I just started working out, as I am trying to be more healthy. I am very overweight and trying to lose fat. I put on a lot since giving birth and having my c-section.

My core has gotten much better and no problems with my arms, however I attempted to do my legs and now they really hurt. I just did 20 squats with a small weight (10 pounds), which did not hurt too much when doing them, but the day after I felt like a mack truck crushed my legs. I don't want to stop squats as I really need to make my legs stronger, but I am not sure how much I should do next time to not be so sore. I understand a little soreness is normal, however I think mine is a little excessive as I am having difficulty lowering my body to sit in a chair or get into my car.

When should I attempt squats again and should I decrease the reps, or weights? Which would be better in order to start, or do you have recommendations for a good full body routine for a beginner? Mind you, this is new to me and I don't want to get frustrated and stop, however I don't want to injure myself either. Trying to do the right thing and get healthy!!!

  • 1
    Toni - I edited your question, as the way you had it worded I would have had to close it as off topic for asking about injury. I cast it more in a light of how do I start/continue, which I think will get some good responses from the user base here. Also, if you really haven't done squats before, then that kind of soreness can be completely normal. It can take 2-5 days for it to completely disappear. There have been some days I've had to walk down stairs backwards because it hurt. :)
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 14:34
  • How soon after birth are you?
    – Chuck
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 20:13
  • Hi Chuck. I gave birth to a 12.5 lb boy in March. Needless to say I have been trying to lose all the weight I gained and also more. My legs actually do feel better. It took a total of 3 days before I felt normal again. That being said, I will continue to work out. I might start a little slower and gradually increase. I have never done squats before so I wasn't sure as to how many reps and weights I should use. Thank you for your response.
    – Toni
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 18:53

4 Answers 4


I applaud you for taking the initiative to better your health and fitness.

In my practice as a physical therapist, I utilize squats for clients regardless of their age or weight. The squat is such a powerful exercise that combines several muscle groups in the lower extremities and core. Lots of bang for the buck!

Having said this, I often find myself doing a lot of 'coaching' to ensure the squat is performed correctly. For if not, it can cause harm.

2 things to concentrate on: your form and the depth of the squat.

1) Form - Place a chair behind you and initiate the movement as if you were going to sit in the chair. To accomplish this, you MUST bend at the hips. Aim for the seat. Too many people bend only at the knees with this placing a lot stress to your knees as well as potentially overtaxing the muscles along the front of your thighs (quadriceps). You should NOT lose sight of your toes during the entire maneuver. Try to maintain tension in your abdominal muscles also.

2) You need not (and should not!) be preoccupied with how deep you perform the squat. If seated in the chair I spoke about aiming for, your hips will be positioned higher than your knees, perhaps significantly so. this will help ensure that you don't go too deep.

Final thoughts: * Lose the 10# weights for now. Body weight should plenty suffice for what you're hoping to achieve in this early phase.

  • I answered based on available knowledge provided in your question and with the assumption that you don't have any orthopedic issues or other contraindications for performing squats. Should this be the case, I would advise consulting with the appropriate medical professional to review your fitness options.

The squat is one of the more difficult exercises to get right and any deviation from an almost perfect form as you progress will become increasingly riskier. For that reason, it's important to start at a weight that you are comfortable with, and it's also important to keep the reps low. There are no hard or fast rules, but 5 reps is a good guideline. The more you are able to attempt your reps with the most concentration the better, so lower reps will help you achieve that. I recommend that you start off with 3 sets of 5 reps. Give yourself at least a minute in between sets and increase the weight over time. Don't be in a hurry to add lots of weight, just be consistent and aim to add weight when you are comfortable to do so. Before you know it, you'll be lifting significantly more weight than you realise. The aim is to practice the squat as much as possible to allow your neurological system to adapt in anticipation for the strength (and yes, fitness) gains to follow.


Well as you are a beginner...the post workout pain is due to high lactic acid in the muscles as a result of low endurance of your lower body muscles. I'd suggest you to keep moving ahead in your fitness goals by slowly reducing your fat and eating healthy carbs, fats and adequate protein.Try to be active throughout the days of the week and drink plenty of water. occassionally a massage would be good too. As far as the frequency is concerned, you can do it once or twice a week. Ideally you may slowly increase the intensity of the exercise.

  • This is a pretty vague answer. Please try and add some more clear directives for the OP
    – Chuck
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 20:15

It sounds like you've had an unpleasant experience with Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS occurs very commonly, especially following new activity involving eccentric muscle contractions -- in your case, controlled descents into squats.

What you've described -- "having difficulty lower[ing] my body to sit in a chair or get into my car" -- is indeed extremely unpleasant, but is essentially harmless. As you've already discovered, DOMS usually dissipates within a few days. It will not be as bad after the next time you squat.

Regarding your workout scheme: Please consider the Starting Strength novice program, which I've described in a related answer. Sets of 20 repetitions, after the first few occasions, do not provide the best type of stimulus to develop strength.

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