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VELOCITY-BASED TRAINING AND AUTOREGULATION APPLIED TO "


SQUATTING EVERY DAY " : A CASE STUDY

Article · December 2016

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Velocity-based training and autoregulation applied to “squatting every day”: A case study. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 24(7) 48-55. 2016 © ASCA.

Case Study
VELOCITY-BASED TRAINING AND AUTOREGULATION APPLIED TO “SQUATTING EVERY DAY”:
A CASE STUDY

Daniel Bryant Martinez & Cory Kennedy

Entheos Athletics, Limited Liability Company, San Antonio, Texas, USA


Institut National du Sport du Quebec, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

BLUF

Velocity-based training and autoregulation applied to very high-frequency squatting appears to be an effective use of a
short training cycle in the development of maximum strength and led to improvements of 16.7% over the 31-day program
with no injury concerns.

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this case study was to investigate the efficacy of performing strength training specific to squatting
movements with very high-frequency; or as it is stated commonly “squatting every day”(1). The subject used velocity-
based training and autoregulation to perform a specific squatting variation to a daily one-repetition maximum, followed
by training loads corresponding to that daily one-repetition maximum, every day for the month of January 2015. In the
last training session of this study the subject performed an all-time personal record of 182-kilograms in the belted back
squat; an improvement of 4-kilograms (2.3%) over his best all-time squatting performance across 8-years of competitive
Olympic Weightlifting. This was also an improvement of 26-kilograms (16.7%) over the month of January from the first
belted back squat testing session performed on day 3 of the program (156-kilograms).

Squatting with very high-frequency appears to be an effective use of a short strength training cycle specific to the
development of one-repetition maximum strength. Practical limitations exist for the vast majority of training populations
due to the general and specific demands common to both team and individual sport athletes. When appropriate, high-
frequency training may be beneficial to athletes during a period of reduced competitive demands where training
resources can be dedicated to the development of more singular training qualities.

Key Words - Squatting, autoregulation, velocity-based training, strength training, high-frequency training.

INTRODUCTION

Squatting is a premier resistance training movement used consistently in strength training programs internationally.
Guidelines on the type, frequency, intensity, and timing of squatting range tremendously across populations. There are
many different squatting methodologies that have been used successfully with many different training populations. In
highly specific sports such as Olympic-style Weightlifting it is not uncommon to have Weightlifters use a squat variation
in nearly every training session performed (8, 9). Within other sporting populations some strength and conditioning
professionals have gone so far as to state that squatting as a primary means of strength development is unnecessary
(2). One very specific methodology, with roots in the Bulgarian Weightlifting program under Coach Ivan Abadjiev, has
grown in popularity recently. In this methodology athletes perform strength training, including but not limited to squatting,
with very high frequency, in some cases progressing up to 12 sessions per week (8, 9). Specific to squatting with very
high frequency this philosophy is referred to commonly as “squatting every day” (1).

With a high frequency of training it is not uncommon for overuse injuries to develop as a result. A variety of methods of
athlete monitoring have been shown effective at managing the training response, improving performance, and
decreasing overuse injuries in athletes (7). Autoregulation has been defined by Mann, et al as, “a form of periodization
that adjusts to the individual athlete’s adaptations on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis” (10). This daily and weekly
modification to the training load, based on performance testing and training response, can be used to establish how an
individual athlete responds to the training stressors; as opposed to predetermined loads based in large part on the mean
response of athletes collectively. Mann, et al. (10) demonstrated that measuring velocity of movement, with a linear
position transducer, can provide the appropriate feedback to autoregulate training loads based on exercise performance
and that this process exceeded performances using pre-determined loads, via a linear periodization program, in both
the squat and bench press exercises (10).

Greater understanding of this process can aid in identifying individual limitations in training loads and exercise
performance at a more specific level across training populations. Therefore the purpose of this specific experiment was
to gain an improved understanding of very high-frequency strength training and its effects on maximal strength (1RM)
in the squat exercise. It is hypothesized that using movement velocity as a guide for autoregulation purposes will allow

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

the subject to complete the training cycle without experiencing any major injury or reduced performance from the
accumulation of fatigue.

This case study follows the subject during a “squat every day” program where velocity-based training and autoregulation
were used to monitor each repetition including the daily one-repetition maximum and the percentage-based work
performed based on each day’s one-repetition maximum for the month of January 2015.

