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Squat Proficiency
Written by Jim Napier
06/2016
Some lifters are told to squat every day and some every other day. Some are told to squat first and some after the competition lifts. These are interesting subjects, but I don’t believe they cause near as many problems as squatting slow (slower than 1.5 seconds when standing up with the weight). Slow and grinding squats can cause a multitude of problems which are listed below.

1) Slow grinding squats (deceleration) fail to train the fast twitch to respond proficiently during a snatch or clean & jerk.

2) Deceleration during a squat develops too much of the slow twitch fibers, those fibers also need to be able to respond as proficiently as possible.

3) Deceleration also take longer to physically recover from and can have a negative impact on subsequent sessions where the responsiveness from the legs is needed most, as when training the snatch and/or clean & jerk.

More weight can be handled in the squat by moving slower, because forces are decreased as the mass increases, until the lifer is moving almost at a snails pace (usually through the sticking point). In order to move a necessary amount of weight one second or faster takes a lot of dedication, patience and will power. It also takes a stop watch or preferably a camera and a playback device that can step the frames one at a time.

Times in motion are very important to know and understand as those times in the squats and pulls will relate to the competition lifts and will need to be linked together by technique and velocity.

The slower and grinding the squats are then more stress and tension is placed on the muscles and adrenaline system. And over long periods of time these tensions will make the muscles slower not faster and the lifter is more likely to become stagnant sooner than they would have otherwise had they squatted using faster times (non decelerated velocities).

The weightlifter is always tempted to test themselves and see how much they can lift in all flavor of lifts, such as the muscle snatch, snatching off boxes, hang clean, jerk out of the rack and just about anything imaginable that can be created using a barbell. My advice is don’t. The only lifts that ever need to be tested are the snatch and clean & jerk and then mostly in meets and somewhat seldom in training. The squats and pulls should never be tested at maximum weight, only maximal velocity vs precision. It does make training a little more mundane and even boring at times, but by the same token if setting PRs in a menagerie of lifts is what excites a person then they are no longer training, but are in a constant state of competition and have adopted the career ending problem of being a gym lifter.
The lifter that is always testing their squats and pulls at maximum efforts regardless of the velocity will become a powerlifting weightlifter. Which means they will be somewhat mediocre in both sports. Now some lifters have achieved some success training the squats and pulls as a powerlifter by using slow grinding efforts with maximal weight, but none have or will ever become world champions.

The weightlifter is always tempted to test themselves and see how much they can lift in all flavor of lifts, such as the muscle snatch, snatching off boxes, hang clean, jerk out of the rack and just about anything imaginable that can be created using a barbell. My advice is don’t. The only lifts that ever need to be tested are the snatch and clean & jerk and then mostly in meets and somewhat seldom in training. The squats and pulls should never be tested at maximum weight, only maximal velocity vs precision. It does make training a little more mundane and even boring at times, but by the same token if setting PRs in a menagerie of lifts is what excites a person then they are no longer training, but are in a constant state of competition and have adopted the career ending problem of being a gym lifter.

A lifter that is always testing their squats and pulls at maximum efforts regardless of the velocity will become a powerlifting weightlifter. Which means they will be somewhat mediocre in both sports. Some lifters have achieved a modicum of success training the squats and pulls using slow grinding efforts at maximal weight, but none have or will ever become world champions, at least no one since Paul Anderson has achieved such acclaim.

Squatting proficiency can be described as increases in mass always being achieved with a constant amount of velocity. For example, a lifter sets a squat PR of 200k in 1 second and a month later does 210k in 1 second. This achieves both an increase in mass and at the same velocity.

Increases in the squats cannot be forced. The squats must increase along with the clean & jerk increase. This can only happen when consistent times in motion are being adhered to. It is far easier, although more stressful, to squat slower in order to handle more weight than it is to move as fast as possible up to the point of deceleration. It takes some will power to stop at that point instead of adding more weight. There is a big difference in developing leg power and leg speed. Leg power is concerned with time over distance and leg speed is a concern of mass and a change in acceleration of that mass. Velocity should always take precedence over the amount of weight handled as regards to the squats and pulls.