Towards the end of 2014, I helped publish SquatStrong with Cam Birtwell. It is an eBook that includes a strength program, along with a comprehensive explanation and discussion of the movements, protocols, and theories involved. We describe it on the website as, “A Revolutionary Squat Program for Strength and Power.” What exactly is so revolutionary about it?
Simply put, it is a squat program designed for concurrent training. In other words, it is geared towards athletes competing in sports OTHER THAN powerlifting. This may not sound like much, but it is actually quite contrarian and fills a noticeable gap in the current range of popular online options. Now, there are certainly programs available that will produce results, but they may not be optimal for fitness competitors, team sports athletes, or anyone else that needs to practice a range of other skills.
The reason these other programs may be less than ideal is that they were designed BY lifters FOR lifters. For example, I’ve seen excellent improvements in my squat using the infamous Smolov cycle, but it requires you to squat 3-4 days per week for close to 3 months. This is NOT conducive to being able to train hard in other areas like running (or walking, or getting out of bed).
The popular Conjugate method made famous by Westside Barbell is certainly effective. However, the typical exercise selection is only appropriate for a very small demographic: the regular use of bands and chains is entirely specific to the act of lifting while wearing a powerlifting “squat suit,” or “bench shirt,” which is a piece of equipment only used by some lifters in some federations. It provides massive support in the bottom position, leading much of the training to focus on the lockout at the top position. This focus is highly sport specific and largely irrelevant for most other trainees.
The 5/3/1 program from Wendler has also proven effective for me, and involves a much more reasonable progression… almost TOO reasonable. The single max-effort set once per week produces gains and allows other training to take place, but it takes many cycles to finally see substantial improvements, and is the type of program that you want to follow for 1-2 years without interruption. As an athlete with a dynamic, jam-packed season, I need to be able to shift my focus more rapidly and fluidly throughout the year. I need to bump up my numbers and move on to something else.
Enter the SquatStrong program. It is 6 weeks of work, allowing you to capture some strength gains and then change your training focus if needed. It prescribes 2 sessions per week: one heavy, and one dynamic. This allows room for recovery and concurrent training for your real sport. The program includes 4 different types of squat workouts; the exercise selection is unique and varied, attacking your 1RM from a number of angles. Muscular development, neural recruitment and power, technique, and positional strength: all of these are important.
Everything in the program, from the weekly percentage progressions, to the dynamic exercise selections and accessory work, is designed to produce the most bang for your buck. We want maximal results with minimal damage, so that we can keep kicking butt outside the squat rack. To my knowledge, this is the only program available online that accomplishes this; it is a squat program created with athletes in mind.