Q&A – 42

PR Friday is a celebration of training, a chance for you to exalt in your weekly triumphs or to simply share your hardships. Chances are that hardly anyone in your life understands what you do in the gym. Come, tell us your story, because we fathom and appreciate your trials.

Weekly Challenge

Last week we urged you to purchase a quality pair of short shorts and proudly do your part in The Revolution. Report your experiences and continue wearing them until winter forces you to prevent testicular freezing.

Next week’s challenge is to do something manly. A man is respectful, strong willed, and multi-talented. Build a fire without matches, grill a meat and potatoes meal, or help those in need. The person with the most manly deeds will win a t-shirt. Deeds will be judged by the readership and/or me. You can probably get some inspiration from The Art of Manliness website.

Week In Review

The week started with The Short Shorts Revolution…oh wait, that’s EVERY DAY. On Monday we started a discussion on the effect of birth control (and hormonal supplementation) and its effect on female training. There was also an admirable vid of Summer Krasinski front squatting 100kg for 3. Tuesday was the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Wednesday had some cool pictures. Thursday was a descriptive post on the treatment, prevention, and anatomy of shin splints.


Hey Justin big fan of the blog and the layout of your S&C Program in FIT intrigues me. I am curious if your current layout would work, but with a TM bent where Monday and Tuesday act as a volume day to drive Thursday and Friday to keep conditioning in?


Also would throwing power snatches in before power cleans be counter productive? Don’t really want to run myself into the ground.


Also my conditioning would simply be barbell complexes and then jump rope on the optional Saturday conditioning day.

–Rory B.


Dear Rory, 

Yes, the S&C program can be tweaked in many ways to facilitate an intermediate approach to the strength training. The simple way to do that is to shift the Monday squats to Volume Day and the Thursday squats to Intensity Day. All of the options and peculiarities of different rep schemes are in the two Texas Method Books. The only potential problem I see is whether or not Tuesday’s conditioning will have an effect on the Intensity Day, but this is easily modified.

I don’t think power snatches prior to power cleans would be a problem. It would depend on your overall goal. Is the goal to get as strong as possible while maintaining or improving conditioning? Then keep an eye on whether the additional power snatches interfere with the strength work later in the week. Also note that I’m more of a fan of power cleans than power snatches for general S&C programs. One reason is that power snatches seem to reinforce a “vertical jump” component in the lift which is a terrible method if efficient Olympic weightlifting is a goal in the future. Un-learning the “jump” is possible, but difficult (I know, because I have had to do it).

Lastly, your conditioning approach is fine given that I don’t know what your goals are. It’s easy to modify what you do to support your goals. This “S&C Program” is a really good template that can be modified in so many ways.


Hey Justin,

I keep whacking myself in the dick when I Power Clean. Is the bar too high or too low on my thigh, when I jump? Looking at some Pendlay Clean instructionals on Youtube, he seems to indicate that the bar should be very high on your hips, which would be above the dick. But, in Starting Strength Rippetoe seems to indicate that the bar should be significantly lower on the thigh – probably a couple of inches below the dick. Could you help clarify this for me?




Dear Tom, 

As someone who has hit their dick before. I sympathize. Check it out:

The first thing to note is that the way Pendlay and Rippetoe are teaching the clean are very different. This post (“Jump/Shrug” vs “Catapult”) may help differentiate between the two. First I’ll point out that the position Pendlay shows you — in which the knees are bent, the hips are not bent, and the bar is high on the hips, isn’t something you’ll slowly arrive at. I would have to guess that one of two things is happening: 1) you are not “staying over the bar” when at the second position. This position is where the bar is right at or below the knee and the shoulders are out over the bar. This stretches the hamstrings out right before they violently contract to complete the pull. If you are more vertical here, with the knees bent and shoulders behind the bar, then finishing the pull won’t be efficient and I could see the bar travelling directly into your downstairs mix-up. 2) Maybe the bar is out front. I’d have to see the lift, but I suggest this because that’s what happened to me in the video above.

