Fire away guys and I’ll help the best I can.
Thanks for starting this, some questions in building a big squat:
- How important do you find variations of the squat (pause, front, high bar, etc)
- How important do you find assistance work? (GHR, Good Mornings, lunges, core work, etc)
How much of the total effort in building a big squat should go to squatting and how much into variations and/or assistance.
So my squat is super weak compared to my bench and deadlift I can barley squat 315 without some butt wink. Do I add more volume to squats or just do the 531 that I am on now? It’s frustrating seeing my squat be really bad. I have the long torso short legs body type which appears to be ideal for a squatter but I just can’t.
Which one would you choose if you had to pick between back and front squats and why?
How much does a heavy deadlift session impact on ability to squat heavy later in the week? Obviously this is down to the individual, but any broad guidelines you have?
How does descent speed vary with bar position, Squat variation, etc.?
How much focus goes into the descent for your higher percentage squats?
Some people are extremely reactive out of the hole and others not, very slow and steady.
Especially given your olympic lifting background, how would you determine when to focus training on a quicker eccentric and reversal vs. a slower more methodical squat?
- I can never walk out good
- How to setup on a mono lift
- How do you find your squat pattern, every rep looks different for me.
- What assistance lifts are the best
I’m trying out various squatting programs to lose weight and find that my time in weight room is turning into 1/3 squatting, 1/3 other leg exercises, and 1/3 upper body exercises. Then I go swimming. Is this is reasonable ratio of energy use if I’m more worried about losing weight than getting stronger? I am getting stronger, it’s just not the primary point at the moment.
I’m interested in your thoughts on hyper-mobility. From an Olympic background I assume you squatted very deep. However, if I remember in your videos leading up to your records you had to work on getting deep enough to make depth. I think that it is beneficial for the mobility powerlifter to be limited to the minimum depth required because your muscle doesn’t have to support the weight at your mobility limit.
What do you think caused your dramatic loss of depth and mobility between Olympic lifting and when you started powerlifting (stance width/bar placement, muscle mass, training differences) and do you think the loss of mobility helped you when entering powerlifting?
How many time do you train per week?
- When looking at accessory work (I consider anything other than competition movements accessory since we are in a powerlifting forum), the variations of squats are the most important. These will likely directly follow your competition squat during training (unless you have an alternate muscle-building goal which you may want to put prior to your variations…ex if you have a posterior chain focus for whatever reason, you may want to put reverse hyper etc prior to your accessory squat work). The squat variation you choose will obviously be goal specific.
- These obviously have a place depending on your weaknesses, but I don’t consider them a priority. They will prob be later in your workout after your main lifts and variations and will usually be trained in a “body build” type of way meaning to build muscle where needed rather than being movement specific.
- In a conversation I had with Eric Lillibridge, he said something that I agree with quite a bit - if you want a big squat (or whatever you’re lifting), train your squat. If you want to squat big then squat…a lot. Funny enough the Bulgarian Olympic weight lifting team, although they train the complete opposite of the Lillibridge systems (squats every day/very high volume) believe in the same concept - if you want to improve a lift, train this lift primarily with minimal attention to the accessories. If I had to put percentages I would have to go with 80/20 or at the most 70/30 - focus on what you want to improve. When I squat, my sessions take over 3 hours - 2.5 of squats and and hour or so for the rest.
This is very hard to answer without actually knowing the root of why your squat is so low - technical, muscle imbalance, not enough volume or intensity, etc. Assuming 315 is your 1RM and your technique isn’t horrible, you can likely get away with 245-300 for reps on a daily or near daily basis… this alone will increase your squat. Because the numbers are fairly low, it should have minimal impact on your central nervous system and recovery. Honestly it shouldn’t impact your other lifts - other than help. When I work with beginners I usually make them do all big lifts in very high frequency for technique, muscle growth, and neuro efficiency - works great.
This is completely goal dependent.
To move the most weight - low bar back squat
For overall leg development - Olympic high bar squat
For quad ephasis and core - front squat
A true heavy deadlift is probably the most impactful thing you can do in terms of your nervous system and recovery…you’re right everyone is different, but as a general guildline I recommend 2 things.
- If you don’t squat and deadlift the same day, do your squat session prior to your deadlift session
- after a heavy deadlift, give 7-10 days before a heavy squat session. This doesn’t mean don’t squat at all - I mean actual heavy weights.
I try to squat the exact same from an empty bar to a max weight. I see a lot of people making their decent slower as they go heavier and I consider this a mistake. You want a consistent firing pattern when you squat and if you change your descent speed, it changes this pattern. I don’t see the need to change decent speed for alternate variations (at the end of the day, you’re squatting - same movement) - it’s more of a change in angles (more upright for yoke bar, as opposed to leaned forward for competition) but in terms of speed I try to be consistent.
So difficult to answer without seeing the individual lift - obviously different body types, amount of muscle they’re holding, training experience etc all come into consideration. I think the best example is compare how Stan Efferding used to squat (super slow eccentric, but explosive from the hole) compared to Andy Askow (literally “falling” into the hole and uses the momentum to quickly reverse - almost gets halfway up on the reversal)…it seems from my experience that the more muscle you have, the more you can get away with being slower on the eccentric. Saying that, I will still teach the slower, unexplosive lifter to get up out of the hole as fast as they possibly can, even if it doesn’t come naturally…seems to always have a positive impact on the speed, and in return strength they can put into the squat. It also seems to be helpful across the board to used the hole as a “spring” (same as an Olympic lifter) meaning that even if your decent is relatively slow and controlled, just before you hit the hole you release and explode up. Hope that makes sense.
- Me either - this is why I switched to a monolift …gave me 20lbs on my squat right away. On a more serious note since I have also broken world records walking out, I would say you want to learn that when you unrack, stand for a second and let the weight settle…don’t rush. Small controlled steps back …back, back, out, out. Some do it with 3 steps - for me 4 worked the best (and for Ed Coan)
- First get your legs under in the exact position you will squat, then dig yourself into the bar making sure that your rear delts and the bar are almost 1, crank hard on the bar to set yourself, then a deep breath before you unrack
- years and years of trial and error…minor changes to my pattern until I found what felt best. Then recreate it over and over
- all other variations of squat - pause squats and yoke bar squats are my favorites
Sorry I’m not sure how to answer this question - it’s more of a general training program. Are you getting the results you’re looking for? If you are then it’s probably an ok ratio, if you’re not then consider making some changes or hiring a coach.
Thank you. That makes sense. I didn’t think such a long break would be necessary, but then I don’t often deadlift (or squat) truly heavily very often so I doubt I’ve experienced that kind of drain more than once or twice.