Squat Everyday: A Training Experiment
Why did we start squatting everyday? Both of our New Year’s Resolutions were to put on weight on our 1RM Back Squat, respectively 40 and 50kg.
We combined squat programs (Broz, Cory Gregory and T-Nation) to create a first edition of our Squat Everyday Program.
We switched heavy and light workouts with challenges and squat assistance work.
The first challenge that we used was 10 minute EMOM Back Squat, which meant that for 10 minutes, we did 5 reps of Back Squat every minute on the minute. This was more cardio work, so the week after we decided to try the Iso-Hold Front Squat Bottom Hold challenge, where we accumulated the Iso-Hold to 2 minutes with 60kg.
1. Monday - Heavy Back Squat - 10/10/5/5/3/3/1/1
2. Tuesday - Light Front Squat - 10/10/5/5/3/3/1/1
3. Wednesday - Isometric Front Squat Bottom Hold Accumulate 2:00
4. Thursday - Light Back Squat - 10/10/5/5/3/3/1/1
5. Friday - Heavy Front Squat - 10/10/5/5/3/3/1/1
6. Saturday - Anderson Squat - 8x4
7. Sunday - Cyclist Squat - 6x6-8
KV: To be honest, I’m a very ‘carb-intolerant’ person, and usually I avoid eating carbs, because this helps with my body composition and performance. Unfortunately, this was not an option during the Squat Everyday program. The first week, I started off with eating low-carb, but my performance went down, my mood changed rapidly and I was very tired during the day (which was not an option since I had exams the entire month). Squatting between 90-102% of your 1RM takes a huge toll on you body and CNS.
In the beginning I used fruit as carbs, which suited me pretty well, but after a while I noticed that my performance and body composition didn’t change when I changed to high-carb later on the program.
We even created the motto ‘Squat Everyday = Cheat Everyday’.
NG: As all aspiring Men’s Health Cover Magazine Models we men are, we want to look ‘shredded’ and ‘lean’, but in reality this comes with a price. Looking strong isn’t the same as producing strong performances. To go day in and day out under a barbell you need to fuel your body plenty and throw yourself some candy bones to not start hating yourself. A good advice with this program: °Don’t start any strict diet °Carb up before you lift °Reward yourself when you did well My body composition remained the same throughout the month and I must admit the ice cream parlor did good business during Squat Everyday.
KV: During the first two weeks of the program, my body wasn’t used to squatting heavy daily. I had just gotten into Olympic Weightlifting, which meant a lot of focus on technique and lighter weights. The spinal erectors in my lumbar spine were constantly on fire. But after the second week, my body had gotted used to the load and I didn’t feel any soreness at all after any squat session.
NG: Just like I expected my back was spastic during the first days of Squat Everyday. Every morning we had to stretch ourself out of the misery that were sore spinaL erectors. It wasn’t anything that held us back, but it wasn’t a good motivator to continue the schedule. Jefferson Curls, Lower Back CARs and focussing on the Hip Flexor were key in overcoming this obstacle! As always, the body adapts. After two weeks we found ourselves warming up in under 10 minutes and busting out squats in half an hour without any lower back muscle soreness.
KV: Besides my spinal erectors, the only thing that was really tight was my IT band. Daily deep tissue massage with lacrosse and softballs helped along the way, as this also went away after two weeks. The hip flexors and spine definitely needed stretching as well, as we used Jefferson Curls and Seated Pancake stretches to clear these areas.
NG: Adding on Kenneth’s section, I focussed on sitting in a 90-90 position and doing some PAILs and RAILs for my internal rotation on my hip. I’m not the one with superb hip mobility, so squatting everyday forced me into spending time in this position with very, very good results!
As someone who played basketball his entire life and spending years on the sidelines injured. My hips are/were a total disaster. Squatting to parallel for me isn’t easy, so squatting everyday? I could’ve become frustrated really fast.
But because of our sore spinal erectors I did my mobility stuff everyday. I obligated my body to go below parallel loaded and unloaded EVERYDAY. By week 2, my back squat was going under parallel pretty easy on the 5RM and 3RM.
So squat everyday isn’t just for raw strength increase, this is perfectly suited for those who are searching to refine their squat technique. (albeit with lower weights)
KV: Squatting Everyday also means sleep well everyday. There were days when we didn’t feel good at all, but still had to put in the work. This led to Nick almost killing me while spotting me in a Front Squat, while he thought we were Back Squatting.
NG: Our body wasn’t used to this type of training, so any type of extra activity will get to you the day after!
On Friday afternoon, my day off, I helped my father in law dig a pool in his garden. A two hour metabolic conditioning that includes heavy farmer walks every minute or so. On Saturday I entered the gym as a complete zombie as I stumbled over my own feet a couple of times. I survived the squat session, but I won’t throw the word ‘safe’ in this paragraph.
Moral of the story:
Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and don’t do any heavy physical activities.
Because squatting everyday with 90% and more of your capacity will do just fine.
