T Nation

Squat Has Committed Suicide


So this post is probably just going to be me whining and bitching, so feel free to ignore it, but I gotta get it off my chest.

Squatting has always been my best lift. I hit a 500 raw competition squat after training for less than 8 months....I had been a basketball player all my life, so probably had pretty decent leg strength from that. I hit a 535 back in February, which I was pretty happy about with plenty of PR's since I picked back up on 5-3-1 in December.

Since then, it has driven over a cliff and burst into a fiery ball of, well, fire...that didn't make sense...

My last 7 Squat workouts were:
4/18 - 315x3, 355x3, 395x8 (good)
4/25 - 330x5, 375x3, 420x6 (good)
5/2 - 265x5x3 (deload)
5/10 - 295x5, 340x5, 385x3 (PR on this weight was 7 back a year ago)
5/17 - 320x3, 365x3, 410x5 (have gotten higher than this for 8 in December)
5/23 - 340x5, 385x3, 430x3 (cheap PR since its first time at this weight, but 425x8 in January)
5/30 - Took deload week off and relaxed
6/6 - 295x5, 340x5, 385x5 (+2)

I started dieting with Shelby on 4/18. First two weeks were fine. Cardio was 5 days a week for 4/18 and 4/25 sessions, and it moved up to 7 days a week during deload (5/2) with 4 HIIT sessions and 3 steady state (brisk walking). The week I came back was when all the issues started, and I couldn't even get the minimum reps in my 5's week! Following two weeks were a bit better, but still pathetically lower than my PR's at those weights.

I decided not to lift during the deload week since I was on vacation and just relaxed. I hadn't done any cardio in about a week either, but decided to keep my training maxes constant this cycle expecting to be recovered, but was still only able to get the minimum reps this week!

Its frustrating as hell...whats really weird is I have been getting the worst DOMS ever after squatting, each week, whereas before this used to not happen...

What's really weird is my bench and deadlift have both improved, while OHP has stayed relatively stable or declined just slightly. Squat is the only lift that has taken a beating.

Am I just experiencing the side effects of dieting and increased cardio, or is there something else here I need to look at?

After writing all this out, I am pretty positive the answer is the former.


I'm curious. Have you tried resetting your training max? I mean, 5/3/1 seems to be all about taking a step back so you take more steps forward. Right? At least redoing the training max on your last cycle is what I might do. I'd have to take a look to be sure, but that's what it says in the book to do when you stall.



...just in case your other 3 lifts seem at risk after the loss of their friend...


From Cycle 10 in February to Cycle 11 in March, I took 10% off my training max (535 -> 480) because I was planning to start doing a ton of conditioning in March...then I found out I had cancer so that didn't last long (had the surgery at the end of March--which may actually explain some things, but I was still maintaining and not regressing towards the middle of April)

For Cycle 12 I used 490 in April, and used 505 for Cycle 13 in May...dunno why I went up 15 instead of the 10, but that was when my problems started but I have a very hard time believing the extra 5 pounds I mistakenly used was the culprit...

Still using 505 for my training max now, which is far below what I was using since I picked back up on 5-3-1 in December....I didn't want to do anything rash and back off a lot, so I kept it the same...If things don't improve over the next 2 sessions, I may consider backing it off 30 pounds or so for next Cycle...

Thanks for the advice man


I think they're the ones that killed him and made it look accidental...


Also, if I cut weight fast, my squat always takes a hard hit fast. If I want to keep improving my squat while losing weight, I personally can't lose more than about a pound a week. Half a pound a week and progress is about the same if I were maintaining weight.


its because of your increased cardio


Is this something you can discuss with Shelby?


I worked with Shelby as well and I can tell you its partly due to diet and has absolutely nothing to do with the cardio (assuming you arent sprinting your ass off on a tredmill everytime). My only question about the cardio is, was it you who decided on 4 hiit sessions on your deload? Because that is a little crazy.

Anyway, it sounds like you are having problems recovering. Shelby's diet plan calls for the elimination of a lot of different foods. Sugar being one of them. When I worked with him, my bench exercises declined, on average, by about 3%. My squat and deadlift exercises had a 10-15% increase in weight. This is nuts because I lost 51lbs, went from 280 to 229 at weigh in. You have to cheat a little bit and just not tell him about it. Every post workout, I drank a recovery shake that was about 100g of sugar and 65g of protein. I still lost the weight and reached my goal and the high glycemic carbs sped up recovery much better than brown rice and oatmeal.

