Are squats more difficult with more body weight?

I am assuming that for lower body exercise, your actual body weight matters. Is that correct? If I am doing squats, and I am about 40 pounds heavier than where I should be, the extra weight would make the squats more challenging. Maybe not exactly proportional to the amount by which I am overweight, but it would have an impact. While for upper body exercise, your actual body weight should not matter as much, correct?

For example, I squat about 30 pounds, but I use 30 pound for OHP as well. Usually, the squats should be three times your upper body, right? But I find squats super challenging and I am not progressing as fast. Is it because of my extra body weight?
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Replies

  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,842 Member
    Extra weight not only makes its so that you are squatting more lbs, but extra weight is hard on your body, your joints, your cardio vascular system, everything. So yes extra body weight has an impact. But... you have to also take into consideration when you are heavier, you also have more muscle so theoretically you could be stronger. If you are struggling with squatting , its most likely a form issue.
  • deputy_randolph
    deputy_randolph Posts: 941 Member
    I think you are overthinking it. Squats are just hard.

    To a point, being heavier is better (at least for powerlifting) for squats. The heavier you are the more muscle you would likely have, being bigger would decrease your range of motion, and fat would cushion your joints to some extent.

    My max squat is 215lbs; max bench is 150lbs. There's no way I'm squatting 3×150=450lbs at 138lbs. There are a lot of "shoulds" in fitness...don't listen to it; just do you.
  • mutantspicy
    mutantspicy Posts: 624 Member
    I mean pullups were hell of a lot tougher at 215lb than they are at 185lb. And pushups are harder when you are heavier as well. Planks, situps, pretty much every thing is a little tougher, but yes squats are definitely affected a little more than most but not as much as pullups.
  • jp_debord
    jp_debord Posts: 1 Member
    edited July 2018
    Free weight squat is a compound exercise that work 90% of the musciles in your body. So, there are a lot of factors that can impact your preformance. Factors impacting it include but are not limmited to form, core strenth, and flexability. It's a hard lift to learn but it's one the best things you can do in the gym. I suggest you have a saasoned competitive lifter, a good trainer, or a lifting coach critique your lift and give you suggestions.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,191 Member
    I am assuming that for lower body exercise, your actual body weight matters. Is that correct? If I am doing squats, and I am about 40 pounds heavier than where I should be, the extra weight would make the squats more challenging. Maybe not exactly proportional to the amount by which I am overweight, but it would have an impact. While for upper body exercise, your actual body weight should not matter as much, correct?

    For example, I squat about 30 pounds, but I use 30 pound for OHP as well. Usually, the squats should be three times your upper body, right? But I find squats super challenging and I am not progressing as fast. Is it because of my extra body weight?

    I don't know that there's any hard and fast rule about 3x upper body, but yes...typically the lower body is quite a bit stronger...it is after all carrying the load most of the time. When I was heavier, my squat was still pretty good...I had built up quite a bit of muscle in my legs from just carrying my fat *kitten* around.

    IMO, even heavier you should be able to squat more than you OHP and also progress much faster. There are a lot of things that can affect your squat...form is probably number one...but also something you should work on before adding too much weight.
  • walking2running
    walking2running Posts: 141 Member
    thank you all. those are all good things for me to know. i check my squats in the mirror and i will not to increase weights until i see perfect form or until i consult with someone who knows better than i do.

    i curl up my toes to prevent my knees from going forward but surely there’s a better way?
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,090 Member
    edited July 2018
    I am assuming that for lower body exercise, your actual body weight matters. Is that correct? If I am doing squats, and I am about 40 pounds heavier than where I should be, the extra weight would make the squats more challenging. Maybe not exactly proportional to the amount by which I am overweight, but it would have an impact. While for upper body exercise, your actual body weight should not matter as much, correct?

    For example, I squat about 30 pounds, but I use 30 pound for OHP as well. Usually, the squats should be three times your upper body, right? But I find squats super challenging and I am not progressing as fast. Is it because of my extra body weight?

    In theory actually extra weight means better leverages and should be easier to move weight. This includes in some compacity the OHP.

    In general, a heavier person adapts to their weight just as much as a lighter person. So a person who is 300lbs has progressed over time to be able to walk, squat down, whatever they do in their dailly lives just as a 100lb person has.

