Is something holding you back from squatting in the squat rack because you feel too fat?

By the time you’re done reading this article, you will no longer feel too fat to use the squat rack, and instead will feel much deserving of this piece of equipment.

When I was a personal trainer at a big crowded health club, I had the opportunity to teach the back squat to many very large women, including those who seemed a bit intimidated by this exercise.

The fact that you recognize the importance of free-barbell squats means that you are that much closer to achieving your fitness and fat loss goals.

So ask yourself what’s keeping you from getting into the squat rack?
• Fear that others will watch your big body and thunder thighs
• Fear that others will point and snicker
• Fear that others will think, “Why bother? She’s wasting her time.”
• ?????

I’m going to tell you what goes through MY mind when I notice a fat woman doing squats in the “cage” or rack.

The first thing I do is watch her form. This is something I do whenever I see ANYONE squatting.

It’s just my automatic response, having been a trainer, and I’ve also written dozens of articles on this very popular exercise.

I watch her form as I would watch a buff man’s form. This has nothing to do with obesity.

The next thing that may catch my attention is how much weight she’s squatting. Or maybe that will come first; depends on the weight.

And then I just can’t help but look at her physique – not because she’s fat but because she’s squatting.

Squatting tends to change the physique in certain ways (e.g., incredibly firm thighs), and I’m always interested in this.

So that’s my thought processes when I notice an obese woman – or skinny or buff woman – in the squat rack.

overweight woman barbell squat

Chances are, anyone who’s watching you will be conducting at least one of these three thought processes.

A fourth possibility is a novice who wants to try the back squat and is watching you to collect information. This person certainly observes other squatters for the same reason.

Re-read these four reasons that people will watch someone in the squat rack. Ask yourself if any of these reasons falls under the category of “ridicule” or “making fun of.”

“She Doesn’t Belong in the Squat Rack”
Anyone with decent knowledge of fitness and exercise knows that EVERYONE belongs in the squat rack.

Nobody’s going to think that someone doesn’t belong in the cage simply because they’re a “fatty.”

One reason a person may feel uncomfortable with a barbell across their back is due to their body proportions.
• Are their femur (thigh) bones longer than their torso?
• Are their shin bones disproportionately short relative to their femurs?

Having these proportions makes squatting more difficult than if the ratios were reversed:
• Short thighs and long torso
• Long shins and short thighs

If you’re fat, this has NO bearing on your bone and torso lengths.

In fact, if your thigh bones are several inches shorter than your torso, you will very likely find squatting for the first time a lot easier than will a thin woman who has long thigh bones and a short trunk.

The figure on the left will find squatting easier due to short femurs and long torso, while the figure on the right has to lean over more, due to longer femurs and a shorter trunk. This excessive forward lean puts extra strain on the low back. The first figure, even if 250 pounds, has a biomechanical advantage to the second figure, even if thin.

You will be able to more comfortably “sit back” in the squat and keep your spine fairly upright, while your skinny friend will have to lean far forward to prevent falling backwards – placing undue stress on her lower back.

If you have good squat proportions, you may actually be the envy of a thin observer.

I was once watching a husky woman in the squat rack – she was new to the exercise, as evidenced by the very light weight of the barbell.

But damn, she had marvelous proportions! I watched in envy because I don’t have the best “anthropometrics” for the back squat – even though I’m lean.

“A Waste of Time”
There’s no such thing as wasting time doing one of the most scientifically-backed exercises around.

If anything’s a waste of time, it’s crunches and the inner/outer thigh machines. The back squat has been heavily researched and proven to be a killer fat-burner, not to mention other benefits:

• Strengthens the core

• Strengthens hip and knee joints

• Strengthens the upper back, glute and leg muscles

• Improves neuromuscular coordination

• Firms the booty

• Has dramatic carryover to the tasks of daily living

NOBODY is going to snicker or watch you with disdain JUST BECAUSE you are plus size.

I’ve watched hefty women squatting who clearly were not novices, and they all had a firmness and tightness about their thighs that non-trained women the same size do NOT have.

They also tend not to have a big bulge encircling their waist. They’re overweight there, of course, but the fat and muscle has been re-compositioned such that there’s a smoother, firmer appearance – rather than blubbery or jiggly — despite being a large waist size.

If you’re a fat woman who’s been itching to get into the squat rack but have felt intimidated, you have NOTHING to lose (but fat and flab) and everything to gain! Just march right in there and DO IT.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.