Language / Язык: ENG RUS 

    Despite the fact that weightlifting consists of two exercises: snatch, clean&jerk, many weightlifters and functional athletes are convinced that crazy results in squats will help them improve their results in snatch and clean and jerk. I will not argue with such an opinion, perhaps I also do not know something or I miss something in training. In this article I’d like to share my personal experience, as well as provide a large amount of scientific data on the subject.
    Between 2010-2011, I had a knee injury that completely changed my training program for the Olympic Games and my attitude to squats. In fact, I had to remove all loads in the squats 8 months before the Olympic Games, because otherwise the knee would hurt and I wouldn’t be able to train at all. Instead, I focused on the jerk and proper techniques and hoped for a miracle.
My coach Valery Nikulin always said that “strong legs and heavy weights in squats are not good and not bad alone, it is important to be able to apply this force to the bar during a snatch and clean&jerk”. Most of all in my life I squatted with a barbell  on my shoulders weighting 290 kg, but not more than 3 times and I was 21. For a weightlifter the proper technique is more important than the weight: technique, angles, dynamics, amplitude of movement.
     The Soviet school of weightlifting has accumulated a large number of methods for developing leg strength over a 120-year history: some methods proved their worth, others were long forgotten, and then they were remembered again and began to be successfully used in powerlifting.     

     Indeed, in order to properly train legs for effective work in weightlifting, squats with a barbell on shoulders are few — you need to use lots of different exercises and methods. You can get acquainted with the nuances of the method of developing leg strength in my LEGS STRENGTH program.
    The question I often get asked is: how fast should I squat and what pace of movement should be in the process of performing one rep? Before I share my vision, let's turn to the scientific data. The greatest number of experiments on this issue was conducted by Soviet coaches and scientists in the period between 1954-1974, but it was not possible to reach a general consensus: the recommendations and practice of training of those times really speak about the effectiveness of using fast, medium and slow squats. Also, there is practically no experimental research where fast, medium and slow speeds of squats and the increase in results in clean and jerk would be compared. One small study of 1976 (SI Lelikov, NN Saxanov), in which 32 weightlifters took part (they were divided into 4 groups), who for 5 weeks have been performing squatting with the load up to 80%,  5 sets - 3 times fast, average, slow and very slow pace. The most effective increase in the results was shown by the group that worked at an average pace (20.65%), the other groups progressed by an average of 12-14% and there was no statistical difference between them. At the same time, it was not possible to fix statistically the differences in energy consumption when performing squats with different speeds.
    In my opinion, these data are quite logical. With regard to the use of different variations of squats (on the bench, with a close distance between legs, with a pause, with a slowdown and acceleration up, with preliminary fatigue), they are quite acceptable in the first stage of the preparatory period, as well as when the athlete seeks to increase body weight and adapts his training program to goal.
In the competitive period, most athletes perform mostly only squats with a barbell on their shoulders and chest, most often 1-2 times. At the same time, some schools shed their load in squats 2-3 weeks before the competition, while others can squat huge weights (110-120% of the jolt) another 2-4 days before entering the platform.

  My tips on doing squats with a barbell on the shoulders and chest:
1. Always squat face to the racks - this is a matter of safety.
2. Do not be afraid to ask to spot you.
3. Remove the barbell from the racks correctly and take the correct starting position - keep the barbell always with full grip.
4. Always work to the full range of motion - the ligaments and joints must be stretched and prepared for the competitions.
5. Patience, right angles when moving down will help you generate maximum power when moving up.
6. When lifting from a low postion there should be no “dead spots” - one continuous movement upwards. If the “dead point” is constantly present in your squats, reduce working weights and work out a continuous movement upwards.
7. In your mind, you should always strive to push your pelvis backwards, your knees to the sides and move upward with acceleration - this will help you to develop muscular efforts more effectively.
8. Remember:it doesn’t matter in weightlifting how many times and how deep you can sit down - it’s important how much you can lift in a snatch and a clean&jerk in competitions.


  • abdurrahman

    Thank you for your personal and sincere advise it is very helpful. It seems common sense that the more you squat the stronger you are and this will inevitably will help you in your lifts (namely the C&J and Snatch), maybe the message you are trying to convey is that we should not rely only on the strength aspect and I think that also depends on the individual, for example in your case strength is certainly not an issue and when you redirected your energy which was strength oriented to technique the results culminated in a gold medal but I am pretty sure it worked the other way around for other lifters so it might be an issue of individualizing each case.
    We look forward to see you one day in Morocco insha Allah (God willing) : )

  • Seddik

    Hello mr torokhti i hope to see u in Algeria soon because we love what u do .

  • Martin Morgan

    Thanks for all the great information you provide. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  • Mike Sasin

    Sorry I feel like I am asking too many questions, but I will ask another one and hope no one on the Torokhtiy Team gets mad. Have their been any studies to determine if the low bar squat – the type of squat used in powerlifting – has any application to weightlifting? I am currently writing an article on this topic. The research that I found states that there is no benefit to using this style of squat in weightlifting and it may even have negative consequences. Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Lucas Silveira

    Hi Mr. Torokhtiy.
    My name is Lucas, and I’m from Brazil.
    Since I found your website, I’ve been following your posts. I like them very much.
    I’m just getting to know weightlifting. I started practicing Crossfit about a year ago, and the weightlifting exercises are the ones I like the most.
    Since you mentioned a knee injury in this article, I’d like to have you opinion about my injury. If is possible, of course.
    I had a meniscus tear in August. Had my surgery and did the physiotherapy. Meanwhile I went to the gym every day, trying not to lose my lean body tissue.
    You are a professional weightlifter, and have a team that assists you. I believe you are the exact person to give this kind of advise.
    I just want to know if I can go back to Crossfit. Doing squats, snatches, C&J, deadlifts…increasing my weights.
    With this kind of injury, will I have any limitation ?
    I never really liked exercises. But that changed when I found Crossfit.
    I would really appreciate your answer.
    Thanks a lot.

Leave a comment

Related Posts