Regardless of which style of lifting you’re attempting to do — jumping or “getting under the bar style” — you shouldn’t be whacking your baby maker. Stay over the bar.


John P asks:

Quick question if you don’t mind.

What do you think of using a Heavy/Light set up (Starr Model) for an athlete (rugby) during the season with one training day and one game day?


Mon- Heavy
Wed- Light
Thur- Practice
Saturday- Game
(Not sure whether swapping the heavy/light days around would be better)


Heavy –
Squat 5×5
Bench 5×5
High Pull 5×3


Light –
Squat 4×5 (Top set 80% of Heavy top set)
Press 5×5
Power Clean 5×3
Weighted Chins 3×5


Ramping sets (60,70,80,90,100%).
Every 6 weeks alternate between 5′s and 3′s on the squats and presses.
Deload every 4-6 weeks.


Is it unreasonable to think an athlete could progress throughout the season using this method in the given situation?


Dear John P,

First, I’ll point out that Sousa directed John P to IronGarm because Shaf has some good in/off season rugby programs. Shaf is a good dude and I’ve always liked the things I’ve seen him write. Regarding the question, I’ll address the specifics of this proposed program briefly and then talk about in/off season programming generally.

I like the weekly approach you have to the program where the Heavy session is early and the Light session is second. If you were beat up from the games, you could always reverse the two if it didn’t interfere with your practice. I do not like High Pulls in the program. I suspect you have a reason for their inclusion, but I’d rather you do something else like power cleans. I wouldn’t have a problem if you power cleaned both days. You could even do them first on the “Light Day”. On both days you could add in some band pulls or side planks as quality prehab accessory work. Feel free to vary the power clean work to doubles or singles. Use a watch and do them on the clock if you feel they take too long.

As for programming in-season, it would be nice if you could make progress and strength train on this set up. But an in-season program should primarily aim to prevent the body’s degradation. In high school I would routinely get stronger regardless of in or off season of football, but I was 14 to 18 years old and full of puberty. Your goal is to get training on your body to help it hold up over the season (i.e. prevent injury), prevent performance degradation as a result of the pounding of the season, and, as a cherry on top, get stronger. I’d love to be wrong and have you not really get beat up from your rugby season and have a really great strength increase, but you need to prepare to be in the mindset that training serves a different purpose. This is the same thing for deployed soldiers or any other athlete.


101 thoughts on “Q&A – 42

  1. Squat: 415×3
    Bench: 240×3

    2 weeks out from my meet. I’m pretty happy where my Squat and Bench will be but the Deadlift has been my problem lift for a while. I have no problem keeping my lumbar extended in the Squat but when I deadlift the more horizontal torso position makes it really hard to get my back flat. I lose so much proprioception in that position and it makes the lift a bitch.

  2. Relocated for work a few months back to SmallTown, USA. I decided to invest in an Olympic weight set for my garage since my office is off the ends of the earth.

    Blah blah etc now my wife and kids are training with me 3 days per week, hitting the power lifts. Progressions and PRs will come later, but my question to you all:

    Any tips for training kids? Son is 11, daughter is 8, both athletic as hell. I get it, don’t push them too hard, focus on form, etc. Any insights?

  3. I transitioned to 5/3/1 this week. Set some rep records:

    Press: 140lbs x 9
    Bench: 240lbs x 10
    Squat: 250lbs x 10

    Saw a guy curling 80lbs in the squat rack PR. So that was cool, kind of like seeing a deer. Your all like oh, sshhhh, look at that guy curling in the squat rack.

    I started a blog PR. It’s just for training logs, it’s not entertaining.

  4. Justin! Can you expand on this point: “First I’ll point out that the position Pendlay shows you — in which the knees are bent, the hips are not bent, and the bar is high on the hips, isn’t something you’ll slowly arrive at.”? Do you mean like during the actual lift you will not reach that point slowly, but through an explosive extension of the hips?

