Dave Tate's Free Squat Manual

TAGS: yoke bar squats, squat manual, saftey bar squats, how to squat more, how to squat, back squat, squat, powerlifting, dave tate

NOTE: Section 10 was added on June 1st, 2014.

 

We were going to put this with a bunch of other articles together into a Squat Manual that we could sell or give away as a promotional item. Knowing VERY well if it was not for you we would not be here, let alone for 15 years, I made an executive decision and am publishing this as a big ass 16,000 word article. Bookmark and enjoy!

- Dave Tate

Section 1: Master the Squat

When your squat stalls, everything comes into question – from the obvious things like setup, technique, and programming – to the more deep-seated factors, like whether you're just too much of a pussy to move any real weight.

Squat plateaus have caused many strong lifters to stop competing, or quit powerlifting entirely. After all, you can still build a powerful looking body without ever entering a power rack. But you'll never really be strong – stronger than the average guy, sure, but not the type of strong you dreamed of becoming when you first set foot in a gym.

For that kind of strength, you need a heavy bar on your back. There's just no way around it.

Unfortunately, squats aren't the easiest movement in the world to do. To be perfectly frank, they can be hard as fuck. Even the most gifted squatter will at times look down at the puddle of puke between his legs and ask why the hell they're doing this to themselves. And when they pound away and don't get bigger or stronger – or worse, get injured – it's just a matter of time until they just stop doing them.

But that's not you, right?

Disclaimer: Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding Squat

First off this is about building a stronger squat. It's not squatting for optimal leg development.

They are markedly different things and require entirely different approaches.

A bodybuilder squat is typically much narrower, more upright, and activates the quads through a much greater range of motion. It's all about tension, or isolating the quads while minimizing involvement of the lower back and glutes (to a degree).

On the other hand, a powerlifting squat is geared towards minimizing tension and just focusing on the movement. In powerlifting, whatever method or stance that allows you to move the most weight is the right stance for you.

It helps to think of it this way – one is all about muscle and the other is all about movement.

Many powerlifters make fun of the bodybuilder squat as it leaves a lot of weight on the table, but you have to remember that success leaves clues, and if a powerlifting squat built bigger quads, bodybuilders would certainly do them. They squat that way because it's the best for quad hypertrophy, period.

So if you're squatting to build bigger quads, this isn't the article you're looking for. If you want to get your squat bigger and stronger, read on.

The 3 Sticking Points

Any sticking point can be attributed to one of three things:

Mental
Technical
Physical

As a coach, the first thing I do is figure out which of the three is contributing most to the plateau, as this determines the path I take.

Note: These are all related and are not independent of each other, but separating them this way has proved to be the best way for me to diagnosis sticking points.

 

Mental

The mental barriers in squatting are the most difficult for powerlifters to overcome.

If you've ever squatted heavy in your life you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. You take the bar out and it feels like a ton. You struggle to stay upright and can barely adjust your feet.

The idea of squatting the weight down and getting back up is ridiculous. You'll get crushed, stapled like a loser at the bottom of the rack.

But then it happens. You draw in your air, sit back into the hole and feel your hamstrings and glutes tighten up before exploding back up, driving that "impossible" weight to the start position.

What you thought was impossible was anything but. That's overcoming a mental barrier.

To achieve the right squatting mindset, the first thing to realize is that squatting is a skill, like a javelin throw or a shot-put. You just can't saunter up to the rack and squat 500 pounds, just like you can't throw a shot put 20 meters your first day.

Proficiency requires expert coaching and a ton of practice. You have to strive to make every rep the same – as close to perfect as possible.

Ed Coan once was asked to describe the importance of walking the weight out, something most lifters don't even think about. Ed proceeded to show how he walks the weight out, using the bar, and it was very clear every step was exact and specific, something he's done the same way for over three decades.

There was no wasted energy or extra movement. While you may think this is technical or even physical, let me tell you it's mental discipline and focus.

Second, you have to get over your fear. It's fear that keeps most guys from achieving depth with heavy loads. That's why I love the box squat so much. It gives guys a target, so they don't feel like they're dropping into a bottomless hole they can't come back from.

The trick is to start with a high box and slowly drop it down as confidence grows. Also, always be mindful to never just drop on the box, get loose, or do any of the other dumb shit I see online all the time. The box is a tool – not a fucking springboard. Sit back, stay tight, and in control.

Another way to accomplish this is with the power rack. Simply setting the pins a couple inches below the bottom position can give lifters the peace of mind they need to take the weight all the way down without fear of getting stapled. Yet how often do you see guys actually use a rack properly?

Oh, and spotters – good spotters – also help.

A third mental issue is over or under-arousal. While not being ready for the lift is obviously a problem, being too amped up can be a huge energy leak, especially before you're under the bar.

I just think of Steve Goggins – he was always focused right until he had the bar on his back. Then all bets were off. In other words, he saved his energy to unleash it during the lift. If you've ever seen Steve lift in person, his entire mental state changes as soon as he grabs the bar.

Fourth are excuses. Every lifter with a shitty squat has a litany of excuses for why they suck so badly. I have no time for these people. If your squat sucks, offer your excuses to someone who cares – which is nobody.

And if you hate squatting, then don't squat! No one is forcing you to powerlift. Do something else, anything, and preferably far away from me. Do you seriously think anyone cares about your trick knee or back issues? Every lifter has issues to contend with so go see a doctor or shut the fuck up.

Finally, there's the simple fact that squatting is hard. There's no getting around it. A 10-15-rep set of squats will make you feel like your heart is going to explode, while a one-rep max can leave you seeing stars.

No magic mental tricks exist that suddenly make the lift feel easy. My advice is to just nut up and get under the bar.

Here's something I've never understood. Squatting is so problematic for so many lifters, yet everybody at some point wrestles with taking a stubborn shit on the toilet.

And what do they do? Fill their bellies with air, bear down, strain like hell, turn purple, and give it all they got. If this doesn't work they stay there until the job gets done. So most lifters work harder on the toilet than they do in the squat rack.

If all else fails, revert to how I handle the excuse makers: Do. Something. Else!

 

Technical

Squatting technique is a tricky topic as there are many different styles that can work.

First is the stance. I advocate a wide stance, but that doesn't mean it's the ideal style for every lifter. So your first order of business is to figure out the best stance and your anthropometry, injury history, and goals.

Here are some criteria:

If you have shoulder issues, choose a medium to wide grip.
If you have a short back, choose a medium to wide stance.
If you have a long torso, choose a medium stance (the longer the torso, the closer the stance).
If you have long legs and a long back, choose a close to medium stance.
If you have long legs and a short back, congratulations. You can squat any way you want.
If you're using gear, obviously a wider stance is best as the gear supports the hips.

 

The reason I like the wide squat so much is efficiency. It shortens the distance the bar has to travel to reach depth.

For example, when I first showed up at Westside, the average distance the bar had to travel for me to hit depth was 16 inches. After working with Louie Simmons for so many years, it was shortened to just 6 inches.

Simply widening my stance shaved 10 full inches off my range of motion, which is a big advantage when you have PR weight on your back.

Next, you have to do the right shit. A good squat should sound like this:

Tight (From hands on the bar to feet on the floor.)
Back arched
Chest up
Elbows under bar
Upper back tight
Belly full of air – breathe into you belly, not your chest. Look in the mirror – does you chest rise when you take a breath? If so, learn to pull that air into your belly. The reason is if you pull air into your chest, what happens when you breathe out? Your chest falls and the bar drifts forward.
Grab the bar as close as possible without aggravating the biceps or shoulders. (Wider bars have led some to use a grip that impairs their ability to keep the upper back tight.)
Load the hips first (hip hinge) and then break at the knees. This increases glute and hamstring involvement.
Knees tracking in line with the angles.

Above all, be mindful of the path of the barbell. When viewed from the side, the barbell should drop straight down and come straight back up, like you'd dropped a plumb line.

This can occur with any stance and depends 100% on how the lifter is built. So if you're unsure whether your stance is right for you, start there.

However, it's very hard to go from a close stance to a wide stance. It can take upwards of two years to relearn the movement and develop the flexibility, especially if the lifter is very tight.

Many lifters will crap out and just return to their original stance, and I don't blame them. But if the plumb line test reveals they should be squatting wider, they'll never reach their potential if they don't change their ways.

Keep a close eye on your knees. Some forward movement is okay (I don't like it personally, but with a medium stance you can't avoid it), but it should never exceed mid-foot and your knees should never drift in, unless you want to blow an ACL or quad tendon.

Also, remember that when your knee moves forward it lengthens the distance to hit parallel. The most extreme example of this is a sissy squat – at the bottom position your knees are almost on the floor. You're low as hell but not even close to parallel.

So what you give up with forward knee movement you have to make up with strength, or your technique trade-off is hurting your squat more than helping it.

Don't get me wrong, I like the close stance, Olympic-style squat. I think it's a great looking squat, and I know a lot of very strong men who squat that way. Here's the thing – the guys that it works for, it works because it's the right squat for them!

The majority of powerlifters who would be far stronger if they went wider and stopped pretending they were late cuts from the Chinese Olympic lifting team.

 

Physical

I've never seen a "perfect" squat. There's always something that could be improved upon. I worked out with Chuck Vogelpohl for 14 years – arguably one of the top squatters in the world – and there wasn't one workout where we didn't have to yell at him to keep his chest up, head back, or some other cue.

Heavy weight has a way of humbling all mental, physical, and technical attributes of the squat. There needs to be reinforcement. There needs to be coaching.

This speaks to the importance of proper cueing. You have to be in each other's ear with the verbal cues throughout the lift, especially as the weight gets heavy and the fight or flight hormones kick in.

Sometimes you have to say something 15 times or more before the lifter hears it, so it's smart to get in the habit of cueing throughout the lift.

To that end, here's what everyone's been waiting for, the "what exercises should I do when my squat looks like this" section. Even though 90% of the time the issue is poor technique or choice of stance, lifters still think that there's some magical assistance lift they're not doing that's preventing them from being a world champion. Fantasy land, I know. All right, I'll indulge you.

If you fall forward. The big thing is to simply perform the lift correctly. Chest up, knees out, big air, belly tight, tight grip, and spread the floor. This eliminates many problems right away.

Failing that, falling forward is typically due to weak abs and lower back.

My favorite exercise for this is the hanging leg raise, performed with straight legs and kicking the bar at the top. Be sure not to extend backwards more than 6 inches – keep the tension on the abs.

If these are too hard then bend at the knees and pull up as high as you can. Use elbow straps if grip is the limiting factor.

Another good move is the pulldown ab crunch. Attach a triceps attachment to the lat pulldown station and stand facing away from the unit. Pull the rope taught and hold it under your chin.

Do not press your ass against the machine – keep the tension in your abs. Contract your abs and bend at the waist, pulling air into your diaphragm as you go down. This greatly improves stability during the squat while also strengthening the hip flexors.

For the lower back, hyperextensions and reverse hyperextensions both work well.

