Tag Archives: monster squat

This is my last post on this site…….I’ve moved!

To have more control over my blog, I moved it to it’s own site: http://www.monstersquat.com/

All previous blog entries, pages and comments have been move.

Please unpdate your favorites and subscribe to the blog on the new site.

Thanks for following.

Joe “Ironman” Norman



My Quest for Another Monster!

It’s less than a week to go before competition. I guess now is as good a time as any to let you in on my personal goal for this meet. I got it in my head last year that I wanted to be the first to squat 1,100 lbs. in single-ply gear. Now I don’t care if I walk it out or not, just to get under that amount of weight and squat it would be enough. A pretty huge goal, but I believe it’s possible. When I told my training partners about it, they thought I was crazy and one of them brought to my attention that the highest single-ply squat was actually 1,058 lbs. They convinced me that I should try for that first. I agreed and set my goal for this meet, to 1063.5 lbs., the next kilo jump over 1,058 lbs. Considering that last year I squatted 1,003 lbs. at the same meet I’m preparing for, 60 more lbs. is not that outrageous of a goal.

With my newest “Monster Squat” goal in mind, I set out to do what it takes to achieve it.  

Normally, I like to run a twelve week training cycle for a meet; ten weeks of hard training, one week light and the last week for rest leading into the meet. For this meet, I extended the cycle one week because of the goal I had in mind, to give myself an extra week of rest.

My typical meet cycle consists of traditional squats, two top-end overloading exercises and deadlifts thrown in every now and then. I normally start out raw and work up to briefs for all the squat workouts. As the meet approaches, I work into full gear.

I knew if I am to squat 1,063 lbs. I will have to get my lower back stronger, as well as get my body accustomed to holding that amount of weight or even more. The squat exercises I chose for this cycle to accommodate my goal were the Safety Squat Bar, Chain Squats and Band Assisted Squats. Safety squats would work my lower back while the other will give me the major top-end work I want. For this cycle, I also wanted to work myself harder so I stayed Raw for the first time performing each exercise making sure I hit some personal records for each.  

Here is the cycle:

  Exercise Gear Top Set
Week 1 Safety Squat Bar Raw 660 lbs. x 1
Week 2 Box Deadlifts Raw 700 lbs. x 1
Week 3 Band Assisted Squats Raw 910 lbs. x 1
Bands help with 250 lbs. of Pressure in the hole and 0 lbs. at lockout
Week 4 Chain Squats Raw 515 lbs. x 1 + 365 lbs. chains weight (880 lbs. total top-end)
Week 5 Deadlifts Single Suit/Briefs 675 lbs. x 1
Week 6 Squat Single Briefs 800 lbs. x 2
Week 7 Safety Squat Bar Single Briefs 800 lbs. x 1
Week 8 Chain Squats Single Suit/Briefs 735 lbs. + 365 lbs. chains weight x 2 (1,100 lbs. total top-end)
Week 9 Deadlifts Raw 645 lbs. x 1
Week 10 Band-Assisted Squats Single Suit/Briefs 1,110 lbs. x 1
Bands help with 250 lbs. of Pressure in the hole and 0 lbs. at lockout
Week 11 Squats Single Suit/Briefs 1,000 lbs. x 1
Week 12 Squats Raw 420 lbs. x 3
Week 13 Bar weight only, and spotting.

The only other things I changed up for this squat quest is that I won’t be cutting weight. I normally train right at a body weight of 255 lbs. and cut to 242 lbs. for the meet. This time I’m staying at my training weight. We also changed our Max squat days to Mondays instead of the end of the week. This will also give me more time to rest between my last heavy day and the meet.

Now this is Week 13 and tonight I plan on going to the gym to help spot, do some stretching, squats with just the bar, some leg extensions and leg curls and that’s it.

To sum it all up.

  1. Heavy raw training in the beginning of the cycle
  2. Safety bar for stronger lower back
  3. Chains and reverse bands to overload the top
  4. Perform exercises twice in the cycle, once raw and one geared
  5. Not cuttign body weight
  6. More rest

We will see next week if my plan worked! Wish me luck.




