You must have seen the guys at the gym squatting 300lbs. It’s impressive, to say the least, and even though it may not be for everyone, some of us want to achieve that. However, no matter what you do, you may actually find yourself getting weaker when trying to squat. Here is what your doing wrong.
The main reasons your squats are getting weaker are due to factors such as poor nutrition, poor rest and recovery, poor squatting technique, and trying to lift too heavy too fast. All these factors will play a role in the wear and tear on your muscles and joints and cause overall fatigue.
This article will delve into the various aspects of why your squats are stagnating and, in some cases, even getting weaker. Some of these factors may seem common knowledge, but there are some you wouldn’t have realized. Lastly, we’ll also take a look at how to improve your squatting.
Why are my squats getting weaker?
There is no doubt that many individuals do not like to train legs and skip leg day at the gym when the time comes. What hurts is that those who train legs and go through the grueling exercises to get this done, with one of them being squats, get pretty upset when they find themselves getting weaker and not stronger.
When it comes to squats, there are many factors that can contribute to why you would actually get weaker and not stronger, and many individuals do not know this.
Luckily we made a list of all the reasons that would be inhibiting your squat progression.
9 Reasons your squats are getting weaker
1. Your squat is too heavy
Clearly, this has to be at number one because I see this all too often in the gym. Training too heavy will not help you lift heavy.
There is a specific rep range and amount of weight you need in order to tear sufficient amounts of muscle fiber in order for those fibers to properly recover and get stronger.
Lifting too heavy and going through a low rep range between one and three will not ensure that you have torn enough muscle.
Furthermore, your body won’t be utilizing your legs correctly. Your body will be trying to support the weight with all other supporting muscles, and the weight won’t be directed to your legs.
Eventually, strain, fatigue, and injury will set in. This is not a question of if but rather when.
2. Your diet is incorrect
Even though many individuals think that lifting weights is the most important part of the exercise, diet plays the biggest role.
If your body does not have the fuel in order for your muscles to recover, they will not, and they will get weaker.
Correct nutrition and rest (which we will discuss next) is the only way your body will recover. There is literally no other way your body can do this.
Hence, it would help if you were supplementing your body with the correct number of meals a day, taking into account the number of calories you need.
Furthermore, your meals should have the correct ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in them. Yes, all of them.
If you are on a low-carb diet, this is a sure way and reason why your squats will be getting weaker.
Carbohydrates supply energy to your body, while protein is used for recovery and fat for nutrients.
If you have the incorrect ratio of these and you are not eating enough trying to squat 220lbs is not going to happen
3. You do not get enough rest
Besides diet, rest is the next most important part of exercise besides actually exercising. The only time your body will recover in terms of your muscles regrowing after you have torn them down at the gym is when your body is asleep.
Besides adequate sleep, you might be training too much, meaning you do not have enough rest days. Rest days are another crucial element that many individuals think is unnecessary and train times a week.
They think that they should be fine because they only train legs once a week, so they have time to rest. However, this is not the case. not matter the body part being worked on, your body doesn’t distinguish between any of them. It just tries to repair what has been damaged.
This means if your body is in a constant state of fatigue, your body will try to repair whatever needs to be, and as such, it cannot cope in trying to recover muscles all the time.
You will most definitely find that your squats will get stronger if you start supplementing your workouts with rest days.
Check out this video on how overtraining and not resting or or taking days off will negatively impact your training.
4. You’re lazy
Your body responds to shock (stimulus), and this is how you grow an enormous amount of muscle mass. This is why you should often change up your routine so you don’t hit a plateau.
When it comes to squatting, most people will not put in the effort required to strengthen and build muscle if they are not lifting heavy enough.
This means when it comes to squatting they will just go through the motions which is very common.
This will actually hinder growth and, combined with other factors such as a bad diet and no recovery, will ensure that you actually get weaker.
5. You’re training legs to often
It seems counterintuitive training your legs, especially with squats, will make them weaker and not stronger.
The amount of strain that this specific exercise exerts on the body is enormous, and your legs are not the only muscles involved.
The only part of your body that squats don’t work is your arms, shoulders, chest, and upper back; otherwise, it is almost a full-body exercise incorporating your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and calves.
This pushes your body to expend a lot of energy and fatigue the associated muscle groups. Not to mention that you probably train those muscle groups on separate days, pushing them to their limits as well.
This means that your body is just too tired; no matter how much rest or nutrition you give it, it will not be able to recover in time for your next squat session.
6. You’re training schedule is flawed
As we said, the body reacts to stimulus, and this is how it grows and grows consistently. Many individuals will stick to what they know and implement the same routine without any change. Your body thus hits a plateau and stops growing.
Additionally, doing the same exercises over and over increases the likelihood that you will get injured. Think about it. If I train the same exercise all the time, the same muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons are always being used in the same way going through the same ROM (range of motion).
This causes stress, wear and tear, and fatigue. The remedy for this is to change up your routine and switch to different exercises and routines.
Another factor that incorporates much of what we said is that your schedule may be too strict. This means in addition to not changing up your routine, you don’t take sufficient rest days, or you will always go to the gym even if your body tells you it is tired.
