps

(after a 3:00 rest I did two sets of step ups and 4 sets of Glute Ham work).

All squats are performed below regulation, however, not butt to floor.

I rested only :90 seconds between sets. That unique device that I mentioned earlier is a heart rate monitor! I wear it so that I am able to measure my exact heart rate (BPM) as I conclude the final rep on each set. I also measure my BPM at rest just before I grab the barbell for another set.

This allows me to get an accurate reading as to how hard I am actually working, without any speculation. I sort of compare it to the RPM’s of a race car. Some cars can go quite fast but the RPM’s are very high. Others can go the same speed and the RPM’s are lower.

Since my body weight is currently at 190lbs. I wanted to see how many times that I could squat a 190lb. barbell. That final set took exactly :89 seconds to complete and was a tough one, as my heart rate reached 179 BPM’s!

I squat twice per week. On my other squat day I take a bit longer between sets and go heavier.

I track how long each set takes, my exact time resting between each set and my BPM. I then attempt to do more weight as the cycle continues. The goal, not just trying to do more weight but to actually do more weight while resting the same and not having my heart rate go higher.

When this occurs I know that I am not only getting stronger, but in better condition as well.

Just wanted to share this with others as it may spark an idea or two. I have worked with the heart rate monitor (Polar) on many occasions with great success.

I would love to hear some feed back as to the way other trainees squat. And some comments on my session above.

Man, I bet that last set had your quads on fire! My partner and I hit the squat rack once per week but we rotate a light, medium, and heavy day. The light day consists of high 15-30 reps squats with 185. Medium days pushes us up to 245-255 with reps in the 10-12 range while heavy day runs from 265-315 in the 4-8 rep range. How heavy depends on how strong we feel.

We typically warm up with a few sets on the Nautilus leg extension machine and then hit the squats with 135 lbs. We go to 185 from there and then 225 (if it’s not light week of course) and finally up to our working 3-4 sets. We finish quads off with 2 sets of hack squats with 265 + lbs and then a few more sets of leg extensions with the whole rack, about 200lbs.

This seems to work pretty good for us. Our squats are below parallel but not ass to the floor either. Our rest periods on all our exercises are less than a minute and we haven’t spent more than 40 minutes in the gym in two years. Never worn a heart rate monitor but squats definitely get it up there. My partner’s resting heart rate is in the 50’s and he despises cardio. He credits it to our quick workouts and squatting. Go figure. I think it must be mostly genetics because I do a lot more cardio than him and mine is barely in the 60’s.

I’m about 161 at 9% right now and 34 years old. Danny is 45 and around 172 at 14%. Sumbitch only puts fat on his abdominal region though. His legs look leaner than mine all the time.

I rarely go above 5 reps in warmup sets. Why do you use so many reps? :slight_smile:

A heart rate moniter seems like it be an interesting way of tracking between set recovery.

It sounds much better than standard/generic timed rests. (ie. 2 minutes for all sets)

And yeah, what’s with the high rep warmups? The residual fatigue definitely affects your performance when you hit your work sets.

Oddly enough, I use one too.

I consider myself rested between sets when it drops below 120 bpm.

I wouldn’t mind buying an inexpensive one.

Do you have a preferred model? And is there any advantage to having a chest strap?


I got one from performancebike.com but nashbar.com has them almost identical. just depends on who has the best sale that week.

I’ve worn a chest-strap monitor for about 4 years now, gone through 2 (old one still works, just donated it to one of my kids), and between the two still less than $100 total.

Unless you want to be totally tech/anal the cheap ones that just show your heart rate and stopwatch (to time your workout if you’re going that way) are plenty good enough. Target zone alarms are just a pain in the ss to deal with when you’re trying to go above and below a threshold repeatedly through your workout (but probably have some value if you’re doing full-blown cardio).

The strap only gets in the way during machine horizontal pulls - otherwise I use it for a target like on BB Rows.

just my humble opinion after 4 years use

Has anyone using a heart rate monitor compared it to the ones on cardio equipment? How accurate are those? I use a Precor elliptical trainer and a recumbent bike or some sort. The heart rate monitors seem inconsistent.

I also want to chime in with the question on why so many reps, and why so many warmups in particular?

Mine is nearly polar opposite of that, although still not Chad Waterbury levels.

Interesting use of heart rate monitor, sorta testing how much of a aerobic workout you get from squats.

I also think high reps warm ups might fatigue the muscles and interfere with your squats.

i noticed that when i did the same thing a couple of years ago my HR never went above 150-155bpm, irrelevent of exercise. so i figured it didnt mean shit…
i find mental focus best determent of when i start next set, if im ready i go. i very rarely time my rest periods unless doing some kinda set weight high volume program like GVT or OVT

I second that…or maybe third or fourth it! Why so many warm-up sets?? As Thunder, et all alluded to…the residual fatigue will only hamper your working sets. I hit legs twice per week (heavy quad/light hams and heavy hams/light quad (thanks Thunder…haha) and my warm up on my “heavy” quad day is as follows:

***I do ass to grass squats, so as of right now, on a “heavy” day I do 5x5 of 235-240. ANyways, here is how I warm up:

followed by my 5x5 workout. Give it a try, I bet you will notice a difference.


