T Nation

Squats- Strength Not Increasing


I've been squatting 220lb (just passed parralel) for a while now and noticed that if I put on just a little more weight I cant squat as deep.
Last week I did 9 sets of 6-7 to try and improve my strength and today I added just 11 lb and only got 3 reps in before I had to stop going so deep.
I'm giving it 100% and I can't seem to break the barrier.

Is it normal to only gain slight, gradual amounts of strength with squatting?

My legs are growing but my strength doesn't seem to be following suit. ???


where do you stall when you go deep? like can you get out of the hole, only to stall halfway up or something?


It seems to be after the first few inches of rising that it stalls if that makes any sense.


maybe try to think about driving your hips back and up while coming out of the hole? you'll have to almost immediately think about driving them forward to lock out, but i'm finding that initial drive back helps out of the hole.

there was a technique in Starting Strength for helping learn the squat that might help you:
when you're in the hole, have someone put their hand on the back of your hip (low, low back). then you try to drive up and back against the hand. that's the movement i was trying to describe above. i'd to that with bodyweight only first.

i would think it's a technique thing if you can get so many reps at a slightly lower weight.


my $0.02, i would lighten up and go deeper than usual (probably 2-3 inches below parallel) and pause for 3 seconds in the bottom position then explode up out of the hole making sure u really "throw" your hips forward out of the hole. also, stretching and mobility drills could help. search this site for hip mobility and u should find plenty of information.
best of luck to u in the future


i'll second the pause in the hole. that's a confidence booster for sure.


if the above doesn't work, maybe you need to change your leg routine a bit, for example do split squats for a while, build them up a bit, then come back to your standard squats. good luck with it mate


Yes it's normal to gain gradually, you can't make huge jumps forever. Putting 25-50lbs on your squat in a year is a big deal.

Instead of trying to make huge jumps try adding 5lbs or even just 2lbs. 5lbs a month over the course of a year is 60lbs.


McMuscles, where abouts in oz are you training? If you're in one of the cities, there are good powerlifting clubs with people who know what they're doing. You may have a technical issue that's holding you back, or it could be a weak point in one of your other muscle groups (e.g lower back or hips or something).

I'm assuming training isn't your problem, I'm willing to bet you'll gain a lot of benefit from having someone who knows what they're talking about watch you squat. I say this because I've been in the same boat as you fairly recently, and the moment I had a powerlifter check my form they found a bunch of technical issues, as well as finding weak points by looking. Just my two cents, I'm a beginner myself


Are you gaining bodyweight?

Are you using good form, or are you doing a knee bend or butt-squat?

Are you doing enough other work for your thighs and lower back?


Going deep ATG is harder than you'd think. Just cause you can squat 220 at parallel, you might not be able to squat 135 for reps deep.

You gotta go back and start doing ATG squats and go light. Just like when you started doing parallel squats, you werent used to it at first. You had to do it regularly. Same with ATG. You gotta start from the beginning.


Your legs are growing and your strength isn't following suit because you've got a bunch of volume but not a lot of intensity. Here's what I mean.

One of the primary factors in making a muscle grow is volume. Just moving a lot of weight, a lot. But this doesn't always help with adding weight to the bar. Take two guys with two similar, but different squat programs. Guy A and Guy B

[u]Squat Program[/u]
A: 10x10
B: 5x10

All other things being equal, B will be able to move up in weight much faster than A, because his volume is lower, and his body has some resources left over after adapting to the volume to gain strength as well.
(for the purpose of this illustration, we're assuming all sets are done with identical weight).

IIRC, your program involves a rediculous amount of volume. Frankly, I'm kinda surprised you're able to move up weight at all. But you should be gaining mass like crazy. Sometimes there are trade-offs in these sort of things.


Ideally, with proper technique and mobility, you can expect to increase your strength in certain exercises pretty quickly. Now this doesnt mean you should bump the weight up significantly just because I said that is what should happen, but for me, usually, the 3rd and 4th weeks of getting back to an exercise see the biggest increase in strength.

I am talking about exercises such as squats and deadlifts mainly. After learning the proper technique for these exercises, along with having the ability to execute them properly, you should expect rapid increases in strength.

Personally, I find it counter productive to crush myself on a frequent basis, it is surprising how little volume you have to use with exercises such as squats and deads to improve strength dramatically, especially initially.

Many people think that ok if I crush myself this week with 8 sets of 8 using 225, next week I should be able to do 6 sets of 8 with 235, 240. Maybe, but I find it works better doing say, 10, 8, 6 and maybe 4, leaving a good amount in the tank on all the sets. The next week you may be able to add ten lbs to each set and have it be even easier than the previous week.

Giving us a video of yourself squatting would be very helpful as well.


If you feel like your falling at the bottom it's your hamstring and glute strength thats holding you back. Your statement is kind of vague so I'm guessing??
Sounds like a form issue when you get heavy. Let us know...


I was doing olympic stance ATG squats for ages without seeing any real strength progress. I don't know if it was an issue with my technique or with my anatomy, probably a combination of both. Basically it felt really awkward, like I had no mind-muscle connection and wasn't able to develop power.

Once I switched to low-bar squats and focused on sitting back, I was able to consistently add weight each week. I alternate between front squats and low-bar squats now, and find that my olympic stance squat moves up along with these two.


Thanks for your replies guys. It's great to get some good input as I live in a very small town and I'm yet to meet anybody that shares the same goals as I do.

I'm sure that my problem is addressed here and I'm pretty sure it must be a form issue so I'll take on board the above mentioned, keep watching vids and get somebody to watch me squat although I do not have much confidence in their opinion as I am one of only few that even bothers to squat at my gym and even then it look as though I'm the only person going for hypertrophy.

I do have flexability issues as I could never touch my toes as a kid although I lead an active lifestyle and now after leg days I need a wall to hold my foot in order for me to grab it and stretch my quads... It's pathetic but I'm working on it.

I have read "3rd world squat" from T-Nation but it just takes time to get result from stretches.



Otep, I have tried the folloeing approach for a few weeks now-
1x12 132 lb (warm up)
1x8 220 lb
1x6 231 lb but only got 3 reps in before I was about to fail so I'm trying to lower my volume and increase the weight, it's just not working therefore I reduce the weight back to 220lb and do more sets.

I'm thinking that maybe I'm not putting my feet far enough apart so I'll give that a shot next week.


Yes I'm gaining weight slowly. Although my size has increased quite a bit my scale weight has started to slow down... The mirror is giving me a better idea than my scales.

I'm not sure what you mean by "knee bend or butt-squat" but I'm pretty sure my form has to be flawed.

After squatting, I kill my legs on the 45 deg leg press ( go to failure) My quads have grown quite a bit so there's no problem there as far as I know and my deadlift has just increased to 374lb (2x6) so my back seems to be my stongest point.


I cant even squat ATG with no weight whatsoever, I simply aren't that flexable but I'm getting deeper every week. Honestly knowing my body the way I do I'd say that I'd never be able to perform ATG.


If you want to get stronger, bigger legs, and better at squats, you need to increase your flexibility. I bet your flexibility for deads is not great either. There are times where someone can have a great dead and not a good squat but not that often.