T Nation

Struggling on Squats

Well I just had another tough week for my heavy squat day. About 2 months ago, I was my highest point for squats. In preparation for my first competition, I was in the middle of running the Extended Russian Routine and I did 430 for 3x3 2 weeks out, and hit 455 for single a week out. A week later, I hit a 465 squat for a single in preparation for another competition a week later.

Ever since those competitions, I’ve been struggling. I started to switch it around a bit and incorporate some new exercises with 2-3 20 minute sessions a week on the elliptical because I was a bit bored. I’ve been hovering around 405 since. 4 weeks ago, I did 395 for 3x3. 3 weeks ago, I did 405 for 3x3. 2 weeks ago, I did 415 for 3x3. Last Monday, I tried doing 425 for 3x3.

The first set I could only 2 with a little help on the 2nd rep. The 2nd set I lowered it to 415, but only 2 came up. The 3rd set, I was able to bust out 3 with a little help on the 3rd rep. I ended up deciding to take the rest of the week off last week because my left shoulder was bothering me from squats. Yesterday, I aimed for 3x3 again, and I knew I had taken a week off so I would try to ease back into it, so I tried to 405.

The first set I did two and racked it because I didn’t think a 3rd rep was coming up. The 2nd set I did 405 again and hit all 3, even though the 3rd one was really hard. I decided to cool it after that. Now I am here and my left shoulder is still bothering me.

I really don’t know what to do. I don’t know if yesterday’s results was due to maybe thinking about my shoulder injury or just not being able to do it. I usually do a max effort day on monday followed up by a light/dynamic day on thursday, which would be like 5x5 for 315 (70% of my max). Does anyone have any ideas on how to get my squat back to where it was and even further? I was thinking maybe box squats or pause squats on the light days?

If you read a lot about what guys like Louie Simmons say, a progressive overload system like that (going from 405 to 415 to 425 to 435 etc. each week), is really quite awful. I think it’s time for you to start looking into westside, and even if you don’t train westside style, you will learn some valuable things from doing your research.

Essentially the main take home point here is that all of the research they do shows that after pushing on a lift for 3 weeks they fail to make any further improvement, and may even regress. So switch it up. To bring up your squat, do anything but conventional squats.

I am definitely going to look in westside, and i think i’ll start doing some box squats on my light days for a bit to get a different dynamic. where can i find the westside routine?

That thread was incredibly valuable to me in setting up my own training. I would also suggest the book of methods written by louie simmons. Google searches will give you some templates, but they’re all very basic.

Westside is awesome. It’s also pretty simple once you learn how complicated it is.

I’m confused on two things and I can’t seem to find the answer. How many sets/reps do you do on max effort squat day? And how do you progress each week?

[quote]bosoxschillfan38 wrote:
I’m confused on two things and I can’t seem to find the answer. How many sets/reps do you do on max effort squat day? And how do you progress each week?[/quote]

You warm up and keep adding weight onto the bar, and just keep going until you hit the most weight that you can do.
Example: Let’s say your max is 465 on squat. You would do something like this.
135 x 10
225 x 5
275 x 5
315 x 5
365 x 3
405 x 1
445 x 1
470 x 1 (5lb pr)

This is just an example, you can warm up however you want. If you felt like you had the pr, go for it, if not just match your old max. The important part is just to strain. Now you don’t do that lift for awhile (6 weeks or more), and do other lifts. Keep track of the records of those lifts too. You can do good mornings, deadlifts, squats with various accommodating resistance, box squats, deficit deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, squats from pins, squats with different bars, the possibilities are endless. You keep track of all of these records, and the next time you come back to that lift you try to break that old record. It ends up where you are pretty much setting a new pr every week in a different lift. Progression comes from breaking prs on any of the lifts. I suggest you read that entire thread I linked to you.

So I don’t do conventional squats every week? I sort of had in mind to do squats every Monday and something like box ts or pause squats on on my dynamic day.

