2

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Question About Squats

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 13, 2012 at 11:18 PM

So, I started doing squats (no weight, just my own body weight) and I am surprised at how weak I am. I can do about three sets of 6-8 before I feel weak and my legs are shaking for the rest of the night.

How long should I wait before I do another set? Should I do a set every day? Every other day? since I am not using any weight? I would like to get stronger.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on July 16, 2012
at 12:28 PM

ALSO since you have one weaker leg, you don't want to work past what that leg can do... you should do the machine at the gym that's the seated leg press. Use only one leg at a time... don't use a heavier weight on your good leg. Use whatever weight your bad leg can handle and stick to it! So squat on your left for 20 reps, squat on your right for 20 reps, etc.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on July 16, 2012
at 12:27 PM

You'll be surprised to find out that the more weight you add, the easier it is to balance. I squat 145 lbs, but when I'm just squating the barbell at 45 pounds, it's incredibly difficult because it's just too light. The heavy weight keeps my bar in vertical alignment through the entire squat.

Fc25b41326b954c4e5b8ce0dabb889a6

(523)

on July 15, 2012
at 01:15 PM

It really depends on your goal. Pure strength, then sure, take rests between. Endurance and stamina trainers are taught and often do their exercises at tempo. It's killer, but they go hard and stay hard.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 15, 2012
at 12:21 AM

Do yourself a favor...buy Starting Strength by Mark Rippitoe.

1e9164a5a54003ac247d49c574dc7bfc

(396)

on July 14, 2012
at 06:43 PM

hehehe. They are the devil's tool, but they are great work. :) Enjoy.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on July 14, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Awesome idea. I'm going to try it.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:47 PM

SQUAT, or the terrorists win.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:46 PM

+1 , this Q should be a mandatory read for all PaleoHackers!! First off, if your NOT SQUATTING, your doing yourself an injustice. The squat is bar none the BEST exercise - in the world! As a beginner, your looking to build strength. So here is the fastest way to do that. Do 5 - that is FIVE squats - at different times throughout the day, multiple times a day. Thats all you have to do to progress. 5 reps builds STRENGTH, in no time you will be able to knock them out as easily as turning on a light switch.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 14, 2012
at 12:01 PM

Well I guess I just meant do them quickly, don't take long breaks between them. In the tabata workout you should be able to move constantly during the 20 second workout part even as you start to get tired.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:49 AM

I've been working out since I was 14 (and we moved someplace upstate that had a gym, a mall, and some cows) and I always rest exactly 60 seconds between sets as I was taught by the first guy who trained me. I am also hyper/fidgety, so I don't really like to rest much. I left you a comment about burpees above.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:47 AM

@Jared Krauss: I had to google "burpees" (I thought you were messing with me) and then watch a Youtube video :-)

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:21 AM

Yep, I gotta find a mirror to workout in front of, so I can see how my form is.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Thanks. I am not too worried about bulk. I have always been kinda long and thin, and I think muscle is great!

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:19 AM

P.S. I think it's awesome to do squats whenever you can. After the restroom is fine, and I don't think it's weird, I think it's motivated.

1e9164a5a54003ac247d49c574dc7bfc

(396)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:18 AM

Yes, 60 seconds or less is perfect. No more. I'll be the strict-ass here and say, do your work. You're doing it for a reason and that reason will require hard work and some sacrifice. Some of that sacrifice are those extra breaths that your body is telling you you MUST have, but the next 5 reps won't kill you, you're not going to die, you might be panting harder, your legs might hurt, but keep going. Don't stop. Think about where you want to be in 6 months, where you are now, and that in order to get there you must do your next set. Keep up the good work. Might I recommend, burpees? :D

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:17 AM

Yes! Me too! I have one leg that is weaker. I have had a bunch of back surgery, so maybe that is why. I think my form is good, but I do hold onto something when I squat so I don't fall over and I can get a good, deep squat.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:16 AM

