On Sunday, November 19, Andrey Malanichev came and gave a squat seminar at TPS.
I was interested in this seminar because it is not often that you can hear how someone of this caliber organizes their training to compete.
He is at the stage in his career where it would be impossible to get overload from volume. Instead he needs to be super specific and the intensity is relatively high. His programming was simple. It starts with higher rep sets and he adds 10kg to the bar every week.
Volume tapers down and intensity rises when he enters a strength block. He “tests” his lifts 3 weeks out, but only to 90% and then tapers exactly like Sheiko has had me do. This all made sense and was great to hear. However, there was a bigger piece to this seminar that I enjoyed seeing.
Here in America we are obsessed with special exercises and mobility drills to help us lift weights better.
This is driven by the commercial interests of providers as well as the companies that make the products. Hell, I bought into the whole “mobility exercises are crucial” Kool-Aid for a period of my career.
Naturally, the attendees were curious as to what special exercises and mobility drills that he does to warmup for the squat. He does no special exercises or mobility drills to warmup. He takes the empty bar for 4 sets of 10 repetitions and slowly works up to his working weights. In other words he warms up to squat by performing squats.
After this response an attendee asked a question “How would I improve squat depth if I struggle to squat to depth?” Malanichev replied with “Just squat deeper.” Everyone laughed because it was funny. However, this is something that I say to all of my lifters.
We no longer do any special warmups or mobility drills. Instead we warmup with the barbell. This is a far cry from what I would do 2 years ago. I would pick 3 mobility exercises with a device to loosen up, I would stretch, and I would perform a dynamic warmup.
My attitude towards the need for these things has shifted since I started working with Sheiko over 2 years ago. There is never a special exercise, or mobility drill prescribed to help me improve technique. Instead, we practice the movement with the right volumes, intensities, and variations to improve my technique.
As technical issues began to clear up by me going through the process, I began to question more and more the need for special mobility exercises as a warmup. The scientific literature backed me up on my findings. A sport specific warmup is more than enough.
Malanichev came from the same camp. When people were showing their squats to him and he saw technical errors, he would prescribe light weights with higher rep sets to help them fix the problem. Basically, practice your sport with good technique and over time it will continue to improve.
Here is someone at the highest level of the sport that has never done any special mobility exercises to activate muscles, or warmup. He is healthy, and has remained healthy enough to squat over 1,000lbs in a meet.
Since I stopped performing special mobility exercises and just focused on warming up with the empty bar and lighter weights, I feel much better. My technique has improved because my neuromuscular coordination within the lift has improved. It was not an issue that required a foam roller, or stretching.
I think many people can learn from this. Stop looking for a special warmup, exercise, or mobility drill to help you fix technical errors. Instead, get a coach that has a good track record and can help you by writing a program that uses the right volumes, intensities, and variations to clear up technical errors.
Focus your attention on your sport instead of some exercise that is not even doing what you think it does. The law of specificity applies here. Just because you “mobilize” your hips it does not mean your squat will be better. There are many people that take yoga that “can’t” squat to depth.
Written by: Kevin Cann
©totalperformancesports.com November 2017