Thursday, December 9, 2010

Every Other Week Squatting and Deadlifting - By JPS

Every Other Week Squatting and Deadlifting 
John Sanchez (a.k.a. Mr. Bigbutt) 

Sanchez’ Rationale for Infrequent Training… 

Do not perform a squat workout on one day and a deadlift workout on another day during the same week. Read this again. It is not a typo. This is the one thing that will save your adrenal glands, regain your manhood, and earn you some semblance of respect on the platform. 

Squat one week and do deads the next. Continue to alternate. Once every 14 days is all most (natural) people need for good gains with either lift. If you're juicing, try staggering your squat and dead workouts every 5 days instead of every 7. This will mean you squat and deadlift only once every 10 days. 

Do not yield to the temptation of throwing in a few "light" squats on your deadlift day. Do deadlifts only! This approach will preserve your knees for many more years to come. Likewise, do not perform extra "pulling" movements on your squat day. Keep your workouts simple and to the point. Eliminate any excess baggage. 
The only assistance I recommend is heavy hamstring work. 

Training only 2 days per week doesn't diminish the quality or frequency of your muscle growth stimulus. You are still hitting all pertinent muscle groups involved in the powerlifts once every seven days. If that seems like too long an interval for you, I suggest going to a once every 5 or 6 day routine. Even once every 4 days would work better than the popular twice every 7 days approach that most people adopt. Most conventional routines will have you squat, bench, and deadlift heavy once per week. With this approach you are working lower body heavy (squat/dead) twice in a 7-day period, although most you will usually only bench heavy and then go lighter the second time around. 

With the twice every 7 day approach that some people use, the most significant shortcoming is impaired progress on the squat and dead due to incomplete muscular recovery. 72-96 hours is not always enough recovery time for lifters, especially non-druggies. Both of these lifts have many prime movers in common, yet a lot of people will give one lift 96 hours of recovery while the other only gets 72. Why not throw an extra day in there and give both lower body movements an equal 96 hours? 

I actually developed this approach years ago when I was competing and quickly realized how much better I performed. I then got even braver and tried going from once every 4 days to once every 5. This approach worked even better for me. Today, I go once every 7 because all of my steroid-dealing cronies are either dead, in jail, or born again naturals. 

Note: Sanchez was a 1980s powerlifter. He deadlifted 775 @ 220 back in 1985 “juiced to the gills” (his own words). He claims to currently be capable of a 700 raw pull “any day of the week” (again, his own words). He is retired and also says he is drug free since 1988. He deadlifts twice a month on alternating Saturdays. 

Sanchez on cycling… 

I train heavy 90% of the time. Lately, that means the top set is a heavy triple, occasionally 4-5 but only with deads. If I get a triple with my target weight, I'll bump it up 20 the next time I DL and go for 2. I'll then stick with the weight until I can get a solid triple. This may take 2-3 workouts. Figure on 26 deadlift workouts per year. If I add 20 pounds every 3 workouts that adds up to at least 160 pounds improvement. Of course, there's no way in hell I'm going to improve like clockwork every 3 workouts to the tune of 20 pounds each time! Hell, I couldn't even do that on the juice! Here’s the reality. Whenever I go stale, I reduce the poundage considerably and cycle back up 20 pounds per workout until I'm once again hitting PR’s. I have improved 100 pounds in a year like this, but I was also gaining weight - A BIG HELP. I wouldn't cycle for a meet while using any pre-conceived time frames or peaking rep-set schemes. When healthy, I'm always within a few workouts of a true max single. 

90% simply means, "training to near max failure every workout.” Whether one does singles, doubles, triples, etc. doesn't matter. My top sets in nearly every workout are gut-busters. This is obviously pretty tough on one’s recovery and helps explain why I keep my workouts short, simple, and infrequent. It also explains why I reduce poundage considerably whenever I go "stale" and need a break from this type of routine. Having trained for over 22 years now, I've got a pretty good sense of my body's limitations. This random approach to one’s training poundage (in contrast to a systematic cycling approach) is purely instinctive, and not really appropriate for inexperienced lifters. Newer lifters would probably be better off cycling poundage in the more traditional style. 

