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Hey guys

So i am fairly new to weight lifting (by fairly new i mean ive dabbled and ive you tubed a lot but not seriously pursued) and ive got this weird irrational fear of the squat rack. I want to squat, its on my list of epic quests, i want to get stronger, i know what to do in theory, but i am actually scared of attempting it..

I just recently joined a new gym and the staff is great, so are most of the people, but i just cant work up enough nerve to get over myself and just attempt it.

I think part of it is my self consciousness, im a big dude (5'3" 240lbs) and part of it is just general anxiety.

Anyways my question is this, what can i do instead that would have similar results, and/or what suggestions do you have for getting over it and onto the squat train? TIA

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Starting Stats:                  Current Stats:

BW: 275lbs                        BW: 235lbs

Chest: 54"                            Chest: 43"

Waist: 52"                             Waist: 47"

Arm: 16"                               Arm: 15"

Thigh: 25"                            Thigh: 26.5"

BF%: 45                               BF%: 32

Challenges:

1 2 3 4 Current

My Character

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The tone of your post suggests you need to smash your 20-Second Berserker Mode button.

 

Squat rack open?  Mash the button!  March over to the squat rack.  Get just the bar and put it across the back of your shoulders.  Pick it up and step back.  Take a deep breath and squat down and back up.  Done!  Let us know how it goes!

 

Alternatives?  Have you tried a goblet squat?  That is where you hold a dumbell in front of you and squat with it.  It is good for mobility.

 

Not confident with doing a squat?  Bodyweight.  Then Prisoner Style.  (Hands behind your head, so you get used to not having a counter balance.)  Then Goblet.

 

Confession:  There are often times I'm afraid of the bar.

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Most of us had some degree of fear at one time or another. I started going at the open of the gym when it was least crowded to manage the social anxiety part of it.  It feels awkward at first and I thought I looked like a dumbass... and that people were judging me for not using more weight.

 

Luckily everybody in there started shakey and light at some point.  For the most part nobody cares what anyone else is doing in the gym. 

 

I second berserker mode.  Even if you are doing one squat with the bar and walking directly out.

 

"For us, there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm."

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To be completely honest, if your workout regime doesn't occasionally scare you a little bit, then you probably aren't doing it right.

That said, to quote the words of Will Smith in one of his more terrible movies:


“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.â€
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"No-one tells a T-Rex when to go to sleep".

- Jim Wendler

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Fear is healthy.  It keeps us alive.  It's also conservative, and would drown us in the familiar, the safe, and the secure.

 

Assess your fears - are they rational?  Legitimate?  Work to address them.

 

Are they intangible?  Peer pressure?  Social pressure?  Ignore them.  You have every right to use the squat rack too.

 

Unless you're curling in the squat rack.  Then you're scum.  (I keeed, I keeeeed.)

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Are you afraid of the weight your attempting?  Or just doing a squat in general?  If it's the weight, just start with a barbell.  If it's the squat itself (fear of injury, etc.), start with no weight, just to get a feel for the mechanics of a squat, then later on just do it with a barbell.  Sam's idea of doing Goblet Squat is another great idea.  I do those for warm-ups routinely with just a 25lb DB.  

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I think its just socially.. I mean mechanically i can do a bw squat fine. I dont have tons of issues with it. Sometimes i forget to keep my chest up but overall i think my squat is alright. I practice bw squats a lot so that i can get my form down. I think im just worried about people judging or me getting in my own way.

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Starting Stats:                  Current Stats:

BW: 275lbs                        BW: 235lbs

Chest: 54"                            Chest: 43"

Waist: 52"                             Waist: 47"

Arm: 16"                               Arm: 15"

Thigh: 25"                            Thigh: 26.5"

BF%: 45                               BF%: 32

Challenges:

1 2 3 4 Current

My Character

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I've memorized this quote and use it whenever I'm about to do something terrifying. If that doesn't work, I go with ear buds and Slayer.

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

Frank Herbert, Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)

Barbells are scary when you're not used to them, but it definitely gets better. I actually find squats with a bar far easier than free standing squats. The extra weight helps me get lower in my squat.

Good luck. You've got this.

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Ok so i decided tonight was the night i wanted to attempt to conquer my fear. I went to the gym super late, like 1130pm, did my cardio and my warm up then i started my workout.

Went like this:

Bench press 3x10 @ 95#

Barbell row 3x10 @ 65#

Squat 1x10 bw

1x10 bar

3x10 65#

My form was alright i think, i had a friend video it for me (i will post in form check) and overall i feel good about it. I wanted to chicken out cause it was still quite busy in the gym and there was only the one rack open but i didn't and i am super proud of myself.

