Released in 2016 by Jonnie Candito, this is a 9 week advanced squat program. Similar to his advanced deadlift program and advanced bench press program, this emphasizes progression on the squat and places significantly less emphasis on the bench and deadlift. This is geared toward lifters that have plateaued on their squat or are looking to focus on it for other reasons.
If a lifter is able to progress on all three lifts simultaneously, this is probably not the optimal program for them to run. Consider the Candito 6 Week Intermediate Program in that case.
If you enjoyed the program, please consider donating to Jonnie Candito (click on PayPal link).
Candito Advanced Squat Program Spreadsheet
Candito Advanced Squat Program Overview
To learn more about the program, it is recommended that you read the accompanying PDF.
To save you a bit of reading, I pulled out a few of the most important bits. Still, Jonnie put a lot of thought into this program and if you’re going to run it, you should read the full PDF.
Longest Single Lift Program
The reasoning behind this is simple. Comes down to 3 points:
- The squat makes up significantly more of one’s total than the bench press.
- The squat helps increase the deadlift more so than visa versa.
- The squat is more skill based and capable of handling higher volume than the deadlift.
Higher Intensity During High Frequency Phase
When I mention intensity, I am specifically talking about loading, the percentage of 1 rep max. Also for the sake of compartmentalization, I am only discussing the high frequency phase and the competition squat (not primary accessories).
The risk of developing shoulder issues by both focusing solely on the bench press and pushing the weight too heavy is well understood by serious lifters. Of course the squat carries a risk, but assuming your technique is adequate I find it can be pushed far harder. It is far more common to hear of world class olympic weightlifters squatting to a daily max than high level powerlifters successfully do the same on the bench press. Here is some interesting evidence suggesting shoulder issues tend to be more common among powerlifters with low incidence of knee issues: http://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/2014/07/08/injurystrengthsports/ .
With this being said, it is never a good rationale to do something simply because you can. It also should have a distinct advantage. I believe this to the case with pushing intensity a bit harder simply because transference from submaximal high volume work to a true max is lower than it is with the bench press. It is extremely common to bench a 10 rep PR and know you can hit a new PR for a 1 rep max. However with the squat, you can hit a 10 rep max, yet anything near 90% still could feel horrible. Proper bracing, efficient/consistent walkout, and precise descent under to catch stretch reflex at the same position/pace regardless of load, all are skills that can diminish at a certain intensity threshold if not practiced. Even regarding the deadlift I was able to pull my lifetime PR without any consistent training prior. Specificity of loading is critical to all lifts, I am just saying that I believe it is especially the case for the squat in comparison to the other 2 lifts.
Finally, a point that will overlap with the next bolded subtitle coming up is that there simply is a great discrepancy between the effectiveness of a competition style squat in comparison to accessories. For the bench press you can use the incline barbell bench, flat dumbbell bench, barbell overhead press, close grip, wide grip, you get my point, the list goes on. All of these lifts provide a very different stimulus yet immediately improve your bench. Many of them are also arguably better general strength builders than your competition style bench (depending on each individual’s technique of course). In both the deadlift and bench press, the more efficient the technique, typically the worse the training effect for strength given limited ROM in addition to possibly tolerating positions that may be an accepted risk. Whereas the squat cannot be cheated if proper depth is achieved. Efficient squat technique makes you stronger. With the squat, you have to keep the primary accessories limited to see significant carryover.
Higher Specificity Of Primary Accessories
Assuming you have read the “Guide to Accessories” in the Excel document (note: this is in the spreadsheet below), you will notice that the primary accessories not only are very similar to the competition squat, but also to be done with the exact same equipment/stance/bar position as the competition style squat as well. If you are squatting belted this whole cycle, every single pin squat must be belted. That is actually one of the main reasons I included the pin squat. It is not only to overload hip and knee extension through a partial range of motion, but also to practice deliberate bracing of your core against your belt.
As alluded to earlier, the competition squat itself is such a great strength builder itself that you likely don’t need to rely on primary accessories to the same extent. That is why the volume is quite low on the primary accessories while allowing for aggressive progression. This can be incredibly useful because often with the squat lifters tend to lift far too light for far too long before peaking. By immediately pushing yourself with the pin squat and paused squat, that rusty period (poor wording I know) of easing into controlling decent weight will be attacked and destroyed. Also I have found pause squat volume needs to be limited as an advanced lifter as it starts to conflict with squatting explosively. This is why there are no pause squats beyond the first 2 weeks yet pin squats do reappear during the high volume stage. Overall this decrease in primary accessory volume in the initial 2 week period continues the theme of higher specificity as increased loading is more specific to a one rep max.
Lastly, even though not technically a primary accessory, the peak set of 1520 reps on the good morning and front squat/high bar is included as a slight shift in specificity beyond the bench program. It is simply replacing one of the 3 x 20 isolation spots with a movement that is as equally specific to the squat as the primary accessories in the bench program are to the bench press. They are then removed for week 3 only because the squat itself is hard enough percentage wise to be a notable challenge, a place where the bench program doesn’t quite reach beyond the fatigued singles. You may have noticed that many of these differences aren’t huge, but these subtleties add up.
(to read the rest, view the PDF)