Q&A – 44

PR Friday is a celebration of training. Get active in the 70’s Big community and talk about your training. If you aren’t “as strong as everyone else”, it doesn’t matter. We all started somewhere. Post training updates or the week’s PRs to the comments.

The Weekly Challenge was directed at women and was a photo contest. I neglected to post about it on social media, and therefore there were zero entries (despite one gal putting a submission for the manly contest!). Nevertheless, this will make me rethink gender fairness for contests in the future.

Next Week’s Challenge: Cook at least one meat-based meal in the crock pot. Post the recipe to next week’s PR Friday comments.

Week In Review: Monday started with a female post about muscular imbalances. It’s relevant to guys, but it’s common for females to have muscular limitations in their training. On Tuesday I provided a progression and programming parameters for someone who wants to train for a GoRuck Challenge, though most of the advice applies to backpackers and hikers too. On Wednesday I posted a video that shows and corrects the three common mechanical faults with the press. I’ve also started consultations back up and have talked to some very cool people, including a Scot and Australian in the same day (I wish I had a cool accent).


Chad H. asks:
Hey Justin, couple of questions for the Q&A:1. Is there any marker to determine when would be a good time to switch to the TM Split? Just when you feel like it?

2. Think it’s possible to push up both the Press and Bench every week? I know you give a couple of scenarios in the TM Advanced but I’m talking Bench and Press Volumes and Intensities on the same day.

3. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about doing a single heavier than your workset weight as part of the warmup so as to make the workset feel lighter. Any thoughts (specifically doing these on Volume and Intensity days)?Thanks


 Dear Chad,

1. Typically when things slow down in a linear progression. Should the linear progression be run until it’s a life destroying affair that renders the lifter useless for a week or so after their final workout? Probably not. As you know, I did that, and I don’t recommend that people do it anymore. However, if there have been several resets, and the lifter gets to the same weight every reset, then yeah, they are probably due for a programming transition (assuming there aren’t extraneous factors like technique or recovery that are causing this).

2. Hmm. I think it would be possible for an early stage intermediate. I’m not a fan of the “alternate the weekly emphasis from press to bench” in stock TM programs. Chad is referring to how in The Texas Method: Advanced I provide many template examples of how to do both in the same week, though usually one day is “press day” while the other is “bench day”. But if someone were going to do try and get volume and intensity work with both exercises, they would probably need to only use a 3×5 for the Volume Day, and doubles or triples on the Intensity Day. Press may need to come first (since it’s less invasive than benching), but that would depend on what the trainee considers more important (perhaps their order could be alternated every week?). The second movement on the Intensity Day could be several sets of doubles instead of triples to avoid inducing any more fatigue on the muscles that would be there from the preceding exercise. Perhaps both lifts could just use doubles so that the total number of reps are lower for better Intensity progress? It’s interesting, and I’ve never done it, but I kind of like it for early stage intermediate and TM users. Or at least I like it better than the stock recommendation of alternating the lifts every week.

3. Doing a single before the work set would provide a neurological effect of making the work set feel lighter, but I would not recommend this. There is still a physiological effect of getting a rep at a higher intensity. If I had Chris, Mike, or AC do this, then they would have less in the tank for their scheduled session, and it may even throw off the weekly stress. By getting a higher intensity rep on the Volume Day, it’s applying a different adaptive stress than what I’m going for. I see this being problematic for them.

Now, if we’re talking about people who are focusing their training on lower intensity with more volume or reps, then it may not matter. Yet, someone in this position would be a) lesser advanced or b) training just to maintain strength or muscularity within the context of their goals. If someone were regularly working to lift heavy weights every week (as in a Texas Method), I don’t see this being helpful and potentially being harmful. There’s a reason volume and intensity are fluctuated for raw, un-drugged lifters.

Besides, the warm-ups are supposed to appropriately neurologically prep the lifter. I would assume that some proponents of this method may not warm-up properly. Some of them probably warm-up fine enough, yet their program may not be finely tuned where a higher intensity single will disrupt progress.


Michael L.
Hey Justin, I had to workout with suboptimal weights for my latest intensity day. Weighed all the plates on a scale, some of them were accurate with less than half a pound difference, but some of them were off. 45’s weighed 40 lbs, the 35’s weighed 30 etc.Anyway, I made up for the difference in weight, and I think because I had to use steel instead of the bumpers I’m used to it messed everything up. Squat and press were hard, but I got through them. Deadlift I only got 2 out of my 3 reps.

