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Modifying Bill Starr's 5x5

I have been performing Bill Starr’s 5x5 for about a month now, and my gains have yet to slow down even during calorie restriction(trying to lose some weight). My only issue is that I have been dealing with knee pain when squatting. This isn’t anything new, so I have just been icing and taking ibuprofen.

My doctor informed me, after an MRI, that I have torn my lateral meniscus again. This is my second tear within 3 years. I had arthroscopic surgery to repair the last tear. I’ve played baseball my entire life, as a catcher, and during my 2 years of college ball, I believe I did the most damage to my knee. This leads me to my dilemma. My doctor informed me that I should stop performing squats in the gym, and probably change baseball positions.

I’m looking for some advice as to how I can modify the 5x5 program. I want to take it easy on the squats, and at most perform squats one day per week.

For anyone unfamiliar with 5x5 its basically:

Mon: Squats, Bench, Row, Assistance
Wed: Squats, Incline Bench, Deadlifts, Assistance
Fri: Squats, Bench, Row, Assistance.

I was thinking about just switching the deads and squats. So the program would go as follows:

Mon: Deads, Bench, Row, Assistance
Wed: Deads, Inc. Bench, Light Squats, Assistance
Fri: Deads, Bench, Row, Assistance

What do you guys think, I want to improve my strength, but also cut some fat. I understand the need for exercises that greatly stress the body (squats and deads) for maintaining muscle while in calorie restriction. But my concern is that deadlifting 3x per week might be too much, although I feel squats would have the same effect, so maybe switching their roles wouldn’t dramatically change things.

I apologize for the long post, but any advice?

The program calls for relatively close-stance squatting with lots of flexion at the knees.

My feeling is that you need to try box squatting to parallel or an inch lower, squatting quite wide and REALLY sitting back. This’ll keep your shins vertical in the deepest position and greatly reduces the involvement of the quads as prime-movers which will reduce the streeses on the knee and it’s meniscus.

I don’t like the idea of deadlifting more than one time per week unless you do it twice one week and once the next and keep it to 3x5.

I’ve noticed that squatting with a wide stance really stresses the pain in my knee. Closing the stance and pointing my toes more outward seemed to help. In the past I always squatted with a wide stance.

I had a feeling you’d say that! Please feel free to ignore my previous post!

I will say that there were some SERIOUSLY strong guys even before the heavy back squat was “invented”.

Since you are already doing a full-body program, maybe you could build a routine around the Deadlift.

What about something like this;

Military press

Chin ups

Dips

Curls

20 rep deads

Calf raises

Abs

DO this every 3 days or so. Maybe try some light squatting once per week.

I’ve read so much about the success of the 5x5 program, and I’ve seen some great results, that I was looking for a way to modify it as little as possible, but avoid squatting as much. So I want to stick to a similar format, and thus I’m looking for suggestions for doing so. Thats where the idea for swapping the squats with the deads came from.

http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

Perhaps do the deads a couple times a week and then substitute the high pulls for them once a week. The program states that they’re interchangable. Then, perhaps the next week, do the deads once and the high pulls twice. That will have you doing deadlifts 3x in a 14 day period - certainly not unheard of.

[quote]collegeweights wrote:
I’ve read so much about the success of the 5x5 program, and I’ve seen some great results, that I was looking for a way to modify it as little as possible, but avoid squatting as much. So I want to stick to a similar format, and thus I’m looking for suggestions for doing so. Thats where the idea for swapping the squats with the deads came from.

http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm[/quote]

You may want to consider the foundation of the whole program. If you’ve read so much about the success of the program, you should consider this paragraph from the link you posted:

Substituting Exercises:
Don’t fuck with this. Every bodybuilder seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder and an overwhelming desire to customize everything. The bottom line is that these are all the most effective exercises and just about anything one does will result in less gains. As a rule those people who want to change it don’t know enough to make proper alterations - those who do know enough, don’t have much to change. The guy who is responsible for this program is of the best on the planet at bulking lifters and making people stronger. It’s kind of like Sesame Street’s Elmo offering neurosurgery advice at NYU. Anyway, it’s absolutely essential not to screw with the squats, they are the foundation of this program. If you want to sub inclines or push presses for military that’s okay. Do not sub machines - don’t even think about it, hit yourself with a plate if you must.

I do this twice a year with great gains everytime. Note: I don’t f*ck with the squats.

It’s like adding cheescake twice per day to Shugart’s V-Diet.

