Tuesday, 8 January 2013

24 Day Squat Challenge

I can't ever claim to be someone that is afraid of too much volume nor that I fear the dreaded "OVER TRAINING"  I have managed to go to the gym up to 10 times a week for weeks on end without ever reaching this so called limit of over training.
I especially like this quote
Overtraining is real, but it is very misunderstood and grossly overstated by most people. 99% of people will never experience overtraining, and maybe only 5-10% of athletes.   http://www.doctorhartmanblog.com/2011/07/overtraining-vs-under-recovery.html

However I have, over the past year, separated my workouts day to day, by following the Wendler 531 programme which focuses on 4 main exercises (deadlift, squat, shoulder press and bench press) I have rarely ever done the same exercise back to back.  Well maybe a couple of times doing benchpress but that is easy.

Just before Christmas I managed an Ass-to-Grass 120kg (265lbs) Squat and a 105kg Front Squat, which I was most happy about - see here

And although I am very happy with that, and with my bodyweight at the time being around 84kg (185lbs) it is a happy 143%bodyweight squat.


I kinda think that that still sucks, and sucks real bad especially after i saw this video of this lady doing front squats with 120kg for 4!

And I know that we all have different bodies, different shin to femur to backbone ratios etc, some of us are just built for squatting, others are not, and although I would class myself inbetween, my 120kg i know is a piss poor amount to lift. especially as a max.

To see someone who is perfectly built for squatting look at this guy, look at how his back doesnt have to move at all as he squats down, he is almost still totally vertical even in his lowest position!

So how to increase my squat?
  • Speed squats
  • pause squats
  • working only in my 80%+ range
  • overload partial squats
  • Increase volume
  • increase intensity
  • increase load
  • increase frequency 
All good things to do i know and then by accident I came accross an article calling for a 21day squat challenge.
http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/21-day-squat-challenge  which promotes the idea that More is Better.

Then I found more articles claiming that doing max squats everyday could be the key to getting much stronger.

A 2011 article on t-nation about maxing your squats everyday http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/max_out_on_squats_every_day 
This one not only suggests to max out every day on squats but also other Olympic lifts and furthermore advises to constantly train in a fatigued state and to disassociate pain.
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_squat_4_times_per_week_experimen another article on maxing out on squats AND DEADLIFTS EVERYDAY! http://community.crossfit.com/article/experimenting-squat-day "Lipson had been squatting with heavy singles every day for more than a month"
So it seems like veryone from PowerLifters to bodybuilders to crossfitters have had great results from squatting every day, and squatting heavy!

So time for me to give it a try.

Firstly I would not class myself as a anything above a very basic intermediate weightlifter.
I would consider that the last  year of weight training and research I have done enough to elevate me out of the beginner phase but only just.

I highly doubt I could go straight into the Broz routine so for me I am going to make one up for myself.

For me I am going to incorporate a rest day once a week but still go for a full 24 days of squatting
ie 4 weeks in total.

(rm = rep max)

1rm Back squat
Day 2
Front squat 80%1rm x rep to failure
Day 3
10rm Back squat
Day 4
Front squat 80%1rm to failure
Day 5
5rm Back squat
Day 6
3rm Back squat
Day 7 

So with that routine each week I will have done:
 2 sets to failure on front squat @80%max
1set of 10rm, 5rm, 3rm and a 1rep max lifts

Which compared to doing squats one day a week and doing multiple sets etc... is a fairly big increase in my total week workout for squats.
So before I even start I think I can already see some potential benefits but also drawbacks.

Increased relationship with the squat and heavy loads on my traps
Fresh for putting in maxium effort each workout#.
increased weekly poundage moved

Potential CNS Fatigue
muscle recover not great
training while fatigued?
knees get buggered with repeat heavy squats every day?#

Those are all just guesses so lets find out how well or badly this affects my squat and general strength.


-1 thursday 14.3k hill jog

1 (Friday)
Today was 1rep max day on the back squat, yesterday i did a big 14k hill run so my legs are already very tender. manged to get up to a 1rep of 110kg which is 10kg down from my PB but is deffo a 1rm for today. had to fight urge not to do more sets.

2) (saturday)
80% front squat (84kg) + 5k jog beforehand
did another run today, a 5k this morning with Parkrun Edinburgh. managed to do it in 29.19
Legs still tender and did 84kg on the front squat, this time only 5 reps. the 6th rep was just a eccentric movement down to fail.

