a.k.a.: The Squat Nemesis Training Journal:
by Jared Smith
For some time now, I have been a firm believer that overtraining a muscle is about as possible as winning the lottery a dozen times in a row or establishing peace in the Middle East. While the nervous system is another issue in-and-of-itself, the muscles can withstand much more punishment than the vast majority of people are willing to dish out. I admit that, when my training was in its infancy, I too was under the impression that infrequent training for each muscle was optimal. However, as my knowledge evolved, I learned that the more frequently you can stimulate a muscle, the more opportunities for growth you can experience. After delving into all the information I could find on how to enhance recovery between sessions, I embarked on a mission of training muscles as often as possible while remaining as fresh as possible. Within months, I was a man transformed. My muscular density and strength were increasing at a remarkable rate. Fast-forward to today and my training has become a hybrid of hypertrophy and power. While my main goal is hypertrophy, I realize that the only way to become as massive as humanly possible is to not only add strength but to PERFECT the king of all lifts…THE SQUAT!
I am no stranger to the lift, but my technique and ability to hit a deep squat without feeling like I was going to die was very much lacking. I am a prime example of fear preventing progress. After a partial tear of my right quadriceps tendon over a year ago, I avoided the squat for some time. I’d do insanely high-rep leg workouts and literally push myself to the point of puking many times, but my legs just never seemed to grow. I knew what I had to do, and although it would be like starting over, I was not about to let it defeat me. I sat down and thought of all the things that could have played a part in my injury and, though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew that a lapse in technique during the squat was my downfall. The next day I got back in the rack and instead of training like a “bodybuilder”, I decided to train like a LIFTER. Trust me when I tell you there is a huge difference between the two. A lifter is one that trains simply for the love of doing so. A typical bodybuilder is concerned only with the change to physique. I realized that the path to the physique I wanted was through perfecting the LIFT!
I decided that I would squat in some shape, form, or fashion every-single-day until form was second nature to me. I used eleven different variations of the squat during the next four weeks. The first week was almost like squatting with a broomstick, because, if I could not use a light load and go ass to grass, I didn’t deserve—nor was I ready—for anything substantial sitting atop my back. Everything about my technique was tweaked, and, while not comfortable, I knew that I had to force my body to relearn how to squat. After two weeks, my elbows were throbbing like an infected wisdom tooth from using a close grip and cranking down on the bar. At this point, I switched to front squats and—all of the sudden—everything fell into place. Whether it was from all the overload of the back squat, or just the change of bar path, it clicked. The sequence of un-racking, walking out, getting set, breathing, dropping the hips back, sinking into the hole and staying there…FINALLY!
I began squatting before each hypertrophy session for every-other-muscle, and I continued to add weight to the bar. Though technique was my primary focus, my confidence in my ability to handle weight was growing, and, by the third week, I was sinking back squats complete with a pause in the hole as if it was nothing. During week four, I snapped a photo of my quads, and I was stunned at how much thicker my legs had become! I realized then that the cumulative volume over the course of each week, coupled with a single hypertrophy session for each muscle, had really done the trick! Nothing—and I mean nothing—fuels enthusiasm like results.
Now that we’ve got my little history lesson out of the way, we can get down to the reason I’m writing this. This will serve as my journal for the Squat Nemesis program. I am four days in, and thus far, it is going pretty well. Though I did squat every day for a month prior to starting this program, the intensity was not quite as high as this! The daily max-effort singles are taxing, but I find myself being very ‘’amped” upon completion. Thus far, the most remarkable part is the “heavy three” and two sets of five afterwards. Perhaps it’s the activation of my nervous system, or just that primal rage that comes from sinking a max effort squat, but those triples feel awesome. I find myself using more weight on the triples than I expect, which fuels my desire to get back under the bar the next day and try to add some weight to my singles. The sets of five are there to continue working on technique and the fact that such a thing is built into the program is awesome. What you must realize is that lifting is a skill, and the more you practice, the better you will be! I will be the first to admit that my numbers are NOT impressive but, keep in mind, I am a bodybuilder and am using programs such as this to improve the efficiency of my training, so adding pounds to my lifts is an added bonus that I will gladly take!
My weekly training schedule:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday= Back squat
Tuesday/Thursday= Front squat
On each day, I work up to a max effort single, then reduce the poundage to around 70% of the weight I worked up to and begin triples. My goal is to never get less than three reps on these. If I feel I can add weight, I do. Next up is the practice round. With around 50% of the weight I used on my single, I will perform two sets of five reps explosively. This is to keep “dialing in” my technique. My approach to maintaining the rest of my muscularity is a minimalistic approach, and rightfully so. The squat hammers not only the legs, but the whole posterior chain, and done with intensity and frequency, the cumulative stress of this will make everything grow! The training for all other muscles is mainly to fill it with blood, and give it just enough stimuli as to not regress, and cause minimal stress on my joints. My aim is not to cause much muscle damage but to promote recovery of tissues through blood flow.
Decline presses or dips 3x 10-12
Chins 3x Max
Barbell Rows 3x 10-12
Standing Barbell Shoulder Press 3x 8-10
Blood Flow Restriction training
Dumbbell Curls 2 clusters of 30, 15,15,15
Pushdowns 2 clusters of 30,15,15,15
Seated calf Raise 2 Clusters of 30,15,15,15
Well, the dull ache from the week is starting to settle in, and its time for me to do the one thing I enjoy more than training….GET MY GRUB ON!