The Journey toward a 2x BW squat. What you should know.
January 29th 2019
It has been a little over 6 years of strength training and I have finally hit a 2x bodyweight squat - I did a 350lbs high-bar back squat, weighing around 170lbs bodyweight. I know what you must be thinking, how can I get to a 2x bodyweight squat? So, I am here to answer that question and more!
How long to get to a 2x bodyweight squat?
This really depends on so many factors. But fortunately, there are many criteria you can control and manage - training programs, recovery, nutrition, sleep quality, stress management, hormonal balances, to name a few.
For me, it took me a little over six years. Did I have a chance to get a double bodyweight squat earlier in my lifting journey? I sure did! On my journey towards a 315lbs squat, I weighed between 170lbs and 190lbs in various points of my life. I was able to do a 315lbs squat for one set of 5 reps, 2 sets of 4 reps. This was probably my strongest 5 rep max and the heaviest I ever been. Hypothetically, I could have tested my one rep max at the time and it could, in theory, be higher than what it is today.
But there is only one issue with that - I never trained and practiced how to do a 1 rep max. So, even if I were to continue my thought experiment, I probably would have failed 350lbs at the time. Maybe. Maybe not. But the point is I control my training program and my decision to not test my max at the time was a right one. I am still training consistently and still growing stronger. This is the most important part of lifting - training consistently and for a long time.
So, for you, it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly you will hit a 2x bodyweight squat. The better question is what will I learn in the next year that will enable me to program better and to make good decisions moving forward. We are so focused on the goal that we lose sight of the journey. Having a goal is good but also being able to reflect on your lifting progress, make adjustments and minimize injury risks are key elements to achieving your 2x bodyweight squat.
For example, let's say you first step foot in a gym and you can only squat 135lbs for one set of 5 reps. You weigh about 140lbs. The chances of you squatting 280lbs, while remaining at 140lbs, next year may be low. Chances are since you are deciding to strength train consistently, your body is more receptive to change. As a result, you will grow more quickly; this phenomenon is the “newbie gains.” So, in one year, you should be weighing around 150lbs, but now you are squatting 270lbs. Does that mean you are doing things wrong? No, but there is a lot of logistics you need to figure out for your training program.
I was also curious about how long other lifters have trained in order to get a 2x bodyweight squat. There are many lifters who trained for 4-5 years who still have not gotten to a 2x bodyweight squat. For some people, they obtained this goal in as little as 2 years. For some, it took around 4 years. As expected, results range from lifter to lifter. You can really only control yourself. So, focus on the basics and let the results speak for themselves.
How much should I squat for my weight?
Completely subjective. You will squat how much you want to squat. And if that is not a great goal, you will set the bar higher for yourself.
For instance, you can squat 225lbs at 150lbs bodyweight and feel pretty good with yourself. In fact, that was originally my first squat goal. I weighed around 155lbs and wanted to squat 225lbs or 2 plates. In my first strength training session in high school, I was back squatting around 145lbs. As my lifting journey progressed, I gained more weight and strength.
So, it really depends on what you want. Start off small. Try to squat 225lbs. For a lot of people, this will take a few months of training. We are not trained to lift weights and going to the gym is one of the few ways to effectively train your heavy squats.
It will take time to squat 2x body weight. The most important thing you can do is to track and observe what you are doing. It takes time and effort to get to the 2x bodyweight squat dream.
How to squat double bodyweight?
As I linked earlier above on my journey to reach a 315lbs back squat, I discussed the importance of linear progression (LP) programs in order to get to your goals. It is an efficient and effective way of programming and it should be taken advantage of by all lifters, even the elite level ones.
Linear Progression Programs to squat 2x bodyweight
You get to train with more weight with each successful workout. The cookie cutter linear progression program will not last forever but with modifications, you can still program to progress in a linear fashion. So, this is the first step in order to squat double bodyweight, if you prioritize your time and energy. No one really wants to waste their time in the gym. We want to put in some time to get the maximum amount of rewards possible. A linear progression program will help you obtain that goal.
Work on your squat weaknesses
Another aspect of training that worked for me was to work on my weaknesses. For the last six years of running linear progression programs, I have never really worked on my weaknesses for an extended period of time. For most linear progression programs, I found that they tended to emphasize the squats the most. Maybe partially due to my genetics and the linear progression style, the squats were always my strongest and most comfortable lift.
As I continue to have fun with my training, I started to experiment with working on my weaknesses. From the last time I tested my max, I noted that I needed to do more paused squats to work on getting out of the hole better. I also decided to add some front squats so that I get more overall leg development. It will also give me a chance to build more volume over time as well, while not having to kill myself with heavy squats every week. In my last recorded PR squat attempt, I got buried in the hole. So, these were the adjustments I wanted to make and I made a plan to get at least a 5lbs increment the next time I tested my max.
10 weeks later, I crushed my old PR. In fact, I had a 20lbs increase to my back squat max - 350lbs.
Will working on your weaknesses help everyone? The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can only work to improve your lifts, not harm. Use this opportunity to learn what is best for you and to program exercises that will benefit your needs.
What about a 2x bodyweight deadlift?
Obtaining a 2x bodyweight deadlift is relatively easier than a 2x bodyweight squat. For most lifters, they can get a 2x bodyweight deadlift in a few months. Some a few years. I did some research to do a mental count if lifters are able to reach a 2x bodyweight deadlift when they start lifting.
For many lifters, this seems like the case. They are able to get a 2x bodyweight deadlift very quickly. And to be quite honest, it is not that impressive. It is an average feat that should be obtained if you are consistent with your training and recovery.
If you want to have an impressive deadlift, 2.5x-3x bodyweight would be an upper limit to the average lifter. Of course, the higher your deadlift to bodyweight ratio is, the higher your iron cred goes up.
Is your vertical jump higher now that you squat 2x bodyweight?
I have not trained my vertical jump in years. For someone who has not trained the movement, my vertical jump is very poor. But shouldn’t squatting more help you jump higher? Yes, in theory.
You need to find what works for you. There are many vertical jumping programs on the market, but what really works? This is a no brainer for me. If you want to jump higher, you need to practice jumping. Continue to build your strength and power. Use strength training in the gym as a tool to help you get closer to your goal. You may include squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Everyone operates at a different pace, so you need to figure out what best works for you.
I did some research on what other lifters said about the impact of back squats and vertical jumping. Opinions and results varied massively. For some, back squats were helpful. For others, they used squat variations to help their jumping. Others even recommended to not squat and focus on your jumping technique. These results are expected. Back squatting will help your overall leg development. You will gain strength, size, and power. The question now is, how can back squatting carryover to my vertical jump. If I squat more, I should theoretically jump higher, right? You should, in theory. But there is a lot more that goes into jumping - agility, coordination, technique. There are many aspects about jumping that squats do not train, which mystifies how to properly train your vertical jump.