Comments and questions are always welcome.

Week 11 – Max Squat Day

Three weeks out from APF Single-Ply Nationals

All I can say about this week’s heavy squat day is that I got through it. Warm-ups were going well, but once I got on my briefs, things seemed to change. I haven’t been watching my weight for this meet and I’m running around ten pounds heavier than usual. The briefs and suit were cutting into my legs so bad I couldn’t tell if the pain in my legs were my muscles cramping or just from the gear. I was tempted to stop but Lester convinced me to suck it up and continue. After all it was my heavy day before the meet. I continued and was able to hit my 1,000 lb. goal for the day.

As for sets and reps; when I’m in meet mode, I like to take large jumps to conserve my energy for the heaviest sets.

150 lbs. x 5
260 lbs. x 3
260 lbs. x 4
440 lbs. x 1 – Start Briefs
620 lbs. x 1
820 lbs. x 1 – Start Suit
910 lbs. x 1
1,000 lbs. x 1

Leg Curls
90 lbs. x 15
100 lbs. x 15
100 lbs. x 15
100 lbs. x 15

Leg Extension
120 lbs. x 15
120 lbs. x 15
120 lbs. x 15


Comments and questions are always welcome.

What’s Your Perspective

I will be posting last night’s training log and videos later tonight, but I thought I would share this quick story.

Last night was my last heavy squat day before my up-coming meet. As I was getting ready for my second to last heavy set, one of my lifting partner’s children came out to the gym.

Looking at the bar, she said “Why’s the bar bending so much?”

My partner turned to her and said, “Honey, there’s a lot of weight on there.”

I didn’t think much of this until I was driving to work this morning. It’s a funny thing being a competitive powerlifter. We sometime forget that our perspective or what may seem perfectly normal to us, like a bar bending under a half ton of weight, is in fact not normal at all. And even beyond that, we get under the bar to squat it.



Comments and questions are always welcome.

My Book is Finally Complete!

It’s been more than a year, but my book on squatting is finally complete. It’s now available as Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3826447 or Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007R7FBJ4 and should be available for the Nook in the next few days.


I’d like to thank everyone who helped me to accomplish this, especially the members of Team Jax.

By the way, I will try and post Week 10 training logs tonight.




Q & A: Squatting Questions…

Yesterday I received an email from fellow master lifter, Steve Peterson. Steve is based out of West Richland, Washington and is currently getting ready for the APF Master Nationals, being held at the end of May in Baton Rouge, LA. Steve is currently ranked 4th in the squat, 6th in the deadlift and 9th for total on Powerliftingwatch.com’s Master Men’s rankings. He has a 925 lbs. squat and is looking to break that 1,000 lb. barrier in May. I was glad to help him with some advice, the email chain is below.

I need to pick your brain. Are you only squatting once a week? No speed day?
I am 8.5 weeks out from Masters Nationals. Got a good template you could throw out for me to bump me over 1000?
I did a 925 my last meet in Oct. Then I had my prostate removed due to cancer. They got it all.
My template has been Monday: Speed Bench, Tricep work. Tuesday: lower back and upper back work. Thursday: Max effort bench, tricep work.
Saturdays: Max effort squat, Have SSB, Cambered bar, Texas Squat bar. Rotating all.
Can’t wait to get your book. I want a signed one brother!
Thank you,

My Reply:


First, I’m sorry to hear about the cancer and I glad to hear everything is going well now.

As for your questions, I always squat twice a Week, unless I deadlift on the heavy (max) day. I don’t like to miss light (speed) days at all. Those are the days to get the soreness out. I like to have at least three days between the heavy and light day. If I squat on Monday, I do speed on Thursday. From what you stated, it looks like you already split your week up appropriately; just add the speed squats on Tuesday and take the back exercises a little lighter.

Now, leading into a meet, save most of the effort on the max days. As the max day workouts get harder and the weights get heavier, lower the weights on the speed days. Normally, on a speed day you would do squats for 10 sets of doubles with 40-50% of your max weight. Drop the percentage down to about 20-30%. Use these days to recover and work on form.

