Category Archives for "Weightlifting"

Training To Get Fast And Explosive On The Field

With the rise in popularity of strength and conditioning there are a lot of new coaches and facilities teaching young athletes how to get fast and explosive. There are a lot of ideas out on how to accomplish this. You will see things like:

• Lunges onto a bosu ball
• Sprints with parachutes
• Speed ladders are my personal favorite (I am being sarcastic)

All of this looks pretty cool, but does any of if transfer to the field. I have yet to see a study showing the speed ladder improving the forty-yard dash. I always hear coaches talking about foot speed in reference to the speed ladder. If you watch someone sprint, it’s not about how fast someone can move his or her legs and feet through a short range of motion. It’s about how fast an athlete can move their legs and feet through a full range of motion in reference to a sprint cycle.


Specificity is key when considering training modalities. Since the body adapts specifically to the implied demands, you need to be careful picking the way you train. There are three ways that I have found crucial for improving on the field of play. Here they are:

1. Squat
2. Power Production relative to body weight
3. Practice the necessary athletic movements

Now let’s look at all three a little closer.

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No movement on earth has been shown to apply more to the 40-yeard dash and vertical leap than the back squat. I love the snatch and clean & jerk more than anyone else that I know, but the squat is king at getting people faster and explosive. Really, they go hand in hand. Have you ever seen anyone clean 400 pounds that couldn’t front squat 400 pounds?

During the first two years of an athlete’s training, a focus on absolute strength is all that is necessary to improve all of the qualities of strength (absolute, accelerative, strength speed, speed strength, and starting strength). Are there diminishing returns? Most studies would say yes. I suggest shooting for somewhere between 2-2.5 times bodyweight. Once you reach these numbers, you can get more specific with the different elements of strength in the squat.

At this point velocity based training is a good choice for training. Instead of focusing on moving more and more weight, you can focus on moving 60% of your maximum as fast as possible. You can even throw in some partial squats, since they are more specific to running and jumping in reference to joint angles.

We are releasing our latest book next week that’s all about the squat. You might want to pick it up as it gets much deeper into squatting, and it has several full-length squat programs. It will definitely teach you how to improve at this movement.

Power Production Relative to Body Weight

Now that we’ve talked about getting stronger, let’s talking about getting powerful. It’s awesome being able to pick up four hundred pounds. However, picking up four hundred pounds and accelerating the weight through space more quickly is the knock out punch that we are all looking for. Most Olympic weightlifters demonstrate power more than any other athlete on earth. They can propel massive weights through space at a rate that is mind-blowing to most of us.

However, it’s not enough to just propel heavy weights at a fast rate. If you weigh 400 pounds, it’s not that cool to clean 400 pounds. If you weigh 205 pounds, cleaning 400 pounds is awesome. Not to mention, if you weight 205 pounds and clean 400 pounds, you can produce massive amounts of power on the field.

@tommybo40 puts in work every year. That’s why he dominates his opponents in the NFL. Here he is putting in 400lb reps on the Clean. I love what he’s doing with the @westsidebarbellofficial Belt Squat Machine. Explosive hips are the name of the game folks. Stay tuned for an article I’m writing. @jaguars ====================== Powerlifting or Weightlifting? Why choose? “Our latest EBook “Do What You Want” has Dropped! Check it out at: <link in Bio> . Is it possible to combine disciplines? Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Strongman, Crossfit, Bodybuilding, and Endurance Training must be kept separate? Or can you combine two or more or all of these? This is the question that I tackled in my latest book “Do What You Want”. . This topic has intrigued me my entire strength training career, and now I answer the question. The book comes complete with NINE 12-Week Workouts including the very one that I’m using right now. ====================== Check out “Do What You Want” at <link in Bio> @intekstrength #intekstrength @biprousa #biprousa @athleteps @harbingerfitness #harbingerfitness @thedanicain1 @tfox66 #nikeweightlifting #athleteps @mg12power #mg12thepowerofmagnesium @haknutrition #haknutrition #wodfitters @wodfitters

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I want to give you a few words of caution on this point. Sometimes people can get really good at Olympic weightlifting, and then their maximums can be performed with less power than others. I have watched people pull during a clean, and it looked like a deadlift. Yet, they were still able to pull themselves under the weight. A person like that can still clean 400-pounds without demonstrating massive amounts of power. A simple power clean is a better test across the board when it comes to power production.

