Thursday 27th November 2014,
Travis Holley's

Day 235 of 365: SuperSquats Report

I know many of you have started implementing the Super Squats program into your training regime.  So I am excited to share some of my recent findings in regards to the way to create sustainable results!

Before we get right to the good stuff, let me give you the details of my “research”.

  • Started Week 1 @ 65% of 1RM Back Squat
  • Athletes perform 1 SuperSquat session each week in combination with Strictly Strength programming.
  • If athlete was successful at weight X, the following week would see a 5-10lb increase – depending on athlete’s mental and physical condition.
  • The duration of the Super Squats program that we tested was 8 weeks.

So, now that you have the back-story, let’s get to the findings!

Performing the very first set of 20 at 65% was the right weight for the majority of the athletes.  The key here is to start at a weight that allows the athlete to get a realistic stimulus without crushing them right off the bat.  Again, for most average lifters, I would use the 65% for men and 70% for women.  Obviously, this is a judgement call that needs to be made by the coach based on each individual athlete’s ability and experience….These are just  suggestions, NOT rules.

As the program started up, it took two weeks(average) for the athletes to get “comfortable” with the 20-rep concept and the corresponding mental and physical demands of each session. It should go without saying, but, not many people randomly decide to slap a heavy bar on their back and knock out 2o reps of back squats with 3 breaths between each rep.  That being clarified, it is obvious that athletes will take some time to establish confidence, understanding and mental and physical strategies to perform optimally.  I found two weeks is about all it took to get to this point.

Weeks 2-6 saw some amazing gains.  As previously stated, the athletes had a choice of a 5-10lb increase if they were successful the previous week.  So, when I say “amazing gains” I am referring to not only 10lb jumps, but obvious increases in competency as well.  Reps seemed to just flow rather than fighting for every single squat.  One major component that I would suggest stressing to your athletes is to TAKE THE 3 BREATHS!  Not only is this a rule of the program, but it’s an effective way to calm the lifter down and prepare them for the next rep.  It is very easy to get panic-y with this.  Athletes always reported that they performed better when they took slower and deeper breaths.

Weeks 7 and 8 started to show signs of overload and failure.  This is an extremely strenuous program by design.  The purpose of Super Squats is to stress the system to the point of forcing the body and CNS to adapt by increasing muscle mass, muscular endurance, and both mental and physical strength and toughness, etc.  The program is extremely effective at accomplishing all of these things, but to a certain extent.  The demanding nature of the program guarantees that there will be a point at which burnout will occur.  We found that 6 weeks is optimal for most athletes to see peak performance without negative diminishing returns.

Going forward, the Strictly Strength athletes will take at least 3 weeks off from the Super Squats program.  This does not mean we aren’t squatting!  We will put more focus towards box squats(for posterior chain and speed development) and front squats(for mid-line stabilization and quad development).  This will be in combo with SS programming as usual.  When we hit our 2nd 6 weeks of Super Squats, we will start week one @ 70% of the athlete’s back squat max.  If you think about it, the athlete should have increased their 1-RM in that time, so the week 1 weight will be approximately equal to week 3 or 4 of the previous 6-week session.

Hopefully you have found this helpful in developing a sustainable way to see big gains from the Super Squat program.  I would love to hear from those of you that are following the program, and what kind of results and experiences your seeing.  I will keep you posted on the progress of my athletes so that you will have more info at your disposal.  Until then, here’s an older video of Johnathan Haynes crushing 320lbs x 20!!!  Just FYI…JHaynes is now on my Band Walk Challenge, so you can expect to see some bigger numbers coming from this dude!  Scary!

Enjoy.

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About The Author

Travis Holley is a CrossFit Level II Coach, has a B.S. in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado, and has 3 years of experience coaching a wide variety of individuals ranging from young athletes to grandparents, and everyone in between.