As for a meet program, I usually start 12 – 13 Weeks out.  This is my current program going into the APF Single-Ply Nationals.

Week 1:  Safety Bar – Raw
Week 2: Box Deadlifts – Raw
Week 3: Band Assisted Squats – Raw
Week 4: Chain Squats – Raw
Week 5: Deadlifts – Suited
Week 6: Squat – Briefs Only
Week 7: Safety Bar Squat – Briefs Only
Week 8: Chain Squats – Suited
Week 9: Deadlifts – Suited
Week 10: Band Assisted – Suited to 115-120% of max at the top
Week 11: Squat – Suited to 90-95% of Goal
Week 12: Squat – 3 sets 5 reps with warm-up weight
Week 13: Meet Day!

As you can see, I like to start off a meet program doing the exercises raw. This gives me a good gauge of where I am strength wise. As the weeks progress, I will start with the briefs, so I can start getting my body used to handling the heavier weights. By the time I’m five weeks out, I start with the suit, again allowing me to go heavier and get even more accustomed to the heavy weights.

If you have chains and bands then try to incorporate chain squats and band assisted squats when you are about 5 weeks out. Either one of these exercises allows you to overload the top-end weight.

You want the top-end weight to be around 15 – 20% over your max. Now this may sound crazy, but if you use a lot of chain weight on the chain squats or a lot of bands on the band assisted squats, then it’s not so bad.

Let’s say you use 300 lbs. of chain weight, with your max of 925 lbs. you would need to go up to 1,060 lbs. at the top (15% over max). In the hole the weight will only be 1,060 – 300 = 760 lbs. (around 80% of your max). Now add another 60 lbs. of chains. Still at the top the weight is 1,060 lbs.  Taking away 360 lbs. leaves 700 lbs. (76 % of max).  This will do two things. First it will get you used to un-racking weight much heavier than your 1,000 lb. goal.  Second, you will be able to work on blasting the weight up out of the hole. The same theory applies to the band assisted squats. You will want to do these exercises fully suited so you get used to the heavy weight in your gear.

As for the rest of the program, two weeks out is for working out the kinks in the gear and to push yourself to a heavy weight that’s close to your goal. One week out if for rest, take it light and do some reps. Just enough to get the blood flowing but not enough to feel sore.

As for light days, as I said earlier, the heavier you go on the max days, the lighter you go on the light days. I only use 235 lbs. for my speed sets when I’m in the middle of a meet program, sometimes only 195 lbs.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know.

Good luck and keep me informed.




Crossing Over from Single-Ply to Multi-Ply Gear.

Recently I had a conversation with Chris Pappillion, a well-known lifter out of Texas. Chris currently competes in both the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) and the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF) in the single-ply gear. Right now he is ranked 3rd in the 242 lb. weight class on PowerliftingWatch.com’s lifter rankings. He has decided to give it a try in multi-ply gear and compete in the upcoming Southern Powerlifting Federation (SPF) Longhorn Classic Powerlifting and Bench Press Championship being held in Texas next month. New to multi-ply gear, Chris asked me for some advice on how to make the transition from single-ply to the multi-ply gear.

Our conversation went as follows:

Chris: Man what’s the best way to cross over from single to multi-ply on squat?

Me:  Start with the suit first. Use your single-ply briefs under the multi-ply suit. Once you feel comfortable with that combination, train in the multi-ply briefs alone for a while to get used to them.  Next, put them both together. You will also need to brief and suit up early in your work outs. At 315 lbs., put on the briefs. At 500 lbs., put on the suit over the briefs. Always pull straps even if you can’t get down, this way you can get used to the gear with weight that is easy to handle.

You will also be forced to hold the bar higher on your back with the ticker material, so put the mono-lift up a little higher than your normal rack height. This way you can get set up properly under the bar.

The biggest thing with multi-ply gear is that you need to stay upright throughout the lift as much as possible, from start to finish. If you aren’t upright, the gear will try and keep you locked in the wrong position and it will be hard to get back into the position during the lift. It’s not as forgiving as single-ply gear.

Chris: So you think I should use a multi-suit no briefs to get used to it first?

