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How to Increase Your Squat and Deadlift

And Do Less Work in the Process! By Jim Hoskinson

Watch the Video of Jim's Squat and Deadlift PR's

While sitting in the warm-up room at the W.P.C. World Championships in Lake George, N.Y., I reflected on the three squat attempts I had just completed in bewilderment. I just bombed out my third time in the last 4 meets, and in addition hurt myself during the warm-ups. I was discouraged and confused as I tried to understand why I was loosing my balance. My knees were coming forward too much and my hips always hurt. Therefore, as a result I was struggling to get deep enough on every attempt. Later, that day after viewing a video of my attempts I realized that my stance was noticeably closer, and I seemed to have a twisting motion on my decent. I knew I was bigger and stronger than ever before yet I hurt worse and felt uncomfortable. I had trained the same way for all of the four years I competed. My attitude had always been more and more volume and to push myself harder and harder in my workouts right up to meet day. I knew something was wrong yet I didn’t know what. Over the last few years people that have gotten to know my training principles have shared with me I would be better if I did less and in strength waves and that I just plain over train.

I told myself it was time for a change. I decided to address my weak points and concentrate on finding my groove again. I couldn’t decide what equipment I wanted to train with over the next 10 weeks. Therefore, I trained totally raw. Not even a belt for a while. I dropped my box to 13” and went with boots. They were more comfortable. My hips hurt if I went wide on my stance. I also trained with heavy bands: 2 blue bands, a green and a purple tension up to 2 rm for 4 weeks and then decided to seek out help in developing a better program. I was reading so much contradicting info; I was not sure who to talk to. I wanted to learn and incorporate kettlebells and had read about Marc Bartley. I knew he was in South Carolina which is only 4 hours from my home. I decided to go there and learn kettlebells. In doing so he talked to me and seemed to understand my struggles in powerlifting. He then offered to help me and I gladly accepted.

It was one of the best decisions I made. I followed his program to the letter. It was so much different than what I was used to and such a different approach. It felt as though I should have done more. However, I was determined not to deviate. I also made a decision to continue and finish totally raw and see what I could accomplish. My goal was to walk the weight out from the racks as well, for no other reason than to just see if I could.

Mark put me on an 8-week program with a de-load week after 3 heavy weeks. I found this strange, and my heaviest lift was 4 weeks prior to the contest. I thought it was crazy, yet I am a believer in his theory and application of strength principles now.

He had me stop bands since I was already 5 weeks into them. I used to only do bands to different degrees until contest time, so to stop them after only 5 weeks felt weird. I went with squatting with chains even though I backed the weight out. For 5x3 increasing each week for 3 weeks, then in the last set of the 3rd week was an all out double with chains. Then came a de-load week, which was extra sled (prowler) training –hack squats etc.

After the de-load week I came back to hit a workout set of 5 reps then 3 sets of 3 each going up in percent of weight then back to the 5 rep set. The last 2 weeks were de-load weeks first which was of 60% of max 5 sets of 3 no belt. The next week was 50% of 1 rm for 5 sets of 3 no belt. This was the max effort day. During this time I rack pulled for 3 weeks up to a 3 rm on 8”of height. Then I went to floor for a 3 rm off 3”, then the next week a 2 rm off 2”. Marc had me stop doing heavy 5 rm good mornings and kettlebells 3 weeks out, yet he had me continue using the reverse hypers, finishing with core work of the grappler and abs.

The speed pull day consisted of 60% for 6 sets of 3 off the floor, no belt on until one week before the contest. My assistance was kettlebells, heavy back work, and hack squats. To my arguments Marc suggested I cut down on the assistance work 2 weeks out.

The results were an 840 lb, squat which I backed out of the rack and a 700lb pull. Both totally raw!!! I benched 535 lb. but the bench routine is another article. I totaled 2,075 lbs. at 305 lbs. My previous best deadlift was only 722 and that was with briefs and a max inzer deadlift suit. I feel I have improved quite a bit. I knew when I started this program, due to weakness and fear due to a very bad accident to both my quads and knees 4 ½ years ago I would struggle to back out properly. I did struggle backing out of racks with 800 lb and didn’t go deep enough. However, in the monolift I could do it. Therefore, the 840 lb squat and how I performed it was a big improvement. I am not trying to argue the impressiveness or credibility of these lifts, only to show the improvement in only seven weeks with applied knowledge. A video of these has been also given to this website to substantiate these statements.

I agreed to write this for Marc’s website because in the years I have known Marc he has been overly helpful and supportive. I consider him a friend and am fortunate to have him helping me in my powerlifting career. My hope is this article motivates someone who reads it, to sincerely apply Marc’s principles in the squat and you will get stronger, No doubt.


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