Seb Ostrowicz

3 Exercise Glenn Pendlay Uses to Increase the Squat

It doesn’t matter where Glenn is, or what team he is coaching, he consistently raises people’s squat up over 200kg, with many of his athletes squatting well over 250kg. It is no coincidence that he is able to achieve this with every athlete he coaches.

So why is it that we have such a hard time doing this for ourselves?

Well the truth is, Glenn doesn’t coach like all the other coaches. He doesn’t program exactly like the other coaches. Is this bad? Well, he is arguably the most successful coach in America, with more than 100 national titles to his name and with as many as 10 national records set in a single year.

What Glenn does differently is that he doesn’t only program squats to improve the squat. Banging your head against the wall with only squats isn’t the best way to improve the squat. Other supplementary exercises must be added to increase strength in specific areas. As Louie Simmons has explained, you might have 200kg legs and a 200kg back but if you only have 170kg glutes you are only going to squat 170kg!

So how does Glenn do it?

These are the 3 additional exercises that Glenn programs to build big squats.

1)      Jerk Steps

Jerk Steps were invented by Glenn to improve the imbalances caused by jerking for his athlete James Tatum. Curiously, not only did they improve his Jerk and relieve the pain from his back, but Glenn said they also improved his squat by 20kg over the course of a few months, from 220kg to 240kg at 77kg body weight.

Jerk steps are done with weights in excess of your best jerk. The bar is placed in a back squat position, and the athlete simply lunges forward into the position of a perfect jerk, at which point he/she recovers and lunges out WITH THE OTHER LEG, alternating back and forth. By using such a heavy weight for so many sets and reps it is a very quick way to override any asymmetry created from jerking. This improved balance is likely responsible for James Tatum’s squat improvements.

It is clear from this video how demanding jerk steps can be. Spending a minute with a heavy load on your back is no joke. Maintaining the coordination under such fatigue is very difficult and certainly aids in sticking a jerk after a tough clean.

There are videos of James Tatum doing jerk steps somewhere in the MDUSA YouTube library though I was unable to find them. (DISCLAIMER – I only tried to look for 1 minute…)

2)      Isometric squat holds

Isometrics are a forgotten exercise. Originally popularised by the York Barbell Club in the 60s, they lost popularity after accusations of the team’s relationship with PEDs. Nonetheless, they are the fastest way to gain strength at a specific joint angle ever researched.

Glenn began using them for his athlete Jared Flemming who had been stuck at a 160kg snatch for over 3 years. After less than a year with Glenn, utilising isometric holds as the staple of his new training, he snatched the new American record of 170kg. Glenn has seen huge benefits in isometrics in both the pulls and the squats. For those of you with strong sticking points in the squat, these are how Glenn blasts through them.

Squat up into immovable pins with as much weight as you can and hold for 10 seconds for a few sets.

3)      Step-Ups

Yes you heard me correctly. Glenn programs step-ups. Not body pump style step ups with small bars and plastic 1kg weights. Heavy, difficult, muscle straining, barbell step-ups. Many of us have faulty movement recruitment patterns. We tend to over fire our hamstring and lower backs in particular, instead of utilising our glutes. As a result, we have massively over developed erectors in our back and we all tend to have under developed glutes. Watch any CrossFit competition and pay attention to when and athlete finishes an event and bends over. You can see the mother of all erectors sticking out of their clothes.

Including step-ups in your squat program might help accelerate the development of the glutes in relation to the quads and already over developed back. This helps keep your hips from shooting backwards when driving out of the squat. In addition, it balances out the legs, reducing injury risk.

o there you have it, the 3 exercises I learnt from Glenn Pendlay that you ought to be incorporating into your training.

Give these lifts a go and please comment, share, and like.

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