Saturday, April 14, 2018

Squats, Part Three - Jim Witt (1984)

Courtesy of Bob Wilde's Collection.
Thanks Again, Bob!

Your Training Routine

The reader will note that we generally favor a combination of moderate weight, with a series of fairly high repetitions. This method of training will build endurance, and as the weight is increased from workout to workout it will also build muscular bulk which is of good quality. The truth of this is noted by the great strength and poundages lifted after specializing on this kind of routine.

Another reason I favor this kind of program is that it will get you in good physical condition when you do several fast sets with 8 to 10 reps. At the beginning of the program it seems as though it's going to kill you off, but if you stay with it you will be very pleased with you overall improvement. Then, three or four weeks before a meet, do workouts with heavy poundages and lower reps, but taper the heavy stuff for a  couple of workouts before the meet. 

Since we all have different capabilities and do not react identically, application of this advice will vary from lifter to lifer. It is easy to go stale with low reps or singles and heavy poundages. Sometimes you don't even realize you are going stale until you get into competition and find your lifts are not as good as they were in training. 

Being a good lifter, or a great lifter, is not an overnight process, and don't you forget that for one single moment! Lifting is something that takes years to work up to your maximum strength or ability. The odds are that no one ever really reaches their true maximum, because there is so much to learn in our simple sport, or what seems at first to be a simple sport. 

We talked earlier about the correct way to perform the squat in order to avoid injuries or cut them to a bare minimum. we would like to see all injuries eliminated. Training methods bring most injuries because of continual low reps, high poundage work and progress that is too rapid. And of course, the drugs. You can injure yourself permanently because your muscles and nerve stimulus become too strong for the slower growing tendons and hard tissues of the joints. 

My advice is to take your time. Plan to be in the game for a long and enjoyable time, and plan your workouts around creating a lifelong lifting habit, not just a few years, a few serious injuries and an early end to your passion. 

Adapt a style that suits you. Just because a friend or champion lifter uses an extra wide stance in his squat, or extra wide hand spacing in the bench press, does not mean these will work for you. Experiment until you find the right style for your body and stay with it until your body changes won't allow it. Then, adapt and alter your style to fit your older body. 

If you are going to train for powerlifting then you will combine the bench press and deadlift with your squat routine. However, these two movements should not be trained heavy on the heavy squat day. It has been a rule of thumb for years that the exercise performed first in a series will receive the most attention, for that is the time the energy level is the highest. Of course, you will handle heavier poundages, so it will be simpler to make gains on that particular exercise or lift. Place it first in your program.

If you want to make gains with a squat routine place it first in your program, and only when you have completed the required number of sets and reps in the squat do you go to your bench press and deadlift parts of the workout. We are going to discuss sets and repetitions in the squat part of the program. We will then take the bench press and deadlift portion in that order. Then we will talk about incorporating all three into a program for overall power. 

Sets and Repetitions 

We are going to assume that you are a raw beginner, green as a pool table and twice as square, and we are going to lay out a program for 52 weeks or a year, whichever comes first, so here goes . . . 

Take you Olympic-type barbell which weighs 45 pounds and perform 10 repetition squats. Rest from 3 to 5 minutes. Raise the weight to 55 pounds and do 10 more reps. Rest 5 minutes. Raise the weight to 65 pounds and do 10 reps. Rest 5 minutes and do 10 more reps, increasing the weight to 75 pounds. Rest the amount of time needed to get regular breathing. If you increase the weight and cannot perform the number of reps called for in this series do not worry about it. But each workout try to do one more rep until the required number is reached, then increase the poundage and repeat the process. 4 sets of 10, starting with a progressively heavier weight over time.

After each set of squats, the best way to get the breathing back to normal will be to perform the two arm pullover. This exercise is most valuable in helping to enlarge the rib box, because of the way it causes the lower rib box to spread while the exercise is performed. To commence the exercise lie on your back on a flat exercise bench, and with a light bar, no more than 15-20 pounds, placed at arms length behind the head, grasp it with both hands, knuckles down and the hands gripping the bar shoulder width apart. Keeping the arms perfectly straight and the body flat on the bench, start pulling the bar upwards in a semicircle until it rests on the thighs. Perform the pull in a steady manner all the way and do not let the center of the body raise off the bench, as that will spoil the effect of the exercise. 

When pulling the bar up and away from the thighs and toward the back of the head inhale slowly and deeply. Exhale when the bar lowers to the thighs. Inhale when returning the bar to the original position on the floor in back of the head and exhale when lowered. Inhale and exhale deeply at all times. This exercise is not for strength building, but is for development purposes and enlargement of the rib box. It greatly affects the serratus magnus and other chest and shoulder muscles.

We are going to set down a program of squats for one year, 52 weeks. We will start with a weight that a beginner can use. If you must start here, don't worry about the weight. Just perform the exercise regularly and correctly, and just as certain as death and taxes you will get stronger. 

The trainee already into a strength program may begin anywhere in the 52-week span that his ability will allow. For the advanced man who is already beyond this 52-week program, he may begin with the poundage he is now training with and reach even greater levels of magisterial squatting power by incorporating this system with his present training system. 

In the following pages we have laid out a 52-week program of squatting. This program starts with the empty 45-pound bar. Using 4 sets three times weekly, and adding 10 pounds per set weekly, we find ourselves squatting 605 pounds for 10 reps at the end of 52 weeks. It would indeed be wonderful if this fantastic rate of progress could be maintained. Since there will be few, if any, who can maintain this accelerated pace, most will get stuck in different weeks of the program.

