Plank Variations

Vladislav Rigert & Dmitry Klokov 100kg Weighted Back (& Legs) Plank

Weighted Reverse Plank

Your shoulders and feet rest on benches

Your Chinese buddies stack 25kg plates on your belly

The description of the photo below mentions 50kg, 6 sets of 1 min.



Smolov Squat Routine Spreadsheet

Smolov Squat Routine Spreadsheet

Smolov Spreadsheet

Here is a spreadsheet for the original Smolov Squat Routine that works for kg and lbs.

Since I am currently torturing my weak legs with this thing I thought that maybe some of you want to join the fun.

Also if you ran Smolov before, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

The spreadsheet was created by Juri (who also shared his first meet experience here) and covers the entire 13 week program, not just the base cycle.

It’s based on the this post here (which is a copy of the original article by Smolov).


  • Link to Google Docs
  • choose File – ‘Make a Copy’ or ‘Download as’ (xlsx for excel for example)

How To Use

  • Enter your 1RM in the green cell in the top left corner. Be conservative here (after starting with my actual max, I reduced it by 5kg in Base week 3)
  • Notation is  Weight xReps xSets
  • You can edit the Increase 1 & 2. For kg the original program calls for a 10kg increase on Base Week 2 and a 5kg increase for the week after (Base 3). If you think in pounds then you obviously need to change these values to 20 and 10 respectively
  • In Base Week 4 you test your 1RM and then then plug in your new number in the other green cell labeled “New 1RM”
  • Caution: since the increases in Base 1&2 are not based on your 1RM, i.e. constants, you might want to adjust those to account for your strength levels. Or else the program will call for ten sets of triples very close to your 1RM :)

Are Bulgarian Squats Superior to Regular Squats?

for full article and videos click link  Are Bulgarian Squats Superior to Regular Squats?

Here’s what you need to know…

• Some argue that the Bulgarian split squat isn’t a good strength exercise because it doesn’t lend itself to long term progression like bilateral squatting does. Experience, however, suggests otherwise.

• Unilateral and bilateral training aren’t binaries. It’s best to do both and be proficient at both.

• No exercise is irreplaceable. If you can’t do an exercise for whatever reason, don’t force it. Try something else.

• Anyone who thinks single-leg work is “foo foo” probably isn’t very good at it.

Theoretical debates are a waste of time and energy. How about you just try stuff and reach your own conclusions? I’m an informal researcher myself. Instead of a science lab, I do my experimenting in the gym. I conduct my research using dumbbells, power racks, barbells, and real athletes.

Here’s what my real-world experience has taught be about the controversial Bulgarian split squat vs. bilateral squat debate.

Tremendous Potential

Some argue that the Bulgarian split squat isn’t a good strength exercise because it doesn’t lend itself to long-term progression like bilateral squatting does. This sentiment doesn’t jibe with my personal experiences as a coach and a lifter though, so I have to respectfully disagree.

Last summer I made a deal with my athletes that I’d buy lunch at Chipotle for anyone who hit 225 pounds for 5 on Bulgarian split squats. Thankfully for my wallet, only a couple kids cashed in.

I had to take that offer off the table this summer because otherwise I’d have gone broke. I had a group of 21 boys ranging from 15-21 years old and by the end of the summer, every kid in the group had maxed out the 100-pound dumbbells, meaning they were doing at least 200 pounds for 5 reps. Three guys hit 315 for 5!

So based on that, I think there’s tremendous potential for long-term progress, and the ceiling for unilateral leg strength is a lot higher than people think.

Pillars of The Squat

for full article and video click here Pillars of The Squat

Also check out Dan’s Pillars of the Deadlift

Powerlifting meets may, popularly, not start till the bar hits the floor. But if you want to deadlift… and you want to pull to win… everything starts with the squat. For any athlete who would train to dominate his sport and opposition, the lower body power and mass afforded an athlete by the squat is undeniable. And if the lifter desires mass and hugeness and general importance in society, the alternatives to squatting pale in comparison.

Have you ever been impressed with someone’s reason for why they can’t squat? Or more importantly, does anybody ever require an explanation for an amazing squat?!?!