I'm sorry to sound dumb, but I am not sure what you mean by hard and fast? Well, I guess I get fast, but not hard? I usually do things with a slow smooth controlled motion.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:15 AM

I used to do squats at various times throughout the day, especially for a computer break, but it has been a while and I am horrified at how weak I have become.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on July 14, 2012
at 02:58 AM

This is true, even with bodyweight squatting. I've actually done some experimenting with heavy squatting one day, "resting" by doing intense sets of bodyweight squats the next day, taking one day off and then doing some moderate weight deficit squats with another rest day after. So, 3 squatting sessions in 5 days, but different disciplines and pace for each. The rest was key but I also think it was enough variability to really gain some strength without overdoing it.

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on July 14, 2012
at 12:10 AM

I like this idea! I will try this myself.. once I figure out how to do them. I think I already do a variation of them I learned in a yoga class. I generally stretch in the bathroom while I'm in there.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 13, 2012
at 11:35 PM

TY. I always rest 60 seconds between sets, no matter what the exercise. Do you think that's okay?

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10 Answers

5
2ece7f80625d8dada98eb7ea33a1f470

(115)

on July 13, 2012
at 11:57 PM

I am a pretty strong squatter but my flexibility really holds me back. I've started something kinda silly, but every time I have to use the restroom at work I do a set of 10 squats when I'm done. It's a private restroom, so no one is seeing how crazy I am.. but these quick bursts of movement wake me up a little and I've noticed that I am getting a lot deeper. Maybe while you're still feeling week you could do several small sets throughout the day?

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:19 AM

P.S. I think it's awesome to do squats whenever you can. After the restroom is fine, and I don't think it's weird, I think it's motivated.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on July 14, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Awesome idea. I'm going to try it.

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on July 14, 2012
at 12:10 AM

I like this idea! I will try this myself.. once I figure out how to do them. I think I already do a variation of them I learned in a yoga class. I generally stretch in the bathroom while I'm in there.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:15 AM

I used to do squats at various times throughout the day, especially for a computer break, but it has been a while and I am horrified at how weak I have become.

3
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 13, 2012
at 11:26 PM

If you are just doing bodyweight, it is not going to hurt you to do them every day or at least 4-5 days per week. You should build up pretty quickly to be able to do 10-12 reps per set and 3-4 sets per session. I would rest no more than a couple minutes between sets, personally unless you are having a hard time maintaining form. And by form, I mean straight back, so don't hunch over, and keep your knees from going in front of your toes. Keep the weight on the heels, not on your toes or front of your foot.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 13, 2012
at 11:35 PM

TY. I always rest 60 seconds between sets, no matter what the exercise. Do you think that's okay?

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:47 AM

@Jared Krauss: I had to google "burpees" (I thought you were messing with me) and then watch a Youtube video :-)

1e9164a5a54003ac247d49c574dc7bfc

(396)

on July 14, 2012
at 06:43 PM

hehehe. They are the devil's tool, but they are great work. :) Enjoy.

1e9164a5a54003ac247d49c574dc7bfc

(396)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:18 AM

Yes, 60 seconds or less is perfect. No more. I'll be the strict-ass here and say, do your work. You're doing it for a reason and that reason will require hard work and some sacrifice. Some of that sacrifice are those extra breaths that your body is telling you you MUST have, but the next 5 reps won't kill you, you're not going to die, you might be panting harder, your legs might hurt, but keep going. Don't stop. Think about where you want to be in 6 months, where you are now, and that in order to get there you must do your next set. Keep up the good work. Might I recommend, burpees? :D

2
Medium avatar

(3213)

on July 13, 2012
at 11:48 PM

Take it slowly, it takes time to build up your strength. Proper form is key

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on July 14, 2012
at 02:58 AM

This is true, even with bodyweight squatting. I've actually done some experimenting with heavy squatting one day, "resting" by doing intense sets of bodyweight squats the next day, taking one day off and then doing some moderate weight deficit squats with another rest day after. So, 3 squatting sessions in 5 days, but different disciplines and pace for each. The rest was key but I also think it was enough variability to really gain some strength without overdoing it.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:21 AM

Yep, I gotta find a mirror to workout in front of, so I can see how my form is.

