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Build Upon Your Numbers

Before And After
By Donny Shankle

A lot of the weightlifting questions I get center around “How do I increase my squat numbers?” My own experience has shown me the best way to squat bigger numbers is to prioritize the exercise. Also, keep your snatch and clean and jerk numbers at a base or reasonable minimum while you push the squats to new personal record levels. Squatting before you SN and C&J with fresh legs when you have the greatest amount of energy is the best time to go after new personal records. Conditioning your legs is also important to improve strength. It’s easiest to see the weightlifters who do not have conditioned legs during competition. If they complete all of their snatches and only their opening C&J they are missing the reserve strength six for six weightlifters have. The best way to improve your conditioning is to squat after you have finished snatching and clean and jerking. A combination of squatting both before and after training the lifts is where most weightlifters should train.

Whatever your current PR squat (either front or back squat), try and squat within fifteen kilos of this after practicing the lifts. If you can do this easy then try and squat within ten kilos of your best. If you can do this then you should try to squat within five kilos of your best. Once you are squatting five kilos less than your best squat at the end of training the lifts, I would venture to say you are capable of a new personal record squat. For example if a lifter’s best front squat is 170 kilos then after training the lifts for the day he should work up to 155, 160 and 165. Duration time is kept short and you can still go after PR’s if these weights happen to be easy. Obviously if this example lifter was able to squat more than 170 at the end of training then he is capable of an even greater PR once his legs have rested. Use this before and after approach in training at least three times a week. Build upon your numbers by constantly applying maximum effort with maximum effort conditioning. As you get closer to competition, concentrate more on conditioning your squat to complete all of your lifts in competition.

Rest periods when you are going after new squat PR’s should be long enough to feel strong for each attempt. Keep all of your rep ranges low and allow your body to adapt to the heavy weight. The more tonnages you are moving during the week, the greater stress you are going through and the stronger you will become. As long as you are not losing bodyweight, eating, and resting well your squat numbers will improve. Keep in mind every Snatch and Clean you do also involves squatting thus repetition is being performed. A lot of extra repetition in one set of squatting is not needed unless the lifter is perhaps in the beginner or intermediate stage of lifting. Also, squat jerkers are applying even more repetition. It’s weekly, monthly and yearly where the repetition adds up and not daily.