T Nation

What’s the Best Powerlifting Program for Me?


You could look into getting a transformer bar from Kabuki Strength, if it’s in your budget and your gym will let you bring it in. The sleeves are removable so it’s under 5’ long, it could easily fit in a car, you can also set it in a whole bunch of different positions which gives you tons of variations for the conjugate method.


I’m not sure what my weaknesses are in my lower body. I’m new enough that those are things I’m only starting to think about now. My deadlifts (conventional) are slow off the floor, and I tend to lean a little foreword on squats. I’ve only failed one deadlift attempt and it was an inch or 2 off the floor. I’ve never pushed so hard on squats that I’ve failed a lift, so I’m less sure of my weakness there. I’d like to mention though, that I’ve been focusing a lot more on bracing and my squats have been looking better, and my deadlifts are faster off the floor. If front squats aren’t ideal for me, what movement should I try after my main squats? I’m open to pretty much anything.


Im not sure if this says anything about what needs to be strengthened, but I have anterior pelvic tilt. I could guess that this is a result of running in middle school (I’m in high school now) and not doing any hamstring exercises. Ive heard that anterior pelvic tilt usually means a tight, strong, lower back, and I think that I have pretty beefy erectors for a 15 year old, but as you saw in the deadlift video above, my back rounded unintentionally (I wasn’t as good at bracing back then)


People who are fast off the floor are usually pulling with a rounded back, the lockout becomes harder. You have to lean forward to some degree when you squat, the problem is if your hips rise faster than the bar. This is either a technical error, a result of weak quads shifting the weight to your back and hamstrings, or a combination of both…

It means that your lower back and hip flexors are too tight. There is information online on fixing anterior pelvic tilt, I suggest you look into it.


I’ve been stretching my hip flexors recently for the anterior pelvic tilt. It’s entirely possible that leaning foreword on my squat is a result of poor technique. I’ve been having trouble staying consistent with my form on squats. Are there any squat accessory or variations you think I should do instead of front squats, or should I just stick to the front squats for now?


If you can’t do hack squat or leg press then you can try Bulgarian split squats. You can do them with dumbbells, if balance is an issue for you then just use one dumbbell and use the other hand to balance yourself against something (a power rack perhaps). Maybe @jbackos will have a better suggestion, I’m just thinking that you should do some extra quad work with something where technique is not much of an issue.


Did I miss the video of your squat?


A tight muscle is usually a weak muscle. Weak hip flexors are a common problem lately since very few people do situps anymore. The situp has gotten a bad rap due to people butchering form. To target both the abs and the hip flexors, crunch up first then pull the upper body off the floor while maintaining the degree of flexion attained during the crunch. To target the hip flexors only, lift off the floor while maintaining a neutral spine. These can be done spreadeagled or with the legs together. You can also use a roman chair or an incline board.

Allowing for anatomical variation, APT is usually the result of weak hip flexors and or weak abdominals.


Not to start a war or anything, I agree that there could be some benefit to doing direct hip flexor work but even with “proper” form, situps can potentially cause problems. There is an article about McGill called “The man who wants to kill crunches”, here are a few quotes:

"“What happens when you perform a sit-up?” he asks. “The spine is flexed into the position at which it damages sooner.”

" According to his research, a crunch or traditional sit-up generates at least 3,350 newtons (the equivalent of 340 kg) of compressive force on the spine. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that anything above 3,300 newtons is unsafe."

" A study of U.S. soldiers published earlier this year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise compared sit-ups with back-friendly core stabilization exercises, including bird dogs, and found there was no difference in overall fitness between the two groups. In fact, those who did core exercises showed significant improvement in the army’s sit-up test."

So basically the only theoretical benefit of situps and crunches is that they work the hip flexors at the same time as the abs. If that is what you want then hanging leg raises (while maintaining a neutral spine) can do the same thing without causing any back issues. I have one of McGill’s books, he says that certain athletes like MMA fighters will need to do situps and similar stuff because when they are fighting on the ground they may find themselves in a situation where they need to actively flex their spines, but for powerlifting there is no similar situation. Some people can get away with doing tons of situps and never have a back problem, just like some people can pull huge weights with a rounded back. You won’t know that it doesn’t work for you until you injure yourself.


So a DR who prescribes a non-situp ab training regimen conducts a study and discovers that situps are bad. Hmmmmmm.

Just saying.