Being generally alpha starts in the squat rack. Whether you look to win in the gym, at a meet, on the football field or in situations that don’t require pants, there is squatting… and then there is everything else.

Now, depending on your pursuits, different versions of the squat may be used. The bar may be placed high up on the traps, where the lifter may keep his torso erect, or the bar may be placed low on the rear delts, allowing the lifter to lean forward and utilize more the strength of his back and glutes. The lifter may wear flat shoes or heeled shoes, stand with a close or wide stance, and squat to just below parallel or all the way to the floor. But when the name of the game is powerlifting, the ONLY thing that matters is the weight on the bar. The weight you can lower yourself under, break parallel, and recover to a standing position with is the only thing that determines your worth and place among your competition. Where football players, Olympic weightlifters and athletes requiring lower body power use the squat as a means to an end, powerlifters must combine pure brute strength and power with the technique and leverage that will maximize the weight on the bar.

With that said, we can begin to examine how to get under the bar and start partying. Because as powerlifters, we can build the squat up with exercises that build the strength of the agonists—or the muscles that are the prime movers of the weight—and we can train the squat with squat variations that build up our technique and leverages. And often, as powerlifters know, the muscles that are generally “stabilizers” in the squat, can in fact contribute tremendously to the lifter’s overall weight moving capabilities. So let us now look at a few select squatting exercises, that, when trained individually and progressed significantly, will ultimately lead to a bigger powerlifting-style squat.


Olympic-style weightlifters and athletes choose the high bar back squat because it is the single best exercise for building the strength of the quads and glutes. It is performed with the bar placed high up on the traps and with the torso in a generally upright position. The lifter should squat down, bending the knees maximally, until the lifter has descended to his maximum depth and then recover. By staying in an upright posture and squatting through the maximum range of motion, the lifter forces the legs to build up maximal strength, size and flexibility. These benefits are not only massive for the non-powerlifter, but can be utilized with extreme effectiveness for the powerlifter. A powerlifter can widen his stance to utilize the hips and control his range of motion, lower the bar to his rear delts as well as lean forward to better leverage the back, but if he adds more overall strength to his legs, he will aways have the capacity to squat more.

And it becomes important to think of it in terms of capacity. Every relevant squat the lifter trains and subsequently strengthens will raise that lifter’s CAPACITY to squat bigger in the powerlifting style.

Training the Olympic style back squat can be done in a few ways. First it can be trained after the lifter trains his competition style squat. This way he can use it to build power and mass in the legs if that is limiting his competition squat. Secondly, it can be trained in a non-competition phase or block of training as the main squat in the lifter’s training regimen. As stated before it’s the best for the overall development of the quads and glutes. This means the lifter can develop pure strength but also benefit by removing the competition style squat from their training for a while. The high bar squat can’t be performed as heavy as the low bar squat, so the lifter can lighten the loads he trains with while still benefiting from training with a high intensity as defined by the percentage of a one rep max a weight represents. This can refresh the lifter after a strenuous competition phase or essentially act as a deload if a lifter has been injured or otherwise held back from their training.


The front squat is a personal favorite of mine. It has the greatest carryover to athletic power, is a necessity for Olympic weightlifters, and can really allow a lifter to overload his quads. “Racking” a bar across the chest can be done with the weight resting in the lifter’s hands as an Olympic lifter would receive a clean, or it can be supported on the chest with the arms crossed and the fingers holding it in place. For the powerlifter’s purposes, it doesn’t matter, so the style which allows for easier execution of the rack position will let the lifter squat with the biggest poundages.

Properly done, squatting with the bar across the chest will provide tremendous loading of the quads, torso and upper back. Aside from dually carrying over strength to the competition squat AND the deadlift, the front squat can offer lifters with long legs–who may tend toward hip and lower back dominant squatting—the chance to strengthen the legs and not have the stronger muscle groups consistently take over when the weights are challenging.

I prefer to train the front squat on its own day of the week, as I consider it that important and fundamental of a lift. I like to train it for reps, generally about three sets of 5-8 reps. I’ll also add a heavy set to the end of most of these days, maybe for 2-3 reps.


