Love to squat but not sure if you’re doing too little? Too much? Read this to finally reveal the truth about how often you should squat.
The question of ‘how often should I squat?” is a common one but there are many factors at play when answering. It’s not as simple as just picking a number and going to the gym.
You should consider your goals and outline what you’re actually trying to achieve in the gym, you should also consider the intensity and volume of the training sessions.
The type of squat and accessory movements is important too and by addressing these factors first, you can come to a safe conclusion about how often you should squat.
If this is something you’ve been struggling with, don’t worry, because in this article we’re going to walk you through the process as we outline how many times a week you should squat.
Type of Squat
Although there are many different types of squat, including bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell, and more, in this article we are only looking at the barbell back squat.
If you were completing a mix of weighted squats, bodyweight squats, and more then there is no reason why you couldn’t squat daily, but when squatting with heavy weight on your back, things are a little different.
Doing too little could stop you from reaching your goals whereas doing too much could lead to injury and other problems down the line.
If you’re new to squatting and you’re currently using a dumbbell or kettlebell then the same principles outlined in this article apply to you.
Before we look at where you’re going it’s smart to look at where you’ve been.
If you’re untrained or new to exercise and squatting (under a year of experience), then you should be focused on quality squat sessions, not completing more of them.
The gains and benefits that you will see as a new lifter will already be great as your body adapts to the new exercise so there’s no reason to overdo it and risk causing an injury.
As a new lifter, you should look to adopt a lower training frequency than someone who has trained for years.
However, if you’re an experienced lifter, with good technique, and an understanding of how to safely push yourself, and an awareness of your body, then you are better suited for a higher frequency of training.
It’s also worth adding that if you have a history of lower-body or back injuries, irrespective of your training experience, you may also want to consider a lower squat frequency.
What are Your Goals?
People train for different reasons, some may want to build muscle and change their physique whereas others just want to move better and feel good about themselves.
Before you begin training and squatting, you should clearly outline your goals as that will make it much easier to come to the correct conclusion for you.
If you have a specific lifting goal such as getting stronger then that will move you towards a higher workout frequency whereas if your goal is to be able to move better and generally feel good about yourself then a lower frequency will be fine. But make sure you outline this first.
What you do in your gym sessions should align with the goals you’ve set yourself and what you want to achieve.
Don’t be one of those people who say they’re trying to get stronger and build their lower half, yet they only squat once a week as they spend the rest of the week training vanity upper body muscles.
Frequency / Intensity / Volume
The frequency, intensity, and volume of your training is the most important factor in finding your ideal squat routine, but let’s look at what that means.
This means that if you’re concerned with getting to the gym 4 or 5 times a week, but you’re struggling to do so, you should instead look at how effective your training sessions are when you do make it to the gym.
To put it in simple terms, training at the gym 4 times a week and squatting twice, you may complete 3 sets of 10 each time, bringing you to 6 sets a week or 60 reps total.
But by dropping to 3 gym sessions a week, squatting in each one, and changing your sets to 4 sets of 8, you can complete 12 sets and 96 reps in a week and save yourself an extra day at the gym.
It’s also worth looking at how you train. If you’re the type to spend 90 minutes in the gym but 45 minutes talking, texting, and taking selfies then you need to fix that first.
Plus, if you’re not challenging yourself with the movements by either increasing the weight or the sets/reps, then you’re still working within your capabilities.
If this applies to you then your priority should be changing the intensity of your workouts to ensure you’re giving your body the best chance to be successful.
Bodybuilders and competitive lifters will split up their week to ensure they get the most volume possible with their training. It’s why you hear of people dedicating a whole day to arms, or spending hours on one muscle group at a time.
But for the average lifter, you shouldn’t get sucked into that type of training method. Instead, look at a training split that helps you to reach your goals and make improvements and is at the right level for you.
It’s said that to bring about an improvement to a movement/muscle, you should look to train a lift 2-4 times a week, so that should be your starting point.
Our two favorite training splits, for both beginner and medium to advanced lifters are either a 3-day full-body split or a 4-day upper/lower split, which places you in the ideal range to work a muscle 2-4 times a week.
This may change slightly due to your goals but our advice would be to squat at least twice a week, minimum.
Of course, a 2-day split is also possible, but that would require a slightly higher training volume, meaning much more intense workout sessions.
Once you’ve got an idea of how often you can train in the gym you can start to structure your program and build your routine the right way.
Other Things to Consider
In amongst all of this you mustn’t forget that recovery is just as important as the work you do in the gym and the key component, along with what you eat, for determining your results and the overall success of your program.
Try not to schedule any sessions back-to-back where you train the same muscle groups in a row and ensure you’re giving yourself a chance to recover.
If you are going to do two days in a row as part of an upper/lower split that would be fine, but don’t try to perform a heavy squat on Monday then do the same again on Tuesday.
That’s a recipe for injury and a very easy way to stunt your progress as you do more harm than good, putting your body at risk.
Answering the question of how often you should squat is not as easy as just picking a number, and that’s why we can’t do it for you. While you should look to train a movement 2-4 times a week to see an improvement, if your goals are all based on your upper body you may find yourself on the lower end of the scale.
Equally, if you can only get to the gym once a week, that will put a firm lock on what you can do too whereas if you’re an athlete then all of the above may be wrong as your volume may need to be very high.
Our advice would be to align your training with your goals and focus on eating right, nailing your technique, and having fun.
Every time you step in the gym ensure you’re getting the most you can out of your session and you’re not wasting time that could be put to better use.
For example, you may train 3 times a week, but squatting 3 times a week with high volume and great intensity is much more effective than squatting 5 times a week but spending half of the session talking or posting on social media.
If you can build a program that aligns with your goals and train with the right intensity to see meaningful results, then you’ll be on the right lines.
Just ensure you’re working hard, keeping safe, and doing the right things outside of the gym to show the results of what you’re doing inside it.