Do not get discouraged, but stay with the program where the sticking point is (we will use 305 pounds as a point of reference). If, after four workouts at this poundage you still cannot do the desired reps, drop the poundage back to 275 pounds for your 4th set in your workout, and you will usually work through the sticking in your workouts and begin to make progress again. 

Sometimes a week's layoff will help when progress stops completely. If progress is completely stopped you may change your program to more sets and lower reps. 6 sets of 4 reps, three reps, five reps . . . whichever you choose. Stay with a set system. Another think you might like to change would be the warm up from 135 pounds. There is quite a jump from 135 to 400 pounds.

At one time in my training my squat routine at a 220 pound bodyweight and 52 years of age went something like this:

225 x 10, warmup
400 x 10
450 x 10
500 x 6
350 x 12.

That was 42 reps on Mondays. Sometimes I would do a triple with 525. On Friday I would do

225 x 1 x 10 reps
300 x 3 x 10 reps
225 x 10 to 20 reps.

Squat routines are almost as numerous as lifters. Do not be afraid to try something new. Hard work is a must. If it does work, why change it now? When a program is working for you stay with it. Only a fool gets off a winner.

If you have trained for one year and have reached this level of reps and poundages, you are indeed a super individual. It was not my intent when laying out this program  for one year in this manner to suggest that you could keep up with a program of this type. We many have super individuals who could do this, but they would indeed be super.

Now we will address the average size. We do not know what would be an average six-footer. I have known some who weighed 140 pounds; some, 160; some 180 and some 200-pounders. Insurance companies have a table that gives an arbitrary weight for six-footers. I have seen some six-footers who could never weigh 160. With their heavy bone structure and size they would always weigh easily over 200 pounds, while there are others who have small bones and will never be large and massive. What does this have to do with me and the training system, you ask? We want you to realize that no two individuals have the same potential.

At the end of 16 weeks, the program calls for 10 reps with 245 pounds. Some will reach this without setback. It will take others 6 months. Your workout partner does it in 6 months, it takes you a year. In the end you have both gained. He, because of heredity; you, because of the ability to stick to a program once you start it.

The program laid out for you for the year is not impossible; it is highly unlikely to be done in the time span set forth. Maybe thee years for some. Like a football building program, a range of five years would ensure you of reaching your goal. As we have said before, it is not impossible, it may take a long time.

My working out from age 32, when I first started lifting weights, until age 40 was erratic. Like most trainees, my workouts were a fun thing. The York system of exercise was followed pretty closely. Somewhere around the age of 40, the intensity of my training was increased.

At this particular phase of training, my goal was set at squatting 250 pounds for 50 reps. When 30 reps with 250 was reached, which took up a year's training time, the program was switched around and 300 pounds was used for 10 reps on the 3rd set. At this particular stage of training the squat workout would consist of

135 x 10
225 x 10
300 x 10
250 x 20.

Charley Johnson, my training partner at this time period, worked up to 25 reps with 300 pounds. We were working out at the Downtown Dallas YMCA at this time of my life. The limiting factor during the phase of training was the 100-degree heat.

We had plenty of training partners: Sid Henry, Linwood Gilliland, and Bill Starr, a student then at SMU, would drop in to train with Sid and his crew of Olympic lifters.

To come back to our squat program.  If you don't think squatting is tough, try a heavy poundage for high reps in 100-degree temperature. Baby, oxygen gets mighty scarce! We cut the reps back to 10 on the 300 pound set and added a 4th set with 400. We only did the 400 set once a week. It took a long time to reach 10 reps with 400 pounds. Charley Johnson did it in less than a year. It took me right at two. Charley was truly strong. During this time he exceeded 500 pounds for a single in the squat.

At this time we had a large blackboard with the best lifts posted. At 205 bodyweight my best deadlift was 525 on the board. Charley erased it with 550 while weighing 218 at 5'10" tall. We could both press the 100 pound dumbbells together, which is much harder than pressing a 200 pound barbell, due to the balance involved. Charley was very strong. You might say that would not be much today, that there are many at that bodyweight doing more, but you must remember we did not know about drugs and steroids were not an "in" thing where we were. Suits weren't used.

Back to the squat routine. When 400 pounds was reached in my program, once a week, my workout would go:

135 x 10
225 x 10
300 x 10
400 x 10
225 x 15.

That would usually be on Monday or Tuesday. At this period my squat workouts would be twice weekly. Then Friday or Saturday, whichever day we chose, out squat routine would go:

225 x 20
300 x 10 to 15 depending on how well we had recuperated from the Monday or Tuesday workout.

Continuing with this type of program and going to my old workout records;

225 x 10
400 x 10
450 x 10
500 x 8
225 x 10.

This would be a warm weather workout, which is about ten months out of the year in our section of Texas. If the weather was cold we would do one warmup set of 135 x 10, and then a Friday's workout of 225 x 20 to 25 reps. Occasionally, when feeling real energetic we would do a second set with 300 for high reps.

Remember, it took me 15 years or more to reach these poundages, at what some would consider an advanced age. I was past 50 when these poundages and reps were being used. If you are 20, 30, 35, or 40, you can accomplish as much or more. If you are 50, 55, 60, or 65, you can still lift maximum poundages for your age group. Just train, don't strain.  

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