Q&A – 30

PR Friday

Post your mudda crunkin’ training PR’s, PB’s, and DD’s to the comments. Add in ‘yo training updates too, son.

Weekly Challenge

Last week’s challenge was to “add in a day or two of conditioning after your training session(s)”. Anybody do this? How’d you feel? Not something that’ll interfere with training, eh? Think it’ll help with regular daily activities or fun?

Next Week’s Challenge: Eat vegetables in at least one meal every day.
Not very 70’s Big? Where’s the burgers and ice cream? I’m not afraid to say that I want to set an example for everyone. Honestly? Honestly? HONESTLY? I want you banging your wife at 80 years old after you do a powerlifting meet. That’s what I want. If you eat like someone who doesn’t do the “purge” part, then we aren’t accomplishing anything. This is an EXTREMELY simplified way to say this, but: a cleaner, higher quality diet is going to reduce your overall systemic inflammation and allow you to recover better. That means better progress. That means your wee wee in the hole hole when you’re a FOG. Cha-CHING! Do eet.

Weekly Recap

On Monday I wore cool sunglasses and gave weak-backed ladies and guys something to do at the end of training. On Tuesday I released the BIG KAHUNA, the biggest even of everyone’s lives, the ravishing, the outstanding, The Texas Method: Advanced book that will remove three inches from your shorts and turn your skin eight shades darker upon purchase. No lie. Wednesday I got to drive all day, but Chris is a champion and Nolan is competing at IPF Raw Worlds. Thursday I pointed out that a 300 pound squat for a guy is unimpressive. Every man can squat 405; it might take more effort for some than others, but it’s doable. I promise.

Oh happy day!

I’m travelling to Washington DC to get kicked in the balls at the GoRuck Challenge starting at 9PM. It was probably an excellent idea to travel and then do it. I told the fine folks at GoRuck that I was going to do a post on training for the GoRuck. I’m still gonna do this, but I figured a post of the aftermath would be more sufficient given that I’ll know what I did or did not do correctly. I’m sure the event will teach me a lot, but at the very least clarify the stressors that are similar to the first day in most military SOF selection courses. How do you prepare for a kick in the balls? You can’t; you just smile when it happens.

I thought it was really funny to see former infantry guys say, “Why the fuck would I want to do that? I had to do that for 4/6/8 years in the Army/Marines.” I get it, and they’re right. But something like this is a test of mettle for someone who hasn’t done it. It’s also apparently good at team building. At the very least, it’ll allow someone to learn or remind themselves what their limits are (instead of doing a 25 minute workout and feeling empowered). Should be fun. Interesting? I’ll let ya guys know.


ashreim asks:

One question about squats – I am pretty sure the answer to this question is no, but I would like to ask it anyway.

Would it be worthwhile/okay to do a session of Front Squat and a session of Back Squat (low bar) for your 2 squat days a week or should we just do the back squat and if you want to train quads do HBBS? For example I would be doing… 275X5X3 for BS and 205X5X3 for FS or something this week.

The reason the shift to FS/BS would be to increase my power clean (which is probably only at 225 from technique mostly). I’ve read that it is tough to clean what you can’t front squat and my FS is only at 255 1RM.

Dear ashreim,

Your proposal wouldn’t be a terrible set up, but I’m not sure how well it would work. It would depend on your ability to seamlessly switch between the different styles of squatting. For example, I can high bar and low bar efficiently, but for many people the distinction is awkward and difficult. Your anthropometry may or may not suit this set up, but it your musculature balance (or lack thereof) would have a greater effect on this. Does a person have long femurs, a short back, and no hamstrings? Then using vertical styles of squatting won’t be as productive. Does the same type of lifter not have developed quads? Then vertical styles of squatting may be good to focus on his anterior thigh to build up his low bar.

