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Ride The Wave

Ride The Wave
[Editor's Note: This week we have a special guest at Muscle Mechanics in the person of C.J. Murphy. C.J. is a celebrated training expert and owner of Total Performance Sports Gym & Athletic Training Center in Everett, Massachusetts, a recent recipient of a "Best of Boston 2012" award from Boston Magazine. His gym has also been named (twice!) as one of America's Top 20 Gyms by Men's Health. C.J. has helped countless athletes achieve their performance and physique goals and we're happy to have him here, sharing his expertise with our readers. Look for more columns from C.J. both here and in a new feature, Monday Morning Motivation, that we'll be introducing very soon. Welcome aboard, C.J.!]

Hi, ProSource readers! I'm going to kick things off here by letting you in on a way to squat more weight and have unstoppable endurance, while doing less exercises than you do now. It involves heavy weight, high rep squatting and it will make you leaner, faster, stronger and raise your endurance. It is not easy, but it works.
At TPS we have been running this squat wave for over 10 years for our athletes and clients with great success. I have also presented it at the prestigious LTT seminar and the feedback that I have gotten is tremendous.

Everyone who sticks with it has come away a believer in the system. Stick with it and I believe it will work for you as well. The workout is centered on the squat, specifically in waves in sets of 12, 15 or 20 reps. It is not for beginners or the weak of heart. You must also lower the volume on your other lifts while doing this wave.
The wave is done in 3-week blocks for 9 weeks. You begin the wave by choosing a weight that you can squat properly for 10 reps. You must be able to squat correctly and move through a full range of motion, this means ATG! Go below parallel! Don't choose a weight that you cannot handle and don't cut them high.

Squatting properly below parallel is going to activate more muscle mass in the hamstrings and glutes as well as the upper back. Heavy weight, high rep squatting causes your body to release more growth hormone post workout. This allows you to GROW and get strong.

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Okay, back to the wave. In week 1, we choose a weight that we can do 10 reps with and gut out 12. This requires a lot of intestinal fortitude and patience. You will feel like you can't do the last 2 reps if you choose wisely. You can. The mind will break before the body in many people.

You will use the same weight for all of your working sets. Working sets will consist of 3 sets of 12. You must warm up properly to be able to do this. All too often we see people doing far too much work in warm ups. Warm up is not the time for extra volume, it is the time to prepare your body for the work to come. In the chart at the end of this article we use the example of someone who squats 200 pounds for their work sets in Week 1. To warm up for this I suggest something like this:
  • Flexibility/foam rolling: 5 minutes

  • Movement prep: 5 minutes

  • Back raise: 10 reps, Pushups:10 reps,

  • Body weight squats (or air squats as the Crossfitters call them):10 for 3 sets

  • Squat:Empty bar 8-10 reps, 95-5 reps, 135-3 reps, 165-3 reps

  • Then move on to your work sets.

  • In Week 2, we take the weight that we used in Week 1 for the 3 work sets and add 5-10% and do 3 sets of 15.

  • In Week 3, we add 5-10% to the weight used in Week 2 and do 1-2 sets of 20. The wave then repeats itself for Week 4 and we use the same weight that we did for 20 in Week 3, but we do 3 sets of 12. This cycle continues on for 9 weeks.
Use the chart below for reference:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
Warm up set 3-5 sets
x 3 reps
Work sets
200x12x3 sets
Add 5-10% (10% increase)
3-5 warm up sets x 3 reps
Work sets
220x15x3 sets
Add 5-10% (5% increase)
3-5 warm up sets x 2 reps
Work sets
230x20x2 sets

Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
Begin week 4 with 10% over week 3
Warm-up 3-5 x 3 reps
Work sets
255x12x3 sets
Warm-up 4-6 x 3
Work sets
265x15x3 sets
Warm-up 4-6 x 2
Work sets
280x20x2 sets

Week 7 Week 8 Week 9
(5% increase)
Same warm-up
Work sets
295x12x3 sets
Warm up 4-6 x 3
Work sets
310x15x3 sets
Warm-up 4-6 x 2
Work sets
325x20x2 sets

I strongly suggest doing only one assistance exercise for your weak points each workout while doing this wave. Choose something that targets where you need the most work. Glute/Ham raises are great if you have access to a bench, RDL's are also great. The choice is up to you. Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Do less volume, as the reps pile up over the weeks.

On your other training days, chooses 3 or 4 exercises and keep the volume low. This wave is to increase your squat, but your other lifts will go up as well. Do maintenance work for them. Three sets of 5 is a good idea for things like the bench press, deadlift or overhead press. Weighted ab work is also a good idea. At TPS we like weighted sit-ups, one-arm Farmer's Walks, ab wheel and heavy side bends.

It is important to know that this cycle has been tested and proven to work in those that have the mindset to stick with it. If you look at the chart, it does not seem like you will be able to do the weights listed, but you WILL.

When the reps get in the 15's and 20's, you will need to do breathing squats. Breathing squats are done by doing your reps as usual, and when you begin to get tired, pause between reps, take a few big breaths and then hold the last one and squat, DEEP. Reset, breathe a few more times and continue until you are done. Do not quit or miss reps.

Another tip is to do your reps in clusters. I like to think about doing 4 sets of 3 clusters in the 12 week, 3 sets of 5 clusters in the 15 week, and 10 sets of 2 clusters in the 20 week. To perform clusters, simply take a huge breath of air and do 2-3 reps, pause at the top, take another big breath and do the rest until the cluster is done. Stand erect in between clusters and stay tight, take 2 or 3 big breaths and perform another cluster and repeat his until you are finished with all of your reps.

Imagine the difference in your physique and your game if you can add 90-100 pounds to your 20 reps squat in 2 months!

This program works, I have done it personally and have had countless athletes follow it with huge success. If they can do it, so can you.

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