This is not to say that the full range of motion clean isn’t a good lift for strength and conditioning. It’s great for a lot of different elements like:

• Kinesthetic awareness
• Mobility
• Force absorption
• Speed development
• Power to a lesser degree than the power clean

With all of this being said, I recommend getting as strong and fast as possible, while maintaining healthy amounts of body fat composition. When someone asks me how to get faster and they are already fast, strong, and mobile, I tell them to lose body fat. There is a reason that the fastest guys on most teams are often the most ripped guys on the team. They have no wasted weight on their bodies.

Practice the Important Athletic Movements

It seems simple, but a lot of us lose sight of the obvious. We get caught up in fancy things like speed ladders and bosu balls, and we forget to practice the athletic movements that we are trying to improve. If you want to jump higher, then practice jumping. If you want to improve the 40-yard dash, you need to practice the 40-yard dash.

Most of you would be surprised to know that a lot of great athletes have no idea how to jump. They simply don’t understand the mechanics of jumping. I have to assume that it’s because this generation doesn’t get out and play as much as they used to. Whatever the reason, you need to teach your athletes proper jumping mechanics.

The same goes for the 40-yard dash. This one athletic test can mean the difference in sitting at home on Saturday or getting a college scholarship. I am talking about .1 second can be the difference. I don’t agree with this part of recruiting, but it doesn’t matter what my opinion is. We spend a great deal of time at Mash Athletic Performance teaching the mechanics of sprinting especially in reference to the 40-yard dash. You should too.

Mash Athletic Performance started day 1 Block of preseason training. @tatercarney and Cammo killed the speed work, and then @tatercarney crushed 116kg/255lb in the Clean. We followed that up with squats and box jumps to depth jumps. Most of our training is focused on rate of force development and power production. It’s the best way to get the most bang for your buck. Did I mention that these boys are all 14-year-olds? Check out @mad_lifts_15 getting in on some plyo training at the end. LEAN . . Check out our new Website at ==> <link in Bio> for the FREE Seminar Schedule and Free Articles, or Check us out for a FREE Week by emailing us at or DM us on here. . . We appreciate you guys liking these videos, so feel free to ask questions and comment. #tfwwinstonsalem #coreworkout #fitness #bootcampworkout #leanfitness #mashelite @lewisvilleclemmons @intekstrength #intekstrength @biprousa #biprousa @athleteps @harbingerfitness #harbingerfitness @thedanicain1 @tfox66 #nikeweightlifting #athleteps @mg12power #mg12thepowerofmagnesium @haknutrition #haknutrition #wodfitters @wodfitters

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I hope that this article helps focus you in your approach to coaching athletes. There are a lot of fancy coaching videos on YouTube that can easily distract us from what works. I promise if you stick with these elements of coaching, you will get the most out of your athlete’s genetic potential. If you are an athlete reading this, you should look for these elements in your own training. If your current coach isn’t focusing on this, I suggest at least asking some questions. If you have a coach that doesn’t want to answer questions or that can’t back up their training with research, I recommend looking somewhere else.

If you are in the Lewisville, NC area, come check us out at Mash Athletic Performance. We are inside the LEAN Fitness Systems gym. You can check out the entire gym at If you’re not in the NC area, you can train with me or one of our coaches online!

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Inverted Percentage Programming for Hypertrophy By Matt Shiver

You should always fit a program to an athlete. You should not fit an athlete to a program! One way that I like to customize my hypertrophy programming is through inverting the percentages.

Classic Programming Model

Classic percentage programming uses lower sets and higher reps in a hypertrophy phase. Athletes are typically doing 2-4 sets of 50-75% for reps of 8-15. This rep range allows for the three main mechanisms for muscle growth: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscular damage to occur. (If you want to learn more about these mechanisms of growth, check out Mash Jacked. Travis covers it in extensive detail.)

