5 Ways to Push Past a Squat Plateau
The first thing I want to say is that it’s not just you. There are many other lifters out there with similar goals and aspirations. You may have been training for years without any real success or maybe you’ve only recently started lifting weights again after being away from it for several years. Whatever your reason, if you’re reading this then chances are you’re probably having some sort of problem with your squats.
Squatting is one of those exercises that most people either love or hate. Some people love them because they make their butt look bigger, while others hate them because they don’t have the same effect on their physique as some other exercises such as deadlifts and bench presses.
There are many reasons why someone might struggle with their squats, but here are five common issues that most people run into when trying to improve their squat:
1. They aren’t using proper form.
When you start squatting, you need to use the correct technique. If you’re doing them wrong, then your results will be much less than if you were doing them right! Proper form involves three things: hip hinge (or “hip thrust” if you want to use the word that Mark Rippetoe likes using), knees-out, and elbows out.
If you don’t hip hinge, then your butt will come off the ground, if you don’t knees-out, then you’ll cave in your knees, and if you don’t elbows-out, then you’ll internally rotate your upper-leg and expose your knees. All of these are dangerous for your spine. Not to mention that if you don’t use proper form, then you won’t get the maximum benefits from your squat.
The easiest way to check and see if you’re using proper form is to videotape yourself from the side and then play it in slow motion. If you see any of these problems in the squat, then make sure to correct them immediately!
2. They aren’t focused.
It should go without saying that you can’t squat big weights while you’re on your phone or listening to your favorite song on your headphones. If you want to master the squat, then you need to focus your attention on the squat. This is a skill-based exercise and requires that you are in the “zone” if you will.
Make sure to have no distractions of any kind when you squat. Turn off your phone, don’t listen to any music, and wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained with sweat and blood (if you’re into that).
3. They aren’t using the right equipment.
While this isn’t an issue for most people, it can still be a problem for some. Namely, if you’re in the process of building a home gym but haven’t finished it yet, then you might have some trouble squatting properly.
For one, you’ll need proper plates to load the bar. If you’re still using the little plastic plates that don’t have handles then it will be very difficult to load the bar past a certain point. If you’re just starting out, then you won’t need to worry about this since most starter home gyms come with at least a couple of 45-pound plates.
You’ll also need something to keep your bar in place. Most squat racks have a place to hold your bar, but if you’re like me and didn’t get a squat rack, then you should use a safety collar. While you could just place the bar in the uprights of the power rack, this isn’t always ideal since it can make it difficult to un-rack the weight.
The next thing that you’ll need is a way to keep track of your workout. While you could just use a pen and paper, this gets tedious very quickly. It’s much easier to just keep track of your lifts on a computer. While there are many weightlifting programs available for free online, I wrote my own for those of you who don’t want to mess around with looking for one. My program is free to use for as long as you want (and as long as I have the website up).
4. They aren’t eating right.
Many people start eating cleaner and adding calories when they start lifting weights. While this is fine for awhile, this won’t last forever. Your body requires a certain amount of nutrients that it needs in order to recover from your workouts and build muscle. Without these nutrients, then you’re body just won’t grow.
Make sure that you’re eating every 2-3 hours and that you have the proper portions of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in every meal. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you’re eating 1 gram of protein per pound that you weigh. As for carbs and fats, you’ll need to pay a little more attention to see how your body reacts.
5. They aren’t training hard enough.
The biggest mistake that a beginner can make is not training hard enough. This is especially true with guys who start lifting weights with the sole intent of getting “bigger.” Instead of focusing on moving big weights, they focus on moving the weights as fast as they can.
This doesn’t work.
If you’re going to spend all that time in the gym, you might as well get the most out of it by lifting the maximum amount of weight that you can. This means slowing down the pace of your lifts and really focusing on the muscle that you’re trying to target. Sure, you might not see the weight increase right away, but if you stick with it then you’ll be happy in the long run.
These are the five biggest mistakes that I see beginners make in the gym. Of course, everyone is different, so what doesn’t work for one person might work for another. The most important thing is to find what works for YOU and to have fun while doing it!
As you go on in this journey, you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t. If something stops working for you, then change it up. Never let your workouts become mundane and always try to strive for improvement. Trust me, it’s a long road, but it’s a fun one if you just stay patient and dedicated.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section below. Also, if you found this article helpful, then please share it with anyone you think might find it interesting. Thanks for reading!
Are You Ready To Commit Yourself?
I get a lot of people that email me and comment about how they want to get in shape, but are worried that it’ll never happen. I know how this feels because I used to be in the same boat. I wanted to lose weight, but I just kept finding excuses not to.
If you want to start losing weight, then you need to make a decision right now that you’re going to do this. You can’t just keep reading articles and posts like this and expect change to happen. You need to take action.
So right now, I want you to make a promise to yourself that you’re going to get in the best shape of your life this year. Don’t just say it either. Say it loud, and mean it! I’m sick of hearing all your excuses. It’s time to take action!
Now that you’ve made the promise to yourself, you need to hold yourself accountable. That’s why from now on, I want you to comment on this article once you complete your first workout. This way, we’ll both be held accountable.