EASY ON THE UPPER BODY
KV: We breezed through our sessions very quickly. In the beginning the sessions lasted about 50 minutes, but as the weeks went by, our rests got shorter and the sessions lasted between 30-35 minutes.
As we only squatted for half an hour, we still had plenty of time to do assistance work for the upper body as well. It’s true what they said about if your legs get stronger, so does your upper body.
I continued doing my gymnastic strength work and I have to admit as my bodyweight stayed the same, my strength went up as I progressed towards my first One Arm Chin-Up!
NG: I alternated pull and push everyday. My push day was 4x12 V-Bar Dips and 4x10 Military Press and my pull day was a 4 set pull-up scheme, in which I went to failure 4 times in a set, just to get my reps in as fast as possible so I could conclude my training after squatting. Results were great as I started out doing bodyweight dips and ended after four weeks with a 12kg kettlebell on my waist. I added 20 total reps on my pull during these four weeks as well.
As we did not know what our 1RM was in the beginning of the program, the first session of each variation was a search of where it was. We both found a relative 1RM during the first sessions, and each sessions afterwards, we added 1-2kg 5RM, 3RM and 1RM. No matter what, we were going to squat heavier the next session that we did on the heaviest single of the previous session, even if it meant missing the lift.
KV: Your mind is not used to squatting heavy everyday, that is, in the beginning of the program. After 1 week of squatting everyday, it did not matter if you were going to squat 102% of your 1RM that day, you were used to it and you were ready for it. We came in to the gym every morning, knowing we were going to lift heavier than the previous session.
It’s also true when Broz wrote that ‘how you feel, is a lie’. There were mornings when we hadn’t had enough rest, but still had to squat everyday. We could’ve come in feeling like shit, but after warming up or doing a couple of sets, we felt better again and were ready to smash those singles.
NG: This is where I advice you to do this with a partner. Just by showing up everyday makes sure you get the work in everyday. Because there will be days where you feel like shit, but you just cannot not squat.
Another thing is, you get comfortable being around heavy weights. Squatting is an intense exercise for the CNS, because you load up your entire body with iron plates. Doing this everyday, you run out of fucks to give and that’s perfectly OK, better yet, it gives you superpowers and a Daredevil attitude to try more and more!
After two weeks, your mind just goes into auto pilot. Squatting everyday is normal and planned into your daily routine. This is a great feeling because the word ‘legday’ has the exact same connotation now to you as ’Tuesday’.
KV: During the four weeks of squatting everyday, I added to each lift variation that we did.
I added 10kg on my back squat and 15kg on my front squat. For the iso-hold
challenge I went from holding 60kg for 30 seconds to holding 70kg for 30
seconds. We had strength gains in the assistance work as well. Anderson Squats
went from 90kg for 2 reps to 100kg for 4 reps. Cyclist Squat went from 80kg for 8
reps to 100kg for 6 reps.
Something else that I noticed was how many lifts that I actually failed. During these 4 weeks I think I can count them on one hand. The only lifts that I failed were a heavy single on back squat (filming lifts puts extra pressure on you, so I actually went down, started going up, but thought I didn’t go low enough, so I did a 1+1/4 eccentric with 102% of my 1RM, you dumbass!), another one was on a 3RM front squat, which is the lift where Nick almost killed me. The first Anderson session was also difficult, finding the right foot placement and drivind your back directly into the squat was weird and made me fail getting the bar up sometimes. I failed my last back squat rep as well, as I had thought myself during an entire week that I was going to lift 103% of my 1RM. I loaded the bar, squatted it, and when I went up I felt that I had it. Unfortunately failed it. But told myself I was going to do it again and made the lift 5 minutes later. Our very last session of the program was heavy front squat, and I wanted to have some fun and tried to add 10kg on my 1RM, this was still way too heavy, and miserably failed the rep, but still happy to have felt that weight on my shoulders.
Overall, I would definitely do this again, as we’re already brainstorming what our Squat Everyday 2.0 will be at the end of September. We still have 3 months left to add weight to our 1RM, which, if the results are the same as these four weeks, I’m sure we will get by December 31st, 2016.
NG: Holy frikkin’ front squat ! I absolutely hated front squats and maxed out on 120 kilo about 9- 10 months ago. Seeing us put in 3 front squat variations scared the hell out of me but the results are amazing. I front squatted 145kg on the last day and my 3-5RM blows my 1 rep of last year out of the water. Even better, I’m starting to like the front squat more and more! After training with Stephan Cazeault, it became apparent that I perform better in the higher rep range during back squats. To be honest, this sucks, because everyone wants to be known as the guy who squats a ton in one try and not the guy who squats 100kg 100 times. This is something important to take into account and how you should train to match your personality! The last two weeks of the program I felt a boost in my vertical jump as well. Squatting everyday means your glutes refuse to go to sleep. Doing something simple as walking the stairs wakes them up immediately! In conclusion, after a short period of adaption of the body, squatting everyday feels great. Just make sure to fuel the body, get some good rest in and monitor all the important areas which may lead to tension.