The Back Squat is the king of all leg strength. We all know that. The most popular question that I get is, “How do I get my squat up?” Right now the Back Squat is a huge part of Jon North’s training. We are hitting it from all angles: high reps, low reps, paused, chains, etc. We know that when his leg strength increases no one will be able to beat him. His movement patterns are perfect, and that’s what God gave him at birth. Leg strength on the other hand is something that I can give anyone that will put in the work. Here are a few of the simple things that I did to achieve an 805lb raw Back Squat.
1. Squat often- 5/3/1 is a great workout for beginners, but if someone wants to get really strong, then they have to get under the bar. Back Squat is an athletic movement pattern like shooting a basketball. The more that you perform the movement, the better you will become at that action. Your body will recruit more fibers in a more efficient manner when it becomes more familiar with the movement.
2. Paused Squats- I’ve watched Mash Mafia Member Greg Nuckols push his back squat from low 600s to 800lbs in less than two years. One constant to his program has been paused squats. Eze Onwurah went from being the weakest teammate to one of the strongest by completing a grueling Front Squat routine. He would pause the weight in the bottom between 3-7 seconds and hold it at the top between 9-15 seconds. He would work up heavy, and then perform down sets all with the prescribed pause times. Not only did his Front Squat increase, but his back squat, clean and snatch improved.
3. We are constantly testing the Back Squat with Rep Maxes. We test 10RMs, 8RMs, 5RMs, 3RMs, and of course 1RMs. We wave the RMs in a linear fashion. We squat 3-4 days per week, and we use Saturdays to alter the Back Squat in as many ways as possible. The RMs are huge indicators of the 1RM, but are better in the strength producing category. After we work up to RMs, we always do 2-4 drop sets depending on the block.
4. Accommodating Resistance and Overloading Principle- The biggest thing that I ever learned from Louie Simmons was the Accommodating Resistance Principle. Simply put, use chains or bands to add weight when you are at the strongest portion of the lift, and they also lighten the load when you are at your weakest. We all know that in the very bottom of the squat we are at our weakest position. That is why people squat high! With bands and chains, they accommodate that strength curve. They also help to overload the lifter. For example, one could have enough chains added to the bar that at the top the total is 50lbs over their max, and then at the bottom the weight is 100lbs less than their max.
5. The Conjugate Method- Basically change as much as you can as often as you can! We change things by alternating bars, bands, chains, weight releasers, specialty bars, pausing, pausing at different positions, total volume, rep schemes, and much more. The key is to keep the body guessing, so that it is in a constant state of adaptation.
I’ll be at Wodapalooza in Miami this weekend, so come out and meet me. I will be giving a seminar on Power movements, tricks, and how to implement. I have a new website http://www.MashElite.com where you can sign up and receive the programming that I am using for Jon North and the rest of the team. I will be explaining differences, exercises, and why!