Widow Makers

Nick pushing through a set at the Zone Games 7

The skill of the month for January is widowmakers.  A widow maker is a 20 rep back squat ( I hope that your legs have recovered from 13.3 by now!).  They are nicknamed “The Widowmaker” because of the level of difficulty.  You would start out by using a weight that you could do 10 times, and force yourself to do an extra ten reps taking more and more breaths between each rep. Every-time you would complete a set with good form, you would add 5 pounds.

To see improvement, it is recommended to do this exercise 2-3 times a week.  We will be programming it in to the workouts 2 times a week.  If you would like to complete another set, do so on your own before or after your class, or sub it in instead of the assigned lift. It is your responsibility to get it in if you miss the day that it is programmed.

Why are we doing widowmakers as the skill of the month?  The answer is three-fold:

  1. You increased your squat mobility last month, and now it is time to see how that has helped your strength
  2. To build mental toughness
  3. To increase your muscular strength and endurance

Here are some tips:

  • Stay tight – your poor form will surely degrade with such high reps.
  • Take two or three breaths between reps. You’ll need the oxygen, this isn’t a sprint. If you can rip these reps off, then the weight you choose is too light. These sets can take as long as three minutes to finish.
  • I’ll say it again – stay tight. The upper body will be working crazy hard to keep the midline stable while trying to support the weight and fill the lungs with air.
  • These will be a lesson in mental stamina. First of all you are doing a set of twenty with a weight you should only be able to do for ten (which is hard to wrap your head around).
  • Plus, two and half to three minutes is a long time to have that weight on your back, it gives that voice in your head plenty of time to talk you out of your next rep.
  • Keep focus through out the entire set. Convince yourself you will not quit.
  • Support and encourage the athletes around you during the set!
  • Keep spotters close.


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