So . . . my legs really hurt.
How is it that my legs are so damn sore. I squat all the bloody time. Recently I’ve been doing sets of 30 with 130kg, my legs should be bullet proof. This, alas, seems not to be the case. All I did was 3 sets of squats. They were, however, heroically deep and that’s what makes the difference. 80kg down to the floor beats 200kg less deep so it seems.
So all squats should be balls deep and to hell with all those who pussy out even an inch. Right?
Errmm. . . . Wrong.
The problem is that we have the same word -squat- for all types of knee bend style movements. We should take a leaf out of the Eskimo’s book, who have 467 words for snow. Or something.
I truly believe that all the many versions of squats that are available to you are worthwhile and important. As long as you are squatting then you doing something real and vital.
I also don’t think that there is one form of squat that is superior to another.
Deep squats, ass to grass, balls deep and fearless are awesome because of the way they put massive demands on the whole body. They also are fantastic at keeping you flexible and giving you the core of a concrete tiger. They also act as a trigger for the body to start kicking out that good ol’ growth hormone. If you want to get bigger arms then you should be squatting deep.
Once the weights start getting on the heavy side you will not be able to squat as deep. Powerlifters are the greatest weight squatters in the world and yet they don’t go all the way down. They break parallel for sure, but that’s not the same as ass to grass. However what you lose in squat depth and range of motion you gain in weight transference. What I mean by that is if you are squatting down to parallel but at a weight 30% heavier then you can full squat then that weight is handled by the entire body. Every part of you is being crushed remorselessly by just being under the bar. Your traps, upper back, core, shoulders, hips, calves, everything are fully engaged and screaming for mercy and that’s even before you’ve bent your knees an inch. Don’t believe me? Go immediately to a squat rack, put a weight on the bar that is 20-50% heavier then you can squat, unrack the bar and just try to stand there keeping everything tight for 1 minute. I promise that towards the end of the that minute even your teeth will be sweating and you will see the face of God. Or Buddha. Or Ronald MacDonald. Or your Gran.
So if squatting to parallel with a heavier weight then you can manage down to the floor is still hugely beneficial then is adding even more weight and further reducing your range of movement still a valid exercise?
You betcha. I’ve often done either rack or partial squats and found them to be really effective. As you can start adding sick amounts of plates either side of the straining, bending bar it’s a great ego boost. It also gets you used to feeling what it’s like to be pulverised under a big, scary weight. This gives you the benefits of that weight transference thing I was wittering on about earlier.
If I was going to chose just one type of squatting the it would, naturally be the ass to grass one. However, why would that ever need to be an option? Do all of them and in the same session if you want.
In keeping with my new ‘keep it simple, stupid’ approach to exercise I’ll be doing what I did yesterday: 3 sets of deep squats for 5 reps and 1 set of parallel for 20 reps. As my broken, shattered, useless, pulsating legs can testify it can be fiendishly effective.
Today’s session followed, broadly, the same theme.
Warm up – 5 minutes of lurching and pounding like a pregnant hippo on a treadmill.
Activation – 10 or so reps each on; glute bridges, bird dogs, leg swings (done for my hamstrings that have an annoying habit of cramping up during bench press), band pull aparts, face pulls, trx rows (for my lats and rhomboids that also like to instantly turn to drop-forged steel mid-way through a heavy bench rep), press ups, bar dislocations and barbell jerks (for my crumbling shoulders and pecs. It’s not easy this getting old thing let me tell you.)
Bench press – 3 sets of 5 reps @ 100/110/120kg. Felt good and I certainly could have gone heavier.
Circuit of horror – squats, press ups, military press, high pulls, good mornings, ab wheel roll outs. All done with 40kg for 3 circuits of 10/15/20 reps. I didn’t feel very well after this.
I’m going to have a rest day tomorrow and go for a nice long walk on the beach and maybe build a sandcastle.
Sticks of rock and kiss me quick hats,