The low bar squat is ideally the form of the squat that can allow the lifter to lift the largest weight in competition due to the leverage advantages that come from supporting the bar low on the rear delts and standing with a widened stance. Because in powerlifting the lifter only needs to hit parallel, these positions add leverage to the lower back and glutes, reduce the range of motion of the bar and allow the adductors and glutes to add additional strength. Now this is not to say that at any point in time a lifter will be strongest in this stance/setup. If they’ve not used it much then it’s not likely the muscles I just mentioned have been strengthened to truly realize the benefits afforded by this setup.

So to include the low bar stance in training is done first as the main squat because if trained consistently it uses the greatest bar weights. This is good for mass and strength gain especially if the lifter is coming from an Olympic style squat preference where the hips were not emphasized as much. Also, this is a necessity if the lifter plans to compete this way. So in the end, technique is paramount here, but strength is also trained by this stance.

Because the technique is so crucial to this lift, I like to keep the volume of heavy lifting in this stance limited to what can be done with minimal form breakdown. If I stop using my quads enough then I will rely on supplemental high bar squats and front squats to build that volume into my training after the low bar squats.

But if the execution seems out of balance and isn’t related to strength, then the next two exercises are the two I look to as more of technique building than any others…


The concept of the paused squat is simple. For a raw lifter, there is nothing to stop you and propel you upward at the bottom of the squat other than you and your own ass! So it’s crucial that you spend as much time down there as possible—that’s right: the more time you are in position at the bottom of the lift, the more comfortable you will be with maintaining proper squat mechanics through the lift and the more strength you’ll generally have at reversing yourself to begin the recovery from the squat position.

Now there are two ways to perform the paused squat. The first way is to build strength. Execute the lift with either a high or low bar position and either a wide or medium stance—whichever stance will address your weaknesses or needs best. Squat to proper depth, hold for 2-5 seconds and then blast up to the top. You should think of it as lowering yourself and coiling up until it’s time, then trying to accelerate the weight ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP as though you are trying to jump and the bar is just there in your way. It’s not as effective to simply recover past the sticking point and then cruise to the top. This tends to allow the lifter to rely on back strength instead of initiating with the hips and keeping the quads powering the lift all the way through.

The second way to implement the paused squats is as a drill. Whether you’re front squatting, low bar squatting or high bar squatting, pausing in the hole during your warmups is a great way to practice tightening up and getting a good feel for the position you will need to move into and out of athletically under strenuous loads later. Especially where the lifter is not mobile, pausing under a light weight lets them essentially stretch out and tighten the erectors and hip flexors against the weight. This is an excellent way to get better at the lifts. Use your warmups to drill technique—don’t just rush to get through them!


A one and a half rep, as I call it, is a rep where you squat down, drive up explosively about 2/3 of the way, pause, squat down again, and then recover back to the standing position. So again this plays on the idea that with raw squats and lifts in general, the challenge of the lift is the bottom and then the middle, but the top is not usually the problem. So in this lift you benefit by practicing a strong initial acceleration first—so often a lifter will “wait to see how the rebound feels” before they then initiate their leg drive instead of assertively exploding straight out of the hole on a squat. But I would argue that if you do not generate maximum force during the first half of the squat that you will never lift to your true potential. A sprinter will only run his best sprint if the first 10 meters are the fastest. I’d argue that once you’ve begun to stand up you will never “forget” to try to stand up. But if you did not focus on getting your maximum hip and leg drive into the first half of the lift that once you do begin to strain as much as possible that it will be too late to go back and complete a perfect lift. So if the lift starts explosively you give yourself a chance to lift to your potential, but if you start out of position then you will NOT lift to your full potential.

The second benefit of the half rep is that when you pause at the half way up or two thirds of the way up point you will immediately feel if the position you are in is too bent over—you’ll feel too much weight in the back and when you descend into the second rep you’ll feel the weight as very heavy—or you will feel your thighs underneath you, in proper position to be the prime movers throughout the lift. So therefore the paused squat offers a tremendous benefit to the lifter as a technique drill. These should be utilized in the warmups as well. These will prepare you to be balanced and explosive with the real weights!


