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Bottom position Training

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  • Bottom position Training

    What do you, the esteemed members of the IM Forum, think about Bottom position training in a power rack? Squats, Bench, Whatever etc.... Does anybody prefer it over conventional lifting? Notice any carryover to other, more standard lifts? Overall strength gains? Our man Brooks loves what are some of you all's experience with this?

  • #2
    Bottom lifting

    I think bottom up/lifting has a place in a lifters repertoire. If you are following a conjugate system like West Side, they make for good max effort moves, if you are doing linear periodization, I would use the bottom up lifts as assistance lifts for a cycle.

    I find it hard to get into position on the squat from the bottom. I prefer pause squats in place. I do like bottoms bench presses (although be sure and hit the same groove as your normal stroke) and certainly like bottom position good mornings...

    Hope my experiences are of value.



    • #3
      I think that Bottom Position Training is an effective way of training the lifts. I have tried it on squats, benches, and incline presses. Like Steve, I found it a little difficult and uncomfortable getting trying to wedge myself into the bottome position squat. I prefer to set the pins low in the power rack, take the weight off the rack, lower myself into position for a two second pause, then complete the lift.
      As for benches and incline presses, I think the bottom position is a great way to begin the lift. To make it even more challenging, I like to use a thick-handled bar. In terms of building overall strength, I think it is very useful. And it does have carry-over to the actual lifts. Overall, I highly recommend doing bottom position training.


      • #4
        It is my contention that the bottom one third of the full squat represents the primary limiting factor for most people in the increase of lower body strength and development. Since the full squat often acts as a barometer and or catalyst for the development of the entire body, then this portion of the squat may very well be a primary limiting factor for the entire body. This is also the area of the squat where the greatest potential for trauma and injuries can occur.

        By bottom position, I am referring to the fully descended position to about 30 degrees above parallel. This area is the toughest part of the squat and there is often a feeling of discomfort, vulnerability and anxiety as to whether the proper depth has been achieved. This is likely due to lack of flexibility in the hips, knees and ankles and the fact that we spend very little if any time in this position in our everyday lives.

        The best way to overcome this apprehension is to squat as deeply as you are able to. This negates the anxiety of wondering if you hit the right squat depth each time. Obviously a competitive powerlifter will have to spend some time squatting to break parallel, but many would be wise to squat deeper more often in order to build their confidence and overall lower body strength. From a very early age, I learned to squat much deeper than parallel in the gym and in powerlifting meets and I don�t feel that it put me at any competitive disadvantage. I competed in over 60 powerlifting meets and never once received a red light for failure to hit proper depth. You can use up a lot of energy and mental focus trying to just break parallel that could be better spent on the execution of the overall lift.

        The second thing you can do is to develop a habit of squatting instead of sitting whenever you can. Obviously you cannot do this at a business meeting or at church, but you can work it into daily habits such as petting the dog or picking up something from the ground. Do this a dozen times a day for about two months and you should notice a marked increase in your comfort and confidence in the bottom portion of the squat.

        The third thing you can do is to perform some adjunct squat movements in your training which will strengthen the bottom one-third of the squat movement. The following are two of my favorites.

        Deadstop Squats, also known as Bottom Position Squats, are an incredible exercise; in fact I predict it will someday become a contested lift in some type of strength competition. I like to do these after I perform regular full squats. Using either a power rack or a set of adjustable squat racks, place the bar as low as you possibly can and still be able to position yourself underneath the bar in the bottom part of the squat position. When you are properly set up for this lift, you should feel as though you are in a very powerful position, rather than a feeling of being cramped and �out of position� A lot of this has to do with lack of hip, knee and ankle flexibility. I have found a great way to loosen and warm-up the hips and knees is to pedal a stationary bicycle and alternate normal pedaling, with a pedaling movement in which you place the outer edge of your feet on the pedals with your knees spread out wide. It looks a bit obscene, but it gets the job done. When you first begin doing bottom position squats, you may have to initially start at about a half squat, and gradually move the pins down until you find the right starting position. Make sure your entire body is tight and then elevate the weight upwards until you are standing straight up, then, using precision control, lower the bar down the pins. Take a few breaths and then repeat for the target number of reps. You will find that your biomechanical position and technique must be near perfect when handling maximum weights. I like this movement for several reasons. When you start the movement from the bottom position, you are directing all of your initial energy into doing the toughest part first and once you break past this initial phase, the rest is easy by comparison. I also like the fact that there is virtually zero ballistic impact on the knees and I have had many people who claimed they could not squat because of pain in their knees, be able to do deadstop squats without any pain in their joints.