Sanchez’s Workout… 

SATURDAYS: (alternating each week) 

Workout A: 
Leg curls (2 legged) 

Workout B: 
Deadlift (always come to a COMPLETE STOP between reps) 
Leg Curls (1 legged) 

SUNDAYS: (alternating each week) 

Workout A: 
Flat Bench 
T-Bars (wide grip) 
Dumbbell Laterals (1 armed) 
Chins (wide grip) 
DB Presses 
DB Curls 

Workout B: 
Incline Bench 
T-Bars (narrow grip) 
Dumbbell Laterals (2 armed) 
Chins (narrow grip) 
JM Presses 
BB Curls 

Notice the complete absence of supplemental quad work. I have always used a moderate stance squat. In the old days I would do leg extensions but only for looks. I can squat just as well now as I ever did without all that extra shit. 

If I HAD to recommend any single leg exercise for a sumo deadlift, it would be the FRONT SQUAT. Fronts hit my upper back like no other exercise and of course develop the quads much more than regular power squats. In the old days, I would do them right after deads and would work up to 500+. I didn't use them much, however, as I easily overtrain my back. Today, I avoid them completely. 

T-Bar rows are done on one of those machines where your back is supported. I don't recommend anything in terms of auxiliary back work where you are taxing the low back. This would preclude the use of low cable rows, unsupported t-bars, bent over rows, stiff-legged deads, etc. I feel like your erectors get PLENTY of work from plain old squats and deads. Chins are an ideal lat exercise for this very reason. 

I do dumbbell work strictly for the tarp-delt area - just a personal preference. surgs are okay for tarps, but I prefer compound movements. I can hit my tarps and the delts with the laterals. Don't fool yourself into thinking that surgs will help a weak DL lockout. T-bars are better. It's your mid tarps and rhomboids you want stronger for a nice deadlift finish. 

The most important thing to remember when working out is that LESS IS MORE. 

Other Elements of the Workout… 

I forgot to mention some other specifics about my long ago training, some of which may relate strongly to the so-called "HIT" method of powerlifting. 

1. I always pyramided my warm-ups, then hit one, maybe two, top work sets. Never did back-off, cool-down, or pump-up sets. 

2. I always went to total concentric failure on my top sets. Didn't worry about eccentrics, partials, pauses, or any other lifting permutations. 

3. I didn't cycle my lifts by starting light after a meet. I would just pick up where I last left off (sans equipment); with higher reps instead of singles or doubles, but these sets would be max effort to failure. 

4. The farther off the meet, the longer I would continually push my limits. This could go on for several weeks or several months, until I felt burned out or got injured. At this point I would back off somewhat and give myself a few weeks to rest with relatively easy weights. (I've been in this mode now for the past 12 years...) 

5. Over time I did less and less assistance work. Towards the end (1987 – ‘88, I did little more than leg curls and calf work to supplement my deads and squats. Extra upper body stuff included mainly chins, dips, and rows. 

6. In keeping with the short and brief concept that is common to HIT, my workouts rarely used to take more than an hour. Today, it takes me an hour alone just to wipe my ass off between sets (weak sphincters).... 

7. I did resort to doubles and singles as a meet approached, but I favored 5's during the off-season. 

8. Typically, I would gear up maybe a month or two prior to a meet. I used to hate gear. Most of the time, I lifted with just a belt. 

9. My gear was mostly worn out hand-me down junk from James Cash. I had an old Elite suit that I used both to squat and deadlift. I got maybe another 25 lbs. from that for both lifts. The wraps were something 
they used back in the early 80's and gave me around 50 or so on the squat. I used a very early type Inzer shirt in my last couple of meets and got maybe 20 lbs. from it. 

10. Drugs drugs drugs! Eight and a half years of hypertension, elevated LDLs, liver enzymes, and tender kidneys. This is also the main reason why I was so injury-prone. It happens to most druggies eventually, especially if their electrolyte levels get fucked up. Tendons need good electrolyte levels to keep from cramping up and avulsing from bony attachments during max efforts. I am always being facetious when talking about steroids. I wouldn't encourage my worst enemy to take them. They are the stuff of illusions! I used them for 8-1/2 years. The shitty thing about juicing is the "ball and chain" relationship you'll always have with your dealer, plus the constant need to cycle your lifts up and down like a yo-yo when your strength levels change from cleaning out. I not only had to cycle my drugs in the old days, but I had to BUDGET for them as well, and all for about a 10% advantage. In retrospect, it’s definitely not worth it.

