First a few things…
WHO: Anyone looking to supplement their strength program. It’s a hardcore program, and not simple. If you are needing leg strength, this is a supplement to your normal training. Not for someone who is on an upward trajectory right now in their back squat 1RM.
WHAT: Russian Squat Program
WHY: To develop leg power and strength. The squat is the best strength building exercise there is. If you want to be strong, you have to squat. We want to supplement our regular programming with this because the basis for almost all lifts is leg strength. The Russian Squat Program is a very useful way to get us there.
HOW: Read below…
As a strength coach, I often get asked how to add LBs onto a squat. Almost always, my answer is to “squat more.”
Before taking on a special squat program, I need to know that you have been squatting both frequently and regularly, adding weight each session. This is essentially linear progression. If your weights have plateaued, this is not a cue to jump straight into a squat program. Rather, take a short time to deload, and start the cycle again. Repeat this loop until you truly find that your gains are levelling out.
I am a firm believer in keeping training protocols as simple as possible. I believe that while these squat programs will ellicit gains in beginners, the truth is that almost anything will, and it is best to save the specialist squat programs for when they can help to boost your training to the next level.
But approach with caution – this is not an easy fix. In fact, this is brutal. Details now….
TRAINING IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR STRENGTH:
First, it is three times a week throughout the 6 weeks, which allows a small window to get in some other training (our strength on board), even if the squats are taking their toll. Secondly, every other day you are not doing this is a “recovery” session, which allows for scheduling of additional work. Be careful though, you will want to steer clear of anything that is leg or lower back intensive. Talk to a coach if necessary.
Choose your “max” carefully. The idea behind these programs is that you complete them as prescribed. Missing reps all over the place would not help with your progression through these programs, and thus jeopardize your ultimate gain. This means striking the fine line between making sure the reps are achievable, and pushing yourself to your limit (and beyond). One way to do this is by using what I call your “everyday max” – i.e. the max on that lift that you can hit on any given day, not the one that you hit back in the day.
Make it your focus for 6 weeks. If you need to do additional training during those weeks, then do so. I advise you to stick to upper body only, or at least movements that will not interfere with the squat sessions (squat cleans, squat snatch, etc). I have seen others continue to train as normal while “adding in” one of the squat routines, and virtually every time, something gives – the training, the squats, or worst of all, the body.
Following on from the last point, do everything in your power to recover as best you can for your next session. Eat well. Sleep well. Mobilize. Give yourself enough rest in between each session to be ready to hit the next one as close to full physical capacity as possible. This also applies to recovery in between sets – take your time, the idea here is to complete the lifts, not do more work in less time.
Commit to completing every rep of every set of every session. It goes without saying that you should not miss sessions – believe me, you will want to. If you have set the numbers properly, these squats will give you sleepless nights, restless days, and strike fear into you each time you walk back up to the bar. But somehow, you will get them done. And it will be worth it.
Here is the program template on a handy website calculator:
By Chet Morjaria