Monday, January 7, 2008

Squat Day

So, still no Maura, she will be back for Deads on Friday. Lots of others in the gym tonight, look like it should be a very nice turn out for the State Open Meet in February. Aaron helped me, which is always nice. I warmed up with my KB class. I have to confess I am looking forward to getting back to a predominantly kettlebell training schedule. Any whoo, Squats went down like this...

Back Squats
220X1 - PR
220X1 - PR
~So, Mark Reifkind had been coaching me long distance. He gave me the pyramid assignment for this week. I was only supposed to do one at 220... but I was disappointed with my attempt so I did a second. Here is my main problem now that the weight is getting so heavy. The breathing is oppressive. I am spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get a good deep breath and stay tight before I start the squat. The breathing didn't work out the way I visualized. Here are the two attempts at 220...

220lbs 1 of 2

220lbs 2 of 2


Brett Jones said...

It doesn't look like to me that you "wedging" yourself between the bar and your back but rather just setting the bar on your back - grab a look at one of my squat vids (maybe the 515 x 2 - just search it on my blog) and you will see how I wedge myself under the bar and syncronize my breathing to this. This will get you much tighter and then after you unrack the weight you will get to "sip" some air as you set up (also be sure you are set to squat - your decent is very quick after your walk out) JMO

Mark Reifkind said...

First off, way to push through the sticking point. that is how it's done.
I agree with brett. take more time setting up before you unrack the weight; getting in a lot of air and really tightening yourself before you take the weight.
this is especially crucial at the top weights because you just can't get a lot of air when it's really heavy. so getting 'pre oxygenated' before you unrack is very important.
also, realizing and not expecting to get big breaths of air is important so it doesnt freak you out and change your groove.
as brett says, all you get are sips, not full drinks.
have to go down slower too, sitting into the hips more so you dont get pushed forward.
tension tension and more tension!
good job though and thanks for the clips.

fawn said...

Brett and Mark,

Thanks for the feed back! I have been watching the video you sent me Mark. Believe it or not, I felt like I did wedge myself between the bar. It was something I was actually thinking about! I knew I could do better... then I looked at Julia's video again last night. This is a weak spot for me. I just don't know how to gather that tension. I can see it, I can intellectualize it, but doing it is another thing!

I was holding my breath... that is why I had that fast decent. It is like now that I am moving such heavy weight (for me) I have forgot how to breath.

So, what is the plan for next week? 200 and 210 went up easy! I would like to try for 225...

Jen said...

Awesome work Fawn!
And great advice that I will be using in my own back squats, thanks Mark!

fawn said...

Thanks Jen! Mark has been a great coach!

Mark Reifkind said...


you aren't trying to hold your breath from before you take the weight through the full squat are you? cant do it.You take your big breath the unrack the weight and walk it out, then little sips while holding tight and preparing to squat.
so hard to see things from a video of course. if you feel tight under the bar( wedge) just make sure you sit back into your hips on descent.Your knees move forward at the half way point and this moves the load forward too much.
as far as next squat workout I would back off to 205 or so for 4-5 singles focusing on making all the little details perfect. You dont need to max out fully to get the weight in the meet.we'll see how that goes and then decide.
whats the exact meet date again?

fawn said...


It's like this; I take a deep breath, then attempt to wedge myself under the bar... when I step out with the weight, if I breath, it is like the weight squishes the the air out of my lungs and it's hard to get that tight feeling back. That is why my squats are so fast... I feel like the longer I stand around, the more tension is lost. Plus I am trying to get that bounce.

Am I getting low enough? I am worried that first video is high...

Meet is February 2.

Mark Reifkind said...


yes that first rep is a bit high(depending on the judges). there is no way to not breathe at all from the unracking of the bar all the way through the rep.practice( on the warmups or after the work sets) taking the breath,unracking, walking back, holding tension and taking a couple small sips of air WHILE you get set to squat.
DONT try to bounce out of the bottom as your main technique. you do want to flow in and out of the hole but dont rely on it for your drive up soley.
while you stand there you should feel the weight is in( on) your hips, not your lower back. you should be able to hold the position strongly.
keep trying to arch your way out of the hole, it looks like you are mainly pushing with your legs which is why the bar moves forwards as you ascend.arch up the whole time AS you push the ground away.
Next squat workout, after the work sets,do three walkouts with 215,225,235.
dont squat the weight, just walk it out, set up like you are going to squat,wait to hear the commands( while staying tight) and then walk it back in.
this will work your static strength in the standing position.

Howie Brewer said...

Man, I am going to have to read through all of these posting in greater detail when I get the chance. Lots of great coaching here, thanks!

Fawn, awesome job moving that kind of weight!

I am just shocked at Aaron in all of this. I'm surprised the Humane Society hasn't gotten involved yet. I imagine there might be a Cruelty to Zebras issue here.

fawn said...


Heavy walkouts... I don't know why I didn't think of that! DUH! Of course... that should help A LOT. Especially with the breathing. Thanks!

The second attempt at 220 I was thinking drive up through my traps. So, even though I did stick a little, the movement felt much better.

There is just so much to think about... it is hard for me to remember everything. Plus, I still panic when I squat something new... I just can't help it.

I don't ever feel anything in my low back, even the next day. Sometimes my upper thoracic tightens up a little the next day, but not in a painful way. I always thought it was from the bar.

fawn said...


Thanks for the compliments! I feel so lucky having a coach like Mark. Even long distance, I am making great progress!

Brett Jones said...

Learning to handle the weight and pressure of the weight is a skill like anything else - I would suggest band squats as a tool.
These will teach you to get and stay tight.

fawn said...


There are bands at my gym, I have never tried them. I am curious as to how they will feel...

I will be focusing on staying tight next week on squat day. Honestly, I just don't have much heavy back squat experience. I usually train BB front squats. I just thought I would give this meet a shot for fun. What else is there to do in the dead of winter in Minnesota?

Mike T Nelson said...

You will do fine at the Meet Fawn!

Mark is correct, next time with a lighter weight will make learning easier (decreased threat level).

Remind me tomorrow and I can show you the tension/relax drill--do you have the Z Neuro Warm Up? Also, play around with specific mobility work in your squat stance and even at your sticky point (no weight of course)--SAID principal.

rock on
Mike N