  5. Spent the first half of the week recovering from the Garage Games but hit 205 x 5 on push press today. not quite 100% sure this is a PR, but pretty sure. Have a good weekend all–I’m out…

  6. Complained here about back pain a few times, now went to several docs: I broke a vertebra (L5), nice thing, right?
    No training this week or the next 6 for that matter.
    Hope you all fare better, have fun lifting!

      • No, they do not think so. I fell bouldering (about 3m) and had a sharp pain in my lower back afterwards that got better fairly quickly. Two days later I was at my second warm-up set (60kg after empty bar) and had severe back pain. Pain is not so bad, no sport for 6+ weeks is worse. Especially because I’m not to do anything, not even bending my back to tie my shoes and things like that.

  7. Hang Power Clean & Press: 130 x 5 singles otm
    LB Back Squat: 265 x 5 singles otm
    Still building up after a summer of rec sports.
    Increased my volume by doing more reps during my build up sets.

    Fail PR: Had an opportunity to purchase Packers/Bears tickets online but didn’t have my credit card handy. Packer D was killin it. Jay Cutler saw more sacks than a cheap hooker.

  8. Squat: 182,5 kg (~ 402 lbs) x5 (PR)
    Press: 70 kg (~ 154 lbs) x5x2; x4x1 (last rep on 3rd set = fail)
    Deadlift: 202,5 kg (~ 446 lbs) x3
    Barbell Row: 102,5 kg (~ 226 lbs) x5x3

    BW: 92 kg (~ 203 lbs)

  9. Back in the school rec center after almost a full month away. I did some easy sets of squat, deadlift, and press to get back into the groove. Also, I’ve just started to re-introduce raw, unpasteurized dairy into my paleo-type diet, so let’s see how this goes. It’s too bad this stuff goes for $16+ per gallon. Any of you guys have any insight for me?

  10. LP progress:

    DL 280×5
    Bench 135x3x5

    Missed reps twice this week on the Press. Thinking about keeping the same weight but try 5×3, then 4×4, then 3×5 again to push thru.

  11. Deadlift 460×2, back rounded on 3 would have had it otherwise.
    Bench 255×5. Lost a bit of weight hanging out at about 170 right now. I pressed 180 also which I guess is a PR if you count bw. But I don’t so fuck.
    Hey guys well I got one more deadlift session before my surgery after which I will not be pulling or squatting heavy until like fucking March of 2013. If I stop posting I’ve probably killed myself. No but seriously, I’m thinking of getting really good at stuff like handstand push ups and planches and stuff. gymnastics bullshit.

  12. Press 165×5 PR. Hit 445×5 squats today and 475×5 deads. Got a meet Oct 6. Just going to treat it like intensity day. Got a bigger meet December 8 that I’m going to taper for.

  13. No PRs yet but been high bar squatting for a few weeks now without any back pain. Almost at PR level for 3×5 on them.

    Also managed some medium deadlifts twice this week without any back pain either.

    So quite happy!

  14. Getting back into the swing of things. Competed 3 weeks ago and took third place; not by best placing but I PR’d on 3 events: viking press, conans wheel, and stones. Hit a 240×18 viking, 600# for just short of 1 3/4 turns (best was 1/2 turn in training) and the 200-300# stones (didnt attempt 330). Effed up the yoke big time, and did ok on the tire-farmer medley.

    Contemplating a PL meet next month – basically would have 5 weeks of prep and my squat is in the shitter because of shoulder and hip mobility. Should I do it? Push-pull maybe??

    Hit a 275x5x3 bench last week; getting some nice upper body pushing and pulling in. Heavy squat/dl tomorrow might decide if i compete.

  15. Life PR.

    Quit my CF gym. Bought equipment and moved into my garage.

    No lifting PRs yet, as training kinda went on pause. Back at it. Still working towards my 300lb squat. Tried it two days ago, sooo close. It’s there.