If you get stuck in the bottom. Here's a thought – before you angst over the right magical assistance lift, maybe the weight is just too fucking heavy. While painfully obvious, you'd be amazed at how many lifters fail to consider this.

After that, often the problem is not sitting back far enough, and if in a medium or wider stance, not pushing back far enough (there's a difference). You need to elongate the hamstrings during the descent to create the stretch reflex. That's why the closer stance can feel stronger out of the hole – it creates a greater stretch reflex.

If you get stuck three-fourths of the way up. This is due to weak glutes and hips. Here glute bridges, reverse hypers, and good mornings pay huge dividends, as does simply learning to flex your ass.

One trick I like is sitting on a box that's way below parallel with bands wrapped around my knees and holding it for 15 seconds. The bands should be tense enough that 15 seconds feels very hard.

This not only helps activate the glutes, it also helps build stability in the knees and hips, which is huge because a muscle must stabilize, then absorb force, and then create force – but only in that order.

If your knees buckle in. This leads back to the hips, glutes, and hip rotators. The first thing is to reassess the stance, making sure it passes the plumb line test. Next is to reinforce basic cues like "spread the floor" and determine if flexibility is where it should be.

This can be a huge problem, so I'd reduce the training weight to a point where this won't happen and then reintroduce the loading as the weak points are overcome.

If the bar feels heavy. Step one is to grow a set of balls. Seriously. Sometimes shit is heavy – that's why it's powerlifting. You want easy weights, go hop on a leg press, preferably the pin loaded version. That way you can pump out reps while you read the paper or update your Facebook page. Pussy.

Next is to strengthen your abs and your hip flexors and to focus on achieving maximum tightness from the get go. Too many guys wait until the bar is on the back before they get tight – that's already too late.

I like to see guys fill their belly with air and keep it while they find their stance, and then let it out gradually before pulling it back in with one big breath and holding it. It makes a huge difference – try it for yourself.

 

Putting It All Together

I'm not going to write out some new squat routine; the greatest routine in the world won't help you squat any better. So here's a framework for how you should approach every squat session.

Warm-up. Do whatever you feel you need to do to warm up. This should not be a freaking 20-minute sweat session. People are getting way too carried way with this shit.

Here's what I've noticed. If you have hip issues you're told to do a series of mobility movements. Okay, I get that if the issues are muscle or tendon related, but what if it's muscle activation or joint related?

If the muscle isn't being activated then working the movement won't do it. If that were the case it would be activating in the first place!

If it's joint related – the joint is bone-on-bone or losing space – the best way to worsen the issue is by moving it more. It's called wear and tear for a reason, so if the joint is bone-on-bone, how exactly will a couple hundred reps of extra movement to the joint help? Think about it.

My advice. If you're messed up go find a good doctor or physical therapist. Trust me, they're out there.

As far as specific warm up stuff:

Pulldown Abs. Yeah, do these before you squat. These stretch the torso, hips, and the abdominal region. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Glute-Ham Raise. Simply because most people absolutely suck at them. Do 3 sets and keep them all a few reps shy of failure.

Now it's time to squat. You're going to do a ton of warm-up sets. A good rule of thumb: if you're trying to reinforce your technique, double the number of warm-up sets you normally do.

You can't practice technique when the load is heavy, so it's during your warm-up sets that you lay the foundation for a good squat session. Don't screw this up.

Next, after the warm up, squat as prescribed – whatever protocol you're using.

After the squat, its time to hit the assistance work. Start with a supplemental lift that builds the squat, performed in the 3-5 rep range. Best choices include:

Barbell Row
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift
Good Morning

Work up to a couple work sets and swap out the movement every 3-4 weeks or when you can no longer make progress with it.

Next is hamstring work. Here you'll hit the glute ham raise first – because everyone sucks at them – and then another hamstring movement that hits them at either the origin or insertion, like leg curls and Romanian deadlifts. Bump up the reps to 8-12 for a few work sets.

Now it's more abdominal work. Hit hanging leg raises or pulldown abs. Cycle between the two every three weeks.

Finish off the day with lower back work. Reverse hyperextensions or back extensions, performed for high reps (at least 20).

The work continues even on non-squat days. Remember, technique trumps everything, and you'll never become a proficient squatter if you only work on the movement once or twice a week.

On your other days, I recommend performing squats with just a broomstick during your general warm-up. This helps reinforce sound technique by "greasing the groove," so good habits stay on top of mind.

It takes a ton of reps to master even a basic movement, and that much more when correcting a previously established motor pattern.

 

BONUS: Squat Instruction Videos

 

Section 2: The Biggest Mistake - Upper Back Tightness

I see this mistake all over YouTube. This has to be the No. 1 mistake I see with beginners, intermediates and non powerlifters. They're wasting far too much effort getting the bar set up and then when they do get ready to squat their upperback are never set, nor tight. They may be squeezing the bar, but they are not making the back tight from all angles. The goal is to have the upperback as tight as humanly possible. This happens by having your feet grounded, lower back arched, hands tight on the bar, shoulder blades pulled together and head back.

Why? There are any reasons why you need to keep you upperback tight. These include:

1. It will keep the torso tighter allowing for more strength to be transferred to the bar.

2. It will help keep the bar path in a straight line. If the bar falls forward the distance increases and the load shifts forward making the lift harder.

3. If the bar does shift forward, more stress is placed on the spine.

4. It will also allow you to lift more weight and will become a more fluid movement.

Often, when a lifter falls forward either on the way up or down, they want to know what movements they can do to bring up this weak point. Many will also feel all they have to do is train harder...or use a better training cycle. Usually the last place they look is the first place they should - technique.


Section 3:  Squat Tweet Tips

Dave (CEO elitefts) ‏@UnderTheBar

Squat Mistake #1 - Thinking its not technical and simple

Squat Mistake #2 - Not setting up TIGHT from head to toe.

Squat Mistake #3 - Not arching the bar out of the rack.

Squat Mistake #4 - Not starting with a arch and ass back

Squat Mistake #5 - Pulling air into your chest and not belly

Squat Mistake #6 - Looking up instead of driving head and traps into the bar

Squat Mistake #7 - Not spreading the floor and pushing knees out.

Squat Mistake #8 - Sitting down instead of back

Squat Mistake #9 - Moving hips first out of the hole. The head and chest must move back first  t

Squat Mistake #10 - Not using compensatory acceleration on the concentric phase.

Squat Mistake #11 - Looking down when the lift gets hard. When it gets hard drive head into the bar.

Squat Mistake #12 - Not using a box squat in one form or another.

Squat Mistake #13 - Not squatting with people stronger than you.

Squat Mistake #14 - Thinking there is a huge difference between squat training for raw vs geared.

Squat Mistake #15 - Not having an honest person watching your depth

Squat Mistake #16 - Slacking on training your core.

Squat Mistake #17 - Being a p*ssy that is scared of big weights.

Squat Mistake #18 - Not rotating bars - this can allow for same volume and intensity with a reduction in workload

Squat Mistake #19 - Thinking you know it all when you don't know "squat"

Bonus Tip: Technique is CRITICAL!!! This is how we get beginners - advanced lifters break PRs in 1.5 hours of seminar coaching

Section 4: 10 surefire ways to help you squat BIG

Sure, you squat, but do you squat BIG?

I watched the guys squatting over in the corner of the gym and knew immediately the subject of my next article for T-mag. After a few warm-up sets and some instruction from the trainer, these guys began to perform some of the most interesting "squatting" I've ever seen. The verbal commands still echo in my head: "elbows back," "head up," "hips in," "big chest air," "down, down, down." It went on and on and began to look like something from The Karate Kid.

I walked over to the group after their session and made them an offer they couldn't refuse, at least I thought so. I invited them all to attend the seminar I was conducting the following day at that particular gym. Two agreed to come. The trainer seemed insulted. Well, as Meatloaf says, "Two out of three ain't bad."

That's when it hit me. My Bench Press 600 Pounds article had been a hit, so why not do the same thing for the squat? You see, there's a huge difference between squatting and squatting big. Let me explain very quickly. How much can you currently squat? If you answered 500 pounds, I'd reply, "How much more do you know about squatting now compared to when you could only squat 300 pounds? How much more will you have to learn to squat 700 pounds?"

This is what squatting big is all about. I spent many years knowing how to squat but it took the help of Westside Barbell to learn the art of squatting big. Squatting big is as much an art as it is a science. If you relied on just one aspect, either art (training) or science, you'd be able to squat, but not squat big. You have to rely on the combination of both to really increase your numbers. Squatting the big one requires figuring a lot of stuff out. Much of this stuff you've probably been exposed to but perhaps have forgotten or haven't applied yet. But there are others items you may not know about that can really send your squat over the top.

Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Take for example, Matt Smith.  Matt realized he sucked at the glute ham raise. So realizing that his hamstrings were a weakness for him, he pushed them up. The net result was that he beat his old squat record by 30 pounds! That's all it took, finding a weakness and bringing it up.

If Matt hadn't found this weakness he could still be squatting in the 800s or worse yet, he could've been stuck there for several years. I know all about having my squat stuck. I once went five years without any progress. I tried many things and most didn't work. Then I stumbled upon the chains. (See my article called Accommodating Resistance for details.) This broke my rut and started me on the way to squatting big. You see, both Matt and I knew how to squat, but we had to learn to squat big.

When I was at Westside Barbell, we've figured out the secrets to squatting big weights and have been sharing these with other powerlifters for the past few years. I can think of eleven others outside of Westside who've also squatted over 900 by using these same secrets. How did we come up with these special secrets? It's simple. We combined the art of training with science. Very few scientists can squat big and very few who do squat big can replicate the results in someone else. You must have a good understanding of both if you want to pile plates on the bar. So if you think you're ready to load up the bar, then read on.

Secret #1: Get your stance out wide!

If you squat with a close stance, move your feet out. If you think you squat wide already, move your feet further out! We teach everyone at Westside to squat wide. We don't believe in a close-stance squatter. When you squat wide you create better leverages for the squat. The distance between your knee and hip is greater with a close stance, thus a longer and more difficult squat.

By using a wide squat you cut this distance back as well as place the emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. These are the muscles that squat big weights! While squatting wide, try to keep your toes straight ahead or slightly turned out. This will create a tremendous amount of tension in the hips and glutes and make it hard to squat down. This tension will create a great stretch reflex out of the bottom of the squat. This is vital to the development of barbell speed.

Secret #2: Get a tight arch!

You must learn to develop the strength to keep a tight arch in the lower back. This arch must be kept throughout the entire movement. The moment you begin to lose this arch, the bar will begin to drift forward and out of the natural barbell path. When the bar starts to drift toward the toes, you'll lose the squat and end up stapled to the floor. The bar must stay close to the hip joint and away from the toes.

You must also keep the shoulder blades pulled together with your elbows pulled forward. This will create the much needed upper back tightness to keep the barbell in proper position. Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so you must keep the barbell in the proper path.

When your elbows turn out toward the back, the bar will drift forward again and end up stapling you to the floor as well as ripping your head off. This is one common mistake I see in all my seminars. When I ask attendees who taught them to squat with their elbows back, nine out of ten times they say, "My coach." This is another example of those who think they know how to squat not knowingsquat!

Secret #3: Spread the floor!

Spread the floor with your feet as you squat. Remember the wide stance? Well, you must also force your knees out hard during the entire motion and push out on the sides of your shoes while you squat. This keeps the tension in the hips where it should be. This is also why most squat shoes, tennis shoes, and cross trainers suck for squatting. The best shoes for squatting are Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. The soles are flat and the side construction is rugged enough to push out against without a blowout or rolling over the sole.

Secret #4: Drive your head into the bar!

This doesn't mean look up toward the sky like your old high school coach told you to. You must look straight ahead and drive your head back into the traps. Your body will always follow the head so you want to make sure your head is driving back into the bar.

As a side note, what's the last thing to move when you squat? It would be your head. So what should be the first thing to move when coming out of the hole? You got it, your head. This only makes perfect sense. You have to think about driving your back and head into the bar first during the assent. We tell our lifters the chest and head should always be first. You're trying to raise the bar, so move it first! If the quads flex first, the hips will rise before the bar and force the barbell forward.

Here's another coaching tool: watch the lifter's quads. If they flex first get him to sit back more and force his knees out. The glutes should flex first.

Secret #5: The hips should move before the knees!

If your knees are the first to move while beginning a squat, then your path is going to be straight down. As discussed before, the tension must be on the glutes, hips and hamstrings. These are the muscles that squat big weights, not the quads.

Think about this: Why can't a lifter with a 400-pound deep Olympic squat perform a 700-pound power squat? A powerlifter who can squat 700 can do an easy 400-pound Olympic squat. This is because the Olympic squatter doesn't have the back, glutes or hamstring to support the 700 pounds! What's that tell you about the quads and squatting big weights? (Hint: They just aren't that important!)

Secret #6: Get on the box!

The greatest secret to our success at Westside is the use of the box squat. We don't do any full squatting at all, except for in competition. We haven't had any lifters over the past 15 years have any lower back or knee injuries, either. The only side effects we've seen with box squatting are big squats! The key is to do them properly. For more information on this, see my Squatting from Head to Toe article.

The benefits of the box are many. First, you can sit back further than you could without it. This places more stress on the posterior chain muscles. Second, you always know how low you're going. If you want to squat two inches below parallel then set your box up at that height. This way your body will always sit as low as it's conditioned. If you want to squat one inch high, then set the box higher. We suggest one inch below parallel since this is what's needed to pass in a powerlifting competition.

Third, squatting on a box breaks the eccentric/concentric chain. This is one of the best ways to develop explosive strength. Fourth, the box is great for teaching proper squatting technique. Most athletes and lifters have very poor squat technique because of bad coaching, muscle imbalances and flexibility. The box can work as a great aid to teaching the proper way to sit back into a squat.

I'll be the first to tell you that the competitive power squat isn't an easy thing to master. It takes many years of work and technique is very important. The stronger you get, the more you need better technique. One inch in the wrong direction and you'll miss the lift.

Secret #7: Learn to use your belly!

I've caught more shit over this than any other aspect of training. But the truth is that every big squatter I know has learned how to use his abdominals while squatting. You must learn how to breathe into your belly. You want to pull as much air as you can into your belly, then flex and force your abdominals out.

Walk over to a mirror. Take a look at your shoulders and take a deep breath. Did they rise? If they did, then you're pulling all the air into your chest, not your belly. You need to learn how to breath into your belly. This is how we teach everyone to squat. For the squat, we advise the use of a weight belt worn one notch loose. This is to teach you to pull air into your belly then push out into the belt. The belt acts as a great training aid to push against.

As a side note, we use the same technique for all of our max-effort work, but don't use the belt in that situation. This is one aspect of our training that has been misunderstood for too long. We use the belt to teach how to use the abdominals for the squat, bench, and deadlift, and do not advocate its use for anything else unless the lifter feels it's needed. Many in the gym have worked up to 600 and 700 pound good mornings without any adverse effects and have been doing them this way for over ten years.

This brings me to the next point. We've been told breathing and using the abdominals this way will lead to back injuries. Louie Simmons has been coaching this for the past twenty years at Westside and hasn't had any lifters with these problems. Learning to use the belly has made a profound difference in all of our squats, especially for those who've never tried it. I've seen squats increase by 25 to 50 pounds on this aspect alone. Now that's what squatting big is all about.

Filling your belly with air will also create a larger torso and give you a bigger base of support from which to drive. Ever wonder why those with bigger waists squat so much? Think about it. We want as much tightness and support as we can get from the gross muscles of the spinal errectors, abdominals, and obliques.

Secret #8: Train for speed!

If you were to jump up on a table, how high would you get if you jumped slowly? How much force would you develop? Not much, huh? So why in the world would you want to train to be slow? Why not train to be faster? The faster you are, the greater the chance you'll have of blasting through your sticking point.

This is what the dynamic training day is all about. If you're a 500 pound squatter and are training with 250, then you must apply 500 pounds of force to the bar during the lift. Think blast! For most T-mag readers, I'd suggest a four week wave using the box squat. The percentages listed below would be of your best squat. For you competitive powerlifters out there, percentages would be lower since you may be using squat suits.

Week 1: 10 sets of 2 reps with 65%

Week 2: 10 sets of 2 reps with 70%

Week 3: 10 sets of 2 reps with 73%

Week 4: 10 sets of 2 reps with 75%

Only take 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets and use compensatory acceleration when performing all of your reps. That means you should really try to explode the weight up.

Secret #9: Train for chaos!

Chaos training is a system of training that will make or break your squat. A cardinal sin of squatting is falling forward during the lift or dumping the bar over your head. When this happens it means only one thing: You haven't done the necessary work to squat big.

When a barbell falls forward it's known as a chaotic event. You have to train to avoid these situations. This is why we have a max effort day. On this day you'll perform a one rep max on some type of low box squat, deadlift or good morning. You'll want to use some type of good morning seven out of ten workouts or 70% percent of all max effort days for the lower body. The low box squat should be used 20% of the time, the deadlift 10%. This would be a once a week workout.

The reason for so many good mornings is twofold. First we've found this type of movement to be the absolute best for the development of the squat and deadlift. Second, remember the cardinal sin of falling over? Well that's exactly what happens with a good morning. If your good morning is strong enough you'll be able to keep the arch and not fall forward. If you do begin to fall forward you'll be able to arch the bar back into position without even thinking about it. You'll have the strength and it'll be automatic. We've found a minimum good morning of 60% of your max squat to be a very important element of squatting big.

Secret #10: Build the glutes and hamstrings!

As I've stated before, the quads aren't an important element of a big squat. You have to have very strong hamstrings and glutes. You must prioritize your hamstring and hit them at least twice a week. The best movements we've found for training the hamstrings are glute ham raises, band leg curls, reverse hypers and pull throughs, and high-rep partial deadlifts. We've found that two heavy hamstring workouts a week to be fine for most lifters but many times we've prescribed up to six hamstring training sessions a week to bring them up to where they should be. This is all based on the situation, exercises, and lifter.

 

Section 5:  The Box Squat

Technique is the most important factor in squatting big weights. If you're training with bad technique then it doesn't matter what supplemental exercises you use or how many sets or reps you perform. Your squat will only go so far and then get stuck. This article will describe the correct technique for performing the box squat. I feel the box squat is the best way to train the squat, period. The form is the same as the regular squat but with the added bonus of being able to develop explosive strength. The box squat also places all the stress directly on all the squatting muscles.

When I was at Westside Barbell every member perform box squats year around with the only regular "free squat" being done in competition. The technique I'll describe has taken my squat from 760 to 935 over the past five years, but I wasn't always a big fan of the box squat. When I squatted 760, I didn't believe in box squatting and trained all my squats the same way many of you are doing now. I used a progressive overload method using the Western method of periodization. The result of all my hard work? My squat stayed at the 730 to 760 range for five years without any progress! I had to change. Part of this change included box squatting.

The use of the box squat made a tremendous difference in my progress and the progress of my training partners. Every one of us added 100 to 200 pounds to our max efforts after adopting the box squat. We also understood the importance of perfecting the box squat to get a big carryover in competition. We check each other's form on a constant basis and the things we look for will be detailed in this article.

Now, you may have heard from some sissy wearing spandex that the box squat is dangerous. When someone talks about the dangers of box squatting, it's apparent they simply don't know how to perform the lift correctly. Sure, if you're trying to bounce off the box or you're using more weight than you can handle, then there are definitely dangers to the spine. When performed correctly, however, box squats are safe. And, I believe box squats are so effective that you don't need to perform regular squats in your training at all!

Advantages of Box Squatting

There are many advantages to box squatting:

1) Training on a box will allow you to sit back onto the box to a point where your shins are past perpendicular to the floor. This places all the stress on the squatting muscles (hips, glutes, lower back and hamstrings.) When you can increase the stress on these muscles and lower the stress on the quads, then you'll be ready to see your squat poundages start moving.

2) Restoration is another major advantage of box squatting. You can train more often on a box when compared to free squatting. According to Louie Simmons, the original members of Westside Barbell in Culver City, California, used to perform box squats three times a week. Currently at Westside we train the box squat every Friday for our dynamic workout and occasionally on Monday's maximal effort workouts. If you're new to box squats, I suggest you do them once per week.

3) When performing box squats you never have to guess how low you're squatting. It'll always be the same. Think about it: when most people start adding weight to the bar, their squats get higher and higher. You see this all the time in any gym you go to. They look good with the light weights, then begin doing quarter squats when the weight gets heavy. With box squats, you'll always go low enough.

4) The last reason to box squat is to reinforce good squat technique. Many times for the intermediate or beginning squatter, the hamstrings aren't yet developed and "sitting back" into a squat is impossible without falling over backward. To teach these athletes how to free squat properly would take months. The squat wouldn't look right until the hamstrings and glute strength increases. Why wait two or three months? Put them on the box and you'll have them squatting properly within five minutes. Within one month the hamstrings will begin to kick in because of the added stress of sitting back on the box.

The Details

Now, are you ready to box squat? Good.

Phase I: The first thing to check for is proper body position at the beginning of the lift. Keep in mind you'll have to keep the entire body tight. If any body part is held loose it will become your weak link and you'll break down.

Before setting up under the bar you'll need to grasp the barbell and duck under it with your feet about shoulder width apart or slightly wider. While under the bar you'll have to start to really tighten up. Grasp the bar with your hands and start to squeeze it as if you were trying to bend the bar across your back. Next, pull your shoulder blades together as tight as possible while pulling your elbows forward. This is to keep the upper back locked in this position during the lift. If your elbows are flaring out, it'll cause the barbell to travel forward at some point during the lift. The key to squatting big weights is to keep the barbell path traveling in the shortest line as possible. Any deviation from this line will cause a missed lift.

Now that your upper back is tight you'll need to tighten your midsection. First, expand your abdomen as much as possible. When you pull air into your body it should be into the diaphragm, not the chest. Expand you belly and push it out against your belt. This will stabilize and support the lower back and not elongate the spine. If you're having a hard time trying to figure this out, then wear your weight belt one notch loose and push into it with your belly so it becomes tight.

Pushing your belly out goes against what many believe because they feel training this way will cause injuries to the lower back. After 30 years of box squatting Westside has had 23 lifters squat over 800 pounds, six over 900 pounds and one over a grand. Not one of these lifters or any of the others has had lower back problems.

Another aspect of this to keep in mind is the circumference of the waist line. If I suck my belly in my waist line measures 42 inches. If I pull air into my belly and push it out it measures 48 inches. The wider base the stronger the lifter. This is why lifters with a bigger waist squat more. The pyramids in Egypt are also built with a wide base and they have been standing for centuries. As the car commercials used to say, wider is better.

I learned this lesson firsthand at the 1990 Toledo Hall of Fame powerlifting competition. I'd just tried a 760 squat and got smashed with it. This was my second attempt of the day and I decided to give it another try on the third. I had some doubts because the second attempt wasn't even close. Saying I got smashed is an understatement. The weight stapled me to the floor! I didn't even get out of the bottom of the lift. This weight was a 20 pound personal record for which I had spent the last four months training.

I didn't understand what the problem was or how to fix it. On the third attempt, while I was getting wrapped, Louie Simmons walked up to me and told me to get my abdominals tight. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time, but would within the next few minutes. As I got under the weight I realized Louie was the spotter behind me. (No pressure there, huh?) As I got set under the bar he told me to expand and push my belly into the belt. Now I understood what he was talking about. I was always told to flex my abs, but never to expand and push out.

As I set the bar up, I noticed that I had never felt so tight and stable. Once set, I locked in my back and began the squat. I kept my belly pushed into the belt and blasted the weight up! I had just smoked a weight that stapled me to the floor moments earlier all because I learned how to use my abdominals! In my opinion, this concept is one of the most misunderstood in the sport of powerlifting today. Many lifters don't know how to use their core to set up a squat. Some do nothing at all while others are trying to suck their stomachs in. This is probably fine for those who strive to squat 400 pounds, but if you're looking to squat maximal weights in the 700 to 900 range, you'd better learn how to use your core.

All the power of the lower body is transferred through your core to the barbell. If this core isn't tight the power will "get lost" so to speak and never travel to the bar. While I don't agree with the use of a belt for the majority of training, I do believe in the use of belts to teach a person how to use the abdominals while squatting. The belt is a training aid in competition, so you must learn how to use it to its fullest advantage.

Phase II: Now that you have your upper back and belly tight, you need to arch the bar out of the rack. When you take a barbell out of the rack, it should never hit the front supports. This shifts the weight to the toes and will cause you to lose your tightness (as well as set the bar in a position to use your quads instead of your hips and hamstrings.)

Arch the bar out, then push with your legs to get the bar off the racks. Keep the arch. Step back with one leg, then the other. You want to maintain your tightness and set your stance as wide as possible. I believe in using a wide stance when squatting because it'll shorten the distance the bar will have to travel and will place the stress more on the glutes, hips, hamstrings and back. I've figured out over time that the quads aren't that important for squatting maximal weights. Instead, it's the hips, back and hamstrings. If your quads were really doing all the work, then why wouldn't you be able to squat as much as you could leg press? So, set up in a wide stance.

From this position, pull all the air back into your belly and try to make your back and abs tighter than before. You should also be forcing your knees out to the sides. You'll know you're doing this right if your hips feel tight. This will place the stress on the hips as well as increase the leverage in the bottom of the squat. The closer you can keep your knee, ankle, shoulder and hip joints in a straight line, the greater the mechanical advantage. This is why you can quarter squat much more than you can full squat.

You also want to be pushing out on the sides of your shoes. Never push downward. Act as if you're tying to spread the floor apart. This is to further activate the hips. By the way, the best shoes to wear while squatting are the old school Converse Chuck Taylors. They're built with a flat bottom and strong canvas sides. Most other tennis shoes will cause your foot to move around too much or you'll push out over the side of the shoes.

Your butt should also be sticking out with your back arched as hard as possible. Head position is vital to keeping the barbell in the proper path for squatting. You must drive your head into the bar. This doesn't mean look up; you should actually be looking forward. You want to be looking forward for a couple of reasons. First, if you're in a competition, you'll need to see the head judge give you the squat signal. Second, you'll want to see everyone's reaction after you smoke your lift! I don't know about you, but I want to see the look of awe in their eyes after I get the lift.

Besides, if you're looking down you'll more than likely start to fall forward about half way up and miss the lift. The act of pushing your head back into the neck should be the same action as if you were to lay on the floor and push your head against the ground. As for toe position, lighter guys should usually point their toes straight ahead. Heavier guys, often because of a lack of flexibility, may want to point their toes out slightly. Now you're ready to begin the squat.

Phase III: To start the squat, I want your hips to begin the motion, not the knees. When your knees bend first, the load is shifted downward; you need the load going backward. Remember, you want the bar to travel in a straight line. Keep pushing the hips back as you squat down. The key is to "sit back." Most people sit down on a toilet with better form than they squat because they have to sit back. As you sit back you want to feel tension in the hamstrings. Act like they're springs you're trying to compact before they rebound back. This will cause a great stretch reflex out of the bottom of the squat. An explosive start is another key to squatting maximal weights.

Keep sitting back until you sit on the box. The box should be one inch lower than parallel for most people, although I sometimes recommend that less experienced lifters find a box that puts them at one inch above parallel. (Note: I can't recommend a pre-manufactured box at this time because I simply haven't found any good ones. All of our boxes at Westside are homemade. When selecting a box, most people need one between 12 and 14 inches high. Also, pick one that's big enough to fit your butt. Note that some people use a flat bench for box squats. I've found that these are seldom set at the proper height, however, and may be too narrow for some.)

As far as the definition of "parallel," it's defined as when the crease of the hip is in line with the top of the knee. Remember, most people have very poor hamstring and hip strength to squat properly in the first place. If they tried to squat without the box they'd fall over backward. The box is the best way to teach proper squat form while bringing up their weak points. The box squat also breaks the eccentric/concentric chain. This is one of the best ways to build explosive strength. The box squat also causes you to squat from a static contraction to a dynamic concentric contraction, another very effective way to build explosive strength.

When you reach the box you want to sit down and relax the hips flexors while keeping every muscle other muscle tight. You also don't want to fall down on the box and try to bounce off of it. You sit back with the same speed you squat. Pause on the box for a split second and explode off of it. No bouncing! Your knees must still be pushed out and your abs, upper back and arms should remain tight while your back stays arched. When you're on the box it's important to have the shins perpendicular to the floor or better yet, past perpendicular. This places all the tension on the squatting muscles.

Phase IV: After you pause on the box you need to explode off by first driving the head and upper back into the bar, then by driving with the hips. When you begin the squat (during the eccentric phase) the hips move first then the head. The opposite of that (the concentric phase) should involve the head moving first then the glutes. It only makes sence to try to lift the bar first. If you don't drive with the upper back first then the bar will begin to move forward. If the bar is moving forward before you drive with the hips, you'll miss the weight and fall forward.

As you're coming up you still need to maintain all tightness by driving your back into the bar, driving you head into the bar, pushing out on your knees and feet, pulling the elbows forward, keeping the shoulder blades together, and holding your air. After that there's nothing else to do but lock out and wait for the crowd to cheer.

That's all there is to it. And they say squatting isn't a technical lift! Now it's up to you. Do you want to be standing there watching others lift the big weights, or on the platform doing it yourself? You decide.

 

Section 6: Teaching The Box Squat

 

Section 7: Training Cycles:

Rather than just writing one cycle, I’ve decided to make an easy to follow quasi-article that contains all the different cycles for the squat that I’ve used with success. The first cycles will be for the Dynamic Effort squat without chains and bands; the second group will be with chains, and the last group will be with bands. We’ve Training with bands still is on of the most effective way to train the squat. I’d recommend that everyone use bands all year round in some form or another.

A note about the percentages: These are taken off a contest squat with equipment. So if you’re lifting off a raw or no-equipment max, then add 10% to all the percentages listed.

Squat without chains and bands

Years ago, I’d have recommended a four week squat wave, but after the years of success of band training I feel a three week wave would be the most efficient. I also believe there needs to be slightly different percentages based on the motor control of the athlete. This control is based on years of training, not the status of the athlete. For example, a beginner would have one to three years of training, the intermediate three to five years, and the advanced lifter over five years. The reason for this is quite simple: the more advanced athlete knows how to use his body more efficiently than the beginner and gets more out of a smaller percentage.

Beginner:
Week 1: 63% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 65% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 68% for 10 sets of 2 reps

You’ll notice the beginner has a couple more sets than the advanced and intermediate lifter. This is to improve the form of the lifter. The main goal of the beginner is to have perfect form, so in many cases ten sets still won’t be enough and should be taken as high as twelve sets.

Intermediate:
Week 1: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 63% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 65% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Advanced:
Week 1: 55% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 58% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps

 

Squatting with Chains

Beginner:
Week 1: 63% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 65% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 68% for 10 sets of 2 reps

Four to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done in addition to the regular sets.

Intermediate:
Week 1: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 63% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 65% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Four to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done in addition to the regular sets.

Advanced:
Week 1: 55% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 58% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Four to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done in addition to the regular sets.

Recommended Chains for Squatting
Squat Max 200-400 Pounds = 60 pound chain
Squat Max 400-500 Pounds = 80 pound chain
Squat Max 500-600 Pounds = 100 pound chain
Squat Max 700-800 Pounds = 120 pound chain
Squat Max 800-900 Pounds = 160 pound chain

The chains are added on to the weight of the barbell. Make sure to warm up with the chains on the bar first, then add the weights. When the barbell is in the rack, four to five links of chain should be resting on the floor. At no point in time should all of the chain be off the floor during the squat.

Squat Cycles with Bands

These cycles are only for the intermediate and advanced lifters. The beginners would be better off sticking with straight weight or chains. If the beginner would like to use bands with his squat, then I’d suggest keeping the tension minimal and reducing the training loads by 10%

Regular Training Phase (or Strength Speed):
Week 1: 47% (RG Band) 8 sets of 2
Week 2: 51% (RG Band) 8 sets of 2
Week 3: 53% (RG band) 8 sets of 2

Four to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done in addition to the regular sets.

This phase should be the core of your training and can be "waved" one after another. For better results, it would be best to mix in one of the Speed Strength phases after every couple of regular phases.

Speed Strength Phase A:
Week 1: 15% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 2: 20% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 3: 25% (SS band) 5 sets of 2

Three to five reps over the three weeks must be above training percent.

This is a great phase for those who’ve never been through a speed strength phase before. It lasts three weeks, with the first one being an introduction week to get used to the higher band tension. You’ll also notice the number of sets has been reduced because of the high physical demand on the body. After one or two times through this phase, you’ll never need to use it again because of the body’s adaptation process. Once the body has learned to adapt to the band tension with the three-week phase, it’s best to stick with phase B or C.

Remember, a speed strength phase will cause the barbell to move very slowly, so you must always follow a slow phase with a fast phase. As a final note, make sure the bands are very tight in the bottom position.

Speed Strength Phase B:
Week 1: 20% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 2: 25% (SS Band) 3-5 sets of 2, after sets work up to 1RM

This is the same phase as "A" except we’ve taken out the first week. The other notable difference is in week two. After completing three to five sets you’ll want to start increasing the weight until you get to a one rep max. By the time you get to the last set (your max), you’ll feel like your head is going to pop off. This is how you’ll know you’re doing it right!

Speed Strength Phase C:
Week 1: 25% (SS Band, plus more as needed) 2-3 sets of 2 then work up to a 1RM

This phase is designed for those who have a lot of experience with bands. Basically, you want to pile on as much band as you can handle and start working up to 25% for a few sets of two, then head up to a one rep max. This phase is not for the weak at heart!

 

Circa-Maximal Phase:

Week 1: 47% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 2: 51% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 3: 53% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 4: 47% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2

Three to five reps over the three weeks must be above training percent.

This phase is designed for pre-contest or pre-max training. This phase, along with the following de-loading phase, has been responsible for more personal records being crushed by a huge margin than any other training phase I’ve seen.

De-load Phase:
Week 1: 53% (RG Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 2: 47% (RG Band) 5 sets of 2
Week 3: Meet or Test Date

This de-loading phase is designed to bring the speed back into the training before the max attempt or competition. This phase is a must after the circa-maximal phase. Some have done very well with a two week de-load while others only like to do one week. If your choice is a one week de-load, then drop the first week of the phase.

Recommended Bands for Squat Training Phases:

Squat:
Squat:
300-500
RG Band: Orange
SS Band: Black
CM Band: Silver

501-750
RG Band: Silver
SS Band: Black and Silver
CM Band: Black and Orange

751-1000
RG Band: Black
SS Band: Black and Silver
CM Band: 2 Blacks

Keep in mind, for the bands to work properly, you must have tension at the bottom!

 

Section 8: 100 Reasons Why You Should Squat 

 

If you don’t know what a squat is… watch and learn:

1.) “It's hard to puke doing curls.” – Dave Tate

2.) “It's a great excuse to wear a big ass belt that makes you look less fat.” - Dave Tate

3.) “I love hearing ‘head up’ and it NOT being from a teacher.” – Dave Tate

4.) “Bashing your head on the bar is totally okay.” – Dave Tate

5.) “Internal rage.” – Dave Tate

6.) “You can gear whore up more than any other lift.” – Dave Tate

7.) “Very few movements require the same degree of dedication, desire and determination as heavy squats. Squats are more than a physical strength builder and may be the only movement that builds a person’s character. Life is about standing up AFTER a heavy load takes you down.” – Dave Tate

8.) “Light squats need to be treated as though they are heavy and heavy squats as if they are light.” – Dave Tate

9.) “No other exercise requires the same degree of total body tightness as the squat.” – Dave Tate

10.) “Any movement that uses cues ‘head up’ and ‘chest up’ is providing more positive reinforcement in ONE workout than most people get in a month.” – Dave Tate

11.) “ ‘Tweeds’ never squat.” – Dave Tate

12.) “One of the few lifts that can cause blood, sweat and tears to leave the body at the same time - without you knowing.” – Dave Tate

13.) “Increases bone density.” – Dave Tate

14.) “I can’t stand to see a rack alone.” – Dave Tate

15.) “ ‘Scrop’ – nothing better!” – Dave Tate

16.) “Because you told me to!” – Chris Bell

17.) “Great assistance work for the deadlift.” – Jeff

18.) "There is simply no other exercise (and certainly no machine) that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat." –Mark Rippetoe

19.) “After breaking my ankle twice and destroying my knee wrestling, my doctor said I shouldn't squat or deadlift anymore. That was 5 years ago. No one tells me I can't.” – Roman

20.) “To prevent other people from doing curls in the squat rack.” – Nick

21.) “There's nothing like throwing 300+ pounds on my back at 5AM, right?” – Sam

22.) “It’s sadomasochism in its finest. The endorphins released by not getting crushed by a weight and completing the lift is immense. I also like the joy of being sore after a great session, as well as the complete stress release it has. After a hard squat session, I can’t be stressed because I don’t have enough energy.” – Curtis

23.) “For performance and the fact it makes me feel strong(er)!!!” - Luka

24.) “I wouldn't ask the kids I coach to do something I wouldn't do myself. Plus, they cure cancer.” – Chad

25.) “Because I can. Ok, so I also kind of like hearing the guys whisper ‘damn’ under their breath when they watch.” – Charlotte

26.) “They cure cancer. AND they make you one STRONG old lady pushing 60!!” – Elaine

27.) “I love the belt taking a few inches off my waist. No need for cardio!” – Curtis

28.) “If you don’t squat, you’re officially an arsehole!” – Sean

29.) “The squat just builds overall body power... no exercise like it.” – John

30.) “Nothing else gives that same sense of being a F*CKING man.” – Tone

31.) “If you go heavy enough you can see twinkling lights all year round instead of just waiting for Christmas.” – Steve

32.) “Because if I don't, I get cranky.” –Ben

33.) “I like breaking capillaries and blowing blood vessels in my eyes just so people look at me like I’m crazy.” – Peter

34.) “I like to see just how far I can push my body.” – Mike

35.) “I'm addicted to squatting. I don't even like it.” – Dan

36.) “They make me happy. And they give me something to look forward to all day on Mondays.” – Josh

37.) “They make my ass look good.” – Jane

38.) “They cure EVERYTHING!” – Joel

39.) “The only thing that feels better than squats are deadlifts, and because it makes me feel good for ages afterwards.” – Brian

40.) “I enjoy the pain and the misery of the hard work that it requires.” – Ken

41.) “To prove that it can be done even though I have a bad back, bad knee and messed up shoulder.” – Jim

42.) “Easy to do, long time to master.” – Timothy

43.) “It is HARD and I think it takes years off of your life when you use bands.” – John

44.) “It is great way to utilize the curling rack... Oh, and it is the GREATEST LIFT OF ALL TIME!” – Jerome

45.) “It’s better than a leg press.” – Mike

46.) “What else would I do on Sundays?” – Bill

47.) “Because cowards won't.” – Larry

48.) “More muscular bulk equals more muscular power. Squats are the best exercise to gain muscular weight, so squats are the most important lift.” – Todd

49.) “Squats build back strength contributing to other lifts. Even a bench press person can benefit the bench through squatting. I like the squat because it has a rebound motion making it different from the one-way pull-from-a-dead-stop of the deadlift.” – Hans

50.) “It makes me uncontrollably slap ignorant people… the whole day.” - Larry

51.) “I named my website deepsquatter.com…kind of stupid if I don't squat.” – Jason

52.) “I love squatting and occasionally puking from them. I thought I was really getting in great shape and the mad scientist Joe McCoy told me to do all my squat sets a couple weeks ago for 2 minutes straight, yeah I'm in great shape- puked everywhere. Whether it's speed reps, max effort or conditioning squats, they are ass-kickers for your whole entire body no matter what level you are..........if done right!” – Darryl

53.) “You don’t have to wait for the squat rack on Monday. Plus, squatting heavy validates your man card.” – Sam

54.) “It gives me a 'squat butt' that my husband loves!” – Kori

55.) “I am a sadist and it's the only piece of equipment in the chrome and fern gym that I train in that isn't always full of pumpers.” – Robert

56.) “I love the way a barbell feels and looks across my shoulders. It is also a great rehab for an ‘effed’ up knee/leg.” - Jerome

57.) “Same reason I deadlift. I like to go to failure and then have the weight drop off my back onto the racks so it makes a huge noise and interrupts everyone's set, so they can see how strong and awesome I am.” – Louis

58.) “Nothing drops panties faster than a heavy, deep back squat.” – Mike

59.) “It's an exercise that is rarely done properly amongst the general population, and I need to be good at something (because I suck at everything else).” – Brian

60.) “Develop more power in my legs to kick down doors.” – Bill

61.) “As soon as you sit back you can call your own depth...” – Ryan

62.) “My gym is full off sissies that do biceps and abs every workout.” – Brant

63.) “People who are smaller and weaker than me tell me not to squat and I choose not to listen.” – Andy

64.) “I love to squat. When I started lifting at age 13 I had one of those cement filled weight sets. There were a few iron plates that my dad let me have. I had no squat rack so I had to clean and press the weight overhead to squat. Fuck, I did floor presses before anyone, including me, knew what they were because I had no bench either. When I was around 18, I went to a friend’s gym and wanted to do a Tom Platz squat workout. I hit 315 for 15 and 225 for 25. Then I staggered outside and went down on all fours puking for at least a half hour. I couldn't walk right for a week and had to crawl up the stairs to my bedroom while my Mom heckled me from the bottom of the stairs.” – Paul

65.) “I believe the squat to be a very functional movement in life. If a lot of people learned how to do it properly, there would be a lot less lower back injuries.” – Jason

66.) “I like it when I squat to a box and people tell me I squat too low.” – Matthew

67.) “It is just plain fun!” - Jesse

68.) “When your squat goes up EVERYTHING goes up!”- Bobby

69.) “I don't want to be one of those guys in the gym with a big ass upper body and chicken legs.” – Brandon

70.) “Chicks dig big legs.” – Jon

71.) “Balance between the upper and lower.”- Richard

72.) “They hurt so good.” – Jordan

73.) “So that I can be the only one on my football team that actually squats.” – Morgan

74.) “I squat mainly because it makes me feel strong. I don't know, for some reason when I squat all my other lifts improve. Also, it impresses the shit out of the Average Joe.” – Charles Bailey

75.) “A guy who squats and has an iPod on, while wearing a ‘fuck you, pay me’ look on his face, doesn't get messed with.” – Jay

76.) “All the losers and dweebs are always hogging the leg press!” – Gordon

77.) “I want to see how far I’m willing to push my body. If you don’t squat, you’re gay.” – Matt

78.) “I love the challenge of it.” –Vince

79.) “Because no one else will!” – Sam

80.) “I love the feeling of not being able to walk or sit down for the entire week!” – John

81.) “Running out the door to puke because it's closer than the bathroom is wicked cool.” – Dan

82.) “Because bars need to be bent.” – Adnan

83.) “It gives me a reason to drink more milk.” – Tyler

84.) “Squatting makes me want to eat more!” – Josh

85.) “I hate and fear them! Who in their right mind would want to put a weighted bar across their shoulders and possibly get crushed? Talk about facing your fears! I guess I’m not in my right mind.” – Kelly

86.) “I was told if I didn't squat I would go to Hell.” – Justin

87.) “I squat because God told me to.” – Howard

88.) “I squat because it is what I was built to do, plus my bench is weak!” - Dustin

89.) “Squatting is my anti-drug.” – Corrigan

90.) “Squats made hair explode out of my chest and face.” – Brian

91.) “The best way to gain overall strength is to squat. And squat heavy my friends - rumor has it that squats can raise test levels!” - Matt

92.) “Squats cure cancer.”- Ben

93.) “Chicks dig a big back squat.” – Michael

94.) “It’s one of the 3 lifts I compete in, and if you don't squat, you are a pussy.” – Chris

95.) “It’s more fun than benching!” – Jeremy

96.) “Keeps the hips and core strong and healthy.” – Dewey

97.) “To build leg mass.” – Charles

98.) “To keep the junk in the trunk tight.” – Kimberly

99.) “I like doing the stanky leg around the gym!” – Francy

100.) “So I can’t wear ‘skinny’ jeans” - Carl

Another Day at the EFS Gym: Squats

Another Day In The Gym 4-19-09 from Elitefts on Vimeo.

