Peaking with the Sport Back Squat
The main question I usually get asked in regards to the sport back squat is, "When do you
incorporate this in a training program?" With the sport back squat, what you want to decide on
sooner rather than later is where to place it in your program to yield the best sport's performance
results. There are two scenarios that I will paint here as well as my rationale for why we switch
from a normal back squat to the sport back squat. Essentially, I’ve realized more and more that
more advanced athletes need less absolute strength and require more sport specificity within their
programs. With that in mind, we must realize that many of these are advanced athletes. This
could be anyone from an elite high school athlete to a world class runner. Depending on who it
is, he may not need to get stronger at that particular time to increase performance in his sport.
Again, starting sooner rather than later on the usage of the sport back squat becomes more
important with the advanced athlete. I usually recommend a minimum of four to six weeks to
allow the transformation and the true results for the peaking model to take place with the sport
back squat in the advanced athlete. This is because the sport back squat is more sports-specific
with its narrower stance. It's also more applicable to sport because of the direction in which force will be applied to the ground as opposed to a wider stance squat. Athletes don’t need to keep working on hard, straining, maximal effort lifts in very wide stances. We want explosive, reactive athletes who can generate huge forces quickly in the direction where their sport will likely be played (i.e. narrow stance). Keep in mind also that the sport back squat won't be as deep as a wider stance, deep back squat.
Sport back squat depth should be somewhere around hamstring parallel or maybe a little lower,
but ultimately this can be adjusted based upon how the particular athlete competes in his sport
and at what level he squats down to. For example, a thrower may not squat as deep coming
across the ring while performing his throw. A hockey player, on the other hand, may have a lower
skating technique and therefore might squat to that particular depth.
Again—and I can’t reiterate this enough—this method would be reserved for more advanced
athletes. Let me first define 'advanced' as I apply it toward my programming. 'Advanced'
essentially is an athlete who has some basic training age (maybe even a high school athlete). For sixteen to twenty weeks of training, use the normal back squat. To get the most out of the sport back squat, place it four to six weeks away from competition in a peaking model. This will yield high results. The second scenario is that you have a young athlete who isn't very strong in your program and you aren’t sure when to place the sport back squat to get the best results. There are actually two scenarios with this particular athlete. The first scenario is the athlete will keep getting stronger with your normal wider squat. Three weeks prior to the most important peaking point, transfer him to a sport back squat.
The other scenario that could be used with this young athlete is that you actually switch him six
to eight weeks out and still use heavier loads with the sports back squat. This would be for the
purpose of getting and keeping the athlete very strong. Three weeks out, lighten the loads of the
squat and attempt to move it extremely fast and explosively. Essentially, you want the athlete to
be more reactive to transfer that strength into his sporting skill. The loads should be below 55
Another possibility in peaking with the sport back squat is one you may use with more advanced
athletes (elite to high school level athletes who are already strong and have been training for
sixteen to twenty weeks). You would actually peak in the sport back squat and switch them over
to a lower load sport back squat at six to three weeks out from the most important peaking days.
Then from week three to week one, you would reduce the load more and do a sport back squat
jump teaching that athlete to apply even more force through the ground. One key technique that a coach must realize is that to transfer this force, you must use the ankle complex very effectively.
For this, please refer to my ankle complex article. Another key technique would be to perform
the movement utilizing the agonist and antagonist muscles most effectively. The athlete would
pull himself into position using the antagonist musculature. Upon contact with the ground, the
athlete then redirects the direction upward, attempting to jump as high as possible. This method
is what I refer to as the antagonistically facilitated specialized method. Each repetition should be
treated on its own so that the quality of the movement remains high. I must thank Dr Michael
Yessis for his time and information in regards to using sport back squat methods.
BY: Ben Peterson and Cal Dietz
Edited By: Daniel Raimondi