T Nation

Squats and deads....

Ok, this may have been addressed before, but from my experience squats and deads are not all that important. I see guys making amazing progress, i.e. putting on 2 inches on their arms (14->16) in about a year and a half and having decent thighs and hams without squatting or doing deads. In fact they do legs once every 7-10 days.I have been squatting for 2 years and doing deads for one and have not made the same gains as those guys. I mean, I thought that squats and deads would help pack on more muscle overall but this is not happening. I am putting on the same amount of muscle, if not less! And no, my diet is not crap, and my form is fine…

You are doing something wrong, what I do not know. Your diet may not be crap, but it may not be up to snuff either. Prove it by posting it.

Comparing the gains of some one else to yours is virtually irrelevant, since you don’t share the same genetics. Also, you may be eating clean, but are you eating enough?

maybe you’ve been squatting the wrong way.

How often are you training legs and how long are the workouts? You could be training them too often or doing too many sets per workout.

If these guys are your identical twins then you may have a point but that would just mean you’re doing something wrong. : ) Honestly, they may have better genetics, diet, and may be getting the proper rest. When it comes to bodybuilding you really have to know your own body and it’s a learning process over time. Personally, I can look at a squat rack and my legs get bigger but leg presses aren’t all that effective.

As you can see from the posting there are a number of people here willing to help you. Squats and deadlifts are a must for functional strength. Post your “sats”. (age, weight, % body fat, Your diet (calories, protein (grams), Fat(%), and Carbs (grams) and your workout then we have something to go on.

Being a 44 yr old iron warrior there is no doubt your doing something wrong i.e. diet not enough cal., overtraining, undertraining, trying to jack up your deadlift and squat at the same time, something is missing because these are the 2 staples of overall body development and mass. Maybe your just wanting to lazy out and go to pull downs and leg presses. Also don’t ever compare yourself to other lifters, only judge yourself by your continuous progress.

I can second everything that has been posted so far in answer to your question. It takes more than just lifting to build muscular strength and size. It takes proper rest/recovery and nutrition also. Another factor is form.

I never use the progress of others as a way to gauge my own progress in the gym. That's a disservice to me. Other people will either have more or less experience, better genetics and/or better diet and more/less general knowledge. Post more info and we'll be better able to help you.

These other guys you’re talking about, are they newbies? I made amazing progress my first year of lifting, and did everything wrong! Now, in my fourth year, doing almost everything right, my gains are nothing like newbie gains. (Or, are they on 'roids…?)

squats and deads are what make my legs grow. other things help obviously, but those two are the main things

OK, I thought about this a long time, because I know I’m about to get roasted. But I spent eight years in the Squat or Go Home Army. I did the 20-rep breathing squat cycles, the 5x5 cycles. Wide stance. Box squats. Narrow stance. Everything. I also ate like a horse. And while I got more massive, I didn’t exactly love my body or anything. Recently I’ve been noticing how many people with big arms focus on their arms and rarely squat. I used to deride these guys as pretty boys who were afraid to squat. But I was sick of having little arms so I gave it a try. I now lift legs once a week without any squatting and I also do sprints once a week. My thighs haven’t lost any size and my arms and shoulders are more defined and fuller and larger than ever. I take measurements every 8 weeks so I know I’m not imagining things. And now I have a vein in my right bicep which I have never seen before. Which gives me more confidence and inspiration. I guess my point is, it’s a long road and don’t take any blanket statements too seriously. I know that everybody is going to say that my years of strength focus set the stage for my arm growth, and maybe that’s the case. Or maybe my nervous system was so tapped from squats that I couldn’t put on arm mass - although I don’t think that’s the case, as I periodized my training. I don’t know, this is just my two cents…

Skeptic; I have to tell 'ya…I’M always skeptical when someone is having a problem with their progress, then they begin (or end) their thread “defending” their diet or workout.

What’s a “clean” diet anyway? And “form” doesn’t equal either “intensity” or tells us anything about the way you’re applying progressive resistance to grow. The “bunny weight” lifters in the gym actually usually have good form, and a diet of salad, Special K and Tofu Burgers is probably “clean”.

So…1)Look at your diet 2) look at your intensity and 3) are you applying progressive resistance.

Hit it Heavy…Hit it Hard…Go Home…

every individual is different. you need to worry about what you need to do to attain the body or stregth you want. As far as i know for myself, the number one variable is diet. If i don’t eat way over maintanance i will not put on muscle. I always work out with intensity. that’s how it is. laters pk

NOT IMPORTANT!?! No offense, but have you been reading “muscous&fatness” or that “oxygen” magazine?
Ask any successful bb or strength training coach and you will get the same answer each and every time.
It sounds as if you just need to take a very close look at all of the variables here. I mean ALL of them. If ONE is out of place, you’re screwed and there is no way that you can obtain optimal results. Sit down and be honest with yourself. Hell, I had to back off 100 pounds today on my deadlifts. The intensity was there but it was all back and no hip. Humbling but it has to be done right.
Good luck and stick with those squats and dead’s, they’re essential!!!