Me:  You can do that or use the multi-ply briefs alone first. Either way, use one or the other, not both, until you get used to them, then put them together.

What suit and briefs are you using?

Chris: Titan Boss suit and Titan Boss briefs! I hit 900 lbs. in the suit alone no straps but when I put the briefs on, 900 lbs. is 3 inches high and at this meet we have to break or bomb!

Me: Do you have single-ply briefs?

Chris: Yes!

Me:  What kind? Titan?

Chris: Yes! Should I do legless or regular?

Me:  Try the regular; the longer leg will let the suit slide up on top of them better and get settled in more on your body.

Chris: I’ll try it Friday. Joe thanks!

Me:  On the Boss suit you can get away with leaving the straps a little loose. Try it with the straps almost falling off your shoulders, then as the weight gets heavier, tighten them up accordingly.

Chris: What happens when I jack them? Man when I was going down with all that gear it messed my form up bad!! I got to get this multi-ply gear down, cause I already said I was going to do it! I want a 2,500 lb. total. I got the bench and dead just need the 1,000 lb. squat.

Me:  The most IMPORTANT thing to remember is to stay in form, if you don’t get down, don’t worry. Do not break form, just keep going up in weight until you can reach parallel.

Chris: K I got you man! Let me know when that book comes out I want one! You need to get dealers to sale it for you that shit will go Joe! You got enough credit to do it!!

K thanks

Me:  Good luck and keep me up to date on your progress.

When crossing over from single-ply to multi-ply gear or even the other way around; it is always a good idea to gear up early in your workouts. This way you can adjust your form with lighter weight. One last thing, remember the golden rule “DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR FORM!” no matter what. To lift the big numbers you will need perfect form, so stay in form, break in the gear and squat.


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Meet Prep Bench Presses

Monday night Yury and I did the Team Sampson’s bench routine. It consists of sets of two reps to three boards, shirted. Top weight should be close to a Max, then two drop sets. First drop set should be close to a second attempt for two reps, with the last set two reps to a one and a half board with an opener weight one rep.

135 x 10
225 x 8
305 x 3
365 x 1 – start three boards
410 x 2 – start shirts
500 x 2
560 x 2
620 x 2
660 x 2
615 x 2 – two board
600 x 1 – one and half board

This workout was pretty hard. I used my larger single-ply Inzer Rage. I’m saving my tight shirt for the meet, besides its good to train with less help. We did a lot of reps over 600, but we got through it. My left shoulder was dragging a little but I think it will come along by the meet in April. It felt good holding heavy weights in my hands again.
This got me thinking about my squat training. I plan on switching things up a little in the next few weeks by wotking some heavy doubles. This will give me some needed endurance.

On The Road to the APF Single-Ply Nationals

I’ve been busy getting ready for the APF Single-Ply Nationals coming to Orlando, FL at the end of April. I am setting a pretty big goal for myself at this meet. My goal is to try and squat the highest single-ply squat ever. I will have to squat 1063 lbs. to go past Henry Thomason’s current 1058 lb. record.

Part of my plan to reach this goal is to compete in the 275 lb. weight class. I usually weigh around 250-255 lbs. when training for a meet and cut down to 242 lbs. the week before the meet. This time I’m not going to risk losing any strength by making the weight cut. I also plan on breaking in my gear for the heavier body weight and should have it well mastered by meet day.

This week was week 7 in a 12 week cycle leading to the meet. Here are my logs for the first 7 weeks, I only including the main exercise, but will say we have been performing reverse-hypers, glute-hams and pull-throughs as the secondary exercises for these heavy day workouts:

WEEK 1: 1-30-2012 – Safety Bar

140 x 3
230 x 3
320 x 3
410 x 1
500 x 1
590 x 1
660 x 1

All sets were performed raw. I like to train raw this far out from a meet. As the meets gets closer, I will start using briefs, an old pair, to push the weights up higher.

WEEK 2: 2-07-2012 – Box Deadlifts

250 x 3
340 x 3
450 x 3
540 x 3
640 x 1
700 x 1

This was the first time deadlifting in a long time. I was pretty pleased with the outcome. We have been training our backs pretty hard on the secondary exercises over the last few weeks and my back held out pretty good.

