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Thread: psyched out on squats

  1. #1
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    psyched out on squats

    Hi guys, I was hoping to get some advice on squats. All of the sudden I've hit a mental roadblock on squats, I'm getting psyched out and nervous every time I get under the bar. About a month and a half ago I started getting under the bar for weight that should have been no problem and just bombing out. I took a month off from them and did box squats with bands, switched back to regular these last two weeks and the same thing is happening again, just bombing out completely with weight that I should be able to get.

    This is of course a chance I've just lost strength on squats, but if say my goal was 365x3 for the day, once I hit 225 during warm ups I would start getting psyched out and afraid to do the set.

    A good friend of mine suggested I just switch it up, maybe train box squats for a while. I think its a good idea, just wanted to know if this has happened to anyone else before and what they did to get over it.

    Thanks a bunch.
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  2. #2
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    If you aren't getting anxious every time you step under the bar , then you probably aren't ever progressing. It is a normal feeling.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    I def understand what you are talking about, and agree, but I seem to be bombing out instead of progressing. I'm debating purchasing a safety squat bar and using that for a while.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    So, basically anything above 90% is psyching you out, or every set above 225?

    Some people would tell you to just have a cup of coffee and man the **** up. This would NOT be my suggestion however...

    It would depend of course, but my general suggestion would be to change things up a bit more and do high rep work, or front squats, or high-bar squats, or manta-ray squats, or squats w. chains for a while. Then, later return to regular back squats and gradually build back the intensity.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  5. #5
    illinois fattest lifter theBarzeen's Avatar
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    Take some time to work your weak points, try a few different bars, drive out to a decent powerlifting gym and work with new people..... then have a cup of coffee and man up. Getting under a big squat is a mind game. You have to just focus on technique and trust that you own it.

    It could also be that you are burnt up and training too close to your max for too long. This is usually not the case with a newer lifter, but you never know. Could also be a nutrition issue if other lifts are stagnating as well. It could just be that you are setting up differently and breaking form in the bottom, or a nerve impingement.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    theBarzeen and Sensei, thanks for advice. I understand the man the **** up mentality, and agree with it, but I think you are both right that I need to switch it up for a while. All of the sudden the weight started getting heavy, while I was still gaining weight and strength in almost every other execise (including bench and deadlift). I'm still getting stronger all around, just not squats.

    I think I'll go with box squats for a month and possibly order a safety squat bar or find a gym that has one to use. I'm hopefully training with some new people soon as well.
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    imo doing box squats will make any anxiety doing free squats that much worse. I say just slow down a little (literally), focus on your form a lot and do lots of good sets and good reps. I dont know how your training is but if you do 225x3, 275x1, 315x1, 365x3..... you arent gettin that much practice in. Spend a lot of time practicing good form with moderate weights (not too heavy but heavy enough your form breaks down a little). And dont do the reps super slow but slow enough to really control it.
    If you uncomfortable w regular squats, box squatting will normally make you MORE uncomfortable.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingns View Post
    imo doing box squats will make any anxiety doing free squats that much worse. I say just slow down a little (literally), focus on your form a lot and do lots of good sets and good reps. I dont know how your training is but if you do 225x3, 275x1, 315x1, 365x3..... you arent gettin that much practice in. Spend a lot of time practicing good form with moderate weights (not too heavy but heavy enough your form breaks down a little).
    I agree with this here. The OP has already tried doing box squats for a month - another month is probably not the answer.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingns View Post
    imo doing box squats will make any anxiety doing free squats that much worse. I say just slow down a little (literally), focus on your form a lot and do lots of good sets and good reps. I dont know how your training is but if you do 225x3, 275x1, 315x1, 365x3..... you arent gettin that much practice in. Spend a lot of time practicing good form with moderate weights (not too heavy but heavy enough your form breaks down a little). And dont do the reps super slow but slow enough to really control it.
    If you uncomfortable w regular squats, box squatting will normally make you MORE uncomfortable.
    Now that you guys mention how box squats could make things worse, I'm seeing how it could too.

    This week I did barx5, 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x3, 325x3, then bombed on 365, then 195x10x5
    The previous week was
    barx5 , 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x5, 315x5, 345x4, then 185x10x5

    Do you still think that isn't enough sets? Are you thinking higher rep sets from 225 - 315? What would you guys do, do you think it would be better to drop the weight and build back up slowly, or switch to a different bar or style (SSB or front squat etc.), or do both? I appreciate the advice.
    Last edited by DontTakeEmOff31; 03-30-2012 at 07:50 PM.
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  10. #10
    Moderator joey54's Avatar
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    If your squat max is 385 like the sig indicates, you may be squatting too heavy, or not.


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    Just get under the bar!

  11. #11
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    I would spend more time doing regular bar, free squats.
    If you did 225, 275, 325, 365 miss, call 360 100%. That makes 324 90%, 290 80% and 265ish 70%. You only made 2 sets above 70%. If you did 5x5 w 70% or any rep scheme where you do multiple sets above 70% you'd probly get more comfortable.
    you could do 8x2@70% and call it westside de work, do 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1 and call it 531. There are a lot of ways to do it but the point is if you never work with heavy weights in a free squat you will never be comfortable doing just that.
    Switching bars or adding a box will just allow you an excuse to not do, exactly what you are saying you wanna get good at
    Hope this helps

  12. #12
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    What is it you are worried about? I assume you squat inside a cage with safety catches? In other words, you are in fear of what happening?


