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Huge In A Hurry Confusion


I recently perused through one of Chad Waterbury's books; ''Huge In A Hurry''. I learnt some stuff here and there and would probably learn more if i read it properly.
However, there was a section that really caught my eye and i ended up reading it like 20 times. Here it is;

Most powerlifters who've been in the game for
more than a decade are shorter than when they
started. I don't mean a little shorter; they lose
several inches. It's easy to figure out the reason:
A steady routine of heavy squats and dead lifts will compress the spinal column, specifically
the jelly-doughnut-like discs between your
vertebrae. Many powerlifters are forced to retire
with back injuries, to no one's surprise. The less
space there is between discs, the harder it is for
your nerves to transmit electrical signals to your
muscles. If you've ever put a kink into a garden
hose, you get the idea. Water still gets through,
but not as much, and not as fast.
Ifheavy squats and deadlifts are crucial to
the results you want but also compress your
spine, how can you make gains now without
injuries you'll pay for later? I recommend two

You know that fast contractions allow you to
recruit big motor units without using max
weights. (If you don't know that by now, you
must've skipped every chapter before this one.)
So, even if one of your goals is to improve
your strength, you can reach that goal with two
heavy workouts a week, and use the third
workout for faster lifts with lighter weights.
That'll take some burden off your spine.

At least one workout each week should include
single-leg versions of the squat and deadlift.
You'll get two important benefits:
»These exercises recruit a lot of stabilizer
muscles that might be understimulated by
traditional squats and deadlifts.
»They unload your spine, since you're forced to
use less weight. A guy who can deadlift 300
pounds might use 50-pound dumbbells when
doing a single-leg dead lift. If he maxes out
with 275 on the squat, he'd have all he could
handle with a 25-pound weight plate on a
single-leg squat.
Each of those exercises gives muscles
plenty of work, with hardly any load on your spine. I've tried them with professional athletes
and serious competitive powerlifters, and
I've seen how it works for them. Sometimes
we'll go a week to 10 days doing nothing but
single-leg exercises. Invariably, they get
stronger when they return to their normal exercises
with heavy loads, thanks to the restoration
of the normal spaces between their
vertebrae and the improvement in nerve
If it works for them, it should work for you.''

I was wondering about the heavy squats and deadlifts part. I already know that its a myth that they make you short but hearing Chad Waterbury say it made me think twice....AND start worrying. Im only 5'8 and i definitely don't wanna get ANY shorter!
My question is this; should i be worried since i ain't a powerlifter??

-Currently as my plan to keep stuff simple im using the 5x5 program, which means im squatting in EVERY workout and deadlifting+overhead press in the alternate ones.
-Since 5x5 is about progressing each workout, the load becomes relatively heavy eventually.
-Now that im in school i squat a minimum of once a week and during the holidays i squat 3 times a week as per the program.
-I really don't deload since i feel im already training too little. The closest thing i have to a ''deload'' is when im swamped with schoolwork and can't make it to the gym.

Im not asking you to crap on Chad's work or anything but i'd really appreciate any help i can get. As a beginner its possible i could be fretting over nothing really.
Iv considered taking the SQUAT,OVERHEAD PRESS & DEADLIFT workout and alternating it with a RFESS,OVERHEAD PRESS & SINGLE LEG RDL workout.
What do you think about that?
Any help will be highly appreciated. Cheers.


He's full of crap
I guess that's why all the power lifters are midgets!
Just do the program With two legged squats and deads


Unilateral work is not a bad idea. Also, it's not a horrible suggestion to go light once in a while.

I'm also pretty sure that the effect of spinal compression is very minimal and only measurable in the very, very long run - IMO nothing to worry about.

He has good points - just don't take them to the excess that he suggests (don't drop two-legged work for one-legged, don't make every day a light day, etc.) - just my two cents.


