Written by Jim Beam
No matter if your a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, we all want
big powerful legs. Big legs when your a bodybuilder are so
necessary for a complete package. They donít have to be
necessarily strong.. but big and cut. On the other hand, for
powerlifters size isnít so much a factor as strength, although
the two go generally hand in hand.
This article is designed to provide only information for the
squat and no other leg exercises.
First, lets cover the proper execution of the squat:
1) Generally, as a rule, unless very experienced, ALWAYS WEAR A
HIGH QUALITY BELT! remember, safety first. A
good belt provides the necessary support for your middle to
lower back and not only helps prevent injury, but stabilizes
area to allow for greater potential of your strength, thus
Many people think that the belt is designed to support the
lower back since it provides a kind of wall to rest against.
really. What the belt does, is to wrap around the body
universally, thus providing for equally distributed internal
forces are generated by extreme pressures which emanate from
inside the body as you are squatting. They reach their highest
pressures when you are at the deepest part of your squat. These
forces press outwards from the center, to your greater outer
circumference of the belt, thus providing for equalized force
through-out the body, and not just your back.
If you are experienced in squatting and have tried different
belts out there and have compared a Valeo or Joe Weider belt,
good thick powerlifting belt, then you know that you can squat
much more weight, SAFER!
Why is this possible? Powerlifting belts are designed thicker
and much sturdier in construction, thus providing for more
internal pressures. I would honestly say, that the average
novice lifter, can expect a 50 lbs. jump in squat strength the
time he puts on one of these belts! And youíll feel so much
better squatting down.
I can truthfully say, that in 22 years of lifting, I have never
hurt my back using one of these belts, and neither has any
have ever trained.
They work!!! They work VERY GOOD!
Well, enough said about belts, lets cover setting up for the
1) Set a realistic strategy for a squat routine and strength
goals you have in mind, beginning with your warm up set. I do
warm-ups, progressively increasing the weight as I go, but very
2) To set up for the squat, get your warm up weight on the bar.
Usually, a fairly good shape person has no problem warming
up with 135 lbs, this is 1-45 lbs. weight on each side of the
3) Once your weight is loaded, make sure your collars are
4) Stand about 2 feet back from the bar, (chalk the bar if you
have some)..and eyeball your hands, one at a time. (Its very
important that you set up properly for the squat). Make sure
that both hands are at exact locations on the bar.
5) Once your hands are locked firmly around the bar, walk
towards the bar, eyeing the very middle, never loss eye
focus in the middle. This is where your head is going under, so
stay focused so you donít lose your place (unless you have a
mirror, then this is easy, but still, never stop looking at the
middle, watch yourself as you step under the weight).
*Remember: You donít want to squat down with weight that is off
center of your back.. you could seriously hurt yourself!
6) Once under the weight, get the weight firmly and securely on
your back. Many new lifters do whatís called Olympic style
squatting. They tend to place the bar high on the back, right
under the neck. This makes squatting much more difficult as it
tends to throw you forward (especially as you get tired!) Try
to put the bar a little lower on the back. Ideally, the bar
rest comfortably on your Posterior Deltoids (your rear Delts!).
You will lean slightly forward, but back straight.
7) Once you have the bar positioned stand up. Make sure you
donít have one leg in front of the other (like splits!) Always,
your feet side by side, with knees bent.. then just stand up.
8) Take a step back, keep your head up, eyes always looking
straight ahead, or straight up. Remember, the bar will follow
your head!! Back stiff and straight! Medium stance with your
legs and feet, then lower yourself to parallel.
*I recommend squatting deep, below parallel at least 80-85% of
the time. Donít bow your legs in or out, stabilize them and
drop your hips. A wider stance will make squatting deeper and
Your primary goal for building mass is to squat at about
75%-80% for reps of 5. This builds what I call the Medium Heavy
range, not enough to hurt you, but enough to really push for
mass and strength.
Hereís a routine for a 400 lbs. squatter:
Warm-up.............135 lbs. x8-10 Deep!
Warm-up.............185 lbs. x2-3 Deep!
Warm-up.............225 lbs. x1-2 Deep!
*Remember: Go after each warm-up, like its a world record and
SMOKE IT! The easier each set feels warming up, the easier the
next set will feel. Strong and fast.
Warm-up..............275 lbs. x1...below parallel.
*Also...remember to be resting 3-5 minutes to get maximum
results between sets!!!
Warm-up..............315 lbs. x1...below parallel.
Warm-up..............365 lbs. x1...below parallel.
Max Single..........400lbs....x1...parallel or below.
You donít have to max every week, I just wanted you to see how
After your 400 lbs, go down to 315 lbs.
Do 315 lbs..........x 5 reps...Below parallel. This is called
your Medium Heavy training weight. Do at least 3 full sets,
with no help, then go up 5 pounds the following week. You can go up to
5 sets of 5 reps if you want to, but I wouldnít go past that.
After you've completed your medium heavy training, come down
and do some Olympic squats!! I donít believe in pyramiding,
going all the way up, then coming all the way down, but I do
believe in Olympic squats. Olympic squats are done with no
equipment, bar high on the neck, feet very narrow, about a foot
to 18 inches apart. Keep your Head UP!!! Look up!! This is
much more difficult to do and will require more concentration.
keep your back FLAT! Drop your hips down to the floor. You
should be able to get your butt about 3-5 inches from the
floor, if you do this correctly!
For a 400 lbs. squatter, I think that 185-205 for reps of 10-12
VERY DEEP!! will be fine. Do 3-5 sets of these and no more.
These will really help your balance for your heavier squats and
will TOAST your quad's (the front of your legs.) *I only do
these once a week!
This is a very fundamental routine that will yield fabulous
results. I will get into box squatting in another issue!
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