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Advice for Lower Squat Frequency


Straight to the point. Started lifting a year ago, give or take. Started with a bodybuilding split, remembered I had testicles and ran 5/3/1 for 5 months. Started doing Madcow 5x5, ran that for 4 months, wanted to switch it up, decided to do 5x5 Advanced. Started running into hip problems. After about 4 weeks of the pain not subsiding, even after lots of stretching and foam rolling, decided to call a chiropractor. I have an appointment next week.

But, what do you guys think about changing up my workout. I can't do the 3x/week squatting, at least not right now. Should I go back to 5/3/1? Stick with 5x5 but tweak it? I liked 5x5 and the increased frequency definitely helped by squat (also the reason im hurting though). My bench didn't really move and would like more accessory work to help my bench and my deadlift didn't budge while doing 5x5 (my max in September was 515, havent tested it since but my reps werent any better).

Basically, it seems like I should run 5/3/1, but Im really new to all of this and would like some guidance on where to go from here.


first locate your testicles
also - squat with different styles ie. front squat, zercher squat, back squat, overhead squat

i also have trouble bringing up my bench...was wondering what the cure for that would be...

my deadlift has also been stuck pretty much around the same weight for a long time since i hit a 405 PR. i was looking for different things that would help bring that up...and i came up with....power snatch, rack pulls, barbell rows, chinups, and direct bicep work ie curls

i think if you focus on each 3 lifts, they will help the other lifts out by proxy

i suggest if you want to keep on making gains, focus on 5/3/1 on days you want to max out and on the other days you should focus on volume as that would add strength and conditioning!


Wait. First, what the hell are you trying to insinuate with your first comment?

Then you tell me to focus on 5/3/1 yet use different kinds of squats which is not 5/3/1 and for someone like me who is just beginning (425/275/515 raw at 190 lbs in September) I fail to see how a lift such as an overhead squat will bring up my backsquat when my lift is not stalling, purely an injury problem. Also, if my problem is recovery, why would "5/3/1 on days you want to max out and on the other days you should focus on volume" help? That would mean I would be lifting 4 days a week in 5/3/1 and RE type workouts on the other days?

I dont want to come across as an ungrateful asshole (and I know I will be accused of it regardless) but after your first comment I have no desire to take you seriously and your advice made no sense.


Irish Pride, and you can't squat 3 times a week?

Please switch name to Irish Shame, and while you're at it, order a sex change operation too.

On a serious note, perhaps you're training too hard if you can't take squatting 3 times a week. There exist several protocols you can follow, no need for balls to the walls effort every time.


I can barely walk right now because of my hip, if it was a matter of fighting through it I would, and have been for the last month or so. But the pain is getting exponentially worse. Trust me, I tore my tricep last year and have had numerous injuries where I just said fuck it and dealt with it. This is not one of them. I squatted 3x/week for 4 months and was fine. Now I can't. What should I do as far as programming.


Irish have you deloaded any? Ive been on Madcow's intermediate for about 2 months without any recovery or injury issues but I just got off a deload. From the articles Ive read about the program, they dont really address deloading. You might want to if you havent. The program is pretty badass. I plan on running it until I my lifts stall


Yes I ran a deload after Intermediate before switching to advanced. The hip problem started around the end of intermediate, subsided some but recently it's been unbearable while squatting even with just bodyweight. I also squat fairly wide for a raw squatter which definitely didn't help the issue.


Yes I ran a deload after Intermediate before switching to advanced. The hip problem started around the end of intermediate, subsided some but recently it's been unbearable while squatting even with just bodyweight. I also squat fairly wide for a raw squatter which definitely didn't help the issue.


Are you doing any mobility work for your hips? If not, start. You may also have to narrow your stance up some. I've found I just can't squat as wide raw as I can in single-ply gear, no matter how much rolling and mobility work I do.


Squatting as wide as I do, 3x/week caught up to me. No way to dispute it, especially since I didnt start doing mobility work and foam rolling until it was too late. My hips just didnt have the strength or the mobility to handle it.


Stop squatting like an idiot. I am doubtful it is a matter of mobility or strength, but the fact wide stance squatting is maladaptive to long term hip health. There is a reason why briefs exist. You're playing sticking sharp objects in your eye and wondering why it hurts...


To a certain extent, this is probably a pick your poison type deal -- squat 3x a week narrow and you are likely to have aching knees.

I'd drop the squat frequency back to one or two times a week and if you want to continue squatting raw and wide, look into getting some Rehband Warm Pants. You can find them at Jackals Gym in the US and there may be other places to get them if you aren't in the States. When I'm feeling beat up but want to keep squatting rawish, this is what I use. They are pricey, but worth it.


i only read some of what's goin on but as far as frequency goes, i only squat once every week. that's about all i can do, i need about that many days to recover. if you are a beginner you can squat multiple times a week but i would do one heavy day then possibly one light day or light day with a different squat exercise like someone else suggested. you don't have to follow a program word for word, you can change things if you want to make it suit you. you'll find as your squat or lifts in general increase your frequency has to decrease, most people don't get this concept because they don't lift enough.

if your hips hurt squatting wide, then don't do it, bring your stance in. if you want or like to squat wide you need to widen your stance over time. so for you i may suggest taking your stance in and possibly squatting to a height that doesn't bother your hip. then work on mobility, warmup well before each squat day, foam roll, rehab/prehab and all that stuff, then slowly bring your stance out over time. i squat pretty wide, but my hips are better now after using precaution and doing the things i mentioned above then when i wasn't squatting as wide.

as far as programs, pick one and stick with it for a while, there is no magical program so pick one you like. we've had people do 5x5 and that worked, a lot of people do 5/3/1 and do well. just don't do random stuff all the time.