First off, this is just my opinion so there will be no need for bitching. Second, there are many ways to train and westside is not the only way. It can certainly work very well, though IMO, the true westside, that is to say what is done at the actual westside gym, is IMO quite far off what the conjugate method should look like for a raw lifter. If you want to figure that out, stormthebeach on this site seems to have some very great success as a result of intelligent trainign that I really enjoy reading.

That being said, I train completely different and it works very well for me, and many others. Instead of avoiding the core lifts like the plague, all i do is the core lifts. Seriously, 95% of what I do is the core lifts. IMO this is the best way to train for a raw lifter because the lower weights when training raw vs being in gear make it so that your body doesnt get as destroyed by doing them over and over. You get lots of practise on the core lifts and frankly, your body is good at what you practise. obviously doing a 100% max everyday is going to cause regression, or even 100% once a week (In otherwords, doing a hard 3x3 like you were doing once a week is very far off of what I am suggesting. If your max is 465, your sessions would be something like 370 5x3 or 325 5x4). But, training well away from failure for high volume, high frequency will mean you get to practise doing the core lifts over, and over, and over!

Just wanted to get this in there so that you don’t feel like westside is the only way. What I have just suggested is based off of sheiko (but like I have said before, no one trains sheiko anymore because he was a coach NOT A PROGRAMMER and as he doesn’t coach anymore, no one can train ‘sheiko’ anymore…). You can also check out 5/3/1… a highly successful program based off of linear progression! Anyways, tons of other great programs that can be considered. best of luck.

[quote]bosoxschillfan38 wrote:
So I don’t do conventional squats every week? I sort of had in mind to do squats every Monday and something like box ts or pause squats on on my dynamic day.[/quote]

The reason you had that in mind is because that’s the way you’ve always trained, and so anything else seems awkward. I would suggest reading The West Side Book of Methods several times. The reason I say several times is that it’s very difficult to follow and there’s no way you’ll absorb it all the first few times over. As someone else pointed out, you’ll at least learn the “why” behind the Conjugate method which might be enough to get you out of your current rut.

the only thing that makes me a little hesistant with the west side training is that its ok to replace squats on max effort day with something like good mornings or buffalo squats. what has always worked for me and many power lifting friends of mine, all natural btw, is to simply squat, squat, and squat some more. i respect everything about the west side training, and i personally believe the dynamic day is a great day to incorporate.

[quote]arramzy wrote:
First off, this is just my opinion so there will be no need for bitching. Second, there are many ways to train and westside is not the only way. It can certainly work very well, though IMO, the true westside, that is to say what is done at the actual westside gym, is IMO quite far off what the conjugate method should look like for a raw lifter. If you want to figure that out, stormthebeach on this site seems to have some very great success as a result of intelligent trainign that I really enjoy reading.

That being said, I train completely different and it works very well for me, and many others. Instead of avoiding the core lifts like the plague, all i do is the core lifts. Seriously, 95% of what I do is the core lifts. IMO this is the best way to train for a raw lifter because the lower weights when training raw vs being in gear make it so that your body doesnt get as destroyed by doing them over and over. You get lots of practise on the core lifts and frankly, your body is good at what you practise. obviously doing a 100% max everyday is going to cause regression, or even 100% once a week (In otherwords, doing a hard 3x3 like you were doing once a week is very far off of what I am suggesting. If your max is 465, your sessions would be something like 370 5x3 or 325 5x4). But, training well away from failure for high volume, high frequency will mean you get to practise doing the core lifts over, and over, and over!

Just wanted to get this in there so that you don’t feel like westside is the only way. What I have just suggested is based off of sheiko (but like I have said before, no one trains sheiko anymore because he was a coach NOT A PROGRAMMER and as he doesn’t coach anymore, no one can train ‘sheiko’ anymore…). You can also check out 5/3/1… a highly successful program based off of linear progression! Anyways, tons of other great programs that can be considered. best of luck.[/quote]

This is an excellent response, which actually addresses the OP’s entire concern. If you’re going to do “Westside,” you’re going to need to adjust things for raw lifting, much like STB does. Read his log (both his old and new) if you’re going to do this method (EDIT: I hope stating this doesn’t start a huge flame war, I mean to say that you’re going to have to adjust things until you find out what works specifically for you).

