Oxidative squats are one of my favourite conditioning tools for rugby players. Though they are general in nature, the offer a great way to condition that is non-impactive, which is particularly useful for heavier players. They are also mentally quite tough, which helps players to become used to sensations of fatigue. Lastly they require no equipment whatsoever and we have often worked up to 6 athletes at once on the same bench- great if you don’t have a large budget or much space.
The rationale for implementing oxidative squats is to create hypertrophy within the slow twitch fibres. This is because bigger slow twitch fibres will have enhanced ability to metabolise the lactate that is produced by fast twitch fibres during intense work. If we can minimise lactate, this reduces one of the physiological signals the brain uses to create fatigue.
If you want to utilise oxidative squats within your programme, aim for 2-4s on the eccentric portion and 2-4s on the concentric portion of the rep with NO locking out- although this is an aerobic conditioning tool you want high levels of muscular tension and lactate to stimulate slow fibre hypertrophy. Keep the load low (I’ve never used more than BW) and the speed slow as high force and/or speed will stimulate fast twitch fibre recruitment (which we don’t want).
A good protocol is to utilise sets of 5-10 reps interspersed with 40s of rest. This can be repeated for sets of 10 rounds for up to 30 rounds in total. But don’t jump straight into the high numbers. You will want to build up to this!