It is rare that a week passes without receiving questions about squatting. I am regularly asked about barbell squats, unilateral options, the potential of either, the differences between each, and what athletes really need. I also get my share of “how much can you squat” questions.
The reality though is that I’ve spent little time with barbell squats for the last 15+ years. I am certainly not against barbell squats, but it is an exercise that has little to do with my role as a trainer. I train fighters during the day so I’m often inside the ring holding mitts, outside running with them, and/or leading them through conditioning drills. As much as I may want to squat, it rarely makes sense as I need my legs to be fresh when I’m moving around the ring with one of the fighters.
I do however mix in a good share of unilateral leg training as I can get it in almost anywhere and I don’t need nearly as long to warm-up before performing challenging variations. Such variations do not involve as much weight (when compared to barbell squats), so the need to gradually warm-up towards max-effort loads is nonexistent.
Yet with that said, I had an itch to squat barbells a few months back. I wanted to mix them in without interfering with my coaching duties. I began squatting on Saturday mornings last fall at a time when I didn’t have any fighters with bouts lined up. After approximately 1 month, I was able to work up to 405 pounds (related discussion here). It was not a one rep max, as I didn’t feel comfortable enough with the movement to push myself to determine a true max.
Soon after, we began preparing for a bout in December (last year), so I eased off the squats as my Saturday mornings shifted back to training sessions for the fighters. It was fun while it lasted.
As for the relevance of this blog entry, I recently came across an article from Ben Bruno which addresses a similar topic. Ben is quite strong and performs a considerable amount of single leg training. In the article below, he shares the results of a test that he performed on himself. If you have any interest in single leg training, his work is certainly worth a look.