Section 9: The Yoke Bar Squat


Besides the safety squat bar (SSB) being rounded and not welded, there isn’t much of a difference between the yoke and SSB. The way they’re both used, and even manufactured, is very similar. Which one you choose to use is a personal preference more than anything else.

I prefer the yoke bar for a couple of reasons. The first is that the yoke bar has a better pad. With the safety squat bar, the pads fall apart pretty quickly. As you will see in our videos, a lot of them are duct taped. The second reason I prefer the yoke bar is because it has extended handles. That is a feature we came up with a couple of years ago. It gives you more options and allows you to create different movements.

Both bars have many advantages. They allow you to squat without holding onto the bar by using the pads or handles. This is very beneficial for anyone with shoulder injuries or for someone who normally wouldn’t be able to squat due to shoulder pain. Let’s face it, athletes get hand, arm, and shoulder injuries all the time. However, now they will still be able to squat with the yoke or safety squat bar. I’ve seen people squat in slings! I’ve had pec tears and shoulder injuries and never had to miss a workout because of these bars. This, I believe, makes these bars a must-have for any weight room…be it a sporting, pro, university, or high school facility.

Another advantage is that both bars are held a little bit higher, so they are in the constant process of pushing you forward. This works your upper back harder than a conventional squat. Many people think a squat is missed coming out of the hole because of the lower back. However, this is not the case. A lot of the time, the back is still arched. The real culprit is usually that the chest caves in, which is a weakness of the lats and traps. These bars work to help strengthen those muscles.

My First Safety Squat Bar Workout

I had seen the SSB before and thought it was a total joke. I always thought that if you wanted to squat more, you simply squatted. If you wanted to deadlift more, all you had to do was deadlift. To me, everything else was just to get bigger, not stronger.

I still remember my first training session with the SSB. It was a max effort training day. On max effort days, my training partners and I would always pick one exercise and work up until we hit a one-rep max. On this particular day, we performed a SSB squat off a low hassock (which is similar to a soft box). After a few sets of 135 pounds, we proceeded to work up to three reps by adding 45- and 25-pound plates. Anything less was a sin. I knew this bar was about to kick my ass when we got up to 315 pounds. It shouldn’t have felt that heavy as I had recently squatted 760 pounds, but it was…and my lower back was screaming! The thing that killed me was that 315 pounds seemed like a total joke for the other guys, and they all squatted less than me! I had no idea why I was so weak. We jumped to 365 pounds and when I unracked the bar, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it. It felt like a ton when I took it out of the rack. After I unracked the bar, there were several shouts of encouragement from the spotters. I grinded out my first rep. After the second rep, my eyes began to water and I started seeing stars. The third rep...I don’t remember.

The rest of the guys once again had no problem with the weight, and I began to feel humbled. I thought I was done squatting when I heard the 45-pound plate slapped on the bar. The bar was now loaded to 405 pounds, and my training partners were calling me back up to the bar. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to squat. The last set just about knocked my head off, and now I was expected to squat 405 pounds! Being that I had never made smart decisions in the past with my own training, I figured what the hell. I got under the bar, unracked the weight, and proceeded to execute one of the slowest single-rep maximums in my entire life. I’m sure my spotters were yelling the whole time, but the only thought going through my head was to stand back up with the weight. After the weight was racked, the room began to fade and then I saw flickering silver dust particles all around me. I held onto the bar to ensure that I didn’t pass out and walked over to the glute ham raise, holding myself up for the next half hour. I watched and drooped over the pad. My world was spinning as everyone else worked up to 600 pounds.

The next day I was sore as hell, all the way from my calves to my neck. There wasn’t a single muscle on the backside of my body that didn’t hurt. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed that both my eyes were blood shot, and I had broken capillaries all over my face. I hated the SSB, but I realized how valuable it was. Over the next few years, I saw my squat jump from 760 pounds to 935 pounds, and I have to say that some of this increase was due to the torture of the SSB.

Dynamic Training with the Safety Squat Bar

Dynamic (speed) squat training with the SSB offers many strength benefits. First, it is a great way to build the explosive and static strength of the lower back and many have found that this bar is a great way to increase your deadlift. Second, it takes much of the stress off the elbows and shoulders. This has a huge recovery effect for your bench training. This is of great value for lifters who are training for bench press-only meets, or those who are trying to recover from pectoral, shoulder, and elbow injuries. With the safety squat bar, you’ll be allowed to train around your injuries and still get in a quality squat workout. Third, the SSB is great to use for GPP or lactic acid tolerance training. Listed below are some of the more popular squat cycles done with a safety squat bar:

Lactic Acid Tolerance Training Cycle

Application: This is a great cycle for off-season training when you’d like to give your arms and shoulders a break. This is also a great way to peak your bench for a bench meet without having to stop squatting. This is good for beginners, intermediate, and advanced lifters.

Training Cycle (Three-week version)

Week 1: 35% for 10 sets of 2 reps with 45-second rest periods
Week 2: 37% for 15 sets of 2 reps with 30-second rest periods
Week 3: 40% for 15-17 sets of 2 reps with under 30 seconds of rest

*The rest period for this week should be back-to-back sets. Two people should squat together and as soon as one lets go of the bar, the second guy should be grabbing the bar. Each lifter should try to wear the other out and see who dies first. BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON’T LOSE.

Training Cycle (One-week version)

Week 1: 37% for as many sets as possible of 2 reps with 30-second rest periods

*With this cycle, you should use a training partner that is close to the same strength as you, and try to run each other into the ground. We’ve seen battles go into and beyond 38 sets! BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON’T LOSE.

Notes:

  • Training percent is based on current one-rep max with the free squat with equipment.
  • These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters, the lighter the percent needed. If you’re a raw lifter or don’t use powerlifting gear, then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.
  • All sets should be performed on a parallel box.

Basic Three-Week “Straight Weight” Advanced Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for advanced lifters for off-season training, or as a deload cycle before a competition or test day.

Training Cycle

Week 1: 45% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 48% for 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 50 % for 10 sets of 2 reps

Notes:

  • Training percent is based on current one-rep max with the free squat and equipment.
  • These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters, the lighter the percent needed. If you’re a raw lifter or don’t use powerlifting gear, then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.
  • All sets should be performed on a parallel box.
  • If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This shouldn’t be done every week, but should be completed at least once through the cycle.
  • You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets.

Basic Three Week “Chains” Intermediate Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for the intermediate lifter who has good squat skill and form. The chains will help develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increase the explosion from the bottom of the squat. This would be a very good off-season strength cycle for the intermediate lifter.

Training Cycle

Week 1: 50% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 53% for 8 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 55% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Suggested Chain:

  • Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds = 60 total pounds of chains
  • Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds = 80 total pounds of chains
  • Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds = 100 total pounds of chains
  • Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds = 120 total pounds of chains
  • Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds = 160 total pounds of chains

Sample Exercises with the Safety Squat bar

Team elitefts™ demonstrates some of the exercises you can do with these bars including suspended good mornings, hammer curls, walking lunges, triceps extensions, and many others.

The safety squat bar has been used very successfully over the past 10 years for training. Think of it this way: if you miss a squat or deadlift, what usually happens? In the squat, most people will shift or fall forward. This bar will help you develop two things that can make a huge difference.

  1. It will increase your static strength and keep you from falling forward in the first place.
  2. It will help you develop the strength to help you recover if you do fall forward.

Here is a list of some of the most popular movements you can do with the yoke bar:

Chain Suspended Good Mornings

This is a great max effort exercise to help your deadlift. There are two ways to set up this exercise. One way is to place the barbell on the safety pins. The other is to place the barbell in 3/8 inch chains. For the latter, place the two chains at the top of the power rack and loop them so that the barbell is suspended. The bar can be set at any height, but it is usually set just slightly above the navel. To perform the exercise, place yourself under the bar and simply perform a good morning. This is a great exercise to help build your deadlift because both lifts are concentric-only lifts. Don’t get caught up in maintaining your hips at a certain level. Simply get under the bar and get it up! Be sure that your hands do not get caught under the chains or the safety pins. Any width stance can be used.

 

Safety Squat Bar Box Squats

This movement is performed the same as the regular box squat, except you’ll be using the SSB. This bar is designed to keep the bar high on the traps and force more of the weight forward on the body. This places more stress on the muscles of the upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. The best way to use this bar is to hold the yolks on the front of the bar. This keeps the stress on the muscles we’re trying to develop. Most people miss a squat because the bar shifts forward and they end up trying to do a good morning. This bar will help develop your muscles and keep this from happening in the first place. The box used on max effort day can be a low box (one to three inches below parallel), a parallel box, or a high box (one to three inches above parallel).

Zercher Squats

This is a great exercise to build your deadlift and teach you to maintain proper positioning when squatting. Because of the position of the barbell, it forces the lifter to maintain tight abs, an arched lower back, and the proper chest position. Begin by placing a bar in a power rack just below your armpits. Then, unrack it in the crook of your elbows. Keep your back arched, your stomach pushed out, and your chest up. Squat back until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your elbows and arms close to your body (this can also be done by using a box). A shoulder-width stance is usually used. The amount of weight you can hold in your elbows will limit the bar weight used during this exercise. However, the SSB makes it easier because of the thickness of the bar.

Backwards Bar Safety Squat Bar Box Squats

This is the same as the “Safety Squat Bar Box Squats,” except the bar is placed backwards on your shoulders. This alters the camber of the bar and makes for a completely different movement.

Good Mornings

Done with a safety squat bar, good mornings are one of the most difficult exercises to perform, but also one of the most effective. Begin by unracking a barbell the same as you would for a squat. Your feet can be set at a close, medium or wide stance. (This can change depending on what you feel works best for you. For example, a wide stance seems to work the hips more). Get into a tight position (arched back, shoulder blades pulled together, knees slightly bent, and abdomen pushed out against your belt). This is the starting position. Slowly bend forward at the waist until your torso is slightly above parallel to the floor, then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. This is usually done with 5 to 10 reps and used as a second exercise. You’ll have to fight to maintain position throughout the entire movement, so make sure you start with a light weight.