Back squats 10rep max 85kg,
 but then got carried away and did a bunch of hang cleans then something iv never done before, partial squats. putting an extra 30kg on the bar more than my max and unracking and dropping down 4-5 inches till resting on the safety bars of the squat rack, ended up doing 10 of these up to 150kg. All with the idea of it helping me prepare for the heavier weight i want to lift in the near future. toughen up the body / spine for the heavier loads. deffo going ot make squats more difficult tomorrow morning though.
 Additional - a 6k walk around the west of Edinburgh as my warm down.

 Front squats 84kg (bw 86.5kg)
front squats, 84kg x5 reps, feeling fatigued doing it at 7am this morning, then did a couple of overload back partials, then chest then some sprints. then weighed myself and found i was 86.5kg and felt really bad, i need to loose some fat soon! i think the more i walk the more weight i put on!
Additional -  fasted for 22hours (ate at 6pm till 8)

5 rep max back squats 100kg
managed 95kg, so then did100kg. then some deadlifts upto 140, shoulder press then some muscle ups and standing distance jumps. 
legs today feel good.

Additinal -  total of 12k walked today getting parking permit from council and back
fasted for 22hours (first meal at 6pm again, ate till 8.30) 
meal time = toast x2 + butter, 1 whole can beans and sausages + cheese + flaxseed
1 bowl of porridge with semi-skimmed milk and 2 heaps of chocolate portein powder + flax, sunflower, pumpkin seads and sultanas,
2 bananas, 2x toast and butter + tomato puree and herbs and pepper

6)  Wednesday)
3 rep max Back squat 110kg (bw 84.6kg)
This morning I took some Pulse from MyProtein.com, didn't think it had much effect, felt good in the gym and after reading an article on line where the author claims " You should be so piss-scared of the weight you use for doubles that you consider skipping the gym altogether. ...... a fill-your-pants-with-liquid-shit-because-100,000-armed-Mongols-are-bearing-down-on-you sort of fear.  Master it and you’ll master the squat. "
by blog that is NSFW http://chaosandpain.blogspot.co.uk/ ( http://chaosandpain.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/squatting-like-youre-ceo-of-paper.html)
So for me the thought of doing what I only managed for 1 just 6 days ago was definitely a scary thought.
After completing that i then did some pause squats70kg , pause front squats to shoulder press 60kg, and some jump squats with 40kg.
At the end of all that i felt good enough to ignore the idea of day 7 being a day off and instead i am going to make that a doubles day (just this week) so that my rest day is officially Friday meaning that when i go back in on the Saturday, it is usually afternoon time so it is a 52 hour rest (end on Thursday 8am, workout Saturday 12pm)
Additional - around 5k of walking today, by 2pm I was constantly thinking about food, dreaming of a subway sandwich. I caved in and at 3.40 got myself a footlong double meat turkey and ham on Italian bread with lettece tomato and olives and mayo and barbeque sauce! devoured it in just 2 minutes! so so good!. I thought  that that would have done me but when i got home i made a massive pot of pasta with tomato sauce, big enough for me and kim, and i ate it all. then after that a massive bowl of porridge with dried fruits and protein milk. 
In all, I killed easily 3500kcals in under 4 hours. finished eating at 7.30.

7) Thursday
2rm x 115kg, + 1rm on 120kg
Today was a surprising day, had a bit more of a lie in and a good nights sleep, (first in ages) and woke up at 6.15 (20minutes extra sleep) got to the gym and just went on the treadmill for less than 2 minutes, just hopped on, and increased the speed till it hit 20kph (3minutes per k) went for 240m then stopped it and got off. then straight to the squat.
a couple of warm ups with just the bar, then 40kg then 50, then 60, then 80, then 100 for 3 speed reps, then 115kg for 2 which i was very happy with, so happy in fact that i decided to go for broke and try and do my current PB and blow me! 120kg, although heavy as hell for me, it went back up, which is very surprising for me after squatting 6 days consecutively beforehand!
Very happy, and surprised.

Additional - fasted like a champ today, after the squats in the morning managed to go the whole day until 6pm before eating, so worked both in the office and around town taking photos, then when i got home I had 4 eggs scrambled on toast with ketchup and mayo and lots of seeds, then 3 rashes of bacon on 2 bits of toast then a big bowl of porridge with protein milk seeds and dried fruit and coconut stuff. NO chocolate or crisps at all go me!

