Squat Heavy and Often

By Chris Moore

In Powerlifting, Rest Day/Theory

August 15, 2011

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Powerlifting affiliate owner Chris Moore challenges the CrossFit community to train strength way more often.

For some reason, I recently recalled a memory of watching Kickboxer, the old Jean-Claude Van Damme fight-fest. I don’t remember much about the plot, and I really don’t care to. The movie’s probably as terrible now as it was then. But I’ll tell you what was great about it: the training montage.

Some of the details escape me, but I can still see a young, shirtless (always shirtless) Jean-Claude moving slowly through a misty Thai jungle. He was eager to train. It wasn’t long before his wise old master started laying into him. First, there was kicking. Lots of kicking.

Next, I can see a grimacing J.C. being forcibly stretched by the ankles between two palms. It could be that this was the very first mobility WOD I ever witnessed—my first glimpse at a true supple leopard. But the pain didn’t stop there. No. There were high-altitude coconut drops to the abdomen. Repeated leg strikes to a tree trunk. It was all quite intense.

Slowly, you begin to see method to all of the madness: extraordinary training leads to extraordinary, fast results.

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50 Comments on “Squat Heavy and Often”

1

wrote …

I'm sure there will be a question or two regarding how we manage our training to support going heavy, often. This style of training does bring with it many insights and lessons. I'm happy to share. Fire away.

Chris

2

wrote …

"Every day, I see dozens of CrossFitters pushing their conditioning to the max. It never fails to impress me. It’s just that I don’t think they look at a heavy barbell the same way. Many don’t know strength."

Good article but I think the author fails to recognize that maybe not everyone shares the same goals and worldview when it comes to getting stronger. Others may be content with a 2x BW Back Squat and 3x BW Deadlift while pushing their conditioning to the max. These same folks are not claiming or aspiring to be the strongest...only the FITTEST.

You can easily make the argument the other way, by saying substituting Powerlifters for CrossFitters...."Powerlifters are pushing their strength to the max. It never fails to impress me. It’s just that I don’t think they look at training the same way. Many don’t know fitness and conditioning.

I don't think one is right and the other is wrong. Just different goals.

3

wrote …

Really enjoyed the article. At my box we have a very strength biased program. We lift heavy 4 days a week between oly and power lifts in addition to heavy met cons which sometimes require using 80% 1RM. I feel that with this program I am at my limit as far as what my muscles and CNS can handle. Would ratcheting up on the squat be something I could get used to, or would that mean reducing some of the other heavy lifts?

4

wrote …

In the caption of the final picture the athlete referenced can squat significantly more than he can deadlift... I always understood that those numbers should be flipped. I agree with the comment about switching the words lift with cardio... I don't believe you can do both with vigor. You have to choose your focus. I am also timid on the sustainability of all of this... there are always exceptions (i.e. individuals that can continue these routines well into their later years), but I think the intensity of such weightlifting and even crossfit, and the effects either has on the average man/woman over the long-term is not known. I hear of so many injuries as a result of training and I wonder if that should be the norm.

5

wrote …

Steve,

My only point is that there are surely many athletes who could stand to lift much, much more. A 2X squat is good. What about those who can't do that? Also, if a lifter could easily push their max to 2.5X without draining much effort from other domains, is that not a good thing?

By the way, this is NOT a powerlifting article. This is just commentary on strength. I personally value fitness in my training, and in those I train.

Michael,

In my experience, the squat is not that hard to recover from. Here are some things I would suggest.

1. Go heavy, but recognize that heavy doesn't mean you need to grind. I hit at least 90% of my max 5 days per week on the various squats. No issues for recovery.

2. A session can be an all out 5*5 slugg-fest, or, as simple as 5 singles up to decent weight. A quick 15 minute squat session jives very well with a subsequent MetCon. Not much fatigue there. That leads me to point 3.

3. Recover and unload by dropping volume. Leave the weight on the bar. Don't practice meaningless reps with light barbells (If you have a goal of lifting more).

3. Mind the deadlift. If you look at the training of some of the "Bulgarian" influenced Weightlifting clubs, you'll note a very high squat frequency. Maybe 7-14 sessions to max per week. At the same time, they may pull a heavy deadlift a couple of times per year. Now, they are not working the DL, but that says something. They don't feel they can recover well from that.