Then again, if you’re still capable of making progress on each squat session, you may be blunting it by front squatting instead of back squatting. You guys may notice that these questions ALWAYS depend on the individual and their specific circumstances, AKA their current state of adaptation.

As for your power clean, that wouldn’t be relevant to front squatting since a power clean isn’t squatted. If you meant your clean, then low bar squatting will NOT be helpful for your clean recovery (which is a front squat). Delineate your goals and act accordingly. If your goals were more Oly focused, then stop low barring.

At the end of the day, just make sure you squat.

ChadTheMeatBeast asks:

Justin, can you explain more about how to intelligently transition from linear progression in the press to what you mentioned in your “Pressing a Dead Horse” article?

For example, “The first thing to play around with in programming is to use some heavier weight, but not to abandon old rep schemes. One example is that I have developed an ascending 3×3 and 3×5 rep scheme that alternates every week on the press and bench with great success.”

If someone was pressing 150 x 5 x 3 when they exhausted linear gains, what would you recommend they do next?

Dear ChadTheMeatBeast,

This is a good question, but it’s so god damn individualized it’s hard to help. There are a lot of factors that go into pressing strength. Upper back strength is a hyooge factor. Triceps. Technique. If you’re internally rotating, then you haven’t been distributing the force through your anterior shoulder and triceps very well. It also depends on the context of the program. For example, if your goal was to compete in powerlifting, then you would bench twice a week and probably only press once. As you see, it’s not easy to give a “one thing fits all” method for this question. I’m a strength and conditioning programmer, not a “do this regardless of your situation and follow it exactly or I’ll ridicule you” coach.

Without knowing ANYTHING else, I’d just have you do ascending doubles in your next workout. What can you double up to? Anything cool happen? Or did you not leap much higher than the 150? How good or bad your mechanics have been will probably dictate this. The following week I’d have you do an ascending 3×5. The following week I’d probably base an ascending 3×3 off of the “double up” workout. See, the “double up” workout just gave me a gauge of what you can do and it hopefully made you not want to kill yourself because of a weak press. It gives you a higher intensity to experience, and that typically acts as a stressor that’ll push the volume stuff. This is an example of how I’d shift you into doing an ascending 3×5 one week, an ascending 3×3 the next week. This method is mentioned in The Texas Method: Advanced, but it can be dropped in other programs as well (people who have bought the book will notice that most of the concepts I talk about can be pulled and dropped in other programs or templates — this is how I operate).

Kyle S. asks,

I have a coaching question for the Q&A OR just in general. I’m coaching a new trainee in a modified version of the SSLP (rows & RDLs instead of power cleans) and I’m having trouble getting his form down in the squat. He lacks the shoulder mobility to low bar, so I’m having him high bar for now. The trainee is a male, 33, about 5’8″ and 300 lbs and definitely overweight (bf ~44%) He does not have lifting shoes yet, just Chucks (I’ll keep working on that – I would buy them for him myself if could afford it). He’s having issues with getting to depth and I can’t figure out where to put his feet and how wide to point them. I’d like to keep his feet narrower and forward, but he lacks mobility for this and can’t get to depth because of his gut and also his heels coming off the ground. I had him widen his stance and point his toes out, but then I witnessed a navicular drop, even though I was cuing knees out. And again, I still couldn’t get him to parallel. I know a lot of the form issues are related to his mobility and shape (and lack of proper shoes), but while we work on those what are some things I can focus on? I will try to get some video of him squatting over the weekend if I can. All help is greatly appreciated.

I should note that we started squatting with the empty bar just to keep his progression on the safe side. He’s less worried about rapid gains than just getting stronger and healthier.

Additionally. he said he was having pain in his shoulders, upper back and chest during the squat, even with a comfortably wide grip on the bar with elbows back and wrists in a good position. My guess was that this is partly mobility related but also due to a lack of musculature in the upper back and shoulders to support the bar. Sorry, that’s not a question – uh, am I correct in this?

