Written by Brandon Lilly
Being focused on my raw training for the last year or better I have faced numerous challenges since taking off the gear. One of those major issues was lack of stopping power, and reversal power coming out of the hole on my squats.
How can that be? You have squatted over 1000 lbs.? The gear was my savior. This is something I have been trying to preach to lifters since I found my own flaws. There are some weaknesses that you can never fix until you train a cycle or two raw, and heavy. Before anyone blasts me for what I’m about to say, FOR GEARED LIFTERS THE BOX, BAND/CHAIN COMBO or WESTSIDE STYLE OF TRAINING IS PROVEN, AND GREAT. But let’s examine why a raw lifter needs to do away with the box, and if not all the bands/chains, at least some of them.
In gear, a lifter has the benefit of the equipment binding up, and being the tightest it will ever be. So like a catapult that is pulled taught, when released there will be a certain amount of rebound, and the body can drive outward agains the material keeping it “stressed” all the way to the point of lockout. That works well with a box as a guide to sit on, and the weight doesn’t have to be at a maximum in the hole to get maximum result, the weight needs to be at a maximum at lockout so the lifter can “accommodate” to the weight being lifted. That’s why bands and chains have worked so well in multi-ply.
For a raw lifter, there needs to be a maximum load in the bottom, this is where the majority of them fail. So in my opinion the best way to build the power needed in the hole to actually lift massive weights, is to lift actual bar weight up to 85% for reps, and then do overloads with very light bands. Do not exceed 110% at the top, as the deload to the hole should keep you in the 80-85% range. Getting beyond that can cause breakdown. The Soviets have proven over and over that you don’t need to train at 100% to hit 100%+ in your meets, so understand that by training sub-maximally, and with planned overloads you can slowly bring up a nagging point for lots of raw lifters.
The second way to remedy this issue is to use pause reps. This is something that I really employ due to the fact when you “pause” a squat in the hole you can never be out of position. Your body will find its strongest balance point, and if practiced enough you will learn to find that “spot” every time you squat. I have worked up to 90% for a single without a belt, but don’t feel like there is much benefit to that type of training. At Berea Barbell we use 65%-80% for various reps of 3-8, and for holds of 1-5 seconds. This type of training will also brutalize your core. So for a 3 week cycle this is what you would see.
Week 1– 70% x 3 x 6 sets, 90% x 2 w/Reverse mini bands
Pause Squats-65% x 6 x 2 sets with 3 second pauses
Week 2– 85% x 2 x 3 sets, 95% x 1 w/Reverse Mini Bands
Pause Squats- 75% x 3 x 2 sets with 2 second pause
Week 3– 90% x 1, 92.5% x 1, 105% x 1 w/reverse mini bands, 110% x 1 w/reverse mini bands
Pause Squat-85% x 1 x 2 sets with 1 second pause
With some dedication, and understanding of what your body needs you can fix any issues, but this wave, has helped not only me, but all of my training partners, and numerous Cube clients. If the hole is your problem, this is a good step towards your solution.