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Barbell Why Squatting Every Day Doesn't Work

watchnerd

Level 7 Valued Member
Posted for discussion.

A barn burner of controversy from the Sika Strength guys who say:

1. Squatting twice a week is the sweet spot
2. Squatting more than that "just drags you down like a bad relationship"


Dan John also thinks squats don't work for Easy Strength (which is most days of the week):



Starting Strength enthusiasts (squats 3 days a week) and Smolov Squat fans (squats 4 days a week) are sure to disagree

Me, personally? While I squat every day in one form or another, a lot of them "don't count" because they're (comparatively) lightweight skill or mobility work (OHSQ, split squats), while my 'big squats' are only twice a week.
 
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TimothyGander

Level 5 Valued Member
Do pistol squats count? Is the Naked Warrior a bad program? I think you just cannot make such a blanket statement. If I do their recommended two days a week program, but split it over a course of more days, would I die? Does the same "rule" hold for a deconditioned sedentary person who can barely do five good bodyweight squats and a heavyweight powerlifter trying to break worlds records? Is it the same regardless of squat type? Seems like a good way to boost engagement (agitating Rippetoe's fans alone likely makes it worth it) but not very constructive.

Although, for what it's worth, Pavel does caution against doing ladders of front squats (in ROTK, where presses and hinges are programmed that way), "unless you don't do anything more athletic than sitting, crave enormous legs and do not mind living in constant pain". So maybe they do have an unique effect after all.
 
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John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
These guys... I think they understand how the YouTube algorithm works and they work it.

Back around 2010 or so I got caught up in the "Bulgarian Wave," started reading John Broz and Matt Perryman (who later wrote a book about it). I've had multiple very successful "Squat Everyday" blocks, although it usually broke down into 5-6 times a week just due to gym access. During one Squat Everyday block I took my squat from a measly 135kg to a slightly less measly 185kg, which to this day is the most I've squatted. I really wanted an "every day max" of 200kg (2xBW) so I could be a big boy back then.

The last time I squatted everyday was back in 2017. I ended up stopping because although "how I felt was a lie" and after a bit of squatting things started moving better and feeling better, I had a factory job where I had to change out waste drums of chemicals, and in order to do it you had to squat down under a cabinet to unhook them and rehook an empty one, and squatting down like that just became difficult and painful - the same feeling that I had when I started to squat at the beginning of a session.

Well I guess I've squatted everyday since then, just with lighter weights doing warmups like goblet squats or picking up kids...

There's a lot of things I really liked about squatting every day - no single session really mattered, each session was relatively relaxed, there was no "have to hits" or goals. I worked up, I did some back offs, and then I moved on. I didn't worry about programming or periodization. I could go for it when the weights were moving, or stop when I'd had enough. I set a lot of PRs in a short time frame.

The two big things I didn't like - I felt like a decrepit old man - moving, running, jumping, squatting outside of the gym just didn't feel good. Maybe that was technique, maybe that was because I didn't have a coach, who knows. There wasn't a lot of time in the gym for much else. Eventually both of those things would cause me to move on. And for the most part, the squat gains I made I kept in subsequent training blocks.

So I'm not sure I'd say it "doesn't work" but I definitely won't be out there preaching folks need to squat to a max(ish) every day. Now a nice goblet squat during a warmup ... yeah that can be every day.

In context of athletics, I think it would become difficult to squat heavy every day and still be fresh for your sport training, and I think that'll be true across a wide range of sports.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I once did a squat everyday month, when I had a rule to go up to at least ~330lbs/60%1RM every day for at least three sets. Otherwise I went at it in a very relaxed manner. I adapted quickly and noticed really few ill effects. That said, I noticed few good effects. I think my form was already solid, so I could do it without killing myself, but then again, my form was good, so there was only so much to gain from such. In the end, I didn't feel it was worth my time.

In the literature, Science and Practice..., it's said one needs 72 hours between heavy squat sessions. I agree.

I've tried a weekly medium-light-heavy, daily undulating, if you will, and with that I noticed I felt it better to pass on the light day by the end. At first it seemed to help recovery, later on in the cycle I again just didn't feel like I got enough from the time and effort I spent on it.

If I get pedantic, and separate squat sessions by 72 hours, I will occasionally get weeks with three squat sessions in them. And at times the recovery may go unusually well and I make do with less than 72 hours. But twice a week is a good baseline.

Of course, other training plays into it as well. For a powerlifter, the deadlift eats at squat training and vice versa. Things like really heavy carries can also beat one up. Etc.

In the end I'll add that I also believe it's an adaptive process - who would have thought! Even if we can't squat everyday now, if we make it a true priority, with diligent practice and some years, maybe we can. Whether it's worth it all is a whole another case.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Will check out the videos later today. . .

I don't squat weights everyday, but I do some sort of overhead press every day (usually pike pushups). While it might be comparing apples to oranges, I have found the statement "you can do the same thing every day, as long you don't do the same thing every day," to be true (anyone remember who it was that said that?).

So I would imagine that you might not be able to squat heavy every day, but you can wave the load and vary rep ranges and squat with weights every day for sure. Is it the best way to train? Depends on what you want out of training. Me, I want "anytime strength." I want to know that I can lift something whenever I want, not just every so often during a peaking cycle. So I am happy with slow gains, because the longer I train like this, the more I notice the strength gains feel stable. Without hardly touching my kettlebells, they are easier to lift each time I try. I am also not interested in competition. If I were, I would do things different.

$0.02
 

Geoff Neupert

Level 7 Valued Member
Beast Tamer
My $0.02, FWIW -

I've used it all.