You don’t want to let me down do you?
All right my friend. It’s time to start changing your life for the better. The first step in this process is finishing reading all the material you have access to right now. So I want you to click on all the links in this article and read everything you can. Once you feel like you have a good grasp on everything, come on back and we’ll move on to the next step.
Watch The Video
Want more info?
Then watch the video below about losing weight!
The 5 Most Powerful Weight Loss Hacks Ever!
1. Ditch The Car!
You got a car when you were 16 and ever since then, it’s been the center of your life. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the reasons why you’re so fat. It’s convenient to just drive down to the corner store and pick up a pack of cigarettes and a big bag of Cheetos.
If you got a bike, on the other hand, you’d be forced to actually walk that crap all the way home. Walking to the store and back would probably take an hour or two out of your day, but over time it would drastically increase your overall health. Not to mention how cheap it is to buy food when you have to carry it yourself!
2. Chew Food Thoroughly
Most people don’t do this. They just bolt down their food as fast as possible and then feel sick afterwards. Slow down, eat slowly, and enjoy your food. Not only will this prevent you from getting sick to your stomach, but it also gives your body time to realize that you’re full before you’ve inhaled an entire pizza.
3. Embrace The Pain
This tip comes courtesy of my old wrestling coach. I remember being so scared the first time he made us do sit ups. He’d make us do hundreds in a single practice. It was hell.
After a few weeks of doing them, sit ups stopped being so hard. I could do them for hours without breaking a sweat. My old wrestling coach knew what he was doing.
What he was doing was increasing my core strength which would translate into improved athleticism in every other sport I took up and daily activities outside of athletics.
Want to burn more calories than you’re eating?
Then start doing crunches. Lots and lots of crunches.
4. Keep A Food Diary
I’ve been where you’re at right now. I’ve had times where I eat so horribly that I literally feel like throwing up, yet I continue to do it.
Because the short term benefits (taste, enjoyment, immediate satisfaction) outweigh the long term costs (health, looks, stamina).
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You become what you eat. If you keep putting crap into your body, then that’s what you’re going to become. If you put in quality foods and drinks, then that’s what you’re going to become. It’s really that simple.
That’s why you need to start keeping a food diary. Write down everything that goes into your mouth. You’d be surprised at what you eat on a daily basis. I was. It made me sick.
Literally and figuratively.
5. Drink Water
It’s a fact that our bodies are made up of over 70% water. It’s more important to our bodies than even air.
Are you starting to understand why I’m having you track your food?
You need to know these things.
Drinking water helps you from getting hungry. The more water you drink, the less you’ll feel like eating. It also gives you beautiful skin and keeps your organs functioning properly.
One last thing I want to mention is to drink filtered water. The skin, organs and other parts of our body are covered in a protective oil called sebum. This oil is made up of a lot of things, one of which is contaminents that can be found in tap water.
Filtered water not only tastes better, it’s better for you. I have a filter installed on my faucet and I also keep a bottle of water by my bed so I make sure I’m getting enough water everyday.
6. Don’t Eat After A certain Time
One thing that helped me was stopping eating after 8pm. This oil is made up of fat and toxins which are normally disposed of through the liver and kidneys.
When we drink unfiltered water (water that hasn’t been run through a filter), it doesn’t get processed by the body. This means these toxins are stored in our organs and other parts of our body. Not only does this cause fatigue, but it also makes us more susceptible to illness.
Filtered water is one of the simplest ways to improve your health. Most people go through their day and they don’t eat until dinner. They might have an apple or something at lunch, but that’s it. Basically they’re fasting for 14 hours.
If you eat a big meal right before you go to bed, your body is going to be busy processing that food which means it isn’t working on burning the fat you want it to burn.
Keep in mind I’m not telling you to not eat dinner. It’s not even that expensive. I got this filter for $30 bucks and it lasts over a year. If you can afford a $6 coffee everyday, you can afford a filter for your faucet.
Drinking water before bed is also an effective way of reducing bloat and helping you lose weight. Just make sure you’re drinking filtered water!
7. I’m simply saying don’t eat after a certain time. You can have dinner at 6pm and that’s fine. I wouldn’t eat any later than 8pm though.
This is something I struggled with for years. It was difficult to figure out when I should stop eating since I never felt hungry. Eventually I realized that the less I ate, the hungrier I felt. Each day I would go without food made it easier to fast for longer periods of time.
7. How to Tell You’re Losing Fat
This is something you’re going to have to figure out on your own because everyones different. For me it’s how my clothes fit and looking in the mirror. I also keep a scale in my bathroom so I can weigh myself every morning as well. Stop Eating Junk Food
The best way to ensure weight loss is to stop eating junk food. Fruits, vegetables and water should be enough to sustain you. No one ever got fat from eating too many apples.
A lot of people think that if they eat a low fat or lite version of their favorite snack food, that they can still eat it. This is false.
A lot of people freak out when they step on the scale and see that they’ve gained weight. You shouldn’t be worried about your weight if you’re still losing inches. The human body is funny like that. It might be dropping fat but holding onto water so you actually weigh more. This will even out though as your body gets into a routine and starts shedding pounds.
