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Written by Jim Beam

No matter if your a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, we all want big powerful legs. Big legs when your a bodybuilder are so necessary for a complete package. They donít have to be necessarily strong.. but big and cut. On the other hand, for powerlifters size isnít so much a factor as strength, although the two go generally hand in hand. This article is designed to provide only information for the squat and no other leg exercises.

First, lets cover the proper execution of the squat:

1) Generally, as a rule, unless very experienced, ALWAYS WEAR A HIGH QUALITY BELT! remember, safety first. A good belt provides the necessary support for your middle to lower back and not only helps prevent injury, but stabilizes this area to allow for greater potential of your strength, thus growth.

Many people think that the belt is designed to support the lower back since it provides a kind of wall to rest against. Not really. What the belt does, is to wrap around the body universally, thus providing for equally distributed internal forces. These forces are generated by extreme pressures which emanate from inside the body as you are squatting. They reach their highest pressures when you are at the deepest part of your squat. These forces press outwards from the center, to your greater outer circumference of the belt, thus providing for equalized force through-out the body, and not just your back.

If you are experienced in squatting and have tried different belts out there and have compared a Valeo or Joe Weider belt, to a good thick powerlifting belt, then you know that you can squat much more weight, SAFER!

Why is this possible? Powerlifting belts are designed thicker and much sturdier in construction, thus providing for more efficient internal pressures. I would honestly say, that the average novice lifter, can expect a 50 lbs. jump in squat strength the very first time he puts on one of these belts! And youíll feel so much better squatting down.

I can truthfully say, that in 22 years of lifting, I have never hurt my back using one of these belts, and neither has any lifter I have ever trained.

They work!!! They work VERY GOOD!

Well, enough said about belts, lets cover setting up for the squat:

1) Set a realistic strategy for a squat routine and strength goals you have in mind, beginning with your warm up set. I do allot of warm-ups, progressively increasing the weight as I go, but very few reps.

2) To set up for the squat, get your warm up weight on the bar. Usually, a fairly good shape person has no problem warming up with 135 lbs, this is 1-45 lbs. weight on each side of the bar.

3) Once your weight is loaded, make sure your collars are secure.

4) Stand about 2 feet back from the bar, (chalk the bar if you have some)..and eyeball your hands, one at a time. (Its very important that you set up properly for the squat). Make sure that both hands are at exact locations on the bar.

5) Once your hands are locked firmly around the bar, walk towards the bar, eyeing the very middle, never loss eye contact, focus in the middle. This is where your head is going under, so stay focused so you donít lose your place (unless you have a mirror, then this is easy, but still, never stop looking at the middle, watch yourself as you step under the weight). *Remember: You donít want to squat down with weight that is off center of your back.. you could seriously hurt yourself!

6) Once under the weight, get the weight firmly and securely on your back. Many new lifters do whatís called Olympic style squatting. They tend to place the bar high on the back, right under the neck. This makes squatting much more difficult as it tends to throw you forward (especially as you get tired!) Try to put the bar a little lower on the back. Ideally, the bar should rest comfortably on your Posterior Deltoids (your rear Delts!). You will lean slightly forward, but back straight.

7) Once you have the bar positioned stand up. Make sure you donít have one leg in front of the other (like splits!) Always, put your feet side by side, with knees bent.. then just stand up.

8) Take a step back, keep your head up, eyes always looking straight ahead, or straight up. Remember, the bar will follow your head!! Back stiff and straight! Medium stance with your legs and feet, then lower yourself to parallel.

*I recommend squatting deep, below parallel at least 80-85% of the time. Donít bow your legs in or out, stabilize them and drop your hips. A wider stance will make squatting deeper and easier!

*Squat Routine:

Your primary goal for building mass is to squat at about 75%-80% for reps of 5. This builds what I call the Medium Heavy range, not enough to hurt you, but enough to really push for mass and strength.

Hereís a routine for a 400 lbs. squatter:

Warm-up.............135 lbs. x8-10 Deep!

Warm-up.............185 lbs. x2-3 Deep!

Warm-up.............225 lbs. x1-2 Deep!

*Remember: Go after each warm-up, like its a world record and try to SMOKE IT! The easier each set feels warming up, the easier the next set will feel. Strong and fast.

Warm-up..............275 lbs. x1...below parallel.

*Also...remember to be resting 3-5 minutes to get maximum results between sets!!!

Warm-up..............315 lbs. x1...below parallel.

Warm-up..............365 lbs. x1...below parallel.

Max Single..........400lbs....x1...parallel or below.

You donít have to max every week, I just wanted you to see how it works.

After your 400 lbs, go down to 315 lbs.

Do 315 lbs..........x 5 reps...Below parallel. This is called your Medium Heavy training weight. Do at least 3 full sets, with no help, then go up 5 pounds the following week. You can go up to 5 sets of 5 reps if you want to, but I wouldnít go past that.

After you've completed your medium heavy training, come down and do some Olympic squats!! I donít believe in pyramiding, going all the way up, then coming all the way down, but I do believe in Olympic squats. Olympic squats are done with no equipment, bar high on the neck, feet very narrow, about a foot to 18 inches apart. Keep your Head UP!!! Look up!! This is much more difficult to do and will require more concentration. keep your back FLAT! Drop your hips down to the floor. You should be able to get your butt about 3-5 inches from the floor, if you do this correctly!

For a 400 lbs. squatter, I think that 185-205 for reps of 10-12 VERY DEEP!! will be fine. Do 3-5 sets of these and no more. These will really help your balance for your heavier squats and will TOAST your quad's (the front of your legs.) *I only do these once a week!

This is a very fundamental routine that will yield fabulous results. I will get into box squatting in another issue!


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Neither nor the authors of this publication assume any liability for the information contained herein. The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.

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