April 11, 2009
What do you get when you give a stubborn kid with no friends, plenty of bullies, and learning disabilities access to a small, private powerlifting gym? That depends. In Dave Tate’s case, you get a 700-pound back squat before you’ve even graduated from high school. Decades later, Tate’s experience as a professional athlete and coach have turned that stubborn, bullied kid into a powerful motivational speaker, successful author, and the founder of Elite Fitness Systems, a multi-million dollar equipment supplier to strength coaches and athletes.
From the start, however, Tate made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t interested in CrossFit’s calling card, GPP, or “general physical preparedness.” He opened by acknowledging our differences, noting, “I can’t train for general fitness. I respect the shit out of anybody that can, but I want to break records; that’s just me.”
Most of Tate’s training involves improving a lifter’s ability to get out of the bottom of the squat. The box squat, as Tate showed us, is a unique method for teaching the instantaneous generation of force or “explosiveness” required to reverse the direction of a massive weight. Practicing exploding out of the bottom of the squat wasn’t new to me. Rip teaches this at his certification before even allowing anyone to touch a barbell. What was amazing then, was how profoundly inept I was at generating this force off of a box.