11 Feb Squat Every Damn Day
If your family was captured and you were told you needed to put 100 pounds onto your max squat within two months or your family would be executed, would you squat once per week? Something tells me that you’d start squatting every day. Other countries have this mindset. America does not.
— John Broz
Before I tell you how and why you should be squatting every day, let me get a few things out of the way. I’m not a powerlifter, nor am I an Olympic weightlifter or bodybuilder. I’m primarily a power-endurance athlete.
Building raw strength isn’t my main goal, but rather a means to improve my GPP (general physical preparedness). I’m on the rower four or five times a week, out skiing two or three times, and even do the dreaded burpee. I like to breathe hard and lie in a pool of my own sweat. That said, squatting has become my new thing.
The Power of Squatting Every Day
I squat every single day of the week, and I do it well. Over a four month period, I was able to add 40 pounds onto my low bar back squat, and 95 pounds onto my high bar back squat and front squat. I also added a significant amount of muscle mass. Overall, I gained 20 additional pounds in that timespan, consuming around 5,000 calories per day.
|Squat Style||Former PR (lbs)||Current PR (lbs)|
|Low Bar Squat||397||440|
|High Bar Squat||353||425|
Improve Your Max and Build Confidence
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in a position at some point where we can lift a certain weight ten times, but can’t lift five additional pounds even once. This is not a physical fault, but rather the inherent fear of lifting heavy things. Maxing out in squats is a scary ordeal for many, and this lack of confidence will greatly reduce your performance. However, after doing it day in and day out, having heavy weights on your back will become routine.
Like with any other skill, development of an intimate understanding of the movement is essential. By squatting every day, you’ll become comfortable with all phases of the lift and you’ll quickly identify trends and weaknesses. This added time under the bar will help you become more comfortable with proper technique and cues so that they become second nature in a way that would take months or years if you were to practice only once or twice a week.
If you’re a beginner, expect to see new personal bests nearly every single week for the first few months. If you’re an intermediate lifter who has hit a plateau, expect to shatter it within a few weeks of this routine change.
Add Lean Muscle Mass
Expect your jeans to get tighter and tighter the more you squat. I train mostly for power endurance, which means a large component of my training is conditioning, specifically rowing and skiing. Most people will see that this type of training is not traditionally ideal for packing on muscle, however, during a four month period I was able to add 20 pounds of muscle while maintaining the same body fat percentage. I’ve never, even during mass gain phases, added this much muscle mass. The body adapts to stimulus, and squatting every day tells your body to get a big butt and legs, fast.
How to Squat Every Day
It’s pretty simple really. You’ll work up to a daily max at least six days a week. This isn’t necessarily a true max, as your strength will change from day to day due to fatigue and other factors. This is a max done with complete calm. No pre-workout supplements, no slapping yourself, no music to pump you up. Take your time and be relaxed.
To better see what you should be doing, here’s a sample day of ten sets for someone with a 440 pound back squat PR.
|8 x 45 lbs|
|5 x 135 lbs|
|3 x 185 lbs|
|2 x 225 lbs|
|1 x 275 lbs|
|1 x 315 lbs|
|1 x 365 lbs|
|1 x 405 lbs|
|1 x 425 lbs|
|1 x 440 lbs|
It is best to limit oneself to six total heavy reps, heavy meaning more than 60% of your true 1RM. This will reduce overall volume and help prevent ego lifting. It is also best to never fail a lift. Be confident but know your limits.
Initially, I alternated between front squats and back squats every other day. After a few months, I altered this formula, mostly because I became bored with that routine. I added in paused squats, Zercher squats, squats with chains, and anything else I could think of. I limit the “special” squats to once or twice a week, however.
This format may not be optimal for everyone. If you are a powerlifter, it would be best to squat how you do in competition every day, maybe with the occasional front squat for balance. For those of us who don’t train for a specific competition, it’s fine to alternate squat types at will.
If you’re gearing up for a powerlifting meet or some other kind of competition, you can “deload” the week leading up to it. This doesn’t mean you should take a day off, but rather do a few sets at a weight that feels light and that you can be explosive with.
There Will Be “Dark Times”
After a week, your legs will ache and your glutes will say “please, just one day off!” The weight will feel heavier than it ever has before and the bar will dig a little deeper into your back each day. Then, suddenly, the weight will no longer exist. You’ll hit a personal best three days in a row. Your legs will feel great, and you’ll need to go shopping for some new pants. You’ll stand a bit straighter, and approach every lift in the gym with newfound strength.
The same thing will happen a few months down the road. You’ll feel weak and achy, and you won’t get anywhere close to your personal bests. This may last three days, two weeks, or maybe even a month. Then, suddenly, you’ll hit a personal best again. And again. And again, and again. You must be willing to push through these dark times and not let your ego get in the way of your progress.
How to Recover
Repeat after me: “There is no such thing as overtraining. There is only under-recovering.” Proper recovery is absolutely paramount to successfully squatting heavy every single day. It is extremely taxing, but the human body can adapt to nearly anything if you allow it to.
Stretching and Foam Rolling Is Not Needed
When squatting every day, excessive amounts of foam rolling and stretching of the lower body is inadvisable. Squatting alone will improve your mobility over time, and as you will be doing it every day, your muscles won’t have time to “tighten” up again. It is best to let the body learn to adapt to what you are putting it through. Foam roll just enough to get you through the day, and stretch just enough so that you can hit proper depth. There are, however, ways to speed recovery.
Learn to Enjoy Contrast Showers
When you’re taking a shower, turn the heat up as hot as you can handle. Stand there for about one minute, then turn the temperature down to as cold as you can handle (as cold as it gets is best). Again, endure this for about a minute. Alternate between hot and cold five to ten times, always ending on cold. This will improve circulation and relieve achy muscles.
The Best Anabolic Steroid Is Sleep
Make sure you’re sleeping a minimum of seven hours each night. This will be hard for some because of work, school, etc., but sacrifices must sometimes be made. Don’t watch one more episode of House of Cards on Netflix and get off of Facebook. They’ll still be there after you squat 500 pounds.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Most importantly, you must eat! If you want to see serious performance gains, you have to consume enough calories to properly recover. If you want to be a lion and do lion things, you must eat like a lion. A lion who cooks his food, of course, but a lion nonetheless.
Guest article by Jon Andersen. Jon is an American expat currently living in Oslo, Norway. He owns and operates That Damned Gym, a small private facility catering to extremely dedicated athletes.