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07 Jun 2009 21:11
By Joe Weir
Any of you that have been following my Journal here (Strength Journal) will know that I recently included the infamous 4 squat workout into my routine. This delightful little routine consists of 4 exercises, each with 4 sets (5,4,3, and 2 reps respectively).
For the 4 squat variants I chose Overhead Squats, Anderson Front Squats, Back Squats (to parallel) and what I've coined the Anderson Half Squat. For anyone unfamiliar with an Anderson squat its not much different from a regular squat or so it may appear. The glaring difference is that an Anderson involves a deloaded bar in between eccentric and concentric portions of the movement. Basically you finish the eccentric movement, you're setting the bar on some pins, grabbing a breath maybe, and then completing the movement by driving up against the bar.
Sounds easy but its not quite.
Moving back to the idea of the Anderson Half Squat. If I posted a video on any number of forums I would most likely get the "nice 1/4 squat" or "go A2G" and if this were my main movement of the workout I might agree. Yes, it is a 1/4 squat, if you call full depth dropping your ass to the ground, but I coined it half because all of my "full" squats in the workout were brought to parallel. The point is that this movement is being used to supplement everything else so depth is really not the goal at all. The goal is to get a heavy bar on your back and work on your ability to accelerate it at a mechanical disadvantage as well as provide the other necessary criteria to do it safely and effectively.
Anytime you deload a bar you lose the elastic energy stored in the muscles that controlled the eccentric movement. Furthermore you lose your abdominal pressure, core engagement, and pretty much anything else involved in keeping yourself from folding like an accordian. In using this movement you really have to be confident in the fact that you can properly engage everything, push against that bar and accelerate it from a dead stop to full lockout. Oh yeah I forgot to mention, chalk on another 50% of the weight you can do for a back squat at that rep range.
This is the part I like most, the results. From using this exercise I've noticed a few very good side effects:
1) Feel of the bar. Since I haven't been back squatting in a while, my regular back squats felt very very heavy. Mainly from the fact that I haven't quite got my front squat to surpass my back squat, yet. After including the half squats the weight of the barbell used for back squats feels virtually weightless, a good boost to self-confidence at least.
2) Hip and glute activation and strength has increased. Since the bar is deloaded on some pins it takes a whole lot of hip to get the bar accelerating and since its such a heavy weight a whole lot of glute is involved to lock it out.
3) Core activation and stabilization has increased. Again because of the deloading you've got to get your core activated in an extremely fast manner. Driving up against the bar requires some explosive core activation and some very good stabilization. Without that your either not making it off the pins or your going to start folding over under the weight.
Those 3 side-effects carryover to anything that involves core activation and hip/glute strength, which, by the way, is ALOT of exercises and movements. I encourage anyone reading this to give it a shot but you'll have to answer one question after you do: Do you still think half or quarter squats are easy?
Paul Anderson was a legendary Olympic Weightlifter and Powerlifter, often credited with being the strongest man who ever lived. He was born on October 17, 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He set records in both sports. He won the Olympic Gold medal in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 right after winning the world heavyweight title the year before. Among his many records as a powerlifter is a 625lbs bench press (284 kg.), a 1200lbs squat (545 kg), and an 820lbs deadlidft (373 kg.). He once did three repetitions of squats with 900lbs. He was also credited with a 6,270lbs back lift (2,850 kg.), which would have been the greatest weight ever lifted. The Guiness Book of World Records subsequently removed this record from it's books since it could not be corroborated. Regardless, Anderson probably lifted the weight, or something close to it (the back lift weights could be difficult to ascertain with certainty) and he was without rival in strength sports. He died in Vidalia, Georgia on August, 15, 1994.