You can use the elevator method with a lot of different exercises, but the basic concept is to start each rep by performing a half rep, then a three-quarter rep, and then a full rep all in succession, back-to-back-to-back. That counts as one rep. Then repeat the sequence in that order for the desired number of reps.
Elevator Front Squats
- Front squat down, then come halfway back up.
- Go down again, then come three-quarters of the way up.
- Go down again and come all the way back up.
If that sounds hellacious, it most certainly is – and that's just one rep. Now repeat for the desired number of reps.
I like to use a box to serve as a depth gauge, but that's just a personal preference. If you forego the box, make sure you don't start cutting the squats too high as the set goes on and your quads start screaming at you.
Elevator Back Squats
Interestingly, I generally don't do heavy back squats because they piss off my knees and back, but I'm okay using elevator reps because the weight is significantly lighter than I'd normally use for squats. So these may be an option for those who love back squatting but find that heavy squats bug your lower back or knees. Keep squats in the 3-8 rep range, meaning 3-8 elevator reps.
When To do Elevator Reps
Elevator reps work best at the end of a workout after you've done your heavy lifting for the day or on days where your body isn't feeling up to crushing heavy weight but you still want to get a good training effect. They can also be useful as a way to get stubborn body parts to start growing again by introducing a new stimulus.
Don't ditch the heavy stuff entirely as getting strong is and always will be the name of the game, but the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better off you'll be in the long run.