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More on Squatting

Hello Patrick, I came across your site from the Nutrition Circle discussion board, great info!

Since you have a lot of information regarding squats, wondering your thoughts on squats/lunges for women. I am a fairly new personal trainer and have worked with many females on squats/lunges, however I do not always have them performing these exercises consistently since the majority of women want to have the "slim look."

For me personally, I found my pants getting just a bit tighter when I noticed I was doing squats and lunges on a more consistent basis. I have spoken with a few trainers on this issue and the consensus is that squats do build muscle and can potentially thicken up the hip area with a bit more muscle...

Do you agree with this concept?

Thanks, regards,

Hi Sheryl, thanks for your question.

I have given classes and seminars to trainers before, and this question comes up all the time. I really don't agree with the concept for a number of reasons.

1) Squats do build muscle, and muscle is more dense than fat. Meaning it has less surface area. As well, muscle helps to raise metabolism.

2) If you aren't building muscle when lifting weights, then what are you trying to do? The whole point of exercise is to create some sort of stress, which causes an adaptation. In the case of lifting weights, that adaptation is either getting stronger or increasing muscle mass. In the case of someone who is in a hypo-caloric state, the main goal would be to try and maintain as much muscle as possible.

3) When a woman complains that she is getting "thicker" because of the squats, the first place I look is her diet. Women (and even men) don't just start putting on muscle mass. It isn't as easy as saying "well, I started to squat with 10lb dumbells and I got huge." If that were the case, you would see way more muscular guys in the gym. Unfortunately, it is just the opposite. For a natural female (natural meaning drug free), it is going to really take a lot to build that sort of muscle. Also, in order to actually gain muscle, you need to be in a hyper-caloric state. If you aren't taking in enough calories to build muscle mass then you aren't going to build muscle mass. So look at your clients diet and see if she is overeating somewhere. This is usually the case.

4) You need to manage loading parameters. I have often found that women are scared of lifting heavy. If I can break them of that fear, the ones that push themselves to greater intensities (intensity being defined as the amount of load used in relation to ones 1 repetition max) get the best results. If the woman is not an athlete looking to compete in anything, I typically will push them up to 5-6 rep sets during certain phases of training.

5) If you aren't squatting or lunging, then what are you doing for the lower body? Lets not forget that aside from the high amounts of calories these exercises can burn, they also load the axial skeleton and help to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. This is essential for women!

Don't be afraid to get your clients squatting, lunging, deadlifting and stepping up. These exercises have the potential to burn lots of calories and improve ones overall structure and physique.

Hope that helps answer your question.

"Squat, it is a fundametal movement of LIFE!"