5 Unexpected Side Effects of Heavy Squats

May 1, 2012 — 13 Comments

I’ve only been performing progressively heavier, below parallel squats with a barbell on my back on a regular basis since around November of 2010, and have noticed some unintended, unexpected and unwelcomed side effects.

If you’re thinking of training with weights, perhaps embarking on a program that calls for below parallel squats with a barbell on your back while increasing the weight on a regular basis such as Starting Strength, 5/3/1, Stronglifts 5x5, or any other squat centric training program, you might want to take a look at this list of side effects I've experienced before you dive in:

1. Favorite Jeans Do Not Fit

Before I dedicated myself to training seriously, I was a size 32. I used to have an old favorite pair of jeans that fit me PERFECTLY. It was a pair of Levi’s 527 low boot cut jeans (apparently boot cut jeans make you look taller). It wasn’t too tight, and it wasn’t too loose either.

In fact, back then almost all my jeans were around size 32. They were mostly bootcut. I had a few size 33-34 jeans as well. I remember those size 34 jeans being too loose, and reminded me of my youth where everyone wore baggy jeans.

These days most of my size 32 jeans do not fit. The only size 32 jeans that do fit are my Levi’s 569 loose straight jeans, but even they’re tight on me now!

Now, my most comfortable and new favorite pair of jeans are my size 34 DKNY Madison boot-cut jeans, which only a few years ago felt too loose. And even now, they’re starting to feel tight.

UPDATE: I just discovered that my new favorite jeans now have a rip in the crotch.


Thank you, squats.

2. Ripped Shorts

Ripped Shorts From Squats

The bottom position in a deep, ass-to-grass squat does no favors for your favorite pair of shorts.

It’s not uncommon for people to hear a loud ripping sound in the middle of their set of squats. I’ve heard it before, and thankfully the hole in my shorts wasn’t that big. But when I heard the rip, there was a momentary lapse in concentration: my focus went from squatting the bar up, to “dammit I just ripped my shorts!”.

Thankfully I train at home and there was no one around to laugh at me, but I’m sure other people who train at a gym surrounded by strangers haven’t been so fortunate.

It’s distracting and potentially embarrassing.

3. Stretch Marks


I’ve seen stretch marks on my legs, hips and buttocks before squatting 3 days a week, but now they are even larger and more pronounced than than ever.

It looks as though the skin on my butt and legs have been pierced and ripped by the claws of some wild animal.

They say lifting weights make you look good naked, but with all these stretch marks on my ass, I’m not so sure. Unless you like tiger stripes.

4. Underwear Feels Too Tight

I wear briefs. I like how it makes everything feel safe and secure. All my underwear were medium size.

However, one side effect of squatting 3 times per week is that your butt gets bigger. A big butt takes up space in your underwear, leaving less space for everything else. For guys, this anterior compression from the underwear due to an enlarge posterior is an uncomfortable feeling.

And not only do squats make your butt bigger, but it also makes your legs bigger. This is a problem for my boxer briefs, because now that my legs are thicker, there doesn’t seem to be enough leg room. Everything is tight, and seems to ride up no matter how long the legs on the boxer briefs are.

Not comfortable.

5. Become Agitated When People Do Not Squat At All, Do Not Squat Deep Enough Or Do Not Squat Properly


When I first started learning the back squat and actually made progress, I began to see how other people around me were wrong.

I found myself shaking my head in my own mind at those who exercise at the gym all the time, have a massive upper body but never squat!

If if they did, it’s usually on the Smith machine performing quarter, or at best, half squats.

I used to have to restrain myself from yelling offering unsolicited advice to unsuspecting strangers to squat deeper, correct their form, or use the squat rack.

I can’t tell you how annoyed I used to be when personal trainers never tell their clients to perform an honest ass-to-grass squat in the squat rack.

And don’t even get me started about those who curl in the squat rack.

Fast forward to today: I have accepted the fact that not everyone will squat properly, squat using a rack or even squat at all.

With time and experience, I have developed tolerance to gym rats and curl bros and have accepted them for who they are.

I am now at peace.

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


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