If your low back is fatigued, try pulling only once a month or so. Let your O-Lifts build the pulling power. Test with the DL.

4. You'r probably fit and rather strong. But most likely not at your peak. Try and push further. I think you likely have more in the tank. Fatigue is relative.

Chris

6

wrote …

Steve,
No insult intended but if you are satified and not pushing your heavy squat beyond 2x BW are you as fit as you could be? I think it was Dave Tate who said absolute strength will positively increase everything except flexabilty.

Obviously it is a matter of time and programming (and a little of doing what you enjoy). I'm a year and a half post broken femur. My Squat and deadlift are still more than 100# less than pre break. currently I've been utilizing maximal effort squats nearly everyday to increase muscle tissue and strength. I have yet to truly tax my CNS. However, I'm also playing a big game of catch up right now.

7

wrote …

Christopher,

My best powerlifting squat is in gear. Every time you see a Westside video, or any other type of Powerlifting vid, you see lifters in gear. It helps the squat a lot...Not so much the deadlift.

In reality, my lifts are approximately equal. As a SHW, my best raw squat was around 725. Maybe a bit higher when I was really fat. My best raw pull in training was around 700.

Right now, I'm at around 305. I'd like to do a 700 in a singlet this fall, and a 650 or so pull. I'm lifetime drug free, 30 years old, and nothing special genetically. I make no excuses for why I should not be stronger. You can train heavy and often, so long as you add in work slowly and give yourself time to adapt.

Now, as I always state, I greatly value fitness. I made my lifter do Fran last weekend just to see how bad their fitness was! I have a Fran of around 7 minutes, a 500m row PR of 1:35....I'm not doing too bad for a guy my size.

This is not a discussion on trade-offs. It's about not making excuses for a lack of strength. You can be very fit, and lift solid weights at the same time.

Chris

8

wrote …

Steve don't you think that increasing you strength will help you towards your other goals. Being satisfied with where you are in any component of fitness is going to lead to stagnation. You may not feel that strength is you biggest weakness or really even a weakness at but that doesn't mean you should stop trying to get stronger. Working up to a heavy weight 3 times a week on a squat should be easy enough to work in with a little fore thought in the programming. Also it is my belief that increased strength will allow for better conditioning in the long run.

@ Chris I am sure you are going to get this a lot but do you have any thoughts on how to incorporate this type of strength program into a typical CrossFit Boxes programing. What are some things you might have to think about when trying to fit everything into an hour. What I have found is that when I program a day with strength work and then a met con ( i.e 5x5 back squat ,or even a 3x5 followed by a met-con) ) end up running out of time and having to rush through the technique coaching and figuring out scaling for each person. This is the main reason I do not often add extra strength work on top of my members Met-Cons.

9

wrote …

The cool thing about frequency is that you do not need long, drawn-out sessions to work on strength. You could almost squat as part of your routine warm-up.

If you wanted to do five sessions per week, working up to a modest 80-90% effort each time, you could get that done in very short order. Many sessions, I just do 5-7 singles up to my target load. I can get that done in 15 minutes or less, I suppose. Plenty of time to do the WOD, and no fatigue.

And because the frequency is increase, the overall work is still being accumulated. As you get used to it, you can dial up the volume. For example, throwing in a 5*5 day once per week.

Chris

10

wrote …

Michael,

I typed my post as you made your comment. I think I mostly addressed your question. But here's a bit more.

We did this with our Crossfitters with success. I'd say the keys are...

1. Keep it real quick and varied. Crossfitters have the very, very short attention spans, it seems.

2. Start with relatively light weights. Maybe in the 80% range. They can get there quickly.

3. Make them record their loads. That way, they know how much to add week to week. I'd say shoot for modest, progressive 5-10 pound jumps.

4.They will plateau eventually. That's where the variation comes in. They may grow very good at squatting with the safety bar for example. Add a box, or bands, and that will change fast. I recommend switching every 4 weeks.

5. Unload during the 4th week by dropping volume. Keep the load meaningful.

Chris

11

wrote …

Chris, do you have a training log that we can all experiment with? I don't have a safety squat bar though..