    If you find squats challenging it's because either you're not adapted to the weight as of yet, your form is off, or you are working with challenging weight. For someone new, it's usually it's s combination of the first two.

    Also anybody squatting 3x their body weight are a higher advanced lifter and is not typical.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
    thank you all. those are all good things for me to know. i check my squats in the mirror and i will not to increase weights until i see perfect form or until i consult with someone who knows better than i do.

    i curl up my toes to prevent my knees from going forward but surely there’s a better way?

    It sounds like you would do well with in-person help (a coach, trainer, a knowledgeable friend, etc.) Depending on what your form issues are, waiting to add weight may be good or it could be bad. It is possible to be *too* obsessed with perfect form. Also, don't curl up your toes. And your knees going forward is normal.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,090 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    thank you all. those are all good things for me to know. i check my squats in the mirror and i will not to increase weights until i see perfect form or until i consult with someone who knows better than i do.

    i curl up my toes to prevent my knees from going forward but surely there’s a better way?

    It sounds like you would do well with in-person help (a coach, trainer, a knowledgeable friend, etc.) Depending on what your form issues are, waiting to add weight may be good or it could be bad. It is possible to be *too* obsessed with perfect form. Also, don't curl up your toes. And your knees going forward is normal.

    Knees forward is absolutely normal. Ideally you want to set them forward and out and keep them there on first 1/3 of the decent. How much forward wI'll depend on your limb lengths and balancing the weight midfoot.

    Any body suggesting knees should not be forward doesn't understand body mechanics and I would disregard their content until.proven otherwise.
  • peaceout_aly
    peaceout_aly Posts: 2,018 Member
    I'm sure it makes it slightly harder, but not significantly. You walk around on your legs all day, a squat shouldn't be too awful. It probably more so has to do with flexibility and form. That's most common. You may have to make minor adjustments to the way you're standing, width of your feet, angle of your toes, etc. And definitely incorporate stretches to open up your hips, that is suggested even for the most competitive of power lifters!
  • walking2running
    walking2running Posts: 141 Member
    I do squats in a group class setting, so while I get tips from the instructor, it's not a one-on-one situation, and my form isn't monitored closely. The tips that I was given were:
    - Not to let my knees go past my toe line. To achieve that, I sometimes curl my toes, or focus on shifting the weight to my heels
    - keep my chest elevated, which I have a hard time with. I can't swing my hips back without tipping my chest somewhat
    Maybe I am misinterpreting the instructions.

    Also, I am 5'4" and 170 pounds. I am in a calorie deficit (with a goal weight of 130 pounds / 1 year timeline). So, maybe the calorie deficit is preventing me from moving forward?

  • mutantspicy
    mutantspicy Posts: 624 Member
    edited July 2018
    Not everyone has the body mechanic to keep their knees behind the toes, its easy for me but I have short stocky legs. Keep your knees in line with your feet, so they track straight thru your middle toe. Focus on pushing your butt back and let your go knees just go along for the ride. Just don't let em cave inward. If they go past your toes, that's absolutely normal. Also your gonna lean forward a little bit its impossible not too, Focus more on making sure the weight doesn't tip forward and goes straight up and down vertically.

    PS - My guess is that because you are trying to keep your knees back that is forcing your chest forward more that it should.
  • hipari
    hipari Posts: 1,367 Member
    I do squats in a group class setting, so while I get tips from the instructor, it's not a one-on-one situation, and my form isn't monitored closely. The tips that I was given were:
    - Not to let my knees go past my toe line. To achieve that, I sometimes curl my toes, or focus on shifting the weight to my heels
    - keep my chest elevated, which I have a hard time with. I can't swing my hips back without tipping my chest somewhat
    Maybe I am misinterpreting the instructions.

    Also, I am 5'4" and 170 pounds. I am in a calorie deficit (with a goal weight of 130 pounds / 1 year timeline). So, maybe the calorie deficit is preventing me from moving forward?

    For keeping your upper body elevated, you might find it helpful to keep a weight plate in your hands, like a steering wheel but with your elbows bent to a 90 degree angle. My trainer instructed me to do so and it really helped with my squat form. I use a 5kg plate, which is about 12lbs, so not really a lot of weight to add to the squat.