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Through the classical model, the higher rep range of hypertrophy training really facilitates metabolic stress more than during any other phase of training (strength, speed, peaking, etc.). We experience the metabolic stress when we have the “pump”. There is an accumulation of hydrogen ions, lactate, and other metabolites that can promote muscle development.

Note from the author: Lactate does not cause soreness. Lactate is an energy source for the body during times of anaerobic exercise (not enough oxygen to meet the demands of activity). Foam rolling, massage, and other modalities do not “pump” any lactate out of the body. This is a myth that should be buried forever. Lactate is good and helps you perform. It is a fuel source!

Okay, now that I am done with my rant, we shall continue.

Although the classic model of lower sets and higher reps is good for building hypertrophy, it can impact the technique and performance of the athlete’s movement pattern. Especially someone who is new to the movement pattern.

For example, when you see a novice to intermediate athlete do a set of 10 in the squat you will notice that their last few reps do not look the same as their first few reps. They are fatigued and the motor patterns begin to go back to whatever form they are most comfortable doing. The body takes over and the brain shuts off. We often see the trunk shoot forward, the hips shoot back, and sometimes we even see that the back begins to round.

Inverted Percentage Programming

Instead of using the classical model, we can use an inverted percentage program to give these athletes the same amount of reps but give them more rest between reps. Instead of performing 3 sets of 10, you now are performing 10 sets of 3. The advantage of this is to allow your athlete to practice GOOD reps. The speed of these reps will be higher too. The carry over to a maximal lift will be higher as well.

Rest between these sets should be limited to 45-90 seconds. Since the athlete is doing sets of 3 with a weight they could do for 10 reps they will not need the same amount of rest as a working set of 10 reps. You will also notice that this type of training will keep the heart rate up in your athletes.
Mechanical tension and muscular damage will both be achieved during this type of training. The athlete may feel like it was an “easy” day, but as long as the total volume is equal to the classical model, they will feel it the next day! It often surprises most people after their first session.

With this type of training, you will not have as much of a metabolic stress effect on the muscle tissue. Most of the time the “pump” is best achieved when doing higher reps and less rest. It is important to supplement that with accessory work following the main exercise to perform all three mechanisms for muscular growth.

Progressions using the inverted percentage programming should be very similar to that of the classical model. You can increase by 5% load each week with a drop in the number of sets. Or you could increase the number of reps performed while keeping the number of sets and percentage used the same.

Give it a shot! I find it is used best for the strength movements especially the strict press.

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Seb Ostrowicz, Weightlifting Historian – The Barbell Life 202

I’m impressed with what Seb Ostrowicz has done.

He’s obsessed with the beauty of weightlifting, but he realized he’s not destined to be an Olympian himself. So instead of trying to make his mark as a lifter, he’s making his mark as a commentator, historian, and podcaster. This guy knows his stuff about weightlifting’s past and present.

Seb is someone I could talk to for hours and hours. He also made some predictions about the Pan Am competitions coming up in the next few days – so listen in if you want to get the inside scoop. The Mash Mafia will be there, so we’re hoping for big things.

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  • Why the clean is the absolute roughest lift
  • The effects of drugs on the sport
  • What makes great lifters different
  • The new Olympic system and possible BIG changes coming in 2024
  • Who he thinks is going to go down in history as the greatest
  • and more…

Absolutes For The Back Squat

I am writing a book about the back squat as we speak. I am enjoying this process more than any other book before. You might think this is an easy process for me, I mean I have held a world record in the back squat. I coach several weightlifters that are known to back squat more than anyone else in their sport. I coach an NFL fullback that back squats over 700 pounds. Some might say that makes me an expert.

Yeah, I could take the easy way out, and recommend that all of you do exactly what I say. However what if there is more? What is there are ideas that might help me coach the back squat better? Those are the questions that I asked myself before beginning this book. I decided to take on the question in three different ways:

  • I wanted to see what the research said.
  • I wanted to know what other experts thought.
  • I wanted to look closely at what has worked for my athletes and me.

Here’s what gets my goat after looking deeper into the subject. A lot of so-called experts are out there spouting off a lot of absolutes. Some say that you have to sit back, and some say sit down. Some say you should look up, and some say you should look down. Some say you should drive into the bar out of the hole, and some say you should drive your feet into the floor.

