Tuesday, September 10, 2013

21-day Squat Challenge Report, Fall of 2013

I finished 21 straight days of squat on Sunday, 08 Sep. I posted an early introductory piece a couple weeks ago, and this will be a summary of how it went. While this idea of high frequency training, even daily near-maximal training, is common to the Olympic weightlifting paradigm, I have to credit Nick Horton for this particular challenge. (www.weightliftingacademy.com, www.ironsamurai.com)


First, I came into this fresh off a kettlebell sport season, only two days after a meet and a road trip. I had not lifted heavy in months, so I began with a 4-day warmup. I also had a multi-pronged need to maintain some upper body work, so the outline for the first 2 weeks follows.

A - back squats Squat Nemesis, 50 dips, 50 cable rows
B - front squats Squat Nemesis, 100 cable rows

The last week only had one day of front squats, as I tried to emphasize the heavier movement. My triples and fives at the end were done until I lost bar speed, as I do tend to grind heavier weights.


I hoped my 1RM numbers would increase more. I did see my volume shift toward heavier weights, even though my 1RM did not move.  The 21-day graphic below does not show my 4-day break-in or my front squat days. My front squat days were more therapeutic than heavy, and they were never heavy enough to include in the overall stats.

Blue - total volume for the day, divided by 100 to fit within the scale. Varied between 4,000 and 6,700lbs.
Red - volume expressed as multiple of that day's 1RM.  Increased from 20x to 33x by the end.
Orange - percentage of each day's total volume in Zones 1 and 2 (>70% and >90% of each day's 1RM). Began around 62%, ended at 75% on highest-volume days.

My overall volume fluctuated as expected. I quit hitting heavy weights entirely around day 10, both front and back. The last 5 peaks show my volume increasing, both in raw numbers and as a multiple of 1RM, indicating more work done heavy. I also just quit doing work sets in Zone 3 entirely. My warmup strategy changed drastically, and the last few days wasted very little time or volume.


What I need is speed, and I think I know how to address that. I grind squats out of the hole, ever since my leg injury a few years ago. This may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

My back has never felt better. You really cannot overtrain the upper back. This has changed my ideas about recovery and work capacity, and my press motion is still good. I will row every time I'm at Elite Fitness, at least twice per week.

I'm resuming kettlebell training this week, with barbell work for assistance. I'd rather not bore the world with columns about how I did the same 4 workouts for the next five months, so I'll update at milestones. See you on the platform in February.

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