    Obviously we are individuals and this might not work for you, but something to consider.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,090 Member
    edited July 2018
    I do squats in a group class setting, so while I get tips from the instructor, it's not a one-on-one situation, and my form isn't monitored closely. The tips that I was given were:
    - Not to let my knees go past my toe line. To achieve that, I sometimes curl my toes, or focus on shifting the weight to my heels
    - keep my chest elevated, which I have a hard time with. I can't swing my hips back without tipping my chest somewhat
    Maybe I am misinterpreting the instructions.

    Also, I am 5'4" and 170 pounds. I am in a calorie deficit (with a goal weight of 130 pounds / 1 year timeline). So, maybe the calorie deficit is preventing me from moving forward?
    No offense, but whoever is instructing you is dead wrong on this issue. Knees can go past toes. There is zero wrong with that. The problem is when you break at the hips first and your knees break later and go past toes at the bottom of your lift. This is "knee slide" . Your knees sliding forward should be corrected, knees over your toes is just fine in moat cases and personal body proportion thing.

    Chest elevated is more of a cue for someone bending over too much and that would be accessed by a coach. Bending over had its benefits as it engages slightly more posterior chain than a upright torso where you are using more quads.

    Here is a vid showing my knees going past my toeline. My femurs are extremely long and due to my body mechanics there is absolutely no way of my knees staying back further and hitting depth. Let's imagine if they could, it the would then center the weight on my back behind my heel line. Meaning my balance would be off mid foot and I would dump the weight.



    Everybody has different body proportions so a small percentage of individuals might be able to keep knees back with proper form, but certainly instructing a group to do so is complete utter bs.

    Also I coach a guy who is barely taller than 5'2 and is just under 400 lbs and is now eating in a deficit and he squats parallel depth . It took less than 10 minutes to get him to use good form squatting. He s now squatting nearly 300lbs for reps three times a week and only took him 7 weeks to do so under a deficit.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
    I do squats in a group class setting, so while I get tips from the instructor, it's not a one-on-one situation, and my form isn't monitored closely. The tips that I was given were:
    - Not to let my knees go past my toe line. To achieve that, I sometimes curl my toes, or focus on shifting the weight to my heels
    - keep my chest elevated, which I have a hard time with. I can't swing my hips back without tipping my chest somewhat
    Maybe I am misinterpreting the instructions.

    Also, I am 5'4" and 170 pounds. I am in a calorie deficit (with a goal weight of 130 pounds / 1 year timeline). So, maybe the calorie deficit is preventing me from moving forward?


    You mention a class setting--are you doing high rep squats? I'm thinking along the lines of Bodypump. If so, you will lift less weight doing that kind of workout than you will following a strength training program like Starting Strength, etc. The latter has you doing fewer reps per set. In general, there is an inverse relationship between the number of reps in a set and the amount of weight you use.

    As for the calorie deficit preventing you from moving forward, that certainly is possible. As a person progresses, it is not unusual for strength gains to become more difficult in a deficit. Squats have always been my most difficult exercise and my experience is that my progress pretty much halts when I am cutting calories. Other people have little to no problem while dieting. Overall, though, my first thought is that you are not progressing more because of the type of workout you're doing rather than your calorie level.
  • pondee629
    pondee629 Posts: 2,469 Member
    "Usually, the squats should be three times your upper body, right? But I find squats super challenging and I am not progressing as fast. Is it because of my extra body weight? " There is no "Usually"; there is what is right for you at the current time. The only goal is progress. Keep working, keep getting better, keep on keeping on.
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,971 Member
    edited July 2018
    My knees go slightly more forward than my toes when I squat. I am tall. Although I think it has more to do with the proportion of each body part. If you can, take a video of yourself doing a squat from the side and watch videos and pictures of proper form. I felt silly taking a video of myself but it's been extremely helpful...
  • VUA21
    VUA21 Posts: 2,073 Member
    Yes! Unless you carry all your excess weight in your feet, then the more you weigh, the more you are squatting! This is why people that start out obese and incorporate exercise (both cardio and strength training - even just body weight), tend to have very muscular lower bodies when the excess fat comes off. A 300lb person doing body weight squats is very close to a 150lb person doing 150lb (including the weight of the bar) squats.