Speed with Style: Dynamic Squat and Pull Cycles

TAGS: yoda, pull cycles, mini bands, dynamic squat, sport training, deadlift, squat, training

Here’s a new idea for your tired and worn dynamic squat/deadlift cycle. No scientific bullshit and no fluff. Just the meat ‘n potatoes in this article.

Before performing this cycle, you’ll need to take a few weeks to prepare. Don’t try to jump in unless you’re all ready well trained. I had been alternating between the three forms of accommodating resistance methods in my squat training for a while and decided to try putting it all together in a pre-planned format. The result was pretty spectacular.

This single eight-week cycle put 30 lbs on my squat and was based upon my goal to squat 600 lbs in single ply gear with the straps down. I’m well aware that it isn’t smart to attempt to base your speed work upon a fictitious goal. It often leads to injury or frustration. The increase in bar weight from my regular speed work to my goal weight was minimal at best. We’re talking about a 30 lb (five percent) jump on my deload days. It wasn’t anything serious because it didn’t hurt my technique or speed. If you’re lacking in abdominal strength, you’ll get smashed on weeks four and eight. Your “core” needs to be well prepared to handle the increased pounds. Make sure you work consistently on weighted twists and sit-ups leading up to this cycle and don’t neglect good mornings and reverse hypers/45-degree hypers.

No more jibber-jabber…here it is.

DE squat cycle
Week one: 40 lbs chain + 50% bar weight: 275 X 2 X 8
Week two: light band + 43% bar weight: 245 X 2 X 8
Week three: average band + 43% bar weight: 245 X 2 X 8
Week four: light + average band: Start with doubles and work your way up to a max single

Repeat week one and so on.

Remember, week one/five is considered a “deload” day so don’t worry if you drop the bar weight to 45–50 percent. I tend to train my DE squat lighter than the recommended 50–60 percent, especially leading up to this cycle. When using bands, I was operating in the lower 40 percent range because I found that this helped me develop the requisite speed and keep my technique in check. That was the educated response. In reality, I found that using 245 lbs plus bands or chains was the best for maintaining a high level of speed. The percents just fell into place.

So, you just kicked your ass on Friday after week four and are ready to go to work on Monday’s ME squat session. What do you do? I considered this session another opportunity to deload. A sample ME session on this day would look like this:

ME squat on week five and nine

  • Spud suspended strap good morning: Perform a few singles with your 3RM. The point is not to put yourself through the grinder again because you’re likely gassed from Friday.
  • Romanian deadlifts: Feel free to train a little heavier here. You’ll be fairly fresh because you didn’t expel much energy on your first movement. I recommend working up to a few sets of 3–5 reps.
  • 45-degree hypers: This is an excellent exercise so use it to target your low back, hamstrings, or glutes. Focus on where you’re weakest and try to put the emphasis on that muscle.
  • Abdominals: Use weighted sit-ups and some form of twists. Add some extra volume today because, hey, why not? Everyone can use stronger abdominals.

Repeat this ME day again following your second wave of this speed cycle. You’re taxed as shit so there’s no reason to push the following Monday.

I ended up squatting an “easy” 585 lbs with my straps down and planned to perform a test day about two weeks after this. You can check out the video of my week four and eight on YouTube (#) as well as my 585-lb squat. They aren’t the prettiest reps, but the point was to train as heavy as possible with the hope of setting a PR in the squat. It worked plain and simple.

In retrospect, I should have included more abdominal work because I felt unstable after unracking the weight. This explains my emphatic plea for you to train the shit out of your abs now, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, just after hitting 585 lbs, I blew out my shoulder again. It has been a long and rocky road, but I’m working my conditioning and strength levels back up to perform this cycle once more. Hopefully, this will bring me over 600 lbs soon and enable me to squat a massive PR at a meet this summer. Try this for two months and watch your squat grow.

Note to everyone stronger than me and still reading this article: If you’re squatting over 600 lbs, perhaps double up on the average bands for week four or attempt light and strong bands. To be honest, I really don’t know how to help you. I’m not at this level of strength yet and don’t want to earn the “Yoda” moniker so just use the above as a template. When you figure it out, email me and let me know what worked for you.

DE deadlifts
Conventional pull: 315 X 1 X 6 (55% of 565 lbs)

Cleans: Work up to a max attempt on this day. Don’t always try to set an all-time PR.
Wide sumo pull: Use chains or bands (55% + mini bands or 40 lbs chains).
Wide sumos
Wide sumos: Work up with doubles, 55%, 57%, and 60% (315, 365, 405).

Try to perform all your DE pulls raw unless you’re handling weights at or above 495 lbs. I prefer to work my DE pulls totally raw for no other reason than that the belt can be a bit restricting (wow, that made me sound like a “fem”). Perform your sumos as wide as you can. I try to perform them inside an EliteFTS 2 X 2 rack and my heels touch the sides of the rack. Again, this cycle is based upon a goal of pulling 600 lbs so I use 315 lbs as my speed pull. If you aren’t accustomed to training above 50 percent for your speed work, take some time beforehand.
Cleans are a great way to take a break from performing the deadlift, and they force you to really develop speed. It will also do wonders for your overall strength levels. My philosophy on cleans is to perform a few doubles leading to a single attempt. I might not be able to set a PR each cycle, but I do try to move the most weight I can on that particular day. Remember why you
are performing these. Just do your best to move the weight quickly.

At the time of this article, I have performed the ninth week of the deadlift cycle and will likely plan a test day this Friday. Hopefully, this will net me a 585 pull or better, setting a 20-lb PR. Wish me luck!

Try these cycles and see what it does for your total. At the very least it will break up the monotony and give you a chance to experiment. Best case you end up with a PR on the platform, and nothing gets better than that! Well, maybe some things…like that blonde model for EliteFTS apparel? Much better.

Update: The Friday after writing this article, I successfully pulled 595 lbs, setting a 30-lb PR while using a Metal IPF V-type squat suit! Although it was a rough lift, I’ve heard that the “internet judges” gave it three white lights!

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