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Bulgarian Split Squat Technique For Powerlifting

Bulgarian Split Squat Technique For Powerlifting – CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO


One of my favorite accessory movements, when done correctly, is the bulgarian split squat. And big emphasis on done correctly, as I think most people who have tried and ditched this movement typically found more frustration than benefit due to improper technique. Something like a belt squat or leg press is a fantastic movement to add lower body volume, but it also takes out a large aspect of positional awareness and stability, as the machine does it for you. This has the benefit of taking away much of the thinking and just allowing a lifter to perform the movement, but I’d argue the transferable skill is a bit different. Whereas with a bulgarian split squat, much like a competition squat, it requires a very specific balance and tension distribution to perform correctly and be strong at. As well as the uni-lateral benefits of isolating each leg can be of big help for someone who may have asymmetry of strength or kinesthetic awareness between legs.

In the above videos, I break down how I teach the bulgarian split squat for powerlifting. And while this could apply really to anyone performing this movement, not just powerlifting, it’s mainly aimed towards how we can perform this movement to maximally transfer to our competition squat. I made a story post yesterday with one of my athletes repping out 120lb. dumbbells on bulgarian split squats and had numerous responses from people in awe. But the fact is I would argue most powerlifters have no idea how strong they can be at this movement. I use the example with my athletes all the time of my M4 70 year old female athletes who both can rep out 40lb.+ dumbbells. While on the other end I have some people sandbagging with 30lb. dumbbells, but competition squatting 500-600lbs. Now I am not saying to have an ego and just do a ton of weight for the sake of it. But for those athletes I’ve had who have progressed these properly through the correct mechanics, I’d argue there isn’t a better lower body accessory movement for a powerlifter.

My Top 3 Favorite Squat Variations

My Top 3 Favorite Squat Variations – CLICK HERE

It’s become increasingly common to implement variations of the squat, bench press, and deadlift within training. Now revert back 20 years, and even now to an extent, conjugate reigned supreme and variation was a must. But around 2015 things started to shift towards hyper-specificity, and most people found low sustainability in that training style. Now we’ve seemed to find a happy medium between variation and specificity, in large part to an increased focus on prescribing variation with thoughtful intent and long term progression and sustainability. In my latest YouTube video, I start a 3 part series looking at my top 3 favorite variations in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, starting with squat in part 1. To set the framework for the series as a whole, I first breakdown the needs and benefits of variation, and cover the 7 primary reasons I implement any type of variation within a program. From there, I dive deep into my top 3 favorite squat variations. I look at the benefits they serve and why I like them so much. I show how to do them correctly to get their full benefit. I look at who these variations would benefit and under what scenarios I find these to be of most benefit. But also, I look at when not to program these variations and when they might not be the best fit. And then lastly for each one, I break down how and when I typically implement these within training. Click the link above to view!

Conceptualizing My Theory On Set Count As A Means Of Calculating Volume.

Conceptualizing My Theory On Set Count As A Means Of Calculating Volume.

So if you have watched any of my YouTube videos on programming, you would know I tend to equate my understanding of volume by set count, not total tonnage. If I have a lifter who squats 9 total sets a week, I will have them perform 9 sets regardless of the rep scheme, for the most part. Part of this is due to that I tend to not program above 6 reps outside of bench press (see my post on high rep deadlifts to see my theorization of how higher rep sets can be of benefit though). And the other part of it is that I’ve just never felt like equating volume through matching sets x reps has been truly effective. I think the main argument is due to absolute load increases, in that 3×7 @ 8 RPE versus 7×3 @ 8 RPE just isn’t the same due to the change in weight on the bar. That concept has been fairly agreed upon. But then is 3×3 @ 8 RPE really the same as 3×7 @ 8 RPE? I’ve gone back and forth with conceptualizing how and why 3×3 and 3×7 are similar and why I do not increase set count (due to the results I’ve seen with my lifters) to something like 4×3 or 5×3 to better match the total tonnage. To me seeing the results is great, but I also am striving to understand why the outcome is what it is. So let’s nerd out on some powerlifting programming theory.

What got me thinking about this originally was from the understanding of submaximal training and intra-set fatigue through the lens of the theories that the guys from @datadrivestrength have put out recently. This ideology allows us to see basically two parts within a set, at least in my understanding and what I’ve taken from their ideas. We have the reps that are specific to force production, and the reps that are more specific to the velocity of a 1RM, which these two parts can be the same thing at times. As well as velocity is not always 1RM specific based on the fatigued accumulated that creates the velocity loss. I do not really buy into the idea of “effective reps”, but instead would rather look at it as that there is a very obvious increase in fatigue as we reach closer to failure. @ 6 RPE, @ 7 RPE, @ 8 RPE, @ 9 RPE, and @ 10 RPE does not have some perfectly linear increase in fatigue. But instead as we reach closer and closer to a 10 RPE, fatigue starts to disproportionately increase. So as we accumulate reps of higher RPE, we accumulate some disproportionate level of fatigue. Just for sake of this conceptualized theory, let’s say anything below a 6 RPE does not accumulate any meaningful fatigue, and only 6 RPE and above really shows noticeable levels of fatigue accumulation or intra-set fatigue. If we do 3×7 @ 8 RPE and 3×3 @ 8 RPE, we have accumulated the same number of fatiguing reps of 6 RPE or above. This doesn’t mean effective reps though, as I am not sure that thought process applies to strength training near as well. In principle based on this concept, even though volume is not equated, fatigue is equated for the most part. Does the prior 4 prior reps before 6 RPE on the sets of 7 have some effect? Yes, but that will be independent of each individual lifter. And for many those reps will not be noticeable enough that I believe it then warrants us equating fatigue by adding another set or two to 4×3 or 5×3 to account for that. As well as that is most likely offset to some degree by 3×3 being completed with a heavier absolute load.

