The Breathing Squat is Foolproof, BUT
The Breathing Squat is Foolproof, BUT - Roger Eells
With all that has been written on the correct manner of performing breathing squats one would naturally think there could not be one last person who would but understand exactly how to perform this movement.
The title of this article covers the situation entirely except for the word BUT. The squat is foolproof, and especially is this true of the breathing squat (and here's that word again) but for the fact that too many readers skip the details when reading the instructions on its performance.
There is no padding in the articles that appear in VIM. I'm careful to cut all material, whether in my own writings or those that are sent in by other authors, which does not say something that is to your advantage to know.
In spite of the careful editing of the articles it is surprising the number of men who drop in on me who swear they perform my version of the exercise correctly. If they haven't gotten good results I know that are incorrectly executing the exercise, and request them to demonstrate. Invariably they perform it in the wrong manner. I show them how it is done only to be informed that it wasn't in the magazine that way. A reference here and there in VIM convinces them that they were mistaken and they return home to write in a few weeks that they are registering more rapid gains than ever before in their life.
Let me urge all who have not increased their chest size and bodyweight to go back over the articles; this time don't just scan them but really study them. VIM is the bodybuilder's handbook, a manual. It isn't just a magazine full of photographs for your entertainment; it has high quality instructions that will assure you of reaching parts of your physical goal if you will only take the trouble to read the articles carefully and apply the suggestions contained in them.
There are rules that govern the correct way to implement the squat in this manner and I shall take them up one at a time, discussing them to whatever extent is necessary in order to prevent any misunderstanding in the future.
AMOUNT OF WEIGHT TO BE USED AND WHY
Experience has revealed that the correct amount of weight to use when performing the breathing squat for chest development, bodyweight increase and, yes, even to increase the size and shapeliness of the legs, is no more than bodyweight. Strangely enough, the more advanced man may often find it to his advantage to handle considerably less than bodyweight. Observation has revealed in a number of cases that advanced men progress more rapidly when using a weight lighter than is being handled by by men whose exercise experience is no longer than two or three months. Now don't jump to conclusions, there are substantial reasons for this. In the first place the beginner must strive to handle more and more weight for that is the initial problem to overcome, i.e., getting his strength up to the point where he can stop burning so much energy through heavy exertions and reach the point where he can drop the poundage to the place which will permit him to squat with a light weight to a greater advantage. Not using all his strength and conserving a great proportion of his energy he now approaches the condition which will result in more rapid gains.
That is the secret behind the rapid strides of the advanced man who realizes the benefit of lighter weights at higher repetitions in the breathing squat.
Another sound reason for using a weight no more than bodyweight is, the bar bell is so light it does not compress the shoulders and cramp the chest. It leaves it flexible . . . an extremely important condition if rapid chest growth is expected.
THE CORRECT WAY TO BREATHE
AND NUMBER OF BREATHS
Abdominal breathing will not give results excepting in bodyweight gains. Chest gains will be no more than that which can be expected from ordinary squats. The bodyweight increase will be greater in abdominal breathing-squats than with the regular squat and for that reason is the better method . . . but, why look for a zircon when a diamond lies before you? When practicing the breathing squat do it in the manner that assures you of all its benefits. That is, breathe costally (inspiration and expiration produced chiefly by movements of the ribs), and not abdominally.
When you breathe do it in such a manner that your chest will rise and fall, not your abdomen. This stretching, concussion effect on the ribs loosens the cartilage attachments of the sternum and results in greater flexibility of the entire region. It gives you a greater expansion. You job then is to carry yourself erect. In addition, incorporate the pullover, rowing motion and the exercise with a cable that affects the latissimus muscles in order that greater tone will result in the back muscles which will in turn hold the chest in an elevated position.
As to the number of breaths to be taken between squats we must determine through experimentation. No two individuals react in the same manner. For the beginner three deep breaths are about right, but as he progresses he should take more breaths between squats, shortening them to the panting style. By panting, I mean the condition which you experience when you have run 100 yards or so. Copy your breathing after that. The more advanced man . . . one with several years incorrect exercise experience behind him . . . may find it necessary to 10 to 15 breaths between squats. Now that is not such a chore as you would first think. That number of breaths can easily be accomplished and 20 squats executed in 3 minutes. When the poundage is no more than bodyweight it is not so uncomfortable, I assure you.
KIND OF BAR TO USE
To work at high reps it is almost a necessity to use a cambered bar. It prevents the bar from rolling on your neck and shoulders which, besides being most uncomfortable, wastes a lot of energy because of the necessity of fighting to keep your balance when squatting with a straight bar.
STRAIGHT BACK OR ROUND BACK
I encourage the beginner to squat with a straight back until such time as his muscles have strengthened sufficiently that injury is unlikely. After this initial period he is left on his own, and will eventually go into the positions which are most advantageous for his particular leverages.
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS
20 is about right for the beginner and may prove satisfactory for the more advanced man. However, two, three, and even four sets of 20 each are often needed on the advanced body culturist. Sometimes the problem can be solved by remaining at 20 reps and increasing the number of breaths. On the other hand, if the fellow in question has exercised over a period of years, has become tough, and hasn't registered gains for a year or two he may find it necessary to increase the number of reps both in the squats and breaths between.
There is a solution in one of the above methods for every one of you regardless of your past experience. Make sure that you are performing the exercise correctly and then experiment to determine which is the method needed in your case.
I never put much stock in that method of squatting. I prefer Rader's method of progressive overload that leads to BIG weights in the 20 rep squat. Progressive overload and heavier weights work for every other lift and I see no reason not to use it with the King of Lifts. With Rader's method, you still get the heavy breathing plus the benefit of greater strength.
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