Development of the Program… 

Back in the days when my lifts truly mattered (1980 – ‘8 , I figured out that (for me at least) training a lot LESS yielded much MORE in terms of results. Initially, I started out in 1977 as a bodybuilding wannabe and employed a Weideresque "bomb and blitz" routine that would have done Arnold proud, but I hadn't yet discovered the joys of ANABOLICS and quickly became overtrained. 

After meeting James Cash in 1980, I learned how to train like a powerlifter from one of the best and quickly adapted my approach. Cash was not an innovator by any means, but employed a standard overload progression that a lot of guys found useful back in the late 70's and early 80's. My own powerlifting schedule initially employed the common 7 day framework that most lifters still adhere to: squat and deadlift once a week, bench twice a week, and throw in a healthy amount of assistance work for good measure. I was usually in the gym 4-5 days each week. This routine lasted about a year after which I entered my first meet in 1981 at 198 and went mid 1600s. 

I changed my routine after this and experimented with an 8-day, then a 10-day framework around which to schedule my workouts. Ultimately, I settled upon a routine like this: 

Every 5th day I would either squat or deadlift. This meant I only squatted and deadlifted 3 times per month. I did the same with my bench, choosing to alternate the flat bench with incline every 5th day. I didn't change up my assistance work much, but spread it out over the 10-day framework. So now, instead of training in the gym 4-5 days out of 7, I was training 4-5 out of 10. Lots more rest and recuperation = nice gains. 

My next meet was just 5 months after the first and saw another 75 lbs. on my total, including my first 700 squat and deadlift. This was back in 1982 at around 210-lbs. bodyweight. I took a hiatus from serious training for a few years after this due to several injuries but returned to competition in 1985 at my first Texas meet. I squatted 711 (missed 750) and pulled 775 at 217 bodyweight. I went elite in this, my 3rd meet. 

Injuries continued to plague me, as did bomb-outs, in subsequent meets, and my swan song was in 1988, where I finally put together a total at 242 and went elite in that class as well. I also hit a 755 (missed 777) squat and just missed 804 in the dead. Today, at age 43, I am living in a nursing home and can barely walk. Ha ha... 

Sanchez on nutrition… 

Eat 250 grams per day of quality protein. If you can stomach it, try chum salmon (cheaper from the can). Lots of omega-3s and 70+ grams of protein per 15-ounce serving. 

Take one good multivitamin/mineral supplement, lots of vitamin C (work up to several grams), and glucosamine HCL for the cartilage. 

Q: How can one watch their fat composition eating 250 grams of protein a day? 

A: Fat is not the enemy. There are good and bad fats. Fats from saltwater fish are rich in omega-3s and have many positive benefits, including cardiovascular protection due to different prostaglandins, lowering of cholesterol, and protection against the stress of overtraining. To illustrate the power of omega 3 fatty acids, I once switched off my customary diet of daily canned mackerel (full of omega-3 rich fats and protein) for a period of one month. Instead, I ate only albacore solid white tuna in spring water (virtually fat free). In addition, I carefully maintained the other components of my diet, with no other changes. 

Total cholesterol before switching: 125 

Total cholesterol 30 days after switching: 176 

More importantly, HDL to total Cholesterol ratio was up from 2.4 (less than 1/2 risk) to 2.9 (3/4s risk). Though I had reduced my daily fat intake nearly 20 grams per day, look at the difference. 

Sanchez on creatine… 

Actually, I've got nothing against the was working great for me for several weeks. I'd gained over 10 pounds bodyweight with 15 grams per day. I was very pleased with the strength gains I'd experienced, UNTIL the day I avulsed my semimembranosus hamstring with 635. I was not dehydrated at the time. My legs, however, were in full extension and I was essentially stiff-legging the damn weight up with the bar at knee level - big mistake. Had I not been using creatine, the strength of my hamstring contractions would not have exceeded the tensile strength in their tendinous attachments. The semimembranosus tendon would therefore have not avulsed and I would simply have stood there with the bar not moving (like has happened many times before in training when one gets "stuck"), until I decided enough was enough and set the bar down. 

Sanchez on GMs and SLDLs… 

This current fascination among powerlifters with good-mornings and SLDL's is a mystery to me. Of course, Ed Coan's SLDLs with 700 lbs. might have some people convinced its a good supplementary exercise. 

