Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Nera Safety Squat aka HELLRAISERS

  (First off, I would like to say that this is specific to raw olympic stance squatters, although it will help wide stance as well.  I definitely do not recommend this to equipped lifters with their astronomical weights.)

A problem which many people encounter when trying to squat heavy, especially to proper depth, is maintaining their back position.  'Back position' to some may simply mean keeping your back straight(lordotic or close to) and/or to others, maintaining a specific torso angle with relation to the floor or what not( ie chest up).  Regardless of the definition, everyone will agree that maintaining back position is of the upmost importance in the squat. 
 An exercise which many people turn to to strengthen their back for the purpose of improving their back squat is THE GOOD MORNING.  The good morning exercise has many benefits but is highly overrated for helping the back squat(there are benefits for the deadlift but it is far down the line in my books as far as squatting is concerned).

The good morning is an exercise that when performed properly looks a lot like a squat gone bad.  It is a movement that strengthens the muscles in such a way as to get back into position when squat technique fails.  THE GOOD MORNING IS A GREAT EXERCISE IF YOU PLAN ON SQUATTING WITH BAD TECHNIQUE ALL THE TIME.

In the video below as you can see it looks like someone falling in and out of bad position in the squat. ( i do not know the guys in the video, they may be equipped lifters or doing goodmornings for another purpose, I just chose the video at random)

Why not focus on squatting properly?  Building STATIC strength in the back on the decent, forcing one to stay upright, tall and with a big chest while pushing them onto their toes which they are fighting against, and then they have to focus it all on the accent as well.

DOES IT NOT MAKE MORE SENSE TO GET STRONGER AT STAYING IN POSITION THAN TO GET STRONGER AT GETTING BACK INTO POSITION ...BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO WEAK TO STAY IN POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE??.....  sounds kind of like a kid who spends hours trying to figure out how he could cheat on an exam when he could spend that time studying and probably actually end up doing better than if he cheated...and a lot less consequences...ie the kid gets caught, expelled=hurt your back (good/bad analogy you judge,you get the point).


It is called that because yes, you guessed it, it's like raising hell.  It is not fun and you will rarely ever look forward to doing a heavy set.  It's simply an ANTI-SAFETY SQUAT

SAFETY SQUAT BY DEFINITION:http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drsquat10.htm
"Now here is a GREAT way to do squats right! The specially designed bar makes it easier to get deep enough into the squat position, easier to keep your back straight, and with far less danger of injuring your lower back or knees.
Safety squats are also more comfortable because of the padded yolk that's resting on your shoulders. This special bar is called a "safety squat bar," although it has become widely referred to as the "Hatfield Bar" because of my longstanding endorsement of its benefits. It allows you to use your hands to both hold yourself in a perfect, upright squatting position as well as "spot" yourself if the weight becomes too heavy."

I AM TELLING YOU TO NOT USE YOUR HANDS...thus it is HARDER to get deep, harder to keep your back straight and more dangerous...you cannot hold yourself in an upright squat position and you cannot spot yourself.....you HAVE TO RELY ON TECHNICAL DECENT AND ACCENT...AND HAVE A STRONG BACK!!

Not everyone can do hellraisers.  The Hellraiser's effectiveness is based on one thing.  That when you don't use your hands(because most people doing safety squats push up at the handles) the handles push your chest down and the bar pushes your head forward along with your weight distribution onto your toes.  SO IF YOUR SAFETY SQUAT BAR DOESN'T PUSH YOUR HEAD FORWARD AND YOUR CHEST DOWN WHEN YOU ARE SIMPLY STANDING...IT IS TOO EASY A BAR for this exercise.  I cannot stand relaxed with my bar loaded any weight over 2 plates.  I have to consciously hold my chest up.  Once I get to 4 plates it is very labourous and I have to talk myself into doing the sets....and I squat over 700 lbs with no wraps.  But at 500 pounds on the safety squat bar...the safety squat doesn't feel so safe.

I am not 100% sure, but I beleive that the bar I use is from ELITEFTS.  All that really matters is that it pushes your head forward as if you got stuck in prison with a big strong nightmare of a cell mate ...if you know what I mean.

A good way to check the bar is to check whether or not the handles go straight down when the bar is racked and that the articulation in the bar is at the same angle as the handles.  The longer the bar is at the bend, (the further the distance between the part of the bar on your back and the part of the bar holding the plates are from each other), the more it will push you forward.

When you watch the video, note how the handles push down and desperately want to point to the ground....it is not fun.  

