Below are a small handful of Frequently Asked Questions about the Nemesis programming style. These are meant to be quick answers — they aren’t comprehensive — but hopefully, they’ll get the point across.
Is Nemesis Only For Squats?
Nope! We use Nemesis for everything.
However we do strongly suggest that you begin with squats.
Nemesis is not a program it is a Programming Philosophy, which means it can be used as a base to create programs for all kinds of training — squats, snatches, even mental training!
- Squat Nemesis is for squats
- Snatch Nemesis is for snatches
- Zen Nemesis is for your brain
- Curl Nemesis is for the girls 😉
(As you might expect, this allows for an endless amount of “fill-in-the-blank” Nemesis jokes, lol. For instance, I am a big fan of Coffee Nemesis.)
We like people to start with Squat Nemesis because it makes learning the general concepts MUCH easier and more clear. Squats are a really unique kind of exercise in that you can do so much with them, and they have such a broad set of applications.
That said, if you can’t squat (maybe you have an injury), or you simply don’t like squats, a great couple of substitutes are Romanian Deadlifts, Clean Pulls, or even the “hex” bar. We’ve also had much success with the Push Press. It’s OK to be creative and think outside the box — that’s what Nemesis is all about!
Do You REALLY Want Me To Squat “Every Day”?
Yes. But you are allowed to define the term “every day” any way you want!
When you tell someone that you go to work “every day”, are you being literal about it? Do you really work 7 days per week? Or do you simply work “full time”?
Some people DO work 7 days per week! Some only work 4 days per week (and do more hours on those days to make up for it). Others don’t work full-time at all.
Imagine your workouts in the gym like a job where you are paid by the hour — if you put in more, you will get more back. You can work part-time, full-time, or over-time. It’s up to you. What matters is that you go to work and work hard.
I don’t believe in telling you what your goals should be. That’s totally up to you. However I will be honest with you: to make progress faster you need to work more hours. But that only matters if you care about such things!
Life is short, have fun, and follow your heart. We have plenty of lifters on our team who “work” (train) part-time. Others have bigger weightlifting goals and work (train) over-time (7-days a week, often multiple sessions per day) — that’s what they find fun.
Quality vs Quantity: Which Is Better?
Duh! Seriously, this is a no-brainer.
Of course QUALITY is the most important. However it is FALSE to suggest that you can’t, or shouldn’t, do both.
Here’s how it works:
- Step One: Increase the quality of your workouts
- Step Two: Do more of that quality work
… if this reminds you of math class, there’s a reason for that.
Overtraining: I read on the internet that if I do heavy back squats every day, I will get injured, my CNS will explode, and I might even die.
The internet is a silly place. I’ve been coaching people using (ultra) high-volume programs for many years now. Everyone’s CNS is still intact, and we haven’t recommended funeral insurance to anyone.
Overtraining is a myth; stupidity is not. Train smart AND hard, that is the only secret.
If you refuse to work your flexibility and mobility, your recovery, and your general athleticism, then you will pay the price. That is YOUR fault, not the fault of whatever squat program you were on.
Act like a bro, and you’ll get burned. Let’s avoid that!
But what about my cardio? Can I still do CrossFit WODs, run a marathon, row 5k, train for the Tour de France?
It depends. What are your goals?
You can use Squat Nemesis as your go-to squat program regardless of the other exercises or activities you are doing, or you can use it for a strength cycle where you are trying to increase your squat as fast as humanly possible.
Being stronger will help you do those other things, but doing those other things may not help your squats. Over time, however, your squat will still go up. You are somewhat in control of how fast that happens depending on how many other things you add to your plate.
When you say “squat to a miss” does that really mean that I have to squat to a miss?
Sometimes you will, but when we say “miss” we mean “crap”.
If your form goes to shit, you’re done. NO EXCEPTIONS! (See the rule above about Quality.)
Does 1RM mean I am supposed to hit a PR?
No. Of course not. That’s completely ridiculous. Do you honestly think the human body is capable of hitting a PR every day? Seriously?
Just go up to what you can honestly do with good technique today. Some days this will be higher, some days it will be lower. No big deal.