12

wrote …

I think one of the reasons a lot of Crossfitters do not lift heavy often. Is because they do not train in a box or a gym and often workout alone.
Heavy weights and the associated paraphernalia are expensive. Pull up bars, rings and a jump rope are cheaper, also easy to transport and to store.

13

wrote …

Christian,

Do I keep a log? Well, you can see what we're up to on our FactionSC.com site. I log my training in the strength blog, which is general strength for the moment. toss me a line anytime you have questions. I'm more than happy to share more.

Dean,

Yeah, I suppose that is correct. I'd certainly make that argument about glute hame raises, reverse hypers...bumper plates, even. But here's the thing. Most folks have enough scratch to get a decent car. To pay for cable, or an iPhone every month. To buy grass-fed beef. Whatever. I do not think it's tough to get the weights you need.

Squat stands are cheap. Metal plates are cheap. A simple power bar is pretty cheap. If you want to box squat, you can use anything to do that. No money required. You can keep all that shit in your garage, or in a shed out back.

If you cannot make that much happen, you deserve a life resigned to weakness.

Chris

14

wrote …

This isn't a question so much as a comment. I was fortunate enough to have had a trainer who placed high value on squatting heavy and I benefited greatly from it. I started Crossfit in June of 2010 and I was really fat, as in 5' 3" and 213 lbs fat! Looking back through my wod log I would say 3 times a week was adverage for 80% + on squats. The nutshell is now I'm 138 lbs and my max lifting PR's have INCREASED over the last year while I've gotten faster and generally "fitter" Since Fran was used earlier as reference I'll use her. PR back squat: 255 PR deadlift: 305 FRAN: 4.26 Adverage speed for 1 mile run: 6.47

Just as an aside, being the tiny girl who can out squat the "big guy" is freakin AWESOME! ;)

15

wrote …

Mary, sounds like you are an ass-kicker. I'm glad to hear from those who tried it and have had success.

It just feels right, eh?
Chris

16

wrote …

It's a beautiful thing!

17

wrote …

Thanks for your reply, Chris. I'm all about strength and getting as strong as possible. The point I was making is there is a tradeoff when trying to get fit as possible and when time is a factor. Yes, you can be very strong and very fit at the same time as Chris mentioned (and as evidenced by Games athletes). If I was a full-time athlete, I would go heavy as hell in the morning and hit a conditioning ala Crossfit WOD in the evening. Since I'm extremely busy (shouldn't be on here typing right now I know ha!), I have to choose my focus wisely.

18

wrote …

Steve, I hear you. I'd like to train more than I do now, but life is certainly in the way. In an ideal world, I'd squat twice per day (My humble flesh permitting).

I say we press forward and do the absolute best that we can do...Circumstance be damned.

Chris

19

wrote …

Steve, I don't want to be a pain in the butt........ I have 4 kids all under 7, if I can do it so can you. Go into your workout prepared. Stretch, get a sprint in and then load your bar! It takes seconds. My favorite warm up at the moment consists of 5 sets heavy but if you're truely pressed for time you could do 3 sets: 5 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 80%, and 1 @ 90%.... Everyone knows their max so do the math and do work. Crossfit doesn't make excuses, it conquers!

20

wrote …

I really like your writing style. It's motivating and flows well.

I don't think squatting 3 or more times per week is necessary or beneficial for strength training. I've seen the Westside template of squatting 1-2 times per week work too well for too many to say that squatting with a greater frequency will provide any additional benefit. In addition, I think there is a wear and tear component to be considered.

21

wrote …

Thanks for the note, Chris.

For what it's worth, my experience would tell me otherwise. Also, many, many years worth of Olympic weightlifters have achieved great numbers with a frequent approach.

Is it the only way? Certainly not. Many powerlifters have done quite well with lower frequency.

I have no joint pain. I'm recovering quite well. I feel much more at ease under heavy load. I think the single best benefit is learning to "relax" during heavy efforts. PR attempts just do not take anything out of me anymore. I'm more patient...I get more attempts in with less time in the gym. I can cut down on less effective assistance work, etc.

