Squatting made fun

Use specialty bars to improve strength and make workouts more interesting. By Brian Shaw

The squat has always been a lift that is either loved or hated. It’s a tremendous multi-joint ­exercise for the lower body and can definitely yield impressive results if done correctly.
Most gyms have barbells but I like to use specialty bars for squatting. Here’s why:
1. To add variety As you get more experienced, you need to give your body different workouts in order to get maximum results. Adding in specialty bars for squatting allows me to change the type of squat I do from week to week.
2. To get stronger The spider squat bar shown here (also known as a safety squat bar) helps distribute the weight differently. This bar forces the muscles of my midback, lower back and core to work a lot harder compared with using a standard bar. This makes me stronger overall.
3. To keep it fun If I had to do the same workout week in and week out, I would get tired of it very quickly. Adding specialty bars gives me a new and exciting challenge every week, which keeps my interest heightened. This provides incredible incentive, so I push ­myself harder every workout.
 One session per week.
Several warm-up sets with light weights (45 to 135 kilos).
I normally work up to around 320 to 360 kilos for my last working set, depending on the reps I can do.
I shoot for 5–8 working sets of 1–5 reps, starting with larger weight increases (adding a 20-kilo plate on each side) and then make smaller jumps (a 10-kilo plate on each side of the bar, then next set pull that and put a 20 on).