I find Front Squats, Zerchers, and Hellraiser's to be the best at shaping a person's squat.

I hope this helps some of you guys reach new PR's!  Any questions feel free.  I wrote this because I couldn't sleep and I often get messages about my squatting and assistance exercises...it's a little vague but I hope it helps ( I would also like to note that this has helped my deadlift a LOT in the past year and a half and also to not do this without safety pins bc dumping the weight would be very difficult).

Head tall, chest up, whole foot....UPSTRONG!!


For the last 8 weeks I have been catering to an injured rec fem.  I babied it before CPF Raw Nationals on June 24 but having attempted a 700 plus pound squat my leg did not exactly love me.  So I set some rules for myself to follow in rehabilitation.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I am not one to go through the motions of doing something and I HATE not to train.  So I set some parameters for myself that still allowed meet to feel as though I was getting something done.

WPC Raw Worlds in Riga, Latvia are not until mid-November so I do not need to get very serious until about mid to late August.  Until them I ruled that I would NOT full range back squat until August and that I would not squat anything over 65% of my backsquat UNLESS extremely partial ROM.  So for the first few weeks where I could barely even perform a full range body-weight squat, I relied on heavy heavy partials.  I would load up the bar to its maximum and do partial reps until my head would feel like it was about to explode.  Anywhere from 15-20 reps, only moving a few inches, would light every muscle in my leg and back up...and I probably went from 5'9 to 5'7 in the process.  And then I would doing sets of 100-150 body weight squats(unless it hurt) and 100-150 walking lunges(no weight) just to flood the area with blood.
1135 lbs

As my ROM increased without pain I incorporated 'Hellraiser' safety-squats and front squats.  With these squats putting you at a mechanical disadvantage in the squat I am able to not have to load the bar so heavy to feel as though I am stimulating change and also I can rework my squat technique.

The front squat allowed me to focus on my quad and upright position in the squat.  Because it requires a high degree of hip flexion it allows me to really test out my rec fem without loading as heavy as I would need to in the backsquat.  The front squat is, in my opinion, the most important movement for people to learn before they learn the actual back squat.  If you can front squat nicely...you can back squat nicely.

And the next lift I love to do is the HELLRAISER(click me for article) aka the Nera Safety Squat.  This really loads the upper back and forces you to focus on staying upright.  It is a war the entire time.  500 lbs no hands is just as difficult as a regular 650 back squat.  I never look forward to doing a set of hellraisersbecause they are grinds the entire set.

The front squat forces you to stay upright and tight during the entire squat and also builds the quads ability to squat.  Many people, especially wide stance squatters, focus on the hip extensors and back, whereas I prefer to squat as a quad dominant lifter...quad dominant lifters also rarely ever have to question whether or not they make depth.  :P

The Hellraiser is a beauty to couple with the front squat because it still forces you to stay upright, but instead of threatenning a drop forward of the weight...it threatens to roll your head into your chest...into the floor!!  Most people push up on the bar with their hands...but if you eliminate this it forces you really control your decent and maintain an upright posture...otherwise the bar will literally push your head forward and your chest in...its not a good feeling....people wonder how i've grinded through some heavy squats...hear is the answer.

By the end of the two exercises the legs are lit, the back is fired up like a motherfucker, and the squat technique is crisp.

SATURDAY, JULY 23rd, 2011

FRONT SQUAT: 495x3, 545x1, 495x3
(for not having even back squatted anything over 500 in the last 8 weeks...this is pretty good.  When I am feeling stronger I will post a 600lbs front squat or at least a 6 plate front sq)

HELLRAISERS: 505lbs x 3, 415lbs x 10

Kettlebell Swings(overhead): 3-poot(106lbs) x 25 x 3 sets






T-Log- JULY 22nd

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

I am still very cautious with my shoulder and not doing any reps that are challenging.  It does feel nice to handle some weight in the bench but I have to be careful not to want to push it too hard.  Still supposed to just be chasing a bit of a pump.  

Bench Press: 405 x1, 415x1, x1, x1,  315+chains@60 x 8,x8, x8, x8, x8

Ring Chins: x 25
Ring Dips: x 25
Ring Pullaparts: x 22

McD's bicep curls(in out curls): 30's x 30
Lying Tricep ext: 50's x 25

Lateral Raises: 35's x 50

Thursday, July 21, 2011

T-LOG- JULY 21st

So the heat is a little bit on the high side today.  It's around 36 degrees celsius.....but with the humidity over 45 and Dynamo Fitness does not have air conditioning.  We contemplated closing our gym for the day as soon as we heard that our buddy Paul Vaillancourt was closing his gym, Ultimate Fitness, for the day.
Regardless of whether we close to members or not.....  I TRAIN.  Christmas was a squat day last year.... and this day is a deadlift day......  period.