For many lifters, I feel this is an absolutely tremendous way to train. Someone earlier in the thread "flipped" the question on me. So, I'll do the same to you. For all the successful powerlifters, how many could do better if they trained more often? This is especially true when you throw gear into the mix. On a "heavy" day with a squat suit on, there's not a lot of fatigue to the hips and legs. I think guys's could easily practice that 3 days per week, and be much better off. It's exactly what I'd do if I was competing still in geared meets.

Westside has worked for many powerlifters. It worked damn well for me as well. But I cannot ignore the monumental strength accomplishments of athletes who train at a higher frequency.

I've never touched "restoratives." I'm nothing special genetically. I've got a busy life. Yet, I'm stronger by training more often.

Chris

22

wrote …

Thanks, Chris Moore and Chris Mason, for keeping strength on my radar with your great articles. The simplicity of this article really appeals to me. The title says it all! The comments have also been helpful. I will try consistently incorporating heavy squats into my warm up as opposed to fixating on them inconsistently.

One question: Why the squat over the deadlift? Why not hit the squat heavy one day and the deadlift another?
Thanks!

23

wrote …

I have personally seen some great gains on my metcons and my overall strength thanks to squatting heavy(well..heavier). I gained about 10 lbs, and good 50 lbs on my Front Squat (which took about 6 months, in conjunction with a high volume training regime). Some metcons suffered, but overall, I have definitely gotten more fit (and a lot of the shorter wods have gotten much faster and easier)

More importantly, one of my friends and fellow athletes is one of the best athletes we have...and has a 405lb back squat, at 149lb. This guy is strong, fast, and destroys just about any Wod you put in front of him.

Short version - I gotta say, I think squating helps. No idea what the best strategy is, but Im going to keep doing it.

24

wrote …

Chris McAllister,

You can do the deadlift, but you must make sure you keep the weights relatively light. Maybe no more than 75-80% at the very heaviest. Err on the side of caution though. You're low back will take more of a beating with the pulls versus the squats. Regardless, start conservative and add with time as you adapt.

Samuel,

Sounds like your friend is a beast. We have a few lighter guys doing very well, Jordan (165 lb.) and Justin (185 lbs). Jordan's now squatting around 425-450, with any of the bars really. Justin's good for 500-550 in the back squat, and just hit a 400 front squat tonight...On his second week of doing them. I think regardless of BW, frequent squatting fantastic.

Chris

25

wrote …

thanx for the article chris, learned alot from your follow up comments too.

26

wrote …

Mary,
I train hard everyday no matter what. There are no excuses coming from me. I recently competed on my affiliate's team at the Regionals and can say that I am in the best shape of my life. I also squat deadlift and press every week and put up respectable numbers in the strength department. However, with a tight schedule like most people, I don't have the luxury to dedicate enough time to getting brutally strong and fit at the same time. You may but I don't. Again, I think Chris wrote a solid article and I already shared it with my friends and trainers.

27

wrote …

Thanks for the comments, Huw.

Steve,

Just like everyone else, I'm busy. We can all relate. The advantage of frequent squatting is that it can be done in a matter of minutes. Like I said, I can warm-up and work up to a 500-600 lbs squat over about 5 sets of 1 rep. That takes maybe 10-15 minutes...Maybe 20 if I'm dragging or goofing off.

Here's what I would suggest. Train as hard as you can most of the year, but it would be helpful to switch the focus here and there. For example, you should probably have an "off-season" where strength takes a focus. Even if its just 8 weeks in the middle of winter. Use some of your limited time to hit the training then. Once you go back to the normal stuff, you'll be better off. PRs come summer time!

I've written on that before. To excel at the sport of crossfit, you need a slightly different strategy. One with a shifting focus. Note: you never let a skill slip, you just don't expect to improve everything, all the time. Can't be done past a certain level of mastery.

Just some thoughts.

Chris

28

replied to comment from Mary Frye

mary that's awesome, thanks for chiming in!

29

wrote …

Chris, Thanks for the comments. I will keep that in mind.
A couple more things...