 

Triceps Extensions

While it may seem weird to perform a triceps movement with the SSB, try this for a little variation on an otherwise boring movement. The bar should be set up so that when racked, the yoke is pointed toward your feet. Unrack the bar with your hands about shoulder width apart and bring the yoke to just above your nipples. Let the points of the yoke hit your chest—the bar will rotate towards your chin. Next, lower the bar until your forearms are almost parallel to the floor and extend up. Because the bar is a little thicker than a standard bar, your elbows will take less of a beating. You also may want to place a folded towel on your chest to prevent the points of the yoke from bruising your chest.

Shrugs

With the bar on your shoulders, attempt to raise your shoulders to your ears. This is a great variation to standard shrugs with a barbell. You can try placing your hands down at your sides or placing them out in front of you, holding the rack.

Partial Arches

This exercise is great for your entire back. One of the best ways to do this exercise is to place the bar on your back and sit on a box. While sitting on the box, arch your lower and upper back. After holding this position for a few seconds, roll your upper back forward and round your lower back. Make sure to stay tight in this position. Hold this for a few seconds and arch back to the original position. Concentrate on arching hard and rounding over because it will exhaust the muscles of your back. This exercise will not only build a ton of muscle, but it will also allow the lifter to feel what it’s like to arch at the bottom of the squat.

Lunges

Lunges are frowned upon simply because they’ve been embraced by the fitness community and have been the main exercise of housewives everywhere. However, this is one of the best exercises to develop overall leg strength. Done correctly, lunges work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Make sure you don’t short-stride your reps just so you can add more weight. Too many times people perform lunges by taking short, six-inch steps and then bragging about the amount of weight they can handle. This is not a lunge! This is a squat done with bad foot position. Try doing walking lunges, backward lunges, or standard lunges—all work well and the benefits will make you wonder why you ever dropped this exercise in the first place. (However, the soreness you get the next day will probably answer the that question). There are many different variations of lunges you can try: walking lunges, backward lunges, side lunges, and lunges done with your front foot elevated.

Also try: Zercher Lunge with the SSB

Walking Safety Squat Bar

This is an old exercise that is used to build overall endurance and is pretty simple. Place a SSB on your back and begin walking a prescribed distance. A good way to do this is to take turns walking with your training partner from the squat rack to a certain point and back. This can turn into a contest and is great for overall body strength as well as mental strength. It’s recommended that you begin this exercise with a light weight. Also, be careful when performing this exercise as it’s very difficult to dump the bar when you’re tired. Still, this exercise will build your traps and legs like no other. Don’t perform this exercise often, it will absolutely annihilate you!

Glute-Ham Raises

This is done like a regular glute-ham raise, except the SSB will be across your back. This is an exercise for very strong lifters only!

 

45-Degree Back Raises

By putting a SSB on your back during a 45-degree back raise, you’ll greatly increase your low back, hamstring, and glute strength. Also, it will hit your upper back and add some serious mass to this region. This can also be done on a standard back raise or back hyperextension piece of equipment.

Pushups with Safety Squat Bar

With this exercise, you’ll need a partner to help stabilize the bar on your back. Place the bar on your back the same way you’d squat and perform pushups. This can be a very challenging exercise.

*Our newest version of the yoke bar is our SS Yoke Bar™. Higher quality, higher standards...greater PRs.

Get your own elitefts™ SS Yoke Bar™ here.

 

elitefts SS Yoke Bar

 

Elitefts SS Yoke Bar - NEW AND IMPROVED

By now, there should be no doubt that every gym should have a Yoke Bar. This bar has withstood the test of time, has proven to be extremely effective with all training programs, and has become known as a "PR Buster" with strength athletes and coaches across the globe.

In January of 2012, we took on the task of taking a great product and making it better. This was first accomplished by touching base with existing bar users and inquiring about what improvements they would like to see. This was then added to feedback from Dave Tate who, due to shoulder injuries, has been exclusively squatting with this bar since 2005.

"Since 2005, the only way I have been able to squat is with the use of the SS Yoke Bar. When you extensively rely on a product week-in and week-out, you will inevitably begin to find its flaws. I went into this project with my own personal reasons— a better bar for myself, but as time and testing progressed, I began to see just how much of an impact the changes we were making were affecting the quality and feel of the bar. It took over 10 months, MANY bars, and MANY squat sessions to get this dialed in, but I strongly feel we have the best Yoke Bar ever created.
- Dave Tate
Founder Elitefts.com Inc

As we worked through this process, we quickly discovered that a small change in one aspect created flaws in others. The goal was to eliminate these negative aspects, not to create more. For example, making the pad denser (so that it wouldn't break down like all of the others) changed how the bar would sit and move on the lifter's back. The length of the handles also affected how the majority of lifters would come out of the bottom of the squat. In turn, the length of the bar affected the stability, the handle thickness, the stress on the arms, the length of the camber, the strength of the bar, etc. Therefore, this process— what we thought would be a couple of simple upgrades, became a major project. In time, however, we did get it done. This bar now has...

* A denser and longer neck pad that will not break down and sits perfectly on the upper back.

* Shorter but thicker handles that allow the lifter to support the bar without aiding in the lift or tossing the lifter into a compromising position.

* A longer bar camber that greatly increases the strength and rating of the bar. While we know this bar is rated over 1500 pounds, this really doesn't mean anything. We already know ratings are worthless in real world applications, as we all have seen MANY 1200-pound rated power bars bend with less than 400 pounds. Our real world way to test the strength of the bar is to load it with 600 pounds and ask LiL Stevie (6'5 350 pounds) to toss it off his back and onto the rack spot pins. With the "LiL Stevie method," we were able to find out what bars would bend, break, or stand up to the challenge. NOTE: It was also a blast to watch!

* Some other upgrades include, better packaging so your bar arrives AWESOME, higher quality handle grips, and a clear powder coat.

This bar is great for...

* All types of Squatting

* Chain Suspended Good Mornings

* Zercher Squats

* Good Mornings

* Partial Arches

* Lunges

* Back Raises

* Plus much more...

 

BONUS: SS Yoke Bar Training Footage

 

SS Yoke Bar Training Session with Ben Pakulski, John Meadows and Dave Tate - Raw and Uncut

 

 

Here is the full training session:

Seated Leg Curl
* 6 -7 warm up sets of 8-10 reps
* 4 work sets of 10 reps

Yoke Bar Squats off Box
* many warm up sets
* Worked up to set of 3 plates per side with 8 chains and then proceeded to do a strip set from hell.

Leg Extension
* Out side of doing 3 sets I have no idea what this was except it hurt like hell. I think we did 15 full reps, partials and then iso tension sets of 10 seconds.

Hacks (feet close, toes out, heals elevated)
* This was also hell and I used a 25 pound plate per side.
* One set to fell the movement out
* 20 reps, pause for 5 breaths, 5 more reps, 5 more breaths, 5 more reps and then 2 iso tension holds for 10 second counts.

Lying Leg Curl with chain
* 4 warm up sets
* 3 work sets of 8 reps
* 1 work set of 8 with 4 force reps, strip weight and did 8 more reps with 4 negatives, strip weight and do 8 more reps with 20 partials.

 

Section 1o: More Dynamic Squat Cycles

Note: As you will read Westide is stated in the present tense. This was written over 10-11 years ago while I was still there and it is easier to write this disclaimer than it is to change the usage in all of these training cycles. Plus, credit deserves to be given to Louie Simmons and Wesisde Barbell as this is where I witnessed ,did and in some cases created all of the training cycles listed. Westside Barbell is a protected trademark of Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons. No infringement intended as this is being posted for educational and non-profit use. To learn more about how Westside Barbell trains today follow them on facebook or visit their website.
I just found this in a file (May 2014)  from many years ago when I was still straining at Westside Barbell so I would date this at 2004. I was working on a Squat Manual similar to the Bench Manual we currently sell. This project got kicked to the curb because the time invested in the manual wasn't conducive to my time spend working on other aspects of elitefts. This became more clear and months and years went on (based on the profit generated from the Bench Manual).

There is a lot of value in these training cycles that I wanted to pass on instead of letting them die on my hard drive.  What better place than in this online Squat Manual.

AnoSquat

 

The Box Squat

Technique is the most important factor in squatting big weights. If you're training with bad technique then it doesn't matter what supplemental exercises you use or how many sets or reps you perform. Your squat will only go so far and then get stuck. The box squat is the best way to train the squat. The form is the same as the regular squat but with the added bonus of being able to develop explosive strength. The box squat also places all the stress directly on all the squatting muscles. Every member of Westside Barbell performs box squats year around with the only regular "free squat" being done in competition. We check each other's form on a constant basis and the things we look for are detailed below. Now, you may have heard from some coaches, trainers or athletes that the box squat is dangerous. When someone talks about the dangers of box squatting, it's apparent they simply don't know how to perform the lift correctly. If you're trying to bounce off the box or you're using more weight than you can handle, then there are definitely dangers to the spine. When performed correctly box squats are safe and extremely effective.

Rookie Cycle

Application: This cycle is for the beginner who needs to work and perfect squat form and technique

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 25% for 15 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 30% for 18 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 35% for 20 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.
You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Novice Cycle

Application: This cycle is for the beginner who has average squat form and needs to work on strength.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 50% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 55% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 60% for 8 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Old School Westside

Application: This is a great cycle for those who are just getting into dynamic effort training and/ or still need work on their squat form.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 50% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 52.5% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 55% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 4 – 57.5% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 5 – 60% for 10 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least twice through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Old School Westside with the use of Weight Releasers

Application: This is a great cycle for those who are just getting into dynamic effort training and/ or still need work on their squat form.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 50% (plus 10-20% added to weight releasers) for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 52.5% (plus 10-20% added to weight releasers) for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 55% (plus 10-20% added to weight releasers) for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 4 – 57.5% (plus 10-20% added to weight releasers) for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 5 – 60% (plus 10-20% added to weight releasers) for 10 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least twice through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Old School Westside with Chains

Application: Very good cycle for pre meet training or pre testing for the intermediate lifter.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 50% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 52.5% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 55% for 12 sets 2 reps
Week 4 – 57.5% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 5 – 60% for 10 sets 2 reps

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Notes:
Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least twice through the cycle.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week “Straight Weight” Beginner Cycle

Application: This is a very great cycle for higher skilled level beginners who have very good form.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 63% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 65% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 68% for 10 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Straight Weight Intermediate Cycle

Application: This is a very great cycle for the intermediate level power lifter or strength athlete who posses very good form.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 60% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 63% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 3 - 65% for 8 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Straight Weight Advanced Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for higher advanced lifters for off season training or as a de-load cycle before a competition or test day.

