When it comes to squatting the old internet guard would have had you believe that you could only train it heavy once a week maybe at a push twice a week but the second session would have to be done light or using something like the dynamic method. I think it is clear to anyone who reads the blogs, books on training or who even follows the training of weightlifters or powerlifters who compete in the IPF or unequipped you will see that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
That being said however there are still some scenarios where people can’t train the squat more than once a week. Some people have injury histories that stop them from doing it, some people are training for a sport and can’t commit to heavy leg training more than once a week and some people just don’t have the time or the want to squat more than once a week.
In this article I want to run you through the things you’re going to need to consider if you want to squat once a week and still progress your strength.
1 – You are going to have to train hard every squat session.
If you squat 2-4x per week then you are in the position where you can accumulate volume and fatigue over more sessions which means you don’t have to do as much in the one session. However, since you are only going to be squatting once a week you’re going to need to ensure an overload every session. The good thing about squatting once a week however is you have 6 days of rest from session to session so you can really go nuts every workout and it shouldn’t affect your next workout.
2 – You should use more than one squat variation in your programme to help with your skill learning.
Since your squatting only once a week you might think you should do more of the one kind of squat but you also need to ensure you are getting enough volume and overload in to make sure you are making progress. This means that you’re going to be doing an intense block of work for squat which will leave you very fatigued for any extra volume or work you might want to do on squat. To try and spend your energy a bit more intelligently doing extra volume in the form of pause squat, pin squat or front squat can help you to develop your technique.
3 – You need to make sure every week is pushing your progress.
You don’t have a lot of training time and as such you can’t really afford to waste any of it. You need to ensure you are progressing some element of your programme from week to week if it’s volume, weight lifted or reps done with a certain weight you need to ensure you are making some kind of progress week to week.
4 – You’re going to have to really pay attention to what you are doing.
As mentioned in point 2 since you have a very limited time frame to practice the movement through the week you’re going to really have to pay attention to your technique. You should spend some time during the week watching expert squatters and reading some material on squat technique. Ideally you should also have a coach to help with this process failing this the best thing to do is to work on your own mental representation of the lift. You should also video each set and critically appraise your own performance look for weaknesses in the lift and where you could improve your execution.
5 – You should devote as much of your training session time to squat as is feasible.
Depending on your goal you might not have a lot of time to spend on the squat in the session as a bodybuilder or even more so as a sports player there are too many physical qualities to be covered and not enough time to be devoting your whole session to squatting. If you’re a powerlifter and you only have one squat session in the week then you would do well to devote about 80% of your effort and time in that one session on the squat and squat variations.
Some Squat Programmes you can use to get better once a week.
Programme one – The God of Linear Gains Method.
This is a squat programme I used to get to 230kg, it’s also a method one of my lifters used to get to 320kg. If you’re not scared of doing hard sets and are reasonably new to lifting then you can get a lot out of this programme.
Working set one – choose a weight (75-80%) to begin the programme with. Then Rep out with it the goal is 10-12 reps. If you can get more than 12 keep going it’s your fault for choosing a light weight!
Working set two – up the weight 10-20kg (stronger lifters should jump more) and perform another rep outset. Again the goal is to do as many as you can goal reps 4-6 reps.
Volume – 3 sets of 6-8 reps @ 80-90% of the first working set.
Progression – When you can hit 9-12 reps on the first set of the workout then add 5-10kg for the next week and continue the progress.
Assistance – 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps on front squat or pause squat (can cycle this work every 2-3 weeks). Use 40-70% of working weight.
When do I deload or restart the programme – When you plateau or fail to increase your reps 2 weeks in a row at the same weight then you should deload for a week or and then change your programme or restart this programme at a lighter weight.
Programme two – INOL sets with rep outs.
This is a progression I have used in a whole bunch of programmes for at least 100 lifters and it has worked a treat for the vast majority of people. It won’t work forever however.
Week 1 – 5×5 @ 75% (rep out on set 5)
Week 2 – 5×4 @ 80% (rep out on set 5)
Week 3 – 5×3 @ 85% (rep out on set 5)
Week 4 – 4×4 @ 70%
Progression – utilise your rep out results for week 3 to calculate your new training max and then rerun the template after week 4 / deload week.
Assistance – 2-3 sets of 4-6 sets on any squat variation designed to help your skill learning. Use 60-90% of working weight.
When do I deload or restart the programme? When you fail to push your predicted RM up for 2 weeks in a row then you should consider a deload week or maybe switching your programme.
Programme Three – More weight is more.
The simplest progression method your probably ever going to come across just adding more weight to the bar. This programme is very similar to starting strength or stronglifts as in it just adds weight week to week however as it’s a 4 week training cycle it should allow you to progress for longer before you stall.
Week 1 – 5×5 @ 70%
Week 2 – 5×4 @ 75%
Week 3 – 5×3 @ 80%
Progression – When you start the next wave just add 2.5-5kg to each weight lifted depending on how strong you are.
Assistance – 2-3 sets of 3-6 sets on any squat variation designed to help your skill learning. Use 80-90% of working weight.
When do I deload or restart the programme? When you fail any reps then you need to think about restarting the cycle with lighter weights or choose another programme.
Hope this article has given you some ideas on how to progress your squat if you only have one session per week you can give it. Whilst one session a week isn’t the optimal way to progress with the lift there is no reason why you can’t get better at it with only one session a week, many of the worlds strongest lifters did just that.