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Reach a 1000-lb Squat Easily By Matt R. Wenning For



The year was 1997, and I was a young high school student. I had actually just turned 17 and started my junior year. This is when I entered my first lifting meet. In the gym, I used to hear crazy stories from the older veterans about how strong some of the lifters were. Before getting involved with Westside, I thought a 600-lb squat was awesome because I was only breaking 500 lbs at the time. In my neck of the woods, there were only a few people I knew of who were close to the 700-lb mark, and they were legends in the lifting world around town. When I went to local meets and saw 600-lb squats, I thought about how cool it would be to achieve that strength.

Boy, times they do change. It seems like to a lifter at Westside, a 1000-lb squat is common. But to most people, a 1000-lb squat is just a dream. Even some of the most gifted lifters never make it to this point. So I’m glad I finally made a 1003-lb squat in November 2006 and a 1055-lb squat in April 2007. One day, I hope to make it to the 1100-lb mark, which is still a milestone. We are on the verge of having 4–5 more guys hit the 1000-lb squat mark very soon at the gym. How?


In this article, I want to give the hungry lifter working his way up the ranks a chance to get to this 1000-lb mark possibly a little quicker and a little safer. Even if 1000 lbs isn’t your goal, it really doesn’t matter because the key is progress. In this article, there are some big points to pick up on for beginners as well as advanced individuals.

The first key is believing. Do you believe you can lift that much or be that strong? My mental state was to never set limitations on myself. I always knew that if I worked hard enough and just as importantly smart enough, I would be able to achieve any goal. I thrived on people telling me that I would never be a good squatter, bencher, or deadlifter. This made me set out to prove them wrong. Some people used to tell me I wasn’t built to deadlift. Now, I pull 775 lbs. I wanted to be a good deadlifter. Then I wanted to prove them wrong.

The second key is training partners. Do you have people around you who are in the best interests of your goals? Are the people you train with smart, driven, and consistent? If they are missing any of these components, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. There are many negative people who don’t want to see you get better because they don’t have the balls to do it themselves. There are also people out there with excuses instead of numbers. I would rather have the numbers. There isn’t a person in my group who squats under 900 lbs. How about yours?

The third key is training education. Are you a student of the game or a meathead lifter? I never had the best genetics in the world, so I had to get stronger by training smart. With all the success and scientific research associated with the conjugate system, you’re a fool if you don’t use it. Optimal volume and optimal intensity must be used. Without it, you’re basing your training on imaginary numbers and putting your faith in subpar training methods. Don’t go to a meet leaving your best lifts at the gym and don’t train in the dark. There are many people who don’t believe this works for certain individuals, but I’ve seen it first hand work on everyone I’ve had contact with who was willing to learn. From single ply gear to drug free, there is only one way to train—smart.

The fourth key also falls along the line of education in the form of technique. You must be a master technician to lift large weights and do it safely. Good technique takes a long time to develop, but at the top, there are few sloppy lifters. We get better at technique by constantly coaching the people in our group and working the proper muscles for the development of good technique. Usually your weaker muscle groups will cause you to have bad technique, so they must be trained religiously. There is a reason that Westside has the strongest group of squatters in the world. Bad technique doesn’t fly at the gym. Everyone is taught good technique and is responsible for teaching it to everyone else they work with.

Feedback is a key ingredient to a great lifter. So if you’re lifting with individuals who only care about themselves, it’s time to move on. A great lifter comes from a great group. I’m proud to say that I train with more than one world record holder. Greg Panora is one in the 242-lb class with over 2500 lbs. The great Chuck Vogelphool has an 1150-lb squat in the 275-lb class, and Phil Harrington has a 900-lb plus squat in the 181-lb class.

The last piece of the puzzle is what I call the gray area. The gray area means it isn’t white or black. In lifting, I associate this with the two different types of lifters in the gym. One lifter may push too hard, too often while the other may not push hard enough. Both lifters are wrong in their quest to the top. In lifting, it’s easy to do too much work while it’s also easy to not do enough. How does Westside combat this dilemma? Our groups are made to have a few pushers and a few timid individuals. This gives us the gray area. The pushers will be held back slightly by the timid, and the timid will be pushed a little more with the more aggressive individuals of the group.

Louie used to tell me that Larry Pacifico would train very hard but also leave a little in the gym. Who can argue with his results? Alexiev and other greats of lifting did the same. If you want to be on top, you must push your limits but also make sure you can recover for the next workout. This is also combated with using the conjugate system for volume parameters.

I hope this has given you another insight on the importance of training smart, having good people around you, and knowing the value of hard work as well as the importance of recovery. Hopefully, one day you will reach your goals. When you do, create larger ones to conquer.

Matt Wenning is one of only a handful of people to total over 2600 lbs in a professional competition, hold an all-time world record of 2665 lbs in the 308-lb class, and bench press over 800 lbs in a full powerlifting meet. He currently is a private strength coach at Lexen gym in Grove City, Ohio, a personal trainer to many executives and professionals at Capital Club Athletics, and contracted by the US Army. He also works with firefighters, physicians, children with disabilities, and all forms of athletes in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at


November 11, 2009 - Posted by | Articles, News

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