Here’s the one absolute I discovered: “There aren’t a lot of absolutes to be found.”

In all seriousness, this is what I found:

“Proximal stiffness equals distal power production.”

I kind of stole that from Dr. Stu McGill, but it’s the one absolute that I came away with after further thought. The goal is to create as much stiffness around the spine as possible. Here are a few ways to create stiffness:

  1. Intra-Abdominal Pressure – the best way to perform this maneuver is breathing deep into the diaphragm while pressing the air out against your belt in all directions around the belly including obliques and low back.
  2. Arms should be as close together as possible with elbows tucked in tight against the body and under the bar.
  3. Create torque from the ground up by either screwing your feet into the floor or spreading the floor. “Screwing your feet” into the floor is simply externally rotating or trying to point your heels towards each other. Spreading the floor is simply digging your feet into the floor and trying the rip the floor apart. Both techniques help to engage the glutes and create stiffness from the pelvis up.
  4. Bending the Bar – this one will help pack the lats. A tight back is not only the best way to create power, but it’s also the safest way to squat. Bending the bar will tighten the back and keep you safe.


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Sport Specific Absolutes

Other than these ways of creating stiffness, there aren’t a lot of absolutes. That is unless we are talking sport specifics. If you are a weightlifter, there are a few absolutes I recommend. Let’s look at them:

  • Sitting down is a must. Depth and a vertical spine are two musts that have to be reached in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Versus sitting back, which limits depth because you are creating hip flexion earlier on. Since hip flexion helps to determine depth, sitting back limits the range of motion.
  • High bar is probably the best choice. Low bar seems to put most athletes into hip flexion a bit earlier along with creating a more diagonal torso. Neither one of these things are optimal for weightlifting.

Really when I think about it, these aren’t absolutes. They are simply “a little wiser movements” to make in the sport of weightlifting. I mean heck some weightlifters use the low bar squat, and they are still very successful. However, as a rule I would suggest high bar and sitting down. Once again, there simply aren’t a lot of absolutes.

Learn From The Experts

Here’s what I suggest: you should try to learn from as many people as possible. You should try some of the things that the experts are saying and see what works. The question is, “What defines an expert?” Personally there are a few categories of experts:

  • The ones performing the research.
  • The guys coaching athletes and consistently getting amazing results.
  • The guys digging into the research and coaching the champions.

I am more impressed by guys like Greg Nuckols that:

  • Love to dig into the research.
  • Coach hundreds of people with great results.
  • Have lifted big weights themselves.

Those are the three characteristics that I look for when I am trying to learn. Personally, a coach that has thousands of lifters under his belt has already performed more research than any exercise scientist can ever hope to perform. However if that person has also lifted big weights and loves to read new research, that person has all the knowledge necessary for creating the perfect squat program and teaching the perfect technique.

Check Your Source

There is one thing that I want to talk about before I leave you all today. There are way too many self-proclaimed experts out there trying to teach the back squat simply because it is a popular topic nowadays. I am talking about men and women teaching all about the squat while hiding behind a title. I have news for you. Having a title like PT, DC, or MD doesn’t mean that you are an expert in the back squat. Reading the latest article on Pubmed without having coached anyone or without having squatted any significant weight yourself definitely doesn’t make you and expert. You need to earn the title of “expert” by getting under the bar for several years and coaching other great athletes for several years, and then maybe you can be looked at as an expert.

The internet is a beautiful thing because all the information in the world is at your fingertips. It’s also a curse because all the information is at your fingertips. You need to learn how to discern the difference between good information and bad information.

I hope that this article helps you all. I get it, the squat is awesome. It makes you strong. It makes you run faster and jump higher. It gives you a great butt. What’s not to love? Now you have the information necessary to find the truth about the back squat. I have already given you some tips to get you started. My book will be out by the end of the month, and then you will have all the information that you could ever dream of all about the back squat. Get ready!

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Should Athletes Max Out On The Back Squat?

