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There’s More to Squats Than Just Bending the Knees by Clarence Ross (1954) With the current popularity

of the bench press as the favorite bodybuilding movement, the squat, formerly known as the King of Exercises, has been neglected to some extent in training programs. This does not mean that lifters ignore the squat today, for the majority of them practice some version of it in their workouts. It does mean, unfortunately, that trainers of the present are in many cases less squatconscious than those before, and merely perform them because they are considered a ‘standard’ exercise, oftentimes treating them as a necessary evil. In my opinion this approach is wrong, for while certain exercises my temporarily replace squats from a popularity standpoint, through the years squats have maintained an unbroken record as the “best” exercise, one which will do the most, in more ways, than any other exercise. The correct use of squats can promote rapid bodyweight gains. Certain varieties can build enormous strength and power. Others build up endurance and the size of the chest, while many a sticking point in training has been broken by a concentrated squatting program. Squats can be adapted to meet any training need or condition . . . are used by weightlifters to give them the basic power necessary for competition. They can be used by the fitness-seeking business man as a splendid body toner to keep him in shape, or by athletes in any sport seeking to improve endurance and muscular coordination. Naturally, different variations of the squat bring about different results. One type cannot serve all requirements. That is why it is important that you learn exactly how to make the squat work for you, so that the time and energy you spend on them will give you the exact results you desire. That is the main purpose of this small article and full analysis of several squat variations will be included in its contents. First, I believe that the reader might enjoy learning something about the background and development of the squat, and will consider that now. While credit for real interest in the squat as an outstanding exercise must be rewarded to Mark Berry, who waged an out-and-out crusade in its favor some 20 years ago, there can be no doubt squats in some form were used by both professional and amateur athletes many years prior. In George Hackenschmidt’s book, “The Way To Live”, published in 1908 (the edition that I refer to bears that date, though there may have been earlier printings), he gives mention to Max Danthage, who on June 4, 1899 performed 6,000 deep knee bends without added weight other than that supplied by his body, within a period of three hours, which averages out to one squat every 1.8 seconds for three hours. H. Sell, Saxony, is credited with 7 repetitions with 400 pounds on January 21, 1899. Reference is also made to H.P. Hansen, Copenhagen, who performed 65 repetitions with 277 pounds on March 19, 1899. Undoubtedly, Sandow, Maxick, Pandour and other of the oldtime greats used squats to some extent in their training, though not in the orderly arrangement of sets and reps we know and take for granted today. The old Milo Barbell Course, printed early in the 20th Century, contained deep knee bends as one of the exercises, so squats or knee bends of some sort have been practiced for many years. It was not until the 1920’s that a real interest was shown in the squat as a test of strength. At that time Hermann Goerner and Henry Steinborn each succeeded with 500 pounds. Carl Moerke eclipsed that record; 2 repetitions with 550 and one with 565.

the great John Davis tested his strength in the squat and officially performed 565 pounds. Authorities generally conceded that 600 pounds represented a maximum human limit. the accepted way of performing the squat. huge Canadian Chief Moquin equaled that performance. The style was the regular flat-footed version. strength performances remained substantially unchanged. 740 and 760. But – as it turned out. A number of varieties were developed in this way and with each. . In other words. Doug Hepburn. There were not idle boasts. being told of another giant. While records have soared. some one could. Weldon Bullock proved to be capable of 560 pounds. The giant Strassberger had a success with 550 pounds. new discoveries were made about the benefits of the exercise. At about this time stories were circulating. There is no possibility of failure if the lifter knows what he wants and then trains accordingly. Maurice Jones. which was the greatest squat feat up to that time (1930’s). Here are a few of the many possibilities. Then – reports came from Canada about a new giant. other bodybuilders developed certain preferences . weightlifters such as Louis Abele discovered that the front squat helped him in lifting performance. The feeling that prevailed was that no one could beat him. for up to this time Anderson has made lifts of 685. During the time of Mark Berry. and many variations of the squat are now commonplace. In time. despite Mark Berry’s work in inspiring more bodybuilders to regularly practice the squat. 714. still commonly used today. light breathing squats and so on. Lud Schusterich and other lifters of that time used the regular flat-footed squat extensively and reported sensational gains in strength. who was boasting that he could beat Doug’s record. bodybuilding knowledge has also gone forward. bodyweight and muscularity as a result. was one set. we possess a wealth of knowledge on the subject. We know what each type of squat can and will do if performed consistently with effort. with as much weight as could be used. We know what high repetitions will accomplish and what low ones will do. During the late 1940’s the pattern remained true. the old-fashioned method of performing one set of 20 repetitions was replaced by the present system of performing less repetitions and more sets. and beat it with ease. Finally. for the most part. Barton Horvath. John Grimek. . 20 repetitions. while others practiced the squat with elevated heels or heels raised. and for some period of time their views appeared accurate. This once again brought about new gains from the exercise for thousands. . In 1952. Kimon Voyages found the parallel squat more to his liking. which previously were not. In training. Unofficial reports stated that he had made close to 600. Chick Deutsch. Paul Anderson of the USA. while Bert Assirati gave some idea of what the future held in store by making 10 repetitions with 550 pounds. all in front of reliable witnesses. who was regularly breaking 600 pounds in training. it is said that he made 800 pounds! This brings the reader up to current date on the advances made in strength performances on the squat. Today. we have learned how to make squats work for us. Doug had his chance to prove this to the world when he succeeded with 665. Early in 1950.In the 1930’s. He was generally considered to be the best man in the world in this feat. We know when one variation is best or when another should be used. while Louis Abele made 540 for 3 reps.

