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Consider your next birthday. Will you be 21? 25? 32 years old? Imagine hitting the gym that day and repping out your age at 315 pounds. If that sounds brutal, then you can appreciate what Mike O’Hearn just did. As is customary for his annual tradition, he attempted to squat his age with three plates, hitting 42×315 with the low bar squat (he fell short by 5 reps, but we’re still very impressed). Sure—he’s been training longer than most of us, but those numbers come with the territory. (To skip the warmups and intro, jump to 2:15 for the birthday squats).
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After his set, before even catching a breath, he drops some quintessential powerlifting advice about proper depth on the squat. He indicates that a full squat, for the best training benefit, is performed by allowing the crease of the hip to just break parallel with the top of the knee. And it’s not only for the sake of authenticity: “If you actually watch me squat, it’s the full leg contracting. Hamstrings glutes, that’s where all my power is—in my hips and hamstrings. Try to focus more on that than just thinking of squats as a quad exercise. If it’s done right, it’s the whole leg development.”