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Back Squat Correlation
By Jim Napier - 03/2017
Let’s start this discussion off with a hypothetical consisting of two lifters in the same weight class and both are the same stature, let’s say the 94k class and 5 foot 10 inches tall, both the same age and have both been in the sport the same length of time. All things are equal except for one; how the back is trained.

Lifter A’s back squat is 230k and his clean & jerk meet PR is 158k. Lifter B’s back squat is 185k and his clean & jerk meet PR is also 158k. How is this possible? Since all other things are equal between these two lifters, the answer lies in the fact that lifter B’s back squat is faster than lifter A’s. By using 86% of lifter B’s back squat of 185k we arrive at 159k, which means his back squat was achieved in 1 second, which can be achieved actually or potentially. Another assumption can also be made about lifter B’s overall time in motion of the clean, which would be around 2.5 seconds.

Lifter A’s situation becomes more complicated because his clean & jerk to back squat ratio is about 69%. This means his back squat of 230k was achieved in a much slower time than 1 second. In fact it was achieved in 1.9 seconds, actually or potentially. Those .9 seconds allowed lifter A to do 45k more than lifter B in the back squat. Lifter A’s overall time in motion in the clean & jerk would be 3 seconds or slower, a full half second slower than lifter B.

The only difference between the above two lifters is lifter B uses acceleration to develop leg strength and lifter A uses deceleration. This means as time goes on lifter A will become stagnant sooner than lifter B and lifter B will shoot right past lifter A, regardless of how much more weight lifter A squats, because the difference between B’s 86% ratio and A’s 69% ratio of clean and jerk to back squat is too much for A to overcome B. For both lifters to increase the clean & jerk from 158k to 170k, lifter A needs to back squat 246k in 1.9 seconds and lifter B would need a 197k back squat in 1 second.

Lifter B has a better chance of reaching 197k back squat in 1 second faster than lifter A can reach the 246k in 1.9 seconds. This is because there is less stress and overloading involved with lifter B’s approach using velocity. There is more wear and tear on the muscular system when doing slower decelerated squats, more overloading which leads to more accumulation of stress, increased adrenaline usage and an involuntary reduction in the average monthly level of intensity of the snatch and clean & jerk.

Both the slow and fast twitch need to be trained at optimum levels of accelerated velocities in the squats, pulls and classical lifts. A lifter with more slow than fast twitch fibers will be more inclined to squat slower in order to reach a particular amount of weight they feel is necessary in order to clean & jerk x amount. In reality, even though the lifter with more slow twitch fibers might squat less when using acceleration instead of deceleration, this would be preferable. Accelerated squats are closer in line with the velocity needed during a snatch or clean & jerk.

Optimum time in motion during an ascending back squat is 1.5 seconds, any slower and the lifter will begin to decelerate and most noticeably within the sticking point which is between parallel and quarter squat position. By ingraining the 1 second time in motion in the back squat the lifter will find it much easier to know when those times are beginning to decelerate and halt any unnecessary weight increases.