How To Squat Frequently To A Daily Max

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About 4 years ago I made the transition away from body part split-type training. Even though my focus was on powerlifting at that time, I was style stuck in the “only train each movement once a week rut.”

It was around this time that my squat progress stalled. No matter what I did I couldn’t get my max above 500 pounds. I tried every imaginable program, from Hepburn style training to Westside (or what I thought passed for Westside). 12 months passed and I made absolutely no additional progress.

I began playing around with frequent squatting at this time. Though I made a few mistakes during the 3 years that followed, my squat max skyrocketed up to nearly 700 pounds (raw) and my form improved dramatically. My mental strength also grew by leaps and bounds.

Before I outline the plan I used during these years, I want to present a few things for you to consider.

How Frequently Should I Squat?

Some of you might be tempted to rush out and squat every day. I found that squatting 2-3 days per week allowed me to increase my squat max while giving me a break from the mental torture that is frequent squatting. The hardest thing for me about frequent squatting was the mental side of things. It feels like jumping out of an airplane into a war zone.

After my daily squat singles moved above 580 I simply didn’t want to deal with the mental strain of getting under that heavy load 3x a week. At this time I reduced my squatting to 2x a week, or even once every 4 days. My squat still continued to climb. It ended up around 645 training singles, even with this slightly reduced frequency.

Woman Squatting

Add weight to your heavy daily max single when the previous weight felt manageable. You should never feel any pressure to force progression.

The lesson I learned here was simple…more is not necessarily better. Frequent squatting taught me to listen to my body and know when to push. Adding in extra training days just increased my mental stress, but didn’t really increase my progress. I found that I was able to add 5 pounds to the bar every 10-21 days regardless of my squatting frequency.

I don’t recommend rushing out and squatting every day just because some cool coach on the net has bigger balls than I do and encourages it. Start by squatting every 2-4 days and see how things go for you.

Using Intuitive Rest Between Workouts

I never used a plan that said I HAD to squat on days X, Y and Z. I would squat and then see how I felt the next day. Sometimes I would squat 4-5 times per week, and sometimes 1-2 times per week. It is OK to allow your rest days to be more fluid and intuitive.

I squatted when I felt physically fresh and mentally ready to tear it up in the gym. Some days I found that lack of sleep or work stress left me feeling drained. On those days I just kicked back, ate some food, and didn’t try to squat.

Marc Lobliner SquatsWarm Ups Are Critical

Listen to your body during warm ups. I would only push for that extra 5 pounds on a given day when:

  1. The weight used during my last workout felt manageable, meaning not close to a max attempt.
  2. I was rocking during my warm ups and was hungry (and felt ready) to make progress on that given day.

If you’re not feeling it during warm ups, either physically or mentally, just do a “lighter” daily heavy single and get out of the gym. Don’t train stupid. Listening to your body is a critical part of this program.

NOTEA daily max is NOT your one rep max. Don’t forget it. You are not trying to test your one rep max each day.

Frequent Squatting to a Daily Max

Here is how to approach frequent squatting to a daily max.

Start With 85%.  Start with 85% of your one rep max. This is now considered your “light day weight.”

Adding Weight. When you perform this first single, if it feels manageable (meaning not close to failure), you now have the freedom to add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you squat. This new maximum amount you can squat (if you feel up for it on a given day) is called your “heavy day weight.”

Daily Training. Each day moving forward you now have the decision to either stick with your light day weight, attempt to add 5 pounds to your heavy day weight, or use a weight somewhere in between these 2 numbers.

  • Option #1 – Use your light day weight.
  • Option #2 – Add 5 pounds to your previous heavy day weight.
  • Option #3 – Use a weight somewhere in between.

What you do on any given day should be dictated by how you feel when warming up. Also, never try to add 5 pounds to your previous heavy day weight if it felt sketchy and close to failure.

This is really about it. The process isn’t complicated but it works.

You simply add weight to your heavy daily max single when the previous weight felt manageable. You should never feel any pressure to force progression. Let it come to you naturally and safely. Even if you “only” add 5 pounds to the bar every 5 weeks, your squat is still moving up 50 pounds a year.

Note About Light Days. Your light day weight should never be more than 50 pounds lower than your heavy day weight. This means that if your heavy day weight progresses to 500 pounds, the lightest you will squat on any given day is 450 pounds.

Heavy Squats

If you are squatting more than once every 3rd day then your assistance work will need to be adjusted to take this greater frequency into consideration.

Note About Assistance Work

Assistance work should be structured to fit your needs and weaknesses. You can perform more than a squat single each day. Here are several possible options is you want to add in more squat work:

Option #1 – Drop Doubles

  • Work up to your daily heavy single
  • Drop the weight by 7.5% to 10% and perform 2-3 sets of doubles

Option #2 – Drop Doubles & Triples

  • Work up to your daily heavy single
  • Drop the weight by 10% and perform 2 sets of doubles
  • Drop the weight by an additional 7.5% to 10% and perform 2-3 sets of triples

Option #3 – Speed Work

  • Work up to your daily heavy single
  • Drop the weight by 25% and perform 5 sets of doubles (speed work)

Option #4 – Paused Drops

  • Work up to your daily heavy single
  • Drop the weight by 7.5% and perform a paused single
  • Drop the weight by an additional 7.5% and perform 2 paused reps
  • Drop the weight by an additional 7.5% and perform 1-2 sets of 5-8 paused reps

Option #5 – Drop Volume

  • Work up to your daily heavy single
  • Drop the weight by 20% and perform 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Drop the weight by an additional 10-15% and perform 2 sets of 10 reps

Keep in mind that this is optional. I never scheduled in additional work; it just kind of happened based upon how I felt on that given day. You can schedule it in if you like, or cycle between different options as well.

Recovery is key for me when squatting on a frequent basis. I try to limit assistance work to a maximum of 2 sets per exercise. Here are a couple example assistance work templates:

Heavy Squatting

Template #1 – The Leg Builder

  • Daily max squat single
  • Option #1 – Drop Doubles
  • Leg Press – 2 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift – 2 sets x 8-20 reps
  • Leg Curls – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Ab work
  • Calf work (optional)

Template #2 – Posterior Chain Day

Note: This works well for guys deadlifting after squats

  • Daily max squat single
  • Additional squat option from above if needed
  • Deadlifts/Speed Deadlifts/Good Mornings…etc.
  • Leg Press – 2 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Hamstring exercise – 2 sets
  • Ab work

If you are squatting more than once every 3rd day then your assistance work will need to be adjusted to take this greater frequency into consideration. For those of you squatting 4-5 times per week, it’s wise to:

  1. Cycle the types of assistance exercises performed on a daily basis. For example, you might cycle in 3 days waves, alternating between leg curls, drop doubles and leg presses.
  2. Limit assistance exercises to 2 per day.
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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.