I like to warm-up with the exact exercise I am going to do. So, I would never use leg extensions to warm-up for squats. Also, studies have shown that leg extensions put more stress on the actual knee joint than squats do! Not that I would not do leg extensions, but I would never make them anywhere near the first exercise.

Also, regarding your question about heart rate monitors. I have a Lifecycle stationary bike with a heart rate monitor. I have found that this monitor is usually in sync with the one that I wear.

Arcane, Thunder and Antiliberal,

I do use many warm-ups and have been criticized in the past by some who have worked out with me. I do this for two reasons. Primarily I am concerned about injury’s. If I do more warm-ups, while it takes away from my work sets, I know that I am pumping enough blood into the knee joint.

Secondly, I do many warm-ups because I like to creep up on the heavier weight.
When I work heavier in my second session of the week, I usually only hit the lighter weights for a couple of reps. Just to get the feel of the weight as I approach the work sets. Perhaps I should cut back on so many reps prior to the work sets in the Sunday session as well. Good point and I thank all three of you!

rm slcit,

I agree with your 120 BPM standard. Interestingly, I find that around the :90 second rest point my heart rate is about 120 BPM. The following is what my heart rate was on each set after a :90 of rest:
102-112-116-125-122-119-(I took 3:00 rest after the 190x30 so I did not measure after :90).

If you notice my heart rate went down progressively on the last three sets (I am not including the 190x30). This is due, I believe to the fact that for the first set of 250lbs. I had to change weights during my :90 “rest”. So, what we do when we rest between sets is important. As you know :90 is not all that long to take a sip of water, stretch a bit etc. If you have to change weights during that time it can move your heart rate up a bit.

Incidentally, there is an interesting parallel between squatting, the way that I do during this session, and running quarter mile intervals. I found that if I ran quarter mile intervals at around :70 to :80 with a :90 rest between intervals, that my heart rate would be about at the 120 BPM level at the end of the :90 rest!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that weight training, if done properly is not good for your heart! By the way my BPM running quarter mile intervals never got as high as the 179 BPM that I achieved during that final set of 190x30!


I own a “Polar” heart rate monitor. They do make them now without the chest strap. Mine is a few years old so it has the strap. I was going to purchase one without, but I have not heard yet how reliable they are. I figured that a chest strap has to be more reliable than just a wrist reading. Who knows? Either way the chest strap doesn’t bother me. After a few sets of squats I don’t feel much of anything.

Thanks for all of the great feed back guys!

Retard and Tony,

When I was answering the others your posts were not up for some reason.


I write down every detail of my workouts and have been doing such for almost 25 years! You would be surprised at the gratification I recieve when I look back at one of my old workouts and I can do more with less effort now!

Also, on a more short term basis (a few years). You can use the journal as a personal coach. Looking back and seeing which sets or exercises gave you a hard time, things you did to overcome obstacles, your exact BPM etc.

But, to each his own and if you progress without it great!

Our warm up sets of leg extensions are very light… usually just 70-80 lbs. Nothing strenuous. Thanks for the info on the heart rate monitor.

TonyG, given your working weight, if it were me, I’d warm up this way:

265x1 (overshoot/potentiate)

Start working with 235-245 lbs.

As for warm ups, they serve two main purposes: to increase joint lubrication and to serve as a neuromuscular rehearsal, where you?re getting into the groove of the exercise. You don’t need high reps to accomplish this.

Interesting stuff Thunder!! I’ll give it a try on my next “heavy” quad day. Thanks…Tony

How old are ya Zeb? 25 years working out? You can’t be a spring chicken anymore. Warming up thoroughly seems to be the key to preventing injury when you’re a bit older than the average guy pushing iron in the gym.


I hit resting rate around :90 (depending on load) and though I can consistently go higher sprinting (over 180 on a regular basis in sprinting, 160 in lifting) I recover faster in lifting.

Changing plates does increase HR.

I’m 44.

Hatfield discusses heart health from lifting w/o cardio compared to cardio w/o lifting. Less VO2 Max (but greater than mean), but comparable stroke volume/ejection fraction.

Knees forced me to cut way back on cardio from my wayward youth. Right now I don’t do what would be considered cardio.


I’m 48 years old. Not at all a spring chicken. One of the contributing factors to my longevity regarding the workout room (other than my long time vitamin and nutrient regimine) is the way I train. As you can tell by my first post. I believe in plenty of warm-ups.

Are the warm ups a bit over done? Sure they are, but I figure what is the worst that can happen to me if I extend the warm up part of the workout? I may not do as much on my work sets. If I don’t do enough warm ups what is the worst thing that can happen? I may not be in the gym for the next few weeks or months because of injury!

At this stage of my life, while I want to progress, and do, it is far more important to me to continue on than hurry to increase my work sets. So, for me this works well.

The interesting part about it is, as I have previously stated, at the tender age of 48 I am doing more now than I have ever done in every exercise! As I stated in my first post, I just did 31 dead hang chins at a U.S. Marine sponsored contest, beating guys that were less than half my age!

I guess when it comes to the fitness race I am a good example of the tortoise! I may not get there quickly but I keep going in the proper direction.

How old are you Mr? And how about the rest of you? You have my curiosity up. Am I the oldest guy on this board?