Q&A – 50

PR Friday – You know the drill. Post your PR’s. Talk about training. If you’re new, stop giving advice (this isn’t the CrossFit Discussion Board).

Last Week’s Challenge was to sign up for the Movember team. I want to sincerely thank everyone that has donated, especially those of you who donated $1 — a single doll hair. One doll hair may not seem like anything, but if everyone reading this did it, we’d destroy our goal.

Next Week’s Challenge: I hate asking people to donate, but if you have not donated, a doll hair will be appreciated; every doll hair counts. Please don’t feel pressured into donating 10, 20, or 50 doll hairs (some have). It is not embarrassing to donate a single doll hair; it’ll bind you to this community and I’ll do my best to help you if you should ever need it. Donate here. Thank you again.

Weekly Recap: The female post was a delightful discussion on whether obese female athletes do more harm than good. The first post of the Shoulder Health series focused on posture. If you’re wondering why there weren’t other posts this week, it’s because I’m working on some books. And yes, the second newsletter will come soon. Thanks for your patience.

Q&A — The last couple Q&A’s have been a bit weak, but this one is a real SLOBBER KNOCKER.

I read your post about wanting more questions, so I thought I’d shoot you this one. I am a 19 year old girl weighing 115 lbs and I have scoliosis with 22° of magnitude. I’ve decide to join the revolution and have been squatting my dick off for the past month. However, my back gives me some trouble when I squat. The muscles can sometimes become very tight and its pretty painful. I’m currently back squatting 5×5 at 85 lbs. I squatted in high school for volleyball before my scoliosis really became a limiting factor in my work outs. I’m also unable to dead lift due to back pain. Should I try another lift or is there a different way I should be squatting? Other than squatting and dead lifting, I don’t have any experience with olympic lifts. Any ideas or recommendations you have would be great!




Dear Lauren,

Welcome to the Revolution! Your scoliosis is unfortunate, but there are a few things you can probably do to help. Are you squatting 5×5 regularly? Have you done a 3×5? Does the pain change depending on the amount of volume?

I coached a woman in her 30s that had some rotational scoliosis. I wrote about her in “The Texas Method – Part 1” (this was a post, which is different than the book). I said:

I’ve had a trainee increase on a LP, yet had pelvic asymmetry (rotational scoliosis in the lumbar) to the point where a 3×5 volume three times a week was giving her problems. Instead, we switched to a TM set up; the volume 5×5 (and lower weight) allowed us to work on positional issues as well as conscious neurological innervation, and the intensity day of heavier weight allowed us to push the weight up without worrying so much about the technique.

In her case, she had low amounts of pain when the week’s total work load was high (i.e. when we did a 3×5 three times a week). We were able to work on her technique with a lower weight on Monday’s 5×5, did some work with a 3×5 (depending on how she felt) on Wednesday, and really pushed the weigh on a heavier set of five on Friday.

Whether or not this applies to you, I don’t know. I would first suggest to stop doing the 5×5, especially if you’re doing it two or three times a week. You could try varying the volume/intensity throughout the week like I mentioned above. That might give you varied work to progress, but not pound you with work across the whole week to give you soreness. Feel free to send a video of your squats and I can check them for mechanical faults — if you’re doing something goofy then it’ll exacerbate the anatomical assymetry from the scoliosis. You may even need to cue something to work against existing assemetry in your technique.

All of that being said, if you still get pain from a 3×5 or the 5×5/3×5/1×5 Texas Method style approach, then I would stick to weights that do not cause pain and use assistance exercises to try and balance it out (in addition to the lighter squatting). Immediately start doing side planks after every training session, and more frequently if you have time. A chiropractor told me of a study (don’t know how good it was) that showed some improvements in scoliosis by doing side planks. Do them for 30 seconds three times on each side. If you cannot deadlift, see if RDLs work. See if you can do back extensions, and then see if you can weight them (hold a plate in your arms). Once you use these movements regularly, see if you can do lighter deadlifts and try to incorporate them back into your routine (only do them once a week, and if you need to do sets of three instead of five, and don’t do multiple sets at work set weight). Let us know how it goes. Oh, and are you low bar or high bar squatting?



I have been reading and following 70’s big since you were at Rip’s gym in Texas.

I need some help on how to coach at a Oly meet. There have been several write ups on the site about lifting meets but not something specific about the coaches role ect.

My athlete got an invite to the Outlaw open in California. The first event is a Oly meet (his first as an athlete and my first as a coach.) I was hoping that you could point me in the right direction to reading material on how to warm up/starting weights/ ect.

Anything would be of great help.




Dear Joel,

I mentioned in my original response to you that there are some posts on weightlifting meets as well as coaching at powerlifting meets (Nationals, The Arnold, etc.). This response will just point out the basics.

