T Nation

Of Legs and 5x5

Second month in madcow’s 5x5. I’m making steady gains, in size as well as in increased weights. I really love it.

Here’s the however : I discovered squatting 3 times a week makes big legs. I understand the importance of training lower body and completly agree, but it’s just that upper body won’t get as big that fast. I’m lean at 18yo, 5’10" 167 lbs with long legs small torso.

I really love low rep training and the simplicity of the 5x5. Like I said i’m still making gains on it, but now i’m looking at my goals and wondering if I should stick with it, remove a day of squatting (don’t know how i’ll be able to lift more each week), or ditch the program completly and find something else.

Thanks.

As you get more advanced in your weight training, you will find that three days of squats a week is too much…If you are truly punishing your legs, one to two “heavy” squat days are all you will handle before you start to overwork the legs.

If you really want to spark total body growth, you should incorporate deadlifts into your workout as well. These will strengthen your back, legs and core like you’d never believe. They are even more anabolic than squats, and will cause the rest of your body to grow.

If you really want to go heavy, you gotta remember to take more rest days as well…because we all know that you get bigger out of the gym, not in it.

I’ll link the program here :
http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

I’m already deadlifting and it’s my favorite lift. If I was punishing my legs too much, wouldn’t they stop growing?

I always thought that squat were more anabolic, thanks for the info.

Wait a minute- you’re concerned that your legs are getting too big for your upper body?

Think about that one for a second. You’re 170 lbs and a part of you is ‘too big’.

If you’re doing madcows, do madcows. Keep doing it until you stop making progress.

I have no idea where bhetz is coming from with the idea that you can only squat once or twice a week tops before you keel over and die. I also don’t know how he managed to measure the ‘anabolicness’ of deadlifts in comparison to squats.

If you’re making progress, keep doing what you’re doing. Madcows won’t let you get too unbalanced. It’ll make you big and strong all over.

It isn’t “too big”, I’m just considering balance.

I’ll go trough the whole program and see how it’ll go.

You said it will leave me balanced, and that’s all I needed to hear.

Thanks.

In regards to:

I quote:

"Wrap-Up

�?� For strength and joint health, using the full range of motion on squats is more beneficial than squatting to parallel.

�?� Squatting deep isn’t any more hazardous to the knees than squatting shallow. So stop being a puss and go low.

�?� Performing an unloaded, bodyweight squat is an excellent assessment tool and can be used often as a “body check-up.”

�?� Keeping your knees behind your toes when squatting or lunging is a little better for your knees, but much, much worse for your hips and lower back."

I don’t think I understand this correctly. They say you should squat ATG and keep your knee behind your toes but they also say in doing so that it is much worse on your hip and lower back than the knee. I don’t get it.

Oh also, when you squat ATG (first time trying) do you lift your butt first then shoulders, lift chest first then butt or both same time when in the hole?

[quote]thekrown wrote:
I don’t think I understand this correctly. They say you should squat ATG and keep your knee behind your toes but they also say in doing so that it is much worse on your hip and lower back than the knee. I don’t get it.
[/quote]

Don’t worry about knee travel, it’s a function of bar position and depth. In a powerlifting style squat, the knees may not travel beyond the toes at all, wheres for an ATG olympic or front squat, the knees must end up in front of the toes.

[quote]
Oh also, when you squat ATG (first time trying) do you lift your butt first then shoulders, lift chest first then butt or both same time when in the hole?[/quote]

If your hips rise faster than your shoulders, you are turning a squat into a good morning.

[quote]thekrown wrote:
In regards to:

I quote:

"Wrap-Up

�?� For strength and joint health, using the full range of motion on squats is more beneficial than squatting to parallel.

�?� Squatting deep isn’t any more hazardous to the knees than squatting shallow. So stop being a puss and go low.

�?� Performing an unloaded, bodyweight squat is an excellent assessment tool and can be used often as a “body check-up.”

�?� Keeping your knees behind your toes when squatting or lunging is a little better for your knees, but much, much worse for your hips and lower back."

I don’t think I understand this correctly. They say you should squat ATG and keep your knee behind your toes but they also say in doing so that it is much worse on your hip and lower back than the knee. I don’t get it.

Oh also, when you squat ATG (first time trying) do you lift your butt first then shoulders, lift chest first then butt or both same time when in the hole?[/quote]

What they are saying is that going ATG will not destroy you knees. This is in response to the incorrect assertion that squatting below parallel will destroy the knees (this belief is very common in the fitness industry).

About the knees going beyond the toes, this is another commonly perpetuated false belief. Lots of PT’s will tell you that you should not let the knees go past the toes when squatting,lunging, etc… because it places more stress on the knees.

What they fail to realize is that the force that would have gone into the knees will now be transferred almost 10 fold to the hips.

This information comes from a study that was done many years ago where they had people squat naturally and then had them squat with a bar restricting the distance that their knees could travel forwards (preventing them from going beyond the toes).

