This week on Barbell Shrugged we chat with Chad Smith, former collegiate thrower, word class powerlifter, and founder of Juggernaut Training Systems.
World class doesn’t really tell the whole story. Not all the cool details, at least. Chad is one of the strongest squatters in the world. His best lift in competition – in only a belt and knee wraps – is 905 pounds. And unlike manypowerlifters of his size and strength, he’s good for way more than just one repetition on the platform. Check out this video of Chad dunking a 600 pound squat for 12 easy reps! I know, it’s extraordinary.
There’s no doubt, Chad’s one of the strongest dudes around. But he’s also got plenty of knowledge to share on the topic of strength. In fact, his best lesson might just be one of caution.
Let’s be honest, we are all spoiled as hell. At any time we can jump on the internet and find an unlimited amount of training information and ideas from practically every corner of the globe – Amazing lifts on YouTube, endless articles and eBooks on programming theory, great “WOD” blogs, you name it. But here’s the thing…not all of that information is good.
For every pearl of wisdom you might find out there, there will be a few hundred lumps of coal. Further, of all the true pearls, only a few will actually apply to you…For what you need…For where you want to be. That’s really the point. Of all the thing’s you could do with your precious training time and recovery potential, what makes the most sense? What will yield the greatest return? What do you need to be practicing?
Powerlifting is a great way to illustrate the point. Competitive fitness athletes of all stripes are experimenting more and more with exotic strength training methods. That’s a great idea in principle. If you can get super-duper strong you will certainly move lighter loads more efficiently, and you’ll be much more likely to destroy those Crossfit WODs that are currently kicking your ass in. But the only problem is an obvious one – The needs of a competitivepowerlifter are much different than those of the average gym rat.
Wide stance box squats with elastic bands and circa-maximal loads (I know, fancy words, right?) might be a cool way to improve squat performance, but it’s only one way, and it’s certainly not for the beginner or intermediate athlete. In all honesty, these methods might best apply to a only select number of equipped, highly experienced powerlifters who are fighting to squeeze every last pound out of their potential. They have already been training for a decade or two with traditional strength training methods, and now, they just need a few tricks and hacks to keep the party going.
For them it makes perfect sense. There is no doubt over method. Can you say the same? Hint: The answer should be obvious. If you have doubt, then there is no doubt. Go simple instead for a while.
As Chad points out, if you want to get really strong then you have to first spend years practicing the core lifts. Practice, practice…Often. Heavy. Frequently. Don’t get impatient, and don’t be lured by the pretty hacks just yet. Injecting loads of variability and exotic methods just because it seems like a good idea will only undermine your progress. You need a constant stimulus. You need time. In terms of programming, there’s nothing that a few progressive, heavy sets of five cannot deliver.
I know, it’s not always a sexy or exciting way to train, but it works like a charm every time, and for everyone. And don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time to get exotic later on down the line. Trust me, if you train hard and long enough you’re going to need all of those fun tricks. Just save them for the right time when it really does make sense.
For more from Chad and Juggernaut, make sure to check out JTSStrength.com for tons of great training information. It’s a great site. You can also follow the Juggernaut crew on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
P.S. There are many paths to a big squat, but they all begin with the development of great technique and addressing weak links. The key is to choose styles of squatting that deliver what YOU need. This week onTechniqueWOD, Doug teaches you everything you need to know about the Box Squat. It’s only one way, but it could be just what you need to take your training to the next level.