How to squat 315 pounds?

January 2nd 2019

After doing a squat workout yesterday, I woke up and started thinking, how to back squat 315lbs?


You can start back squatting 315lbs in as little as your first day in the gym to as long as a few years. It depends on your training history. But what has worked well for everyone who has squat 315lbs the first time in the gym is to pick a linear progression program, has a plan to squat 315lbs and the dedication to follow through.


How to back squat 315 lbs


When I first started squatting, I was already doing 145 lb for sets of 5. it was not easy but it was moderately challenging


It took me around 1 year to start squatting 225 lb. I was on starting strength at the time and it was a struggle to squat 225 lb for my working set. 205 lbs to 220 pounds were the challenge and the sweet spot numbers that I could do for my working sets.


But it happened. 225lbs back squat for my working set happened. In fact, I was so dedicated to squatting at the time that I went all the way up to squatting 275 lb for a set of 5 in 1.5 years of training. I weighed about 165 pounds at the time.


Then, I got injured and I had to take three months off to rest my lower back injury.


Afterward, I did Greyskull lp  for 7 months and got up to a 285 lb squat for one set of 5 reps. Greyskull LP was great for my squat but I decide to switch programming to improve my deadlift.


At the time, I decided it would be in my best interest to try and improve my deadlift and I thought since the last two programs worked well with different squat sets and reps, I figured why not?


Here are some of the PRS I hit during that new programming:


  • 280 lbs for three sets of six repetitions
  • 285 lb for two sets of 6 are repetitions
  • 295 lbs for three sets of three repetitions
  • 265 lb for one set of 8 repetitions
  • 185 lb for 10 sets of 10 repetitions


And probably during that time, I could have probably hit around 315lbs squat for one set of one rep. But I didn't want to. I wanted to make sure that I hit 315lbs squat as a working set number and not a max.


A few months after that, I was involved in a car accident and I was forced to take about three months away from the gym. When I tested my squat max afterward, I was able to do 225 lbs.  That one felt easy but I didn't want to push my limits further so I use that as my benchmark.


And for the next 12 months, I was kind of just doing workouts that felt good. I didn't want to push and get stressed about my workout so I just did what was reasonably heavy and just work on building up more volume and worked on building up a big base. About eight months into my really flexible training, I had to get a root canal. But since I wasn't training squatting as hard as I should be, it didn't really affect me too much mentally. Yes, it did suck to miss some training sessions but you win some and you lose some.


4 months after the root canal, I decided to do starting strength again. I was feeling ready to start new programming and finally start getting focus for training. At the time, it felt like a good time to start building up my strength so I add an additional feature to starting strength; I also implemented the RPE scale which I can summarize down below:


RPE stands for rated perceived exertion and is measured from 0 to 10. It is used to measure how intensely you're performing your exercise.


  • 0 -1, no exertion
  • 2-3, light
  • 4-5, feeling warm
  • 6-7, hard breathing; harder to talk
  • 8-9, only say a few words
  • 10, cannot speak


So, my starting numbers for starting strength were a 205 lbs squat for three sets of 5 at RPE 6. I weighed about168 pounds at the time.


And in about two months, I went up to a 315 lb squat I was able to do one set of 5 repetitions followed by two sets of for repetition is an RPE 9. So, this is when I hit my 315 lb squat for the very first time.


It took me a little over four years to get to do one set of 5 repetitions at 315 lbs.


Road to 405 squat


So, it has nearly been 2 years since I first squatted 315lbs for a set of 5. I recently tested my most max in November 2018 which was a 330 lbs squat.


If I am really honest with myself, I would say that I am not training my squat as intensely as I did in the first 3 years of my training. Back then, I was just following my program on the dot. I did not care about hitting new maxes if I felt good or not.


And since I followed starting strength, I was squatting heavy three times a week. And squats were the first thing to do, so I heavily prioritized them to make sure I set the bar for my remaining lifts.


And I am curious now, how do people get to 405 lbs? I did some research and have listed the tips other 405lbs+ squatters are giving so that we can all learn from them:


1. Follow a linear progression style program


This was a common answer. It is also very logical. If you want to improve, you need to follow a program that constantly challenges you. You need to keep improving every workout. If not, at least every week. Why?


Because if you are not improving, you are staying stagnant or declining.


2. Focus


This was another common answer. If you want it bad enough, you will work that extra bit of effort to do there. Whether that is getting yourself to the gym, getting that last rep done for your set or even just getting yourself psyched for the next workout, it all adds up.


It is all the positive reinforcement that allows you to believe in yourself and to get that much closer to your goals.


And we all have bad days. But what really separates that people who really want to squat 405lbs vs people who kinda want to squat 405lbs are the actions they take afterward. Are they setting up their life to squat 405lbs? Are they making sure they take care of themselves?

Is a 315 lb squat good?


It depends what your goals are. Here are some strength standards for barbell squats to compare yourself to what other squatters are doing. The lower end of the range will apply to heavier lifters while the higher end of the range will apply to lighter lifters.


Also, keep in mind that these squatting standards are general standards the average male and female adult. Age, injury history, experience level, and many other factors will largely impact where you are on in your squatting journey. For example, based on previous squatting data, teens and seniors will have lower strength standards from what is listed here.


Men Squat Standards


  • Untrained: 70% or less of your bodyweight
  • Beginner:  75%-100% of your bodyweight
  • Beginner with some training experience: 1.1-1.2 times your bodyweight
  • Intermediate: 1.5-1.6 times your bodyweight
  • Advanced: 2-2.1 times your bodyweight
  • Elite: 2.5-2.7 times your bodyweight
  • Competition level: 3.5-3.8 times your bodyweight


Women Squat Standards


  • Untrained: 35% or less of your bodyweight
  • Beginner:  40%-50% of your bodyweight
  • Beginner with some training experience: 70%-80% of your bodyweight
  • Intermediate: 1-1.25 times your bodyweight
  • Advanced: 1.4-1.8 times your bodyweight
  • Elite: 1.9-2.5 times your bodyweight
  • Competition level: 3.2-3.5 times your bodyweight


So, when I squatted 330lbs, I weighed in around 170 lbs. My squat to bodyweight ratio would be around 1.9, which is not too bad for my standards. It puts me just outside of the “advanced” squatting title. But I want to some day enter a competition and I am grateful for almost having an “advanced” level squat, I do want more.


So really, you need to look at your goals. Is 315 lbs a good squat number? It depends. If you want to be a world record holder, you are a guy, and you weigh about 150lbs and squat 315lbs, You may feel that a 315 lbs squat is inadequate for your goals.


Now, if you weigh 180lbs male, squat 315 lbs and just want to live a healthy life so that you can participate in your running club and basketball team? 315 lbs is a great squatting number to hit for you. You may find that you are on the top performers in your sport from just having a 315 lbs squat. If not, one suggestion I invite you to take is to increase your squatting max. Maybe a 365lbs squat or even 405 lbs squat may take your running times or basketball game to the next level. I encourage you to challenge yourself so that you can become a better all-around athlete.


It really depends on what you want in your life. You just need to find what can help you get closer to your goals and take steps in that direction. And if that means getting a 315lbs squat max, then I would highly encourage you to do so. Strength is never a weakness and it will help you continue to achieve success in your life.

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