1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Squat

This post is for that guy at the gym who avoids squatting because:

  • They hurt his back
  • They hurt his knees
  • They hurt his shoulders, wrists, neck, ego…
  • Squat only focus on his quads
  • He’s trying to focus on his vastus medialis
  • Squats are overrated
  • He’s not a powerlifter
  • He’s not a bodybuilder
  • He’s not a football player or sprinter or skater or…

Well, you get the idea.

Just for that guy, I am going to outline all of the different ways that you or him can squat.

Note: I am pretty sure that I will miss something, so feel free to let me know what I missed and I will add it to the post.

1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Squat

In an attempt to organize this master list of squatting options, I decided to organize all of these different lifts into different categories.

Categories

  1. Unilateral / Bilateral
  2. Stance / Body Orientation
  3. Equipment
  4. Position of Load
  5. Range of Motion
  6. Tempo or Speed
  7. Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
  8. Lifting Surface
  9. Training Volume
  10. Rest Periods
Crossfit builds fit females
Crossfit builds fit females

Unilateral / Bilateral

  • 1 Leg Squat – free leg held in front of body – knee bent
  • 1 Leg Pistol Squat – free leg held in front of body – leg straight
  • 1 Leg Box Squat – free leg hangs down
  • 1 Leg Squat – free leg placed behind body
  • 1 Leg Bulgarian Squat
  • 2 Leg Squat

Stance / Body Orientation

  • Hips turned out – Toes turned out
  • Hips straight – Toes straight – legs shoulder width apart
  • Hips & toes straight – narrow stance – legs close together
  • Torso held high, chest up, very little forward lean at the hips – bodybuilder style
  • Rear end pushed back, large forward lean at the hips – powerlifter style
  • More knee flexion than hip flexion during lift – Knees move past the toes during lift
  • Equal knee and hip flexion – Knees don’t pass the toes
  • More hip flexion than knee flexion – Knees stay well back of the toes – box squat style

Equipment

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell(s)
  • Kettlebell(s)
  • Bodyweight only
  • Weighted Vest
  • Band(s)
  • Chains
  • Medicine ball, sandbag, log, tire, rock, person or any other extreme implement
  • Machines – Smith machine, Squat machine, Hack Squat machine, etc….
  • Cable weight machines
  • Benches / Boxes
  • Stability balls

Position of Load

  • Back Squat – load held on shoulders behind the neck
  • Front Squat – load held in front of the neck
  • Overhead Squat
  • DBs, KBs, etc held in hands at waist height
  • Zercher Squats – load held in the “crook” of your elbows at chest/belly height
  • Hack Squat – barbell held behind your legs

Range of Motion

  • Full squat
  • Barely bending your knees Partial Squat
  • Everything in between
  • 1 and 1/2 squats – squat all the way down, come up half way, go back down and then squat all the way up
  • Focusing on a specific range – i.e working only in the bottom 1/4 of the full range focuses the effort strongly on your glutes, while focusing on the top 1/4 focuses mainly on the quads while also making the exercise much, much easier

Tempo or Speed

  • There are a number of different systems for classifying lifting speed. For simplicity sake, I will stick with the basics: fast, moderate, slow & pause
  • Different speeds of motion can be used for the different portions of the lift: descent, bottom, ascent, top
  • You can mix and match the different speeds with the different portions of the lift depending on your training goals
  • The typical squatter descends fast, doesn’t pause at the bottom, ascends back up fast and pauses at the top if he needs to rest – not very scientific
  • However, another lifter may descend slowly, pause at the bottom to eliminate the bounce he might receive from his stretch shortening cycle, ascend as fast as possible and immediately descend into another squat

Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift

  • Your 1 Rep Max Lift is the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with good form.
  • If you are lifting for strength, you will likely choose a load that is close to your 1 Rep max. A lower percentage load is used when you are performing high reps for muscular endurance or for low reps and high speed in an attempt to develop muscular speed.

Lifting Surface

  • This category is primarily employed by the Bosu or “functional training” crowd
  • Most lifters stand on a solid floor, but if it floats your boat, feel free to squat while standing on:
  • Balance disks
  • a Bosu
  • a 1/2 foam roller
  • a balance beam
  • on top of someone’s shoulders

muscle-beach-pyramid

Training Volume

  • Depending on your training goals (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, speed), you can choose a variety of reps per set, sets per exercise and total sets/reps per workout

Rest Periods

  • This category refers to the length of the rest periods taken between sets.
  • Short rest periods are used as a tool to develop the trainees anaerobic energy system.
  • Long rest periods are used to allow more complete muscular and/or nervous system recovery.
  • And as with tempo and load percentage, there is an almost infinite number of positions in between.

