A brief history
Sarge and I began training together a little more than 3 years ago. At that time his best squat was around 220 pounds. In his first squat workout with me he squatted 135 pounds for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. I'm sure he was sore but he didn't mention it. Sarge rarely comments about post workout soreness. In fact, I don't know if the word 'pain' is in Sarge's vocabulary. Sarge and I are of the opinion that in the gym and in every aspect of life, your gains will be proportionate to the effort you put forth. Nothing inside or outside of the gym is as difficult as high rep squatting. Sarge logically presumes that high rep squatting will bring about the greatest progress because it requires the greatest amount of exertion. For the last three years Sarge has been performing single set, 20 repetition squats once per week for 6 consecutive weeks with 10-12 weeks of low rep, multiple set squatting in between 20 rep squat cycles. When practicing 20 rep squats Sarge lowers his strongman training volume dramatically and drops his overall training volume to just 3 days per week and does not do any cardiovascular training. When he is not practicing 20 rep squats Sarge typically lifts 5 days per week and does high intense cardiovascular training 2 days per week. Sarge performs his 20 rep squats without a belt and uses Ironmind's Buffalo Bar. The following are examples of Sarges typical training routines.
20 rep squat routine
Sarge starts week 1 with 110 pounds less than his best ever 20 rep squat. He then adds 20 pounds to the bar every week for 6 weeks. In this manner Sarge exceeds his best 20 rep squat by 10 pounds every time he cycles in this manner. You will notice that Sarge takes three full days off after his 20 rep squat workouts in order to recover from the extreme breakdown of muscle tissue.
Monday- Incline presses and triceps work.
Tuesday - Light power snatches and 20 rep squat
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Off
Friday - Off
Saturday - Strongman event training
Low rep squat workout
Sarge usually implements a simple periodization plan for his squat. Sometimes he uses chains and bands and squats up to 16 sets of 2 reps. When box squatting or when using chains and bands Sarge alternates speed work one week with heavier, lower volume squatting the next. Basicly Sarge is always trying different training methods in between 20 rep squat cycles.
Monday- low volume lat pulls, incline dumbbell presses, incline flys, and high volume triceps work.
Tuesday - Power snatches and squatting
Wednesday - High volume pull-ups, chin ups, bent rows and grip work.
Thursday - High volume power cleans, light overhead squats and light front squats.
Friday - Off
Saturday - Very high volume strongman event training.
Update after 3 years
Now that you know how Sarge has been training for the last three years, here's an overview of his gains. He has gone from a bodyweight of 242 pounds at 30% body fat to 218 pounds at 12% body fat. Sarge has increased his best squat with belt only from 220 pounds to 550 pounds. Ironically, though Sarge has only bench pressed two or three times in the last three years, he has made dramatic gains there as well. When Sarge and I started training together the most he could bench press was 285 pounds, though his lifetime best was 330. Sarge recently incline pressed 330 pounds and followed that with a 405 pound flat bench press and claims that it was easy.
12 weeks ago Sarge and I were reminiscing about how much progress he has made. Sarge said, "Remember when I could only squat 220 pounds?!" This prompted me to ask Sarge how many times he thought he could squat 220 pounds with his new squatting abilities. His answer, in typical Sarge fashion was, "Let's find out!"
Sarge, being unusually determined and fearless, got up off the couch and started putting his Chuck Taylor's on with the intent of walking out to the gym to see what he could do. I convinced him to delay the attempt long enough to prepare properly with the promise that it would certainly improve his effort. Knowing Sarge the way that I do I am aware that he
possesses a rare constitution
and will literally and truly push his squat to the absolute total physical limit should the urge come over him to do so.
After a day of contemplating the best training approach to such an endeavor, Sarge and I decided to implement what we call Smashed Cat Squats. To properly perform Smashed Cat Squats you must select a weight that is about 50-100 pounds below your best 10 repetition squat and then execute 10 sets of 10 repetitions with that same weight.
Attempting a true set of Smashed Cat Squats would be unwise without proper preparation so Sarge began to condition himself with 20 rep squats. In his usual fashion Sarge worked up to 334 pounds for 20 repetitions. He then began box squats with 14 sets of 2 repetitions using 50-75% of his one rep max with 30 seconds rest between sets. The box squats are considered a relaxing, low stress workout. Sarge alternated the box squat workouts each week with 10 sets of 10 squats. The following is Sarge's squat cycle leading up to his max repetition effort with 220 pounds. On the day of the max effort attempt Sarge weighed 218 pounds, so we decided at the last minute to lower the attempt 2 pounds from 220 to 218 so that the weight on the bar would exactly match his own bodyweight.
12 week squat cycle
Week 1- 234x20
Week 2- 254x20
Week 3- 274x20
Week 4- 294x20
Week 5- 314x20
Week 6- 334x20
Week 7- 14x2 box squats
Week 8- 224x10x10
Week 9- 14x2 box squats
Week 10- 244x10x10
Week 11- 14x2 box squats
Week 12- Max effort squat for repetitions with 218 pounds.
The following video is one of the illest, most insane, hardcore demonstrations of human performance that I've ever seen. As you will see, Sarge has improved his best squat from 220x1 three years ago to a
218x98. Let's face it, you and I don't have the balls to try something like this. But if you want to get a small taste of what it would be like to squat your bodyweight 98 times, just load a bar up, unrack it and just stand there for 10 minutes. Hey, what the heck, maybe some one out there is nuts like Sarge. Send us the video, I'd be honored to host it.
Click here to view
Sarge's week 12 squat workout
(10 minutes 60mb)