Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Squat to Get Lean - Lara McGlashan/Justin Grinnell (2016)

More by Lara McGlashan:

What business do we have discussing squats in a column called Burn? Shouldn't we be talking about high intensity interval training or the latest, greatest supplement/diet/programming to lean you out and shred you up? 


Squats are probably the most underrated body-composition tool in your arsenal. If you're not squatting, you're probably not getting stronger, not adding muscle as quickly as possible, and not burning nearly as much fat as you could if you were hitting ass to grass at least once a week.

"The squat pattern is one of the fundamental human movements that everyone should master, with or without load," says Justin Grinnell, CSCS, and owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing, Michigan. "It sets the foundation for almost all other movement patterns and lifts, and works the body as a unit, causing a large metabolic cost and leading to more calories being burned." 

More by Justin Grinnell:

 Any exercise that allows you to build more muscle and increase strength will burn more fat because a muscle cell requires energy in order to thrive. When it comes to muscle building, the squat is second to none, engaging just about every muscle in your lower body as well as your core, back and shoulders. And the burn extends beyond the workout itself. 

"The squat causes such a large metabolic cost that it causes a cascade of hormonal release, increasing anabolic hormones such as testosterone, IGF-1 and growth hormone," Grinnell says. All these hormones mean additional muscle growth potential and a boost in metabolism. Translation: More fat burned, more lean tissue built, more forward progress no matter what your goals.

You're also able to hit ass to grass squats more than once a week because the legs have been shown to respond well to high-volume training (i.e., more reps, more workouts per week, more exercises per workout). While Olympic lifters and some powerlifters squat upward of four to six days per week, their goals are different from those trying to lose bodyfat. 

"The sweet spot for body composition change seems to be about two to three days (of squat training) per week," Grinnell says. "In order to see progress without overtraining, it's crucial that you vary your sets, reps, loads and total volume and have the proper intensity to elicit some type of response. On the flip side, you also need to back off in order to let your body recover and rebuild." 

These two programs, designed by Grinnell, outline a high-rep/high-volume day as well as a low-rep/heavy-weight day. "It's good to vary the rep rotation and squat variations to ensure that progress is consistent and that recovery happens," Grinnell says. "Vary the intensity for your chosen goal every four to six weeks for long-term gains." Implement these workouts starting now, and tell HIIT to take a hike. 

Squat to Shred

Overhead Squat, 2 sets of 5 reps, 1-2 minutes rest. 

Back Squat, 2 x 20 reps, as much rest as needed.
 - squat the equivalent of your body weight. 

Goblet Squat, 3 x 15, 1-2 minutes rest.

Walking Lunge, 3 x 10 each leg, 1-2 minutes rest.

Kettlebell Swing, as many sets as needed to complete 100 reps total.
 - perform sets of 10-20 reps until you achieve a total of 100 with a 24-kg kettlebell (men) or 16 kg (women). 

Farmers Carry, 1 x 100 meters. 

Squat for Strength

Squat Jump, 2 x 5 reps, 1-2 minutes rest.

Back Squat, 3 x 5, 3, 2, 3-6 minutes rest.
 - Do 3-5 warmup sets before going for the 5, 3, and 2 rep maxes.

Paused Front Squat, 3 x 3, 3-5 minutes rest.
 - Pause for 2-3 seconds at the bottom of each rep and stay tight. 

Pistol Squat, 3 x 5, 1-2 minutes rest.

Glute Ham Raise, 3 x 8, 1-2 minutes rest. 

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