27 Male 235 lbs

For reference, today I did the following:Squat: 375×5
Press: 182.5×5
Deadlift: 460×2 (wanted 3)

Should I repeat the same deadlift next week when I’m back to the bumpers I’m used to? Switch to 2’s? Or move up? This is my 4th week on the Texas Method. Before this, I did 5-3-1 for 10 cycles, before that Smolov, before that Starting Strength, before that Crossfit. I have both eBooks so if there is a section you can point me to that works as well.


Dear Michael,

Your volume is at 84% of your Intensity Day and you’re only in week 4. Typically the “cap at 85%” applies to 3×5 as opposed to 5×5. This means that the volume is higher than it probably should be at this point.

I think that you started with weights that were too heavy on both the Volume and Intensity Days, especially since you are coming from 10 cycles of 5/3/1. Given that all of your plates were dicked up, you need to account for that in the progression (especially if bar weight is 5, 10, or 15 pounds different). If you are returning to a non-crappy gym with better equipment, then do what you can until then. Otherwise, do not increase your Volume Day and try and let the Intensity Day increase. Since your ID is hard already (as a result of you picking weights that are too heavy), it may take a weeks to normalize. If you think that the Intensity Days should not be hard, then you are probably doing too much volume (since you are doing a 5×5 and just came from a lower volume program like 5/3/1, a 3×5 on Volume Day is probably more appropriate).

Lastly, if you have both books, then review the Intensity Day rep schemes. There are plenty of options you can transition to with clear instructions on how to use them. That means that you could probably use triples, or doubles, or another approach to allow you to hit get decent intensity work in.


Brian45 asks:

What are your thoughts on this uncoordination regarding movement patterns? and how to address it (especially in a group setting) without holding back other kids that pick up things faster?


Dear Brian45, 

This is where the art of coaching a group comes in. CrossFit does a pretty good job of teaching their coaches to take the group through the progression of a movement together. This allows you to get some eyes on people during the progression. If someone has an issue, you can cue them simply enough. If it’s really bad, then you may or may not have the time to correct it, depending on the severity and length of time the correction would take. In such a case, continue the group’s progression, and you can focus a bit more on that person once the individual portion starts (if there is such a portion).

The effectiveness of this process is dependent on the quality of simple, concise progressions to achieve the goal of a given movement. Rippetoe’s teaching method of the power clean differs from USAW’s power clean progression, but it’s incredibly simple (I taught a 65 year old cyclist to power clean in about three minutes in Rip’s gym). This particular power clean is good for general strength and conditioning, but may not be the best for Olympic weightlifting. On the weightlifting side, Pendlay’s progressions for snatch and clean are very simple and concise as well, yet they put different emphasis on the movement. In other words, the Rippetoe power clean puts an emphasis on jumping whereas the Pendlay clean/snatch puts an emphasis on proper positioning for optimal weightlifting.

The above paragraph’s tangent provides two examples of good progressions that are simple, concise, and accomplish the intended goal. If you lack a progression, you’re not setting up the trainees for success. If the progression is poor, then you’re only going to make it difficult from a mental or physical standpoint.


wayniac asks:

Justin, I posted this question under another topic and I’m hoping you’ll give me your thoughts: Do you think that a male having a 5rm that is a higher percentage of their 1rm could be a symptom of low testosterone? When I was younger (25-29) I used to be able to use the (reps x work-weight x .0333)+work-weight = max for bench and come really close. Now that I’m older (37), I’m finding that I can’t bench what my reps at 225 would suggest under that formula. One other fact is that I used to test my max relatively regularly and stopped doing that for a very long time. So, my question is basically: Am I turning into a woman, or do I just need to start lifting more at higher percentages of my max? Have you ever seen this before?


Dear wayniac,

Short answer: yes, probably. As males age, their testosterone levels decrease. It’s part of life, and it does not mean you’re turning into a woman. Sure, there could be a variety of factors that are inhibiting your lifting ability, but you know that each five year aging period will result in decreased recovery capabilities. This isn’t just because of the number of years you’ve been alive, but the physiological effect of aging, and lower testosterone does occur.

I’m not going to pretend to know much about aging and hormonal supplementation, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to consider for men getting into their 40s. Testosterone is what makes a man a man, and when it goes down, tons of health issues erupt. I’m not even referring to performance, but health, and nobody is going to look after you other than you. Just a thought.

