16 May 2011

Find A Way Forward 2

In the previous installment of this series, I elucidated the ways in which one might find one's self mired in a virtual bog like they're a modern day brontosaur with bad directional sense.  The shit happens to the best of us, and the worst of us never recover.  Many of the useful are somehow lured down various well-traveled paths in the gym to bask in the glow of mediocrity that only cookie-cutter programs can bring, while others experiment until the find shit that works.
Better 1... or better 2?

Having a scientific backing to your theory is certainly helpful, but not necessarily essential- Western science is pretty slow on the uptake with sports science and physiology.  The average gym goer's "common sense" approach is even further behind- I still overhear baseball players babbling on about not wanting to become "muscle bound" and incapable of playing well.  I guess they've never heard of Canseco, Bonds, or McGuire.  In any event, it's easy to get fucked up, as the gym is at the best of times an intellectual minefield... though most gyms simply settle for being an intellectual wasteland.
Nary an IQ above room temperature will be found here.

When I find myself mired in the aforementioned metaphorical bog, I generally crack open my lifting books and see what I can dig up.  It's at this point that I'll generally give old school lifts like Zercher Squats or  unilateral Olympic lifts a shot, or I'll try a different programming technique.  Having looked at both Siff and Zatsiorsky, I noticed that both authors recommended doing dynamic/strength lifts prior to static or semi-static/power lifts.  This suggestion was echoed in a recent US study as well, so I decided to give this theory a shot for squats.  As the only dynamic permutation of this of which I could think was jump squats, I started doing those prior to either front or back squat partials.  I saved the Zercher squats for a separate day or days, and am now back to 4 days of squatting a week, alternating the two microprograms.  Thus, a typical leg workout in which I'd do jump squats and partials looked something like this:

Jump Squats
1-3 x 3-5 x 135
1-3 x 3-5 x 225
1 x 3 x 275
1 x 1 x 365, 375, 385, 395... and now 405.  I'd keep doing my top end weight for a couple of singles.

Partial Squats/Front Squats
3 or so progressively heavier sets to my top end weight, which I generally did for 3-6 sets of 4-6 reps.  I varied the height of the pins between bottom-ed parallel reps and quarter squats.

** A thoroughly renowned strength coach recently mentioned to me that a nice alternative to the weighted jump squat is the back squat to overhead press (like a behind the neck thruster).  I love that exercise, as it's the exercise that got me into full-body programming, and recommend you give that a shot on days wherein you don't want to go all that heavy.
Apparently, Google thinks that this is a representation of thrusters.  I'd posit that this is simply a preface to a hell of a lot of thrusting, but I suppose Google and I will have to agree to disagree.

One thing you'll notice during these days is that the knurling is going to rip the skin off your traps.  Wearing a sleeved shirt's generally a good idea on these days... and wearing 2 of them is an even better idea.  Another thing you'll notice is that you're not going to get much air as you get heavier.  That's not the point- the point is to generate enough power to leave the ground.  This is due to the fact that maximal force and maximal velocity are generally inversely related- as Zatsiorsky writes "gravity is a motherfucker."(Science and Practice, 21) I generally focus much more on getting height on my early warmups, and on occasion won't even go heavy, but will just focus on exploding off the ground with 225 and getting way into the hole.  Like everything I do, this shit's very touch-and-go.

For those of you who are curious, I've no fucking clue what this has done for my back squat.  In fact, I don't intend to even do a maximal effort back squat until I get on the platform again, which I think will be a fairly decent test.  Until then, here's a better visual representation of what my jump squat workout looks like.
Is this the holy grail of squatting programs?  I highly doubt it.  It's worth a fucking shot, however, and at the very least it's something to throw in the mix.  Of note- the attempt at 405 in that vid was my first, and it was really just a matter of sacking the fuck up and doing it.  I guarantee that the lot of you can jump off the ground with a hell of a lot more weight than you think.

Give it hell.


  1. Interesting. In the past I've completely separated the dynamic from the static/power on different days. Might have to give something like this a shot sometime.

  2. I think that girl pouring the Budweiser on her tongue is the whore of my dreams.

  3. The bar had so much weight on it I actually laughed.
    I guess it reminded me of cartoons, haha.
    Awesome lifts.

    Unrelated but my first verification word was "demun."

  4. You know what this reminds me of? Squatting with bands. The entire reason Louie started with the bands was to stop the deceleration at the top. Bands alter the curve so that you can keep driving at maximum force.

    But the other side of the coin is not to stop the movement -- instead of slowing down at the top, you throw the weight. Or in this case, jump off the ground with it.

    I'm interested to see what this does for you.

  5. Anyone who's interested in old, original print physical culture books, i'm selling some Bernarr MacFadden books (five books) on eBay:


    Sorry it's off topic, just thought someone here might be a collector and interested

  6. A lifter who I coach has recently done a 666lb high bar Olympic style squat wearing not even a belt at about 210lb bodyweight. He sometimes uses an exercise that allows him to finish explosively without the use of bands or the negatives involved with jumping off the ground. It involves pausing at the bottom, then lifting the hips till the shins are verticle, then exploding with the hips. You might like it. Email me if you want a video.

  7. You talkin' about Max Aita?


    The squat videos lately have been incredibly inspirational.

  8. Jamie, I've got a couple of questions for you:

    Does smoking hurt one's lifting progress?

    How did the old-timers manage to get so strong and still be skinny as fuck?

    Also, does the power lift have to work the same muscles as the strength lift, because it doesn't sound that way to me. The way I understood that quote, you could just do any old power exercise followed by any strength exercise, say snatches followed by bench press, or something like the clean & press that has both.

  9. Btw, this Google account bullshit really pisses me off.