Death Ground Squats

I love and loath Wednesday equally, why? Its Heavy Squat day. In particular Death Ground Squat Day!

The Death Ground Squat, “Death Ground Squatting” is simply EMOM (sometimes longer) 90-97% of max vs speed drop off. Sounds simple enough.Why Death Ground?  Well you must squat like your life depends on it.

Those are Kilo’s not lbs before any americans get wise

The parameters are this; we squat at 90%+ load every minute on the minute (EMOM) until we see a degradation in rep speed and movement quality. Across an array of athletes most can achieve 5-8 reps with 1:00 rest between reps. Why perform repeated singles? Well with high reps with high loads the neuromuscular system will fatigue to the point where a second set will not resemble the first. Why rest 1:00? This is enough time for the CP system to recover and also keep the nervous system in an excited state. This is a very time-efficient way to develop skill and capacity. You have about 6 seconds of quality very high intensity work in you. Go beyond that and we start using energy pathways we should avoid and see a speed and nervous system degredation.

By hitting regular singles we can achieve a higher volume of high quality work at a high intensity. I found attempting 90%+ lifts using 3 x 3 the third set looked awful, despite Zatsiorsky (Science and Practice of Strength Training) suggesting the this the best place to acquire strength. Id rather have 9 high quality reps than 3 good ones followed by 6 ugly ones.

However lifting 90%+ has too many benefits to ignore. (I pulled this list from a tony Gentlecore article)

1) Maximum number of MU’s are recruited
2) Fastest MU’s are activated
3) The discharge frequency (rate coding) is increased
4) Activity is synchronous
5) Improved coordination between synergistic muscle
6) Potential for future hypertrophy gains
7) Increased serum Testosterone levels

We use either a timed drop off, velocity measurement or coach determined drop in rep speed. Cal Dietz recomends 8% for advanced athletes. That represents roughly 3 seconds + .3 seconds I try account for hand timed difference so take that to .5. A tendo would do the job better, due to human error. I prefer the eye method from a spotter on 90% squats or the usage of a velocity measurement tool (looking for a 10% drop off in speed or power). What we usually find is the first rep is slow and subsequent sets faster up until on average reps 6-8 unless they are having a really bad day. Load and activation/arousal of the athletes matters. From my personal notes from the past 5 weeks. The whole cycle in 6 weeks. Monday and Friday are triphasic squatting days.

Undulated based on feel(90,92.5,95,90,92.5,95 would be a good planned undulation)

Wk1 90% 6 sets Completed
Wk2 90% 8 sets Completed
Wk3 92.5% 12 Sets Completed (feeling very amped)
Wk4 95% 6 Sets Completed
Wk5 92.5% 4 Sets Completed (feeling sluggish due to throat infection, should have dropped to 90%)
Wk6 Planned 90%

The Golden Rule and doing it.
No grinding! As soon as you hit a grind you are done! As a rule we want consistent fluid movement throughout the rep, as soon as significant slow down or technical breakdown occurs you can start unloading the plates, every rep should look the same. This is not a time for ego. Additionally this is not a beginner approach, I use this only with athletes that can hit a 1.5-1.7+ BW back squat.

My Squat numbers are a respectable for a natural lifter with crappy leverages for squatting. I’d much prefer to deadlift if I had my choice. Those of you that know me personally will know I suffered a serious knee injury in late 2012 and was probably more devastated at what it did to my squat numbers than anything else. I set myself a goal of restablishing my double BW back squat this time last year. Now I’m hitting that for 8-12 singles for the same number of minutes. And I’ll be honest it feels great. Enter the death ground and be not afraid!

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