First Day of Squat Cycle!!


First Day of Squat Cycle!!

It looks like the first day of the squat cycle started out very well.  From the post I’ve read so far, everyone is starting out with a reasonable weight that they should be able to build on for the Monday “volume days over the next 6 weeks.”  There were a couple of questions I heard repeated this afternoon that I wanted to address and clear up any confusion you might have.

I)  Question:  What do I do if I’m on the Wendler 5,3,1 cycle.

Answer:  Stay on it!  On Monday’s perform your 5,3,1 squat work exactly as it is specified in the Wendler program          instead of doing the RX percentages for the day.   Over the course of the year you are going to make excellent gains on the program and there really isn’t any compelling reason to abandon it for 6 weeks unless you are just bored and want a different challenge.

One of the things some people experience on Wendler, especially lifters that are still no where near their squat genetic potential. ie All of us!!, is that performing the exercise just once a week may not be enough work to promote optimal growth.  This shows up in the press more than the squat or deadlift, but for most of us adding an additional squat day on Friday will improve our results, not hinder them.

So the next question is, what do I do for Friday’s squat secession?  If you don’t want to squat, I would recommend working on a high skill exercise like Snatch, back lever, handstand walks… while everyone else is doing their squat work.  If you want to really improve your squat and choose to add a second squat day for the week then your choices are endless.  I would suggest doing one of the following.

1)  Just follow the site and perform the “heavy” squat work everyone else in the class is doing.  *** Note if you are on your week of 1 on Wendler then I would highly recommend using option 2 for this week.


2)  Take 80% of the weight you used for your final set on Wendler Monday and perform 3 sets of 10.  This is a great way to add a little progressive overload with some higher rep work into the system as your weights for the sets of 10 will go up each week as you progress through 5,3,1.

II) Question:  What is proper squat form????  There seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding some of the nuiances of correct squat form.  The first thing we need to realize is that there are several different “styles” of back squats, and there are great lifters and coaches that subscribe to each of them.  Which one is best for you really depends on what your eventual goals are.  If you want to be an Olympic lifter, then the high bar back squat is probably the best choice, if you want to be a Power Lifter, then the wide stance back squat taught at Westside Barbell is an excellent choice.  If you just want to get really strong, build you posterior chain, and use a methond that carries over to your deadlift then the low bar back squat is an excellent choice.  Really there isn’t a bad choice, but fortunately there are some commonalities that we can discuss.

Rule #1 With every single movement we perform we want to maintain a “neutral spinal alignment.”  We could literally write a 20 page description of what that entails so be sure to ask your coach if you need clarification, but basically you want your head and your back to be in a “neutral position.”  You should be looking straight ahead with your chin level or in a slightly tucked position.  Do not look up.  Chicken necking it is a recipe for major neck issues down the road.  Your back should be in slight extension, not rounded, and you should be actively bracing your abdominals to support your lower back.  Here’s an excellent video of a low bar back squat showing how we should use our hips and hamstrings to drive the weight out of the hole.  Notice how the lifter is able to maintain a flat back even though he is inclined at an angle and not in a vertical position like we are in the front squat.  This is good form!!  Tomorrow I will post some examples of high bar back squats so you can see some of the difference in technique.

Hip Drive, Mark Rippetoe [wmv][mov] » May 23 08