So in summary, the high bar squat and front squat build power in the legs, glutes and erectors—the agonists or powerhouses of the squat. The low bar wide stance squat allows for additional loading of the hips, adductors and low back and potentially offers the lifter with the greatest potential for big lifts. And the one and a half squat and paused squats primarily allow the lifter to strengthen the technique of the lift. If you use all these in your training and improve upon all of them, you will be consistently able to progress your competition squat!

Dan Green is one of the top names in powerlifting today. The Raw Total World Record Holder with 2030 (belt and sleeves) and 2171 raw w/ wraps in the 242s. Dan is the dominant force in the 220/242 weight classes. Dan is the founder of Boss Barbell Club in Mountain View, CA where he trains team sport and strength athletes.

Should all athletes do the same squat?

Should all athletes do the same squat?

The squat is considered a key exercise for athletes as well as fitness buffs. There is no questioning the fact that the squat is a great exercise and it is considered to be the king of all exercises. However, in most gyms the primary goal when doing a squat is to see how much weight can be lifted.

As a result, most athletes do a wide stance squat that not only creates a shorter up and down pathway, but involves other muscles such as the hip joint adductor muscles. However, there is debate regarding the athlete’s posture during the squat and how deep he should go.

Rarely do we see discussions about how the squat should be executed in relation to the results produced on the field or in game performance. For example, is a deep squat going down to thigh level or below more effective in increasing running speed? Is a deep squat more effective in improving jump height?

It is rare to find information on whether doing a wide stance squat is more effective for runners and jumpers than a narrower or shoulder width stance. Nor is it common to see discussion about whether a quarter or half squat is more beneficial for running and jumping athletes or athletes who must make sharp cuts.

In order to understand or evaluate how the squat should be executed for specific athletes, it is necessary to understand how the basic skills that the athlete must execute should be performed. For example, baseball infielders and outfielders rarely go into a deep squat.  When they bend over to field the ball, they do not squat to lower the upper body. They get low by bending forward in the waist and hips. Only on rare occasions do they squat to get low.

Even in football, where linemen get into a 3-point stance, you will notice that the legs are fairly straight in order to keep the hips high.  Only on a goal line defense do you see the hips drop down to a low position with more knee bend for greater stability. This is also why you see more players assume a 2-point stance rather than a 3-point stance prior to the play being executed.

In volleyball, basketball, tennis and other sports, when assuming the ready position, there is only slight flexion in the knees and most of the forward bending is from the hips and waist.  In other words, almost all athletes get low by bending from the hips and waist to get the hands close to the ground. The hips remain high in order for them to go into movement.

As a result, is it necessary for these athletes to do a deep squat?  The answer is obvious but with some qualifications. The deep squat may be a good exercise in the early stages of training to develop a stronger knee joint and overall strength of the quadriceps. But it may not be an effective exercise in the specialized physical preparation period.

For best overall preparation, athletes doing a squat should go slightly beyond the normally assumed position in their sport. They should assume different widths and go to different depths in the initial stance in the general preparatory period.

Such execution is needed to develop greater muscle strength through a greater active range of motion for the different positions that may occur in the sport in rare but extremely important situations. Such development is needed to help prevent injury and to prepare for unexpected actions.

When discussing how a squat should be done, it is also necessary to differentiate whether the squat is being done for general conditioning or for developing leg strength specific to the actions involved in the sport.  For example, in general conditioning, it is advisable to lower the body until there is a 90° angle in the knee joint but only if you can still maintain proper posture of the spine.

For specific sports training, especially in the specialized physical preparation period, a half or ¾ squat may be more appropriate if this is closer to the positions seen in your sport.  In this way, you develop the muscles as they are needed for execution of the skills involved and you are not merely developing greater strength for the sake of greater strength.

It is important to look at the actions performed in each sport and the demands placed on the muscles.  For example, in running the legs are directly under the body, not out to the sides as in a wide stance squat. Because of this runners should do the squat with the legs directly under the hips as they occur in the run.

If the athlete must be ready to move in an unknown direction, then a narrow stance is preferred. If he must be more resistant to movement then a wide stance is preferred. If he is involved in activities such as jumping, a narrow stance is preferred so that all the forces from the leg extension propel the athlete upward.