If anyone has anything to add or information to provide, throw it in the comments.

143 thoughts on “Q&A – 44

  1. Love this site. Completely changed my frame of mind on exercise, training, and body image. Seriously.

    In any case, I’m working through Rippetoe’s SS these last few weeks. For reference, I’m 25, approx 175#, and short, especially my arms.

    Squat: 300# @ 3×5 (this week’s PR)
    Dead: 300# @ 1×5 (also a PR, although the gym I’m working at this week uses thicker bars, so it’s screwing up my grip)
    Bench: 185 @ 3×4 (working on it)
    Press: 125 @ 3×5 (working on it)
    Cleans: Just starting, so not worth talking about it.

    Keep up the good work with the site!

  2. Squat: 187,5 kg (~ 413 lbs) x5 (PR)
    Press: 71 kg (~ 157 lbs) x5 (PR)
    Deadlift: 207,5 kg (~ 457 lbs) x2

    BW: 93 kg (~ 205 lbs)

    Wanted to hit 3 reps with the deadlift (which would have been a PR tie) but got only 2. Fuck. On the other hand, squats went really well (Friday PRs for 4 weeks in a row now).

  3. Squat 200
    Bench 185
    Press 120
    Dead 200

    6’1″ 195lbs

    Ive been working out for the past 1.5 yrs. There definitely have been gains but never really followed any specific routine. I started doing SS on the Onus Wunsler method and set all my progressions low as not hurt myself and focus on form. Every time I go in I see gains and haven’t really struggled too much…noob gains. But my main concern is that I have no idea how to balance my diet properly to help with recovery and progress. Any suggestions?

  4. Just rucked 5 miles in 1:15:18 with a 25# pack. If the last two miles weren’t hilly as balls I’m pretty sure I could have kept it around a 14:30-ish mile. It was also raining, which added heavily to the fun factor.

    And I’m planning on buying some sort of slab of meat to cook in the crockpot. Probably a pot roast.

  5. Shoulder pain

    I have shoulder pain in the back of my left shoulder. The best I can tell is it’s the attachment of the large head of the tricep tendon. Feels like tendinitis. Pain aggravated when I power clean, low-bar squat (elbows high) and do chin-ups. Power cleans are the worst. Pain is associated with comparatively milder elbow tendinitis in the same arm.

    I had this same pain once before and it went away on its own after a few weeks (with icing, ibuprofen). I would like to fix whatever is causing the pain.
    Any idea what movement or position could cause the symptoms described above?

  6. Press – 180 x 1

    Narrowed my grip by about 1″ per the post earlier this week. The bar started up much easier with the narrower grip, but above my head to lockout was more difficult. Will probably keep experimenting a little with this.

    Squat – 380 x 5, 5, 3

    Felt like garbage going into the workout. It’s improvement over the previous week. Still pissed that I came up short on the last set.
    By start of basketball practice. 405. Reps. Mine.

  7. No PR’s, but I’m getting close again. I’m doing great in being consistent and regular with my training, which has been my biggest failing in the last year. I feel like I’m looking bigger than ever despite being almost as light as when I started out last April. Still no abz though. Eh, oh well. Never had them in high school when I was squatting and running all the time, so who cares?

    Where I’m at now:
    Squat 300x5x3 – first two sets were super fast and didn’t need much rest between sets. Guy squatting next to me called them “nasty” in the locker room later (he meant this as a compliment). This is the first time I’ve squatted 300 since February. Big emotional PR for me. Not even sore today either.
    Bench 155x5x3
    Press 130x5x3. Was due to press 135 yesterday but I was short on time so I just did 95x10x3 for some jackage.
    P. Row – 200x5x3 – these are getting ugly. probably need to reset them soon.
    RDL – 180x5x3
    Deadlifted 345×5 last week, had to omit it this week because, again, I was short on time, so I did RDL’s instead.
    BW: 206 yesterday, but I fluctuate between 205 and 210 so much that it doesn’t matter.

    I’ve been talking to Sousa about my programming and I’m going to switch to GSLP in 1 to 3 weeks, possibly longer depending on how my squats hold up. I’m also planning on doing fasted walks in the morning, but every morning this week it was either raining or I was way too tired to put on shoes.