Friday - not giving this day a number as it is my day off, had a great lie in till 8am, then off to work for 9, today as i am not exercising at all i am just going to fast all day and not eat till saturday morning, so this should be a good 36hour fast easy!
8.30 - Coffee, with stevia and a dash of almond milk -  <24kcal i="i">
9-1pm - 1 coffee, about a litre of water and about 10g of creatine.
1-2pm walk to the bank 5.5k and almost 500kcal burnt off,
2.30 baught a 0.5/bottle of pepsimax
6pm home, 2 eggs on some flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds then bed at 10.30

8) Saturday
1x120kg, 1xfail-125kg +Push press
Today I had breakfast before the gym, porridge with my usual seeds and dried fruit in it, then went to the gym at a relaxed time of 12pm. fast warm up then straight into the squat rack. worked up to a single on 120kg, which was slow! then went away did some foam rolling for 30 seconds, back to the squat rack moved the pins up so i could do some heavier partials, put it up to 125kg and added an extra 20kg on each side for a partial (total165kg) then took off the 20s for the 125, got down and came out of the hole (legs got past parallel but i just couldn't get it all the way up.  I then tried again and same thing.
So no new pb there. booooooooo
After reading more about AverageBroz http://www.averagebroz.com/ABG/ABG.html  He recommends doing all olympic lifts to max every day! I love his attitude so going to follow that more.
Then did push press up to 95kg for a bunch of singles,then come clean and press up to 75kg.
+ did a 6.4k walk when i got home and after i had lunch.

9) Sunday
110kg back squat + 90kg SP, +79 clean and push press
Fasted until after the gym today, went up to 110kg for back squats, could have maybe done more but didnt have it in the safety squat rack so just did 110 for 1 but did that 3 times, then did some pause squats at 60kg, then some clean and jerk up to 79kg, total time in the gym was about 2 hours but only doing singles, or at most doubles on all exercises.
went to cinema afterwards and watched The Impossible.


11) Tuesday
morning workout today was a tough one after doing it twice yesterday, shoulders are aching from cleans... dont know why either, and only manged 90 on front squat and 115 on back squat. tomorrow shall be awesome though.

12) Wednesday

nteresting. think i managed a new pb on squats on day12 of the 24 day challenge. Did a rep with 122kg (2kg PB) but need to check depth before claiming it.


This morning was just up to 100kg for squats, did a single, double, triple, another double then a quadruple, then a poo. deadlift afterwards got difficult even with just 140 on the bar.
appetite is through the roof! i could easily eat 8 big meals a day just now! Damn you High Frequence, Heavy Load, low volume, low intensity training. You make me fat!

Dayoff Friday
today was my day off, and good day it was to have off, my tummy felt well dodgy all day, had some explosive shits near the end of the day… would hate to have had to find out what would have happend if i let a little fart out will squatting with 100k+ on top of me. It also started to snow, lots.

14) Saturday
120kg + 123kg (back squat, 82.5kg clean, 95kg push press)(PB)
Did my 5k Race in the morning in the snow which was fun, got pretty much the exact same time as the first time but my watch recorded me as having my new fastest times for the 1k, 1mile, and 5k.
then before heading to the gym I tried out my Vibram 5 finger shoes in the snow (not a good move)
then off to the gym.

After all the running my legs were pretty tired, I took it very slowly and worked a lot of pause squats with lighter weights as i slowly increased. Got up to 120kg and it moved pretty fast so thought, bugger it lets go for a new PB! fearful of going straight to 125 as i had failed on that before i went for just 1kg more than my current best and put on 123kg in total.
It was a slow grinder but it was a completed rep, felt over the moon, so much so that I then did a max on pushpress with 95kg and then did cleans and went up 2.5kg of my current max and did 82.5kg.
Very happy day.

15) Sunday
Deadlift 160kg, squat 100kg x 5 (PB) x2
Warmup today consisted of deadlifts, Went 140 for 3 then 150 then 160 and felt that that was enough and that my hamstrings were very tight so didnt want to push it.
moved to backsquats and as i had got a pb yesterday I thought more on working on an extra rep on a lower weight.
went up to 100 x5 did that twice and that was enough for me.

