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Squat ROM: Weight vs Depth?
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FamilyMan

Missouri, USA

I have a question about range of motion with the Barbell Back Squat. How deep should I squat? Can a person squat deep with heavy weight?

In past experiences with High Volume training, my goal for ROM has been to squat with thighs near parallel to the floor. I got up to 450#. Trying to go deeper with that much weight felt dangerous.

I have been reading the NEW HIT book, and I believe it describes proper ROM for a squat to touch your Ham to Calf. Whew! That is low!

I decided to give it a try with a low weight. I started with the bar to learn balance, and have quickly worked up to 185#. I notice MUCH more burn & work in the HAMS and GLUTES. Is this a correct assessment of deep squats?

I know sky is the limit, but I wonder if I can count on deep squat weight being lighter than 1/2 squat. OR, will my lagging muscles catch up as I practice this technique?
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

I personally found that deep squatting worked well for thigh girth, that full stretch helps stimulate growth.

The problem with safety and why so many either love or hate squats is the discrepancy in leverage as you go. The top is so bloody easy relative to the bottom unless you cheat big time with your low back (and God forbid bouncing). People just try for to much weight and can't go low. You get that big break of the top half and the negative (which is effectively 40% lighter) then try for another rep in the bottom. With too much load cheating and injury are hard to avoid.

I train squats in JRep style which means I work the bottom different than the top. A typical set would go like this: I warm up by loading up significantly more weight than I can handle for a full squat and just work the top half to failure.

I go for about 45 seconds if I can do more than that I raise the weight. Next I stop, strip the load to lower than what I use for full squats and work the bottom half to failure. I work the bottom half for about 35 seconds and if I can't get that I don?t reduce the load.

I go up to the top for short breaks during the bottom half set until I build up enough strength to handle the load for a full 35 seconds in the bottom half. The full ROM is still covered in 90-100 seconds and my legs are far more thoroughly blasted than with any other type of squat format I have tried (20's, rest pause, strip sets, break downs etc)

Regards,
Andrew
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FamilyMan

Missouri, USA

OR, maybe I am misunderstanding Hams to Calves. The picture in the HIT book might be a little lower than what I used to do, but not much. However, I have read some other things on this site & elsewhere that lead me to believe HIT squat is intended to be SOOO low.
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FamilyMan

Missouri, USA

AShortt wrote:
I train squats in JRep style which means I work the bottom different than the top. A typical set would go like this: I warm up by loading up significantly more weight than I can handle for a full squat and just work the top half to failure.

I go for about 45 seconds if I can do more than that I raise the weight. Next I stop, strip the load to lower than what I use for full squats and work the bottom half to failure.Regards,
Andrew


This J-Rep style that you speak of sounds like a wise way to work. If I am understanding correctly, you blast more fibers during the upper ROM by using a higher weight. THEN you use a greater ROM with a lighter / safer weight, to stretch the pre-exhausted Hams & Glutes further. The best of both worlds.

Is this a method of squatting you would perform all the time, or would that lead to overtraining?
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

I do very little full range of motion reps anymore, everything is in zones. With the squat I am NOT doing just the top/easy half with the extra load then the full range of motion. I am doing the top half with extra load then 'only' the bottom half with reduced load.

Regards,
Andrew
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BF Bullpup

Massachusetts, USA

I wouldn't say that you're supposed to squat low when training HIT, but squats are much more effective when you use the maximum range of motion that your body allows. Swallow your ego for your legs' sake.
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Bill Crawford

Arizona, USA

For anyone who has an OME (Nautilus Omni Multi Exercise) hip-belt squats are awesome witht his machine (you need to build a little platform).

The way the weight loads through the hips allows you to keep your shin much closer to vertical. This means you can squat very deep without hurting your knees.

Thanks,

Mac
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Bill Crawford

Arizona, USA

I decided to try Jrep style squats as Andrew outlined them last night.

I think I will continue. I can't remember the last time my legs were pumped like that.

Today, my legs thighs are fairly sore, but feel like they were really worked. My glutes are also wiped out. I think spending that second half of the set down in the "low" zone was very taxing.

Andrew. Do you notice a large difference in weight that you can handle in the zones? When doing full range hip belt squats, I was using 280lb for a tul of about 50 seconds. W

With the Jreps, I used 325lb on the top portion. I t ried to use 240lb on the bottom portion, but I could only get about 15 seconds.

I'm using a Nautilus OME, and the negative cam on that machine makes the resistance at the top significantly greater, so the difference in poundage is even greater than 325 vs 240.

Do you ever do the lower part first?

Thanks,

Mac
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Cherry

bmaclean wrote:
I decided to try Jrep style squats as Andrew outlined them last night.

I think I will continue. I can't remember the last time my legs were pumped like that.

