Answering Questions About Hand Supported Supramaximal Squatting

Supramaximal training is one of toughest methods out there, using numbers in excess of your 1 rep max always put fear into the heart of the seasoned lifter and athlete a like. Supramaximal training like it implies means using loads above your maximum usually a percentage from anywhere from 105-130%. The reason we can do this is because the body can usually accommodate loads in excess of our concentric maximum during eccentric and isometric movements.

I’m currently just finished with Eccentric block of this 6-8 week program, I’m currently on my first deload week. Current maxes sit about 165kg Bench 230kg Back Squat and 180kg Front Squat.

How does it work?
For 1-2 weeks you will perform eccentric squats at 120%-110% of your max on Monday, perform normal 90-97% squats on Wednesday and 110-105% eccentric squats on Friday. Deload for 1 week and perform the same with isometric squats. This is then followed by two concentric weeks at 80/90/72 as per normal triphasic training undulation.

  • Weeks 1-2 Eccentrics @ 110-120%
  • 1 Week Deload
  • Weeks 3-4 Isometrics @ 110-120%
  • 1 Week Deload
  • Weeks 5-6 Concentric @ 80%
  • Day 1 2reps with 7 seconds of time under tension.
  • Day 2 Doubles or Triples @ 90%
  • Day 3 1 Rep with 10 second of time under tension.

Usual Questions I Get about this method.

1.) Why use hand supported method?

The hands supported helps with keeping the back neutral, in a supported position, with the chest up will ensure that the lower back is well protected against harmful injuries. The support of the arms also takes balance out of the equation as supramaximal loads are being used. Increased support and the use of the arms allows for even more weight to be used than a barbell conventional squat would allow, leading to even greater stress being applied to the entire body. More stress means more adaptation. The use of the arms, along with the increased load, stresses the core to a greater extent.

2.) Why Supramaximal and not ‘normal’ eccentrics?
Remember that eccentric muscle (yielding) actions are stronger than isometric and concentric muscle actions. Eccentric movements cause both muscle and tendons to absorb very high amounts of force . This means stress on muscular structure can be amplified further if we use supramaximal loads vs submaximal loads, basically all the benefits of eccentric training but turned up to 11. A 2010 study suggested “The enhanced eccentric load apparently led to a subtly faster gene expression pattern and induced a shift towards a faster muscle phenotype plus associated adaptations that make a muscle better suited for fast, explosive movements.” This  training led to significantly increased height in a squat jump test versus conventional training. This was accompanied by significant increases in IIX fibre CSA

3.) Could this work for powerlifting?
In theory yes, this obviously isn’t as specific to back squatting as the technique is slightly different. I have measured transfer to back squat and front squat, vertical jump and broad jump. This however was with highly trained athletes with a good level of strength.

4.) Could you do this for upper body?
Possibly, but risk of injury is enormous, lowerbody can tolerate enormous loads where as upper body in my opinion has a lower eccentric tolerances especially in pressing more in pulling. If you do I would suggest a 4 or 5 day upper lower split.

Below are my days 1 and 3 on the supramaximal squat.

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