Although specificity of training has for the most part been ignored, it may be time to look more specifically at each sport and the position(s) and actions that must be performed during play.  Then, it would be possible to do the squat or other exercises more specific to the positions or actions that you must carry out from that position.

For more information on this topic see Build a Better Athlete and Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise.

More info about China and the “ChuanFu Squats”

– See more at:

I’ve a friend, Yatin who’s currently training in China, Beijing national training center. I believe Ma Jianping got him in there. You need insiders to bring you into places like such.

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The entrance to many weightlifter’s dream

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That’s a 48KG girl squatting 130KG for sets of doubles

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This guy’s rumoured to have a 350KG back squat.

here is a link to a video of a 17 year old back squating 200kg for 13 reps

Not terribly hard to believe.

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Hope you’re liking what you see.

Here’s a story. I was at a temple once and a monk once said to me this sentence;

You must know, why people do something. If you don’t, don’t have to follow it. Like incense burning, Buddha never said that was necessary. Bowing down and making various hand gestures as signs of respect to the Buddha’s statue. That is, culture. Find the answer, not follow the crowd“. I kid you not, that monk actually said, “Bowing down and making various hand gestures as signs of respect“. He wanted me to understand that, I didn’t have to follow the crowd if I didn’t agree.

Now since then, I’ve always believed in finding out why. It’s hard, when you try to spread a different idea, but you really have to focus on the positive believers. The nay-sayers will be that. It’s just the way people are. It’s not bad or good.

Today, I got someone running up to me on Facebook, telling me that Kelly Starrett says that it creates stability in the hips, knees and ankles. He then asks if we can create such stability with the knees collapsing and because if we do not create stability, it’ll load the stress somewhere else, eg the knees.

I suppose I should clarify a little more in layman words since I’ve gotten more info out from the motherland.

Now before we go around doing more of the Chuanfu squats, let’s discuss first why we recommend such squats.

  • It is not a collapse
  • It is a deliberate channeling of the load into the quadriceps of the bodyThere is a difference between the body compensating and collapsing the knee because of glute weakness. What we are suggesting, is maximizing stability by loading the quads for maximum quad recruitment and stress, which leads to development beyond what can be created if we spread the load to other joints.This is because we believe that the fastest way to stand up from a heavy load is to move in the straightest line. By shifting the entire load into the quads, we are able to create this sort of movement more effectively.Alternately, if you’re an individual with insufficient ankle flexibility, push your groin outwards to increase the tension into the adductors which helps you maintain the rigidity of your entire body while descending
  • It is the body’s natural way of moving

    A lot of people say to spread the knees out, push knees out, externally rotate the hip joint. What we have found is when you do that, you force the hip joint to really be pushed to its limits. When this happens, there is limited space for it to move so to create the space, your body has 2 options. Push the knees in slightly to create space for the hip capsule to move. Or shoot your knees and hips backwards while your torso goes forward to create that space.I have a friend whom I consider to be a very smart and talented lifter. He was complaining saying that he didn’t have quads and was on a squat program to build quads. I’m not sure how its gone but he had some pretty sick squats just no quads. He’s also got another friend, who has massive quads and he has a distinctly different way from this other friend of mine. About the same squat numbers.What I did realise with the two of them is, the one with the smaller quads would keep the knees out as hard as he could, just like I always did. The other friend, just tried to stand up straight.In fact, a stroll around the streets of China and even parts of Southeast Asia will show you people squatting to have their meals, like its the most natural thing in the world to do. They never squat knees out. They just squat knees wherever it decides to go, eat their meals, wash the veggies, tie their shoes, etc and just stand up straight naturally.Somewhere somehow, someone must have noticed this and found a fantastic marketeer and began teaching this as the “Safest” way for most people to do it.
  • It is not a compensating movement

    What I mean by this is, the movement isn’t like I’m saying, push your knees till they both touch each other sort. What I’m suggesting is to push it a small bit so they create space for your hips to drive right through and help you stand right back up.It isn’t like the knees drop in, and you stand up at the expense of the knees. I would never suggest such a thing.
  • It reduces activation of the glutes

    Or does it really? This is what everyone tells me, but I don’t understand. Why does one care so much about the muscles muscles muscles? As long as the loading mechanics are correct, we minimize the potential for injury, and the movement pattern is good, why are we so concerned about muscles?Now if you’re truly concerned about muscles, maybe this is unscientific, maybe this is unprofessional, but my butt has …well..not shrunk in size and I do get a sore bum unlike that when I squatted knees out.

