Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tim Swords' Squat Program

Tim Swords' Squat Program with Bailey!

I started going to Barbell Club at Catalyst right around the time I finished the Burgener 10x3 squat program.  They recommended I do Tim Swords' Squatting Program next, so I did.  It was great since I was looking for a squatting cycle that had both front and back squats, but more front squats.  It was a nice transition from 10x3 and a huge relief!

The Swords' Squat Program was created by Tim Swords, head coach of Team Houston Weightlifting.  The Tim Swords' squat program is 7-weeks long and has you squatting three days per week.  It includes both front and back squats, with an emphasis on front squats.  For a given session, you'll either do front or back squats, but not both.  Since there is no clear pattern in this cycle, I ended up doing the sessions Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  It is also fairly low volume, approximately 10-25 total reps/session (including warm up)... especially when compared to the full Burgener 10x3 cycle!  Nevertheless, many people have experienced great success from it.  

I was excited to do Swords' squat cycle, especially after the vicious 10x3 cycle.  I wasn't really up for doing another 12-week cycle after doing Hatch and 10x3 back to back.  Swords' squat cycle and the Russian Squat Routine are also favorites at Catalyst so that was comforting.  

TEMPLATE LOG FOR TIM SWORDS' SQUATTING PROGRAM: xls | pdf | google doc... because I know you guys like this.

These are my thoughts.  Again, this is not a review of the program.  It is just my thoughts on program and the effects it had on me, given my current life dilemmas.

Frequency.  I like that the frequency was higher in Swords' program: squatting 3 times/week versus 2x/week with 10x3 and Hatch.  Hey, I like to squat.  It was also very easy to follow, focus, and perform: either front or back squats per session, but not both.  With the lower volume, each session wasn't super time consuming.  Now that it is dark in the mornings, I can get away with sleeping in a bit longer, then doing the squats, and make it to the 7am CF class on time.  

Pairing with Barbell Club.  The lower volume on the squats and the emphasis on front squats pairs very well with an oly cycle.  Ideally I would have time to do this after snatch or clean and jerk work to build strength.  A program similar to Brook's in a Catalyst case study sounds pretty sweet.  Greg accommodated her stressful lifestyle well.  However, while still doing CrossFit, instead of worrying about one program, I have to account for two very different programming and at the time I could not decide what I wanted to improve on more.  The two did not go well together and often times I found my legs spent even after a restful night.

Stress and Failed Sessions.  I've had a very rough couple months with career decisions.  I was very unhappy, not sleeping very much, and overworked: mentally and physically.  The dark cloud lingering over my head translated to my supplemental lifting and general physical activity.  Towards the end of the cycle when it had me doing doubles at 95% and then maxing out on both squats for 1+ reps, I bombed.  I tried the max front squat session three times and unfortunately, 105% was just out of reach.  Instead I did 103% on the very last day, belted and sleeved.  I mentally psyched the shit out of myself.  I don't even know if I want to count that as a best since I don't like using accessories for squats.  Anyway, the thing I realized was, for me, mental fatigue and stress is just as taxing as trying to do squats after a hero workout.  You either need to figure out a way to zone out from that part of your life, use it as a way to unload, or do the squats another time.  I haven't quite figured out how to direct mental stress yet.  Maybe I'm just emotional and emotional with my squat cycles since squats are my favorite physical activity to do.

Balance and Recovery.  I started doing Barbell Club at Catalyst thinking I could do a WOD and squat in the morning and Barbell Club in the evening.  Haha, let's just say at least one of those sessions was compromised and my body never really recovered.  To be fair, I wasn't completely insane to think I  could handle the load, as that's what I did while attending barbell club at our CrossFit gym.  The two barbell clubs are totally different though.  They were both demanding but not in the same way.  To accommodate the high frequency sessions in this program and my schedule (oh how I love to plan ahead), I started squatting on Sunday, my rest day.  This essentially left me with no rest day while doing the same volume.  I was doing too many things without adequate recovery.  On top of that I was hauling ass at work.  Hey, it's tough to do supplemental work and kick ass at a non-workout related job.

Final thoughts.  Even though the Tim Swords' squat program did not work out as well as I hoped for, I am still very convinced that it's a great program and I highly recommend it.  High frequency, flexibility, front squat emphasis, shorter cycle, maxing out on both squats, and not time consuming, are just a few things I really like about the program.  Also, everything is laid out for you from warm up to working sets.  Unfortunately, for my first go, I lacked the necessary balance and recovery required to get stronger and succeed at this program.  I definitely want to try it redo it in the near future when my head, life, and goals are somewhat clear and sorted out.

Jes' Tim Swords' Squatting Program Log.  Check out my Swords' training log and thoughts in [xls | pdf | google doc].

2. My Tim Swords' log preview.

I keep forgetting to take photos during the squat program but I guess of all program experience to miss photo-whoring, this isn't the worst.  I do have pictures of Bailey, my squat buddy and motivator.  Sunday morning squats followed by an intense game of fetch is our thing.

3. Bailey!  Pretty girl and my squat buddy.

4. Best.

5. Cheerleader.

6. Ever.  

I know I want to focus on olympic lifting for awhile.  I am on the Russian Squat Routine now and my approach to it is based on all I learned from this experience.  I don't do CrossFit WODs on days when I lift at Catalyst and hence cutting down on the metcons.  I'm more careful about the CrossFit WODs I do now so that I don't destroy what I learned at BBC.  I restored my rest day.  I am confident I will get more out of the next squat program I do.  I'm hoping to redo Tim Swords' early next year.

Other Strength Programs: Burgener 10x3Hatch5/3/1 | 5x5 | 20-rep Back Squat
Other Weightlifting Programs: 4-Week Leg Strength Block 1
Related Posts: Sled Pulls & Prowler Pushes5x5 Deload Week Fun