I was wondering about the Olympic lifts and how that would affect programming. Right know we are concentrating on oly lifts during the strength portion which might mean a 5x3 of Jerks, Snatch Balance, or Power Snatch/Power Clean. In these exercises, you use similar muscles as squatting, but its clearly not the same. I am wondering whether it would be advisable to squat in addition to the Olympic work on that day and if so, how would that be ordered so as not to detract from it (Heavy Jerks, Met con, then 5x3 back squat post WOD?). I am still doing a heavy squat lift and heavy full oly lift (squat clean or squat snatch) which would make two squat days.

I should mention that my squat right now is really really bad. I have a 205 max back squat and 375 max DL. DL is just a lot more comfortable for me. Im 6’2” 185.

Sent Doug an email with this same content, since I wasnt sure the best way to contact.

30

wrote …

Chris - another hard hitting article, inspiring, and I just happen to be going "heavy" on Zercher squats today!

"Heavy" meaning, I don't know what heavy is yet for me, but will by the day's end.

31

wrote …

Thanks Paul.


Michael,

I think you should be doing heavy Olympic lifts, coupled with heavy squatting after. The load you're using is likely not sufficient to make you stronger.

If you look at the training of all top level Olympic lifters, they take a very simple approach. Snatch, clean and jerk, some power lifts, front squat, back squat. Everything is done heavy and progressive.

At your size, your objective should be to reach double bodyweight in the back squat. At least 1.5 in the front squat. You'll get there by working the lifts much more often then you are now.

Most importantly, find someone who's stronger than you to train with.

Shoot me an email if you'd like to chat further.

Chris

32

wrote …

Chris,

I have a question concerning frequency when you put deads in the mix.

I am relatively new to crossfit but was a powerlifter for a long time. I have been out of the gym for about ten years but recently got back in and then found crossfit.

When I was younger we always trained 4 days a week, M-T-TH-F, with squats and deads both on Monday plus assistance exercises. Thursday was front squats or hacks plus assistance stuff. We did a 15 week cycle starting with 8 rep maxes on week 1. 85% by 4 sets of 8 on week 2, 90% by 3 sets of 8 week 3, 95% by 2 sets of 8 week 4 and re-max for 8 reps week 5. Then repeat the 5 week cycle for nickels and then for triples. I always made significant gains and have pulled 685 and squatted 750 (in gear) at 230, of course that was back when I was in my early 30s, now 45 and a chubby 255 I am struggling to get back in shape.

I have been trying to mix this routine (slightly modified) with crossfit but am concerned about overtraining. Which brings me to my question. Doing squats and deads together was always a brutal workout and required lots of quality rest. So we only did squats one other day. Do you believe your advice of 3 days a week works as well when deads are being done every week?

I am always open to try new things, just wondering how deads affects your training frequency?

33

wrote …

David,

You had solid lifts. You say geared, but I remember what that gear was like. It's a different sport now.

I don't think you need to deadlift very often. I really don't. A heavy pull once or twice per month is the most I would do (once every 2 weeks). Now, that's not to say you are not "pulling" a lot. If you're Crossfitting, I assume you're learning the Olympic lifts. That's a challenge, but fun and quite rewarding. Those lifts will help your deadlift...You'll feel zippy and fresh when deadlifting, and your lower back will not take a beating. Pretty crucial as we get older.

I'd place my strength focus on all forms of the front and back squat. All that work will obviously boost your squatting ability, but will also build the pull. Especially deep front squats.

I'd also move a bit away from a style of lots of 8's. If fatigue/recovery is a concern, stick to triple and singles for your squats. Start light, and ramp up over a few weeks, taking modest 5-10 pound records. Unload every 4th week by taking it a bit easy. Then, tweak the exercises a bit and keep chipping away.

If you love the reps, through in a heavy 5 sets of 5 reps day. Still progress the weight week to week. That'll be all the work you can stand.

I find frequent, short bursts of heavy squats to be particularly beneficial for Crossfit.

Chris

34

wrote …

Thanks Chris,

Since I am in my 4th week of the progression I will probably finish out the cycle and then try working in your suggestions. Truth be told I prefer deads to squats, mostly because I am built like a gorilla with short legs long torso and long arms. But the lower back is definitely an issue since I have two ruptured discs.

I haven't yet started the oly lifts due to a lack of shoulder flexibility (injuries) but have been working on my mobility and expect to be doing them soon.

