Strongman Gabriel Peña is pretty notorious for performing insanely heavy lifts in the gym. He’s pulled a 481-kilogram (1,060-pound) partial deadlift, a 520-kilogram (1,145-pound) deadlift off blocks, pulled 454-kilograms (1,000 pounds) in a conventional stance a week after recovering from a heart injury, deadlift 408.2-kilogram (900-pound) triples, and trap bar deadlift 456 kilograms (1,005 pounds) for a set of five. “The Texas Titan” holds the axle deadlift world record of 500 kilograms (1,102.3 pounds) even trained deadlifts with four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Brian Shaw in preparation for the 2022 WSM contest, scheduled for May 24-29, 2022, in Sacramento, CA.
Peña isn’t all muscle and no brains, though. He can lift over a thousand pounds but trains smart to get there. On March 8, 2022, Peña took to his Instagram page to share a pair of videos wherein he performed two Hatfield squat triples — a squat variant that utilizes a safety squat bar and employs all for limbs to engage together to balance, support, and lift the weight. Check it out below:
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[Related: 2022 Arnold Amateur Strongman & Strongwoman World Championships Results]
While wearing knee sleeves and a lifting belt, Peña supports 600 pounds on his shoulders via the safety bar squat without holding on to its front grips. Instead, his hands hold onto small bars sticking out from the squat rack. While maintaining an upright torso, he lowers the weight until his knees break the 90-degree parallel and then uses his arms to help his legs propel him upward to the lockout.
The unique motion forces a different type of communication between the upper and lower body.
While bracing is still essential to a Hatfield squat as it would in a regular back squat, the back is further engaged as the arms pull. As Peña said in his caption:
The arms assist with the squat, requiring the lats to flex while the shoulders remain braced to the trunk.
“The Texas Titan” relayed how this kind of squat training that trains upper and lower body together translates to many events often seen in elite strongman contests, including the truck pull and the log lift. In the log lift, leg drive is required — sometimes split jerk techniques are used — to generate enough force to move the log overhead. That leg drive is incorporated at the same time that the lats, arms, and shoulders propel the log from the front rack position to the overhead lockout. The arms and legs are working simultaneously to press the log successfully, and Hatfield squats can help improve those functions.
It’s the arms and legs generating power at the exact same time.
When performing Hatfield squats in the gym, Peña will do three to five rep sets if his focus is explosiveness and 10 to 15 reps if he is training for endurance or hypertrophy. We’ll see if his use of Hatfield squats translate to impressive numbers in the log lift and truck or train pull events that may occur at the 2022 WSM contest as they did in 2021.
Featured image: @texastitangabe on Instagram