During the summer of 1967, Tommy Suggs and I decided to experiment on ourselves with a squat program designed to increase cardiovascular, respiratory fitness. This may seem to be a strange goal for a pair of aspiring competitive weightlifters, but actually cardiovascular, respiratory fitness is an important variable in our sport. Total conditioning counts for a great deal as some contests drag on for as long as twelve hours and the more fit athlete has a definate advantage over his opponents. Those who are in better shape can train harder and longer and, if they are practicing the right kinds of things, should improve more than those who do not do so.
- Bill Starr, The Strongest Shall SurviveI've done my share of timed squat work in the past and always found it to be a fun change from the grind of straight reps. Recently, I've been doing higher rep work, and occasionally doing them in a timed format (such as a minute straight - repeat as tolerated, intervals, "20 seconds on, 10 seconds off x 8") can make it more palatable. As long as proper form is insisted upon and the load is appropriate, you could do much, much worse than squats when selecting an exercise to do for conditioning. It goes without saying that high technical competence and focus is a prerequisite to this kind of approach to cardio.
Yesterday, I did two sets of light front squats for one minute. I plan to add sets over time and vary the time on task and load. It will make for a fun experiment and I'll keep you posted over the next couple of months. This is the second set from yesterday: