How Much Should I Squat?

Squats are some of the best exercises that you can add to your workout routine. They offer excellent benefits in shaping, toning, and strengthening your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They can also improve your mobility, balance, and strength. And if you choose to do it with weights, how much you can squat will help indicate your strength level and overall fitness level.

If you’re just starting out in your fitness regimen, you might be wondering, ‘how much should I squat?’ This is one of the first questions you should address if you’re going to take on this challenge as going overboard will not do good things for you.

The interesting thing about doing squats is that there are actual calculators that can tell you about the squat strength standards that you can follow when giving this routine a try. However, this is just a guide. There are lots of factors that might prevent you from being able to lift the recommended weight or allow you to handle more. It still involves some trial and error.

Squat Standards and Average Squat Weight

According to some experts, the best and maybe even safest way to find out the estimate of your average squat rate is by matching it with your one-rep max or 1RM. This is the maximum weight that you can lift in one go.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should pick up the heaviest weight you can lift right away. Most people have limited squat mobility, so it’s not advisable for you to go squat with the heaviest load you can handle right away. This method is more commonly used by weightlifters and athletes with perfect form and close expert supervision, so you shouldn’t give it a try on your own.

Based on science, however, there are standard amounts of weight that a person can ideally lift based on their weight and skill level. This is where the squat standards come in. There are several websites that will help you calculate the right numbers for you but to give you some idea of how things work, here’s a quick rundown of some sample numbers:

Male Squat Standards

If you’re a male who weighs 170 lbs, here are the recommended weights for your 1RM according to your skill level:

  • Beginner: 148
  • Novice: 204
  • Intermediate: 273
  • Advanced: 352
  • Elite: 436

Female Squat Standards

For a female weighing 120 lbs, here are the 1RM recommendations per skill level:

  • Beginner: 58
  • Novice: 95
  • Intermediate: 143
  • Advanced: 201
  • Elite: 266

Dumbbell Goblet Squat Game Plan

Many experts recommend that regular folks work their way up instead. Some say that those in good shape should start with their bodyweight equivalent with a full range of motions. So if you weigh 200 lbs, that’s a solid place to start. You can just work your way up or down according to your skill and form.

If you’re not very fit yet and aren’t quite mobile enough to have good form, taking things slow is more strongly recommended. Doing a dumbbell goblet squat instead of a barbell back squat will help you train your squat pattern and mobility.

Start with a 50 lb dumbbell then work your way to 100 lbs within 6 to 8 weeks with the ultimate goal of completing 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 6 reps. This is a good foundation for transitioning to other squat variations, so its a highly beneficial step in your fitness goal. Once you reach your body weight equivalent and can do 5 reps with it, you can already try other types of squats.

Submaximal Squats

In case you’re not gunning for one-rep max, you can look for your submaximal weight instead. This will allow you to train your endurance and do more reps instead of pushing for the heaviest weight that you can lift.

Finding how much you should squat for this method will require some tweaking, however, but you can base your numbers on the 1RM standards mentioned above. Compute the 60 to 80% of the recommended weight for the estimated one-rep max of your body weight and you’re good to go.

Improving Your Form

As mentioned above, your form is a crucial component to mastering your squats. Without it, you won’t reap the benefits of this wonderful workout and you may even put yourself in harm’s way.

So how do you improve your form? Here are some tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Maintain your feet to be shoulder-width apart for traditional squats. This will give your body a good balance and a supportive base without using up your strength.
  • Breathe properly. Do not hold your breath during the whole exercise as this can be dangerous.
  • Do not lean too far forward. Doing so will throw off your balance and form.
  • Keep your knees aligned to your toes. This will help prevent too much knee strain.
  • Focus on your leg movement when pushing up. This will help you put more power on your legs and push your form to adapt.