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Train with Zane: Squats Made Easy

I remember squatting with Arnold in 1972 before the Mr. Olympia. We both made it up to 10 reps with 405 on the full squat. My knees really hurt from that, and my lower back went into spasm the very next day.

IRONMAN magazine might be called Squat magazine because almost every issue has an article about the importance of that exercise. I understand why. Like most experienced bodybuilders, I’ve had a longtime love/hate relationship with squatting. I vividly remember all those years of heavy squatting and the bodybuilding gains I made then. At age 16 I discovered that regular moderate to heavy squatting for sets of 10 reps stimulated muscle growth and solid bodyweight gains. Working up to three sets of 10 reps with 300 pounds in the full squat, my bodyweight climbed from 140 to 175 pounds of lean, hard muscle by the time I was 18.

It wasn’t long, however, before I began paying for those extra pounds of muscle with sore knees and an aching lower back, so I began wrapping my knees and wearing a lifting belt. Although that didn’t take away the pain, it did enable me to continue squatting. I realized I had to squat to keep my bodyweight up as well as develop full, well-rounded thighs with great sweep to the frontal outer area. I did what I had to do. But my knee and lower-back soreness became chronic, and I was always conscious of it when I was training hard. My knees seemed to bother me the most when I squatted more than 300 pounds.

I remember squatting with Arnold in 1972 before the Mr. Olympia. We both made it up to 10 reps with 405 on the full squat. My knees really hurt from that, and my lower back went into spasm the very next day. Arnold ended up winning the ’72 Mr. Olympia, beating Sergio Oliva, but he needed a knee operation later that year.

The last time I squatted with a barbell on my shoulders was in 1982, training for the Mr. Olympia. I worked up to three sets of 20 reps with 300 pounds, and while I was at my heaviest competitive weight, my waist was quite a bit bigger too, and I lost the title to Chris Dickerson. Yes, squatting with the upper body thrust forward’which is the common style when the weight gets heavier’builds the waist. The gut is forced outward as you descend into the squat. Just look at pictures of any heavyweight powerlifter or squat-style Olympic lifter, and you’ll see what squatting does to the waist.

A bigger, thicker waist will increase your squatting power because it improves your leverage. The buttocks or glutes become thicker as well, and so do the spinal erector muscles. All of that spells more strength, and if that’s your goal, fine, more power to you. Those of you who want maximum thigh development without an enlarged waist and ass, though, listen to me. I’ve been using a superior method of squatting for the past 20 years. You’ve probably seen the ads for the Leg Blaster.

The Leg Blaster enables you to do full squats with your hands free and your upper body in an erect position so that your thighs do all the work. Most people who use this piece of equipment for the first time are amazed at the pump they get with half the weight they normally use in the conventional barbell squat. And what’s even more exciting is that bodybuilders who have been unable to squat for years because of knee and/or lower-back problems’me included’are able to do the exercise in perfect comfort for maximum gains.

Although the Leg Blaster can hold a good deal of weight, you don’t have to use a poundage much heavier than bodyweight to get a maximum effect. And since your hands are free while you squat, you can hold onto the balance bar of the specially designed freestanding rack and do rock-bottom full squats (similar to a strict front squat) or sissy squats and feel safe and secure. It also prevents you from coming up crooked.

The Leg Blaster has replaced barbell squats, front squats and hack squats in my leg workouts because I get all of the benefits of those exercises without all of the pain and discomfort. ‘Blasting’ is better than Smith-machine squats, too, since it’s a free-weight exercise and you’re not confined to a straight-line vertical movement. The Leg Blaster is a great way to do lunges and, with the addition of a calf block such as my angled Calf Blaster, is unexcelled for standing calf raises.

For the first time, we’ve been able to reduce the price to $399 plus UPS shipping (add $20 for four heavy-duty Olympic plate holders). It’s a lot of equipment for the lowest price ever. The all-new Leg Blaster will soon be available in sporting goods stores, but you can get one right now by calling 1-800-323-7537. Seriously consider what I have to say. Keep squatting heavy, and sooner or later you’ll be forced to discontinue the exercise due to excessive soreness and/or injury. It happened to me and to most of the experienced bodybuilders I know. If you want to continue to benefit from squatting, don’t hesitate to contact me. For more details log on to /equipment.htm. IM

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