Squats have been my all time favorite lift for a while. I love doing them and will anytime I can. After running through my first 5×5 lift where I was squatting 5 set of 5 reps three times a week I thought I would check out some alternate routines. I looked at Smolov, 5/3/1, and even German Volume Training. But I always remembered my pops talking about “breathing squats”.
An Introduction To The Widow-maker
Lifting has been in my family for some time. My Father and his brothers always had weights and always had a steady subscription to Ironman Magazine. My favorite issue was the swimsuit edition. Funny story, my dad actually found a stack of them hidden in my bathroom cabinet.
Even though I didn’t lift when I was younger like I do today. I was exposed to the sport. We had all sorts of apparatus’s in the garage and an entire bookshelf dedicated to books and magazines.
When I was younger my old man was beginning a new job. One of the requirements was to pass a physical test. Knowing the importance of this test my pops hit the weights like a beast. The basis of his routine, breathing squats.
He always said “You want to get strong then do this”. And boy was he right, in a short period of time his strength shot through the roof. Thinking that this was a little too intense for me and quite frankly at the time I wasn’t much into lifting, I decided that I would put this in the back of my mind until it was necessary.
What Is A Breathing Squat
A breathing squat is pretty much that. A squat the focuses on breathing. It sounds very simple. And it kind of is. Until you get under the bar and give it a go.
Basically what a breathing squat consists of is taking a very deep breath, or several, and holding it in. As you make your way to the bottom, yes guys you have to squat to parallel or below that is a proper squat, keep holding your breath and try to suck in a little bit more air when your in the hole. Keep a tight core and expand the rib cage.
Upon your ascent upwards you slowly release your breath until the midway point where you fully exhale the last bit of air in the lungs. Rinse and repeat 20 times.
A book that I purchased and enjoyed greatly was the book Super Squats. It is a very short read. 100 or so pages entirely focused on the history of breathing squats and routines to try. I like to look at the past and see what was done by lifters of old. Most of what I know now comes from many eras long past. As with anything, do what works.
The Super Squats routine is extremely demanding. In the book there are a couple variations and even a warning to maybe only lift twice a week as opposed to thrice. I didn’t listen. And I went for the full routine.
My last few weeks training consisted of lifting three days a week, performing the Super Squats routine. The routine’s central focus was the squat. It looked a little something like this:
- Behind the neck press
- Bench press
- Bent-over parallel barbell rows
- Barbell curls
- Stiff legged dead lift
- Toe raises
For good measure I added dumbbell flyes and wide gripped pull ups.
The key is to find a weight you can do 10 reps of and do 20. Going from a max of 315 I figured I could start with 185. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Wrong. First day didn’t go so well. I decided I was going to go down to 135 and move my way up from there. Progress was steady. But very slow. This experience was a very humbling experience. I made it to 210, although I didn’t complete all 20 reps I knocked out 17 on my second attempt.
As much as I wanted to continue with this routine, I had to throw in the towel. My body was screaming enough is enough.
Is It Really Over
At this current moment I could no longer handle the physical demand that was being placed upon me. Each day my body ached from soreness. There were many points during my squats when I just couldn’t even hold onto the bar anymore. No matter how hard I squeezed it seem as if the signal from brain to muscle was not connecting.
I will visit this routine again. Most likely a little further down the line. Or even on occasion I might throw it into my leg day. I think its a great routine and quite frankly I was able to build an immense amount of strength. Like always everything comes to some sort of an end.
Until we meet again Super Squats. Until we meet again.