I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Paul Childress recently and talk about how he sets up his squat cycles before a meet. Paul is extremely smart and his training reflects this. You will notice several things with this squat cycle. First, the circa max phase is planned several weeks before the competition. This is done for several reasons. It allows your shoulders and elbows to recover and let your body heal. This is crucial when training for the bench press. Second, every 5th week there is a download week. This is done so that your body and mind can recover from the heavy training. For a 900lbs. squatter, 405 with no band or chain is very easy, both mentally and physically. Plus, by adding in straight weight, the lifter gets used to not being "grounded" by the bands. The "grounding" effect is something that we have noticed with many lifters and a problem when going to meets. When using heavy band tension, the lifter is being driven into the ground by the bands and the weight is being distributed from the floor to the shoulders. When squatting at a meet (no bands) the weight is all on the shoulders and many people feel unstable when setting up. Also, when using bands, the bar does not whip like it would when taking a max attempt. These weeks are a great way to get ready for a meet. That is why the last two weeks do not use any band tension. I should also point out that before starting this training cycle some preparatory work must be done. This is because you are jumping right into the Heavy Band Phase and your body must be conditioned for it. I recommend that your low back, abdominals and hamstrings are conditioned and your GPP is up to par.


The following squat cycle is a sample cycle for a 900lbs. squatter. This is for advanced lifters only and cannot be done year round. Accessory work is different for everyone, although Paul believes in keeping things simple and heavy. If you follow his training logs at EliteFTS.com, you will notice that he does a lot of heavy movements and a lot of volume. Some of his favorite exercises are glute ham raises, back raises, straight leg deadlifts, snatch grip deadlifts, shrugs, bent over rows, Reverse Hyperextensions, and a lot of heavy abdominal work. Again, this is something that Paul has done over a period of time and needs to be brought up slowly. He mentioned to me that he has trained using the Westside/Conjugate Method for over 7 years. It should also be pointed out that Paul does this only twice a year when preparing for his meets. At his level, Paul competes no more than twice a year. Good luck and I hope this helps you set a new PR or at least stimulates some thought.

Heavy Band Phase

Week 1 - 3-5x2 @ 275 + 2 Strong Bands/side
Week 2 - 3-5x2 @ 300 + 2 Strong Bands/side
Week 3 - 3-5x2 @ 325 + 2 Strong Bands/side
Week 4 - 3-5x2 @ 275 + 2 Strong Bands/side
Week 5 - 6x2 @ 405 (Straight Weight)

Circa Max Phase

Week 6 - 5x2 @ 405 + Average Band/Strong Band
Week 7 - 5x2 @ 435 + Average Band/Strong Band
Week 8 - 5x2 @ 465 + Average Band/Strong Band
Week 9 - 5x2 @ 405 + Average Band/Strong Band
Week 10 - 5x2 @ 405 (Straight Weight)

Regular Band Phase

Week 11 - 5x2 @ 465 + Blue Band
Week 12 - 5x2 @ 435 + Blue Band
Week 13 - 5x2 @ 405 + Blue Band
Week 14 - 5x2 @ 405 (Straight Weight)
Week 15 - 5x2 @ 405 (Straight Weight)

Week 16 - Meet