“Why does it matter?” I think that should be the answer in regards to any conversation where people are trying to feel you out and get all puffy-chested. Does it matter how much I squat? Ehhh…I don’t think so, as long as I’m squatting more than I was last week I’m good.
When I had started getting serious about fitness and incorporating weight lifting into my routine about a year ago, I was so gung-ho watching these women deadlift and squat. I wanted to be able to actually tell someone: “I can squat 200 pounds.” Being a bit too enthusiastic and naive, I actually ended up going with the wrong approach to accomplish this goal. I took on too much at once and essentially cheated myself by taking what I thought was an easier path to achieve my goal.
I started using the Smith machine instead of a barbell to increase weight every week. A huge no-no for me due to my lack of research and by thinking I knew what I was doing. The Smith machine is great for acclimating to the motions of squatting, but not for strength increase or even mastering the form. It messed with the mental aspect of my training and I led myself to believe that I was well on my way to that 200 accurately, and very quickly I might add. When I finally decided to graduate and switch to the barbell, I was let down tremendously. My body had gotten used to the Smith machine providing permanent balance and security— I was just so disappointed in the lack of plates on the bar.
So I had to start from square one again, but this time I wasn’t being an ass about it. I watched videos, asked for advice, read forums, and watched more videos. The hardest thing about having all this information out there and readily available? Every trainer, forum, or person I felt was equipped to give me the proper fitness guidance all had different opinions. One trainer said my squats were fine when I excitedly slapped on those 45lb plates. Then recently another trainer said I wasn’t getting enough depth for the proper strength increase I wanted. So who do I listen to?
Ultimately I have learned to listen to what my body tells me in relation to what I want as an athlete. I have also come to the conclusion that I make these goals for myself, not so I can tell someone how much I can squat. Whichever opinions and advice I benefit from the most in a healthy manner is what I go with. Accomplishing the proper depth and slowly increasing weight made sense to me as it related to my fitness goal. I have to say that although I’m only now right at the cusp of getting those 45s back on, after three weeks of small increases I feel stronger and I am getting the results I want.
How much do I squat? More than I did last week; even if it’s only by a mere five pounds. So for me, that means I’m headed in the right direction.