Powerlifting

Building Strength Out of the Hole


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The hole will make or break you as a raw squatter. It is impossible to be a great squatter if you aren’t strong out of the hole. Being explosive in this portion of the lift will help carry you through any sticking points you may have. A combination of great strength in the legs, hips, back and abs, along with excellent mobility and technique are required to become great in this most difficult portion of the squat.

Improving your power out of the hole is critical if you wanna squat huge like my 700×10 in the Animal Cage at the Arnold Classic last weekend!

Mobility is one of the most overlooked aspects of being a great squatter. A lack of mobility in the hips, glutes, groin, low back, hamstrings and quads or any combination of those muscles can cause you to achieve less than ideal positions in the bottom portion of the squat and not allow you to fully express the strength you currently have. It could be a lack of mobility, not a lack of strength, that is causing you to miss squats. Tightness in one area or the other can cause you to shift forward in the hole, minimizing your ability to recruit your hamstrings, or mobility restrictions could be causing any other number of compensations to occur to allow you to hit depth and thus forcing you into less than optimal positions to express your strength. Improving mobility is a simple way to improve your squatting.

It is important to distinguish between something being simple and easy. Being a great squatter is simple, but it certainly isn’t easy. Improve your strength with squat variations, enhance your mobility through stretching, build muscle and address weakpoints with accessory work, recover properly with well planned nutrition and enough rest; none of those are complex ideas but none of them will come easy to you. They all require hard work, diligence, sacrifice and perseverance.

Once you have established proper mobility to achieve optimal (or as close to optimal as possible) positions, you now must develop strength out of the hole. Building strength in this critical portion of the lift is simple (not easy), you must eliminate the body’s ability to exploit the stretch reflex as a mechanism to rebound out of the hole. Doing this will teach you to recruit more muscle fibers and contract them more efficiently and explosively and you will become that much stronger when you once again have the ability to utilize the stretch reflex.

Check out this video where I discuss and demonstrate my favorite exercises to build strength out of the hole…

Pause Squats

Week 15 Count Pause Squat-45/55/65%x8
Week 25 Count Pause Squat-50/60/70%x5
Week 35 Count Pause Squat-Up to 5rm
Week 4None
Week 53 Count Pause Squat-55/65/75%x5
Week 63 Count Pause Squat-60/70/80%x3
Week 73 Count Pause Squat-Up to 3rm
Week 8None
Week 92 Count Pause Squat-65/75/85%x3
Week 102 Count Pause Squat-70/80/90%x2
Week 112 Count Pause Squat-Up to 1rm
Week 12None

 

Check out this video of me squatting with Stan Efferding. After we worked up to our heavy top set in wraps, I dropped down and did some pause squats, including a 5 count pause with 705…

Dead Squats

Week 16×1 at 55%-30 sec rest
Week 28×1 at 55%-30 sec rest
Week 310×1 at 55%-30 sec rest
Week 4None
Week 57×1 at 60%-45 sec rest
Week 66×1 at 65%-45 sec rest
Week 75×1 at 70%-45 sec rest
Week 8None
Week 94×1 building up from 65-80%-1 min rest
Week 103×1 building up from 70-85%-90 sec rest
Week 113×1 building up from 75-90%-120 sec rest
Week 12None

 

Adding bands are also a great tool with Dead Squats as they will make the lift challenging throughout the entire portion of it, rather than just when breaking inertia off of the pins. Check out this video of me doing band resisted dead squats…

Pause Squats and Dead Squats force you to use your strength to get out of the bottom of the lift, rather than any kind of bounce out of the hole. These lifts are very challenging and demanding but will be well worth it.

Chad Wesley Smith is the founder and head physical preparation coach at Juggernaut Training Systems. Chad has a diverse athletic background, winning two national championships in the shot put, setting the American Record in the squat (905 in the 308 class, raw w/ wraps) and most recently winning the 2012 North American Strongman championship, where he earned his pro card. In addition to his athletic exploits, Chad has helped over 50 athletes earn Division 1 athletic scholarships since 2009 and worked with many NFL Players and Olympians. Chad is the author of The Juggernaut Method and The Juggernaut Method 2.0.
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