  16. Bench – 265
    I’ve had bad shoulders. The weight was a PR as well as just being able to bench pain-free in the first place.

    Squatted 3×5 at 370.

    The weight was not a PR. The last rep…..which may have been the most difficult squat of my life…….qualifies as a mental toughness PR. Got it because I knew some random guy was watching and there was no way THAT guy was going to see me miss a rep.

    • I know what you mean about completing a rep for the onlookers… I’ve always wanted to lift at home, but I know I’ve made several PR’s because I don’t want people at the gym to see me fail.

  17. Squat 475 x 2
    Press 205 x 1, I was going for 2 though.

    Started coming down with a cold so I want to chalk up the lackluster Press set and the failed PR set on Bench to that. We will see next week.

  18. Broken bone PR + End Of Summer Bummer PR

    Broke my thumb three weeks ago doing BJJ/grappling.  Had surgery to insert two pins/K-wires through there to bring the bone pieces back in line.  Hoping to have the cast removed and go sans cast or get a removable splint in a week.  Dealing with a two year old and a three month old with one working hand has been interesting to say the least.

    Luckily it was my left hand, not the right.

    So I’m looking for advice on how to get back at it ASAP.  Anyone here have experience with a bad break like this?  Specifically a finger/thumb?

    Mentally it’s been a real mindfuck since I was making a lot of progress with 531, and I was planning to do a BJJ tournament in December.
    I know I won’t be doing any heavy lifting with a barbell for a bit, and I know theres going to be a lot of rehab in my future.  So I don’t need the obvious advice of, “Take it easy when you get back into it…”

    Also it took FOREVER TO TYPE THIS.

  19. Well, kind of deloaded bench this week. No huge heavy sets, just lots of frequency (4-5 days this week with 60s) and some DB pressing: 50×10

    Lat Pulldown’s the only actual PR. 265×1 (had to strap a 25 pound weight to the machine with a band since the machine maxed at 240). Also did 240×4 and a whole bunch of volume. Will drop volume back next week, should set a PR with 12-15 with 210, then repeat. Progress is progress.

  20. Tru dat to “no in your life understands what you do in the gym.” If only I did 5K mud runs and mini-triathlons, then people would respect me.

    Squat 375×3
    Bench 280×3
    DL 415×3

    Nutrition PR: I spilled a protein shake in the car on my way to work. Instead of worrying about how it will stain and stink, my initial reaction was to wonder how many grams of protein spilled.

  21. No PR’s this week. Snatched 100 kg Tuesday. Then messed up my right knee doing front squats with lots of external rotation at the hip. My knee doesn’t like the torque, but it gives a nice upright torso, ugh. Oh wait, I got a power snatch PR of 85 kg, but that’s mainly because I don’t power snatch. Snatched up to 95 kg, but didn’t really take it seriously. I’m still not sure how much babying my knee needs. I do need to squat more, though

  22. No PR’s, still working back up and doing my damnedest to stay consistent – which I have been.
    Still, here’s where I’m at as of today:
    Squat 270x5x3
    Bench 140x5x3 (I reset it to 135 because of my shoulder)
    Deadlift 340×5
    Press 125x5x3
    Row 175x5x3
    Seated Calf Raise Thing 185x15x4
    BW: 205.5 after workout today, hanging around 205 to 207 generally.

  23. Surgery PR: got my right big toenail partially removed (2nd surgery EVER… 1st was my wisdom teeth) on Monday which pretty much kept me from training too hard or heavy all week. Finally put on shoes today. The big toe itches (that’s good, right?).

    PL meet in a week, will (hopefully) set some PRs then. Maybe even a weight PR, because I’m feeling way too lazy to cut down a class.

  24. Frustration PR: was supposed to run the tough mudder mid atlantic sun. Due to an absolute CF w/ parking and traffic on Sat, cops shut it down for my Sun time. Found out 4:30 that morning as I was headed out the door.
    Training back on schedule while rehabbing lower back–switched to 5/3/1 BBB for some lower intensity/higher volume work. 255×5 on squat felt ok. 5×10 squats and pulls are rough. Stairs are the new enemy.

