Tip: 3 Squat and Deadlift Challenges

Build strength. Develop stamina. Display power. Sound good? See if you can survive these tough tests and workouts.

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Bodyweight Barbell Squat x 50

The fifty-rep set is mental and physical warfare. Performed once or twice per month, this test crushes training plateaus and builds serious mass on your legs.

  • How to Do It: After a warm-up, load up a barbell with your approximate body weight, throw on some music, and start squatting for as many reps as you can. A good goal is 50 reps. This test is brutal. Use safety racks, a spotter, and plan extra recovery afterwards.
  • How to Get Better: This test is easier for smaller guys. That's just physics. But, regardless of size, the best way to improve endurance and relative strength is to get brutally strong. Focus on improving your one-rep max, then add one or two high-rep drop sets with your bodyweight every other week to finish off your legs.

Front Squat Your 5RM Back Squat

Front Squat

The front squat builds a steel-clad physique and incredible lower body strength just as well as the back squat. The front squat reinforces posture and adds mass to your upper back since your elbows stay elevated and your thoracic extensors work double time to hold position.

Now, in the back squat we've all seen what happens when someone rounds their back, yelps like a kicked puppy, and jacks up their spine. No such issue on the front squat. If you round, the bar drops forward, and the lift ends without harm to your lower back.

The trouble is, we're all naturally stronger in the back squat, but most lifters are embarrassingly weak in the front squat due to poor strength in the anterior core and thoracic extensors.

A good goal is to do a single front squat using the same amount of weight as you can back squat for 5 reps. Here's the simple math: Take your back squat max and multiply it times .85. That will give you your back squat 5RM or close to it. For example, if your back squat max is 405 pounds, multiply that by .85 to come up with 345 pounds. Your goal is to front squat 345 pounds for one rep, or work your way up to it.

Deadlift Sadiv Sets


Sadiv sets are an advanced training method designed to boost your deadlift, test mental grit, and add tons of muscle to your posterior chain. Sadiv sets are a high volume, high-intensity monster of a deadlift workout. Beginners or the weak-minded need not apply. (Don't even attempt this unless you're deadlifting 1.5 to 2 times your bodyweight.)

Here's what to do:

  • Set a timer for 12 minutes and load the bar with 60% of your 1RM.
  • Perform as many reps as possible during the 12-minute span, shooting for at least 20 reps. If you don't get 20 good reps, decrease the weight.
  • Perform each rep as a single, resetting between each rep and pulling with perfect form. This means taking the slack out of the bar, keeping your hips back, your back flat, your chin down, and driving your heels into the earth.
  • Perform each rep with max speed from the floor – leg drive is key.

Once fatigue sets in, it's vital to set up each lift like it's a max attempt, brace the core, and drive the bar. Can you beat 20 reps with solid form?

Eric Bach is a highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach, located in Colorado. Eric specializes in helping athletes and online clients achieve optimal performance in the gym and on the playing field. Follow Eric Bach on Facebook