Putting it all together…

To be honest, I have no idea how many different types of squats we could make with all of these options.

1,000,000,001 looked impressive, so I went with it…sue me.

But, I do know that my little list ‘o squats should definitely spark your imagination and help you create a new and better squat workout.

Have fun.

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Power Training

In my post, Muscular Strength made simple, I introduced you to some of the theory behind the different types of muscular strength.

Today, we get specific about training to maximize your muscular power. By the end of this post, you will know the ‘whys’ and ‘how-tos’ about getting brutally strong and powerful.

To get you started, I will also give you a ‘tried and true’ program designed to turn you into the strongest, fastest, most powerful version of yourself that you could ever imagine.

First things first – What is Power?

Simply put, power is the ability to move heavy loads, fast. To do that, we need to do two things. Build your maximum strength as high as possible and teach your muscles to contract as fast as possible.

Before We Begin – a brief disclaimer

This program is designed for trainees who:

  • Make regular visits to their doctor and have been cleared for resistance training. That means you have no medical conditions that could be aggravated by moving large weights very quickly. Serious.
  • Have established a basic level of physical fitness. This is not a beginner program. I will be writing an article on establishing a basic level of physical fitness in the near future.
  • Do not have serious muscular imbalances. While this program is designed not to cause muscle imbalances; it is not a rehab program. I will also be writing an article on that topic in the near future.
  • Are serious about transforming their body. Don’t waste your time if you are not willing to commit yourself fully to this program.

Seriously, this a bad-ass program and unless you’re willing to train like a bad-ass, you might as well stop reading.

Power = Maximum Strength + Maximum Speed

To develop Power, you need to combine maximum strength with maximum speed.

In a linear periodization model of resistance training, strength and speed training are never performed concurrently. However, my review of the current literature as well as my first hand experience has led me to believe that training both strength and speed concurrently is not just possible; but essential.

With this method, we avoid the de-training effect of switching from one program emphasis to another.

In the linear model, hard fought strength gains begin to dissipate soon after strength training is abandoned for speed training. The same holds true for losses in speed. You are always playing a game of two steps forward and one step back.

Another benefit of concurrent strength/speed training is that since gains in strength/speed are happening incrementally and simultaneously, your increasing speed is not effected by your increasing strength, and vice-versa.

In a linear program, you might focus on 4-8 weeks on your maximum strength. During that time, you might increase your max strength by 10% (X + 10%). Due to lack of stimulation, your speed my drop by 3% (Y-3%). After completing the strength portion of your program, you shift your focus to speed training.

However, not only are your muscles slower, but you are asking them to lift weights 10% heavier than they have lifted. Now, you are two steps forward and three steps back.

When we train both strength and speed together, they both increase together. Your strength may only increase by 7%, but your speed will also increase by 7%.

Remember: Strength + Speed = Power

Maximum Strength Training

In my program, maximum strength is trained twice per week.

  • During each workout, you will focus on 1 major movement.
  • That movement will be performed in consecutive sets of 3 repetitions until you can no longer perform 3 repetitions with decent form.
  • Once you have maxed out your Sets of 3, drop the reps per set to 1 and keep adding weight each set until you reach your 1 Rep Maximum.

After your major movement is completed, perform a series of complementary exercises in sets consisting of 5 to 10 repetitions.

Each of the two maximum strength workouts will focus on a different movement.

As well, since this workout is very intense, you WILL perform a thorough warm-up before hitting the serious weights. Not just cardio. Calisthenics, dynamic stretching, overhead squats, snatches, or light weight training is required.

Maximum Speed Training

Like maximum strength training, maximum speed is trained twice per week.

Like max strength day, you will focus on 1 major movement. While it doesn’t have to be the exact same movement as max strength day, it must be in the same family of movements. (Barbell bench press & push-ups or band speed-bench press)

Like max strength day, you will be performing sets of 3 reps. However, the number of sets will be predetermined and the weight will be between 50 and 60% of your 1 Rep Maximum on that lift.

For simplicity’s sake, you may want to keep your movements consistent between max strength and max speed day.

Like max strength day, you will be performing a series of complementary exercises after finishing the main movement.