Some lifter’s may respond great to both 3×3 and 3×7, but what we do find though within these differences is that some lifters respond best to a certain level of volume. Have them do 3×3 instead of 3×7, and while fatigue is matched, some level of fitness is lost due to the need in some manner for those 12 accumulated non-fatiguing reps prior to 6 RPE. The need for these 12 non-fatiguing reps could be for multiple reasons such as skill practice, hypertrophy volume requirements, distance traveled requirements (see my high rep deadlift post), or the argument @datadrivestrength makes for high force production reps. So the general logic would then be the increase to 4×3 or 5×3 to account for this, but then we see the increase in fatiguing reps.

If we did 4×3 or 5×3, could we just make sure the extra 1 or 2 sets are very submax and back off let’s say 6-10% from the top set weight, which then equates to the same number of fatiguing reps? Possibly, but that’s where I then move into the argument of trying not to over complicate things. The less variables we have to change block to block, the more we can be able to track data of the what, how, and why things are working the way they are. As well as load wise, the load used for those back offs will still likely be heavier than what is used for 3×7 @ 8 RPE. So it just becomes a big list of variables that is hard to manage. And now for each phase of training you need a separate template of the training structure and what the lifter responds to. Instead I’d rather formulate a training structure that can be implemented and used year round, rather than introducing new variables with set count and volume every block.

The next drawback to this theory, is what is my solution if a lifter requires a certain level of volume, but also needs to satisfy heavier absolute loads for specificity? To make this easy and stick with the above example, we could simply have 1×3 @ 8 RPE, then 2×7 @ 8 RPE. We satisfy the need for heavier loads and motor unit recruitment, we equate fatiguing reps, and we satisfy the need for a certain volume level that an individual lifter needs to maintain their fitness level or adaptations occurred. Again this is just an example, and more than likely many lifters I have aren’t doing sets of 7, so equating sets in the 2-6 rep range is much easier and requires a lot less variable manipulation. Which as I’ve mentioned in my videos, is one of the main reasons I tend to stick with most movements being 6 reps or less for most people. It just plainly simplifies things to make it easier to figure out what works, and how to create that same progress block to block long term.

The last caveat to this theory is that I feel safe to say that the vast majority of coaches tend to stay within the 6-8 RPE range, and only at rare times push closer to 9-10 RPE. So in this theory of 6+ RPE being “fatiguing”, with most cases we are incurring 1-3 fatiguing reps. So equating sets of 2-3 to really any other rep scheme is fairly easy when matching fatiguing reps. But what about singles then? Again, if you have watched my YouTube series on programming, you would know I don’t actually count something like a top single towards total set count. It is so minimal in the sense of volume that it’s hard to equate that to any other sets. So while we may not count a top single as a set, we can count it as a fatiguing rep and factor that into average absolute intensity for the session.

Slack Pull: The 5 Best Techniques To Optimize Your Deadlift

Slack Pull: The 5 Best Techniques To Optimize Your Deadlift – CLICK HERE

Powerlifter’s will spend years trying to master the art of slack pull in the deadlift. So in my latest YouTube video I break down the 5 best slack pull techniques to hopefully speed up the process for you and optimize your deadlift now. I first look at the foundational principles that must be in place within the conventional and sumo deadlift to create the positional and force requirements needed to pull slack optimally. I then break down the 5 techniques that I see the strongest and most efficient deadlifters using. And while powerlifters may have slightly different variations of these techniques, the base foundation of almost all top level deadlifters will fall within the realm of one of these 5. I cover the do’s and don’ts of deadlift and slack pull, and the big things that tend to plague powerlifters from being able to pull slack efficiently. And then lastly, I take a look at real life examples with lifters I coach, covering each of the 5 techniques with slo-mo technical analysis of their lifts. Click the link above to view!

How To Program Variations

How To Program Variations – CLICK HERE

The most popular article on my website month after month is “What Percentage Of Your 1RM To Use On Variations“. I know when I first got into powerlifting, a big question I had was how to use my competition squat, bench, and deadlift 1RM/training max to then calculate something like a tempo squat or 3 second pause bench press. And from my research, outside of a couple tidbits here and there in forum posts, nothing like that existed. So from my coaching experience I put together a list of all the squat, bench press, and deadlifts variations I have used, and where I generally find athlete’s strength on those movements. In my latest YouTube video, I dive deeper into this topic with how to actually program these variations. I briefly cover the general percentage of 1RM that these variations fall under, but more so I dive into how to actually calculate and program these variations within a percentage based or RPE based program. These will not be 100% universal, and there are going to be outliers from what I recommend. But this will hopefully give most people a great starting point rather than just completely guessing, as well as the ability to program these appropriately within their training program. Click the link above to view!