Ty Phillips story of how he went from not knowing squat to squatting 615 lbs as pictured; and why it changed his life.
The humble “squat” is the cornerstone of every sport you will ever encounter.
Do you want to run faster? Jump higher? Have a stronger back and even bench? There is no single exercise that will so greatly impact your overall health, strength and personal fortitude like the squat.
This is the story of how I started from not knowing squat about this to squatting 615+ lbs, as show in the above picture.
Like most kids born into the mid 70’s I grew up thinking that strength equated to an Arnold Schwarzenegger physique. Like most adults still, this is a common misperception. Strength and physique have little in common. This is besides the point though.
Let’s just say, that when I discovered the notion of strength, I accidentally pursued muscles. While on this mistaken path, I also pursued what I came to refer to as glamour muscles; i.e. bench and biceps. Little did I realize that in the long run, this was a waste of time.
We’ve all heard it. The proverbial gym ignorant question of, “so what’s your bench?” What this question really means is, I don’t like to squat, I just want to look pretty on the beach and hope you do too.
When I eventually got into strongman I started answering this with, “I don’t bench, bench is for children; I squat.” This isn’t an entirely true statement however; I have a love hate relationship with bench and while it is useful to some degree as a strength movement, you are better off with overhead press. It would be a few years before I found this out though.
As I gained weight, I started mingling with like-minded numbskulls who preferred wearing the “wife beater” over the t-shirt, and the latest sneaker over the Chuck Taylors. It turns out, I wasn’t pursuing strength—I was pursuing looks from girls. I was okay with this for a while. I enjoyed the attention.
Then reality kicked in when someone 8” shorter than I was set up on the deadlift platform and went to pull 700lbs. I was dumbfounded. I had never done this before and had actually never seen it done outside of a Smith Machine let alone by someone so small and kind of chubby looking. I sat there chewing on this new feeling—this mixture of feeling emasculated and fascinated all at once. I had to try it. I mean come on, I was rolling up my sleeves so people could see my 16” arms (laughs as typing), I could certainly do what this guy just did.
I started with 135. Ten reps went easy enough. Let’s try 225 now. Seven will have to do on that set. Bump it up some. 315 for three and I was red-faced and sore backed. I put 405 on the bar and it didn’t move—not even a little. In fact, the only thing that moved was my blood pressure. I stood up straight after the struggle and almost fell right back over. My hearing went down and my vision went dim. The next thing I knew I was holding the rack trying to stay standing. It was time to rethink my methods.
I went to the internet (dial up mind you) and 15 minutes later, I found the key to getting strong: SQUAT.
Monday morning could not come fast enough. I marched right over to that Smith Machine (yes, you should be laughing at me) and loaded up 135, which in Smith Machine weight means 115. I busted out 10 quarter squats and I was ready to throw up. I couldn’t breathe, my legs were on fire and did I mention I couldn’t breathe? Like every novice, I loaded it up and kept going. I mean, who has ever heard of sets and reps? I assumed it was just load and keep loading until you got stuck. Looking back, it was a good thing I was on the Smith Machine or I would have hurt myself.
Eventually, someone came over and laid the smack down on me and basically told me I was an idiot. I agree. He just happened to have a video cassette of the World’s Strongest Man in his gym bag. He told me to go home and watch it and if I wanted to be like that, to come back and talk to him tomorrow. I watched it four times. I was hooked.
The next day he gave me a book to read; SuperSquats by Randal Strossen. I read the whole thing in one sitting (to be fair, it was only like, 92 pages). Thursday came around and we started the program; 20 rep squats three times a week followed by copious amounts of good whole foods and lots of milk.
Within the years end, I was squatting 315 for 20. Shortly afterward, I started creeping for 405 and eventually 405 for 20 was a reality.
You don’t have to want to be Bill Kazmaier or Svend Karlsen to want to squat. You just have to want to improve your performance and health.
Ladies, you want a better butt? Guess what…yup! You squat!
Guys, you want a better bench? Yes, no joke, you squat and your bench will increase because your CNS, back and core will be made stronger.
I know this sounds like a long shot, but do you want stronger character? To improve your drive and willingness to keep going? Squat!
Oh, and guess what? Famed bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger credited much of his success…yes, to squatting!
“Everybody does squats: weightlifters, bodybuilders, football players, track athletes and even ballet dancers. The squat increases the power, speed and spring of the legs. When practiced with heavy breathing, it permanently expands the rib cage. It can help you gain weight. It can help you lose weight. with these multiple benefits, the squat goes on record and the best all-around exercise.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo Credit: Author