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Squats Causing Thick Midsection?


Someone else had posted about this recently, but I can't find the thread.

Anyway, I've started working out consistently and doing more compound movements for about 2 months now (didn't know that compound movements were better than isolation exercises). So far I've gained about 5 lbs, mostly muscle.

I've noticed that my midsection has increased by an inch and I wasn't sure if squatting was contributing to this. I know that a larger midsection creates a more stable platform to squat, but is there a way to concentrate on keeping my waist small?

Also, I want to progress from squatting with dumb bells to squatting inside the rack, but I don't want to embarass myself in case I can't handle the olympic bar (not just the weight, but balancing the bar might be tricky for a newbie like me). Right now I'm easily squatting 3 sets of 12-14 reps with a 30 lb dumb bell held between my legs. Should I be able to handle the bar pretty easily? Or are there some other exercises that can help me build up my confidence/progress? (hack squats? front squats?)


It's fine.

Don't worry about it. Your body is just adapting. I'm sure you look better than when you started if you've put on 5 pounds of muscle.

Your "waist" (lower back) may be permanantly one inch bigger, but the rest of you should grow in proportion.

Keep squatting.

You should be able to handle the olympic bar for at least five reps.

And the only way to get over your fear of it is to try the oly bar. The sooner you try it, the better off you'll be.

Dan "keep going, you're getting to the good stuff now" McVicker


What does your overall routine look like? Also, how sure are you that the 5lbs is mostly muscle? Abdominal hypertrophy, especially on newbies, is usually pretty minimal compared to overall hypertrophy.



Unless you are genetically predisposed to develop a very thick waist, squats will not do this. Any exercise with which you balance your body will contribute in that case.

An inch is a lot, especially when all you gained was 5 lbs.
It's probably just some water/fat gain, which can be lost easily.

You can absolutely handle the olympic bar. Just start working with it, even if it's with lower reps, it'll climb fast enough.


As to keeping your waist smaller, try making your shoulders and lats bigger.

Military press, pullups and chin ups would be the recommended medication. Plenty of women on this site have worked up to 5x5 chinning, and you don't have to be any different. Keep working.

Dan "keep reading" McVicker


Hey, thanks for the responses.

After you've pointed it out, I think you're right that it's not abdominal muscle hypertrophy. (I thought that squatting might be training me to push out my stomach.) Now that I think about it, I do notice my lower back is a lot more solid, so that might contribute to it. On top of that, some of it probably fat gain, as well as bloating.

buffalokilla - I weight train twice a week, hitting each body part one a week, and jog 4x week for 20 mins. My routine looks something like this:

Legs/Shoulders/Abs day
Squats or Leg Press 3sets(14-10reps) 30 lbs or 90-115 lbs
SL DL 3x(14-10) 40-45 lbs
Donkey Kicks 3x(14-10) 15-20 lbs
Front DB raise 2x(14-12) 10 lbs
Lateral raise 2x(14-12) 15 lbs
Face pulls 2x(14-12) 20 lbs
Seated calf raise 3x(14-10) 45 lbs
Plank 2 sets hold for 1-1.5 mins
20 min jog

Chest/Back/Bi's/Tri's day
DB Press 3x(14-10) 30-35 lbs
Cable row 3x(14-10) 30-40 lbs(?)
Narrow grip pushups from the knee 3x(12)
Assisted chins 3x(14-10) counterwt 40-30 lbs OR Lat Pull downs 3x(14-10) 50 lbs(?)
Assisted dips 3x(14-10) counterwt 30 lbs
Hammer curls 2x(14-12) 20-25 lbs
Pullovers 2x(14-12) 30 lbs(?)
20 min jog

Plus 2 other days of running.

I know those weights are laughable but I am pretty small to begin with (110 lbs), but I'm focusing on form and on getting stronger.

OK, I'll give the squat rack a try - I'll go in at a time when the gym is less busy. I guess I find it a bit intimidating, but I'll get over it.


You also have to consider that your waist may have grown an inch, but if that inch is on your back it is

A) right were it belongs


B) your waist may even look smaller than before if seen from the front or the back. Do you really care if your lower back looks a little more buff if looked at directly from the side?


Go for the squats with the bar! I know how scary it can be to try something you've never done before in the gym - nobody wants to make a fool of themselves :slight_smile: Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and force yourself. You're making progress which is a very good thing.

Squats are my favorite and have made so much difference in my body - I can't recommend them enough. Good luck!


These guys are right, don't be afraid to squat.

Also, I doubt the 30lb. dumbbell squats are making your waist thicker.


I've gone from less then body weight to double body weight squat and still where the same belt (sometimes its tight if I let my gut go a little)

this reminds me.... I really should buy a new belt


It's pretty unlikely that it's abdominal muscle, specially since it was only two months. Squats have made my hips a lot bigger though, I've added about two inches in less than a year.


NEVER tell a woman that!!! :wink:




This is one of the reasons Vince Gironda
hated the squat. He believed the back squat increased the thinkness of your middle and your butt. He preferred the
hack squat and to a lesser extent the front squat.


You mean glutes, not hips. Which is fine for the ladies too, as most of them need to add some nice round muscle to their asses. :wink:


And that's whey generations of Americans, both male and female, have ended up without much of anything in the way of asses. 'Tis a damn shame!


Glad to see you're going to barbell squats. I bet you're capable of a lot more than you think you are, you might surprise yourself.

Your routine doesn't look bad at all for someone who's just starting out, but have you considered splitting the days into push/pull one day and legs/back/abs (including both quad dominant and hip dominant)? That sort of split allows for more compound movements with heavier loads (comparatively) and greater recovery time for each set of muscles - this usually allows for greater progress through greater recovery and a greater economy of training time. If you're happy with what you're doing, though, by all means stay with it. Seeing progress and enjoying yourself are the main goals.



Hahaha!! Actually, I could use a few inches on my behind, to make my waist look smaller, as I've got a "boy-type" body. I need to gain weight, but the 1" addition to my waist makes me realize I should cut back slightly on my increased eating habits. And lift harder obviously.


I am looking to change up my routine as it's been 2 months and the weights I was using have become too easy (so I was going to up the weights on every movement).

As for splitting my routine differently, I'm not too sure which movements are considered push/pull and quad dominant vs. hip dominant. Are there any articles you could point me to which explain that?

Well, gonna hit the gym this aft. and try out the squats (and hopefully not drop the bar with a loud crash!). I will give the hack squats and front squats a try in a few weeks I think.


I personally find it easier to balance the bar on my back than to squat with dumbells. Give it a try, I bet you'll find that its not as hard as you're expecting it to be.