They found that the stress on the knees was indeed higher when the knees tracked naturally (I believe somewhere around 200%), but the stress on the hips was significantly higher when the knees were not allowed to track naturally (I believe 1000% greater).

If you do it the way your body wants to do it, the stress will be distributed better across all of the joints of the lower body. Hope this clears up your confusion.

/hijack

[quote]Decimatron wrote:
Second month in madcow’s 5x5. I’m making steady gains, in size as well as in increased weights. I really love it.

Here’s the however : I discovered squatting 3 times a week makes big legs. I understand the importance of training lower body and completly agree, but it’s just that upper body won’t get as big that fast. I’m lean at 18yo, 5’10" 167 lbs with long legs small torso.

I really love low rep training and the simplicity of the 5x5. Like I said i’m still making gains on it, but now i’m looking at my goals and wondering if I should stick with it, remove a day of squatting (don’t know how i’ll be able to lift more each week), or ditch the program completly and find something else.

Thanks.[/quote]

I have the same build, plus a few pounds. How is your bench? What about pullups and press? For me, all my upper body lifts are relatively much weaker than my squat, so my next training cycle will hit the upper body hard.

Finish madcow, like Otep said, it will make you bigger and stronger, but if you start off with poor upper body strength, balanced total body programs will not necessarily address that.

[quote]tom8658 wrote:
I have the same build, plus a few pounds. How is your bench? What about pullups and press? For me, all my upper body lifts are relatively much weaker than my squat, so my next training cycle will hit the upper body hard.

Finish madcow, like Otep said, it will make you bigger and stronger, but if you start off with poor upper body strength, balanced total body programs will not necessarily address that.[/quote]

These are my 5 rm :

squat 240 lbs
deadlift 275 lbs
bench press 170 lbs
bent over row 140 lbs
military press 110 lbs ( :frowning: )

I’m pretty clueless about where I should be on upper strengt lifts compared to the squat/dead.

[quote]Decimatron wrote:

These are my 5 rm :

squat 240 lbs
deadlift 275 lbs
bench press 170 lbs
bent over row 140 lbs
military press 110 lbs ( :frowning: )

I’m pretty clueless about where I should be on upper strengt lifts compared to the squat/dead.

[/quote]

Those ratios look good, except perhaps your deadlift (I also have a deadlift that is “close” to my squat.)* I wouldn’t worry about the military press; if you are doing them properly (i.e. no leg drive) they will go up very slowly. I last pressed 155 for 3x3 and my last bench was 265 for 3.

*This could be that I squatted for 7 months prior to ever deadlifting. I had a ~225 for 5 squat, and I couldn’t even pull 225 off the floor the first time I tried. :wink: Could be that I’m doing something wrong squatting or deadlifting … :wink:

Ok a few misconceptions all around here…including me.

1)In response to my first post, the deadlift is usually, and definately should be, everyone’s heaviest lift. Say for instance my squat 1Rm is about 365. My deadlift max is about 405. This goes along pretty much with powerlifter lifts. If you look at the big 3, the deadlift is heaviest.

I know this is a generic thing to say, but generally the more weight you can move with any kind of speed, the more testosterone/GH that will be released to compensate. So, with these points, the deadlift is most anabolic for these reasons.

2)Sentoguy: I like where you’re going with your post, but just letting people squat “how they feel like it naturally” is not a good thing to do! Most people without any lifting knowledge do not squat perfectly. you should have the weight on your heels at all times. With this in mind, you weight must be back, which (usually) keeps your knees at or beyind your toes.

Also, the hips are supposed to take the brunt of the force, after all, isn’t this a hip-extension type of exercise, done to improve explosive strength? If you squat with your knees forward, you are PROBABLY not engaging your glutes and hamstrings enough. What you are going to do is use quads more than you should.

The end product of this is someone with overly tight quads, which pulls on the kneecap and can causes tightness in the top, middle or lateral side of the knee. Since the hamstrings, which are critical for knees support, are weak in comparison, hyperextension of the knee is probably. Torn ACLS are more probable.

Whoops, looks like I got off the subject.

3)Why can’t you squat more than once or twice a week? Well, to answer that, just lift legs heavy for 3 times a week, with one day of rest in between, and see how long you last before not only do you plateau but you lose absolute strength.

Find a powerlifter, or a very dedicated and knowledgable bodybuilder, and see how often they squat/deadlift HEAVY.

And finally, to Decimatron:
Sounds like your squat is getting where it needs to be, and your bench could stand to improve. Are you using vital triceps exercises like close-grip bench press, dips, tate press or skull crushers? Are you doing barbell rows and external extension exercises for shoulder stability? Is your form correct?

We need more info…how about you post your grip width and exactly how you enter the bench press. It could be a matter of form thats holding your upperbody lifts back.

I’m updating with improvements and some question.

[quote]bhetz864 wrote:

And finally, to Decimatron:
Sounds like your squat is getting where it needs to be, and your bench could stand to improve. Are you using vital triceps exercises like close-grip bench press, dips, tate press or skull crushers? Are you doing barbell rows and external extension exercises for shoulder stability? Is your form correct?