Dear Kyle,

First, I want to point out that I accepted this in the Q&A cause Kyle regularly posts on the site, participates in the goofy challenges, and I know he is. I go out of my way to help out a “cool guy I met on the internet”.

You mentioned you would like to have his squat stance more narrow with toes forward; remember that this will only be the case when the person has sufficient mobility. Read these articles again (first and second). I’m sure you’ll remember that the stance and toe angle will be dependent on the mobility, so you’re fine with what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the navicular drop. We more so want to worry about his high body fat percentage instead of his foot placement. We also want to worry about his body fat more than his squat depth. Sure, we want him to squat to depth, but 40+ body fat percentage is a big issue (zing!).

I’ll point out that I’ve never had anyone not be able to achieve squat depth on day one. There are some coaching things you could do to get that to happen, but they are to involved to type about. If he only has the bar on his back, he may need a bit of weight to actually push him down into the bottom of the squat. It’ll be like an active stretch. He needs to get his knees out like a mofo, though, especially cause his gullet is going to impinge his hip (the femur will come into contact if he’s not externally rotated). He undoubtedly has shitty hip external rotation, so work on some basic mobility stuff daily (it’ll help his back, which undoubtedly has issues).

If his shoulders are getting wrecked, then just have him high bar. He’s probably so tight that it’ll look the same anyway, and you could probably coach it as the low bar. He’ll probably fatigue pretty quickly, so just make note of this on later sets (if relevant). While the lifting shoes would help, they aren’t dire right now. Remember, we have a guy who hasn’t done anything. Let’s get him doing stuff before we worry about these finer details.

Have him squat regularly. Have him do a general warm-up preferably on a rower, but walking on a treadmill or on a stationary cycle will work. Have him do basic mobility stuff. Have him hit the presses and assistance exercises. Throw in some conditioning. Remember, conditioning is relevant to the individual. In FIT I give very specific progressions for someone exactly like him. It takes them from “off the couch”, has them use very simple walking progressions, and introduces them to other methods. I’d probably throw one of these sessions after the lifting portion. The whole workout could probably be done in an hour given that he’s not going to be squatting a lot of weight.

Be very encouraging. I’m proud that you, Kyle, are helping him. I’m proud that he has made the choice to train with you. Teach him that he isn’t merely working out. He has specific goals: to get stronger and lose body fat. He is now training to do that, and it is an admirable thing. If he ever falters, whether in his confidence or he doesn’t show up, then let me know. I’m willing to personally call him and chat with him about everything for a few minutes. I’m good at what I do, and I know it can help him. I’m just letting you know that I’m willing to help that much. Message me if you think it’ll help as a preventative measure (before the quit builds up).

To everyone else, we had a good laugh the other day about not babying people that aren’t willing to make the decision to change. Yet, when they do, and they show they are willing and ready to change, then it’s our duty (as members of this community) to encourage people along their way. We should do it with the skinny guy who is squatting 210 in the comments or the fat guy who is 44% body fat. We’re all on the quest, we’re just at different paths. A reader once offered to let me stay at his house, and said, “70’s Big takes care of their own.” I believe that, and you should to.

81 thoughts on “Q&A – 30

  1. PR’d my Heavy Triples today.

    Squat 265×3
    Bench 185×3

    I left “one in the tank” too.

    Jeeze, looking at everyone else’s numbers, I have an embarrassingly small amount of strength! Boo. I just have to remember that I spent 10 years alpine climbing at a high level, and only a bout a year strength training…

    On a Texas Method now, PRing every week, so it’s all good!


  2. This week: 185# is a high-bar squat PR. Earning Ph.D. is an education PR.

    Question for the ladies (and the interested mens): How many of you pull sumo? If so, why? I’ve been resisting for a long time, but I tried switching to sumo this week for anthropometric considerations. It pains me to admit that it was way, way better.

