Methods of Developing Leg Strength

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Methods of Developing Leg Strength

institute of iron
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 Methods of Developing Leg Strength

A. A. Zenalov, Grodno

Tyazhelaya Atletika, :29 – 31, 1976
Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Results in the snatch and the clean and jerk are dependent on strength, particularly leg strength; because, the legs bear the brunt of the load in these exercises. However, there is insufficient information in the special literature dealing with methods for developing leg strength.

Our experience over the past six years with many athletes (105 men) of various qualification (classified, master of sport, international master of sport), many of whom have gone on to become Byelorussian champions and record holders, medal winners of the Armed Forces and USSR championships; enables us to recommend an original method for strengthening the legs.

It is known that one does not have to train with near – limit and weights all of the time in order to strengthen the legs. One can make significant improvement employing primarily small (up to 70%) and medium (up to 80%) weights. This loading should be combined with large and limit weights. However, these weights should make up only 16% of the total load in squats.

It has also known, that noticeable improvement in squat results can be achieved, after only six weeks of specialized training. By chiefly utilizing small and medium weights for squats one can preserve a good “functional state”; a necessary condition for systematic training.

So, what is this method we recommend?

First of all it is designed for the preparatory stage. The six - week training cycle of squatting is divided into two stages. The volume rises in the first stage, with a relatively constant average weight of the barbell. In the second stage, the volume decreases while the intensity increases. Each stage consists of three -week cycles. Weights of 70 and 80% of the best back squat are employed in the first stage. In the second stage the weight of the barbell is 80 – 105%.

The volume of the loading in squats rises in the first stage, since it subsequently decreases in the second; which in turn is punctuated by a “standard loading” throughout the cycle. A “standard loading” plays a role in active rest. Squats are performed three times per week and with no more frequency than every other day.

The six-week cycle begins with the “standard loading” (see table 1). The cycle progresses (in the first stage) with an increase in one lift of the fundamental training weight, at every other session. The odd numbered workouts are the “standard loading” (uniform volume and intensity).

The general volume in squats in the first stage is 204 lifts; with an average weight which is 78.7% of the maximum.

The athlete has been training with only small and medium weights in the first stage and now begins the second stage already with 85% weights. Then after each “standard loading” the fundamental training weight increases by 5% while the number of lifts per set and the number of sets is decreased by one (see table 2).

At the end of the second stage the athlete can usually squat 105% of his maximum in the 18th workout. Of course, this figure could be slightly more or less.

The general volume of squats in the second stage is 139 lifts, with an average weight of 81.8%. This is 3.1% greater than in the first stage. Of this 139 lifts 41 are with large weights (81 – 90%) and 14 with maximum weights (over 90%).

For the entire six – week cycle the lifter executes 343 squats with an average weight of 80% of maximum. If for example, the athlete does 1,000 – 1,100 lifts in the preparatory period (four – week cycle), squats will comprise 20 – 23% of the general volume of loading in all exercises. This meets the contemporary requirements of training.

The result achieved at the final workout is to be used as the new maximum and this figure is to be employed when calculating the fundamental training weights for the new cycle.

If the athlete is unable to cope with the loading in the second half of the first stage of training; for instance, if he cannot do all six sets for the proscribed repetitions, then it will be necessary for him to repeat the loading planned for weeks two and three. After this, he can proceed to the second stage.

When this program employed in subsequent training cycles the athlete can utilize variability in doing the standard loading of the cycle: for example, the first standard loading – back squats; the second overhead – squats (55 – 65%); the third – lunge squats with the bar on the chest; the fourth – front squats.

If the lifter begins the cycle after a lay – off, where his maximum squat would now be lower; then the fundamental training weight in the first stage should be 70% of his maximum registered in the prior training stage. In this instance the warm - up weights would be with 60 & 65%. The aforementioned schedule of percentages should be adhered to in the second stage of the squat program.

In order to improve joint mobility and the elasticity of the muscles and tendons, besides squats, one should do cross – country running, sprints, standing and running long jumps, vertical jumps and sport games.

On the average, the results in the back squat should be 134% of the results in the clean and jerk. If one’s squat results are substantially below this figure, the volume of squats should be increased to 30% of the general volume of loading
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Re: Methods of Developing Leg Strength

institute of iron
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The Russian Squat Routine for Masters

Randy Hauer, RKC

January 4, 2007 02:53 PM

The classic six-week Russian Squat Routine is legendary for giving a kick start to the squatter whose progress has stopped. What makes it so effective is the brutal and relentless wave loading of volume for the first three weeks and then an even more brutal wave loading of intensity the final three weeks. Two of the last three workouts are in the 95-105% 1RM range!

The original Russian Squat Routine is really designed for younger athletes: men and women at the peak of their athletic and recuperative powers. I've done the routine a few times over the years, but as I've hit middle age I've either had to dial back the baseline 1RM on which I base the routine or cut the routine short. The last time I did the cycle I hit on a formula that allows me to recuperate adequately between sessions and still finish the program with a new 1RM.

The original Russian program is a six week program and calls for lifting three days a week on non-consecutive days. My Master's version is an eight week program and calls for lifting 2 days a week: for example Monday and Thursday, Tuesday and Friday, etc. Allow a minimum of 48 hours between sessions and feel free to take 3 days off after the loading day. But don't slack?getting old isn't for sissies and even though this program is modified it isn't for sissies either?make sure to squat at least two days a week.

Here's how it works.

Take your current 1RM and subtract 20% from it. This will be your 1RM for the program. For example, if your best 1RM squat is 150kg, subtract 30kg and your 1RM for the Master's Russian Squat Routine is 120kg. If you don't know your 1RM max, I recommend you guess on the low side. Rest as long as you need to between sets. This program is intended for rock bottom Olympic style back squats. If you are a power squatter, subtract 15% from your 1RM to accommodate the difference in depth between the two styles. Belts and wraps are fine either style (we are Masters after all, use what you need to). Feel free to deviate from the written program and take an extra warm-up single or two as you ramp up to the work weights, especially for the loading days of the last three weeks.


Phase 1 - Volume: 4 weeks, squat twice a week

Workout 1: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 2: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 3 x 6 sets
Workout 3: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 4: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 4 x 6 sets
Workout 5: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 6: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 5 x 6 sets
Workout 7: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 8: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 6 x 6 sets


Phase 2 - Intensity: 4 weeks, squat twice a week

Workout 9: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 10: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 85% x 5 x 5 sets
Workout 11: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 12: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 90% x 4 x 4 sets
Workout 13: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 14: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 95% x 3 x 3 sets
Workout 15: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 80% x 2 x 6 sets
Workout 16: 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 100% x 1, (105% x 1) (110% x 1)
(Attempts in parenthesis are allowed extra PR attempts if the previous attempts were clearly submaximal.)


Even in this lightened and more extended format, the Russian Squat routine is a killer. Cut back on the balance of your weight training to give your body all the recuperative energy it needs to come back between workouts. Eat plenty of good food. Listen to your body?this routine is not for everyone. If you start to break down then you should stop and reevaluate for a couple of days. If you are still game, back up a couple of weeks and take another running start. Ultimately, all routines are suggested guidelines. You have to adapt the routine to how your body responds and as we get older we need to be even more attentive and responsive to our bodies' warning signals. An eight week program is a suggestion?if you need 9, 10 or 12 weeks to get through this program to a new max, then that is what it takes.

If you make it through the routine as written with new maxes: congratulations! Not that you will really want to, but just in case you do I strongly urge you in no uncertain terms do not, I repeat, do not attempt to do this routine back to back or more than twice a year. It is a rough program and the risk of tendonitis and other overuse injuries is high if you try to repeat it. So don't. Maintain your squatting strength but do it by moving on to another routine. You could, however, apply this program to pressing or some other upper body strength movement. This is acceptable. But your legs and lower back will need a break and something different to do. Trust me.
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Re: Methods of Developing Leg Strength

institute of iron
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In reply to this post by institute of iron
Russian_Squat_Routine.xlsx
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