Conventional Deads: 595lbs x 4 x 4 sets

KettleBell Swings: 3-poot(106lb) bell x 25 swings(overhead) x 3 sets

GHD: 4 sets of 20 reps

Inverted Ring Shrugs: 125 x 2  ( I basically always do as many as I can until my hands feel as though they are taking unnecessary damage)

Not a bad day.  My deadlift is not feeling too efficient right now.  Ever since I pulled my back a couple of weeks before Raw Nationals in June my back and deadlift have not been feeling right.  My setup is a little bit off with higher hips from my rec fem injury and then my back is low in confidence.  So my deadlift feels awkward off of the floor and then heavy on the lower back because of inefficient technique..... I do not like this feeling as I am hoping to pull around 350kg (770lbs) in Latvia in November.

KK- from Latvia.....does anyone get sick of watching his pulls?.......nope

T-Log update July15-20

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Bench Press: 405 x 1, 365x 4 x 4 sets (still guarding the shoulder, this was my first time benching around 90 percent for about 3 weeks) 315x 9 x 2 sets

Ring Chins x20
Ring pushups (click): x 25
Ring Pullaparts: x 20
Handstand: 30 seconds
All X 4 rounds

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I am slowly testing out my rec fem and gradually increasing the reps w slight higher intensities.

Front Squats: 455x3x4 sets

Hellraisers(safetysq no hands): 465x3x4 sets

I imagine that around the begining of august I will back squat again...and hopefully with zero problems.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Bench Press: 345+chains60 x 4 x 6 sets

SWGchins: x 30
Ring Pushups(click): x 25
Ring Pullaparts: x 20

Yawns....... Just trying to get healthy

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Front Squats: 475 x 3 x 4 sets. 
Getting a little more fun. When I could squat 660 back in 2009 my front squat was 500x3x3sets....and these 475 squats felt easy so I know that my back squat won't be that bad when I finally get back to it. 

Hellraisers: 415 x 8 x 3 sets

I am loving the Hellraisers....been one of my favourite exercises for a little over a year now.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Bench Press: 365+chains60 x 3 x 5 sets, 315 x 9 x 3 sets
Ring Chins: x25
Ring Dips: x 25
Ring Pull aparts: x 22

1 set each of McD's bicep curls and lying DB tricep extensions.

Whenever I do all of these reps I laugh at myself. Chasing a pump is ridiculously funny. It's cool because ev everything swells up and you look crazy jacked. But when I took my shower I couldn't even wash my face, neck, my own shoulders, and just about anywhere on my back. When the chest and biceps are pumped life is pretty comical. I couldn't imagine what some guys in the bodybuilding scene go through because I do not consider myself to have bodybuilder freakish proportions.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, July 14, 2011

T-log update July 8-14

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Ring pushups(press together): x25
Ring pull aparts: 20

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

1/4 squats: 1035 lbs x 16 x 2 sets
Rack pulls(3rd pin): 855 x 7, 8, 3(straps broke)
Safety Squats(no hands): 405 x 8, 8
Walking lunges: x 100

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Bench Press: 320 x 8 x 6 sets
Ring Pushups(click) x 25
Ring pull aparts: x 20
Ring Chins: x 20

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I am still not allowing myself to handle anything in the 500 + range for the squat so this forces me to do movements that are more difficult.  I am focusing on my quads today with some front squats.  This will allow me to see how my rec fem is at the hip insertion because the front squat forces a high degree of hip flexion while at the same time being a quad dominant movement.  So hopefully my quad holds up.

I am also going to be doing some HELLRAISER's which I love for building upper strength in my back for BOTH squatting and deadlifting.