    This week’s challenge: I’ve been doing barbell complexes once a week for about six weeks now. I’ve already noticed that my endurance has improved significantly. Good stuff.

    Next week’s challenge: if sweet potatoes count, this will be too easy. They’re too tasty to be vegetables.

    Congrats on the phD! There are quite a few girls on here who lift with that education distinction. Well done.


  3. Weakness PR: Not being about to stick a 155 Snatch. Period.

    I don’t know what was with this week, but both of my Oly days have been bad… Today was worse, though. I’m trying Greg Everett’s beginner program, which I’m liking, due to regular maxing of the classic lifts, and overhead squats, and I’m only on my second week. But, man, my Clean and Jerk is down from a high of 260 to 225, and, after working up to a snatch max of 195 tonight, I was unable to make 155 after 4 tries… I was just unable to stabilize overhead. Though I’m thinking the snatch grip behind the neck push presses from the last workout might have messed something up. But, I did figure out why my right bicep has been knotting up during lifting: pulling during my cleans… Lol.

    Thing is, I went from a three day per week program, with higher volume, to a four day per week with slightly lower volume per workout… I don’t feel like my recovery has been poor, so I may be in an adaptation phase, but I’m wondering if I don’t need lower volume, or just move up to an intermediate program i.e. deload weeks…

    All I know is that I am going to focus on sleep, nutrition, shoulder/overhead mobility, and general recovery this weekend.

    And I want my garage gym already!

  4. @karibot I’m giving sumo a try for a while. If it works better than conventional I’ll stick with it. My conventional pull has been stuck for quite a while, hopefully I’ll have better results with sumo.

  5. Justin,

    Have you ever discussed on here the speed or tempo of a squat? Specifically the descent. I feel I’m using too much energy because of my speed which is causing me to stall.
    How do you safely get to parallel as fast as possible?

  6. Snatched 150 lbs and cleaned 235, both 5 lb pr’s.
    Had one of the best sets I’ve ever had on any lift, and strict pressed165 for 5, a 13 lb pr.
    Did 6×40 yard prowler sprints on Monday and 4 rounds for time of 12 pull ups & 15 kettle bell snatches on Thursday.

  7. pr- 115k clean, felt great, although i missed the jerk. not a quality session yesterday, missed pr attempts @ snatch (85k) and the jerk…
    not being a pussy/getting what i deserve pr- going for pr snatch @ 85, totally confident, pull like i was ripping a lions head off, commit and get under the bar (no clarking it this time) only to miss it and have the bar come down right on my head, stung like hell right after but not even bruised next day, so i guess i’m lucky… now as to why i deserved that…was reading a blog post last week about the author being at a meet and watching a guy knock himself out cold missing a snatch(to which i thought “dumbass cant even dump it safely’) only to come out and fucking nail his next lift…its good to be reminded every once in a while not to be much of a internet critic

  8. Hello everyone. Long time lurker, first time posting.

    I am currently on a TM program preparing for my second meet in October. My current PRs are:

    BS 445 lbs
    DL 475 lbs
    Bench 275 lbs
    BW 181 lbs

  9. I did a couple sets of squats with a 3 second pause at the bottom with 225 and 245. I’m hoping this work will help with my normal volume/intensity squat days.

  10. Hadn’t done a true deadlift in 11 weeks until today as my focus has been mainly Olympic lifting. Decided to do some heavy clean DLs today since my shoulder/elbow is sore from baseball, and hit 405, 425, 455, 475, and 485 for singles. 455 was my previous PR.

    30 pound PR after not doing a true deadlift in almost 3 months? I’ll take it.

  11. First time commenter…

    Mononucleosis has forced me to take at least two weeks off training. I’ve taken it as an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve been doing and how to make it better.

    First, I’ve been eating too much bullshit. I’m a recovering vegetarian, and I’ve been relying too much on crappy convenience food. This week has been all about buying big hunks of meat and putting them in the crockpot.