Man, people have so many opinions about whether or not athletes should max out. Strength coaches along with all of the internet ‘experts’ discuss this topic frequently, and they relate it to all lifts. Today I am mainly discussing the back squat because it is so important to the main sports that I work with namely Olympic weightlifting and football. The back squat allows weightlifters to gain the strength needed to improve in their competitive lifts, and it allows them to improve upon the positions and mobility needed to perform their main lifts of the snatch and clean & jerk.

The back squat is more closely related to improvements in the vertical leap and 40-yard dash than the clean, and that’s coming from a Team USA Head Weightlifting Coach. Coach Bryan Mann who set out to prove that the clean was superior informed me of that research. If you are coaching a sport, the squat needs to be a part of the program. We can debate the Olympic lifts if you want. However, I don’t think that the squat is up for debate. Then again, I guess you can do whatever you want, but if you want superior results, the squat should be a part of that program.

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Should a squat one-repetition maximum always be tested? I haven’t seen any concrete research to state one way or the other, but here are some of my thoughts based on coaching thousands of athletes over the last twenty plus years. First, I want to clear up the three-repetition maximum versus the one-repetition maximum debate. This one is up to the coach, but my thoughts are that the three-repetition maximum is more dangerous than a straight up one-repetition maximum. Here’s why:

It’s easier to stay focused for one-repetition versus a three-repetition maximum. Here’s another thing: most athletes can perform 90-95% of their 1RM for three. Do you really think 5-10% is the difference maker versus safety? If an athlete squats 400 pounds, are you telling me that 360-380 pounds is easier on the body and less dangerous than 400 pounds? Any athlete that has ever lifted a weight would disagree. It’s much easier to stay tight and focus on positions with one heavy repetition versus grinding out that third repetition under fatigue.

With that being said, I propose that there might be a way to test strength improvements in the back squat without performing a one repetition maximum or a three-repetition maximum, and that’s with velocity. However, there are a few minimums that must be reached, so let’s look at them.

If you are a football player, most research and most of my go-to experts say that a one-repetition maximum of between 2 and 2.5 times bodyweight must be reached to allow for maximum results in the vertical leap and 40-yard dash. Once you’ve obtained a squat somewhere in that range, you will have all the strength required for maximum power output. Anything over that is added stress on the body with little in return regarding athletic performance.

Does that mean you should quit squatting? No way! It just means that absolute strength is no longer the main concern. At that point, the focus should shift to accelerative strength, strength speed, and speed strength. As a refresher, here is what these three strength qualities represent:

  • Accelerative Strength- the velocity of this strength quality occurs somewhere between .5-.75 m/s and 70 to 90% of your one-repetition maximum. This is simply moving a heavy load as fast as possible.
  • Strength Speed- the velocity of this strength quality occurs somewhere between .75-1.0 m/s and 50 to 65% of your one-repetition maximum. This is moving a moderately heavy weight as fast as possible.
  • Speed Strength- the velocity of this strength quality occurs somewhere between 1.0-1.3 m/s and 30-45% of your one-repetition maximum. Here you are using light loads at very fast velocities.

These qualities of strength become way more important to athletics after a one-repetition maximum of 2 to 2.5 times bodyweight squat is reached. I would suggest testing overall programming improvements with weights in the accelerative strength ranges. I would pick somewhere between 80 to 90% of your one-repetition maximum and test it before a training block begins, and then test it again after the block. The goal is to move the same exact weight faster. Here’s an example:

  • Max squat is 500 pounds
  • 85% of 500 pounds is 425 pounds
  • Beginning test is 425 pounds at .68 m/s
  • End test is 425 pounds at .8 m/s
  • That’s a significant increase and a win at over a 17% increase in velocity

That’s the safest and most effective way that I could imagine testing an athlete’s one-repetition maximum. It’s a heavy enough weight to elicit a decent response. It’s only one repetition, so maximum focus can be applied to the one repetition of the test. With this way of testing, results can be measured and safety is maximized.

What about Olympic weightlifting? I’d say that a case could be made for the same method of testing. However, only for athletes that far exceed normal strength ratios. Most experts agree that a weightlifter should squat 75% of their back squat. Does that mean all athletes should fall in that ratio to be considered technically sound? No way.

