T Nation

Squats Stuck

Lately my squat(Olympic style) is stuck. I just can’t seem to add any weight. I am squatting once a week right now, but nothings happening. I have read and reread the articles regarding form, and I think its pretty good. I was squatting up to 3 times a week and it worked for awhile but seemed to be too much so I switched to once a week. Anyone have any tips to bring it up? I am doing mostly singles, doubles after a good warmup. Appreciate any tips.

Have you thought about doing a low bar wide stance squat for a while as an alternative?

I’ll assume you mean you’re doing back squats. Try a cycle of front squats, or heavy step-ups or lunges. Try to nail down EXACTLY where in the squat you feel you have the most trouble. What’s the “weak link”??? Pause squats or 1 1/4 squats are good choices for working the first part of the squat. Chains and bands will also add a whole new dimension to your squat program.


sorry I wasn’t specific enough. I am indeed doing back squats and the problem is coming out of the hole. I have good strength once just above parallel(which I’m sure is the case with most people). TNT, how long do you recommend pausing at the sticking point? I also do another day of leg work with single leg exercises(mostly Bulgarian splits and step ups) and posterior chain(mostly Romanian deads, natural glute ham or leg curls). I am below double bodyweight in the squat and its really annoying.

have you tried micro loading? how much increase in weight are you going for? are you keeping your routines the same, maybe you need to change from low rep sets to speed rep sets with lower intensity. Do you know where you are having the most difficulty. Do you train in a good cage with a trusting spotter? try some different leg routines other then squatting like barbell hack squats or high stepups. laters pk

Time the pause with “breathes”. In other words, in the hole, you will exhale, inhale and then explode up. That would be a “1 breathe pause”. The trick is to keep the abs really tight while you breath. It’ll take a bit of practice. Instead of increasing the weight, reps, or sets, increase the length of pause (number of breathes in the hole). The same pause technique can be used on DLs, bench, lunges (these are killers). Good luck.


Thanks a lot for the tips gents. I will try pause squats for a while and maybe do speed squats on a second day if I can handle it.

I have few recommendations for you.

First I would try squatting every other week. Your frequency of leg work may be a little high. I would also really emphasize posterior chain work. I think it was Louie Simmons who said that nothing will increase your squat like increasing your good mourning. I have found this statement to be very accurate. There is no better confidence builder than un-racking your new 1RM attempt and thinking this shit feels light. If you are scared of a decrease of strength do to the long rest in between squat workouts, I have found it somewhat helpful to just un-rack a load greater than your 1 RM and just sit there for a minute with it on your back on your non squatting leg workout days. This helps train your Golgi tendon organ to accept a new weight (I think that Charles Staley did this little trick to improve his squat). You stating that you often fail coming out of the hole leads me to believe it is do to your nervous system not ready to accept the high amounts of tension being placed on it and just shutting down so to speak. Hope this helps. If I knew your current split I would try to give an example workout with the above mentioned tips.

There is great advice and tips found in all of the previous posts. I want to expand upon some of the earlier ideas. I’m a competitive weightlifter who has recently added a powerlifting emphasis to my training. I’m using a hybrid of WSB (find my training log in the strength sport forum). I too was stuck at 180kg for at least 6-8 months. Last Saturday I back squated for my ME day and put up 200kg (first time performing lift in 6weeks). During those 6 weeks I performed PL style box squats both maximally and dynamically, PL deadlifts, GM, pullthroughs, all standard WSB stuff. If you OL then like me, your quads and knees might be overtrained, while your posterior chain and hips might be neglected. By fixing these weak points your OL BS can help but increase.

Crow and bamit hit on some great points.

I did the same as crow when my squat totals were “slowing”.

I stepped away from the squat, focused alot on heavy GM’s, a whole Variety of DL’s, heavy step up, and I RELLY think the box squat helped me alot. Can pinpoint why but I really like these. I cam back about 4-5 weeks later and really had a great squat day. Felt Strong!!



well, here is my split at the moment;

monday-lower body
Olympic style squats
warmup-8,5,5 then doubles or singles maybe 5 sets(increasing each time)
Romanian deadlifts-4x6
Step ups- 4x6
natural glute ham or leg curls-4x6-8
Wednesday-upper body
overhead press- 5x5
weighted chins-6x3
weigthed dips/close grip bench-5x5
barbell curls-4x6-8
Friday-total body
db snatch-6x3
explosive pushups-6x3
Bulgarian split squats-4x6
pullups/row to neck-4x max.
jumping split lunge-4x3
neck work-various
I obivously don’t Olympic lift, but I try to workout for strength and to improve martial arts practice. I also jump rope A LOT and do a lot of grip work, sprints in the summer and use the rowing machine. But not all at once in a week. I don’t think I am overtrained. I haven’t done much in the way of Good mornings though pretty much Romanian dead or snatch grip deads. Perhaps I should focus on the posterior chain anyway and take a break from squatting? I am open to change whatever.

Stop squatting.

You may need to give the squats a break for a while and work hard on some other exercises such as lunges, deadlifts and step-ups. Once you set some new PR’s in those lifts, try squatting again.

Change your style of squat for a while, i.e. PL style. Also, you might be overtraining your LE. Have you ever tried stop squats (sit in the full squats for 3-5 seconds and then stand up).

I have tried 1 1/4 squats but not sitting for a full 3-5 seconds. Sounds like the consensus is to take a break and concentrate on the posterior chain. I think I will do good mornings in place of squats in my split and increase the step ups volume. Sorry Crow I am not sure what you mean by overtraining my LE.

Have you even tried taking a break, then dropping some weight, building back up to the weight you are trying to do now?

I haven’t tried that really. Just variations of set/rep schemes. But I have been emphasizing squats for some time now, so I am thinking from what others have said that I should just take some time off and work on other elements of the squat. It won’t budge. But other aspects of my training are improving, so I think my overall volume is okay. In fact, I don’t think its all that high.

[quote]djohns wrote:
Have you even tried taking a break, then dropping some weight, building back up to the weight you are trying to do now?[/quote]

give some "wave loading a go, cycle through som of those and see how you go. search “tsunami training” or wave loading. check some of poliquins articles out.

Read Part III of the “Eight Keys” by Dave Tate. In it he describes common sticking points in the 3 PL lifts and what the causes may be. Obviously this applies mostly to a PL style of Squat, but, it can’t hurt to read it and evaulate your form with these points in mind.