When it comes to doing a squat and bench on the same day, there’s no wrong answer. You could do either/or. So does it even matter?
There are pros and cons to both sides so let me explain to you the reasons behind it.
Let’s say you go to school full-time and have a part-time job. When you have a lot of responsibilities to take care of it can be difficult to go to the gym 5-6 times a week. You might only have time to go 2-3 times a week.
This is when combining large muscle groups together comes in handy. Maybe you don’t have time to do chest and legs on separate days.
This is where squatting and benching on the same day would be beneficial. Kill two birds with one stone.
If you’re able to go to the gym 5-6 times a week, then doing them separately would be the better route. By doing this, you could put all your attention onto one muscle group.
What Are the Downsides to Doing a Squat and Bench on the Same Day?
I explained how doing both on the same day could be beneficial if you don’t have enough time to go to the gym. Could doing both be detrimental to your training?
A squat and bench are considered compound movements. Meaning the exercise requires multiple muscle groups to perform the lift. For example, doing a bench will require your chest, shoulders, and triceps to complete the lift..
As I explained in my post about deadlifting and squatting on the same day, compound movements are extremely taxing on your Central Nervous System because they require you to exert a large amount of your energy(1). As opposed to a bicep curl or tricep press, where the only muscles you’re working are your biceps and triceps.
Ever realized how tired you are after a couple sets of squats vs how you feel after a couple sets of curls?
Let’s say you start off your workout with squats and continue with bench. By the time you’re done squatting your CNS will already be fatigued. This could hurt your bench a bit although not by a lot, it still can hurt your next exercise.
You might be able to bench 225lbs for sets of 8 at the beginning of your workout. After squats, you might get 225lbs for sets of 6. It could be done, but your second lift might take a small hit.
If I’m Doing Squats and Bench on the Same Day, Which One Should I Do First?
If you’re planning on doing both on the same day, I would always go with squats before bench.
Let me tell you why..
Squats take a lot more energy out of you as opposed to benching. Always start your workout with your hardest lift. Get squats out of the way while you’re fresh. You may not be 100% by the time you start benching, but it’ll be a lot easier vs doing it the other way.
Now, you can do bench before squats, but you’ll probably notice that it’ll be more difficult and your squats will probably take a noticeable hit.
How Many Rest Days Should I Take If I Squat and Bench on the Same Day?
Going hard and pushing yourself in the gym is very important, but your recovery is just as important. You do not want to be benching or squatting every time you workout.
Your muscles take anywhere from 48-72 hours to repair and build.
Anywhere from 2-3 days is enough for your body to recover. If you squat and bench on Monday, your body would recover by Thursday.
But the amount of rest days that you need also have a lot to do with what your diet looks like. Somebody that is eating a more calorie dense meal high in protein will need less rest time that someone who isn’t.
Should I squat more often or bench more often?
I say Squat more often
This will vary depending on your experience level and goals. My recommendation is always to squat more though as you never want to be the Spongebob looking guy who benches more than he squats.
If you’re a beginner, 1-2 years in the gym, keep it simple. Train everything equally. Build a solid foundation before you start putting more emphasis on certain movements or muscle groups.
If you’re an intermediate, you can start putting more emphasis on certain movements. Maybe you have a week bench. Maybe you have small legs. Program accordingly.
Have smaller calves and legs? Maybe instead of doing 5 sets of squats once a week. Try doing 3 sets of squats twice a week. That’s 6 sets total per week. Yes, it’s only one more set per week, but 1 extra set makes a difference over the weeks, months, years.
How Many Sets Should I Do If I’m Doing Both on the Same Day?
If you’re doing squats and bench on the same day, you need to be careful as far as your volume and intensity. Since these are both compound movements, your body is going to be taxed afterwards.
Doing anywhere from 3-5 sets is a good range to stay in for beginners. Anything less would be too little and anything more would be too much.
If you have a couple years under your belt, you can get away with doing more volume. This will depend heavily on your goals.
Are you training for strength? Hypertrophy? Power? A sport?
All of these variables will make a difference on how you should approach your volume.
If you’re training for strength you might do something like a 5×3 vs someone who’s training to build more muscle might do a 4×8-12.
General Rule of Thumb:
- 1-5 reps is good for strength training
- 6-12 reps is good for hypertrophy training
- 13+ is good for muscle endurance training
It is good to remember to take it easy at first, do not rush. Just be doing these compounds movements in the first place will next you huge gains over doing machine workouts or easy exercises.(2)
Whether you decide to do squats and bench on the same day or on separate days, make it count. Use your time wisely and focus on doing your best performance at the gym.
These are both one of the best exercises you could do, but make sure to use proper technique. Focus on getting the movement down before adding a lot of weight to the squat or bench press bar.
Let’s kill it and make some gains!