1. Open with something that is a definite good lift. You want to build confidence in your lifter, especially on his first snatch of his first lifting competition. Realistically it should be something he power snatches; something he can hit if his balls fall out of his singlet mid-rep.

2. Don’t worry about PRing. This sounds counter-intuitive, but both of you should learn that what you do in the gym is irrelevant; meet PRs are different. The goal is to get the best out of your lifter on that day. That should mean going 6/6 and maybe matching some gym PRs. If he can set an overall PR, all the better, but having a good meet should be the focus.

3. Have a plan. Create a written plan on what you’d like to hit. Do this by opening low. If he balks and thinks the opener is too low, slap him in the face and yell, “YOU’RE IN MY WORLD NOW, GRANDMA.” Talk about what will happen if something bad happens. If you planned accordingly, then something bad could happen and he should still hit the opener (e.g. the aforementioned scrote episode). If the rep was very hard, then don’t make a 5kg jump, make a 2 or 3kg jump. Sometimes reps can appear hard as the result of something easily fixable, so you can make the projected jump and merely make a correctional cue. In general, don’t make more than a 5kg jump (unless you’re doing his last warm-up on the platform or something). I like to write out a best and worst case scenario — a low and high end projection. That way you don’t have to think about the next attempt when the judges are waiting for it.

4. Make sure he has all of his gear. Sure, he’s probably an adult, but I’ve had people go to the weigh-in table without their federation membership card. Shoes, socks, singlet, knee sleeves, belt, tape, membership card (if relevant), etc. — make sure it’s all there. Get a back up pair of shoe laces. This can probably be done with a phone call the night before unless you guys are having a sleepover.

5. Get him warmed up on time. This is an underrated thing for a new coach, but he shouldn’t be warmed up too early or too late. That means you count the attempts of people before him. If it’s a good meet, they’ll project this on a screen. If it’s a small meet, go look at the attempt cards over the judge’s shoulders. If you don’t know how they function, then go and talk to them about it before hand and have them teach you (the cards run up and down snake style). Each attempt before your guy will be about a minute. He probably wants to hit his last warm-up a few minutes before the actual attempt, so 3 or 4 attempts out. Keep in mind that some lifters may do all three of their attempts before your guy even opens. Factor in the possible attempts and adapt to the situation. This is mainly relevant for the openers since you won’t need to do any warm-ups after the opener. If you warm him up too early or he has to wait a long time between attempts, he could hit a light rep in the warm-up room (e.g. at nationals a few years ago when I was doing around 155kg on CJ, I did a rep in the back at 100kg).

Overall your job is to get him ready by counting attempts and give him attempts he can hit. That’s the minimum. If you have an effect on arousal levels (chilling him out, amping him up, etc.), then that’s better. Keep in mind that too much adrenaline in weightlifting can cause a new lifter to forget a cue and mess up. Only cue one thing at a time, and feel free to do so when he’s on the platform (e.g. “heels” or “chest up” as he’s adjusting his grip for the jerk).


broseph on November 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm said:
Dude, I was cereal when I asked what you bring for food when spending multiple days in the wilderness. Like, several pounds of jerky? Pemmican? A gun and knife?

Dear broseph,

What I take is dependent on how I’m getting there; do I have my truck? Packing it in? How long? If I have the truck, I’ll obviously have more stuff, but I don’t like the “not camping” style of camping where there’s a camper, generator, and home luxuries. Anyway, I might bring meat to cook on the fire with other refrigerated stuff like beer (PBR is solid with a camp fire) or fruit. A couple weekends ago I had scotch in the truck, so that was swell. Otherwise I’ll have jerkey, dark chocolate almonds, protein bars, and stuff like that. I try and get high calorie stuff so sometimes I’ll have candy and trail mix. I end up losing a little bit of weight when camping because I sort of conserve water and food in case something bad happens. But now that I have a 20L water can (thanks Marotta) I’m not worried about that with truck camping). I’ve never actually had pemmican but I definitely want it now.

I carry a Glock 26 and two knives on my belt or pockets. I always have my GR2 from GoRuck with me, so in that I’ll have water, food, 2 compasses, water purifying tablets, a Lifestraw, fire starters (mag, Exotac, matches), another knife, camp axe, spare mags, foot care stuff, first aid stuff, ponchos, emergency blanket, multi-tool, maybe extra layers depending on the weather, and a few other things. It just depends on what I’m doing. I’ll be getting some new guns and will probably want to carry a .45 in the woods and have a shotgun in the truck. Obviously I think carrying a weapon in general is necessary, but especially when out in the woods.


brian45 on November 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm said:
Question for Justin: I was doing my 5rm for front squat and on the video I noticed a slight rounding at the back in the thoracic (plus a bit of butt wink from my depth once below parallel) I understand some mobility at the shoulder would help this but on my last set I backed off and used a 15? box and my back position was much better. Do you have any recommendations and what are your thoughts on using the box? Thanks.


