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Push/Pull Comp, Drop the Squat?

Be easy folks first time posting in a forum. Here is a some general info, 37 years old been strength training since 1997 mostly the big 3 with a lot of high volume/frequency chin-up and back extensions for good measure. I work in the oil and gas industry in Bakersfield,Ca. Have been training/competing in jiu jitsu for 15 years. Do to work family and community college I am putting jiu jitsu on pause for a while. So to scratch my competitive itch I am thinking about competing in Push/Pull comps. In the USPA sub-master 181lbs. tested division. Now that that is out of the way I am hoping you’re combined experiences can answer a few of my questions.

  1. What would you recommend for setting up a 3-4 day split for push/pull?
  2. How often should I squat?
    3 Are there any drawbacks from dropping the squat for Push/Pull?
  3. If I do drop squatting will I create imbalances? Increase the Rick for injuries?


Would need more info about you to assess. Squats could potentially help a lot but may not be high priority or appropriate depending on your circumstances/considerations.

Like say your competition is far away then you may want to put some time into a volume phase. Squats are great at building the quads and glutes.

Say you are already very jacked in the lower body and barely fit in the weight class as is. Then squats would take a different role/priority.

Say you pull sumo and use much leg drive. Squats and squat variations could help in many ways.

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Keep squatting. Use the squat as an assistance excercise on deadlift days.

If I’m focusing on building my deadlift I pick a squat variation that translates best. I pull conventional in competition so training may look like: Deadlift, high bar close stance squats, front squats. I also really like doing close stance box squats with a highish box.
Point being, remember your goal and build your training around it. I think the squat is a very useful tool in getting ready for a push/pull.

You don’t want to totally drop squats altogether. If you’re looking to just focus on bench and deadlift though, just at least do box squats once a week. I’ve always seen decent transfer to my deadlift and vice versa the more I box squat. It’s a similar movement pattern as a deadlift but you still get squat practice.

I am a huge fan of conjugate training. I can layout what I would do if I were you if you want to hear it. I just need some follow up questions answered to give recommendations.

I was looking at competing in late September or early October. I wouldn’t say I was “jacked” but I am 6’1" fairly lean and don’t usually have a problem fitting in the 185 weight class in jiu-jitsu comps. I know powerlifting & push/pull is a completely different animal. So if it came down to bumping up to the next weight class I would. What else would you need to know? Again new to forums so I wasn’t sure what else to add. thanks.

Alrightmiami19c, thanks appreciate it.

StormTheBeach that would be great thanks, let’s hear it.

A few thoughts:

  • @StormTheBeach has pulled over 800lbs in competition
    -I have seen some of Josh Bryant’s programs for push/pull meets and he includes box squats - there is probably something to it
    -Look at how some of the top strongman competitors train deadlifts (including assistance work and such), some don’t squat at all and pull more than nearly all powerlifters
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Squats have very little carryover for conventional deadlift, in my experience, unless they are tailored to a specific weakness. Normal, low bar squats make zero difference to my DL as far as I can tell, it’s best to not assume that there is carry over but look for weak links.

Great to have you posting here again dude.

What style of deadlift do you do? Some vids would be useful too. Vids of bench too while we are at it to look for weak points to be addressed and strengths to be maximised

Maybe some detes on your powerlifting relevant training history because it sounds like you’d have a decent base of strength and muscle already.

So some things to consider would be getting bigger muscles that carryover to powerlifting, lots of technique practice working towards perfection and productive strength training:

Height is not a bad thing but at over 6 foot a lot of your weight would be bone. Muscle is the tissue that does the moving so having more within a given weight class can only be an advantage at least in the big prime movers for bench/deads like ur butt and pecs. Most guys your height would be more competitive in higher weight classes but that’s a long term growth thing.

September/October is a fair ways off so if you identify that building up more tissue in your pecs, triceps and delts for bench and glutes, hams, quads and back for deads would be an efficient way to improve then you have time to squeeze in a block or two or volume.

The split itself can resemble any classic bodybuilding/lifting split really. Like for myself right now it’s kinda full body but also push/pull with squat/bench alternating with deadlift/bench and accessories. It’ll depend on your needs. If your technique needs more practice than it’ll make more sense to have higher frequency for your target lift. There’s limits of course say going big on deads thrice a week will probably be too much for your recovery capacity. Many lifters use heavy days and light days to keep working/practicing while staying well recovered.

Anyways this stuff is kinda hard to sort out on your own but there’s plenty of existing programs that have taken these things into consideration so u train hard but still recover. That’s what I’d recommend: Select a program that looks good to you also considering your training history and recovery capacity.

Most likely you’ll end up tweaking it a bit to better suit yourself say if it’s too easy you can add more work in, substitute exercises or you can pick a full power one and not do most of the squatting for example.

Obviously, a much more thorough evaluation than this should always be done, but a few questions first. How long have you been training? What are your current maxes? Where do you fail each of your lifts when you fail? Do you have any injuries that limit certain movements?

I was assuming he’d blown his spine out his butt or something.

StormTheBeach, I started training in ‘97 in eight grade. Started off with typical “bodybuilding” routines, for about the past 5 or 6 years mostly bench, front squat, Air squats ,deadlifts and kettlebell swings. Added sled drags about 6 months ago.
Current maxes
Bench 270
Front squat 235
Deadlift 390

Fail lifts
Bench- off the chest
Front Squat- standing up out of the hole
Deadlift- at the top, right before lock out
I feel like I have a little bit more on my bench and front squat maxes, but due to training partners “mailing it in” recently I am not able to push that little extra by myself with out a spotter in those lifts. (garage gym)
Only injury is an old jiu jitsu injury, repaired shoulder labrum(posterior) 4 anchors put in 6 years ago. This has made it almost impossible to get anything close to proper hand placement on the bar for back squats.
Due to work schedule, the lack of training partners/spotter, and the issue with the shoulder mobility in the back squat I thought it might be best to derive a plan to compete in push/pull or exclusively bench or deadlift comps. Open to suggestions.

At that height you most likely want to get to 242 or 275 eventually. The 181s are generally five foot seven to eight or less, past that you’re just as a disadvantage.

You’re not going to get to that by October, but you can probably get to a decent 200.

If you’re just going to do a push/pull, train for that. Squats aren’t necessarily going to do much in that respect. If you do any kind of squat, it would be deadlift assistance so front, box and SSB squats would likely benefit you more.

Your risk of injury will likely be influenced mostly by technical proficiency, intelligent training and how well you recover.

A general rule that’s broadly applicable is that exercises like reverse hypers, back extensions, ab work and activation will make you less likely to experience back injuries. Same goes for pull aparts, facepulls, pullups and rear delt/upper back work and activation in relation to shoulder I injuries.

Training three to four days a week you could probably do pretty well with a day for bench, a day for deadlift and then a day each for lower body and upper body work, where you focus on building muscle. You could also train bench twice a week, but it isn’t necessarily going to make your bench move faster.

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