We've received several questions regarding the current squat program, so I thought it might be helpful to answer the most common ones here on the blog.
Is this the same squat program we did last Fall or last Spring?
No and yes, respectively. The Fall squat program was an original creation we mixed into the regular class programming with varied days and slightly less structured loading. We had a ton of PRs at the conclusion of both programs last year, and we expect the same this time around - particularly since this deliberate and structured method (which was covered previously before the program started), has y'all back squatting on Tuesdays and Fridays.
This current program is an adapted version of the "Russian Master's Squat Program." If you're a bit of a weightlifting geek and find yourself thinking "Why don't we do the full Russian Squat Program?" - which is quite a bit more volume in a shorter period of time - my honest answer is "because you have a job, and a life, and want to be a useful human... and mostly because it might actually break you." For nearly everyone at the gym the 2x per week program (aka "Masters") is plenty, given that we program so many other days of lifting and conditioning on a weekly basis. I think the full Russian Squat Program is great if you're 22 years old, are weightlifting full time, have the the luxury of being able to take a nap in the middle of every training day, have daily access to a cold plunge and ice baths, eat like you're going into hibernation, and have no aspirations of wanting to do things like breathe hard for twenty minutes, be useful at work, or make it through the day without falling asleep at your computer because your CNS is on empty.
Wait, Tuesday is 6x2 @ 80% again?!
Yup. Every other session is 6x2 @ 80%. Which means that every Tuesday is exactly that. The progression in it's entirety is as follows:
Volume Phase (Weeks 1 - 4)
Tuesday: 6x2 @ 80% EVERY WEEK
Friday: 6x3 @ 80% (Week 1), 6x4 @ 80% (Week 2), 6x5 @ 80% (Week 3), 6x6 @ 80% (Week 4)
Intensity Phase (Weeks 5 - 8)
Tuesday: 6x2 @ 80% EVERY WEEK
Friday: 5x5 @ 85% (Week 5), 4x4 @ 90% (Week 6), 3x3 @ 95% (Week 7), New 1RM (Week 8)
But this 6x2 feels easy. Should it?
Well, it shouldn't feel hard. I mean, it's 80% for two reps. It should feel like you have to focus & work, but you shouldn't be "grinding out" the reps. Some may experience that the 6x2 feels easier as we go along, and may be tempted to add more weight on those days as that phenomenon happens - don't. Just let it happen. Enjoy the "easy" days every other session. Focus on your positions and tempo, and make every rep as perfect as it possibly can be. Assuming you used a recent/accurate/reasonable 1RM calculation then stick with what you're using and trust in the program. Don't be that guy or gal who gets pinned at 80% on the 6x6 day because you went up after thinking 80% "felt easy."
Actually this 6x2 feels really heavy. Should it?
No, not really. Like I said above it should feel like you have to focus and work on holding positions and tempo, but not like you're grinding out reps or in jeopardy of missing. If you feel either of the latter, and it's not due to an accidental technical issue (i.e. I rushed a rep and simply forgot to maintain tension), then you may be using an 80% that's too heavy (i.e. not actually 80% of your "current era" 1RM). That's another way of saying "you don't squat that much right now so stop lying to yourself." I saw a few "grind-y" reps on Tuesday and it made me worried for a few of you in light of the 6x5 and 6x6 that will come around before you know it (let alone 5x5 @ 85%, 4x4 @ 90%, and 3x3 @ 95%). Sure, you're going to build up some ability to handle those larger/harder working sets over the next few weeks, but if your numbers are way off then it might be time to reassess and be real with yourself about what you're actually capable of right now. Set yourself up to succeed, don't put yourself in a position to fail due to ego.
I might miss a day, how can I make it up?
This particular program works if you work it. You have to make all the training days, be precise, take recovery seriously, and fuel yourself well. If you know that you may not be able to hit that first point, and have to miss a day (Tuesday or Friday), then you should come in on Sunday Open Gym to make up the missed day (with the exception of Sunday, September 3rd, when we'll be closed for the Labor Day holiday weekend).
Remember that making-up a day up throws the timing off a bit, so it could make the session a little more difficult if you're going on less days rest and/or fewer days in between squat sessions. If it's important to you that you really crush it on this squat program then you may want to take that into consideration during your other training days (days you're doing the class WOD but we're not back squatting) by moderating intensity a bit and/or reassessing relative scaling options. The weeks are obviously programmed with the overall context of the stimulus in mind, but it's not necessarily programmed with make-up days in mind (that would limit things too much) so you'll have to be smart about your workload if you need to make-up a back squat session and are still training pretty regularly otherwise.
Dude, 6x6 is going to take me a while. Are you going to make me do a 20-minute AMRAP that same day?
No, of course not. The higher volume days and higher intensity days will have more time to complete the sets. Next week you'll likely already feel as though 6x2 @ 80% doesn't take very long (especially once you find your rhythm), so those sessions will stay about the same in terms of time during class. But the harder days both in the volume phase and intensity phase will get plenty of time to complete the work sets. That said, the "slow squatters" (you know who you are) will have to try to keep moving at a reasonable pace - I know the old stories of lifters sitting down for 15 minutes, smoking a cigarette, drinking some coffee, and reading the paper in between sets sounds glorious to some... but unfortunately we don't have that kind of time in a 60-minute class.
Have any other questions that I didn't address here? Feel free to shoot us a message or ask in the gym - we're happy to help!
WOD For 08-25-17:
6x3 @ 80%
(Use the same 80% loading from your 6x2 on Tuesday 08-22-17)
AMRAP 8 Minutes:
20 Russian Kettlebell Swings @ 70/53 lbs
30 AbMat Sit-ups
50 Double Unders