Today, my legs thighs are fairly sore, but feel like they were really worked. My glutes are also wiped out. I think spending that second half of the set down in the "low" zone was very taxing.

Andrew. Do you notice a large difference in weight that you can handle in the zones? When doing full range hip belt squats, I was using 280lb for a tul of about 50 seconds. W

With the Jreps, I used 325lb on the top portion. I t ried to use 240lb on the bottom portion, but I could only get about 15 seconds.

I'm using a Nautilus OME, and the negative cam on that machine makes the resistance at the top significantly greater, so the difference in poundage is even greater than 325 vs 240.

Do you ever do the lower part first?

Thanks,

Mac



Not surprising considering the leverage changes that occur along a full ROM rep allowing the muscle to "rest" and recover during the set. With isotonic training you are limited to only the resistance you can lift concentrically at its weakest point. IOW, a very small portion of the range may be dictating your poundage.

I was talking about just this very thing awhile back about "squeezing the juice" each set; and that Tom Platz once said that an experienced BB uses his body as a cam to get most out of each set.

The problem with this method is one of measurement. Because full ROM sets are standardized, I would establish a baseline of (full ROM) strength in each core exercises, then retest after a period. Afterall, strength is the most reliable record of improvement. If you're getting bigger you're getting stronger.

:)
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Bill Crawford

Arizona, USA

Cherry,

I think you're correct. Your explanation squares with my experience.

I noticed that the "low" zone was an absolute killer, and actually quite painful. Like I mentioned, it was only 15 seconds, but 15 straight seconds in the lower half of the squat with no rest is probably a lot harder than the typical rep, where I don't stay in the lower portion that long.

I am always careful not to bounce, and try to do my reps reasonably slowly, but I still probably get a little rest on every rep by coming out of the "kill zone" each time I extend. The cam on the OME is by design a compromise based on lots of different exercises, and I don't even know if squats were ever considered when designing the machine.

I like your idea of sticking with the Jreps style for a while, but going back to full ROM every so often for measurement.

My legs haven't really grown in the last year (I'm 43, so I don't expect huge gains anyway), but I'll see what this can do. It sure *feels* like I worked extraordinarily hard last night.

Thanks,

Mac
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Iamlegend

ass to the grass You should prob look up some of Dr Ken E Leister's articles on squatting his guys only ever do ATG
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

bmaclean wrote:
I decided to try Jrep style squats as Andrew outlined them last night.

I think I will continue. I can't remember the last time my legs were pumped like that.

Today, my legs thighs are fairly sore, but feel like they were really worked. My glutes are also wiped out. I think spending that second half of the set down in the "low" zone was very taxing.

Andrew. Do you notice a large difference in weight that you can handle in the zones? When doing full range hip belt squats, I was using 280lb for a tul of about 50 seconds. W

With the Jreps, I used 325lb on the top portion. I t ried to use 240lb on the bottom portion, but I could only get about 15 seconds.

I'm using a Nautilus OME, and the negative cam on that machine makes the resistance at the top significantly greater, so the difference in poundage is even greater than 325 vs 240.

Do you ever do the lower part first?

Thanks,

Mac


The Nautilus OME is friggen great, one day ONE DAY I will fit one into my basement! ;^)

In the beginning I really had to unload for the bottom half and yes I do it the other way and variations. When I saw how much I needed to unload the bottom I was grossed out and here is what I did:

I worked the bottom zone first fresh and when I neared failure I went and warmed up the top for a bit of a rest. Then I went back down to the bottom to failure. This gave me a better overall TUT in the bottom without killing my ego by lowering the load even more! It sounds silly but it worked and with my emotional state intact I work harder ;^) Next I locked out for 15 seconds and controlled my breath then worked the top half to failure and finished with a killer slow neg. right to the very bottom. Fun Stuff!

Once you get over the weight thing JReps is big time fun to train with.

Regards,
Andrew
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

bmaclean wrote:

I noticed that the "low" zone was an absolute killer, and actually quite painful. Like I mentioned, it was only 15 seconds, but 15 straight seconds in the lower half of the squat with no rest is probably a lot harder than the typical rep, where I don't stay in the lower portion that long.

Thanks,

Mac


You will get better results by getting more like 30 seconds in any 'half' zone. See my previous post to you for a possible approach other than lowering load for the bottom more.

Regards,
Andrew
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Bill Crawford

Arizona, USA

Andrew,

Thanks for the tips. I am going to try the method you outlined, and I'll let you know how it went. With the way my legs feel right now, I probably won't work out again until Tuesday!

Thanks,

Mac
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FamilyMan

Missouri, USA

stephend wrote:
ass to the grass You should prob look up some of Dr Ken E Leister's articles on squatting his guys only ever do ATG


Ass to the Grass is the phrase I had in mind for HIT full ROM squats. Is this HIT oriented, or just a descriptive phrase for full squats?

