Free Half-Squat V. Guided Half-Squat V. Deadlift

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  • #16607

    Hey Team,

    I am reaching out to solicit some opinions on Guided Half Squat V. Free Weight Half Squat V. Deadlift. I understand that Uphill promotes a lot of one legged exercise, which I am definitely a fan of, but let’s say we are doing the sample workout in the Uphill Athlete 12 week Freeride Training Plan. This workout obviously recommends the Half Squat but I wanted to check in on folk’s opinions of a this exercise vs. using a guided rack for squats vs. a deadlift. I have a friend who swears more by the deadlift (sites Ryan Flaherty) and I use a guided squat because I do most workouts without a spotter.

    Thanks for the opinions!


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    Anonymous on #16614

    I would strongly recommend you use free 1/2 to 1/4 squats if you are using the training protocol in the Free Ride plan to improve your steep skiing. Here is why:

    We are using these sets of 50 reps of 1/4 to 1/2 squats to build muscular endurance for skiing down steep slopes, right? Using the principle of specificity, which trumps all other factors in training, we should choose a semi sport-specific movement that mimics the demands of the event we are training for, right? Hence the 1/4 to 1/2 squat choice in this program. It allows us to simulate much of the same range of motion, balance and coordination of neuromuscular firing patterns demanded in the event but in an “overloaded” manner.

    Using a guided squatting movement takes away much of the balance and coordination aspects we are trying to target. With the weights we recommend for this program of around 30% of 1RM you should not need a spotter. So, the guided rack becomes a crutch not an aid.

    The deadlift is a great exercise and for building strength I would recommend it over the squat normally IF that was our goal I completely agree with Ryan F. on the use of the DL for building maximum strength. This is how/why he uses the DL for his athletes. Very high weight/very low reps. Does that sound like a training recipe for increasing muscular endurance? Not at all. But, it is exactly the perfect recipe for building maximal strength that can then be converted into sport specific power, which is why he uses it.

    HOWEVER we are not trying to increase strength in this program. We want to improve sport specific muscular endurance. The dead lift is not as sport specific as the squat in this case nor does it lend itself to the ME training we are targeting as well as the squat.


    MulletsUnited on #16615

    Hey Scott,

    Thanks for the quick reply and that definitely makes sense. The work out I was referring to uses a high amount of weight with half squats and linked below (75% 1RM-95% 1RM). I am currently focused on “increasing your strength without adding muscle mass” as the article explains. I have been doing these once a week and I have seen noticeable improvement in my skiing. Sounds like I should try to make the transition to free squats and find a spotter.

    Uphill Athlete 12 week Freeride Training Plan

    Thanks for information, Scott. We all appreciate it!


    hafjell on #16620

    MU, others, any advice on when to start the Freeride plan? Obviously a bit late for this season, but I’m interested in your experience as I will likely use it next winter (or in the fall to prep for snow.) Thanks.

    Anonymous on #16626

    As far as exercises go, I use both deadlifts and squats. I progress it through the training season: double-leg deadlifts, then double-leg squats, then single-leg squats.

    As far as a rack goes, I would never use a guided rack based on the assumption that stabilizer muscles get a free ride and won’t engage.

    For safety, I always drop heavy DLs, never lower. (Admittedly, you need a proper gym that will allow this.) For squats, I use an enclosed squat rack and raise the safety catch bars on the sides to just under the lowest point of the bar.

    MulletsUnited on #16653

    Hafjell, if you’re trying to ski some big lines this spring, I definitely suggest it! I also think it will transition well to a good mountain running base for my summer.

    Scott Semple, thanks! I need to transition to unguided squats and will start one legged work soon.


    hafjell on #16654

    MU, I’m interested in timing. Did you start it this fall to coincide with the beginning of the ski season? Are you doing it during the season and just weekend warrior-ing the downhill skiing? I’ll be starting another program in April which will take me to the end of July. I could then take a week off, maintain fitness for a few weeks and then start the Freeride program September 1. That would put me at the end of it around December 1. Does that seem reasonable? What did you do?

    MulletsUnited on #16655

    Hey Hafjell,

    Sorry for the confusion, I did not do the whole plan, but only that exercise in the plan. My goal was to have this workout help build my base for the spring ski season, so I started “building base” in November. I have combined this workout at the beginning of the week with probably 3 days of skiing during the week + an average of 1 hour/day of base aerobic work. I was hoping to build more power from the listed workout and I definitely think it has. I split my time 50/50 on skiing big skis and skiing ski-mo skis.


    Anonymous on #16660


    Sorry I misunderstood your initial question. The real MONEY workouts in the Freeride plan are the Muscular Endurance squat workouts starting in week 7. So, I assumed that was what you were asking about. The max strength workouts in weeks 1-6 are just for establishing some base of strength for folks without much of a strength background. This base they provide is only there to make the ME workouts more effective.

    So, to your original question(s): I would still not recommend using guided squats for the reasons I pointed out earlier and that Scott Semple restates. A guided squat machine allows you to focus on developing more strength in the prime mover muscle groups because you do not need to engage the stabilizers so much during the movement. So if you aim is to get a higher squat number then fine but if you aim is ski down hill harder, steeper, longer etc then you really need the stabilizers to be trained as well. If your using a squat rack then you don’t need a spotter or a guide machine. You do not got to failure in this max program. The main reason to go to failure in strength training is to induce hypertrophy. That’s the last thin you want if you need to hike/skin uphill. You do not need to to be squatting 3x body weigh to get the most fro the ME program.

    Squats vs Deadlift; The deadlift is a more athletic movement than the squat, especially the hex bar DL. Once again though, for our purposes the differences are minor. We are not training to be stronger in the gym. The plan only intends to get an athlete strong enough to do the ME workouts and since those are squat based I keep the whole thing simple and used squats.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.


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