September 07, 2021 10 min read
There are few exercises that are as useful and beneficial as the squat.
As a compound exercise, the squat works a variety of different muscle groups and helps you in the gym, and outside of it.
Including the squat into your routine is a no-brainer for most people.
“But if it’s so useful, then why not just do it every day?” is what one Bulgarian trainer asked himself over 50 years ago.
Squatting every day is, in fact, a legitimate way to go about training. But like all training programs, it comes with a host of benefits, but also some drawbacks.
It’s hard to do the squat justice in just a few words, but we’ll try. Along with the bench press and the deadlift, the squat is one of the three main bread-and-butter lifts. They’re all compound lifts that utilize almost every major muscle group in the body, but this is especially true when it comes to squatting.
It goes without saying that squats will not only improve your overall strength (specifically in the lower body with the glutes, quads, and hamstrings) but will also lead to muscle mass growth in these areas. Stimulating hypertrophy by doing lower weights of 8 to 12 reps is a sure-fire way to get your butt ready for beach season.
Your mobility will also improve along with your strength, leading to several benefits. For one, this is good for your general squat mobility, which will allow you to squat lower and therefore get more out of the exercise. Secondly, your functional fitness will also improve, since the squat action is commonly done in our day-to-day lives.
You’ll also see improvements in your other lifts because there are a lot of muscles that carry over.
For example, your deadlift and hip thrusts will benefit from a stronger squat program. Finally, there are the general benefits of weightlifting. This includes increased bone density, muscle building, and also improvements in mental toughness. Squats are hard—there’s no doubt about it.
But this leads to the development of grit over the long term. But so far, we’ve just looked at some general squat benefits: what about squatting every single day?
“Squatting every day” might sound like a fairly simple concept—it’s all about having a high intensity, high frequency (and highly specialized) training routine. It’s mostly meant for weightlifters and powerlifting, but squats are good for everyone regardless of their goals.
However, while the concept is easy enough to understand, it’s a concept with a history.
It all begins about a half-century ago in Bulgaria, with a man named Ivan Abadjiev. His resume is extensive, so we’ll focus on the main bits. He won Bulgaria’s very first weightlifting medal in 1957, and his training would go on to produce some of the greatest athletes in Olympic weightlifting.
From 1968 to 2000, he trained 12 Olympic champions, 57 world champions, and 64 European champions.
As you can probably imagine, his training regime was ruthless. The training regime centered around squatting every day, but with sets that had only 1 rep (and were therefore maxed).
The rest of the routine primarily consisted of the clean and jerk, snatch, and front squat—that’s it.
It’s also notable that there were no phases throughout the year with Abadjiev’s training, unlike most other training programs. However, this grueling program of 8-hour days isn’t the only way to go about squatting every day (thankfully).
According to the traditional Bulgarian method, squatting every day is supposed to be done at a daily max: this means one rep of the heaviest weight you can use. Heavy squats are obviously going to be extremely taxing, and for most lifters, it won’t be very sustainable.
However, most squat-every-day programs use submaximal weights, which allows for a more sustainable training template.
This will look differently depending on the individual and their goals, but it should allow you to perform several reps each day at a lighter intensity and weight. Even powerlifters tend to squat only twice a week, and those who do squat every day do so at submaximal levels.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the frequency of squatting allowing for more overall volume. It just so happens that organizing this volume over every single day allows for some unique benefits.
The benefits we looked at above are going to be fairly universal—whether you opt for the classic barbell back squat, or more specialized variations. The same goes for how often you perform this exercise. Whether you opt for more conventional programming of squatting 2 to 3 times a week, or every day.
However, there are also some special benefits to squatting every day.
These pros can be boiled down into three main components that might work especially well for your goals and routines.
(Perfect) practice makes perfect, and this is no less true for the squat. The squat is a useful action, both in the gym and outside of it, and it makes sense to want to improve it. Squatting every day does exactly this, allowing you to practice the technique and form without having to do too many squats in a single session, and therefore becoming fatigued.
You can also include several different squat variations in order to hit your muscles from different angles, thereby compounding the benefits. A key part of this is the number of reps and sets you do during a workout session, and how that can spread out over your gym sessions.
If you’re only squatting twice a week, you’re going to devote more time during each session to the squat.
This means that the squats you do later in your routine will likely be subpar due to fatigue. Squatting every day will avoid this since the squats will be spread out over more sessions.
This last point leads nicely into the next: more efficient use of your time. For everyone, there’s a hypothetical optimal amount of work sets and reps) that one can fit into each of their training sessions each week. At this optimal amount of work, you’d be getting the perfect amount of stimulus to develop your muscles and strength, while also not overstimulating yourself to the point where you’re exerting yourself for increasingly diminishing gains.
Splitting up your sets and reps throughout several, shorter workout sessions should allow for more efficient use of your energy and time.
Less of your effort will be wasted and in turn, you’ll experience more gains and energy. This should also allow you to do shorter training sessions each day, allowing for even more leeway in when and how you train.
For example, you’ll probably be including other lifts into your squat-every-day routine.