J-Reps sound like they have solid HIT theory behind them.
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hit4all

Sweden

Today I tried for the first time squats, JREP-style thirds (3 zones).

This exercise is one of the few I think many (doubters/confused/ignorant/scared?) people will start to understand (as I'm doing) the benifits/strengths of performing exercises in zones.

My intention was to do halves, but after I performed bottom/stretched zone to parallell (NTF 12-reps approx. 30 seconds) I felt the need to train a third zone instead of completing a second 1/2. I'm glad I did because I managed to duplicate the result from the first bottom zone. When I went to the top/contracted zone (without locking out), the weight I picked (60kg) wasn't light at all.

Summary, I didn't go to failure at any zone (due to experimenting my first attempt at squats in JREP-style), but the legs felt well-through-trained. I'm happy to be able to give the squats a more honestly chanse now since training JREP-style won't make my back the weak link (as full ROM did).

I suggest you all that find zone training interesting but haven't tried it yet, start with squats performed in 1/2s zones (bottom/stretched --> top/contracted) or 1/3s(bottom/stretched --> middle --> top/contracted) zones. Very interesting indeed!

Be well, train hard & think smart!
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

From my squat article at baye.com/articles/the_barbell_squat.html

"Keeping your head up and back straight, slowly begin to allow your knees to bend, going all the way down until the backs of your thighs just touch the backs of your calves. Do not go down further, as this shifts the fulcrum from the knee to the point of contact between the thigh and calf muscles, stretching the ligaments and tendons around the knee joint."

Depending on the size of your hamstrings and calves, this is pretty close to "ass to grass", without stressing the ligaments across the front of the knee too much.
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

hit4all wrote:
Today I tried for the first time squats, JREP-style thirds (3 zones).

This exercise is one of the few I think many (doubters/confused/ignorant/scared?) people will start to understand (as I'm doing) the benifits/strengths of performing exercises in zones.

My intention was to do halves, but after I performed bottom/stretched zone to parallell (NTF 12-reps approx. 30 seconds) I felt the need to train a third zone instead of completing a second 1/2. I'm glad I did because I managed to duplicate the result from the first bottom zone. When I went to the top/contracted zone (without locking out), the weight I picked (60kg) wasn't light at all.

Summary, I didn't go to failure at any zone (due to experimenting my first attempt at squats in JREP-style), but the legs felt well-through-trained. I'm happy to be able to give the squats a more honestly chanse now since training JREP-style won't make my back the weak link (as full ROM did).

I suggest you all that find zone training interesting but haven't tried it yet, start with squats performed in 1/2s zones (bottom/stretched --> top/contracted) or 1/3s(bottom/stretched --> middle --> top/contracted) zones. Very interesting indeed!

Be well, train hard & think smart!


Glad to hear you having fun! One word of caution - when you go to failure you may find the burn too much (at least the first handful of times you try) to do thirds. I do halves more because my legs burn too much to allow for real failure in the middle. When I do work thirds, I go to the top first to full lockout then descend into the middle. In other words if burn is getting you don't stop, go to the top and let it subside slightly. There is nothing wrong with that and is just a fine-tuning of the zones.

Regards,
Andrew
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hit4all

Sweden

AShortt wrote:
Glad to hear you having fun! One word of caution - when you go to failure you may find the burn too much (at least the first handful of times you try) to do thirds. I do halves more because my legs burn too much to allow for real failure in the middle. When I do work thirds, I go to the top first to full lockout then descend into the middle.


If I'm reading between the lines correctly, you go to the bottom/stretched positon first (first zone), then you go to the top/contracted position (second zone)? Or do you skip the bottom position?

In other words if burn is getting you don't stop, go to the top and let it subside slightly. There is nothing wrong with that and is just a fine-tuning of the zones.

Regards,
Andrew


I hear you on this one. I will try it if my legs starts to take fire! :)
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

hit4all wrote:
AShortt wrote:
Glad to hear you having fun! One word of caution - when you go to failure you may find the burn too much (at least the first handful of times you try) to do thirds. I do halves more because my legs burn too much to allow for real failure in the middle. When I do work thirds, I go to the top first to full lockout then descend into the middle.

If I'm reading between the lines correctly, you go to the bottom/stretched positon first (first zone), then you go to the top/contracted position (second zone)? Or do you skip the bottom position?