        Pause Squats are full squats performed exactly like traditional full squats with the addition of a 3 second pause in the bottom phase of the squat. Take the weight off the supports and descend to your lowest squat position, holding that position for approximately 3 seconds, then drive the weight upwards to completion. You can use either a training partner to count off the seconds or you can do it yourself. Either way, I like to use a cadence and command of 1�..2�.3. followed immediately by a powerful �GO�! Perform these after your regular squats with a rep range of anywhere from 3-6 reps per set. This exercise will teach you to stay tight throughout the entire range of motion in the squat and will greatly enhance your ability to drive out of the bottom.

        Keith Wassung


        • #5
          Dead stop squats

          I think all the previous posts covers the topic very well and I have only a few things to add:

          1. I use bottom position squats to teach beginners the barbell squat. They have the time to get into the right position (back straight etc) and when they are ready squatting is just "standing up". Starting from the bottom also takes a lot of the fear away.
          2. If a lifter has a challenge to get into the right position he will have spent valuable energy before the lift begins.
          3. While bottom position squats are great to improve the strength in the sticking point, the lifter does not train with he optimal rhythm for the squat, therefore bottom position squats should be combined with regular squats (for example with strength-speed parameters) in the same week of training.



          • #6
            The biggest challenge with bottom position back squats is getting into the right position--it can take some time to get properly set up and you use up a lot of energy as you are already in an uncomfortable position---here is a simple solution--Get a rolling chair--office type--(Goodwill 5 bucks) and set the height of the chair so that you when in a seated position, you are are inch or two under the bar. You sit in the chair and "roll" under the bar. you can take all the time you want getting your feet set, getting your hands in the right position--theres no rush, no stress, because you are seated--its easy to positin the chair--once you have everything in place, you sort of "tense" up, get tight and then just press your body upwards--you are already making contact with the bar, so really you are just moving up an inch or so--then you start the movement from there--piece of cake. You could also use a box/block if necessary.

            two more thoughts--I advocate full squats, but its probably better to start somewhere just below parallel--if you start try to start to low, you have to overcome a lot of biomechanical disadvantages---the second thought is that bottom position front squats are the absolute bomb


            • #7
              I love bottom position training and in fact I think it is the most functional way to train for strength. It definitely got me the strongest I ever was and if you've read anything about my training that's the major style especially for squats which I espouse. Although I like it for presses, bench presses, partials, etc. In training that you see the most carry over to the widest range of strengths. Most things in the real world start from a dead stop or a very short pre-stretch not a full-range pre-stretch that a regular squat or bench press would give you. I do think because of the technical and nervous efficiency if you are training them specifically to get better at a competition style of lift then you need to mix them on a regular basis with the competition style to get the most carryover, but they are perfectly legitimate to train on their own as a primary style of lifting for strength, development, etc.

              There are many advantages, too many to list here, but a couple of the big ones being that you never need a spotter and you can exactly control the range of the lift to fit your body and make it the same every time you do the lift.


              • #8
                Bud, I have one question: What kind of reps do you use for the bottom position squats? When I've tried them, I usually kept the reps in the 1-3 range. For benches/presses, I kind of go with higher reps. For the squats, though, because of the positioning, I keep the reps lower.


                • #9

                  Sorry I didn't get to reply to this till now. I used almost all exclusively singles. Occasionally more than that - certainly on the first warm up set. I never had a problem doing the first rep from the bottom then doing a second rep or more by touching the rack and then coming up on squats. Never liked that on bench presses, but was okay to do reps either way by starting on the pins every rep. Really almost exclusively everything from bottom position was almost all single rep.



                  • #10
                    I have recently made PRs in each of the big 3, and I attribute them all to rack training. Almost everything I know about rack training came from articles written by Anthony Ditillo. Many of these articles are reprinted on "the Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban" blog. I know that Pat Casey used bench press rack training on his road to 600. So yes, they are very effective, but one must be careful not to overdo it. Listen to your body.


                    • #11
                      I've done almost all my benching and squatting from the bottom position since I first read "Dinosaur Training" back in 1996.

                      For the bench it's just a much more practical style since I train by myself and I never have to worry about unracking and then racking the barbell. I also use a 2 inch bar, always. I recently tried benching with a regular olympic bar and it actually felt painful in my hands.

                      For the squat, what I like about starting from the bottom is not having to walk forward and backward with a loaded barbell on my traps, and I like having a definitive point to go down to. For me, that usually means an inch or so above parallel.

                      I have no idea which style is the best, but I found I just really like doing it this way so I have been for almost 15 years now.


                      • #12
                        I think the bottom position lifts make me the strongest just as long as I combine them with the full range movements.

                        I used with heavily with the old Doug Hepburn program.

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                        • #13
                          I have been doing bottom position squats and some bench for years. I train alone and find that its the safest way to truly push your limits.