Off Days

Off days should focus on rest and repair of your body. This program will test both your musculature and your nervous system. Stretching, chiropractic, massage, light cardio, restorative yoga, hydrotherapy, etc. is recommended.

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muscle-strength-power-fitness-healthhabits-strong-fitnes-exercise-weightlifting-bodybuilding

Everything You Need to Know About Muscular Power Training

In my post, How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength, I introduced you to some of the theory behind the different types of muscular strength.

Today’s post is all about developing insane amounts of muscular power…which is important if you play soccer, football, baseball, tennis, hockey or any other activity that doesn’t involve sitting on your butt or covering long distances over the course f an afternoon.

To get you started, I will also give you a ‘tried and true’ program designed to turn you into the strongest, fastest, most powerful version of yourself that you could ever imagine.

I can’t guarantee to turn you into the Incredible Hulk.

Power Training

But I can sure as heck guarantee that you will be bigger and stronger than the ‘before’ picture.

What is Power?

Simply put, power is the ability to move heavy loads, fast.

To do that, we need to do two things.

  1. Build your maximum strength as high as possible and,
  2. Teach your muscles to contract as fast as possible.

Simple….right?

Before We Begin

This program is designed for trainees who:

  • Make regular visits to their doctor and have been cleared for resistance training. That means you have no medical conditions that could be aggravated by moving large weights very quickly. Serious.
  • Have established a basic level of physical fitness. This is not a beginner program. I will be writing an article on establishing a basic level of physical fitness in the near future.
  • Do not have serious muscular imbalances. While this program is designed not to cause muscle imbalances; it is not a rehab program. I will also be writing an article on that topic in the near future.
  • Are serious about transforming their body. Don’t waste your time if you are not willing to commit yourself fully to this program.

Power = Maximum Strength + Maximum Speed

To develop Power, you need to combine maximum strength with maximum speed.

In a linear periodization model of resistance training, strength and speed training are never performed concurrently. However, my review of the current literature as well as my first hand experience has led me to believe that training both strength and speed at the same time is not just possible; but essential.

With this method, we avoid the de-training effect of switching from one program emphasis to another.

In the linear model, hard fought strength gains begin to dissipate soon after strength training is abandoned for speed training. The same holds true for losses in speed. You are always playing a game of two steps forward and one step back. Another benefit of concurrent strength/speed training is that since gains in strength/speed are happening incrementally and simultaneously, your increasing speed is not effected by your increasing strength, and vice-versa.

In a linear program, you might focus of 4-8 weeks on your maximum strength. During that time, you might increase your max strength by 10% (X + 10%). Due to lack of stimulation, your speed my drop by 3% (Y-3%). After completing the strength portion of your program, you shift your focus to speed training.

However, not only are your muscles slower, but you are asking them to lift weights 10% heavier than they have lifted. Now you are two steps forward and two to three steps back.

Train both strength and speed together and they both increase together. Your strength may only increase by 8%, but your speed will also increase by 8%.

Strength + Speed = Power

Maximum Strength Training

In my program, maximum strength is trained twice per week.

  • During each workout, you will focus on 1 major movement. That movement will be performed in consecutive sets of 3 repetitions until you can no longer perform 3 repetitions. You will continue adding weight to consecutive sets until you reach your 1 Rep Maximum.
  • After your major movement is completed, you will perform a series of complementary exercises in sets consisting of 5 to 10 repetitions.
  • Each of the two maximum strength workouts will focus on a different movement.

As well, since this workout is very intense, you WILL perform a thorough warm-up before hitting the serious weights. Not just cardio. Calisthenics, dynamic stretching, overhead squats, snatches, or light weight training is required.

Maximum Speed Training

Like maximum strength training, maximum speed is trained twice per week.

  • Like max strength day, you will focus on 1 major movement. While it doesn’t have to be the exact same movement as max strength day, it must be in the same family of movements.
  • Like max strength day, you will be performing sets of 3 reps. However, the number of sets will be predetermined and the weight will be between 50 and 60% of your 1 Rep Maximum on that lift.
  • For simplicity’s sake, you may want to keep your movements consistent between max strength and max speed day.
  • Like max strength day, you will be performing a series of complementary exercises after finishing the main movement.

Off Days

Off days should focus on rest and repair of your body. This program will test both your musculature and your nervous system. Stretching, chiropractic, massage, light cardio, restorative yoga, hydrotherapy, etc. is recommended.

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