Squats are hard. They can cause the type of fatigue that requires days to recover from, and that’s why it’s commonly advised to train them no more than once per week.
It’s reasonable advice …that I totally ignored. Instead I opted for the if a little is good a lot must be better line of thought (which rarely has any merit. Unless you’re talking about chocolate), and decided to try squatting every day.
Leg Training Renaissance
For a long time I didn’t train legs. Like many young males all I cared about was upper body, and leg training was way too painful for something I wasn’t interested in anyway. Eventually I did train my lower body, but as an afterthought mostly out of a sense of guilt.
I got to a point where leg development and strengthening my squat became a passion; I can’t even explain why. Suddenly the pain and difficulty were stimulating challenges instead of sources of dread.
Of course prior neglect meant my legs were more those of a malnourished sparrow than the pillars I had in mind.
Genetic Brick Wall
Even given priority and a lot of effort, my legs don’t respond well to training. The once per week model I’d been taught was the pinnacle of quality leg training was ineffectual. But time progressed and I kept hearing about squatting more than once per week.
Having bought into all the overtraining rhetoric I heard in the beginning, it seemed crazy to train anything more than once per week, let alone something as taxing as legs. However, stagnation makes you reconsider things, and I decided to add some extra squat workouts into my program.
If a Little Is Good
Having not died of overtraining from one or two extra squat workouts, the next step seemed to be building up to squatting every day. If nothing else the extra training would provide practice for my squat technique, which historically was cringe-inducing if not bordering on spine-snapping.
Squatting Every Day
I found that squatting every day is absolutely feasible—provided that training is mostly submaximal and recovery is carefully monitored. Becoming overtrained is harder than people think, but winding yourself into a frenzy and attempting to break squat records every day or taking all sets to failure would probably get you there.
That said, I’ve found I can work up to a surprisingly high effort and not exceed my recovery capability.
Technique is important. If it’s poor and you hurt your joints every time you squat, a daily routine would be disastrous (see here for more on squat technique). But again it’s a balance—the only way to perfect technique is to actually do it.
Another important point is that work capacity itself can be trained by slowly adding in workouts over time. Immediately jumping up to daily squatting if you’ve only been doing it once per week would probably be too much.
Should everyone squat every day? No. However, if your lower body is stubborn and you’d like to prioritize it, daily squatting is an option to try. If you explode with size and strength from merely looking at a squat rack, there’s probably not much point unless you either just love to squat, or need to build up performance for a sport.
- Squatting every day is a feasible strategy that won’t necessarily lead to overtraining.
- Working to maximum capacity needs to be limited. Leaving a few reps “in the tank” on most sets is wise.
- Everyone is different—what you can get away with in each session volume and intensity-wise is a matter of experimentation.
- It’s a great way to practice technique.
- For me it lead to faster gains in size and strength than once per week training.
- Squatting every day is probably not a good option if your sleep is inadequate, or you have lots of stress in your life outside of the gym.
- Because it’s so demanding, if lower body isn’t a priority it would be better to spend recovery ability on other body parts.
- Squatting every day is likely best suited to bringing up lower body imbalance as opposed to a long-term strategy.
Thanks so much for reading. All feedback and questions welcome, I’d love to hear from you—just use the comments box below or send me an email.
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