METHODS

The subject is a 34 year-old male (1.82m, 83kg) with experience in athletics and weightlifting. Origins of physical training
were that of a collegiate middle-distance runner who competed successfully at the NCAA Division One level in the 1600-
meters, followed by sub-elite competitive weightlifting in adulthood. Of note, the subject’s previous belted back squat
one-repetition max was 178kg. In late September of 2014 the subject competed in Olympic Weightlifting competition
and completed competition lifts of 110-kilograms in the snatch and 135-kilograms in the clean and jerk for a competition
total of 245-kilograms at 77-kilograms bodyweight.

The training program was initiated with the sole intent being successful completion based on the use of velocity-based
training and autoregulation to “squat every day” for the month of January 2015. The guidelines were straightforward:

 Squat to a one-repetition maximum for a mean velocity of .30 meters/second (m/s) on a specific squat variation
every day for the month of January (12). A Tendo Power & Speed Analyzer, equipped with a linear position
transducer, from Sorinex Exercise Equipment (Lexington, South Carolina, USA) was utilized to record mean
velocity and to monitor bar speed changes through all training loads performed (12).
 For complementary purposes and to manage training monotony, squat variations were changed daily (11).
Following are the specific squatting exercises and the number of sessions performed of each:

Table 1 - Squat Exercise Variations Performed.

Exercise Frequency Performed


Beltless Front Squat 5 Sessions
Belted Front Squat 6 Sessions
Beltless Back Squat 5 Sessions
Belted Back Squat 7 Sessions
Belted Pause Back Squat 1 Session
Beltless Pause Safety-Squat Bar Box Squat 5 Sessions
Beltless Safety-Bar Free Squat 2 Sessions

 Subjectively select training load intensity based on that day’s specific squatting variation and one-repetition
maximum.
 Manage volume load by using the Tendo unit to keep the mean velocity of each repetition within 10% of that
session’s best training repetition. Sanchez-Medina, et al. (13) stated that the repetition velocity loss should be
determined before the training session and is dependent on the training goal, exercise(s) being performed, and
the subject’s training experience.
 Rest intervals were kept consistent by using 2.5 minutes for 70-79% intensity, 3 minutes for 80-89% intensity,
and 4 minutes for 90-100% intensity. For this highly specific, very high-frequency strength training program, and
with consideration to the subject’s training experience, adequate recovery that would allow for management of
velocity loss and reduced neuromuscular fatigue was critical (13).
 Minimize the subjectivity of “judgment calls” where concentration lapses or technical breakdowns are rationalized
for the purpose of extending a training session.

Exercises and intensity ranges were adjusted subjectively from day to day as to the author’s understanding there is
no current best way to make such determinations objectively. However great care was taken in deciding how to best
capture an objective intent for each training session and how to best vary training stress in response to very high
frequency. Changes in intensity specific to the daily maximum were made reflecting the previous day’s maximum,
its specific squatting movement, and the corresponding training loads performed.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

RESULTS

Table 2 - January 2015 "Squat Every Day" daily 1RM maximum performance.

Day Variation Daily 1RM Absolute Max % Absolute Max


Acclimation BELTLESS B SQ (110K 3X2)
1 BELTLESS F SQ 135 135 100
2 BELTLESS B SQ 150 150 100
3 BELTED B SQ 156 156 100
4 BELTLESS F SQ 137 156 88
5 BELTED PAUSE B SQ 150 156 96
6 BELTED F SQ 145 156 93
7 BELTED B SQ 161 161 100
8 BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED 140 161 87
9 BELTED F SQ 141 161 87.5
10 BELTED B SQ 165 165 100
11 BELTLESS F SQ 141 165 85.5
12 BELTLESS B SQ 155 165 94
13 BELTED F SQ 147 165 89
14 BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED 135 165 82
15 BELTED B SQ 167 167 100
16 BELTLESS F SQ 141 167 84
17 BELTLESS B SQ 160 167 96
18 BELTED F SQ 148 167 89
19 BELTLESS SSB FREE SQUAT 155 167 93
20 BELTED B SQ 175 175 100
21 BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED 140 175 80
22 BELTED F SQ 155 175 88.5
23 BELTLESS B SQ 165 175 94
24 BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED 146 175 83
25 BELTLESS F SQ 151 175 86
26 BELTED B SQ 171 175 98
27 BELTLESS SSB FREE SQUAT 165 175 94
28 BELTED F SQ 160 175 91
29 BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED 144 175 82
30 BELTED B SQ 182 182 100

