T Nation

What Happened to My Squat?

About 6 months ago, I joined a powerlifting/strongman gym and started on a westside hybrid program geared toward athletes. I started doing box squats, good mornings, and using bands and all that for the first time, and saw a lot of improvement in those lifts. Meanwhile, I hadn’t done an actually squat since I had joined the gym, at which time I was able to do about 350 - down from a pr of 405.
Because of the snowstorm, I wasn’t able to drive out to my usual gym, and instead had to walk to my school gym, which is obviously without boxes and the like. No problem, I thought, now I can see what my actual squat is. I had high hopes because I had been able to work up to 255x3 on good mornings and 300x3 on box squats, plus a 435 deadlift.
However, I soon found out that I could only do 265x2 on squats, which is pathetic. I mean, I can more or less bench and good morning what I squat, which seems totally out of wack. The only difference between how I squat and how I box squat is the width of my feet, since for some reason (i think the tightness in my hip flexors) I cannot hit parallel with a wide stance without the box.
With all the improvements I’ve made doing r/h’s and ghr’s, as well as the improvements in my box squats and good mornings, I thought that my squat would’ve at least gone up a little, instead of nose diving back to my high school levels. Can anyone help explain this to me, and tell me how to get my squat back up? I notice that on the westside routine, whenever I rotate back to an exercise I haven’t done in a few months - like bench press - I’m weaker than when I last tried it, which seems consistent with what CT says about neurological efficiency. Does anyone else find that to be a downside of the program as well?

Thanks for all your time and responses.

I am 32 years old and have only been weight training for the past year, so take what I say with a grain of salt. As a relatively new lifter, I find I can train (even up to a 1 RM) the same exercises (squat, deadlift, bench, etc) for weeks at a time and still make progress without getting burned out. Tried a Westside type approach once and experienced the same thing you have.

My opinion is that a lot of the Westside athletes are very strong and efficient lifters even before starting the Westside template. Looking through their website many of them were Elite level lifters before joining Westside. I don’t know, but am guessing that an athlete at that level needs a different training stimulus almost every time they train in order to see some benefit.

At my young training age, I need to practice the basic lifts often in order to get better at them. If I don’t squat heavy (at least heavy for me) often, then I don?t get any better at squatting heavy regardless of the other beneficial exercises that I am doing.

[quote]bailey_run wrote:
I am 32 years old and have only been weight training for the past year, so take what I say with a grain of salt. As a relatively new lifter, I find I can train (even up to a 1 RM) the same exercises (squat, deadlift, bench, etc) for weeks at a time and still make progress without getting burned out. Tried a Westside type approach once and experienced the same thing you have.

My opinion is that a lot of the Westside athletes are very strong and efficient lifters even before starting the Westside template. Looking through their website many of them were Elite level lifters before joining Westside. I don’t know, but am guessing that an athlete at that level needs a different training stimulus almost every time they train in order to see some benefit.

At my young training age, I need to practice the basic lifts often in order to get better at them. If I don’t squat heavy (at least heavy for me) often, then I don?t get any better at squatting heavy regardless of the other beneficial exercises that I am doing. [/quote]

Actually none of the Westside lifters were elite before they got there. There could be alot of things going on regarding the problem of the original poster. I would start with your GPP. Westside type workouts are quite a bit more work than most and your GPP levels need to be up to par. When I first started Westside workouts I just jumped right in and my GPP was nowhere close to what I thought it was. I brought that up and I do fine now. So, that being said you may think you are in decent shape but Westside will give you a wake up call. Don’t worry you are not alone either. Other people try Westside and their lifts regress because they are not prepared for what is about to happen to them in the weightroom. I will end with a quote from Jim Wendler. “Don’t lift to get in shape, get in shape to lift.” That quote changed my whole outlook on training.

I know it’s definitely not my GPP, I’ve been boxing for 5 years, so my conditioning was always well ahead of my strength levels, plus that wouldn’t explain why all of my other lifts are going up except my squat.

It could be that you are putting too much emphasis on the ME lifts and not enough on the assistance lifts. The ME lifts are there for specific reasons but the assistance lifts are the ones wehere you bring up your weak points. Like I said it could be a ton of different things. Its hard to analyze over the net. But these are some ideas. Not to bust your balls or anything but being in shape from boxing and being in shape for a Westside type lifting program are not the same thing. Are you using Westside for boxing or are you doing powerlifting now, or what? I can’t remember what you said from your original post. That would make a big difference. If you are training for boxing then go to elitefts.com and do a search for boxing. Tom Myslinski has written several posts on how he would use the conjugate system for boxing.

Joeaverage, Jim Parrish who squats 900 believed that the box can mess you up, as do I. My best is only 445 so consider that. Have you done any of the Westside hard abdominal work? I also think the box is better for a lifter with a suit because you don’t have to catch yourself at the bottom, so I think you lose your bounce. Try this if you are willing. Take 225. Do sets of 5 with no box if you can, If not, stick to doubles and triples. Continue doing sets like this with short rest periods until you get a total of 50 reps. Come back THE NEXT DAY and try a max. This is only needed for 1 workout prior to maxing and to get your bounce and core back. If you try it, let me know.

Part of this I believe is your stance. you can gain a good bit with a wider stance so I would work on that, expecially if you have tight hip flexors. My hip flexors were tight for awhile when I started squating wider and the tightness felt better doing more stretching but I ended up getting a slight tear one day doing an extremely light warm up set. Not only was this embarassing but I couldnt squat for a long time, my job kept me on my feet and it took a real long time to heal. During that time I stretched alot and when I got back to squating with an even wider stance (still not wide compared to most powerlifters) my squat strength went up faster then ever.

I don’t see how you can box squat more than free squat, that’s crazy.

If you are unable to hit parallel with a wide stance I would work on your flexibility.

You may also have bad form on your free squat.

It would seem to me that before you told him what he was doing wrong that we would either have him post a sample of his two lower body workouts and/or a video of his squats. Until then this is all pointless.

Matt would have the best response thus far. If your box squat is less than your free squat it would APPEAR that you have form is. Could either be set up, technique, or both.

But post some vids or at least your workout so we can get an idea.