These foods are processed to taste good and be “good for you”. This usually involves adding more chemicals to make up for the fat that was taken out.
Once again, the more chemicals you put into your body, the more you’re going to start developing resistances to them. At that point you’re actually doing more harm than good.
The other thing about these processed snacks is that they’re pre-packaged.
Here’s a video that shows you how to re-wire your brain to stop emotional eating.
8. Have A Cheat Day Once A Week
I don’t believe in food guilt. One of the reasons diets fail is because people get so ashamed of themselves when they “slip up” and have something they consider off limits. Cheating is part of life so you might as well accept that now and have your “cheat days”. This means that the serving size is always set for one package. Let’s say you get a bag of potato chips and there’s probably about 5 servings in the bag.
The thing is, who stops eating when there’s only one serving left?
Probably no one.
Most people are always going to eat at least two or three servings. This adds up very quickly. You’re better off eating something from the bulk section where you can measure out exactly how much you want. The key is to keep them small and infrequent.
What I do is have my cheat day on Saturday since I don’t workout on Sundays. This way I’m not only giving myself a break from the monotony of eating the same foods but I’m also content with what I ate the day before and it’s not looming over me.
Here’s a list of what I consider “off limits”
9. Get Some Exercise
There are a million and one activities you can do to get exercise. Walk more, take the stairs, jog in place, lift weights, play sports, etc. The important thing is that you find something you like because if you hate it, you’re not going to continue doing it so it’s pointless. Personally, I like sports so I play soccer and basketball whenever I can.
Nowadays, gyms are all about the “workout” and not enough about the “gym”. We don’t go to the gym to sit on machines and watch T.V, we go to the gym to bust our asses! I really don’t understand why people pay money to torture themselves. The only thing I can come up with is that their joints hurt so much that they feel better after a good long rest.
But hey, that’s what your beautiful home is for right?
If you have problems with joints or back problems in general, then by all means go to a gym because machines can help strengthen your body in a way that’s comfortable to your condition. But if you’re healthy and you want to get in a good workout, stay away from the gym.
Lifting weights are very important for men because it helps secrete more testosterone (in addition to many other benefits). Most of us aren’t professional athletes so the kind of exercise we do is to simply keep our bodies in good shape for the ladies.
If you read my definition, you’ll notice I worded it carefully. That’s because there are two kinds of people, those who lift and those who don’t know they lift.
What do I mean by that?
Well, let’s say you’re at the grocery store and you pick up a 5 lb bag of potatoes. You didn’t put it down because you were getting tired, you put it down because you knew you couldn’t hold any more. Congratulations! You just worked out!
You see, we all have different amounts of strength. Some guys can carry a fridge down stairs while some ladies can’t even lift a bag of cat litter. So don’t worry about joining a gym and spending your hard earned money. You can get a great workout right in your own home.
Some exercises you can do are:
Situps or Crunches
Pullups (ladies can use resistance bands to help)
Deadlifts (5 lbs bags of potatoes work great for these)
9. Have Kids
As you know, I’m not married and I don’t have any kids so I can’t really give you advice in this department. But what I can tell you is that it’s much better to have kids early because your energy levels are higher and there’s less worry about not being able to run around and play when they’re older. This isn’t to say you can’t have kids when you’re older (I’ve seen it happen) but I’m just suggesting that it might be easier when you’re younger.
However, if you do have kids later in life, don’t worry about it. Although being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life, you might not want to have them right away. You need to put their needs before yours and make sure you’re financially stable enough to support them. You’ll feel better knowing they have everything they need and won’t have to worry about things like you did.
Oddly enough, I’m seeing more and more women in there 40’s having kids now. I think the delay in child birth is due to two things:
This leads me to the next tip…
10. Enjoy life
This should be a no-brainer but for some reason people forget to do it. They get caught up in the rat race and feel a sense of emptiness. While money is important and a necessity to survive, it’s not the most important thing in life.
You need to take time to smell the roses and enjoy nature. Get outside and go for a long walk or jog in the park. Watch the sunrise or sunset. Play with your pet (If you have one). Basically do anything that gets you outdoors and appreciating the world around you.
Most importantly, spend quality time with family and friends. Many of us get so busy in life that we forget to keep in contact with the people we love.
My dad is a good example of this. He was always working and he’d miss important events in my life because he had to work. I don’t work (other than writing this guide) and I try to spend most of my free time with my family or doing something fun. You don’t get a lot of time on this planet, so you should try to enjoy it as much as you can.
Sources & references used in this article:
Training To Break Through Any Plateau by J Salmon – Power, 2019 – generationiron.com
Analysis of kneeling by medical imaging shows the femur moves back to the posterior rim of the tibial plateau, prompting review of the concave-convex rule by PN Limerick – 1988 – WW Norton & Company
The 5 Best Training Tips You’ve Never Heard by JM Scarvell, N Hribar, CR Galvin, MR Pickering… – Physical …, 2019 – academic.oup.com
Incidence Of Plateau at Vo2max: Is There a Role For a Circadian Oscillator? by A Stille – 2002 – Macmillan