Pro Tips

How the World's Strongest Squatter Trains

Andrey Malanichev is the strongest squatter on the planet. Here are his secrets.

Andrey Malanichev
Nick Edlin

Andrey Malanichev is a powerlifting behemoth who has set multiple world records (and often breaks his own). Currently, the 6' 340-pounder holds the world record in the back squat with a 1,067-pound lift and has totaled 2,513 pounds between the bench press, back squat, and deadlift.

We caught up with one of the strongest powerlifters of all time—and his helpful interpreter—to learn more about what it takes to be freakishly strong. Spoiler alert: a lot of potatoes and sleep.

Strong Eats

“I eat anywhere from four to six times per day,” Malanichev says. A typical breakfast for him: a bowl of soup, a large serving of potatoes or pasta, and “a very large steak.” He pretty much repeats these meals throughout the day. In terms of daily calories, Malanichev eats close to 12,000. “I really don’t enjoy eating this much,” he says. “At this point, the food loses all flavor. There’s no enjoyment.”

Stronger Recovery

Malanichev’s recovery plan? Two words: sleep and eat. On top of his insane diet, Malanichev sleeps 12 hours per day. “I go to bed at midnight, and I wake up at noon,” he says. This is because an elite powerlifter like Malanichev needs to give his muscles optimal time to repair themselves and allow for a longer release of growth hormone, which happens during deep sleep.

Interestingly enough, Malanichev avoids sports massages. “A massage loosens up my muscles,” he says. “And I can’t squat as heavy as I do with loose muscles.”

Go Light and Gear Up

Malanichev has three rules for new squatters. The first: “Do not go heavy, and practice your form.” The second: “Accumulate volume by keeping the weight low and performing more reps.” The third: “Always wear knee sleeves or wraps. This way, you’ll protect your joints.”

Skip Mobility Work*

“I tried what you call mobility work once,” Malanichev says. “It is all the rage. But after doing one little stretch, I tore a calf muscle. This was a bad experience for me, so no more.”

Yep. A man who routinely squats 800-plus pounds simply squats with the bar and performs a few hyperextensions to warm up.

*We don’t suggest that you follow his lead.

Stick to the Basics

Malanichev’s accessory work is all centered on increasing his competition lifts—that is, the bench press, deadlift, and back squat. And the moves that do this best, according to the strongest squatter in the world, “are really nothing special.” Closer to competition time, he stops performing these to save energy. Here are the Russian’s favorite assistance exercises:

  • For deadlifts: Leg curls and reverse hyperextensions.
  • For bench press: Strict overhead presses, incline bench presses, and dumbbell bench presses.
  • For squats: Front squats.

Do Weighted Crunches

“If you’re a serious powerlifter, you need to do weighted crunches,” he says. “A strong core allows you to stabilize yourself during heavy lifts.” Do a few sets of 15 to 20 reps at the end of your workout.

Set a Record Like Andrey

Here’s how Malanichev trains to set a world record. Follow it to achieve your own personal best.

Directions: Spend three weeks on each phase. Follow this split: Monday, back squat; Wednesday, bench press; Friday, deadlift.

PHASE 1: VOLUME

  • Load: Keep weight at 60% of your one-rep max (1RM).
  • Sets and Reps: Perform 5 to 6 sets of 12 to 6 reps, slightly increasing the weight each set.
  • Accessory Work: Perform lots of accessory work with relevant exercises.

PHASE 2: STRENGTH

  • Load: Train with 75 to 80% of your 1RM.
  • Sets and Reps: Perform 5 to 6 sets of 5 reps.
  • Accessory Work: Begin to reduce the amount of extra exercises you perform after your main lift.

PHASE 3: PEAKING

  • Load: Train with 85 to 90% of your 1RM.
  • Sets and Reps: Work up to 3 to 5 sets of 2 to 3 reps at close to your max weight.
  • Accessory Work: None. Go sleep.

PEAK WEEK

Take a week off from training and then work up to a 1RM on your lifts, ideally on different days.

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