I think you got it backwards, studies and data showed that repeated spinal flexion causes herniated discs and situps involve spinal flexion, therefore situps are potentially dangerous. McGill recommends (in particular for people with back issues) to avoid unnecessary spinal flexion, situps are just one example.

On the topic of abs, there is a video on Kabuki movements systems with Stan Efferding where he says that he isn’t into any direct ab work at all. Squats and deadlifts are going to work your abs, on top of that you can focus on bracing when you do other exercises like dips and chin ups. This is a guy who has squatted 900 raw, and he isn’t selling anything related to abs or lower back either.


BTW I very rarely do any direct ab work. Nowadays I’ll do maybe 4 sets of ab rollers a week. In the past I used to do lots of situps including heavy weighted Roman Chairs which would probably give McGill a heart attack. No to say McGill is off base but he is being a bit conservative. The flexion during a crunch or a situp is unloaded. And since there are many factors throughout ones training life that contribute to a back injury, its probably impossible to isolate any one cause unless its acute trauma - and even then it could just be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Lastly if one never trains flexion, what would happen during a max effort DL when form breaks? This is why the Chinese weightlifting team has guys doing roundouts with heavy weight after building up to them over along period of time. They want to minimize the injury potential of a break in form.

I think guys like McGill are partially right but this serves to dissuade young, healthy individuals from performing certain valuable and productive movements for fear of injury. The bottom line is that there are probably no “bad” exercises only ones which are contraindicated for certain populations. For example my particular acromion type and slight kyphosis precludes me from performing either behind the neck presses or behind the neck pulldowns and pull aparts tend to aggravate my shoulders rather than heal them.

I’m a believer of the line of reasoning that says 'if a position is painful it’s probably contraindicated for a certain individual". The individual is tasked with determining the cause of the pain. If its structural there is nothing that can be done but to find other movements.


I agree. He is erring on the side of caution if anything.

Well, according to McGill it is almost impossible to herniate a disc from one single flexion incident. It is cause by cumulative trauma that breaks down the discs, when it actually occurs is one thing but if the disc wasn’t ready to herniate then it wouldn’t have happened. Herniating a disc while doing situps is very unlikely but if you do them regularly then there is a higher chance that it could happen on a deadlift.

That is true. However, situps are not absolutely necessary and you can train your abs other ways so is it really worth doing them?


Like I said I no longer do them, but I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from doing them if they feel they’re deriving benefit. That would be dogmatic and dogmatic views prevent experimentation and learning.


What can I say, maybe I’m getting a bit dogmatic. I don’t really care what other people do if it doesn’t directly affect me, I just think that people should have the other side of the story before they go and do something that could potentially cause problems. I did a lot of ab work at one time and it didn’t do anything for me, the biggest thing is learning to brace properly.


I think a good way to sum this up is that there are many ways to skin the cat. Whenever one hears training advice he/she should always question it and try to determine if there is an agenda involved.


sit ups are useless. all they make you better at is performing sit ups. Performance-wise, for heavy lifting, they’re 100% unnecessary. I know very few high level lifters who perform any direct ab work.


Blanket statements tend to be revealing.

As for high level lifters not doing any direct ab work, you should call Louie and explain that concept to him. Then call Wendler and ask him why he has direct ab work in his programs. Next call Dave Tate and ask him why he highly recommends hanging leg raises.

Finally research the old timers who did direct ab work. For example, John Kuc said he performed 150 situps, 150 leg raises, and 150 V seats before and after EVERY session. Don’t forget Herschel Walker with his thousands of situps.

I’m not advocating that everyone start doing situps. I stopped doing them years ago. I’m merely saying that there is no such thing as a worthless exercise, merely that every exercise has to have a specific purpose and that will vary according to the individual’s needs.


Hey numb nuts. Read better.

I said sit ups are useless for any purpose other than performing sit ups. So if you compete in crossfit, there is value. outside of that, there probably isn’t much, if any.

I DID NOT say direct ab work was useless, I just said few high level lifters do it. And that’s accurate. I certainly did not say you couldn’t come up with a list of coaches who advise it. So I’m not sure what you think you proved here, given that none of those coaches you just listed advise that you perform sit ups anyway.

There is no reason to make a statement like ‘there is no such thing as a worthless exercise’. That’s like the thing we used to hear from our teachers because they didn’t want us to feel bad for asking stupid questions, the old ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’. There are definitely stupid questions when you’re an adult, and there are stupid exercises when you’re an athlete.


Numb nuts. You came up with that on your own? Bright.