The Internet's Official BMX Magazine.
To Squat or Not to Squat -- That Is the Question!

By David Comport, power coach pedal inn race team & other top Australia AA pro's

Disclaimer: Before you engage in any type of training program, please consult your doctor. BMXtreme.com and David Comport accept no responsibility for any injuries or strains caused by our published workout routines.

Other than BMX being the best sport around, one other thing that is for certain is it is an explosive sport as far as muscle fibers are concerned.

Take the humble gate start….there's no "I think I'll just roll out of the gate " stuff if you want to lay some serious rubber down the first straight. You have to be like a Top Fuel Funny Car (drag Car)…and explode out of the gate accelerating as quickly as humanly (or inhumanly if on Vet Roids) as possible.

Now in the current BMX training literature there has been heaps of talk about uphill sprints, sprints on grass, training on bigger gearing, plyometrics or 48 spoke wheels and so on. All great stuff in general and great as a "in-season" maintenance/builder" but if you want your first two pedals to scare people then I am afraid there is really only one answer….squats……

Now all the softies out there are already screwing up there noses…..oohh squats hurt my knees, give me a sore back, they will stuff up my leg speed, etc etc etc (hey… pain is just weakness leaving the body) ….guess what..they are right and then again they are wrong…

When it comes to training "if you think you are right or wrong your are right" , but that's another article…

Now squats are a little like a hand gun, if you are not taught properly they can be lethal in the wrong hands and hence the bad rapt they have had.

The reality is they have the potential to end careers but also have the potential to make them. How fast was Ben Johnson out of the blocks? Front Squatted 220KGS ..(485 pound) for reps…

Squats for BMX … The guys I am training at the moment have gotten big gains out the following Squat program. In fact I have been following it myself and match many AA pro here for explosive gates/out of corners and made the old AA pro final here in Australia.

Squat Style….My guys adopt a very traditional powerlifting style of squat technique. That is the bar is held on the rear delts with a shoulder or wider stance. Ask any powerlifter to show you. The reason for this stance is, a) it is more stable, b) High bar Bodybuilding squats are for size and tend to hurt the knees (especially when guys put blocks under foot and use big poundages), c) its uses nearly all the muscles of the body, d) its safer when using big poundages.

Reps and form…..Here's where some people go wrong….heaps of reps are fine if you want to build endurance (you may also stuff leg speed by doing this also but again that another article), you want a killer two first cranks, then work in the 3-5 rep range. Now think of your two first pedal…yep you push down as quick and hard as possible…that's how you should do your reps….when you lower into the squat position explode up that is accelerate / drive up as quick as possible….thus every rep you should use your whole body to explode up….doing reps that way builds power (strength X speed) rather than just strength.

Squat Cycles…..Here's another reason BMX people have trouble getting the most out of their squats…they squat too often and too heavy relative to their personal bests. Top powerlifters squat once every 7-10 days and they don't go near their personal best every week (same as Carl Lewis didn't run under 10 seconds every time he hit the track)… We are squatting once a week and making fantastic power gains on the bike. Remember we are not Body builders….we are power builders…two different objectives requiring different training styles. So the trick is to cycle intensity over a 8 week period heres two actual squat cycles that also shows the progression you can make (By the way these are drug free improvements ).


Cycle One Cycle Two
Week 1. 3 x 5 x 110 kgs 3 x 5 x 115kgs
Week 2. 3 x 5 x 120kgs 3 x 5 x 125 kgs
Week 3. 3 x 5 x 130 kgs 3 x 5 x 140 kgs
Week 4. 3 x 5 x 140 kgs 3 x 3 x 150kgs
Week. 5 3 x 3 x 150kgs 3 x 3 x 160kgs
Week 6. 3 x 3 x 155kgs 3 x 3 x 165kgs
Week 7 3 x 3 x 160kgs 3 x 3 x 170kgs
(Old Personal Best)
Week 8 1 x 3 x 165kgs
(Personal Best)
2 x 3x 170kgs
(new personal Best)
3 x 3 x 175kgs
(New Personal Best)

Explanation….the first number is the number of sets, the second is the number of reps and the last is the weight. Always warm up prior to top sets, i.e., start with stretching then 2-3 sets of lighter weight in same form and explosiveness.

When you come to the last week do the first set at the weight written down. If you get that without a spotter, go up five kilo for second, if you get that set go up again. So take cycle one if you did 165kg for first set go to 170kg for second. When setting up your next cycle what ever you got on the last week becomes your second last week for the next cycle. You then adjust your other weeks to match. The first couple of times you do this you will gain heaps as you find out where your power levels really are and you get use to squatting in this way.

Also back off other training on BMX say over the last two weeks of cycle and don't sprint the day before or after squat session. This will ensure you get the most out of it.

Now we have tried to cover a very complex area of BMX training which to do it justice requires a book, however I hope this inspires you to question your current training (especially if you haven't noticed any gains in speed lately) and have another look at the benefits of squatting. If any one needs more in-depth info on how to structure your training or the success of this e-mail me at davidc@pedalinn.com


Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.