2
76e82f76e7e3ed9747c980b50fc51b25

(229)

on July 13, 2012
at 11:45 PM

Even though You are not using any extra weight, you should treat it as any other workout. Everything is about relative strength. You squatting your body weight and me squatting 300lbs is essentially doing the same thing to our muscles. Lucky for you, there will be a steep learning curve and you should be able to progress with weights much quicker than I will be able to.

You should take at least 48 hours between your squat workouts to give your legs enough time to heal and become stronger for the next time.

If you are just striving for general fitness the 'rest' doesn't really make a huge difference. My recommendation is to take at least 1 minute between and up to 3 minutes. I would suggest just going when you feel ready.

Good luck, and don't be afraid to add in weights when you feel comfortable. Don't worry about getting too bulky, if it was that easy, every bonehead jock in the gym would be massive.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Thanks. I am not too worried about bulk. I have always been kinda long and thin, and I think muscle is great!

1
Fc25b41326b954c4e5b8ce0dabb889a6

on July 14, 2012
at 04:10 PM

I recently started a 5x5 program called Stronglifts. It only requires me to be in the gym M-W-F. I recommend having a rest day between workout sessions for major muscle groups. Core can take every day, major muscle groups cant and lifting/overexertion before you've healed will cause your body to release a stress hormone like Cortisol which wastes both bone and muscle. You'll be doing more damage than good. Hope this helped a little!

1
71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on July 14, 2012
at 03:28 PM

If your hip flexors are tight, your glutes will be slow to fire. Make sure you stretch/foam roll before you exercise.

1
01109277e48838b58279b1719fc23e72

(75)

on July 14, 2012
at 07:55 AM

I think it depends on what your goals are: If it's just fitness - just to get a good workout, do as many as you can, as heavy as you can sustain 12-15 reps or so for several sets. Rest minimal, mix in burpees or whatever: the point in this instance is to get your heart rate up, get your body moving, and burning.

If you want to build strength, take as much time as you want between sets. I like the two minute mark when I go "heavy." Its enough time to recover from anything, but still keep you focused. When I do squat or deadlift or powerclean workout, it takes me a good half hour.

I like working up to my one rep max - starting light then adding weight bit by bit, until I feel I've reached my max. I feel this is a good way to warm up, and not "shock" the muscles into going too heavy too soon - I also feel this may ward off injury: strains and such. It's also a great benchmark to know if I'm getting stronger, or getting weaker over time because you have a single number as a reference that's easy to remember.

Once I find my one rep max (1RM), I calculate 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, and 90%.

Then perform the following routine with two minutes rest in between:

5 reps @ 70% 1RM

3 reps @ 75% 1RM

3 reps @ 80% 1RM

1 rep @ 85% 1RM

1 rep @ 90% 1RM

as many as i can at 70% 1RM (usually 6-ish).

This whole routine takes about 30 min.

When training major muscle groups like this, rest is as important, if not more, as the exercise set itself. I'd wait two days until doing anything other than walking, light cardio, or metcon with the legs. And if you did it right, doing anything other than walking should feel impossible :).

Happy squatting!! Hope this helps!!

1
1e9164a5a54003ac247d49c574dc7bfc

on July 14, 2012
at 04:29 AM

I'll be the advocate of the devil here and say, I disagree with those who've recommended long rest periods and long times between workouts. In fact, I suggest in a week or two you add in a 5 burpees with each set of squats.

Like some have mentioned, there will be a steep curve for you, which is a good thing. You're at a point where your body will learn very quickly what it needs to be doing, because it is not used to doing it all.

