The Price of Squats

Hey Gents,

A bit of background here: Longtime athlete, but infrequent lifter. Over 35, but less than 40. I’ve read everything on this site, and feel as though my favourite authors are Mark Rippetoe and Dan John. I’ve tried to keep things simple in my new program, since I’m looking to gain lean mass as priority 1, and strength as priority 2. Here it is:

Squats - 3 x 15 (Set 1 can be completed without pause, by set 3 I am pausing/breathing at rep 8). 2.5 min rest between sets.
Dips - 4 x 6
Superset with
Pullups 4x6
Farmer’s walk - 4 x 30 seconds with 60 seconds rest
Workout performed every second day (7 workouts in 2 weeks)

After a good warm up, this is about 40-45 minutes. The problem as I see it, is that while I am gaining both mass and strength, the squats kill the rest of the workout. Should I be concerned that my other lifts aren’t improving, or will these catch up? I’m using a basic weekly progressive overload with my squats, so they aren’t getting any easier.

The options as I see them are, 1) Keep going and reevaluate after 6 weeks (two weeks in), or 2) Reduce the overall volume of squats and increase the volume on the dips / pull-ups.

Which option might be best from a systemic perspective? It seems as though using progressive loading in high rep squats might attenuate progress in other areas. Is it too out of place to emphasize high rep squats for a relative beginner?

What does this consist of? 40-45 minutes isn’t a warm up ,its darn near a work out on its own deepening on what your doing.

I read it as the workout takes 40 to 45 minutes after he finishes warming up.

Regarding the OP’s question. If you trust a program enough to run it then you have to give it more than two weeks to see if it works. Give it the full 6 weeks.


When you run a full body routine, which I did for about a year, you’re going to be tired by the end. This will affect your performance and is, in my opinion, is a good thing. It is evidence that you aren’t cheeseballing your squats and that you’re actually working hard.

If it really bothers you, you could always reverse the exercise order every other day so you’re hitting your dips and pull-ups fresh at least once per week.

I wouldn’t sweat it too much either way. If your dip and pull-up numbers are progressing while in a fatigued state, I think your performance while fresh will be improving as well.

Like DBasler said, you really don’t have enough information to make an informed judgement. Just run it and see what happens. Lifting isn’t a race unless you’re aiming for the bottom.

When I first read it, I thought the same thing. :grin:

I would probably start to question this as well… but that’s because 3 sets of 15 on squats is miserable. Stay the course. As others have said, you could change up your exercise order. The experts say to prioritize your training. Whatever is most important to you should be done early in the week and first in the workout. For you the timing in the week won’t matter since you’re hitting it every other day.

Keep grinding. If you start to feel rundown then throw in a deload week.

Thanks for the information guys. I’m thankful that nobody said “3 x 15 squats is pointless” … though what is pointless for some is a focus for others. I’m not sure who said it, but I recall hearing that every workout ought to have one principle lift, and for me, full ROM squats is a killer.

I will stick it out the 6 weeks, but if I can ask 1 follow up question: Would anyone substitute the Farmer’s walk for strict overhead press / push press? It’s an area of relative weakness, although I wonder about whether this would be too much work with compound movements.

It depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your squatting, but hitting 3 sets of 15 week-in, week-out will change you for sure. If nothing else, you will build character!

Without knowing your goals, background, etc I’d go with no. Leave the loaded carry. Right now you actually have a pretty balanced and very basic program. You’re squatting, pushing, pulling and carrying stuff every other day, which covers most of your body. If you bust ass you’ll get stronger for sure. This isn’t a program you’d run forever, but it seems like a pretty good way to get your ass moving again.

It will either work, or not, but you won’t really know until you give it time enough to work.

That’s my $0.02.

Squatting is a priority for strength, growth, and all other lifting. Hail the squat. Perhaps move the order of your lifts to squatting near the end of your routine. Be strong.


New policy for me…No reading or typing before first cup of coffee for the day.

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Sounds good folks… I will stick with the plan and go the full 6 weeks on high repetition squats. I think I will keep them as the first lift of the workout, since I want to make sure that I’m fresh: I’m not sure how much my lats contribute to securing the weight on my back, but I don’t want them fatigued from pull ups just in case.

What is the logical follow up after the 6-week period with respect to squat programming? I would love to keep working at them, but if I change my focus to another key lift (e.g., overhead barbell press), what would maintain size / strength gains? My thoughts would be 5 x 5, perhaps with a less aggressive progressive overload scheme?

I should have started posting on this website a while ago… would have made the olympics by now for sure.

Why are you lifting? What is your goal?

Edit: I’m sorry, I see you spelled that out already.

I don’t think you can go wrong with 5/3/1 for adding muscular bodyweight and increasing strength, but it is hardly the only path to success.

I would suggest moving the dips/pull ups to the front of your workout, then do squats, then pick an upper body exercise you’ve been thinking about trying out for awhile, and then do the loaded carry.

Right my workouts are:

Day A:
shoulder presses
weighted steps

Day B:
dead lifts
loaded carries

I like doing chins after dead lifts and dips after squats to decompress my spine.

Almost certainly you will do best with your killer squat workout by making it the last exercise.
Sure, you’re going to be whacked then, and will have to go lighter …
But as it is the last exercise, you don’t have to hold back for what is next, and can make that last exercise a beauty.