I remember reading how Bruce Randall bulked up to 400 lbs. BW back in the early 60's and was doing good-mornings with 600 lbs. (but could only squat around 750). He was considered something of an oddball; however, especially when you consider that he later reduced down to 195 to win the Mr. America title. (What a waste of 205 lbs. of perfectly good fat...) 

But seriously, I tend not to do ANY low back work aside from REGULAR squatting and deadlifting. Hamstring work is always on one of them pretty leg curl machines. 

Some people may feel that the spinal erectors need tons of supplemental work in order to progress ones squat/dead, but I disagree. As for hamstring stimulation from SLDLs, you'll get plenty from just the regular deads, plus you won't trash your erectors in the process. 

The notion of enhancing a weak start off the floor with SLDLs is probably wishful thinking, too. You'd be better off doing DLs off a block, plus building up your quads, especially with front squats. 

If you're actually experiencing muscle cramps in your low back then maybe creatine is to blame. That shit has the potential to throw off your electrolyte balances. Consider a good cal-mag supplement and/or potassium gluconate tab. 

Sanchez on Weight Gain… 

Gluttony is the last refuge of the defeated. In other words, if you ain't shit at 242, why not try 275 or 308? You CAN'T HELP BUT GET STRONGER! His sacredness PAUL ANDERSON squatted only around 675 @ 275, and a whopping 1200+ @ 390. Extra girth around the middle helps your squat and bench! You're young, FORGET THE CARDIOVASCULAR COMPLICATIONS! 


  1. I'm sitting here googling JPS, because you reference it in the comments section, and I finally come across this same post at another site.
    It's amazing to me that Sanchez was willing to spread out his training days this way since at the time he was competing, probably no one else was doing it that way. You got to hand it to a guy who is willing to trust what he feels is right even if your peers think you're dead wrong. I could have saved myself lots of training dead-ends over the years if I could have done the same more often. But the power of suggestion(from a book, mag, or comment), would get to me too many times.
    Once again, Paul, thanks for the great post.

  2. interesting article

  3. It took me 33 years and lots of backwards slides to realize that I should alternate squats and deadlifts in my workout.

    Now that I am doing it, I am finding out some pretty amazing stuff.

    I might even compete again...

    Great article!


  4. I ended up splitting these two lifts up about 11 years ago for a few months and make tremendous progress in the squat and dead at that time. I was training 2X 1 week and 3X the next. The 3rd workout was just overhead pressing and arm work. All of my lifts shot up a lot.

    My only caveat to training like this is to be dedicated to your conditioning and maybe have a day of light bodyweight work or something on another day. Just an easy day.

  5. I recently embarked on this style of training without realizing it. Due to injuries and time I had to take a time out from my training for quite a while. I recently purchased 5/3/1 and have been perusing Wendler and your site for training info.

    I started to train but only ended up working out between 2 and 4 times a week, mostly 2. Thursday night I had to deadlift, it is my only lower body workout for the week. I came in and worked up to a 1RM. I broke my all time record by about 30 lbs. I haven't been training like I did in college (5 days a week) but rather training smart and conditioning.

    Moral of the story is to eat big, train smart and condition!

  6. Only real gripe (well not really a gripe) I have with this article are the thing about backdown sets, and the part about not doing light squats before deadlifts. Light squat loosen you up like no other. I think any intermediate or beginner lifter should still squat fairly frequently just get the motor learning of the movement in.

    Great article overall though. Sanchez really seems like a no bs type of guy. I'm actually going to cut a lot of the bs out of my routine thx to this article

  7. The content was really very interesting. I am really thankful to you for providing this unique information. Please keep sharing more and more information home lifts

  8. I recently started training the lower body every other week and I can back up what's being said here. I needed much more recovery because I was not making progress. Maybe its age(now 40) or lifting experience. I used to question the training and always seemed to experiment more w/ it rather than the recovery. Let's face it, most of us don't pay enough attention to nutrition and recovery. This is a good article and all should take notice.

  9. Great article. I like the idea of squats and DL every other week. I do like to wait at least two days before doing upper body work, although I am sure you can get used to it if your schedule dictates it.

  10. I just recently turned 47yrs and have been doing this type of workout for almost 30yrs. I usually workout 3 times per week.. M-W-F..always rest on weekends. I alternate Upper and Lower Body..Main movements such as Squats, Deadlifts, Bench and Incline.. a few accessories with each workout and it has worked wonders. Great article.