  25. just have done 195kg x 3 on back squat (third – grinder,but steady)
    105kg on bench x 5 (rep PR)
    105kg on power clean x 1 – PR

    anyone have some ideas on pain on the inside part of my hamstring closer to glute fold ? got it released, helped like for 5 hours, hurts when i try to engage those hamstrings… only in toes out position i feel it, when doing RDL= fine. i stick massage it, foam roll it, and put funny stuff up my muscle… should i take some anti flamatory stuff? it makes my squat more quad like, i can’t support as much weight in my hip drive and it makes it a little half assed hip drive..

  26. Hit 495×1 on the deadlift this week. Deadlift has been improving nicely while squats have been tough. I may start concentrating on high bar squats given my pathetic quads and long femurs. Low bar squats have built my hamstrings nicely but there is a definite imbalance. Don’t have any other prs to report, although my butter intake is definitely improving.

    I have an old pair of swim trunks that were short 10 years ago when I was a little under 200 lbs and skinny. Now, at 248 and a lot larger they’re totally nuthuggers. I was at a party recently where I was rockin’ the shorts and some chick comes up to me and says “you must be a rugby player if you wear shorts like that.” No, honey, just part of the revolution.

  27. So i work for Nike. Thinking we would be operating with a fully functioning power gym at EHQ would be wishful at best. The spot is a hotel gym at best. However, we do have one rack and Olympic Bar with rubber plates. That’ll do.

    Anyways, after months of training alone amongst iPhone holders i finally zoned in on the only other lifter on campus. We swapped knowing nods and what not and began to train.

    Yesterday saw the first Max Out day of a beautiful partnership.

    My Numbers:
    6’4 105kgs
    Squat 135kg
    Dead 202.5kg
    Bench 95kg
    Push Press 70kg

    Dukes Numbers:
    6’1 92kgs
    Squat 140kg
    Dead 190kg
    Bench 100kg
    Push Press 90kg

    Numbers are just the start. We aim to coax in the onlookers and form voltron.

  28. Misload PR: misloaded by 30kg/66lb, tried to squat it (nearly got it), thought something was terribly wrong as it was meant to be a set of 4 before finally realizing my mistake…

    Squat: 175kg/385lb x 3 (didn’t attempt planned 4th)
    Bench: 117.5kg/259lb x 5
    Deadlift: 195kg/430lb x 3

  29. Bench PR: 47.5kg x 3 x 3 (weight and reps PR)

    Weight PR: hit 74.5kg this week (5’8″ female), now to cut down to <72kg for my meet in 4 weeks.

    And a herp-derp PR: apparently my glutes aren't doing their job when I squat. I use my psoas and adductors to pull myself back up. Doing a lot of basic glute activation stuff, my bum has never hurt so much as this past week.

    In the theme of smacking your bits when lifting: I've hit myself in the lady bits a few times when snatching. A wider grip helped fix that little problem, but ouch. :(

  30. Stroup is my internet friend now. Beard PR!

    Uh, I’ve been eating a shit ton of meat for a month now, and I’m really happy with how consistent my training and recovery has been. This week:

    Benched 145x2x3
    Pressed 90x3x3
    Squatted 185x3x1
    DL’d 250x3x2

    No PRs here, but I’m getting close on bench, press, and deadlift. I’m having a really hard time breaking a 200 squat: whenever I get close I fold like a wet noodle. Working hard on staying tight on the descent. I definitely had more in the tank today, but decided to save 190 (again, for the millionth time) for next week. Feeling like I could finally crack 200 soon.

  31. After spending the week dealing with a tweaked shoulder that hasn’t allowed me to snatch, I came in and made and cleaned 290 off the low blocks today.

    15 lb PR from the blocks, 5 lb PR from anywhere

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