Will my progress be linear?
Never. Linear progress is a myth. (Duck! The internet might explode!)
What if my workout says I have to do 32 reps at 85%… and I can’t even hit 1 rep at that weight today. What do I do?
Use a lower percentage or pick a different workout. Flow. Be like water. It’s okay, just get the work done.
What If My Knees Hurt?
That can happen. My guess is that your knees aren’t being kept warm enough during your workouts. This is particularly true for lifters over the age of 30.
My strong advise is to wear knee-sleeves (the neoprene kind). They keep your knees warm.
Most of our lifters who have experienced knee pain, have that pain go away as soon as they start wearing neoprene knee-sleeves. There’s a reason you see so many Weightlifters wearing them!
However, if the knee-pain persists, please do yourself a favor and get them checked out. None of our lifters who are diligent about knee-warmth have knee pain from all of this squatting. So if you are, then there might be a problem that requires a look.
Am I Supposed to High Bar Squat or Low Bar Squat?
Another myth, and a particularly stupid one.
There is no such thing as a “high/low” bar squat. That is a purely American invention, largely perpetuated by coaches who hate each other personally — sad, but true.
It is stupid. And it is time for this myth to die.
When Chris Duffin and I teach our SuperTotal program (a combo of Powerlifting and Weightlifting), we teach ONE kind of squat… it’s called “a squat”, lol.
The only differences that matter are whether you wear a heel on your foot and how wide your stance is. Everyone will be different. Find what works for you, what allows you to squat safely, and what you find the most fun.
A lot of my lifters use a hybrid squat that we like to call a “Mid-Bar Squat” (to piss off the internet). They ride the bar low on their back (like a Powerlifter) but still squat as ATG as possible (like a Weightlifter) with heels on.
Don’t make a big deal out of nonsense. Put the bar on your back, squat down, come back up.
Everyone knows that you can only squat like this if you’re on steroids.
Everyone is wrong.
To date, we don’t know a single person who has been on steroids while doing this program — not one.
Neither Tamara nor I have ever once coached someone on steroids in weightlifting. We can’t pretend to know what that would be like. What we CAN tell you is that our programs work very well for weightlifters who are NOT on steroids.
NOTE: I have nothing personal against steroids, if that’s your thing. But, realistically, Weightlifting is really strict about it in America, and it’s also technically illegal. So I ban them from my gym. I don’t want one person bringing a shit-storm down on my whole team. Weightlifting Academy is about training yourself to be a better person, not just a better athlete. I want you to win at LIFE, not just on the platform. That said, I don’t have any moral problem with steroids if that fits your personal life-goals (just like I could care less if you smoke weed…). I just can’t realistically allow them in my gym.
But, I’m old. Sure, you can squat like this in your 20s, but I’m 35, 45, 55, at death’s door.
The only people who are too old for Nemesis are dead. (Actually, I can’t be sure of that, as I have yet to coach a Zombie…)
MANY 35+ year olds have done the hardest versions of Nemesis and seen some of the biggest gains of anyone who has done it, not the least of which is Tamara who added 68 pounds to her squat in less than 3 months at the age of 37, and now can squat over 300 pounds.
Another is our lifter Miriam who is in her mid-fifties — squats and Olympic lifts 4+ days a week — she can back squat double body weight! My friend John Mosby added 44 pounds to his squat in less than a month doing this program, too — he’s also in his 50’s. The list is long.
Jack Lalanne would have thought Nemesis was a walk in the park (Seriously, have you ever seen his workout?!). Your REAL age is a function of how you treat your body and your mind. Work it hard and smart and it will adapt. Baby it, and it will wither away.
But, I’m a girl. We don’t have enough testosterone to do this.
Similar to the above…
Most of our best results have been with women.
You’re still the same species. It’s okay. You can do it. All the girls at our gym do this, and they are pretty good at squatting.
I hate Squat Nemesis. I Hate You. What you gonna say ’bout that?!
We hear ya. Haters gonna hate. To expect anything less would be silly. If this isn’t your cup of bourbon, you have the right to do a different program. We believe in freedom.
Now go lift something heavy,