  8. I’ve been following this site for a couple years now but never posted, so figured what the hell I might as well. No pr’s this week as I’m on the long road to rehabbing a back in injury.
    Squat: 330x3x1
    Deadlift: 360×3
    Bench: 260×2
    Press: 150×3

  9. Bench bro PRs. Surgery recovery is going swimmingly. I took my bandages off today and for some reason I felt 100% better after doing so. Funny how that works lol. Walked around fine without crutches. Definitely don’t want to rush things though.
    Seated Press 155×8
    Bench 265×3

  10. 1 RMs from the last few weeks:
    Deadlift: 355#
    Back squat: 265#
    Front squat: 225#
    Bench press: 200#
    Clean & jerk: 195#

    My coaches have been prescribing a lot of overhead stability work lately because it’s a big problem for some others in our group… I’m liking it.

  11. Lifting PRs:
    Squat 177.5kg/391lb x 3
    Bench Press 122.5kg/270lb x 4
    Deadlift 200kg/441lb x 3

    Life PRs:
    Got engaged!
    Got a new power bar and a bunch of bumpers (can load my bar up to 230kg/507lb just with bumpers now :D)

  12. Hey everybody. After shoveling shit all summer, I’m in my sixth or so week of my Swanson Diet Plan. (That is, consistently getting 1g pro per lb of bw per day, most of it from meat.) I’m already back in PR territory. Today:

    Bench: 142.5×3 (probably some kind of PR that isn’t worth talking about)
    Squat: 195×3 (ties previous PR)
    DL: 260×2 (lifetime PR — previous PR was 255×1, many months ago)

    Of note: First, taking my VD (ha) weight up to 90% of ID seems to be working for me. Lately, I’ve been benching 140 for reps with relative ease. I get stapled on the second rep at 145 every time. (PR is 150.) This week, I (counterintuitively, for me) upped the weight on volume day to 90% of my intensity day. Hitting 127.5x5x3 on vol day was easy. Hitting 142.5×3 today was easy. I probably should have inched my squat volume day closer to 90%. Will try next week and report back. Second: for the ladies, 1.25 lb plates really are an excellent investment for pressing and benching. Sometimes a 5 lb increase just isn’t doable. Third, I felt absolutely miserable after squatting 5×5 on Tuesday. (I got greedy and should have stopped after 3 sets.) I decided to endure a cold bath.I have no idea whether it actually did anything, but I felt great after, and I had minimal soreness all week. Does anyone else here do this?

  13. This week’s PRs:
    Bench 187.5x5x3
    Press 142.5x5x3
    Power Clean 145x3x5
    Deadlift 315x5x1
    Next week will be my first squat PR in several weeks. I had to drop down in weight a bit, because I realized my stance was a bit too wide and preventing proper depth, so I brought my feet in closer.

  14. Two weeks until my firsts meet and my coach had me work up to some heavy singles while giving me the cues I’ll be getting in the meet. I PR’d my bench by 2.5kg and equalled my squat PR from April but it felt light and much easier than it did last time. Anyone have any words of wisdom they’d care to share about what weights you attempt in a meet?

    Bench: 50kg
    Squat: 4 x 1 @ 80kg

  15. My “Fridays” are on Saturday. My stats, 5″7″, 195, 41 y/o

    I’m running the Texas Method w/some swollertrophy sets mixed in…

    Squat 265×5, Leg Press 225x12x2 (Swollertrophy)
    Deadlift 335×5 (PR)
    Press 145×5 (PR), 95x8x2 (Swollertrophy)
    Incline Bench 165x5x3, 115x12x2 (Swollertrophy)
    Pendlay Row 150x5x3, 115x12x2 (Swollertrophy)

  16. In response to wayniac, it could also be his training style that is causing him to be less efficient at 1RM’s. If he has changed his training style to contain more reps it serves to reason he would become more efficient at reps. It may be good to look into higher intensity training.

    250×5 squat
    280×3 deadlift
    190 bench press
    all raw @ 126

    270 squat for reps this week.

  17. I take 6 x 750 mg capsules so quite a bit lower than you. What mechanism would lead you to believe that it is the the fish oil’s rather than something else for joint pain?

    • Because occasionally I fall of the fish oil wagon for a few days (because it’s annoying to take 6 huge pills every morning) and when I do my whole everything starts hurting. For me, fish oil isn’t about how good I feel when I take it, it’s about how awful I feel when I don’t. And I’ll acknowledge it isn’t the only weapon against joint pain, but it should definitely be the first thing you look at.

      I also take a gummy chewable multivitamin, because they absorb better and are delicious. And 5000 IU of Vitamin D a day. That’s the extent of my supplements.

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