Earlier this year, Friendship ran the first iteration of it’s very own squat cycle. I almost hate calling it a squat cycle because it is so much more than that…so let’s talk about my story as to why I created this:
As mentioned in my “scrawny guy” post, I started weightlifting very late in life. When I began finding CrossFit as an organized sport, I found an amazing and healthy outlet for me to push myself. However, after a very rough first outing in a competition, getting effectively last place (the others around me dropped out before the final event) I recognized that it was my weightlifting that was really setting me behind. I scoured the internet for hours and asked friends in the training world what they would recommend to get strong. I was recommended “5/3/1”, at the time a relatively new squat book that was written by a powerlifter. In conjunction with CrossFit Mainsite, I had my plan.
At the time, I was a newbie lifter with no coach. The book provided some assemblance of why I was going to be doing the reps and sets, but no real additional help. My gains were large through it, as most beginner lifters experience, however I wasn’t making my squat, mobility, structure or anything else really any better. With no focus on form building or anything else, I moved into a more power-lifting style squat which would haunt me for years (still to this day) in my practice of olympic lifting. At no point was the value of being able to sit into a vertical torso ATG squat with bare feet mentioned because the goal was just “more” – More reps, more weight, all the time. It’s the powerlifting mindset.
As I progressed with the years under my belt, the training got harder and the margins of improvement thinner. I went through cycles of Hatch, Smolov, 5×5, Chinese Waves, Max Every Day, finding programs all over the internet. But they were all the same. Hit x reps for x percentage. No additional guidance, no accessory exercises, no warm-ups, no structure building, etc. etc. Now I understand that those programs fit neatly into the back pocket of lifting coaches to add to already robust training programs for athletes, where they’re receiving dedicated and advanced coaching on positions, warm-ups and accessory/rehab work. But what they don’t tell you is that if you just simply pop into these programs without that bigger picture focus, you will be wasting a lot of time and often end up injured.
That’s what happened to me. My improvements in the squat leveled off around 435lbs, but worse than not improving was experiencing pain in my knees, then in my hips, then in my back every. single. time. I squatted. You see, squats are all leverage, angles and position. Position is really power. If you cannot get into an advantageous position, then you simply cannot apply power at your max capability. Therefore, a good squat program should be equal parts: Position building & stability, as well as muscle & strength building.
Through years of work with the team at Columbus Chiropractic, and Dr. Jenny Borda I had a complete picture of MY issues, and with time and wisdom I came to realize how those problems came to the surface. I had designed multiple squat programs in the past, a few old school friendshippers will remember my waves, the super famous EMOM and variations on 7/13…but I was following the “reps & percentage” model. This time around I wanted to involve the FULL PICTURE of how you should train during a squat cycle. Everything from the recovery spectrum: sleep, nutrition, off days, rest protocols. Everything from the form building spectrum: Accessory exercises, warm-ups, cool downs, reduced reliance on gear for compensation. AND everything from the strength spectrum: don’t be fooled, this is a very challenging strength program.
I was missing that last piece. On a flight to Las Vegas 3 years earlier I came up with this concept, wrote it down in a booklet and came back to it in 2017 (on a flight to Florida). I knew I needed to spend more time researching the programs where I’d been the most successful. When I did that, I found myself looking into my training logs, into the scaling of reps and percentages, total volume, etc. But what took me a few years to see, was that every single program where I’d improved at least 5% on each my front and back squat, while remaining injury free, was when I squatted with a partner. The same person, holding each other accountable through each set. I realized that the accountability was a huge part of it…but also that I looked back on those programs fondly. I smile when I think about meeting Tony at 3pm to max out every day….the training was ridiculous, but we did it together and we had fun and we were both wildly successful. This is the THE MOST IMPORTANT PART:
It’s about the journey. Not the PRs, not that feeling you get when you finish a hard day, not that sense of accomplishment on a job well done. That stuff is awesome, sure…but it’s fleeting. Having friends who you get to laugh, smile, cheer and celebrate together with when you reach these milestones is what’s truly special. Having someone text you when you’re horribly sore “You in tomorrow?” and you accept, against all other desires. That’s what this is all about!
At Friendship, you can come and get coached through this program as it was designed to be done. If you’re not at Friendship, or the timing is tough for you, you can purchase the remote program and complete this on your own time. But recognize what this program was designed for — Do not jump into this program if you’re going to slack off on the mobility, not follow the nutrition, or do it alone in a garage. You’re not ready for it if that is still who you are…and that’s okay. It took me 8-years to recognize that is who I was. This is a progression of ourselves…this is our journey!
Watch the video for more info – Purchase information is belowRemote Program FCF Clients Non-FCF Clients Coming to Friendship