New Strength Cycle

20 Rep Back Squat

Athletes, we are going to embark on a journey together; one that will increase muscle strength and size, sizzle your central nervous system, and cause you to question the meaning of life. Our new strength cycle for the next 6 weeks will be the 20 rep back squat cycle. 

This is something we have done once before about five years ago as a gym. We start the cycle at a weight that is currently challenging for a set of 12 reps, and try to hit one max effort set of 20.  Each week you will add 5, 10 or 20 lbs, depending on the level of challenge from last week’s effort. 

We will learn how to maintain form and breathe under tension. We will improve our back squat posture and movement patterns while making strides in strength and endurance.  Each week will manifest a different type of mental strength for you as an athlete – this cycle is the whole package. 

A drawback to this program is that it will expose any weakness or imbalance, whether it’s one you’re currently aware of, or an issue lying passively under the surface. If your knee already has a twinge or your hip is not feeling great, this program will not do you any favors if approached with reckless abandon.  For that reason, we will be posting auxiliary exercises to serve as knee and hip-friendly options for a similar strength stimulus while reducing pain. We do not want you to go through this cycle with blinders on, ignoring strains or warning signals. Please listen to your body and take advantage of the alternative exercises as much as needed. This is all on a case-by-case basis, so ask the coach for guidance whenever you are unsure. Remember: this is not the cycle or scheme to “push through” if you think something is not feeling right. 

In class, the coach will provide a full body warm up that focuses on the lower body.  Once you get to the rack, you should hit a few warm up sets with the bar and a few with light weight. Then, you’ll work yourself up to a moderate set of 10.  If you are aiming to squat 200lbs for 20 reps, your set of 10 should be at 135-155.  After hitting the set of ten, drop your sets to 5-7 reps as you build up to 200. Once you have reached your goal weight for the day, go for it. There is no warm up set at that weight – Once you hit one set of 20, you will realize that 2 sets is not happening. 

The question on week one is: What weight should I do? This will obviously vary from athlete to athlete.  Even percentages will vary depending on top end strength and endurance.  Pick a weight that would be challenging for 12 reps.  Not impossible, not a weight for which the last rep takes 10 seconds to stand up, but a hard set of 12.  Use that as a starting point.  Go for it on week one.  Once you get that first week under your belt you will know where to go, and the coach can make a better decision on how to guide you from there. 

If you embrace this program, it will challenge you physically and mentally.  Strength is a key component when it comes to overall fitness.  If your goal is strength, weight loss or just looking and feeling better, adding lean muscle will help progress you towards your goal.

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