[quote]SteelyD wrote:
collegeweights wrote:
I’ve read so much about the success of the 5x5 program, and I’ve seen some great results, that I was looking for a way to modify it as little as possible, but avoid squatting as much. So I want to stick to a similar format, and thus I’m looking for suggestions for doing so. Thats where the idea for swapping the squats with the deads came from.

http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

You may want to consider the foundation of the whole program. If you’ve read so much about the success of the program, you should consider this paragraph from the link you posted:

Substituting Exercises:
Don’t fuck with this. Every bodybuilder seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder and an overwhelming desire to customize everything. The bottom line is that these are all the most effective exercises and just about anything one does will result in less gains. As a rule those people who want to change it don’t know enough to make proper alterations - those who do know enough, don’t have much to change. The guy who is responsible for this program is of the best on the planet at bulking lifters and making people stronger. It’s kind of like Sesame Street’s Elmo offering neurosurgery advice at NYU. Anyway, it’s absolutely essential not to screw with the squats, they are the foundation of this program. If you want to sub inclines or push presses for military that’s okay. Do not sub machines - don’t even think about it, hit yourself with a plate if you must.

I do this twice a year with great gains everytime. Note: I don’t f*ck with the squats.

It’s like adding cheescake twice per day to Shugart’s V-Diet.
[/quote]

I know what your saying, but as of right now, I can’t squat. I’m gonna get my knee scoped in a month or two, but until then, I’m looking for any suggestions so that I can keep doing the 5x5.

What I would do if I were you is simply drop the squats altogether (or maybe keep the light day if it doesn’t hurt) and do bench and rows, incline and deadlifts, and bench and rows. Once I could squat again I would re-add them.

I would also use assistance exercises that help with the squat but don’t hurt the knee.

[quote]SteelyD wrote:

You may want to consider the foundation of the whole program. If you’ve read so much about the success of the program, you should consider this paragraph from the link you posted:

Substituting Exercises:
Don’t fuck with this. Every bodybuilder seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder and an overwhelming desire to customize everything. The bottom line is that these are all the most effective exercises and just about anything one does will result in less gains. As a rule those people who want to change it don’t know enough to make proper alterations - those who do know enough, don’t have much to change. The guy who is responsible for this program is of the best on the planet at bulking lifters and making people stronger. It’s kind of like Sesame Street’s Elmo offering neurosurgery advice at NYU. Anyway, it’s absolutely essential not to screw with the squats, they are the foundation of this program. If you want to sub inclines or push presses for military that’s okay. Do not sub machines - don’t even think about it, hit yourself with a plate if you must.

I do this twice a year with great gains everytime. Note: I don’t f*ck with the squats.

It’s like adding cheescake twice per day to Shugart’s V-Diet.
[/quote]

He’s absolutely right here and that’s also why I posted an alternative program.

Doing the Bill Starr (I know it like the back of my hand) 5x5 without squatting is like swimming withouit the water.

If you can’t squat, you can’t do that program, period.

You can come up with your own but like I advised earlier, you do not want to be deadlifting three times per week.

[quote]SteelyD wrote:

I do this twice a year with great gains everytime. Note: I don’t f*ck with the squats.

It’s like adding cheescake twice per day to Shugart’s V-Diet.
[/quote]

SteelyD,

How long do you follow the 5x5 program at a time?

I’ve only gone about 8 weeks at the longest because 6-8 weeks is optimal for me-- others do less, and others do upwards of 10-12 weeks (note: I do the intermediate version). He says you can go as long as you’re getting results.

Last year, I had a little disc compression issue that happened to me during this program (in fact, I believe my first T-Nation post was looking for advice on injury recovery). I plan on doing this program again or OLAD in June because it works for me-- it’s a great ‘go to’ program for strength gains.

As testament to the program, my boss, who is 49, uses the Advanced version of this program every year to prepare for powerlifting meets. Last month he set a Maine state record for his age/weight class. The Advanced 5x5 and a lot of food is how he trains for it. At 49, he scored 1230-something which included a 300+ Bench and 500+ Deadlift.

Link: http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2050225

Best of luck to you, I understand where you’re coming from. I did my first ‘working weight’ backsquat in 8 months this past February after my injury. I started out with single leg bodyweight squats and just went reeeeal sloooow. My squats have never had better form since the injury and I’m about at 60% of where I was almost a year ago. My front-squat and zercher-squats are higher than my backsquat. Admittedly, I don’t know how much of that is mental vs physical. Derek’s advice above is sound IMVHO.

The beauty of the Starr 5x5 is that you can set your progression rate right in the spreadsheet. If you find that it’s too much or too little, copy the spreadsheet and change the set interval.I will be very modest on my squat calculations in the 5x5 spreadsheet.

Hope that helps