PR Your Squat...On No Sleep – Garage Strength

PR Your Squat...On No Sleep


A poor night's rest, poor sleep, poor recovery, feeling sluggish. We have all had those days of walking into the gym with almost NO feeling to attack the weights. This can lead to a massive downward spiral. A feeling of laziness, a feeling of helplessness. This can be the worst feeling going into a training session. But how can it be saved? How can we salvage the training session so we still feel accomplished and continue building toward our big goals!?!?


Sleep Deprivation


Over the last eight years, sleep deprivation has been something of a consistent attribute to my own training regimen. Why is that? I have an 8.5 year old son, a 5 year old son and 18 month old twins! This has led to many nights lying in bed, waiting for our children to stop crying and hoping to just get 3-5 hours of sleep to save my fatigue!


We know sleep deprivation can have various negative impacts on training and life in general. It can lead to poor responses in the decision making process, it can impede upon focus and ultimately lead to higher levels of inflammation throughout the body. Sleep is crucial for recovery, it is crucial for health and it is crucial for day to day motivation...but what the heck can we do if our sleep is disturbed and there is no other alternative to our situation?

Recognizing a Flat Feeling

One of the biggest keys behind conquering sleep deprivation is the recognition that you genuinely feel like shit. This typically happens while you are warming up, even after having 500mg of caffeine, there isn’t any feeling of pop or aggressiveness and instead you feel flaccid like an 85 year old man.


When that happens, it’s time to just smash your warm ups. Get through warm ups on a timer. Spend 5-7 minutes on a general warm up and then head over to your first exercise. It’s key that during this point, try to keep pushing the flat feeling to the back of your mind. Just get your warm ups done, even if that means warming up at 135lbs for the time being, just warm up! Now, I am going to give you a simple trick that we like to utilize in training when really trying to stimulate mass.

https://gem-3910432.netGive Me the Trick!

Warm up on the back squat. Take your time finding a feeling and a groove but make sure your rest period between sets is only about 60 seconds. This will force your body to get into a timing groove and warm up slightly faster than normal. Continue to push negative thoughts to the back of your mind and just warm the hell up. After 4-5 warm up sets, get your calculator ready and start to groove.

This is where we start the trick...CLUSTER SETS!


Remember back to our Cluster Sets for Arm Size, the key is to recognize that a cluster set entails mini-sets inside of a big set. Like so:

1 BIG Set of (5 sets x 2 reps)!

The percentage that we are looking to start our back squat cluster sets at is going to be around 76-77%. We will do 5 sets of 2 with 20-30 seconds rest between each mini-set. When the mini-sets are executed, we will take a four minute big rest period.

During the four minute rest period...FOCUS on the next big set and not about your poor night's sleep. Focus on what the heck you want to do!


Next big set, 1 x (5 x 2) at the exact same percentage around 77%. This will get us to 20 total reps. During this second big set, at the second and third mini-set, you start to feel very strong and your body starts to wake up and move faster! This leads to a sweet salvage into our third big set after another 4 minute rest period.

Third big set will be 6 x 1 with 30 seconds rest. Now it’s our change to fully stimulate big fibers. During this period, we will ramp from 80%, then 83% for a single, 87% for a single, then 90%, then 92% and then 95% for the last single! Six total sets ramping up because of what we did during the BIG cluster sets. These six singles can happen because of how our body adapts during the second cluster, recognizing the strength potential!



This trick is not easy from a mental perspective but just force yourself to get through the movements! If you don’t feel strong after the second BIG set, by all means just shut it down. However, I challenge you to keep an open mind and continue building through these sets. When the nervous system starts to wake up, it will feel like a light switch going off inside your body. This will spark some adrenaline and ultimately, some bigger numbers after a poor night of rest.

Dane Miller

Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of elite athletes building comprehensive programs for strength and sports performance. Several times a year he leads a seminar for coaches, trainers, and athletes.


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