So how do I use this?

  1. Stand straight, feet slightly wider than hips
  2. Point your toes wherever you like, as long there is no pain in any of the joints
  3. Keep your torso neutral, and no hyperextending of the back
  4. Load the adductors as you descend into the squats.This automatically shifts the weights out for maximum stability and allows the adductors to tense up taking the load of the squats as you descend. This mind-cue is to enable the body to have a place to load the weight, and not shift all around finding for a joint to load.This is what I believe Kelly of talks about.Creating stability. The knee out cue works for most people, but I went deeper to analyze what that symptom created. So far I’ve been very successful with it as I’ve almost eliminated all forms of lower body pains that I used to have previously, ESPECIALLY hip flexor pain. –
  5. As your adductors are all ready, push the knee in slightly at the lowest position to help the body stand in a straight line. Finish by punching the hip through and keeping the knees back tracking to the toes again.

What are the benefits I have found personally, to switching to this technique?

  1. Elimination of any form of knee pain and hip pain for the first time in ages, since I stopped pushing knees out
  2. Increased recruitment of my quads and my glutes
  3. Increased flexibility in my ankles and my trunk is realigning. It used to be tighter on the right, it’s looser now.
  4. An automatic increase by 20KG in my squats (I kid you not)
  5. Easily repping out more reps in each set

Now, enjoy the ChuanFu Squats!


Why we insist that squatting is almost always quad dominant and fast

Why not keep the squat articles coming.

Why we insist that squatting is almost always quad dominant and fast – See more at:

First let’s explore why we use squats.

1. To strengthen the entire body especially the legs, as it drives testosterone levels up and turns on the neural system to fire faster.

2. To stand up after your cleans and snatches.

3. To help drive the bar overhead

What is isn’t to us weightlifters

1. It isn’t a competition movement on weightlifting.

2. It isn’t to lift the maximum amount of weights in the squats if the technique isn’t the same as what you would do in a snatch and clean and jerk

Now go back to the basic idea of how Chinese do weightlifting. Technique must be similar to what you would do in your competitions. If you drive your knees and hips back, you need to make sure that the way you snatch and clean and jerk is like that too. If you push from the heels, (we don’t), then fine, use that technique to squat.

If you’re like us that drive the hip into the bar and slice it up from the ankles, use your quads more.

Now as to why we’re generally proponents of NOT driving from the heels is because we don’t want a powerful but loopy bar which most people struggle with. We find people tend to bang the bar a little too hard when using this technique. So the bar goes high but it also goes forward and back. Above all, the biggest problem with this technique is the inefficiency. The fake confidence that banging the bar hard creates. What do you mean by this Kirk?

Eg: When you are playing a video game, sports racing game. When you’re cornering in that game, sometimes you get excited and lean sideways. Or you press the button on the joystick (I don’t know what they call it nowadays) really really hard. Does it make the car corner faster? No, very unlikely. It’s the same as the barbell. There’s a limit to how much force you should drive into the barbell to get that “slice” up. Anything more, you’re just going to change the direction of the barbell and cause the hip to hit the bar instead of slicing the bar.

But! Not all lifters that shift to the heels do this. Some of the top lifters can drive it straight up.
Also when standing, I realize a lot of lifters shift the hips up and then lean over. We don’t like this one bit. Makes the bar heavy for no reason. Why this happens?

We have determined that it’s because they snatch or clean too low that they lose control and they begin to rush. And to stand up, they must shift the hips up first and then move the weight to the quads before one can stand. Why? Why don’t you just stand as you naturally would in a front squat. Push the knees in at the bottom and drive out. Use the quads, not hips to stand.

This is why we always say, be in control. All the time.

As to why we say no grinders, we say, train how you want to move when you compete. You want to grind out your cleans? Not likely. So avoid training like a grinder. Move fast fast fast! Be light! Explosive! Most internet weightlifters aren’t weak. They’re just slow. You want to be powerful, move powerful.