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

"Squat Every Day" Daily 1RM Maximum Performance


200
182
180
175 171
165 167 165 165
160 161 160 160
156 155 155 155
150 150 147 148 151
145 146 144
140 137 140 141 141 141 140
135 135
120

100
KILOGRAMS

80

60

40

20

0
BELTLESS B SQ

BELTED PAUSE B SQ
BELTED F SQ

BELTED F SQ

BELTLESS B SQ
BELTED F SQ

BELTLESS B SQ
BELTED F SQ

BELTED F SQ
BELTLESS B SQ

BELTED F SQ
BELTED B SQ

BELTED B SQ
BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED

BELTED B SQ

BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED


BELTED B SQ

BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED


BELTED B SQ
BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED

BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED

BELTED B SQ

BELTLESS SSB BOX SQ PAUSED


BELTED B SQ
BELTLESS F SQ
BELTLESS F SQ

BELTLESS F SQ

BELTLESS F SQ

BELTLESS F SQ

BELTLESS SSB FREE SQUAT


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

On twenty-six of the thirty days of squatting the daily maximum was performed within .04 of the .30 m/s mean velocity
target. Outside of this narrow window two days of daily maximums were within .05 m/s, one day within .06 m/s, and one
day within .07 m/s. The day that was furthest out from the target, with a maximum repetition speed of .37 m/s, was also
the only paused squatting training session not performed to a box and the perception of the effort and intensity of paused
squatting led to this error in spite of monitoring repetition speed. This was also the only training session where a velocity
loss drop-off was not reached but an arbitrary stopping point was determined; after completing ten sets of one-repetition
at 90% intensity the session was stopped. Only one other training session came short of the daily maximum target at
.35 m/s. The two remaining training maximums falling outside of the more narrow .04 m/s window resulted from over-
shooting the velocity target with velocities of .24 and .25 m/s respectively.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 3 - Training loads for linear sessions.

Variation Tonnage Av. Int. Total Sets Reps/ Load Best Av.
Max Reps Sets Rep Vel.
(M/S)
Acclimation BELTLESS B SQ N/A
(110K 3X2)
1 BELTLESS F SQ NO 624 92.50% 5 5 1 125 0.45 0.44

2 BELTLESS B SQ NO 1350 90% 10 5 2 135 0.47 0.43

3 BELTED B SQ NO 1250 80% 10 5 2 125 0.55 0.52

4 BELTLESS F SQ NO 1632 75% 16 8 2 102 0.63 0.59

5 BELTED PAUSE NO 1350 90% 10 10 1 135 0.46 0.44


B SQ
6 BELTED F SQ NO 1650 76% 15 NON-
LIN
7 BELTED B SQ NO 1500 78% 12 6 2 125 0.6 0.55

8 BELTLESS SSB NO 1000 70% 10 5 2 100 0.6 0.55


BOX SQ PAUSED
9 BELTED F SQ YES, 904 80% 8 4 2 113 0.58 0.52
PAUSED
10 BELTED B SQ NO 1792 83.50% 13 NON-
LIN
11 BELTLESS F SQ NO 780 92% 6 6 1 130 0.42 0.41