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    Don't get under the bar until you are confident before doing the set. If you think you are going to fail, you will. But if you have safety catches in a rack or spotters that know what they are doing, then there shouldn't be anything to be afraid of like Chris said. You also might be going too heavy all the time and you should not just believe doing box squats for a month and going back to regular squats will make your regular squat instantly go up. It may have no effect at all, or your regular squat could drop because your body gets used to a different movement altogether and will take a few weeks to get used to regular squats again. You could start with say 225 and make small jumps like 10lbs. per set (so you could do something like 225x3, 235x3, 245x3, 255x3, 265x3). That way the weight feels nearly the same from one set to the next, and you shouldn't have a confidence issue with it. Each week start a little heavier after warming up until the last set you get up to 365x3 or whatever your goal is. Within 8 weeks or so, that should be no problem.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    I've got a spotter and I'm inside a safety cage, and you are absolutely right it should not be an issue at all, I'm not afraid of getting hurt, I'm just getting pysched out that I wont be able to do the lift and then I fail.

    Lots of good advice from everyone, thanks a bunch. I think I am going to do something along the lines of what April suggested. More sets with smaller increments, until I start getting comfortable with the heavy weight.

    Thanks guys.
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  15. #15
    illinois fattest lifter theBarzeen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    Now that you guys mention how box squats could make things worse, I'm seeing how it could too.

    This week I did barx5, 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x3, 325x3, then bombed on 365, then 195x10x5
    The previous week was
    barx5 , 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x5, 315x5, 345x4, then 185x10x5

    Do you still think that isn't enough sets? Are you thinking higher rep sets from 225 - 315? What would you guys do, do you think it would be better to drop the weight and build back up slowly, or switch to a different bar or style (SSB or front squat etc.), or do both? I appreciate the advice.

    This is your problem.... I missed this earlier.

    Your training is set up goofy ( or isn't set up at all)...

    If your max is 360-380 and you do 4 reps of 345 ( ~90%) DON'T TRY TO MAX OUT THE NEXT WEEK!

    If you try to go heavy every week you won't progress.
    ON top of that, if your goal for a workout is to squat 365 why are you doing reps with 325?

    You are thinking too hard about this and are missing the basics.
    Next week only squat to 185 for a few sets of 3. Bench as heavy as you want but don't pull too heavy.
    The week after squat heavy again, but this time only do singles from 225 on up.

    You are just burning your self up before you even get to a heavy set. Beat up from going heavy last week and burnt up from doing all those reps when the goal is to max out.


    On days when my goal is to squat a max weight in full gear I'll warm up with the bar then put on briefs right away. I've gone over 650 raw just playing around but I won't ever go over a plate raw if my goal is to squat heavy that day. from there I'll take 2 plates, 5 plates, get in the suit for 7,8,9 and a grand if it's a good day... maybe more. I know you are raw squatting but the principal is the same.
    Do volume work one week, get lots of reps in. then back down and rest. The next week go heavy for a single, and when you do just warm up and work up to it. Don't do all that extra work before trying a heavy single....
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    theBarzeen and Sensei, thanks for advice. I understand the man the **** up mentality, and agree with it, but I think you are both right that I need to switch it up for a while. All of the sudden the weight started getting heavy, while I was still gaining weight and strength in almost every other execise (including bench and deadlift). I'm still getting stronger all around, just not squats.

    I think I'll go with box squats for a month and possibly order a safety squat bar or find a gym that has one to use. I'm hopefully training with some new people soon as well.
    If you're making progress in other lifts and feel strong, there's no problem. You can't expect every lift to go up at the same tme. I'm not as big on change as a lot of the advice you got. I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't buy into as much.

    I do agree with the man up, though. It's just weight lifting. No need to get anxiety over training. Enjoy the process. Sensei mentioned doing some higher rep stuff. It'll lower the weights and give your body a rest and a little bit of a change.

    Whatever you do, enjoy the process.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BoAnderson71's Avatar
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    You have a psychological issue with failure, get that in check. At the end of the day who cares if you bomb out in the gym, I don't care, nobody on this site does either, it's all about you when it comes to lifting and getting stronger so don't worry about failing. There are much bigger problems to deal with than squatting. Go stare in the mirror for a while and call yourself a pussy before your heavy set.

  18. #18
    Wannabebig Member Etype's Avatar
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    I'm new to powerlifting, but have used visualization for other things- "see" yourself doing it right before you do it, or run through the process in your mind when you are sitting on the couch or in front of the computer. The more details you include, the more relevant it will be- feel the bar, smell your sweat, go through every aspect of your set up all the way through a good lift and racking it. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy- if you think you won't get it, you probably won't. I wouldn't be surprised to hear from the pros that when they miss a lift, they are probably surprised by it as they were not expecting to do so.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RhodeHouse View Post
    If you're making progress in other lifts and feel strong, there's no problem. You can't expect every lift to go up at the same tme. I'm not as big on change as a lot of the advice you got. I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't buy into as much.

    I do agree with the man up, though. It's just weight lifting. No need to get anxiety over training. Enjoy the process. Sensei mentioned doing some higher rep stuff. It'll lower the weights and give your body a rest and a little bit of a change.

    Whatever you do, enjoy the process.
    I've changed my attitude a bit, going into the gym and focusing more on training and less on a big max, and just trying to enjoy it. I think I need some rest and a change of pace for a little while.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the advice. It definitely helped me out. I appreciate it.
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  20. #20
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    I had/have a similar issue with my squats. I would start not going as low as I should as I started piling on more weight. I believe this to be a psychological thing as with lower weight my squats were nice and deep and fine.

    My solution was exactly what April had mentioned. Reboot the exercise and start a very slow progression of 10-20lbs per week. I'm pretty close now to my previous max, except all my squats are nice and low where they should be.

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