Get Your Butt Out of the Hole – How To Improve Your Squat

Today’s article comes to us courtesy of Jarlo Ilano, PT, MPT, OCS, physical therapist and co-founder of Gold Medal Bodies.

Squats.  I love ‘em.  There are probably some states and municipalities where they’ll let me marry them.  I’m sure my wife would understand, she knows what they mean to me.

Like with any great love, it was transformative.  I was your typical ectomorph asian kid (interesting aside, Teddy Roosevelt called Filipinos “his little brown brothers”. Hard to be offended though, since it was Teddy fricking Roosevelt).  Then came squats, like a revelation from the heavens:

“Thou shalt gain thirty pounds of muscle from putting weights on your back and bending your knees!”

Thunderbolts and lightning, it was a big thing.

Tale as old as time: Do your squats, eat more than you can stand, repeat as needed, and you’ll grow.  I was lucky enough to learn that early and not get too distracted by everything else.

I was also lucky enough to dial in my form from the start.  Attribute it to starting early enough as a kid or genetic heritage, but squatting butt to heels was no big deal.  The ability to get to the full range of motion allowed me to get maximal gains from my lifting.  Because it was so natural, I didn’t think anything of it.

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A Case for Frequent Squatting

You know, it’s funny. If you were to ask me two years ago about how to improve my squat, I would’ve replied with something like “cycle your intensities,” or “don’t train the movement more than twice per week,” or “drop the movement altogether and replace it with a variation for a short period,” only to return to the movement in hopes of being stronger.

However my views have changed a great deal over the last few years and I have the likes of John Broz, Nicholas Horton, Matt Perryman and Bret Contreras to thank for this.

When building training programs, especially those geared toward strength and muscle gain, I was always weary of taxing the nervous system.  I never wanted my clients to overdo it.

Now, I’m still a believer in rest and recovery, but the old notions of needing a full 3-4 days (or more) of rest before training a movement again have since faded from my psyche.

It began as I experimented last year with frequent full body training.  I was basically doing heavy pulls, squats and presses every other day, no matter what.

Some days were good, some sucked, but I was consistent. Guess what?  I got stronger.

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Former Fat Boy Syndrome Hangups

This article is a follow up from last weeks article, From Fat to Fit.  Both are written by Bryan Barletta.  This also is a nice expansion to my original article, The Former Fat Boy Syndrome.

As I write this, I question the former part of the title, and that’s bad but progress doesn’t happen over night. See it’s more than just physical with being a fat boy. You’re mentally fat too. Take it from someone who was called Fatletta most of his life.

As you progress through your diet and exercise plan and away from your old life, if you were ever fat or even chubby, there’s a lot you’ll have to let go of. I searched forums and websites for someone to commiserate with and I never found someone who went through the exact same experience as I did. No one will. But I’m sure that I can shed some light on some of the common problems or thought’s you’ll hit in your journey.

Eat Up, Fatty

It’s hard to convince a FFB (former fat boy) or FB (fat boy) to eat what they’re told. Forget about clearing the broccoli from your plate, I’m talking about the Macros. When JC first put next to the fat grams on my macros “lower fat to minimize fat loss” I undercut his 33g/50g of fat down to nearly 10g per day. Boy did I stall my progress. Your body needs fat and needs calories or it stops listening to your subtle suggestions. Because that’s what dieting is, subtle suggestions. If you go extreme, you stall. You’re your own worst enemy.

Document Your Before and After

I kick myself for throwing away all the “before” pictures I took and my measurements. I fell back more than a few times and got disgusted. Take them, lock them away, look at them every 3-6 months, no sooner. I’m sure you’ve already thought of recording this, but make sure you back it up or give it to someone you trust. The road ain’t easy, but it’s amazing when you look at the whole journey.

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From Fat to Fit – Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Today’s article is written by a friend and current client of mine, Bryan Barletta.  I’ll also be publishing another article he wrote this month as well.

You want me to eat how much? I had just read JC’s latest email response. It said that I need to eat more, across the board. At 5’8, 165lbs I was having trouble gaining weight for three weeks at a 3200 kcals/training days and 2400 kcals/rest days allotment while working out four days a week.

Now, JC wanted me to drop my training to three days and increase to 3400/2600. I poured myself another bowl of cereal and my wife asked if he was going to start paying for some of our groceries.

Skip back to October, our first month working together. My calories were 2700 kcals/training days and 1800 kcals/rest days and I was working out three days a week. Pre-JC I did Crossfit for three months. Before that I did every stupid diet out there, starting with 4 Hour Body, then Atkins, then Paleo.

But it got me from 190-195 pounds down to 155. The lower end of that happened through what I’ll blatantly admit was starving myself, but I had convinced myself that I was “fasting.”  Sadly that experience cost me just as much muscle as fat. Up until this point, I had never really worked out before.

While the scale did say 155, I couldn’t have looked worse. This was my first experience with “skinny-fat.” The scale couldn’t lie, right? 155 meant I was skinny, but the effect of all my poor choices had resulted in what looked like a skinny kid wearing a trash bag with a few gallons of water in it. It was gross and it left me in a worse mental place than before. Here I was, at a lower weight than I had been since Middle School, but nowhere near looking how I wanted.

Following JC’s instructions wasn’t easy at first. Food makes you fat, right? So I didn’t want to eat that much and tried to always eat less on rest days. I didn’t get it. I realized eventually that regardless of what you’re doing, your body needs a certain amount of fuel or you’re doing more harm than good.

But logic be damned, I wanted to lose weight. So I continued to squeeze myself into my tight clothing just to feel “skinny” while I told myself “you wouldn’t look good all muscly” and followed JC’s advice, well mostly.

Read moreFrom Fat to Fit – Getting Out Of Your Own Way

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