Probably the most sustainable progress I've ever made is a L-H split, 2x week, which is what my coach argued for when we started training together and I was convinced 3x week was best. (Youth - it's wasted on the young.)

Interestingly, and I'm sure Eoin knows this - Glenn Pendlay, arguably the U.S.'s most decorated coach in recent years, also settled for 2x week with his lifters - Light-ish at the beginning of the week, heavy at the end of the week.

There's a world of difference between how drugged professional lifters train and how the rest of us train. It's like apples and oranges. Or watermelons and apples.

It's also worth noting that it's easier to be "successful" squatting every day with a barbell using the Front Squat or Zercher Squat, because they put less direct loading on your spine. So if you want to experiment with the concept, start with the Zercher Squat.

Finally, I think also the following "difficulty" continuum is worth keeping in mind:

Most Difficult --------|------------------------|-----------------------|----------------|-------------|----------------|--------------------|------ Least Difficult

Barbell Back Squat > Barbell Front Squat > Zercher Squat > DKB FSQ > SKB FSQ > Goblet Squat > Bodyweight Squat

So although you may not be successful using a barbell, you may be successful using a KB.

Hope this helps.
 

watchnerd

Level 7 Valued Member
Finally, I think also the following "difficulty" continuum is worth keeping in mind:

Most Difficult --------|------------------------|-----------------------|----------------|-------------|----------------|--------------------|------ Least Difficult

Barbell Back Squat > Barbell Front Squat > Zercher Squat > DKB FSQ > SKB FSQ > Goblet Squat > Bodyweight Squat

So although you may not be successful using a barbell, you may be successful using a KB.

Awesome ASCII infographic. ;)

Where do you think overhead squat fits on that spectrum?

Personally, I think I'd put it in the DKB FSQ / SKB FSQ area.

(But I've little experience with Zercher with which to compare it)
 
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Geoff Neupert

Level 7 Valued Member
Beast Tamer
Awesome ASCII infographic. ;)
Nothing but the best 20th century tech here.
Where do you think overhead squat fits on that spectrum?
Great question.

It's a weird squat in the fact that it requires A LOT of things to work right, yet can be easily compensated, especially with Oly shoes.

And because you're holding the load overhead, there's no direct pressure on the spine and the shoulders are your limiting factor.

So, from a "CNS demand" perspective - how hard it taxes your CNS - I'd agree with you and put it between the Zercher Squat and the Double KB FSQ.

But from a pure "difficulty" perspective - as in, how many people can do it and how much mobility/stability you need to do it, I'd put it before the Back Squat.
 

watchnerd

Level 7 Valued Member
Nothing but the best 20th century tech here.

Great question.

It's a weird squat in the fact that it requires A LOT of things to work right, yet can be easily compensated, especially with Oly shoes.

And because you're holding the load overhead, there's no direct pressure on the spine and the shoulders are your limiting factor.

So, from a "CNS demand" perspective - how hard it taxes your CNS - I'd agree with you and put it between the Zercher Squat and the Double KB FSQ.

But from a pure "difficulty" perspective - as in, how many people can do it and how much mobility/stability you need to do it, I'd put it before the Back Squat.

Thanks -- I find it paradoxical, too.

FWIW, in Sonny Webster's (team GBR) beginner weightlifting program, before even worrying about getting good at heavy BSQ in order to drive up lifts, he has people work on the overhead squat.

He basically believes beginners should prioritize mobility and technique first, as that's what will initially hold them back more than raw leg strength.
 

Boris Bachmann

Level 7 Valued Member
Posted for discussion.

A barn burner of controversy from the Sika Strength guys who say:

1. Squatting twice a week is the sweet spot
2. Squatting more than that "just drags you down like a bad relationship"
I'm not bothering to watch the videos, but yeah, I agree - if you're training for maximal strength squatting, I think 2x/week is just about right.

We've talked about Ivan Djuric here before - if I were him and MY goal was to squat 300kg, I sure as hell wouldn't be squatting every day. I would:
*squat 2x/week
*learn to squat to parallel (and not go a#@ to grass all the time)
*gain a lot of weight
*wear equipment
*train w. powerlifters
*use steroids
 

watchnerd

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm not bothering to watch the videos, but yeah, I agree - if you're training for maximal strength squatting, I think 2x/week is just about right.

We've talked about Ivan Djuric here before - if I were him and MY goal was to squat 300kg, I sure as hell wouldn't be squatting every day. I would:
*squat 2x/week
*learn to squat to parallel (and not go a#@ to grass all the time)
*gain a lot of weight
*wear equipment
*train w. powerlifters

I don't follow him closely, but I think he's been stalled in the low 200's for like a year now?

*use steroids

This reminds me of the stories about how the Bulgarian method didn't work when Ivan Abadjiev came to the US and had neither the conveyor belt of lifters to feed survivorship bias nor the drugs to make the daily 90% attempts work without leaving lifters broken
 

Geoff Neupert

Level 7 Valued Member
Beast Tamer
Thanks -- I find it paradoxical, too.

FWIW, in Sonny Webster's (team GBR) beginner weightlifting program, before even worrying about getting good at heavy BSQ in order to drive up lifts, he has people work on the overhead squat.

He basically believes beginners should prioritize mobility and technique first, as that's what will initially hold them back more than raw leg strength.
In a similar vein, my coach once told me that I needed to be able to OSQ at least 140kg to be able to compete on the national level. And that Rigert and all the other great Soviet lifters had threshold they were able to hit. I think it was 140kg/5, but I can't remember.

My best I think was 152kg/2 x5. It was my least favorite thing ever.

It would be interesting to revisit that idea again...
 
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