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Meet Prep: Dialing in Squat Form w/ Shoulder Instability


#1

Hi everyone!

Due to a shoulder instability after multiple dislocations I can't back squat with higher weights, which is why I am using Zercher squats as my primary 531 squat movement (sorry Jim, served me well so far and it's what I can do with my shoulder). This also means that my back squat 1RM is only about 67% of my Zercher 1RM, and that I can only back squat depending on how stable my shoulder feels on any particular day. Some days I may only be able to hit 50% of what I could usually do or even nothing at all. Not risking any additional dislocations/damage/surgery is absolutely crucial, I'm trying to be smart here.

I have my first meet coming up in about 6 weeks, and I am wondering how to best dial in my back squat form in any sensible manner for that period of time.

Is it as simple as switching to back squats as the main 531 movement (obviously lowering my squat TM a lot) and doing as many of the 531 sets/reps as I can that particular day given my daily shoulder condition?
Or should I continue as I did so far with the Zerchers as the main movement and additionally hit back squats afterwards with low weight and high volume to practice my form? (The upshot being that the high variability in back squat performance won't mess with my overall training performance too much.)

I'm a little lost here, so any input is highly appreciated. Cheers!


#2

I’m not sure where to start here, but you don’t want to be guessing how much your shoulder can handle on meet day. Opener should be something you know you can nail (even on a kind of crappy day), second attempt what you need to get your goal total, and third attempt go for broke if it’s a good day.

Option A: You wouldn’t need to worry about your shoulder as much in a high-bar position as you would in a low bar position. You sacrifice some leverage and therefore weight with this position (because of a tendency to fall forward), but if your shoulder can’t handle the low position anyway, I guess you’re not really sacrificing weight.

Option B: If bar position isn’t what is affecting your shoulder, you’ve still got to establish your weight/shoulder injury tipping point. The only way I can think of to do this is to use the barbell for your 5/3/1 sets at the low training max. Then, do jokers to find out what you can handle. Extra reps the final 5/3/1 sets probably isn’t the best idea because you wouldn’t want to fatigue the shoulder joint before attempting the heavier singles, but that’s your call. Any extra volume could/should be Zerchers for similar reasons.

Option C: Do your working sets with Zerchers (still without the extra reps), then ramp up to a few single’s with the back squat.

Best of luck at your meet,


#3

Thanks, good input!

I am using high bar (or at least highish) due to the shoulder already. That back squat is a moody beast for me (as I said, large variations in how it feels), and I have yet to figure out what the best setup is for the shoulder.

So far I’ve been keeping to Zercher as my main lift and use back squats during my warm up progression for as long as it feels ok and on another day in the training week after the main lift.


#4

Have you thought about getting a safety squat bar or a yoke bar. Think it would be well worth it for you considering your shoulder limitation, probably be better served by these rather than using Zerchers


#5

My gym actually has a SSB, I’ll look into that and see how that goes, thanks.

(I still also think Zercher squats are actually a pretty awesome exercise, and probably helped my deadlift go up quite a bit.)


#6

[quote]Severin wrote:
My gym actually has a SSB, I’ll look into that and see how that goes, thanks.

(I still also think Zercher squats are actually a pretty awesome exercise, and probably helped my deadlift go up quite a bit.)[/quote]

A Safety squat bar (although an awesome option, in general) will still not solve your problem of proficiency with a straight bar on meet day. Your center of gravity with a SSB is drastically different, and won’t transfer to meet performance much/any better than Zerchers do without some practice with the barbell.

The one point I can make in favor of the SSB is that eventually your legs will be stronger than what you can handle holding in your elbows. Down the road, you’ll be able to keep loading up the SSB.

Have to agree with your point about Zerchers helping the deadlift as well.


#7

First - squat every other week.
Second - use the SS bar on other weeks AND as volume (supplemental) work on weeks you squat.
Third, use a high bar.

Finally, bring up your ab and low back strength to elite levels. What is that? Whatever you do now, make it 1000% stronger.

I’m baffled why you havent used the SS bar but you need to get on that right away. Also, start a fund for buying a buffalo bar. Saving $$ is a skill that needs to be learned.


#8

Jim, thanks for your feedback on this!
To be honest, I tried the SS bar a while back and tweaked my low back with it, and that’s all there was. I understand now that my form was the obvious problem, and that using it would be a fantastic idea for me!
…as is saving up for a buffalo bar.
I shall do both!

Two quick questions regarding your answer:

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
First - squat every other week.[/quote]

I assume you mean “back squat” here.

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
Finally, bring up your ab and low back strength to elite levels.[/quote]

While this is an excellent idea in general, I fail to see how this is specific to my situation.


#9
  1. Yes
  2. Because you need the work.

#10

Got it, thanks!


#11

Here’s something for you to think about: look at your estimated % of your Zercher squat vs squat. Then think about abs/low back.


#12

Got it!


#13

Just a quick follow up:

I did start doing what Jim suggested. I was using the Safety Bar on 3 and 1 weeks, and back squatting on 5 weeks (with extra safety bar volume) and deloads. I also started doing more ab work (albeit, still not a lot but more than before).

And guess what? It worked. My squat went up a lot and I started hitting rep PRs left right and center.
So Jim, thank you very much Sir!


#14

[quote]Severin wrote:
Just a quick follow up:

I did start doing what Jim suggested. I was using the Safety Bar on 3 and 1 weeks, and back squatting on 5 weeks (with extra safety bar volume) and deloads. I also started doing more ab work (albeit, still not a lot but more than before).

And guess what? It worked. My squat went up a lot and I started hitting rep PRs left right and center.
So Jim, thank you very much Sir![/quote]

You are welcome - there are always ways around stuff, you just gotta think it out a bit. And sometimes the way around something is going right through. Although don’t let the mobility crowd here that.