Tried to then do some benchpress. but generally totally fatigued and was not totally in the zone

16  Monday (double gym)
110kg x 4 (PB) and 115kg x2 (PB)
2 new PBs today, in the gym this morning before work and felt good, sore and tight but good.
Confusing morning workout today. Legs are in tatters from the weekend with all the running, back is also a bit tender with the deadlifts yesterday. Yet managed a new rep pb on 110kg (4 reps) and 115kg (2 Reps) very happy.
additional -  
went back to the gym in the evening after work and worked on some chest but the place was soooo busy with new years resolosers that it was impossible to get must time on any bench or rack, and when you were on the bench or  rack you could just feel 4-5 sets of eyes on you the whole time waiting for you to get off. pissed me off a bit. However, made me appreciate the quality of the workouts I get by going to the gym for 7am before work. 

115kg x3 (PB) 120kg x1
Getting out of bed this morning was a real struggle, Actually woke up with my phone under my pillow which required me getting up during the first alarm, stumbling out of the room into the man cave picking up phone, tunring off alarm and stumbling back and crashing back into bed... none of which I remember.
still managed to leave the house at 6.47 so didnt get to the gym too late.
Chest this morning was tight and legs were also sore and a bit bruised from the Cleans the other day with the bar hitting the thighs and sometimes knee caps.  SLowly i worked up to 100 for 3, then 110 for 2 then I thought about 115kg, did one rep, and then decided to go for a PB of 3 reps, after completing those 3 reps I was pretty happy, did one rep at 120kg and then called it a day... a morning.

Wednesday (Double Gym, squats AM, Spinning PM)
125kg x1 back squat (PB)
Woke up this morning with the full visualisation of doing a PB of 125kg today. I Youtubed a couple of videos of other people doing 125kg squats and was pretty unimpressed by the amount of half squatters and 'just parallels' I saw.
Started with making sure I know exactly what my ATG depth was and put the safety bars just half a cm below that, worked my way up from 60-90-110-115-120-124 then 125, so in effect that was 2PBs as 124 was a new record and then the extra kg to 125 was another. So Double win this morning!!!

19 Thursday Afternoon
110kg x5 115kg x3 120kg x2
Managed to get a 5 reps on 110kg (1 extra rep pb)
3 reps on 115 (equal to previous pb)
2 reps on 120kg (1 extra rep pb)
and all this was after a max weight PB the day before and doing my first ever spinning class. and not even having taken any pre-workout sups or even any coffee! something right is definitly happening

20) Friday morning
Front squat 107kg (PB)
Morning session went well, realised i hadn't pushed myself too far on the front squats for a good while so decided to try and beat or at least equal my previous pb (105kg) worked my way up on tripples to 90kg, then did a single on 100, then 105 which resulted in a massive grunt, then went up 2kg and managed to get a new pb of 107kg, strangely that one felt easier than the 105kg.

Life got in the way, did the 5k race in the morning then had to do stuff regarding my upcomming wedding, never got a chance to get to the gym today. also had a friends birthday that night, so a couple of beers were drunk late on. 

21) Sunday 1pm
127kg x1 (PB)
 Very happy with ANOTHER squat PB today. 127kg (2kg more than before) on the 21st day of the 24 day squat challenge, However lots of coffee, pre-workout sups and nox taken beforehand. So only an official pb once i do it again….. maybe tomorrow morning

22) Monday Morning
127kg x1 (PB)  + 115kg x 5 (PB)
 So, this morning I tried to get the PB I got yesterday (127kg), but no pre-workout stims, no food, a 7am workout and less than 24hours since yesterdays PB where I also did a Deadlift session going up to 93%max....
Results.... amazballs, 127kg OWNED along with a NEW PB of 5 reps on 115kg, (previous PB was 3)!!!.

115kg x 6 (PB)
Holyshit, first time in weightlifting shoes this morning and my squats were all over the place, balance messed up and knees a bit sore, felt totally different... harder even. fortunately I was advised that there may be a dip in performance before an increase.
Additional - ate a massive lunch and then due to Kim wanting a fish supper, ate total greasy shit battered fish and chips at night, so a pretty big calorie load today. oops.

24) Wednesday Morning
Last day of the Challenge. 
Took it easy, just worked on some Pause squats focusing on my butt and back form.
no more than 100kg x3 pause squats.


  Now time to recuperate for my results day, Sunday

3 days of no squats and only light cardio and some upper body workouts

Results day.

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