Unfortunately I live in an area with no crossfit box, closest one is 80 miles away. So I have been doing it mostly by watching videos and adding stuff like rings and wall balls into my garage power setup.

Thanks for the reply.

David

Oh yeah by gear I meant knee wraps and a lifters belt. I see alot of vidoes of crossfitters doing deads and squats with no belt. I ditched the wraps a long time back but not so sure I am ready to drop the belt.

35

wrote …

I wouldn't drop the belt. I try to tell our guys it can help.

If you usually fail at 400 lbs, let's say, but a belt would allow you to lift 430, how could that be bad? It's load that you otherwise would never place on the leg's and back. You still get the same work in without. You can do the extra safely. Win-win.

The same goes with a wrap. I see nothing particularly wrong with a light knee wrap under a heavy load. It's much different than, say, wearing a squat suit. Just my perspective.

Chris

36

wrote …

Thanks for the perspective. I haven't really been going heavy enough for the wraps (never wore them until I got in the 500 and up range) but the belt thing has been something I have questioned since coming back and seeing so many doing it without. I just feel safer with it on and if it isn't illegal in crossfit events I figure I will keep it on. Not that I am in any danger of competing anytime soon, but I believe in training with an overall goal of competing someday.

I enjoyed the article a lot. It is good to see someone involved with CF touting the powerlifts more. I love the metcon stuff but feel like the strength, non oly stuff, gets short shrift sometimes. To me, nothing hits the whole body like squats or deads, it just gets the whole system working better.

I have learned a lot since finding Cf and the journal and look forward to continuing that trend. Thanks for your contribution.

37

wrote …

I appreciate the article, especially because it made me reflect on my own training as well as other methods.

I agree with the idea of going heavy often. I also agree with the idea of varying the type of lift. I disagree on the lack of prescribed volume. I don't do many assistance exercises right now but am not sure if I count that out as a bad idea.



I remember hearing one of the Chinese Olympic lifters saying how most people only use about 30% of their muscles. With proper training, he says that over 70% of the bodies muscle can be utilized.


It seems to me that if you are squatting low reps of meaningful weight in any squat workout, your body will utilize its strongest muscles. If you are squatting using a method like Smolov or Westside that looks at total load and volume, after a certain amount of reps, your body will be required to recruit more individual muscle fibers as well as different muscles altogether as the primary muscles involved in the earlier reps will be fatigued. In addition, my personal experience is that volume with heavy weight is the quickest way to hypertrophy. A bigger muscle is capable of moving more weight, pure and simple, whether we like to admit it or not.



This hypertrophy of the primary movers along with strengthening of secondary muscles should increase one rep max.


I believe the variance of safety squat, front squat, high bar, low bar, works on a similar principal of targeting secondary muscles. Chains, bands, and getting creative also help concentrate on these secondary movers. I think I heard Lou Simmons call it targeting “accommodating resistance”.


Lastly, I don't think we should overlook the importance of explosive strength and using momentum to move big weights. Some call it plyometrics, Westside might call it “dynamic effort”. Whatever you call it, working with submaximal weights or eccentric overloading to maintain or establish explosive strength is important in initiating the movement and overcoming sticking points.



I am not an expert and do not consider myself a Westside person. I only speak from personal experience and from what makes sense of the different methods I have read about.

Chris, please let me know what you think, especially regarding the idea of needing total load/volume to produce muscle hypertrophy.

Thanks again for the article.

38

wrote …

N,

There's nothing to disagree with here.

To clarify, I do consider volume. I just do not overthink it.

I squat 5 days per week, to a minimum of 90% on the various lifts. So one, my training volume-load is high. Every 3rd week, I start to feel its effects!

I also do a high volume session once a week. Typically, this is a 5*5 day. If the block is just focusing on max strength, I'll drop that day and program some down sets, doing mostly singles though.

Speed kills. I do all my reps as fast as I can. Every day has a "dynamic" component. I'm also a fan of jumping, and Olympic lifts, although I suck at both!

Chris

39

wrote …

Great article. I am curious what your take is on bar placement. I try to get in the low bar position that Rippetoe teaches but it just feels tight as hell on my shoulders so i end up moving it up a bit. Does it necessarily matter? Or should i work my flexibility so I can hit both high bar and low bar?