12 BELTLESS B SQ NO 1240 80% 10 5 2 124 0.58 0.55

13 BELTED F SQ NO 945 92% 7 7 1 135 0.41 0.39

14 BELTLESS SSB NO 808 75% 8 4 2 101 0.58 0.53


BOX SQ PAUSED
15 BELTED B SQ NO 1595 87% 11 11 1 145 0.47 0.44

16 BELTLESS F SQ NO 1210 78% 11 11 1 110 0.6 0.55

17 BELTLESS B SQ NO 1269 88% 9 9 1 141 0.49 0.46

18 BELTED F SQ NO 959 93% 7 7 1 137 0.45 0.41

19 BELTLESS SSB NO 3270 70% 30 15 2 109 0.69 0.66


FREE SQUAT
20 BELTED B SQ NO 840 80% 6 3 2 140 0.55 0.53

21 BELTLESS SSB NO 720 86% 6 6 1 120 0.46 0.45


BOX SQ PAUSED
22 BELTED F SQ NO 564 91% 4 4 1 141 0.43 0.40

23 BELTLESS B SQ NO 5208 75% 42 21 2 124 0.66 0.61

24 BELTLESS SSB NO 1764 86% 14 14 1 126 0.4 0.38


BOX SQ PAUSED
25 BELTLESS F SQ NO 548 91% 4 4 1 137 0.45 0.42

26 BELTED B SQ NO 616 90% 4 4 1 154 0.45 0.43

27 BELTLESS SSB NO 1820 79% 14 7 2 130 0.57 0.54


FREE SQUAT
28 BELTED F SQ NO 980 87.50% 7 7 1 140 0.46 0.44

29 BELTLESS SSB NO 920 80% 8 4 2 115 0.46 0.45


BOX SQ PAUSED
30 BELTED B SQ N/A

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

There were two training sessions performed that did not follow a linear distribution of work with training loads: specifically
the 6th and 10th training sessions. On the 6th training session performed, on belted front squats, contrasting loads of 90%
intensity for a single repetition and 69% intensity for two repetitions were alternated for a total of 10 working sets. On
the 10th training session of belted back squats a wave-like loading approach was utilized to good effect. The first wave
was two repetitions at 72% intensity (.61 and .60 m/s) followed by a single repetition at 87% intensity (.42 m/s). The
second wave was two repetitions at 77% intensity (.54 and .49 m/s) followed by a single repetition at 92% intensity (.38
m/s). The third wave was two repetitions at 82% intensity (.56 and .57 m/s) followed by a single repetition at 97%
intensity (.33 m/s). Following the 3rd wave it was decided that the subject would perform the same intensity from the
single repetition on the first wave (87%) but instead perform this set for two repetitions and work to a drop-off from this
point forward. On the first set of two repetitions at 87% intensity (.52 and .48 m/s) each repetition exceeded the velocity
on the first wave and velocity dropped off on the second set significantly (.46 and .43 m/s) but each of those two
repetitions still exceeded the single repetition from the first wave (.42 m/s).

Table 4 - Session 6 contrast loading for belted front squats.

Load Intensity Reps Rep Speed (m/s)


Set 1 100 69% 2 (.68, .69)
Set 2 130 90% 1 (.48)
Set 3 100 69% 2 (.71, .64)
Set 4 130 90% 1 (.47)
Set 5 100 69% 2 (.71, .63)
Set 6 130 90% 1 (.48)
Set 7 100 69% 2 (.70, .65)
Set 8 130 90% 1 (.49)
Set 9 100 69% 2 (.66, .60)
Set 10 130 90% 1 (.42)

Table 5 - Session 10 wave-loading of belted back squats.

Load Intensity Reps Rep Speed (m/s)


Wave 1 118 72% 2 (.61, .60)
144 87% 1 (.42)
Wave 2 127 77% 2 (.54, .49)
152 92% 1 (.38)
Wave 3 135 82% 2 (.56, .57)
160 97% 1 (.33)
144 87% 2 (.52, .48)
144 87% 2 (.46, .43)

After the 10th training session a linear distribution of work was performed, even though wave-like loading proved very
effective, as tracking velocity loss drop-offs proved difficult with non-linear training loads. Beyond the 6th and 10th training
sessions the daily maximum was only different from the training exercise performed on the 9 th training session where
the belted front squat was tested for one-repetition maximum but belted pause front squats were performed. More
consistency in the testing and training loads were used as the month continued on.

Looking specifically at the total workload and intensity, a range of 70-79% was used for nine training sessions, 80-89%
used for eleven training sessions, and an intensity range of 90-99% used for nine training sessions for a total of 29
training sessions. There are thirty-one days in January so it is important to note here:

 The first day of squatting was used for acclimation purposes, reported no barbell velocity or daily maximum, and
the author arbitrarily squatted 110-kilograms for three sets of two repetitions.
 On the last and final day of squatting the subject squatted 182-kilograms for the daily training maximum and
considered the project and training session complete.

As to the distribution of intensity, and the corresponding tonnage and total repetitions, 70-79% intensity resulted in
46.3% of training loads and a total tonnage of 18098-kilograms and 158 repetitions, and an average tonnage of 2010.9
kilograms and 17.6 repetitions per training session. 80-89% intensity resulted in 33.9% of training loads and a total
tonnage of 13274 kilograms and 102 repetitions, and an average tonnage of 1206.7-kilograms and 9.3 repetitions per

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

training session. 90-99% intensity resulted in 19.8% of training loads and a total tonnage of 7736-kilograms and 57
repetitions, and an average tonnage of 859.6-kilograms and 6.3 repetitions per training session.

Table 6 - Distribution of Intensity Tables (70%).

70-79% Percent Average Intensity


Session Av. Int. Tonnage (kg) Reps
1 4 75 1632 16
2 6 76 1650 15
3 7 78 1500 12
4 8 70 1000 10
5 14 75 808 8
6 16 78 1210 11
7 19 70 3270 30
8 23 75 5208 42
9 27 79 1820 14

Table 7 - Distribution of Intensity Tables (80%).