Front Squats: 405 x 5, 455 x 3, 455 x 4, 405 x 8

Hellraisers(Safety Squats w no hands): 455 x 4, x3, x3, x3, 315 x 15

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Bench Press: 320+60lbs chains x 6 x 6 sets

(Ring Chins: x 20, Ring click tgthr Pushups: x 25, Ring Pull aparts: x 20, 30 second handstand hold) ALL x 5 ROUNDS

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Conventional Deadlifts: 570 lbs x 6(full stop) x 6 sets
GHD Situps x 20 x 4 sets
Ring Inverted Shrugs: x75, x100

The deadlifts today were very tough.  I found the 5th and 6th reps of each set to be much tougher than I had hoped.  I think that my back was a little cooked from the Hellraisers on Thursday as my back was rounding a little at the T-spine during my deadlifts.  Not a bad week thus far.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

T-LOG: July 4-7th

The SPARTAN RACE- being a gladiator whooped my ass

On Sunday, I had the privilege of being a gladiator at the Spartan Race.  It was really interesting.  We are told to knock people down with these flimsy joust sticks that make a loud sound yet pack a lightweight punch.  So you really have to swing that sucker AND connect properly or else it just gets flimsy.  Doing it outside in the heat for hours on end really wreaked havoc on my body.  I lost a lot of water weight, legs were cramping like crazy and my wrists, shoulders and elbows all got messed up at the tendons from the impact....  bottom line....i am not fit to be a spartan....  the hot gates would have been over run by the persians if i were on of the 300.  ;)

Yes, stalking and hitting people is fun. ..but all day??  Tiring.

MONDAY, JULY 4th, 2011

Day off.  Focussing on putting weight back on and not feeling so messed up

TUESDAY, JULY 5th, 2011

Quarter Squats 10th pin: 1035 lbs x 15 reps x 2 sets

Safety squats(no hands): 425 x 8 x 2 sets

walking lunges: 1 set of 100


Everything is still very sore from the weekend.  My wrists, elbows and shoulders are destroyed from swinging that damn joust at 4300 people for hours on end.

Bench 365 x4 x 6 sets

Everything feels worse.  I am not going to do ANY assistance work as everything simply feels inflamed.

THURSDAY, JULY 7th, 2011

Conventional Deadlifts: 545 lbs x 8 reps x 5 sets

Body weight Squats: 150 unbroken

GHD situps: 3 sets of 20

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


1035lbs (11 plates a side)  - feels good to hold on the back

Here's what has been going on with my training over the last week and a bit.
My shoulder has been bugging me a little bit so I am keeping the loads to a minimum based off of how confident I feel in it.  The rec fem is still very sore in the hole of my squat so I am avoiding the hole with any weight above 60 %.  Since I am doing 1/4 squats....  I LOVE GOING HEAVY...and it makes zero sense to do partial range of motion with a weight I can do ful range of motion with...  so here's an excuse for me to move some serious weight(paritally).

I like the safety squats because I am not squatting heavy and the safety squat(when I don't use my hands) allows me to force adaptations without needing maximal type loads.
Hopefully soon I will be squatting more and more progressively until I feel confident that I will not get injured.  For now, around 19 weeks out from world's in Latvia, my main focus is just to be healthy and able to move...although it is always difficult for me to not want to move heavy weights.....so I do where I can.

MONDAY, JUNE 27th, 2011

Bench press:  320lbs (70%) x 10 x 4 sets.  (I am benching like this because of a slight issue on my left shoulder/pec)

Ring Chins x 20
w Ring Pushups x 35(touch together at top)
w Ring Pull Aparts x 20
Handstand Holds x 30s

TUESDAY, JUNE 28th, 2011

1/4 Squats: 1015 lbs x 10, x 15
Safety Squats(no hands) 315 x 10 x 3 sets
Walking Lunges x 100

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29th, 2011

Bench Press: 320 x 12, 10 , 10

Ring Chins x 25
w Ring Pushups x 35(touch together at top)
w Ring Pull Aparts x 20
Handstand Holds x 30s

100 Walking Lunges

THURSDAY, JUNE 30th, 2011

Conventional Deadlifts:  525lbs x 10 reps x 5 sets

Bodyweight Squats: 100 reps x 2 sets

FRIDAY, JULY 1st, 2011

Bench Press: 405 x 2, 2, 2, 2 (very cautious with technique and no grinding out)      315x 8, 9, 9, 9 (stop whenever I feel grind)

Strict Wide grip Chinups: x 25    
w Ring Dips x 25        

Ring Push Ups: x 30
w Ring Pull Aparts: x 20

SATURDAY, JULY 2nd, 2011

1/4 Squats: 1035 lbs x 15 reps x 2 sets

Rack Pulls: 855 x 5 , 855 x 1 w max hold at top

Safety Squats(no hands): 315 x 15, 405 x 6

Walking Lunges x 100

GHD Situps x 20 x 3 sets