Supramaximal squatting experiment

Or how to add 10kg/22lbs to your squat max in 6 weeks.
One of my aims for this year was to squat 220kg. Ever since I blew out my LCL doing BJJ in 2013 I have wanted to go above and beyond my preinjury max of 190kg. I tested my max in the Power and Strength Maxout session we host at Mi-gym in chelmsford every 12 or so weeks. I hit a decent 210kg but came up short with 220kg getting pinned at the bottom. Rather than admit defeat I decided I needed to do something dramatic.
I recalled the XLathlete website had Advanced methods in triphasic training from Cal Dietz 2014 NSCA conference. The most advanced (toughest) manifestation of the triphasic training program. I wanted something that would give me a huge jolt and this was it.
Why Supramaximal Squatting?
Personally I wanted a challenge, change and a swim in the deep end of the training pool. But the benefits are numerous. The main one for me being the compressed training effect. If I could make 220kg in 6 weeks that would be outstanding I thought. There also a number of acute physiological  changes that supramaximal training forces on the body.
I have always responded well to eccentric focused training and very intensive low volume training methods. So for me this type of programming while potentially tricky would probably give me the boost I needed to reach for a PR back-squat quickly.
The Program
Loading Parameters for each day over superamaximal eccentric and isometric weeks
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%
  • Weeks 3-4 Isometrics @ 110-120%
  • Weeks 5-6 Concentric @ 80%
  • Day 1 I did a cluster for 2reps with 7 seconds of time under tension.With 10s rest between reps
  • Day 2 I did Death Ground style singles using PUSH band to measure velocity.
  • Day 3 I did 4 singles for 7-10 seconds of time under tension.

Cal Dietz recommends single leg safety bar squats in his program outline. We lack that specific piece of equipment so I did straight back squats.

    On each rep I was assisted out of the hole by spotters. Work set on Day 1 was followed by french contrast.

    Part of the Template for Eccentric Weeks

    Now this type of training comes with a huge caveat;

    You will need 3 people to spot you 
    How I convinced these mugs to help me in not sure.
    On the lighter day of the week I managed with one strong spotter (thanks Brad) but this is inherently risky!
    Managing stress, potentiation and difficulties
    This program is HARD, really hard. After week 1 I have never been so sore, it abates after a week  but a subtle ache persists throughout the program. Its why perhaps Dietz recommends 1-2 weeks on each tempo focus with a week deload between each. I had to make sure I rolled, sauna’d and stretched religiously, as this type of work really made my rectus femoris (an acute problem for me) on both legs quite tight which can lead me to anterior knee discomfort if not managed. To check my recovery and determine loading for supramaximal squat of the day and worked to 80% (180kg) for 3 reps measuring velocities on each day. If velocities were good I would go to the heavier end of allowable range, if they sucked like they did on weeks 2 and 4 I went I little lighter.

    The potentiation this program gave me was enourmous, my velocities on Day 2 Jumped even after the first session I gained nearly 0.1 m/s. Lifts that where hard at 90% (190kg) suddenly  jumped up in speed. I felt so good I finished the cycle hitting 97.5% (205kg) for multiple singles on day 2.

    The Isometric portion of the program was the trickiest, holding for 7-10second at the bottom of a maximal squat is easily the hardest thing I have ever done in training. And my lower back and knees did’nt like it much either.

    Results and Thoughts

    In six weeks I managed to add 10kg to my squat as I had intended to do. My training partner Brad coming back from a lay off added 5kg to his all time PB of 170kg with a 175kg squat (up from 160kg as a recent bench mark). I was impressed how much it does compress the training effect and how much potentiation it gave me with very heavy squats. It taught me a lot about the extremes to which you can push your body. 240kg eccentric squat for 7 seconds certainly shows you where you draw the line in mental and physical toughness.

    Would I do this program again? Probably not! This method is just too brutal and is a huge pain in the ass to set up requiring 3 spotters to ensure safety and even in a busy gym like ours, finding people to help isn’t always easy. I can see how in a controlled athletic environment with proper recovery methods this could be broken out for 6 weeks to really give an athlete a jolt.

    I think it is important to experiment and push yourself and this program certainly was an education in both.

    So for now taking some time off heavy squatting, to do more BJJ and work on my tan and bicep curl.

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    1 thought on “Supramaximal squatting experiment”

    1. Buddy! You are the shit! One of the best articles I ever found about supramaximal training.
      Keep up the great work!!!

      Regards from Germany

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