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Starting Stats:                  Current Stats:

BW: 275lbs                        BW: 235lbs

Chest: 54"                            Chest: 43"

Waist: 52"                             Waist: 47"

Arm: 16"                               Arm: 15"

Thigh: 25"                            Thigh: 26.5"

BF%: 45                               BF%: 32

Challenges:

1 2 3 4 Current

My Character

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I will be the first to admit...when I started weightlifting back in September, I was terrified of doing back squats to the point that I was having dreams of being decapitated or crushed in the power rack. I even attempted to try to find research that this was somehow dangerous and detrimental for your back.

 

But I started with the bar. I added weight. I worked my way up.

 

I have no prior experience with squatting whatsoever. And aside from carrying my toddler daughter around, I didn't pick up anything heavier than a fountain pen before September. 

 

I am 5'2" A relatively small guy. I weighed 135 lbs. I now weigh almost 150. And I am squatting 280lbs.

 

Take your time. Look into Starting Strength or Mehdi's Stronglifts 5x5. You'll get there.

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I think its just socially.. I mean mechanically i can do a bw squat fine. I dont have tons of issues with it. Sometimes i forget to keep my chest up but overall i think my squat is alright. I practice bw squats a lot so that i can get my form down. I think im just worried about people judging or me getting in my own way.

I was squatting in the power rack one day with 95 lbs.  When I finished the next guy in line commented "Good form dude".  I took that as the encouragement it was and went on to the bench.  I walked by later and that guy was squatting somewhere around 500 lbs (it was 5 plates and change).  If anyone is going to comment, they're probably going to be nice or less likely they'll offer advice.  If you don't want either just wear earbuds/headphones and you don't have to worry either way.

 

Go take your spot at the rack, you're already paying for the access.

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I wanted to chicken out cause it was still quite busy in the gym and there was only the one rack open but i didn't and i am super proud of myself.

 

Great job! I have pretty bad social anxiety, and I've actually turned around and left when the gym is really busy. Kudos to you for sticking around and doing workout!

 

One thing that helps me sometimes is wearing headphones and turning my own music on pretty loud. The gym has loud music anyway, but something about hearing just my own music makes me feel more like I'm on my own, and I can focus on what I'm doing instead of thinking everyone is looking at me. 

 

And remember, â€œCourage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.†

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That is just so cool! I know how scary and intimidating it can be to go and do new stuff at the gym. You should be so proud of yourself for getting in there!!

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I think its just socially.. I mean mechanically i can do a bw squat fine. I dont have tons of issues with it. Sometimes i forget to keep my chest up but overall i think my squat is alright. I practice bw squats a lot so that i can get my form down. I think im just worried about people judging or me getting in my own way.

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I'm a big guy, too. 5' 6", 269, 38% BF. And, I'm also very self conscious. When I first started squatting with the bar, I felt dumb. I felt even dumber a few workouts later when I only had 10's on each side. I mean, at least with the bar you can fake that it's a warm-up.

 

I squat 265 now. And, occasionally, my brain asks myself if they see me and say "Does that fat ass know what he's doing with all that weight". Then I say to my brain "Such the hell up" and squat.

 

Anxiety just plagues some of us. Don't let it stand in the way of the best thing you could be doing for your physical health.

 

Ok so i decided tonight was the night i wanted to attempt to conquer my fear. I went to the gym super late, like 1130pm, did my cardio and my warm up then i started my workout.

Went like this:

Bench press 3x10 @ 95#

Barbell row 3x10 @ 65#

Squat 1x10 bw

1x10 bar

3x10 65#

My form was alright i think, i had a friend video it for me (i will post in form check) and overall i feel good about it. I wanted to chicken out cause it was still quite busy in the gym and there was only the one rack open but i didn't and i am super proud of myself.

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Nice!

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I squat 265 now. And, occasionally, my brain asks myself if they see me and say "Does that fat ass know what he's doing with all that weight". Then I say to my brain "Such the hell up" and squat.

Always remember that being a big (and fat) guy in the weight room is an advantage, a shorter one doubly so. Some of the strongest lifters in the world weigh over 400lb.

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So just to give a quick update on how this is all going, I am still regularly squatting, even in a busy gym haha

I'm up to a working set of 135 for a 5x5 and can do 205 for a 1 rep max. However, I am having huge knee problems. I've had a certified trainer and competitive powerlifter look at my form and she says I'm bang on so I'm not totally sure what's going on there (might be something to do with not activating my glutes when going back up [i tend to use just my thigh strength] so I'm going to work on this with some light squats before going heavy again).

 

Overall I'm super stoked that I managed to get over my anxiety with this one and take on the squat rack!

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Starting Stats:                  Current Stats:

BW: 275lbs                        BW: 235lbs

Chest: 54"                            Chest: 43"

Waist: 52"                             Waist: 47"

Arm: 16"                               Arm: 15"

Thigh: 25"                            Thigh: 26.5"

BF%: 45                               BF%: 32

Challenges:

1 2 3 4 Current

My Character

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