Seasoned lifters snicker at athletes who don’t squat close to parallel. And rightfully so. If you’re doing a traditional Squat and not going through a full range of motion, you’re only cheating yourself.
So when an uninitiated person sees a Romanian Rhythm Squat for the first time, they probably think it’s a pile of garbage.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
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Romanian Rhythm Squats require only a quarter squat. But the reps are performed explosively and in rapid succession for a total of 50 reps. Yes, you read that right—50 reps.
Scot Prohaska claims this is one of the best exercises to perform toward the end of a training session, when you are peaking, in order to maximize your explosive power. After three or four sets, his best pro athletes succumb to the sheer brutality of the exercise.
“It’s fun because it’s such a nice challenge,” he says. “You feel like you are moving the bar explosively but your quads . . . most guys drop to their knees after the third set.”
A nationally recognized sports performance consultant, Prohaska uses Romanian Rhythm Squats to improve his athletes’ vertical jump and max-velocity sprints. The high volume of explosive reps target fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for these max-effort skills.
“There are three methods to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers—lifting heavy loads, lifting explosively and lifting to fatigue,” says Prohaska. “You are getting two of those methods with this exercise. You’re moving the bar explosively for 50 reps, which ensures that you hit the fast-twitch fibers.”
Also, rapid explosive reps improve the elastic components of your muscles and tendons, which help you absorb force and immediately explode again, like when your foot comes into contact with the ground and then explodes into the next stride during a sprint.
In the video above, Prohaska’s athlete, Shea McClellin, a linebacker for the New England Patriots, performs Romanian Rhythm Squats. As you can see, McClellin alternates every ten reps between Squats with his feet flat on the floor and Squats on his toes. This is meant to develop the muscles on the backside of the body and activate the same mechanics used when jumping.
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So if you’re looking for an exercise to prepare your body for your sports season, look no further.
Here’s how to perform Romanian Rhythm Squats:
- High school athletes with lifting experience should choose a weight between 155 to 185 pounds. For reference, Prohaska’s NFL athletes use between 225 and 250 pounds, and his NHL athletes use between 205 to 225 pounds.
- Adjust your weight based on bar speed. If the bar starts slowing down and you can’t get through the set, it’s too heavy. If you’re not fatigued at the end, it’s too light.
- Perform each rep as explosively as possible.
- Do 3-4 sets with 2 minutes of rest between sets. After two weeks, add bands instead of weight for an additional challenge.
Romanian Rhythm Squat How To:
Step 1: Set up as if for a traditional Back Squat. More on that here.
Step 2: Keeping your core tight and back flat, sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a quarter squat.
Step 3: Immediately explode up out of the quarter squat for 10 reps.
Step 4: Explode up out of the quarter squat and onto your toes for the next 10 reps.
Step 5: Continue alternating every 10 reps until you reach 50 total reps.