WEEK 3: 2-13-2012 – Band Assisted Squats

460 x 3
550 x 3
640 x 3
750 x 1
800 x 1
860 x 1
910 x 1

All sets were performed raw. The bands helped with about 250 lbs. of pressure in the hole and 0 lbs. at the top. We decide to put on the largest bands so we could get a that bigger difference.

WEEK 4: 3-20-12 – Chain Squats

155 + 365 chain x 3
155 + 365 chain x 3
245 + 365 chain x 3
335 + 365 chain x 1
425 + 365 chain x 1
515 + 365 chain x 1

One more week raw. This week I decided that I would stay raw. The next time this exercise comes around in the cycle, I will suit up. I wanted to see how high I could go raw and was very pleased with the results.

WEEK 5: 2-28-12 – Deadlifts

135 x 3
225 x 3
315 x 3
405 x 1 – start briefs (old single-ply)
495 x 1
585 x 1 – start using suit (old single-ply)
675 x 1
725 miss – was inches from lock-out

Even though I missed 725, I was very pleased with this day. This was the first time I tried sumo style in three years. I put on my knee sleeves to protect my left knee. I had hurt my knee a few years ago and there is a build-up of scar tissue. Every time I tried sumo style after the injury, it hurt too much when the bar hit that knee. This week it didn’t hurt and I was able to get my old form back.

WEEK 6: 3-5-12 – Squat

150 x 3
260 x 3
340 x 3
430 x 3 – start briefs (old single-ply)
520 x 3
620 x 3
710 x 3
800 x 2

Another good week. They just seem to keep coming. This week was the first traditional squat in the training cycle. I got in briefs because it’s time to start getting used to the heavy weights again. I also decided to do triples all the way up down to the last set, a double. I also wanted to get some volume in.

WEEK 7: 3-12-12 – Safety Bar Squat

155 x 3
155 x 3
250 x 3
340 x 3
430 x 1
520 x 1 – start briefs (old single-ply)
610 x 1
700 x 1
800 x 1

Second time around with the safety bar, this time getting into briefs. A funny thing happened on the 700 lb. set. I lost my balance in the hole and fell forward. With all the back training we have been doing in the last few months, I was able to stop the weight from folding me completely over, hold it there for at least a second and straighten myself back out, then stand back up with it. I was able to do all this and my back doesn’t feel bad at all. I was also able to go up to 800 and had no problem with it.

2011 APF Single Ply/Raw Nationals

Keeping the Single Ply Training Going.

I sat down at the end of last year and looked over the different federations meet schedules for this year. I couldn’t pass on the APF Single Ply/Raw Nationals. With the success I had in the USPF Single Ply meet in November, I figured to just keep the momentum going. Besides, it was here in Florida, only 2 hours away, scheduled to be on my birthday, what other day of the year would any lifter want to lift, filmed to air on Fox Sports Network, TV coverage,  and best of all, $500 cash prize for winning your weight class. NO BRAINER!!

I trained all year in my single ply gear, the only difference was that this time the meet was going to be held by the APF and I wouldn’t have to back weight out of the racks, they use a mono-lift.  I decided to set my goals pretty high, 1000+ squat, 600+ bench and 700+ deadlift.  This would give me a 2300+ total. My goals were pretty accurate. Check out the results below;


Weighed in at 241.5 lbs. Competed in the 242 Open Division.

For the squat, opened with 910 (good), jumped to 970 (lost balance before starting the lift), jumped to 1003 on third attempt (good).

1003 Squat 3rd Attempt

Bench, opened with 501 on the bench (good), jumped to 560 (good), third with 622 (good) . Changed shirts to  a smaller shirt on the third attempt.

622 Bench 3rd Attempt

Went 8 for 9 and ended with a 2336 Lb Total

I was able to accomplish all of my goals, took first place ($500!) and took best lifter for the Sinple Ply division of the meet. Fox Sports even interviewd me after the meet for the show. It was a good Birthday! By the way I turned 43 that day. Not too bad for an old guy.