Also, I would strongly suggest picking up some HMB, Leucine, and Creatine if you dont take any of those already.

Another problem you could be having: the fat burners are basically syphoning water out of your system. Take whatever amount of water you are drinking a day and triple it. Seriously, if I didnt get down 2.5 gallons a day, especially on low days, I felt like dog shit.

Hope some of this helped.


No. It's not.


could be


You reduced calories and added intense cardio a couple of days a week. End of story. Was doing all of the H.I.T training yours or Shelby's idea?

Another how much of a calorie reduction are you on-- did you know how many calories you were taking in compared to now? Reduced calories plays a huge part in the recovery aspect or lack ther off.

My advice take it easy on the cardio: Do no H.I.T sessions for a couple of weeks keep doing steady state cardio and lowly add in intenisty.

Hope this helps



If it was me I would talk to Shelby about it, in the hopes he may be able to change a few aspects of your nutrition up, if he doesn't change anything consider the amount of BF you lost and the ammount of weight you lost on squat and see if you think its a fair trade. I hope you are doing well after surgery big guy!


Thanks to everyone for chiming in. I will post a more thoughtful response tonight when I'm back on my laptop and not my droid, but I wanted to address a couple posts:

-all the cardio is Shelby's idea. He drives the bus on my cardio, supplements, and nutrition.
-the deload cardio week was actually what we switched to as the norm. I got it backwards tho as its actually steady state 4 days a week and HIiT 3 days a week. Basically he told me to do steady state on my weight training days and HIIT on off days.since I train 4 days a week, I end up with 4 SS days a week

-STB: I've been thinking about adding in some peri workout stuff. Why did you not tell him about it tho since it looks like it helped? I've found him to be pretty ameanable to switch when things are working. For instance I had two unscheduled cheat meals and ended up having the most progress in those weeks. I told him about it and he scheduled me a weekly one as a result!

-I would chalk it up to the diet, but Shelby and I agreed to postpone the diet for a couple weeks while I sort our some issues related to the TC. So I've been eating normally and very limted cardio for the week leading up to my last squat session, and it was still shitty....that was when I started getting a bit concerned
-I think the extrmeme DOMS is weird. It is intense for a couple days and I don't get this after olther sessions, even if I change up assistance!


You are getting PRs in youre other lifts? If so maybe you are just beating yourself up. The CNS takes a hit from heavy lifting. I don't claim to be an expert on the intracacies of the CNS, but I've noticed that if I back off a little everything starts to come back.

Wendler suggests picking one lift per week and going all out on it. The rest of the lifts just get your reps and move on. I'm doing this right now and I feel pretty good. I'm getting PRs on my "all out days" and I'm getting good reps in on my "easy/not all out" days. I usually have at least 1-3 reps in the tank on my easy days. My all out days I tend to have 0-1 rep left.


I generally agree that it's likely the diet. However, one change to the training that Wendler suggested to me when I was having a similar problem (although not diet related) w my bench:

Do 351

Week 1 - 70%x3 80%x3 90%xrep out
Week 2 - 65%x5 75%x5 85%x5 (do NOT rep out) OR 65%x3 75%x3 85%x3 (do NOT rep out)
Week 3 - 75x5, 85x3, 95xrep out

Kinda treats the 5's week as a deload and only has you reppin out w heavier weights. worked well for me
Also - have you considered going to 3 days/week and dropping the deload week?


Cardio WILL decrease maximal strength. Every time you perform a cardio session you deplete energy stores from the specific muscle trained; in your case the legs. Repeatedly depleting glycogen stores in the legs will inhibit recovery and it will also decrease the force production capabilities of the leg, hip and low back musculature.

If you were experiencing overall drops in upper and lower body strength, I would suggest diet or supplement related issues. Since that is not the case, I would guess the cardio is sabotaging your squats.


At a seminar, Wendler talked about trying not to serve two masters. You either have to pick strength and eat for it, or train to maintain while getting in better shape. He said initially your numbers will take a hit, but you'll back to where you were fast AND at a much lower weight (pretty cool!).

Stick with the game plan bro.


That's not what happened to me. It's actually helped. I even have larger thighs despite losing weight. Granted, I kept the compound movements and slashed things like single leg stiff-legged deadlifts with the exception of movements that keep me healthy. I also increased my carb and protein consumption a little, but I'm still losing weight.


Heres a question no one asked yet. Were you doing cardio before dieting or just started cardio with the diet?