Does a Weightlifter Need to Squat?

Does a Weightlifter Need to Squat? The answer is: maybe or maybe not, and more like probably but not as much as one might think. It all depends on the athlete’s structural balance. Here are just a few of the the questions that athletes need to ask themselves:

1. What is my front squat compared to my clean?
2. What is my squat compared to my Deadlift?
3. What is my jerk compared to my clean?

There are several other comparisons that need to be made to truly understand structural balance, but I will focus on these three to make today’s point. My goal is to get you thinking more logically when devising your own program. To help you understand what got me thinking more about structural balance, I will tell you the Travis Cooper story.

Travis Cooper is one of my athletes at MuscleDriver USA. He just competed in the World Championships, and he did really well with a 145k Snatch and a 179k Clean & Jerk weighing 77k. In training Travis only Clean & Jerked 170k and Snatched 140k, and he only worked up to each of these numbers one time.

Travis spent the majority of his training in the 80% range of the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, and he kept the total volume relatively low. He squatted once and sometimes twice a week with 80% or less weights. Most people would think that this training program would equal failure. They would be wrong.

Travis focused the majority of his training program correcting structural imbalances that were identified by Zach Greenwald. Zach had Travis focused on deadlifting, sumo deadlifting, overhead carries, asymmetrical carries, and a few other exercises that I can’t recall. Watching Travis peak for the World Championships was one of the most awesome moments in my coaching career.

Here are the things that I noticed:

-Travis became noticeably more stable during the pull and catch phases.
-Travis became noticeably more stable overhead during the jerk and snatch
-Travis’s overall structural health improved. He was having some back issues that seemed to disappear towards the end of the program.

Now I am not saying that everyone needs to perform the same routine that Travis did because I don’t know your muscular imbalances. One must first find out what those imbalances are, and then plan accordingly. Here are some simple things to consider:

1. If you clean 85% or more of your Front Squat, then consider focusing on strength because your efficiency is pretty high.
2. If your Deadlift is less than 80% of your Back Squat, consider focusing on pulls until that is corrected.
3. If your jerk is considerably less than your clean, focus on jerks, pressing, and overhead stability.

Most of these points are common sense, but I see common sense neglected way to often. Let’s be honest, left to ourselves we will probably do the lifts that we like. Sometimes we just need a coach to have us do the lifts that need to improve. I am excited to work more with Zach, and hopefully we can bring a whole new aspect to programming.

To answer the question about squatting, I believe that squats help the Olympic lifts for sure, but if the athlete’s pull is way out of wack as it relates to the squat, more emphasis should be put on pulls. A lot of weightlifting coaches believe that the deadlift doesn’t correlate to the clean. They are simply caught in the weightlifting box, and they need to step outside and look at it from a structural angle. I watched Travis Cooper do it with outstanding results, and now I’ve watched Jared Fleming focus on pulls to the point of a PR Clean just today.

I am working with Zach right now, so the more that I understand the more that I will pass on. This new outlook on programming is the most exciting breakthrough that I have had as a coach in a long while. I can’t wait to learn more, and pass it on to all of you.

We are hosting a Holiday Meet December 20th at the Mash Mafia Compound. Come hangout with the Mash Mafia Crew, some MDUSA Stars, Coach Mash, slam some bars, and of course KILL Some PRs! Click on the link to find out more:

December 20th Meet at the Mash Mafia Compound

We are hosting a New Year Learn 2 Lift Seminar at the Compound as well! January 10th and 11th come out and hang with Coach Mash and the Mash Mafia. Weightlifting Day 1 and Powerlifting Day 2. Come to one or both days just click on the link to find out more:

New Year Learn 2 Lift at the Mash Mafia Compound

To check out one of the Online Teams, click on one of the following on links:

Eat What You Want! Lift What You Want!

Online Coaching and Mentoring with Coach Mash

Mash Mafia Online Team


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *