I walked into EP last night for my final leg session of this FIRE program and was greeted with this by Hilal: "Hi Jewels, you ready to squat the world!"
My answer: "Oh yeah!"
Squats last night were done very differently to how I would normally do them. Once I had done my warm up sets, instead of going into my working sets of 6 reps at various weights, Hilal had me doing something called 1 Rep Progression. 1 Rep Progression is a strength test where you do only 1 rep each set, with the weight getting progressively heavier until you fail out. So, in this instance, Hilal added weights to the bar and I squatted. If I could come up and complete the squat, we racked the bar and added more weight, before I went again for another rep and so on. Have a look below to see where my 1 Rep Progressions led me.
One Rep Progressions: Barbell Squats, 14/05/18
Previous heaviest squat: 25kg goblet squat (i.e. holding a dumbbell in front of the body.
Previous heaviest squat in current FIRE program: 25kg barbell squat.
Goal for current FIRE program: 50kg barbell squat
Squat One: 35kg
Squat Two: 40kg
Squat Three: 50kg
Squats Four and Five: 60kg
Hang on, Jewels, I thought you said One Rep Progressions? Why yes, I did. Let me explain. The video on top shows my first attempt at a 60kg barbell squat, while the video on the bottom is my second attempt. As you will see in the top video, I hunch forward and very nearly tip over during my first attempt (apparently, I almost gave everyone at EP heart failure, to say nothing of the momentary terror I experienced when I realised I was about to fall forwards). This happened for one, very simple reason: I forgot to inhale before I went down.
Strangely enough, most people do have to be reminded to breath during exercise, particularly when working with heavy weights or holding a position like a plank. I'm no exception to this and, with that heavy weight on my back and trying to make sure I didn't catch my heel on the legs of the bench, taking a deep breath in before I squatted was the last thing on my mind.
However, my body had other ideas than my mind.
The body is actually pretty amazing, it works as hard as it can, all day every day, with no breaks or sick days, to keep you alive. Even when you get sick, your sick and tired body is not only fighting off whatever is making you sick, but still doing everything in its power to keep you from dropping dead! That's pretty special.
My failure to inhale on Monday night meant that, as I came down, my body had no new air with which to power itself and continue the lift. Of course, there was plenty of oxygen in my body, but the body needs a constant supply of new, fresh air, especially when it's working. I squatted down, carrying a heavy load, and all of a sudden my body realises it doesn't have enough air. So what does it do? It does what it can to make me take a breath in! My shoulders hunch and my chest contracts, and the discomfort means I automatically breathe in. Unfortunately for me, hunched shoulders mean tipping forward and tipping forward with 60kgs on your back is not good for anyone.
But it was mind and body to the rescue! I felt myself going forward and was able to steady myself before I fell and complete the squat. As you can see in the video, Hilal performs her role as my spot with unparalleled excellence and is right there to grab me and/or the bar when she things I'm about to fall.
When we watched this video back, she explained what had happened and why I'd tipped forward, then said we were going to do the weight again and see if this was my fail out weight, or if I could go heavier. As you saw in the second video, I remember to breathe in, I keep my chest up, and I squat that 60kgs like a BEAST!
Final Squat: PERSONAL BEST
And here it is, my best squat yet. This is a combined total of 67kgs for a single rep. To put that in perspective and explain why this is so special for me, let me tell you what I weigh: 66kgs.
I just squatted myself!
So, in summary, barbell squats were a smashing success this program! I went from never having barbell squatted at all, to squatting a full 67kgs in eight weeks. I surpassed my squat goal by 17kgs and now I have to work out what my goal will be for the Winter Games. Hmm... 80kg squats anyone?
You don't find the willpower - you create it.
Me With No Apologies.