Second, if you’re completely apprehensive about not competition squatting all the time, Ramzy’s post also addresses this. “Train Sheiko.” Lots of squatting, but it fixes your problem of maxing out all the bloody time, by not going 1RM all the bloody time…

In my opinion, OP should seriously read the above post many times. Finally, go outside of your comfort zone. What’s your training age? You make it sound like you’ve been always doing the same thing… Do something different and see what works for you.

I can understand being hesitant about westside because it is so different. The fact is though, that they pump out some of the best lifters in the world, and it isn’t a coincidence. The beauty of the program is how open ended it is. If you feel like you need to do more squats, stick to things that are closer to a traditional squat. It certainly isn’t something you HAVE to do, but my suggestion is to at least read the book of methods, you will gain something from it, even if you aren’t following the program.

scar- i have actually been reading a lot about west side. those guys obviously know what they are doing. a lot of their stuff sounds amazing. im just the kind of the guy to squat, squat and squat some more.

dave- i was actually even looking into the smolov routine because of the high amounts of squatting. you mean something like that?

[quote]bosoxschillfan38 wrote:
dave- i was actually even looking into the smolov routine because of the high amounts of squatting. you mean something like that?
[/quote]

We’ll first clear this up so that I don’t sound like what Ramzy is pointing out/complaining about. When I say train Sheiko, I mean to say high frequency, high volume and training mainly the core lifts. There are of course, many variants of high frequency and high volume, with one of them being Smolov. I have no experience with Smolov, but from what I gather, it is not meant to be run in many successive cycles. This is in opposition to Sheiko, in which many people are capable of training it continuously (I believe Ramzy being one of them, myself also starting).

Smolov will do wonders for your squat, and probably your deadlift. I don’t believe there is any benching included (someone correct me if I’m wrong), and therefore it is common to simultaneously run Smolov Jr for bench while running Smolov). However, like I said, you aren’t supposed to do this repeatedly without a few months break between.

“Sheiko” and “Westside” you can run continuously. The notion of deload weeks is a whole other story.

I just realized I have barely answered your question. I did not mean Smolov specifically, in fact I meant Sheiko specifically if anything. Sheiko also has an “extreme” amount of competition squatting (Generally 2 days a week, with very very high volume on these 2 days).

what i usually do is a heavy day on one day and a dynamic/light/rep day on another day. is the shieko style similar?

Fucking hell, I just typed you a good response, sorry mate. Summation: No, Sheiko is not similar to a ME/DE(RE) split. There are lots of threads on this forum and other forums outlining and discussing Sheiko. Several recent threads on this forum, in fact.

I do train ‘sheiko style’. Constantly. Over and over. Year round. Really, like I said, no such thing as training sheiko. But anyways, the principles can be carried over. Sheiko is essentially a set of workouts from prelipins tables (google it) organized in a simple way. Starting with a basic layout:
3 days per week
M: sq/bp/sq
W: dl/bp/dl
F: Bp/sw/bp

Will vary from week to week… IE won’t do 9 lifts each week, more like 8 on average. Wednesday bench is usually a pyramid. The deadlifts are 1/4 - 3/4 variations from the core lift itself depending on the lifter. In a 4 week wave there is a mounting of volume or intensity or both from weeks 1 to 3, then week 4 is a SLIGHT deload if thats what you want to call it. Then you restart a new wave immediately on monday.

My layout is way different that this example and works amazing for me. Thats because I wrote it for me, and I don’t do what was planned for a 1 month wave for some random athlete at some random point in time that people now call ‘sheiko 29’ or 37 or whatever. Again, understand the basic principles, then adapt to self needs.

hey man Im a big advocate of the pause squats and I find that they offer greater carry over then the box squat. Also try to increase your assistant exercises (Goodmornings!) and get your core stronger.

You could try adding volume to you’re squat routine.