By: Louie Simmons

The Advanced Squat Cycle

WWhen designing a yearly model for the squat, many things must be considered, most importantly, the level of preparedness. This article pertains to the very highly trained squatter, i.e., those that squat 900 or more.
One must develop speed strength, which is the ability to accelerate with light to medium loads, creating explosive force.
Strength speed is a learned process to push maximum weights as fast as possible. This increases the powerful stretch reflex system and can be accomplished only by accelerating eccentrics and progressive concentrics. Strong bands must be used here. The bands will drive you down at a much faster rate than gravity alone, thus creating a great amount of kinetic energy, which is transferred into the muscle and connective tissues, causing a strong stretch reflex and providing an equally fast concentric phase.
The bands solve the problem of accommodating resistance. A load may be heavy at the bottom but light at the top. Thus, half the exercise maybe wasted. Fred Hatfield talked about compensatory acceleration. He was on the right track. By pushing as fast as possible against a light or heavy load, more force would be developed. However, if the weights are too light, the bar moves too fast and force is not developed.
Dr. Squat used a very fast eccentric phase that contributed to his very fast recovery in the squat. We have added two important elements.
(1) Bands greatly increase the stretch reflex through accelerated eccentrics. The bands also create a greater load at the top of the lift, thereby accommodating resistance, but more importantly (2) the time under tension is lengthened. This time is necessary for the development of maximum force. Max force is reached in 0.3 to 0.4 seconds. However it usually takes longer to complete a lift. Can the time to fully reach max force be increased with just the barbell? No. But with the addition of bands of adequate strength, the deceleration phase of the bar is greatly reduced on the ascent. You must push as hard as possible for a greater length of time.
Max force is, of course, highest at the start of the ascent, with starting strength being employed. But, by using a large load consisting mostly of band tension and a small amount of barbell weight, I believe the duration of maximum force and muscle tension can be lengthened, thus producing strength speed, the ability to push heavy resistance at a fast rate.
Now letís look at a 4 week program of strength speed work made possible by combining a high percentage of band tension and a low percentage of bar weight. This cycle consists of four workouts, raising the load each week. Five sets of 2 reps are done each week. This is a supramaximal method to develop maximal strength and strength speed.

band tension
bar weight
weight at top
weight at bottom
Week 1 635/465 135 770 600
Week 2 635/465 185 820 650
Week 3 635/465 225 860 690
Week 4 635/465 275 910 740

This is followed the next week by 2 reps at 325 (bar weight, same band tensIon), a single at 375, and a single at415. This translates to a lift of 1050 at the top and 860 at the bottom. Lower the bar quickly but under control to a just below-parallel box. (See previous articles on box squatting.) This causes a great stretch reflex and maximal acceleration.
The usual special work is then performed: glute/ham raises, Reverse Hyper machine, ab work, or similar exercises.
This cycle is very taxing and requires some short restoration work on the off days, averaging 30 minutes: sled work, glute/ham raises, Reverse Hyper machine, and abs.
The next 4 weeks are planned for speed and quickness. The bar weight ranges from 425 to 485 pIus band tension of 260 at the top and 200 at the bottom. Do 6 sets of 2 reps. Add 20 pounds of plates each week.

band tension
bar weight
weight at top
weight at bottom
Week 1 260/200 425 685 625
Week 2 260/200 445 705 645
Week 3 260/200 465 725 665
Week 4 260/200 485 745 685


This may sound heavy, but because of the added advantage created by the bands on the eccentric phase, you become very explosive.
This phase is also accompanied by special work for the abs and the posterior chain.
Now the final phase. We used three bar weights: 430, 460, and 480. The band tension is 440 at the top and 300 on the box.
band tension top/bottom

band tension
bar weight
weight at top
weight at bottom
Week 1 430/300 430 860 730
Week 2 430/300 460 890 760
Week 3 430/300 480 910 780
Week 4 430/300 430 860 730

This 4-week phase is a circa-maximal, or near-maximal, method. It is designed to build speed and explosive strength. It is a short mesocycle with a mid-pendulum wave.
Finally, a 2-week deloading phase is done, a microcycle, to bring maximal results to the contest.
The squat day on boxes is Friday, and maximal effort day is Monday. Monday is devoted to exercises for the squat as well as the deadlitt. A core lift such as a good morning or a Safety Squat Bar squat is done, followed by 2 or 3 special exercises for the trunk, glutes, hamstrings, or hips.
As you can see, these different methods, or cycles, easily blend together to create a constant rise in performance by perfecting all special strengths, while raising work capacity and mastering weaknesses through the conjugate method. This is necessary for all highly qualified lifters.
This program is for the advanced lifter with a very high work capacity. It has produced six 900+ squatters at Westside.


Westside Barbell

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