Training Cycle

Week 1 – 55% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 58% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 60 % for 10 sets 2 reps

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Chains Beginner Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for the beginning lifter who has developed a satisfactory level of squat skill and form. The chains will help to develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increasing the explosion out of the bottom of the squat. This would also act as a very good pre meet or test day cycle for the beginner.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 63% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 65% for 10 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 68% for 10 sets 2 reps

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Notes:
Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Chains Intermediate Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for the intermediate lifter who has good squat skill and form. The chains will help to develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increasing the explosion out of the bottom of the squat. This would be a very good off season strength cycle for the intermediate lifter.
Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 60% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 63% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 65% for 8 sets 2 reps

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Notes:
Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Chains Advanced Cycle

Application: This is a very good cycle for the advanced lifter who has good squat skill and form. The chains will help to develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increasing the explosion out of the bottom of the squat. This would be a very good off season strength cycle for the advanced.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 55% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 58% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 60% for 8 sets 2 reps

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Notes:
Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Basic Three Week Bands Strength Speed or Regular Training Phase

Application: This is a very good strength cycle for the intermediate - advanced lifter who has good squat skill and form. The bands will help to develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increasing the explosion out of the bottom of the squat. This would be a very good off season and strength building squat phase for the intermediate – advanced strength athlete.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 47% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 51% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 53% for 8 sets 2 reps

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Light Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Average Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
* Listed are bands per side.

Notes:
Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.
You should rest no more than 45 to 60 seconds between sets

Speed Strength or Heavy Training Phase

Application: This is a very good strength cycle for the intermediate - advanced lifter who has good squat skill and form and is looking to shock the body into new strength gains. . The bands will help to develop a greater level of squat stability as well as increasing the explosion out of the bottom of the squat. This is a great way to begin training for an upcoming competition. We have seen great success with this phase as an introduction meet training phase followed by a regular band phase, circa-maximal phase, and then a de-load phase right before the competition or test day.

Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 15% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 20% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 25% for 5 sets 2 reps

Training Cycle (Two week version):

Week 1 – 20% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 2- 25% for 3-5 sets 2 reps *after sets work up to 1RM

Training Cycle (One week version)
Week 1 – 25% for 2 to 3 sets of 2 reps and then work up to 1RM.

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Strong and Average Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – (2) Strong and (1)Green Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – (2) Strong (1) Green and (1) Light Band
* Listed are bands per side. If the tension feels too easy then add more bands. This cycle should be very hard.

Notes:
Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 90-120 seconds between sets

Circa-Maximal Band Phase

Application: Great Peaking phase to be used two to three times within a 52 week time frame. This is not intended for beginners.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 47% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 51% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 3- 53% for 5 sets 2 reps
Week 4- 47% for 5 sets 2 reps

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong and Average Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong, Average and Light Band.
* Listed are bands per side. If the tension feels too easy then add more bands. This cycle should be very hard.

Notes:
Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

If you feel good after your sets, work up to a heavy double. This should not be done every week but should be completed at least once through the cycle.

You should rest no more than 90-120 seconds between sets

Lactic Acid Tolerance Training Cycle

Application: These cycles are best used when you begin to feel your conditioning falling off. Not only will it bring your conditioning back, it will also help with your recovery. This cycle is a must for beginners and intermediate strength athletes and should be used at least one time every 8 to 12 weeks.

Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 40% for 10 sets 2 reps with 45 second rest periods.
Week 2 – 42% for 15 sets 2 reps with 30 second rest periods
Week 3 – 44% for 15-17 sets of 2 reps with under 30 seconds rest. * The rest period for this week should be “back to back” sets. Two people should squat together and as soon as one lets go of the back the second guy should be grabbing the bar. Each lifter should try to wear the other out and see who dies first. BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Training Cycle (One week version)
Week 1 – 40% for ? sets of 2 reps with 30 second rest periods. With this cycle you should use a training partner of close to the same strength and keep doing sets until someone quits. We have seen battles go in the upwards of 38 sets! BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Cambered Squat Bar Lactic Acid Tolerance Training Cycle

Application: This is a great cycle for off season training when you would like to give your arms and shoulders a break. This is also a great way to peak your bench for a bench meet without having to stop squatting. This is good for beginners, intermediate and advanced lifters.

Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 40% for 10 sets 2 reps with 45 second rest periods.
Week 2 – 42% for 15 sets 2 reps with 30 second rest periods
Week 3 – 44% for 15-17 sets of 2 reps with under 30 seconds rest. * The rest period for this week should be “back to back” sets. Two people should squat together and as soon as one lets go of the back the second guy should be grabbing the bar. Each lifter should try to wear the other out and see who dies first. BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Training Cycle (One week version)

Week 1 – 40% for ? sets of 2 reps with 30 second rest periods. With this cycle you should use a training partner of close to the same strength and keep doing sets until someone quits. We have seen battles go in the upwards of 38 sets! BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Safety Squat Bar Lactic Acid Tolerance Training Cycle

Application: This is a great cycle for off season training when you would like to give your arms and shoulders a break. This is also a great way to peak your bench for a bench meet without having to stop squatting. This is good for beginners, intermediate and advanced lifters.

Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 35% for 10 sets 2 reps with 45 second rest periods.
Week 2 – 37% for 15 sets 2 reps with 30 second rest periods
Week 3 – 40% for 15-17 sets of 2 reps with under 30 seconds rest. * The rest period for this week should be “back to back” sets. Two people should squat together and as soon as one lets go of the back the second guy should be grabbing the bar. Each lifter should try to wear the other out and see who dies first. BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOOSE.

Training Cycle (One week version)

Week 1 – 37% for ? sets of 2 reps with 30 second rest periods. With this cycle you should use a training partner of close to the same strength and keep doing sets until someone quits. We have seen battles go in the upwards of 38 sets! BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Lactic Acid Tolerance Training Cycle with Bands and Chains

Application: This is a great cycle for off season training when you would like to give your arms and shoulders a break. This is also a great way to peak your bench for a bench meet without having to stop squatting. This is only for intermediate and advanced lifters.

Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 35% for 10 sets 2 reps with 45 second rest periods.
Week 2 – 37% for 15 sets 2 reps with 30 second rest periods
Week 3 – 40% for 15-17 sets of 2 reps with under 30 seconds rest. * The rest period for this week should be “back to back” sets. Two people should squat together and as soon as one lets go of the back the second guy should be grabbing the bar. Each lifter should try to wear the other out and see who dies first. BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Training Cycle (One week version)

Week 1 – 37% for ? sets of 2 reps with 30 second rest periods. With this cycle you should use a training partner of close to the same strength and keep doing sets until someone quits. We have seen battles go in the upwards of 38 sets! BE AGGRESSIVE AND DON”T LOSE.

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Light Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Average Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
* Listed are bands per side.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

Ascending Load Cycle (Straight Weight)

Application: Best used for those athletes who seem to have a hard time warming up.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 50% (2 sets 2 reps), 52.5% (3sets 2 reps), 55% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 2 – 52.5% (2sets 2 reps), 55% (3 sets 2 reps), 58% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 3 - 55% (2 sets 2 reps), 58% (3 sets 2 reps), 60 % (3 sets 2 reps)

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed on a parallel box.

Title: Ascending Load Chain Cycle

Application: Best used for those athletes who seem to have a hard time warming up.

Training Cycle:
Week 1 – 50% (2 sets 2 reps), 52.5% (3sets 2 reps), 55% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 2 – 52.5% (2sets 2 reps), 55% (3 sets 2 reps), 58% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 3 - 55% (2 sets 2 reps), 58% (3 sets 2 reps), 60 % (3 sets 2 reps)

Suggested Chain:
Squat Max: 200-400 Pounds – 60 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 400-500 Pounds – 80 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 500-600 Pounds – 100 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 600-800 Pounds – 120 total pounds of chains
Squat Max: 800-950 Pounds – 160 total pounds of chains

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Chains should be set up so 2-4 chain links are all the ground at all time. The chain set up should be the same as sold by EliteFTS.com. There should be a feeder chain to adjust the chain length.

Title: Ascending Load Strength Speed (Regular Band) Cycle

Application: Great for those who have a hard time warming up.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 43% (2 sets 2 reps), 45% (3 sets 2 reps), 47% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 2 – 45% (2 sets 2 reps), 47% (3 sets 2 reps), 51% (3 sets 2 reps)
Week 3- 47% (2 sets 2 reps), 51% (3 sets 2 reps), 53% (3 sets 2 reps)

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Light Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Average Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
* Listed are bands per side.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

Ascending Load circa - Maximal Band Cycle

Application: Great peaking cycle for those advanced lifters who have a hard time warming up.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 43 %( 2 sets 2 reps), 45 %(2 sets 2 reps), 47% (2 sets 2 reps)
Week 2 – 45 %( 2 sets 2 reps), 47% (2 sets 2 reps) 51% (2 sets 2 reps)
Week 3- 47% (2 sets 2 reps) 51% (2 sets 2 reps), 53% (2 sets 2 reps)
Week 4- 43 %( 2 sets 2 reps), 45 %( 2 sets 2 reps), 47% (2 sets 2 reps)

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong and Average Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong, Average and Light Band.
* Listed are bands per side. If the tension feels too easy then add more bands. This cycle should be very hard.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

Circa - Maximal Band De-load cycle

Application: To be used before meet or test day.
Training Cycle (Three week version):

Week 1 – 53% 5 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 47% 5 sets 2 reps

Suggested Band:
Squat Max: 300-500 Pounds – Light Band
Squat Max: 500-700 Pounds – Average Band
Squat Max: 700-1000 Pounds – Strong Band
Squat Max: 1000 -1200 Pounds – Strong and Light Band
Listed are bands per side.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article
accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

De-load cycle
Application: De-load cycle if bands were not used for peaking

Training Cycle

Week 1 – 45% for 8 singles

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.
These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.
All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Drop Box Cycle

Application: Used for those who have poor hip flexibility and strength.

Training Cycle:
* To help explain cycle we will assume lifter has a 14 inch parallel box. Parallel is where the crease of the hip joint is even with the top of the knee while sitting on the box with you squat stance and back arched.

Week 1 – 47% (16” box 4 sets 2 reps), 47% (15” box 4 sets 2 reps)
Week 2 – 51% (15” box 4 sets 2 reps), 51% (14” box 4 sets 2 reps)
Week 3 – 53% (14” box 4 sets 2 reps), 53% (13.5 box 4 sets 2 reps)

Progressive Band Cycle

Application: Training Cycle: This cycle is very good for getting used to the bands. This would be a good band progression for the Intermediate lifter.

Training Cycle:

Week 1 – 47% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 2 – 51% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 3 – 53% for 8 sets 2 reps
Weeks 1-3, a light band should be used.

Week 4 – 47% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 5 – 51% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 6 – 53% for 8 sets 2 reps
Weeks 4-6, an average band should be used.

Week 7 – 47% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 8 – 51% for 8 sets 2 reps
Week 9 – 53% for 8 sets 2 reps
Weeks 7-9, a strong band should be used.

Notes:
Training percent is based on current one rep max with the free squat with equipment.

These percents are used as guidelines. The more advanced the lifters the lighter the percent needed. If you are a raw lifter or do not use power lifting gear then a minimum of 10% should be added to the listed percents.

All sets should be performed with the use on a parallel box.

Rest should not exceed 60 seconds between sets.

Bands should be set up so there is tension at the bottom of the lift. To accomplish this at Westside we use a choke loop at the bottom of the mono lift with an attached 2x4 to spread the choke out wider. For more ideas on this see the article accommodating resistance in the articles section at our web site www.elitefts.com.

 

 

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