Powerlifters are also squatting and deadlifting anywhere between 700-1000lbs. Any weight that high will increase chances of spinal compression. My guesses are you arent lifting anywhere near that weight, so you should'nt have any problems.


I honestly don't know anything about single leg stuff, but stating the reason behind it is to keep you tall is crap,


Well that and having back problems...not something i'd look forward to.


So are you saying that i SHOULD make that adjustment to my program? 5x5 really doesn't accommodate for going light. The closest thing to going ''light'' is only when you fail to get all your reps in with a certain weight, in which case you'll step back and progress from there.

Well, i will be (God willing) in it for the long run.


How long have you been on 5x5?

Chad is talking abut long term lifting of super heavy weights, like 7-10yrs worth of grueling gut busting power lifting. If you are on 5x5 as a start up program than don't worry about it, just continue to go as hard as you can. Once you been doing that for say 1 year, than change your routine up and do a bodybuilding split. It worked for Doug Young, so it will work for you too.

EDIT: Explanation, Doug Young trained as a power lifter but also split his training up into body building splits as well, as he use to say "anyone who wants to be strong should look strong too", so he would focus on hypertrophy as well as nuromuscular training. This also helped him to prevent long term injuries, and he worked on the railway to support his family so he needed to stay as injury free as he could.


Iv been on it for about 5.5 - 6 months now. Before this i was doing 1 compound lift per workout and before that i was just a dumbass. (skinny guy with abs)


stick with your linear progression program until you stall good and proper (with your nutrition sleep etc in order) and then it will be time to mix things up a bit anyway. it wouldn't do for you to get into the habit of changing things up too frequently...

single leg work is good for a bunch of reasons (including decompressing the spine, yup). it isn't crucially important while you are making your beginners gains, though.

once your beginners gains stall you might well find that introducing some single legged work and reducing the frequency of squats and deads helps you get your squat and dead moving again. when you are a beginner frequency of squats and deads is important, though, because you are mostly making neurological gains and training your body to do the proper movement pattern.

one way you can decompress the spine at the end of sessions that load the spine is to hang from the pull-up bar. trains your grip strength endurance, too. (remember to pack the shoulders rather than letting them pull out the sockets).


oh. when i feel injured or like i'm going to be injured if i do business as usual...

then i focus on single leg work. so if my lumbar region is cranky / feeling a bit overtrained... then i'll sub in some single leg work rather than risking injury or not training at all.


This sums it up best.

I read this post a few days ago and went to the gym to lift legs. I'm no fire plug but I like to get 2-3 plats on the bar for squats and I would be considered one of the bigger guys in the gym. Most lifters don't touch the kind of weights on a regular basis that would constitute permanent spinal compression, IOM.

That being said I saw a guy injure himself on the hack squat machine with 225#.
When it comes to injury, people seem to be able to do that at any weight.


It all comes down to smart lifting. Do your warmup sets and stretches, progressively add smaller amounts of weight up until working sets and always use correct form. Most injuries can be avoided following that.


Thanks man, i appreciate. A few questions though,
1)How long do you suggest i hang for?
2)Does the grip i use matter?


True, iv seen a 270lb bencher get hurt during his warmup with 180 pounds. I sometimes think that people take their warm up sets to casually because that was the case with this guy.


I dunno. After about 30 seconds I feel gravity working its magic on my spine. I can't hang on for much longer than a minute, I guess that means my grip strength is weak. I'd hang on longer if I could, but my hands aren't up to it. Maybe I should use some straps... Sometimes I'll switch to the Roman Chair so I can hang for another couple minutes. See what feels good for you. I don't think the grip matters at all. The point of it is to let gravity gently decompress your spine. Do it at the end of your session so you don't fry your grip. I've also seen people hang upside down from the chin-up bar with these special boots that hook over it. One guy I know used to hang there for a good 10 minutes and he said it felt wonderful.


10 min upside down? If i hang upside down for even 1 min i get dizzy as hell!


Inversion boots?
Try inversion table


Still as effective?