If you ever watch Nathan Damron perform the snatch or clean & jerk, you will see some of the most beautiful lifting of your life. He back squats 700 pounds and has a maximum clean & jerk of 206kg/454lb. This puts him at about 64.8% of his back squat in relation to his clean & jerk. Here’s the thing with lifters like Nathan: he is built to squat. He has the shortest femurs on earth, and he’s filled with fast twitch fibers. That is going to equate to a massive squat. This squat is not going to equal a 240kg clean & jerk in this case.

However, Nathan has a big enough squat to accomplish as heavy of a clean & jerk that his body is capable of. Does that mean he should quit squatting? No way! He needs to maintain that strength, and focus on strength qualities that might affect Olympic weightlifting more positively. At this point moving heavy loads as fast as possible is more important. In Nathan’s case, testing might look like this:

  • Max Squat is 700 pounds
  • 90% of 700 pounds is 630 pounds
  • Beginning Test is 630 pounds at .55 m/s
  • End Test is 630 pounds at .63 m/s
  • That’s a significant increase and a win at over a 15% increase in velocity

Really in Nathan’s case, I would accept a 5-10% increase in velocity as a major win. Any improvement at all regarding his squat will mean that he is more than ready to make a big snatch or clean & jerk. A focus on velocity frees his joints of damage that is normally inflicted with massive squats. He can then put his focus on perfecting the snatch, clean & jerk, and strengthening his weak spots with pulls and overhead strength.

Thanks to guys like Coach Bryan Mann, we are no longer bound to heavy max out sessions in the squat to monitor results. There are several ways to measure an athlete’s performance increases with velocity-based training. Velocity might not be the tool that gets us clean & jerking world records and running 4.1-second 40-yard dashes, but it’s definitely a great tool for keeping our athletes safe in the weight room. If we help our athletes avoid injuries, that means they can continue getting better. I hope that this article helps all of you make some wiser decisions with your own athletes.

I am working on the Mash Squat Bible, and I will be talking more about this topic and more as it relates to the back squat. I’ve wanted to write this book for some time. Athletes have been coming to me for years to get strong, and now I am going to tell all of you how I do it. I will also tell you what the research supports, and what it doesn’t. Be on the outlook at the end of the month!

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To Squat (Everyday) or Not To Squat (Everyday)?

Most of you know I wrote two eBooks “Squat Every Day” and “Squat Every Day 2”, so obviously I am a fan of high frequency squatting. The question is, “Should you squat every day, all of the time?” To this question, I would say that it depends. Some people squat at a very high frequency all of the time. However, it has been my observation that a lot of high frequency and high intensity squatters seem to succumb to injury earlier in their career as opposed to someone like Ed Coan that enjoyed a career of dominance that spanned over three decades.


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If you want to get better at a movement... maybe you should do the movement more. High frequency will work like magic as long as you avoid certain pitfalls.

Ed used a basic squat once per week routine, and he followed traditional linear periodization. He competed twice per year, and he dominated unlike any powerlifter has ever before or since. So, is Ed right, or is Coach John Broz correct? The answer is yes. I have seen both programs work just fine.

I was talking to my friend Philippe Tremblay, the mastermind behind Stronger Experts. He was telling me about his conversation with Greg Nuckols. He asked Greg where he thought the industry was going in the next decade or so, and Greg said, “Individualization.” I totally agree. There simply isn’t a one size fits all approach.



Mike Israetel, Greg Nuckols, Zach Long, Sean Waxman, Stefi Cohen, and more.

I saw Greg squat almost every single day one summer leading to an all-time world record. Then there are folks like Stan Efferding and Eric Lilliebridge that squat less than once per week, and both crushed world records. However, once you are as massive as those two, I doubt the body can handle that much tonnage at a high frequency. Once again, most of this is pretty anecdotal.

Get Strong Now

Here’s what I know. If you want to get strong, there are only a few things that you can do to affect the outcome:

• First, perfecting your technique is always the priority.
• Get more efficient at the movement.
• Make your muscles bigger (hypertrophy).

That’s about it. If you want to get better at something, frequency is always going to be king. If you want to throw a baseball better, you need to practice frequently. The problem is that the better you get will equal a heavier weight on your back. That’s awesome because that’s the goal, but eventually that becomes pretty taxing on the joints especially the hips and knees. So, what’s the answer?

