Workout Systems: Squat Every Day

Workout Systems: Squat Every Day

“Squat Every Day” is a workout system that challenges conventional thinking about optimal training intensity and frequency. It is designed not just to improve your squat max, but your overall strength, muscle mass, and athletic ability.

Those promoting the system include Cory Gregory, Matt Perryman, and other respected strength experts. Perryman wrote a book about the program called, appropriately, Squat Every Day: Thoughts on Overtraining and Recovery in Strength Training.

All of these programs recommend that you squat every training day and begin each workout with squats. Because the squat is unquestionably the single most effective exercise for increasing overall strength and size, proponents of this program believe that specializing on this exercise will produce significantly faster results than other strength and mass-building programs.

One of the appeals of the program is that it represents a training philosophy that challenges current thinking about how much hard work the body is capable of lifting on a consistent basis. Proponents of the program believe that how you feel going into a workout can be deceptive, such that you might not feel strong when starting a workout but could still end up breaking personal records that day. As such, the program doesn’t involve getting locked into predetermined percentages of an individual’s one-repetition maximum (1RM), but rather to adjust the weights you use on a given day based upon how the workout progresses.

Many readers of the Perryman’s book may be disappointed with the lack of detailed workout programs, but in a way this makes sense because the author believes that every training session should be flexible to adjust to the physical capabilities of the individual. That being said, reading his book cover-to-cover will give you a good understanding of how to design a workout that is best for you.

Gregory’s version of the program goes into much more specifics about how the workouts should be designed. He provides recommendations for 11 different squat variations that can be performed, suggests auxiliary exercises, and provides precise prescriptions for sets and reps. For example, here is a general outline of a seven-day split:

Monday: Squat and Chest
Tuesday: Squat and Pull
Wednesday: Squat and Shoulders
Thursday: Squat and Arms
Friday: Squat and Chest/Back
Saturday: Squat
Sunday: Squat

On a squat and chest day, here is the order of exercises for one of Gregory’s workouts: Bike and Walking Lunge (warm-up); Close-Stance Deep Squat with Belt; Glute-Ham Raise supersetted with Walking Lunge; Bench Press; and a tri-set consisting of the Incline Dumbbell Press, Push-up, and Dumbbell Fly.

Before going further, consider that the concept of squatting every day is not new. Weightlifters are known to squat daily, and elite weightlifters have been known to squat multiple times a day. Two countries that have national weightlifting teams using high-frequency squatting are Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. During a 6-day training week, Bulgarian coaches might have their athletes squat 12 times in a week, as follows:

Mon/Wed/Fri
Front Squat: 2 sessions, morning and evening
Tue/Thur/Sat
Back Squat: 1 morning session
Front Squat: 1 evening session

Consider that these squats are performed with as many as 24 additional sessions of classical lifts and pulls. The Kazakhstan program for elite lifters is similar to the Bulgarians, but focuses on the front squat. In one workout shared by one of their national coaches, their athletes front squatted twice a day, six days a week, with three of those workouts working up to 100 percent, with the fourth begin at 95 percent. It should be noted, however, that many weightlifters from Bulgaria and Kazakhstan were banned from international competitions in recent years for violating doping policies.

Regarding intensity, with Perryman’s program you set a minimum weight to be lifted each day and slowly warm-up to it. When you reach that weight you have several options, depending upon how difficult that set was. For example, if that set was not a limit weight for the day you can continue going heavier to try for a new personal best. If it was especially heavy, you can do back-off sets with lighter weights.

One of the expectations of the program is that those using it will be more comfortable with handling heavy weights more frequently, and proponents of the system often support their beliefs with by referencing the coaching methods of Bulgarian lifters. For example, former Bulgarian National Weightlifting Coach Ivan Abadjiev made this comment about training intensity: “When observing animals, for instance, they don’t have micro and macro cycles. They don’t have leisure periods. They are all the time active. They don’t have performance of 80% or 70%. They only have performance achievements of 100% all of the time. The way that animals prey, whatever they do, they do it their best and they do it at 100%. This is the way they survive.”

If nothing else, the squat every day programs can increase technical proficiency in the lift. This feature by itself may rapidly increase squatting results because the technique for lifting a max weight is different that lifting a sub-max weight. As an analogy, consider that weightlifting coaches often don’t count lifts below 70 percent of their 1RM in their workout logbooks as they believe the technique with these relatively lighter weights is considerably different than with heavier weights. Likewise, Abadjiev thought that the best way to improve technique with heavy weights is to lift heavy weights, and as such his athletes performed more maximal lifts in training compared to conventional training programs.

Advanced training protocols such as German Volume Training and Cluster Training are not meant to be used more than a few times a year. Perhaps the squat every day program might be included in this category as a way to shock your system into rapid increases in strength and muscle mass? In any case, if you’re serious about getting bigger and stronger, and especially in improving your squat max, the squat every day system may be just the training system for you.

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