Of Boxes and Blocks: Heavy Squat/Dead Days

I once heard Mark Bell say that advanced lifters have figured out the handful of exercises that work best for them, but intermediate lifters have to try everything under the sun so they can figure out what works for them.

But Rogozhnikov does not permit that much variety. Except for assistance work (of which he allows little), on heavy day Rogozhnikov restricts you to versions of the three main lifts that do not stray very far from competition conditions. This is another of those ways in which he is typical of the Eastern European approach to lifting: he emphasizes specificity.

box-squats
Rogozhnikov likes squatting to boxes of various heights too. But do not sit onto the box, as in the American “Westside” method…

Assuming that you lift raw, then on heavy leg and back days, you’re pretty much just squatting. You can put a box underneath you that will tell you when you’ve gotten deep enough, but you aren’t supposed to sit on it. In Rogozhnikov’s system, whenever you squat to a box, you always “touch and go.” You can also do pause squats: just squat down to hole and stay there for 1-3 seconds.

 

Touch-and-Go-Box-Squat
 Instead, “touch and go.” As soon as you feel the box touch your tail feathers, blast off.

As with the bench press, you squat for 3 sets of 5-6 reps.

Konstantin-intensity
Rogozhnikov prefers sumo deadlifts because they are easier on the spine and therefore on the central nervous system. But Rogozhnikov’s best-known champion, Konstantin Konstantinov, “pulls conventional.” You should compete that way too if you are stronger in that position. But Rogozhnikov still wants you to train sumo on half of your light and medium days.

After that, deadlifts. If you have been paying attention, you know that Rogozhnikov abhors anything that compromises his lifters’ recovery ability, and so he seldom lets them do heavy deadlifts from the floor. Any powerlifter can tell you, the deadlift is the most taxing lift, and it drains you more if you lift with a full range of motion. So on heavy days, Rogozhnikov usually has his athletes pull off 4-6” blocks.

POWER SLANG: “Pulling off blocks.” A “pull,” you’ll remember, means a deadlift. And you have the choice of pulling all the way from the floor or from elevated blocks, with just a partial range of motion.

hqdefault-5
Pulling off blocks is much less stressful for your central nervous system.

You pull for just 2 sets of 6-8 reps. When in doubt, aim for a slightly lighter weight for 8 reps. Especially on those rare days when you pull heavy from the floor!

*       *      *      *

So far we have seen in Rogozhnikov a cautious, conservative coach who keeps his lifters fresh most of the time so that, on rare occasions, they can throw away all inhibitions and go to Crazytown. And we now know his three basic building blocks: the light “massage” days, the medium “bodybuilding” days, and the heavy powerlifting days. In our next installment, we learn what makes Rogozhnikov’s system truly distinctive,  the formulae by which he lines up those blocks and in the right order to build big meet totals.

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