At our gym right now we have two former 800lb+ raw squatters (Chris Mason and me). We have the strongest weightlifter in the country pound for pound, Nathan Damron who squats 700 pounds raw and high bar with a flimsy weightlifter belt. We have 14-year-old Morgan McCullough that high bar back squats 517 pounds, raw of course. We have ten women that have squatted over 300 pounds and one that is over 400 pounds. We have two other men powerlifters over 700 pounds raw. We have Tommy Bohanon, starting fullback for the Jets, that squats a legit 700 pounds raw. We have Cade Carney, starting running back for Wake Forest University, that squats well over 600 pounds. My point is that we know about the squat. Everyone that comes to train with us can squat a lot, and we are known throughout America for creating squat monsters. I have coached thousands of athletes personally in my gym over the last two decades of my coaching career, and way more than that online.

I am not saying this to brag. I am telling you some facts to make a point. What I am about to say is anecdotal, but I have coached and collected more data on athletes than all the squat research papers combined. I am not saying that to discredit research. I am simply stating the facts to back up the following statements.

It has been our findings that a high volume hypertrophy focused cycle lasting eight to 12 weeks followed by eight to 12 weeks of high frequency seems to work the best. The total volume of each is dependent on the individual. To perfect the volume for the individual takes some time testing out different amounts of volume, intensity, and frequency. You can use Prilepin’s Chart to begin with, and I suggest flirting with the optimal ranges, and then assess your athlete.

Did they recover too easily? If so, add more volume and intensity the next go around.

Did they have a tough time recovering? If so, drop the volume next time.

Did their joints take a beating? If so, maybe lighten the load a bit next time.

It sounds simple, and it is especially at first. After the first couple of years of training, then things get a little more complex. However, I tell everyone to get the most out of the least, especially at first.

Programming Hypertrophy and High Frequency Phases

Here are a few suggestions for the hypertrophy phase:

• Squat 2-3 times per week.
• Use one day to focus on higher reps and metabolic stress.
• Use one day to focus on multiple sets of lower reps with a higher load to take advantage of mechanical loading.
• Usually if I do a third day, it’s in the middle of the week. I normally use tempo to keep things lighter and to strengthen the positions of the squat.
• Use accessory movements to strengthen weaknesses and compliment the squat like reverse hypers, belt squat movements, goodmornings, and I like to add in unilateral work like lunges.

Here are a few suggestions for the high frequency phase:

• Squat 4-6 times per week.
• I like to use rep maxes on some days to get in a little extra volume while keeping the load lighter.
• Use the conjugate method to keep your body adapting.
• Be creative with pauses, bands, chains, specialty bars, boxes, and bar position.

I had the opportunity to talk with Stefi Cohen recently on The Barbell Life Podcast, and we actually discussed high frequency squatting. She normally squats four times per week, and we are very similar in our approach to high frequency. She loves to use specialty bars, bands, chains, boxes, and rep maxes to spice up her sessions. All of this was exciting to find out, but she made the most profound statement that really caught my attention. She said that she likes to use specialty bars, bands, and chains because she doesn’t have to get so mentally amped up.

I totally get what she was saying. If she uses a regular bar and plates, she is right away trying to break her all-time best whether she is performing a 5-repetion maximum or a one-repetition maximum. However, when she uses a safety squat bar, she doesn’t have a preconceived number in her head to deal with. She can just work up heavy without any extra pressure. I love it.

I hope that this gives you all some ideas for how to approach your next squat cycle. I am working on our latest eBook right now, which is all about the squat. You guys are going to love it. We are going to cover technique, programming, mindset, biomechanics, anatomy, and physics in this beast of a squat book. As always, all the squat programming that one could ever want will accompany it, so you will have lots to choose from. I am having a blast writing this book, and I can’t wait to drop it for all of you. The goal of this book is to bridge the gap between science and real life squat information that champion squatters use to get strong and champion coaches use to get their athletes stronger.

As always, thank you for reading, and keep grinding!

Coach Travis Mash
USA Weightlifting Senior International Coach
Head Coach Mash Mafia Weightlifting and Powerlifting

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