So, I started doing squats (no weight, just my own body weight) and I am surprised at how weak I am. I can do about three sets of 6-8 before I feel weak and my legs are shaking for the rest of the night.
How long should I wait before I do another set? Should I do a set every day? Every other day? since I am not using any weight? I would like to get stronger.
I am a pretty strong squatter but my flexibility really holds me back. I've started something kinda silly, but every time I have to use the restroom at work I do a set of 10 squats when I'm done. It's a private restroom, so no one is seeing how crazy I am.. but these quick bursts of movement wake me up a little and I've noticed that I am getting a lot deeper. Maybe while you're still feeling week you could do several small sets throughout the day?
If you are just doing bodyweight, it is not going to hurt you to do them every day or at least 4-5 days per week. You should build up pretty quickly to be able to do 10-12 reps per set and 3-4 sets per session. I would rest no more than a couple minutes between sets, personally unless you are having a hard time maintaining form. And by form, I mean straight back, so don't hunch over, and keep your knees from going in front of your toes. Keep the weight on the heels, not on your toes or front of your foot.
Even though You are not using any extra weight, you should treat it as any other workout. Everything is about relative strength. You squatting your body weight and me squatting 300lbs is essentially doing the same thing to our muscles. Lucky for you, there will be a steep learning curve and you should be able to progress with weights much quicker than I will be able to.
You should take at least 48 hours between your squat workouts to give your legs enough time to heal and become stronger for the next time.
If you are just striving for general fitness the 'rest' doesn't really make a huge difference. My recommendation is to take at least 1 minute between and up to 3 minutes. I would suggest just going when you feel ready.
Good luck, and don't be afraid to add in weights when you feel comfortable. Don't worry about getting too bulky, if it was that easy, every bonehead jock in the gym would be massive.
Hey china... it may not be that you are overall weak, but squats work out the largest muscles in your body, along with many more smaller ones. If one of your legs is underdeveloped like my left one was, you don't have enough stabilizing muscles built up yet. Take it slowly but PLEASE make sure you have correct form. You can start adding dumbells draped over your shoulders progressively. Also start doing squat jumps when you feel comfortable to get those muscles pumping!
And remember to lift with your butt!! Not your chest, not your back, your butt.
I'll be the advocate of the devil here and say, I disagree with those who've recommended long rest periods and long times between workouts. In fact, I suggest in a week or two you add in a 5 burpees with each set of squats.
Like some have mentioned, there will be a steep curve for you, which is a good thing. You're at a point where your body will learn very quickly what it needs to be doing, because it is not used to doing it all.
But, not only will it gain muscle memory and heal fairly quick as you push yourself, it will gain a relatively massive amount of strength and endurance. All that said, the best way to see improvement, especially right now, is hard and fast: high intensity.
Keep your rest periods to 60 seconds or less.
Time it if you must. Even if it takes you 30 seconds to do each squat: be doing the squat, not standing there thinking about how you should be doing it.
Your body is much more capable than you'd imagine. The harder you push it, the faster it will respond (mind you have proper nutrition, which I hope you do, being here and that you're getting enough sleep).
I can't stress enough how important eating healthy is.
But more than that, sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Go to bed. Like I'm about to do. Go to bed, sleep longer than normal. Get that sleep. How many times must I say it? Your body will want it, your mind will thank you for it, sleep. Seven times.
If you have any sort of item that weighs 5-20#s that you can hold above your head with both hands, I'd recommend using that in about 2 weeks. Overhead squats are by far the best squat out there, in my opinion, and in others. But, don't take my word for it, research.
I think it depends on what your goals are: If it's just fitness - just to get a good workout, do as many as you can, as heavy as you can sustain 12-15 reps or so for several sets. Rest minimal, mix in burpees or whatever: the point in this instance is to get your heart rate up, get your body moving, and burning.
If you want to build strength, take as much time as you want between sets. I like the two minute mark when I go "heavy." Its enough time to recover from anything, but still keep you focused. When I do squat or deadlift or powerclean workout, it takes me a good half hour.
I like working up to my one rep max - starting light then adding weight bit by bit, until I feel I've reached my max. I feel this is a good way to warm up, and not "shock" the muscles into going too heavy too soon - I also feel this may ward off injury: strains and such. It's also a great benchmark to know if I'm getting stronger, or getting weaker over time because you have a single number as a reference that's easy to remember.
Once I find my one rep max (1RM), I calculate 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, and 90%.
Then perform the following routine with two minutes rest in between:
5 reps @ 70% 1RM
3 reps @ 75% 1RM
3 reps @ 80% 1RM
1 rep @ 85% 1RM
1 rep @ 90% 1RM
as many as i can at 70% 1RM (usually 6-ish).
This whole routine takes about 30 min.
When training major muscle groups like this, rest is as important, if not more, as the exercise set itself. I'd wait two days until doing anything other than walking, light cardio, or metcon with the legs. And if you did it right, doing anything other than walking should feel impossible :).
Happy squatting!! Hope this helps!!
I recently started a 5x5 program called Stronglifts. It only requires me to be in the gym M-W-F. I recommend having a rest day between workout sessions for major muscle groups. Core can take every day, major muscle groups cant and lifting/overexertion before you've healed will cause your body to release a stress hormone like Cortisol which wastes both bone and muscle. You'll be doing more damage than good. Hope this helped a little!
I would do them at high intensity, as hard and fast as you can do them, but not until you are completely "done", if possible. Though with squats you are using so many big muscles that I don't think you'd fail the same as you would with pull-ups for example.
Squats are awesome for this reason because they work your biggest muscles. I find that exercises that really hit your biggest muscles are those that burn the most fat.
Try a tabata workout, where you work out for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat that 8 times. Do as many squats as you can during the 20 seconds, and add them all up. Do that once a week and see how you improve.
At my crossfit gym, one of the trainers did 101 squats in 2 minutes, which is almost one squat per second sustained for 2 minutes. Something to work up to!