Yes bottom half (stretch) zone first then up to the top half (contracted) zone. For the top half if I feel real fresh I don't just do the top half. What I do is decend as far as I feel I can get back from then as fatigue sets in I do less and less. That is, I reduce the top half zone size by lowering less each time (not going as far down toward stretch. By the time I finish I am only working like the top 1/6 to failure and my legs are fried! It works out like this:

Zone 1 - bottom half/stretch zone.
Zone 2 - top 2/3 of the entire ROM for a few reps, then top 1/2, then top 1/4, 1/5, 1/6.

Regards,
Andrew
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hit4all

Sweden

Ahh, I see. Allmost like taking "two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back.......", but with some stamping on the place. A "dynamic zone" so to say, the zone starts to shrink (or move) as the fatique increase....

What would you call a set when you do this from the bottom all the way to the top (or the other way depending on the nature of the exercise and it's equipment)? What I mean is, if a zone starts from 1 and ends with 10 it would be something like this:

1-2-3,-2-1,-2-3,-2-1,-2-3-4,
-3-2,-3-4,-3-2,-3-4-5,-4-3,
-4-5,-4-3,-4-5-6......

(The "comma" indicates a change in direction within the working zone).

Slowly the beginning of the zone (1 and 2 and 3 etc) will be fatiqued and the trainer works towards the other end of the zone (9 and 10).

I think it would work best with equipment that gives a flat resistance curve (corresping to the individuals strength curve) so no sticking points exists. Then it would be possible to start from one end to another end without having to bother anything on the way. what do you think?
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

hit4all wrote:
Ahh, I see. Allmost like taking "two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back.......", but with some stamping on the place. A "dynamic zone" so to say, the zone starts to shrink (or move) as the fatique increase....

What would you call a set when you do this from the bottom all the way to the top (or the other way depending on the nature of the exercise and it's equipment)? What I mean is, if a zone starts from 1 and ends with 10 it would be something like this:

1-2-3,-2-1,-2-3,-2-1,-2-3-4,
-3-2,-3-4,-3-2,-3-4-5,-4-3,
-4-5,-4-3,-4-5-6......

(The "comma" indicates a change in direction within the working zone).

Slowly the beginning of the zone (1 and 2 and 3 etc) will be fatiqued and the trainer works towards the other end of the zone (9 and 10).

I think it would work best with equipment that gives a flat resistance curve (corresping to the individuals strength curve) so no sticking points exists. Then it would be possible to start from one end to another end without having to bother anything on the way. what do you think?



That is one incarnation of a JRep Fractal. The pattern is close to a traditional stutter rep pattern and the zones are fractalled (NOT just made smaller). A force curve that gets easier to one end works best. The cumlative fatigue with a flat cam stops you to early unless you strip weight as you go. Even a cam that drops off is not enough, the cumlative fatigue and burn hold you back.

Darn nice to see someone thinking 'in the zone' ;^)

Regards,
Andrew
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hit4all

Sweden

AShortt wrote:
A force curve that gets easier to one end works best. The cumlative fatigue with a flat cam stops you to early unless you strip weight as you go. Even a cam that drops off is not enough, the cumlative fatigue and burn hold you back.

Darn nice to see someone thinking 'in the zone' ;^)

Regards,
Andrew


Ahh, a misstake from my side! Of course the resistance should decrease in proportion to the increasing fatique. Otherwise one have to, as you said, strip the weight in order to continue in the described manner above.

I guess this is one of the key elements why you like to workout on the Bowflex since the technique/method mentioned above would fit it rather well on the equipment?!

Thanks for the reply, I really try hard to "zone" my mind.
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Bill Crawford

Arizona, USA

Hi Andrew,

I just did Jrep squats on the OME as follows:

(First) Lower: 240 /lb 36 seconds. 24 seeconds without a rest, then the burn was killing so I went up top for 8 seconds, and and then went to failure.

(Second) Top Zone: 270lb 41 seconds to failure.

One negative to finish.

Once again legs are very pumped.

I am wiped out. Temperature probabably is part of the problem, because I live in AZ, and my home gym is separate from the house. I normally turn on the air in the gym a 1/2 hr prior to workout, but forgot tonight. Anyway, I am interested in finding out about the the 3 way split that you use.

I am generally a fan of full body workout, but if my legs are going to take this much out of me, I may want to try a split.

Thanks,

Mac
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FamilyMan

Missouri, USA

hit4all wrote:
My intention was to do halves, but after I performed bottom/stretched zone to parallell (NTF 12-reps approx. 30 seconds) I felt the need to train a third zone instead of completing a second 1/2.


I had opportunity to do J-reps yesterday. I felt the same as hit4all. While doing reps in the bottom 1/2, I could feel a definite shift point where it got easier - about 1/3 up. I can see a use for 3 distinct levels.

My trial yesterday was LOW reps with 135, then bump up to 225 for the top 1/2. This demanded a lot of energy, but it felt beneficial. I'm interested to keep experimenting.
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