Questions Regarding Madcow's Intermediate 5x5

Hey ladies and gents,

Having lurked for about a year, I’ve decided that it’s time to get in on this community. I won’t mention other websites, but T-Nation seems to be largely absent of the juvenile nonsense that plagues everywhere else I’ve been, and that’s something that I think is really cool.

Anyway, I have a couple of questions regarding my (limited) lifting experience:

  1. I am 6’0 and 165 pounds (I know, big man coming through, folks!). Currently, I am on Madcow’s, and managed to squat 255 for a satisfactory three reps in my last workout. However, today, something very strange happened, squatting felt like a nightmare. The rhythm was just not there, and on my fourth warm up set of 210 I was struggling mightily. Eventually, I ended up completing only 2 reps of 255 and being a very disappointed man. I did, however, decisively bust through both my bench and bent over row PR’s. What happened with my squats? Was it just an inexplicable off day?

  2. Should I start belting up on my squats? My lower back does feel pretty uncomfortable, but I am concerned that if I belt up I rob my abs of a chance to develop strength and awesomeness.

Thanks guys!


  1. No-one can say why you got 3 reps last week and 2 reps this week. Sleep/lack of food/distracted attitude/minor lagging injury in leg or back/dehydration etc etc there could be many reasons. Don’t let it phase you. Eventually that 255 will be a distant memory, keep at it, and be confident every week that you will CRUSH at least one exercise for a PR, whether for reps or weight.
  2. Unless you have pre-existing back injuries, I would:
    a) warm up with front squats as these are very good for promoting anti-flexion in the abs (read the recent ab article for more info)
    B) not wear a belt, but instead take a huge breath at the top of each rep, tense your abs and press out

it was an off day, your not going to PR your squats every time you train. But look on the bright side, you did get 2 PRs, so dont be too upset.

Dont wear a belt.