    Second, I haven’t been serious enough about squatting. I’ve been too wrapped up in the CF world. This is an easy fix though. Just squat.

    When I get back: I will squat twice a week. I will make large amounts of quality food twice a week.

  12. Heyo, so I just finished week 6 of the TM upper/lower split. Going to make a few changes after getting called out by Jstadt on the stuff I’ve been ignoring( read everything hamstring related and any upper back work).

    Still though, push press is rapidly improving now that I’m doing it twice a week(shocking!), and the every other week deadlift max just keeps creeping up.
    Notable lifts:
    Bench: 210×3- had a spotter touch
    Push press: 185×3- this was my max before last week.
    Deadlift: 455×3- I think this isn’t a PR, however last time I did this was a week before I pulled 530. Feels good.
    Squat- still working the links out. Resetting volume down to 85% of intensity day, work on technique.

  13. Also, I just wanted to say thank you to Justin for everything he has done for this community and me personally. I am so much more knowledgeable about my own fitness , lifting, and am a much healthier person thanks to this site.

    Thanks man. I’m glad it has helped you.


  14. i have done some rowing intervals (250m x 5 ) went quite well, and few days later i went on the bike trip, i felt much better doing those than without so i will probably try to keep them in.

    225×5 PR on bench press (TM mod. )
    :) no PR in squat/deadlift( due to ADHD I fell of wagon and tried some stupid stuff in the gym for the week and lost my 429lbs squat for a triple in the favor of 396lbs squat for a triple.
    Working out with the squating shoes for some time and they altered my technique a bit, my low bar got little more upright YET i still mostly feel my hamstrings do the work…weird.

  15. Also, Huuuge gym PR this week. Just moved to Tulsa yesterday, and some redditor in Brent’s lifting thread gave me the name of a gym there. My lady friend and I went, no one was there except lifters and bodybuilders. Average arm size in the place? Probably 22ish inches. Within ten minutes of getting there this giant black dude deadlifted 585, no sweat.

    Talk about a great atmosphere! Also, a random guy there I started talking to is part of a powerlifting group and invited me to squat and bench with them next week…

  16. On the challenge front, I haven’t been doing them because of the Highland Games coming up. I’m trying to recklessly gain as much weight as possible this last week or so before the games, so no conditioning for me. I suppose I’m the only guy preparing so intensely to throw in the Novice class. But the veggie consumption, I’m on top of that. As for gym PRs, I keep taking advantage of n00b gains on new movememnts – got a 385 box squat, 20lb PR. And I benched 225×7 .. which is weak as hell, but I’m improving.

  17. A bit late (a lot of celebrating), but here are my PRs from last week

    DL: 5×175 kg
    Squat: 1×167.5 kg
    Age: 23 (achieved June 15th)

    Education: finished my studies and am now a certified strength trainer. This is not a normal strength trainer education, it’s a year of studying theory and applying it in practice once weekly (at least) on others, and multiple times weekly on ourselves. It’s strengt training theory, anatomy & fysiology, sportspsychology and teaching. Our main teacher is a former olympic weightlifter, former coach for the danish national team in both power- and weightlifting (he has coached a few danish best, and a few world best female bench pressers) and currently coaching the best powerlifting team in denmark. The theory is grounded in science and practice of strength training.

  18. I also did the conditioning challange by adding in 2 prowler sessions. But I also failed this weeks challange already (a lot of celebrating and a lot of crappy food).

  19. Bothering to get an account and stop lurking PR.

    Worthy Q&A question:
    5/3/2 waves on Volume Days, 3/2/1 waves on Intensity Days: an interesting variation to help overcome stagnation, autoregulate in a semi-intelligent fashion, and think outside of the box, or overcomplicating and overthinking the issue?

    Christian Thibaudeau recommends it. He may have sold his soul to Biotest, but he is an awfully strong dude who’s gotten a lot of other dudes awfully strong…


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