T Nation

Squatting Issues


Hello, guys!

I am a 25 yers old male, weighing 90 kg, my height is 186 cm. I basically grew up with swimming and martials arts (6+ years, mainly of full contact karate, later i added boxing and muay thai). Then i made a transition to weight training. I am definatelly not a newbie in a weightlifting, just had some long periods of pauses because of my intensive studies (veterinary medicine).I intensely trained for past two months and these are the numbers i made: DL 180 kg, bench press 130kg, jerk 100 kg, clean 75 kg, but squat… there is something profoundly wrong with it. My recent best back squat was like 110kg… It’s like impossible to progress at this point - weight feels kind a heavier than it felt in the last workout. As i am trying to move to olympic lifting, i switched to front squats, ATG. For example, last week my working squat sets was made of 85kg and it felt heavy. Now, week passed, i put the bar on my chest - and it seems that it is too heavy again, same situation when i am squating - it seems that my legs is not responding to the exercise stress and their strength is not improving. I am mainly using 5x5 program, which it worked perfectly for benching, deadlifting and OHP. But my legs is not respoding at all… I am training 4 times a week. Having plenty of rest. What could be the issue? Maybe 5x5 specifically for my legs is not working? It’s getting very frustrating…

Any insights and recommendations would be grateful.


More food. More sleep. That’ll help with recovery.

Make sure you are bracing properly. The squat is super dependent on bracing. If you aren’t bracing so hard it hurts than you aren’t bracing. Here’s a vid from @Alpha explaining way better than me. (You should subscribe to his channel btw, stop what you’re doing and subscribe).

Unfortunately some people have bad leverages and technique for certain lifts (my bench is terrible). I’d recommend squatting alot with moderate weight to get better at the movement.

One of the hardest things you can do with weights is 20 rep “breathing” squats. Basically pick a low/moderate weight and squat one rep, take 3 huge slow breaths that move the bar upwards and expand your rib cage. Then brace and decend for rep 2. By the time you get to rep 20 you will want to die. These helped me get used to having weight sit on my back and improve form.


Are you only squatting once a week? Pretty much everyone except some elite powerlifters needs to squat at least twice a week to make decent progress. And why are you only front squatting? Even for weightlifting, the back squat is the main strength exercise. Front squats are usually limited by upper back strength more than leg strength. It’s only Abadjiev and people who follow his example that only front squat, and they do it to a 1rm multiple times a day.

My advice is that you should squat at least twice a week (if you aren’t already, the way you wrote things is sounds like it’s 1x) and make at least one of those days the high bar back squat. You can do some bodybuilding-style accessory exercises like leg press, hack squat, and Bulgarian split squats as well since you could probably use some additional leg mass.

Watch this video too:


My first advice is patience. Diminishing returns is a fact of life in all things. We love the quick results at first and then wonder what when wrong, but the stronger we get or the better we get the more time and effort it takes to improve. Otherwise we would all be master musicians and Olympic level athletes.

My second bit of advice is that squats and dead lifts are different creatures. I get better results for my dead lifts with a go heavy or go home approach, but better results for my squats with a high volume approach. I really don’t know why; I work my squats at a lower % of my max than my dead lifts so I can keep proper form to protect my lower back and spend more time warming up my squats because my middle aged knees need it.