Why is it that when I squat (400lbs) I can do all of my sets with no ill after effects. Even one legged squats (up to 200lbs) cause me no problems other than maybe DOMS.

When I climb stairs I find myself out of breath. I got on the stair machine last night at the gym and I was able to do it for about 2 minutes (1 min x 2) but at the 2 minute mark I was about to puke and I was winded.

Why? What's the difference between stairs and squats (or other leg exercises)? why do I feel like I'm going to puke and why am I out of breath on the stairs but not squatting. I started feeling bad probably 15-20 seconds into it.

  • 1
    Do you do any conditioning work? Sep 27, 2012 at 19:04
  • I do 100 squats every day some days I do 200 squats
    – Jeff cape
    Aug 19, 2017 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


That's the difference between conditioning and strength. Try 200lbs for 20 reps to get another view into conditioning, or pushing a sled.

A well rounded training program will address the following points:

  • Skill: if you compete or are learning new exercises, you have to hone your technique
  • Strength: this is well understood, you have to be strong enough for your goals
  • Hypertrophy: even if you aren't aiming for physique, hypertrophy helps improve the energy available to demonstrate your strength.
  • Conditioning: the ability to continue to be strong over and over and over.
  • Mobility: you have to be able to have enough range of motion to perform your skill correctly.

When you start working on your conditioning, there are several approaches. At the lowest level, you need to have the conditioning required by your sport or discipline. For example, if you spar, you need to be able to last more than one round. So you train to be active for the time of the round, with rest periods that would match competition. If you simply want better wind, you can strap a heart rate monitor on, and keep your heart rate in the range between the Aerobic zone and the Anaerobic zone. But set goals and work toward them just as you have with strength.

  • What about power? Or do you count this under "conditioning"?
    – VPeric
    Sep 27, 2012 at 23:41
  • Squats require more power than stairs. Even if you have a body weight of 270lbs, it requires less force than a 300+lb squat. Additionally, you are moving the mass less distance. Thus less power production. Ballistic training such as kettlebell swings or Olympic lifts will require you to generate orders of magnitude more power. Sep 28, 2012 at 0:04
  • 1
    @BerinLoritsch I think VPeric is just suggesting that Power be another item in a well-rounded training program. I'd agree, with the caveat that only athletes need care about power. (Then again, we should all be athletes.) Sep 28, 2012 at 15:25
  • I think power is part of strength, although it does hit conditioning pretty hard as well. Sep 30, 2012 at 17:32

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