How long do your sets last? 15 secs,45 secs. I found that me sets were too short and I wasn’t growing but my strength kept going up. I also found that once a week wasn’t enough. every 5 days was perfect. I would try the German Volume training for a month with squatsand leg curls. Or if you’ve been traininglike this do the exact opposite.


At the risk of going against the grain…

I have to say I have seen some folks who focus solely on one part of the body (upper or lower) make really amazing progress in the area they are training. My own experience was when I had a neck injury and could only do legs, I got a lot more leg growth then I was used too. A buddy of mine was in a car accident and couldn’t do legs for about 6 months, so he focused on upper body and he achieved really impressive growth during that time. I could also point out some folks I know in wheel chairs (who have never done squats) that have amazing arms.

My impression has always been that there may be some value to the systemic growth theory, but there is also a point to the idea that the body only has so many resources and if you spend them in one area you have less to spend in others. I am not saying it is a one to one relationship and I am sure it depends on over-all training volume, your personal ability to recover and countless other factors. But the one thing we have learned about body building is that all ‘truths’ have more caveats than we realize.

Just my opinion.

I was once a lot like you and I too noticed when I cut back on the leg training volume that I finally started getting some upper body strength and muscle growth. Just like anything else I think there’s a point, which probably varies for everyone, where really intense stuff like squats and deads take away from the energy and adaptive capabilities of the rest of the body

Wow, thanks for the replies! Let’s start with my diet, here’s a typical day:
1)1 cup oats(uncooked-not the packaged variety!), half a pound cottage cheese and half a scoop whey(~550 cal)
2)1 can pink salmon, 1 can tuna, pre-washed salad(lettuce+carrot+cabbage)(~400 cal)
3) 1 can tuna + 1 tsp olive oil(extra virgin), 4 omega-3 eggs (380 cal)
4)post workout drink (50 grams glucose + 22g whey concentrate + 3 grams L-glutamine)
5)same as 1)+a piece of fruit sometimes
6)same as 2)

Admittedly, my post workout drink is not surge, cannot afford it and I only have red meat 2-3 times a month for the same reason.

This is maintenance for me, something around 2500 cals. Bulking would be the same macronutrient ratio at about 3400 cals, cutting is around 1800 cals.
Stats: 22 y.o, training for 2.5 years, same as the other guys, 5’9, 165, 10-11%. Measurements:
arms(measured as in one of the t-mag articles, cannot remember the name):14 inches.
Waist 30.5-31 inches
Thighs(cold and not flexed or whatever):22.5 inches
Calves(cold, not flexed):14.5 inches
Chest(cold, not flexed):41.5 inches

Max lifts: never really done them but here’s what I have done:
Bench: 2 reps with 185(utterly pathetic)
Squat: 3x6 with 260(yes they were down to parallel, I asked someone to spot me and tell me whether my thighs were parallel or not)
Deadlift: 3x6 with 225

I have tried 5x5 and GVT, GBC and meltdown in the past, I am currently doing GVT 2000.

I have not slept less than seven hours in the last six months, but before that I averaged six hours.
What else? Just ask me, for any other info you want…
Personally, I think that doing these two movements takes away from your upper body development. These two guys have been training for 3 years, they are both good friends of mine, who live in different continents, for god’s sake, have no relation to each other whatsoever and have made nearly identical gains in size and strength on similar routines…which did not contain ANY squats or deads and very little leg training. As far as genes go, I cannot say much, none of them had trained before, I had pretty much similar physique to one of the guys, the other was leaner.
Granted, 2 guys are not an acceptable statistic sample, but they are two guys that I know for sure watch their diets(they do not count calories or anything) and use good form (which I cannot say for most people in the three gyms I’ve been to) and they made very similar gains!!!
I did see a few people who agreed with me and I think Bill Roberts was not using squats or deads for a while also.
It is definitively weird…

As long as anacdotal evidence is being used I have to agree. The biggest guys I know seem to train hard (heavy compound lifts) and know alot about lifting but little about anything else. They usually eat like crap (except when trying to cut) and say things like “you dont want too much protien, its bad for your kidneys.” Then on the other hand are all these 165lb guys who follow some guru’s program, keep a detailed food log, live and sleep training and at the end of the day are still 165lb bitter guys crying about genetics and hardgaining. For what its worth i think alot of the younger guys here (and older ones too) are too concerned with following a program in painstaking detail and avoiding overtraining. I really think that that fear of overtraining and little volume to avoid it are what is hindering alot of peoples gains.