80-89% Percent Average Intensity


Session Av. Int. Tonnage (kg) Reps
1 3 80 1250 10
2 9 80 904 8
3 10 83.5 1792 13
4 12 80 1240 10
5 15 87 1595 11
6 17 88 1269 9
7 20 80 840 6
8 21 86 720 6
9 24 86 1764 14
10 28 87.5 980 7
11 29 80 920 8

Table 8 - Distribution of Intensity Tables (90%).

90-99% Percent Average Intensity


Session Av. Int. Tonnage (kg) Reps
1 1 92.5 624 5
2 2 90 1350 10
3 5 90 1350 10
4 11 92 780 6
5 13 92 945 7
6 18 93 959 7
7 22 91 564 4
8 25 91 548 4
9 26 90 616 4

The highest tonnage and number of repetitions performed in a single training session were in the 23 rd session of the
month where beltless back squats were done at 75% intensity for sets of 2-repetitions and 21 sets were performed
before a velocity loss drop-off; resulting in a tonnage of 5208-kilograms. Total training tonnage for the month was 39,108-
kilograms and a total of 317-repetitions. The absolute tonnage for the month, including training tonnage and tonnage
from the daily maximum lifts of 4,583-kilograms, was 43,691-kilograms.

DISCUSSION

In consideration of training frequency and the duration of this squat training program an improvement of 16.7%, 26-
kilograms on the belted back squat, over the course of 31-days was exceptional. Especially in consideration of the
training history of the subject who has over 8-years of consistent strength training in his background. Understanding
that the very high-frequency of this training program imposed tremendous stress over its duration is reasonable; however
the utilization of autoregulation and velocity-based training to improve performance and manage physical preparedness
and fatigue can be credited with providing invaluable assistance to the process. It seems implausible to consider
performing such a program without an appropriate way of monitoring performance in the testing and training as was
performed in this case study.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

While it appears that concentrating the training focus on one quality for an entire month can be extremely effective, more
research should be done to elucidate other changes that result. Since squatting is a gross-motor movement, it might be
more resilient to chronic fatigue. Performance in certain sport-specific movements or sporting activities with high-
cognitive demand should be tracked during a one-dimensional training program of this type.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

There are clear limits to the applications of this project but very obvious benefits that should be given consideration
beyond squatting with very high-frequency. One primary consideration is in training frequency and how individuals may
respond differently for several reasons:

 The skill of squatting in itself and the benefits of performing this skill, or others, with greater frequency in a more
concentrated loading scheme across a specific time frame. Essentially this was a very concentrated training block
(5).
 Using quality of work as a guideline for how much should and should not be performed in a given training cycle
or individual training session (3); versus numbers associated with a performance while in a different physiological
state that may not account for their current readiness.
 Training age and strength training experience with consideration for beginner and intermediate athletes who have
a difficult time stabilizing exercise technique across exercise variation and intensity.

Limitations also include consistency of schedule, availability of the athlete(s) and facilities, maintaining motivation to
train in relatively monotonous conditions, general and specific needs of other training qualities in the training program,
etc. The number of sports where either the sport coach or strength and conditioning coach could rationalize committing
the vast majority of an athlete’s training resources towards one individual movement and its development are few and
far between. When finding a sport that does allow for such training specificity; training theory and practice demonstrate
why specificity proves valuable in these conditions (5).

In the appropriate training population, concentrated loads with a high-degree of specificity clearly have the potential to
elicit positive training adaptations (6, 8, 9). Yet that leaves much of the necessary adaptation process in many training
populations unaffected and it is this process, of more general training means and methods, that functions to effectively
manage training and competition stress even if they have very little impact on key performance indicators specific to
sport (4, 5).

Managing the distribution of intensity is critical to effective management of training programs in the short- and long-term
and this training program was no exception. Using an autoregulatory approach can aid in utilizing a more objective
criteria to answer the question of how much exactly should be performed in a given training session specific to each
individual. In consideration of advancing biological age and training experience, this process has a very clear benefit to
athletes as they near the limits of their physical potential. Further the ability to better qualify work performed and
distinguish typical parameters of “3 sets of 5 repetitions at 80%” amongst novice, intermediate, and advanced athletes
across their varying levels of experience can aid in optimizing both the specific training loads themselves and the general
process of physical preparation.

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