We need more info…how about you post your grip width and exactly how you enter the bench press. It could be a matter of form thats holding your upperbody lifts back.

Madcow recommend not putting to much thought on the tris and biceps : 3x8 of barbell curls and I do low cable tricep extentions.

[/quote]

I stopped checking the thread since I stopped getting noticed on the new responses (?). I bench fairly wide, maybe 2 hands from the bar holder on each side ; it feels like i’m struggling less like that. I have long arms. Also I try to push my feet apart and under my hips to make an arch and squeeze everything. It’s going up slowly but steadily.

For the shoulders, it’s all standing military press. For the back, bent over rows (i’m parallel to the ground). I do pullups as accessory.

Now for the legs. Squats not only make legs, but also grow butt!
I take it with a laugh but i’m getting stretchmarks on buttcheeks and hips. It looks like I got mauled by a small bear. Maybe a wildcat. I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m on the rowing team for my college and practicing 1 day/week plus a training day. It’s mostly running. How should I approach this combined with the 5x5? I feel like i’m murdering my legs squatting 3 days/week + rowing + cardio. Any pointers?

[quote]Decimatron wrote:

Now for the legs. Squats not only make legs, but also grow butt!
I take it with a laugh but i’m getting stretchmarks on buttcheeks and hips. It looks like I got mauled by a small bear. Maybe a wildcat. I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m on the rowing team for my college and practicing 1 day/week plus a training day. It’s mostly running. How should I approach this combined with the 5x5? I feel like i’m murdering my legs squatting 3 days/week + rowing + cardio. Any pointers?
[/quote]

“squatter’s ass”, it’s called. Get used to having to buy jeans that don’t fit at the waist soon. See it as a badge of pride.

You’ll know you’re legs will be murdered when you stop making progress. When that happens, you can deal with it in a number of ways.

  1. eat and sleep more, improve recovery with contrast showers, massages, meditation, stretching, BCAA’s, and steroids.

  2. do as rippetoe suggests, drop the weight to what you were using two weeks ago, and slowly ramp back up (a ‘running start’, if you will)

  3. Switch to another program that has you squat less, and maybe do more upper body work.

(FWIW, your lifts are balanced and where they should be. If you’re making good progress, you’re doing a good job).

I’m still increasing the weights each week. Squatting is going much slower. I went back 2-3 weeks on the squat and focused on form. It helped a little but i’m slowing down again. I’m not eating enough.

Asside from that, my lower right leg hurts when I walk a day after DL day. It’d compare the pain to being hit with a hammer directly on the bone, on the inside of the shinbone, like if there was an invisible bruise in my leg. It’s not muscular and it’s not really painful but I don’t want to wreck my leg. What could it be?

So if I wanted to make my legs catch up with my upperbody, should I maybe squat 3 days a week with moderate intensity.

[quote]Otep wrote:
Wait a minute- you’re concerned that your legs are getting too big for your upper body?

Think about that one for a second. You’re 170 lbs and a part of you is ‘too big’.

If you’re doing madcows, do madcows. Keep doing it until you stop making progress.

I have no idea where bhetz is coming from with the idea that you can only squat once or twice a week tops before you keel over and die. I also don’t know how he managed to measure the ‘anabolicness’ of deadlifts in comparison to squats.

If you’re making progress, keep doing what you’re doing. Madcows won’t let you get too unbalanced. It’ll make you big and strong all over.[/quote]

x2

The idea is to do the simple 5x5 program (Rippetoes, etc) until you reach a plateau in the amount of weight you’re lifting. Add weight to the bar every time you go into the gym. It’ll take somewhere between 3 to 9 months to reach that plateau if you’re a beginner. Once you hit it, move onto an intermediate program like Westside or the Texas method.

Rippetoes is not 5x5, it’s 2x5/1x5/1x3/1x2/3x5 :stuck_out_tongue:

I would consider Rippetoe a beginner, Madcow as the transition then Westside/Texas as the intermediate.

[quote]echelon101 wrote:
Rippetoes is not 5x5, it’s 2x5/1x5/1x3/1x2/3x5 :stuck_out_tongue:

I would consider Rippetoe a beginner, Madcow as the transition then Westside/Texas as the intermediate.[/quote]

Actually Starting Strength is a 3x5 with 1x5 on deadlifts.

You can just jump into Texas method if you want, that’s what I did. Madcow’s is a good program though. The difference is that in Madcow’s 5x5, the intensity is varied throughout the week as %1RM and the volume stays the same (5 sets, 5 reps). On the the Texas Method, the intensity and volume both vary throughout the week. Monday is 5x5, Friday is 1x5, wed is either 2x5 or 3x3 with the same weight as Monday. I would expect better size gains on madcow’s however since the volume is high all week, that would cause more hypertrophy I would imagine. Anyways, ramble over.

Oh chri#t

Have you actually read SS?