But since you’re already working out seven days a week, you’ll be able to fit more workouts overall into a larger number of sessions. This should allow more flexibility when it comes to planning your gym sessions and the types of exercises you’re doing.
If you want to continue developing your strength or growing your muscles, you’re going to need to continually challenge yourself more and more.
This is called progressive overload and it’s a foundational principle of getting bigger and stronger.
Although this becomes more and more difficult the further you progress, there are also many different strategies to allow you to challenge your body more. Increasing the weight, or increasing the number of sets and reps are two of the most common ways to overload your muscles.
However, training volume can also be increased by simply training more.
Squatting every day will undoubtedly ramp up the amount of volume that you’re putting on certain muscle groups. This will in turn allow you to steadily progress in your training while getting through any plateaus you might hit.
However, as nice as the pros might sound there are also going to be some obvious drawbacks to this program. This is, after all, meant to be an extremely arduous workout program that creates weightlifting champions. Although you don’t have to go that hard necessarily, the squat everyday routine is still going to have its negative effects on your mind and body.
The biggest issue, as you can imagine, is the significant possibility of overtraining. This can be sometimes difficult to notice since we’re conditioned to think that the more work we put in, the more results we’ll see.
This isn’t necessarily the case, and can even lead to its own plateaus.
If you’re going too heavy or training too often, you’re going to risk developing an injuries over the long term—and instead of turbocharging your gains, it’s going to derail them. This is why rest is so important and why you need to go into squatting every day with a good idea of what you can actually handle.
The other side of the coin is the neglect of other areas of the body and other lifts.
At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to what exactly your goals are when it comes to weightlifting. Squatting every day does have its full-body benefits, but you’re going to be using time and energy on just a single lift—albeit an important one.
Squatting every day means squatting, well, every single day. This might pose an issue for some people. If you’ve got a barbell and a squat rack at home, then this will be a lot easier. But for others, squatting every day means showing up to the gym every day, ready to workout.
This doesn’t allow for much flexibility, especially compared to a routine that has you go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week.
There’s a lot you’re going to have to take into account before jumping headfirst into squatting every day, and life events can easily take you out of the groove.
On the other hand, the “everyday” aspect may make it easier for other people. To some extent, mustering the willpower to do something 100% of the time is easier than only having to find the willpower 70% of the time.
The mental factor is both a benefit and a drawback. Squatting every day will develop your grit, but it’s also going to make working out significantly more boring. This largely depends on the individual and their motivations for working out, but for most people, squatting every day isn’t a sustainable approach over the long term.
If not properly mediated, it can lead to burnout, which will then lead to more gains potentially lost.
Although squatting every day may sound like a great routine for you and your goals, it’s always important to consider the human factor. Are your motivations intrinsic or extrinsic? Do you have a goal in mind? What’s your exit strategy if you find you’re not liking it?
You’re not going to experience the full range of benefits without learning to squat properly. And whether your form is correct or not, you’re still going to experience the full range of drawbacks, so it’s best to learn to squat correctly if you’re going to be doing them each day.
Since it’s a free weight exercise, the squat is fairly complex to pull off and a more detailed outline or personal trainer will ensure that good form is being followed. If this is your first time squatting, it’s best to start off with bodyweight squats before using a barbell—especially if you’re planning to do them each day.
Squatting every day gained its popularity with powerlifters first, but that doesn’t mean the regime can’t be useful for more casual gym-goers. Anyone looking to improve their squat (and improve the muscles that the squat develops) will see big benefits to squatting every day. And if you’re even a little more advanced, you’ll likely be able to handle a routine that calls for squatting every day.
For those people who are new to training, it’s best to first start with a lower frequency routine.
Squatting only a few times a week will get your body used to the movement and slowly develop the muscles involved. Bodyweight squats can also be a good idea for those looking to improve their form before diving into squatting every day.
As we saw above, there are different ways to approach squatting every day—even though the premise around it is simple enough.
For example, if you’re simply looking to improve your squat technique, overall mobility, and muscle growth, you’ll find your programming answer with more reps and lower weights. Even doing air squats each day can be helpful for improving technique, while also not being particularly difficult.
On the other hand, a strength training goal will stick closer to the original conception of squats every day.
That is, a daily 1 rep max where you give it your all. This is much closer to powerlifting, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to one extreme over the other. It all depends on your starting fitness level and long-term goals.
Squatting takes a lot of a person, and squatting every day will take a lot out of you—you guessed it—every single day. And the more you exert yourself, the more you’re going to have to refill your energy stores with good food.
The “good” part of good food is key. You want clean, whole, nutritious foods to make up the most of your diet. Keeping your macros on track is also good, but at least make sure that you’re eating healthy sources of protein, complex carbs, and good fats.
Cover these basic bases and you’ll be well on your way to squatting every day like it’s nothing at all.
If you need a little more pep or your diet isn’t doing it for your rigorous training routine, a high-quality whey protein powder is going to be able to pack on some extra muscle and strength and help you experience the full benefits of squatting every day while mitigating many of the risks.