It is also fine for athletes who need greater endurance in their sport. added to the stimulating influence of the leg work often produces fast bodyweight gains in underweight individuals when combined with an increase in food consumption.) Heels Raised or Olympic Squat. Because of its specific advantages of permitting the use of heavier weights and bulking up the thighs. then the practice of the wide-stance squat will help. Higher reps. they can maintain a more perfect balance. If the regular flat-footed “power” squat is not giving you the results you desire. the parallel squat will help him too. except that a comparatively lighter weight is employed and several deep breaths are taken between each repetition. Preferences seem pretty evenly split among lifters . .) Deep Breathing Squat. but because the bodybuilder is . 5. The developmental advantages are similar to the parallel squat. 3 sets are recommended.) Parallel Squat. repetitions 21 to 25: 5 breaths. Regular practice of this style will encourage bodyweight gains and all-around power. The parallel squat can sometimes be used to overcome this problem. the parallel squat is rapidly gaining in popularity. strict performance. Kimon Voyages. If you have weaknesses in those areas. The one disadvantage of this type of squatting is that it does not build much strength. This version of the squat is performed with the bar behind the shoulders in a slightly higher position on the back. and great strength and thigh. using the strength of the legs. In particular. In addition. One other important point should be mentioned. The descent is made to well below parallel and the back is kept flat and upright. The lifter then squats down into a low position and immediately rises to a standing one again. advocates the parallel-depth squat. The idea behind this method of squatting is that it encourages the building of a larger rib box and chest. Then. . Only experience and a clear idea of what you desire will tell you which is for you. 4. heavy muscle is formed along the outer curve of the front thighs. whose thighs were among the greatest in the world. of a strength or physique nature. 3 sets of 20 to 30 repetitions each is recommended. This is a real power builder. 3. In a sense it can be called a “cheating” exercise. It is the type that Mark Berry first popularized and it embodies all the good features of the squat in a single variation. However. Usually. More weight can be used in this version than in the full squat. since the lifter descends only as far as parallel position. giving a real “riding breeches” appearance. particularly if after each set of deep-breathing squats a set of pullovers is performed.) Box or Bench Squat. I feel that this version of the squat. However. and concentration on the task at hand are what is called for here. This variation of the squat has been performed more than any other. I suggest trying this version for a time. A deep breath is taken just prior to descent and the air is expelled from the lungs when returning to an erect stance. example of this method of breathing is as follows: Repetitions 1 to 10: 3 breaths between each rep. some prefer the regular flat-footed power squat. more effort is placed on the frontal thighs. This version is performed similar to the previous one.) Wide Stance Squat. 2. after he advances and gains most of the weight he wants.) Regular Flat Footed Squat. hips and low back combined. or using shoes with a slightly elevated heel. others use the heels raised Olympic version. the one objection against it is that it does not seem to promote as much of a bodyweight increase as the regular flat footed variety. when combined with other exercises. repetitions 11 to 20: 4 breaths. I suggest the that the beginner in training who is eager to gain weight fast practice the flat footed. When the legs are spread much further apart and the toes are turned out. regular-depth version first. Some bodybuilders feel that by raising their heels on a board. in cases of weak and underweight beginners it is definitely worth trying. The bar is placed across the lower rear part of the shoulders. the effects of the squat are felt more on the thigh biceps and the inner area of the upper thigh. as it did for his followers. More actual squatting power and drive can be used in this version than in any other.1. Some lifers who tend to round their back when squatting below parallel and leave it open to strains and injury. is good for the man who wants an easy way of staying fit without following a lengthy program. This. 6. Usually. hip and back muscle mass is built. Roger Eels was the first to popularize this style and it worked well for him.

while the slight dip and straightening of the legs encourages the formation of ligament strength. this is not a squat at all. If sets of 3 reps are followed. The weightlifter will find this version of the squat to be indispensable in developing a stronger squat-style clean. Since this exercise is essentially a power movement. to strengthen a weak point in the regular squat. for the dip at the knees is so slight that few of the developmental features of the squat materialize. by varying the height of the box. it is practical for an advanced lifter to go as high as 10 sets. Actually. but it does build support strength and accustom the lifter to holding very heavy weights across the shoulders. as well as snatch. The rack position at the shoulders is strengthened as well. 7. The quarter squat builds little muscle. . The bodybuilder will find that the front squat will put him in the proper position to develop the frontal thigh muscles. 8. ascent.) Quarter Squat. not increased muscle mass. especially those directly above the knee. he can command greater force in his recovery to standing position. A heavy enough weight should be used to ensure that drive and force will be put into the effort of straightening the knees. It is also possible.) Front Squat. higher sets of lower reps are generally performed.partially supported under the thighs and buttocks by the bench when he reaches a depth of his choosing. with the entire idea being one of building ligament strength and the ability to support greater weights.