T Nation

Stagnant Squats on 5/3/1

Let me start off by saying that I totally enjoy this program, it is perfect for me and my time constraints. Some personal information about me : 6’1" height, 223.4 lbs(Current) Bench: 280 Dead lift: 375 OHP: 175 Squat: 280

OK, now to the issue. I have been using the 5/3/1 Program for a couple of months now and I have seen significant change in all my lifts, but for some reason my squat is not advancing as fast as my other lifts. I am following the program to the letter, and have not altered in anyway. For assistance for squats I bounce around from Front Squats one week and Stiff Leg DL the other week to try and get both ends strong. Not sure what I’m doing wrong, or if its a growing pain that I have to endure.

Any Help/Advice would be appreciated. I will also answer any questions I failed to enter here.

Just stick with the program. Lifts progress at different rate, some will progress faster than others. Remember it’s about the long term picture not the short term.

Squats and deadlifts were a bugger for me for a long time purely because I never really spent time getting comfortable with the movement

Drop the front squats or whatever and do FSL as your assistance movement - throw in a pause at the bottom. Get in lots of practice - once your body treats the squat like sitting on the couch, you’ll make great progress.

How much are you eating? I find I need to be in a definite surplus to make gains on squats and deads.

Try upping your volume too, you may even find something like BBB will help you refine your technique, especially as you are fatigued.

Also I’d do front squats and stiff legs in the same week. Try putting the fronts on your squat day and stiff legs on your deadlift day

In general, and even if I did not compete, I am a huge advocate of keeping a total: your own current records on the squat, dead lift, bench, and if you want and since it is 5-3-1, add in the press - all added together. To gage progress, see if your “total” increased - just like at a meet.

My bench progresses at a snail’s pace - regresses - improves more - rinse and re-apply. My point is It is not linear or formulaic.

However, when my bench is in rehab, my squats and deads are usually moving. The lifts actually take turns improving.

And since the squat and deads move at a more dramatic rate, as long as I am not getting weaker on the bench - thinking big picture - I, as an athlete measuring total performance - am getting better and stronger.

3 out of 4 lifts are kicking ass. This is incredible and rare. And your squat is PROGRESSING, just not as fast as the others.

Like the guy said above, drop the front squats, keep pushing the prowler, doing jumps, and doing the ab/low back work. All part of the program.

Thank you everyone for taking your time to respond. I will keep plugging away and update in the near future. I will also look into maybe eating a little more to account for the higher demand on my body. I Will also drop front squats and focus on jumps for a while instead, Thanks Jim.

Just out of curiosity are you comfortable/confident in your squat set up/ technique? Sometimes this can make a massive difference. Jim has a couple of solid articles that I have found helpful regarding squat technique and approach etc.

This thread comes at a good time for me. I’ve been getting a little discouraged lately because I seem to have some really good weeks with my squat but then some crappy ones. Today was 5s week in a cycle of 3/5/1 and my last set @ 110kg was a real grind. I didn’t get anywhere near my PR at that weight. I know, I know, just do the required reps and live to fight another day. It just seems I have more of these off days than I’d like.

Current stats: 40, 5’9", 185lbs/84kg SQ:125kg DL:180kg OHP:65kg BP:95kg (These aren’t estimates from reps, but actual recent lifts)

The thing is that I had my squats up to around this weight before I had to take a couple of months off training this summer. I came back much weaker. I’ve been slowly working my way back up to where I left it but feel like it’s hit a plateau. My only thought is to up calories to put on some weight and have my technique checked out. I feel like my food and recovery are in line for the most part. My goal is a 140kg (300lb) squat.

Also, is it odd to have my DL be so far ahead of my squats? Short legs and long arms? :slight_smile:

Its interesting, I’m in the same boat. My squat is definitely my weakest lift and it is an absolute roller coaster.

Just this last cycle I hit a huge rep PR on the 3s week getting 7 reps. But then on the next week for 1s I only got 2.

What I’ve learned over the least couple cycles is to think of the weeks more as a whole. Jim says to leave one in the tank and I think that’s really important. Especially as an older lifter that doesn’t recover as fast.

I am really close to a goal/milestone deadlift and on Tuesday I would blow myself out trying to get closer and closer to that goal. Then do 5x8 squats and my other accessories. By Friday I’m still not recovered from that and my squat will suffer as a result.

So it think its important to manage expectations and not make gains in one lift at the expense of another.

ITT began The League of Stagnant Old Squatters (SOS).

Small Update: Just Started another Session recently and noticed that my squats are feeling a bit stronger (Was able to move up again), I also noticed I am 5 lbs lighter but still feel the same strength. Not Sure if they feel stronger because of the weight loss, or the gain of sheer strength. I have Incorporated Jumps and Stiff leg DL for assistance on Squat days. Just some info for the gents in my same boat.

Just keep working. I’ve had similar problems. It will come. Patience and consistency pay off in the end.