40

wrote …

Brian,

If the bar feels better high, keep it high.

There are real differences between the lifts, but the high bar is in no way inferior. Actually, many weightlifters would see it the other way around.

The important thing is that you're squatting. Don't sweat the details.

Chris

41

wrote …

Thanks for the quick response! i'm going to add in more squat work (simple linear progression to start - 2x per week of back squat @ 5x3 and 5x5 using the same weight for both workouts until that progression slows than I will change it up) I feel that it also helps with hip health and conversely flexibility throughout the hip complex.

42

wrote …

I read somewhere recently that the endocrine response generated from a good squat program would be manifest in all of your musculature (natural anabolic steroid response). What is your experience or understanding of this effect?

43

wrote …

Thatcher,

Well, in terms of generating a positive hormone response in the body, I think there's no better exercise than the squat...Any kind of squat.

You simply use the most muscle, under the highest load, for the highest cumulative training volume-load. It takes a pretty potent stimulus to get that effect from your body. The squat delivers.

I don't know if I'd use your terminology. But, I'd call it a response that favors growth and strength adaptations, sure.

Chris

44

wrote …

Squatting versus deadlifting: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jopp.us%2Fjournal%2Ffree%2F5-2_sqdl.pdf

Answer - do both. Don't focus on just the squat or everything else will diminish. Sorry CFers, you can't be good at everything by focusing on one thing.

45

wrote …

George,

The idea is not to avoid the deadlift. It's to avoid heavy, frequent deadlifts. The exercise takes a great toll on the lower back if you do it frequently at a high load. This is in contrast to the squat, where you can load it more often.

This is particularly true if you are also doing frequent Olympic pulls. There is less and less room for heavy deadlifting.

Now, if the deadlift is a focus, you can do it more often. An option would be to pull once a week. Or, multiple times per week with "speed" loads.

You do not have to believe me. You can easily prove this to yourself by doing the training. This observation is not my own. It's cumulative experience observed from the training of every decent lifter I can think of, name, or refer to online.

Chris

46

wrote …

Chris, loved the article. I've actually been doing this as my own experiment for a few weeks. Spent just over 3 weeks squatting at least 90% of my max every day (except Sundays) and I didn't have any issues with recovery. I'm on my last day right now of 4 days off before I get back into training and I'm wondering what I should change about it. I'm a creature of habit so variation isn't a huge deal to me. I squatted high bar the whole time (I'm an Oly lifting nut). Would I benefit more from doing all 3 squats over the course of a week instead of just high bar? Is there a place for overhead squatting or would that be considered more snatch assistance than an actual squat? My squat has been stuck for a long time at 160kg. I'd love to break 185kg before the year is out.
Also, very true about the deadlift. I do my share of Oly pulls and I only max the deadlift a couple times a year. I've found that the olympic pulls actually help the deadlift more than deadlifting does. But I was wondering, I heard that the RDL is an awesome assistance exercise specifically for high bar back squats. Should I use those to get my squat moving again or just keep squatting and grind it out?

47

wrote …

Variation could be in order.

RDLs, glute hams, maybe some light good mornings...all will certainly assist the squat. And help the pull.

First, I would make only a few changes in the squat. You might try a pause squat, or low box squat on one of your days. Maybe add in extra front squats. They are easy to recover from. Or, up the volume on one day. Either some 5's, or, down sets after your top set. Start slowly first, then just keep adding work here and there.

Chris

48

wrote …

Chris,

Not sure if you are still checking comments, but I have quick question.

How would you weigh the costs/benefits of getting sore. If I am sore for three days after lifting, am I building muscle from the intensity of the workout or am I just preventing myself from lifting more often? In other words, should soreness be minimized or embraced?
Thanks!
Chris

49

wrote …

Chris,

After a few days, or weeks of frequent squatting, soreness should be minimal. This is assuming your not going overboard on your volume and that you're not overdoing any unnecessary assistance work, etc.

Surprisingly, you should feel really, really good the more often you squat. Just keep the weight heavy, but not maximal, and slowly add reps.

Chris

50

wrote …

Thanks, Chris! I feel great after 2 weeks of squatting 3x/week.

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