This is a sure way to start removing the plates off of the squat rack. Remember to always listen to your body because it knows best, and don’t just follow some routine blindly hoping for results. In most cases, it won’t work.
7. You don’t have the correct squat technique
Besides lifting too heavy, this is probably the biggest culprit to why your squats will be getting weaker.
The incorrect form will wreak havoc on your body, causing injury and, in the long run, wear and tear on your joints and muscles.
Many individuals say that you must go all the way down to the floor when you squat, and some say that you should only go to a seated position.
I always recommend that latter because going all the way to the floor will increase the likelihood that you will injure your knees.
Moreover, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart is a priority. Having your legs placed close together will again work the incorrect muscles and supporting muscles.
Hence, your legs won’t get worked without utilizing the correct technique. The incorrect muscles will get worked, they will be fatigued, and additionally, there may be some wear and tear in your joints, making your legs essentially weaker.
Studies have been done associated with barbell placement (technique) regarding muscle activation and the results speak for themselves.
If your still unsure of how to do a squat correctly check out this comprehensive video.
8. The order of your exercises are wrong
We discussed that stimulating the body in terms of different exercises and routines is a good way to keep the body in a state of “shock,” in essence always keeping it anabolic (growing).
This is good; however, you need to keep in mind that squats should most probably be your first exercise if you intend to lift heavy.
If you are moving through your leg exercises and placing squats after any, your legs will be fatigued to a degree. Thus, making them weaker, and therefore you won’t be able to lift as heavy.
We also discussed that it uses many various muscle groups in combination with your legs, and one of the main muscle groups that gets worked hard is your lower back.
Back is a major muscle group, and if you work this prior to legs on the previous day, it will still be tired. Your lower back takes a lot of load and thus a lot of strain when you are squatting. So the best thing to do is plan your routine and exercises correctly.
9. You are not doing other leg exercises
As we said, if you only stick to one exercise, your body will be prone to injury and your joints to wear and tear. This is a major reason why your squats would be getting weaker. Not only this, but even though squats are a great exercise that works most aspects of your legs, they will only work them in a specific way.
If you feel you’re not progressing and getting weaker in your squats, the reason could be because you are not utilizing other exercises to strengthen individual muscle groups.
Take, for instance, leg extension. It is an isolation exercise that just focuses on your quads. Increasing your leg extension lifting would increase your overall capability to lift heavier when squatting.
Check out these top ten leg exercises you can incorporate into your leg workouts to build insane size and strength.
How do you fix a weak squat?
We covered all the criteria that will be hindering you, making your squats weaker. Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to get them stronger. We did touch on some of these aspects under the previous headings but let’s combine them together in a simple overview that you can walk away with.
Rest and recovery
For the most part, you want to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night in conjunction with your off days. Your off days should be taken after working major muscle groups, intense cardio, and before major muscle group training days. For this, you would use a split routine that works best in accordance with your lifestyle.
I am an avid fan of the three-days on and one-day-off routine, and I always suggest it to my clients if they are looking to build strength and muscle mass. Three days in the gym followed by a day of recovery. Your training days will alternate and not be inlined with a typical week because the routine technically consists of eight repeatable days and a week, well, consists of seven.
However, I’ve found this method to be one of the best when training for muscle gains and strength because of the rest day placed in the middle rather than having two or one rest day allocated to the weekend.
It is paramount that you are eating correctly and eating enough. If you are on a diet that cuts calories, don’t expect to increase your squats because it just won’t happen. You have to take into consideration your weight, height, age, and more, then determine the number of calories you need each day and adjust the nutrient in the meals accordingly.
Typically, it would help if you were eating at least 5 times a day and supplementing your body with nutrients like vitamins and anything else that you do not get from your meals. There is no need to overdo it. Just do it correctly.
Concerning exercises and routine
Due to the fact that there are so many muscle groups getting worked that include fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers, it is not uncommon for me to recommend to clients to do 5 sets of squats with the first three sets going to 12 reps and the last two sets increasing the weight and going for 8 reps.
In my other articles, I do state there are specific rep ranges to achieve specific goals, and this holds true, especially if you are a beginner.
However, if you are looking to improve your squats lifting hundreds of pounds, and are experienced in the gym then other factors come into play.
You need to build stability and endurance throughout your lower back and core because this is what stabilizes your body when squatting if you have no strength here, your squats won’t increase.
The best way to do this is with moderate weight pumping out the reps in your first couple of sets. You may only be able to go a little bit heavier in your last two sets. However, if you do this for an extended amount of time (at least 8 weeks), you will find that when you change up your squatting routine and try to lift heavier, you will be able to.
We found out that many factors can be detrimental to your squats, and that will actually make you weaker. Nutrition, routine, rest, and technique are the main factors, and typically a person will be doing a combination of them incorrectly.
Due to insufficient rest, supplementation, and technique, your body will be fatigued, won’t recover, and you will find yourself getting not only weaker at squatting but other exercises as well.
Lifting too heavy and trying to do too much too fast is also another downfall and will lead to injury or joint problems.
All the factors discussed in this article will play a role in your squats, and whether you are looking to increase your weight in squats or better your overall performance at the gym, we recommend that you consider all the factors discussed here.