You could go back to 5/3/1 and do you SQ and DL on the same day. Something like this :

Day 1 - Bench + assistance
Day 2 - SQ + DL + assistance
Day 3 - Military press + assistance

This way you'll have a lot more time for lower body/hips recovery, as time goes by you'll reevaluate if you can handle more frequency. Good luck.


I would go ahead and ignore the guys urging you to sack up and squat more. It's a great approach if you can take it, but it isn't the only way. I've taken both approaches and both can work...when I was heavier I found once a week squatting very effective. For a number of reasons, heavier lifters tend to take longer to recover than lighter lifters, and tend to fare better on lower frequency. To make it work, I'd consider:

-An intense focus on perfect squat technique. Of course this is always important, but if you're only squatting once weekly, you're not grooving the motor pattern, so you really have to focus on getting it right.

-Accelerate every rep. You should be fresher when you squat, so take advantage of the opportunity to be explosive on every single rep. It's not always possible if you're squatting with significant volume 3 or more times weekly, but at once a week, there's no reason you can't drive every rep up explosively.

-Consider using pause squats. Three to five seconds in the hole, staying very tight. There's more room for assistance work with a once weekly setup, and in my opinion, pauses are the best 'assistance' you can do. I'd add 2-3 sets of pause work after your main squat work, and you can do this every week.

-Get after your deadlift, and train your lower back very hard on deadlift day. Because you're only squatting once a week, you don't need to worry so much about preserving yourself for your squats, so you can pull with a vengeance every week, and also go crazy with good mornings/russian deadlifts, rdls, pull thrus/swings, or whatever else you like to strengthen your lower back. Obviously, a strong lower back helps a lot with your squats too, but I have found that variety is much more important for building the deadlift than it is for building the squat. When you're sqatting frequently, it's tough to get a ton of varied back work in, or to really push your deadlift training. Squatting once weekly enables you to do this, so take advantage of the opportunity.

-Same goes for bench, you can devote at least two days to bench work, and do a lot of whatever you find helps your bench, so take advantage of the opportunity.

Good luck


i'm gonna take advantage of this opportunity, haven't had any debate in a while. his numbers aren't bad(if competition legit) but i still don't think they are high enough to only squat once a week. his numbers are pretty much what mine were competing at 165. i squatted once a week, deadlifted once a week, and did all my acc work. i just wasn't strong enough to make it work for me. now in the 198 class i have the highest official raw squat in the nation and it only took me 3 years. i squatted twice a week, hard, benched twice a week, and deadlifted every other week. it sucked, and i felt horrible all the time, but i think it was worth it. i just don't think he's strong enough to push himself hard enough to make squatting once a week work for him. plus like you said he may need to work on form, and only doing that once a week is hard to find your groove.

as far as training the low back, with some exercises this can be dangerous if you intentionally/directly work your low back. and i think working the upper back is even more important being that is the first part of your back that breaks during a squat or deadlift. i think exercises like front squatting work the low back and upper back in a safer way, and i highly recomend using a safety bar if one is a available. i did a couple sets of 225x20 front squats and had so much low back pump it was horrible.

i agree with trying to make every rep fast, that's something people should do more often, every rep, even warmup reps should be taken seriously. but i don't really agree with the pause squats, we did these in weightlifting for track but i've found much more benefit in various types of box squatting. i don't really like the idea of having someone pause squat because that's based on them staying tight like you said, people in general have a hard time with this. if you were personally there and could supervise it may be better but it's one of those things that people will more than likely completely mess up and cause more harm than good.

again it's one of those things that what works for some, may not work for others, but everyone we've trained has had great success with squatting multiple times a week.


I would simply go with 5/3/1. I'm not sure why so many people think you have to SQ multiple times per week to make any progress. I've always made my best progress squatting once a week. Squatting multiple times per week has always generally lead to minor injuries for me. It doesn't matter how well it works for everyone else if it leaves you injured all the time. Squatting once per week is better than not being able to SQ at all due to injuries. You also need to find the root cause of the hip pain and get it corrected. Bring your stance in if you are squatting raw.


Just to clarify, I would LOVE to squat multiple times a week and I believe that at my numbers and experience, it is absolutely essential. I made great progress on 5x5, but I did suffer an injury and now I need to alter it. But as soon as my hip is healthy again, I am definitely going back to a higher frequency--just this time I am going to take the precautionary measures in proper mobility and warmups.

I really appreciate the help and am most likely going to go with 5/3/1--until my hip feels healthy again. What I plan on doing (again, please offer criticism), is 5/3/1 and slowly increasing the squat frequency. So possibly in a few weeks do light squats (50%?) on whatever day im doing deadlifts.

In the meantime, Im going to increase the acc. work after deadlifts to counter the loss in squat frequency. Then on the day I'm squatting Ill probably just do the BBB accessory work that Wendler recommends.

Basically with 5x5 I was doing minimal accessory work and now that Im pulling one day and squatting on one day only, Im going to counter that loss in frequency with some more RDLs, good mornings, etc and slowly move back into squatting 2x a week.


Right now I would suggest squatting only once every other week for 2 months to see how that feels, you may feel better after that. If not I would suggest, take a month off from squatting altogether, then easing back into it. Instead of squatting, so single leg movements, hack squat, and squat machines for higher reps, and focus on working the glutes and hams hard (leg curls dont cound)


How often do you deload?
With that workload I would suggest 3 training weeks, then an active recovery deload on the 4th week...

Also, vary your stances.

Finally, if it is heavy training, then it takes the CNS about 72 hours to recover from heavy squats if I remember correctly, so lower the frequency if it is all heavy...