But, not only will it gain muscle memory and heal fairly quick as you push yourself, it will gain a relatively massive amount of strength and endurance. All that said, the best way to see improvement, especially right now, is hard and fast: high intensity.

Keep your rest periods to 60 seconds or less.

Time it if you must. Even if it takes you 30 seconds to do each squat: be doing the squat, not standing there thinking about how you should be doing it.

Your body is much more capable than you'd imagine. The harder you push it, the faster it will respond (mind you have proper nutrition, which I hope you do, being here and that you're getting enough sleep).

I can't stress enough how important eating healthy is.

But more than that, sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Go to bed. Like I'm about to do. Go to bed, sleep longer than normal. Get that sleep. How many times must I say it? Your body will want it, your mind will thank you for it, sleep. Seven times.

If you have any sort of item that weighs 5-20#s that you can hold above your head with both hands, I'd recommend using that in about 2 weeks. Overhead squats are by far the best squat out there, in my opinion, and in others. But, don't take my word for it, research.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:49 AM

I've been working out since I was 14 (and we moved someplace upstate that had a gym, a mall, and some cows) and I always rest exactly 60 seconds between sets as I was taught by the first guy who trained me. I am also hyper/fidgety, so I don't really like to rest much. I left you a comment about burpees above.

1
F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

on July 14, 2012
at 04:00 AM

Hey china... it may not be that you are overall weak, but squats work out the largest muscles in your body, along with many more smaller ones. If one of your legs is underdeveloped like my left one was, you don't have enough stabilizing muscles built up yet. Take it slowly but PLEASE make sure you have correct form. You can start adding dumbells draped over your shoulders progressively. Also start doing squat jumps when you feel comfortable to get those muscles pumping!

And remember to lift with your butt!! Not your chest, not your back, your butt.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:17 AM

Yes! Me too! I have one leg that is weaker. I have had a bunch of back surgery, so maybe that is why. I think my form is good, but I do hold onto something when I squat so I don't fall over and I can get a good, deep squat.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on July 16, 2012
at 12:27 PM

You'll be surprised to find out that the more weight you add, the easier it is to balance. I squat 145 lbs, but when I'm just squating the barbell at 45 pounds, it's incredibly difficult because it's just too light. The heavy weight keeps my bar in vertical alignment through the entire squat.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on July 16, 2012
at 12:28 PM

ALSO since you have one weaker leg, you don't want to work past what that leg can do... you should do the machine at the gym that's the seated leg press. Use only one leg at a time... don't use a heavier weight on your good leg. Use whatever weight your bad leg can handle and stick to it! So squat on your left for 20 reps, squat on your right for 20 reps, etc.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 14, 2012
at 02:47 AM

I would do them at high intensity, as hard and fast as you can do them, but not until you are completely "done", if possible. Though with squats you are using so many big muscles that I don't think you'd fail the same as you would with pull-ups for example.

Squats are awesome for this reason because they work your biggest muscles. I find that exercises that really hit your biggest muscles are those that burn the most fat.

Try a tabata workout, where you work out for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat that 8 times. Do as many squats as you can during the 20 seconds, and add them all up. Do that once a week and see how you improve.

At my crossfit gym, one of the trainers did 101 squats in 2 minutes, which is almost one squat per second sustained for 2 minutes. Something to work up to!

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 14, 2012
at 04:16 AM

I'm sorry to sound dumb, but I am not sure what you mean by hard and fast? Well, I guess I get fast, but not hard? I usually do things with a slow smooth controlled motion.

Fc25b41326b954c4e5b8ce0dabb889a6

(523)

on July 15, 2012
at 01:15 PM

It really depends on your goal. Pure strength, then sure, take rests between. Endurance and stamina trainers are taught and often do their exercises at tempo. It's killer, but they go hard and stay hard.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 14, 2012
at 12:01 PM

Well I guess I just meant do them quickly, don't take long breaks between them. In the tabata workout you should be able to move constantly during the 20 second workout part even as you start to get tired.

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