a.k.a.: The Squat Nemesis Training Journal:
by Jared Smith
It is week two, and to say that my legs feel like they have gone through the meat grinder would be a huge understatement. I must say that there is something almost enjoyable about feeling this way. Perhaps it is the fact that I am testing myself, which gives me a sense of accomplishment. I know what some of you are probably thinking (and you are correct): You don’t have to be sore to know you’ve trained hard, but sometimes we need that painful little reminder that we killed it!
I must say that I am pretty happy with the gains I have made thus far. Going from hardly being able grind out a triple just to parallel with 315, to taking such a weight ass to grass with a pause in that position, before attempting to send it through the roof, makes me happier than a witch in a broom factory. I know that number is not impressive, but being able to do that after coming back from my injury and a lifetime of the “squeeze it like it owes you money” mentality of my former training fuels my enthusiasm.
While the program doesn’t exactly call for a pause squat, I make sure that I do so on my max effort attempts. With each of these, my aim is to make sure that I am moving the weight as precisely as possible without the aid of momentum. The eccentric portion of these lifts typically takes about three seconds, which further reduces the chances of momentum aiding me in the lift.
The most remarkable thing about the program so far is the change in my mood. After hitting a few heavy sets of squats daily, I seem to feel better and am more productive. I may not be a psychology major, but I am going to attribute this to the “confidence boost” I get from knowing that I am improving. I have struggled with anxiety for many years now, and since adopting a frequent approach to squatting, I have found myself being far more relaxed. Of course, I can’t decidedly say that the training is the reason for this. I am aware that correlation does not equal causation, but I do know that lifting seems to ease my mind.
Where’s the Beef?
While my primary goal with this program is to become a better lifter, and attain more strength/neuromuscular efficiency, I know you may be wondering if any size will be lost from training in such a way. Abso-friggin-lutely not! While the cells may not be a “volumized”—as with traditional bodybuilding-style training—the entire body is still getting more than enough stimulation. One reason the body builds muscle from the get-go is a response to stress. This goes back to the S.A.I.D. principle. For those unfamiliar, this stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This essentially means that “your body becomes its function” by adapting to the specific stresses placed upon it.
Feeding the Machine
When training with this level of intensity, it is important to “chow down” on a regular basis! Upon starting this program, I automatically added an extra 300 calories to my diet, which bumped me up to around 4,300 calories daily. Seeing as I have the metabolism of an anorexic crack-head, I require a pretty decent amount of food. While I keep it as clean as possible, I do NOT shy away from a high-calorie meal on the weekend. I am a huge fan of carbohydrate back-loading (but we will discuss that another time).
I will be the first to tell you that there is no magic potion. Supplements are used only to fill in small gaps, or give you a slight boost in recovery. When utilizing heavy weights and frequent training, you will want to remain as fresh as possible. I find that a primary limiting factor is inflammation. I use a hefty amount of BCAA and Glutamine. I have found that Glutamine greatly reduces the amount of inflammation that I experience from training. I didn’t fully realize how much it helped until I ceased using it after the last month long squat program I did. Even with a frequency reduction, the inflammatory response was immense and caused my performance to suffer! With that said, I am currently taking around 20 grams of glutamine a day and about seven grams of BCAAs. If the cost of such a thing is a concern—as is the case with me—you can always buys the flavorless kind, and mix them in with water or whatever it is you like to sip on during training. This is much more cost efficient, and you can buy this stuff by the bucket when it’s flavorless.
Post Apocalypse (Teaser)
I’m not one to get ahead of myself, but when I’m excited, I find it hard to contain. I learned a long time ago that it always pays to think a few steps ahead, and in training it’s no different. I am a bodybuilder and my ultimate goal is mass. With that in mind the program that follows this four week block is geared toward one thing: MASS! You will want to stay tuned. Much like in a Hollywood epic, after the Apocalypse is over, something—or someone—always rises from the ashes!