Dear brian45,

The thoracic extension is your fault. You need to lock that shit in place. That’s one of my fundamental cues for squatting (others would be “knees out” and full depth). Lift your chest in your chin and keep it there. I’ll be doing a video eventually about this. The front squat makes it difficult to keep thoracic extension, by make sure your elbows are “up and in”. Putting them “in” puts the shoulder into external rotation and therefore facilitates thoracic extension. If your elbows flare out to the sides when you are front squatting, you’re allowing them to internally rotate and thus flex the thoracic spine. So stop it. Obviously thoracic and shoulder mobility will play a role in this. If your internal rotators are tight, they will prevent you from getting externally rotated. Work on it.

As for the lumbar flexion (“butt wink” — fucking hate this term), you are docked 100 points for not searching the site, you fucker (“The Butt Wink“). Special Forces are not in your future. If you aren’t shoving your knees out when squatting, then it’ll allow for a flexed lumbar. If you are shoving them out and it still happens, you may be going too low. If knee shovage and depth are good, then your mobility is poor; work on it. AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR. (couldn’t find a video on YouTube, about 1:10 here)


snommisjay on November 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm said:
I understand that herschel walker never really lifted. How did he become so jacked and powerful?


Dear snommisjay,

Because he’s a gods damn genetic freak, man! I’ve talked a bit about this in “Play the Hand You’re Dealt” and “What’s Your Excuse?“. Basically there are people out there who are so athletic, so naturally physically talented, that they can do amazing things in spite of stupid training. For example, Walker has stated he’s done a thousand push-ups and 3,500 sit-ups a day in addition to an 8 mile run. He also is apparently a vegetarian who eats one meal a day and mostly east bread and soup. The obvious answer is that this guy is part alien, a total fucking non-human. Did you guys know he played in the USFL before the NFL and rushed for 2,411 yards in his third and final season there? Then he played in the NFL for 13 seasons. Dude is and was impressive. He also talked about making a comeback to the NFL at 50 years old but said he’d only play for two teams — because a 50 year old running back has the option to play wherever he wants (eye rolling). Anyway, he’s an interesting cat — read his wiki page. Herschel Walker is the epitome of what it means to be a freak, plain an simple.


themurr on November 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm said
I have a question. I ran the this:https://ultrahike.com/ a month or so ago, 26 miles, 6000 ft of elevation change, took me 7 and a half hours and was absolutely fantastic (best post race party ever). For future events of that sort I’m wondering how I should structure the lifting in the weeks before and how quickly I can get back into the swing of things after.


Dear themur,

Sounds like a serious event. As for incorporating your lifting into your training, it should function like any strength and conditioning program for an athlete. There is an off-season, a pre-season, a season or peak, an event (in your case), and then a recovery period. I’m not going to create a comprehensive plan, but your strength training frequency will be highest in the off-season and then will decrease as you get closer to the race. With the exception of the last one or two weeks before the race, you can still strength train twice a week, though you can modify what you do (e.g. A – squat/pull-ups, B – press/RDL). Total amount of exercises as well as volume would decrease as race date neared. Furthermore, you program structure will be dependent on what your weaknesses are. Off season might only include one long run a week at a steady pace to maintain structural adaptation to long distance running — I don’t know, it depends on you and what you need. But now you have a general plan.


This next thing isn’t necessarily a question, but it’s a comment a friend made to me about the Couch Thread. I thought it was funny enough to save and now I’m posting it here:

On a side note- I read the post about crossfit the other day, and the “CF white papers” lead me to the Couch thread- holy fucking shit. The Crossfit community had better not be granted actual recognition as a sect of humans at some point, because that shit is going down as a hate crime. The amount of whiny, bitchy, holier than though shit on that thread is UNREAL. The guys hating on Crossfit (and everything else, in general it seems) makes them actually sound like the CF community. It’s arguing on the internet in an epic fashion. It’s like the battle of 5 armies for assholes in their mom’s basement. (That’s right- a Tolkien reference). It’s like watching one realm of fucking dungeon and dragon geeks going after Twilight followers, with an outside interest being taken by Trekkies. Unbelievably entrancing. Seriously, I’ll bet I went through 150 pages of this nonsense, I can’t stop.





116 thoughts on “Q&A – 50

  1. I have another question for any of your physical therapy or chiro experts. When I squat it feels like my right hip is impinging on something inside the hip joint. Could a hip go halfway or so out of place? Would a visit to a chiropracter to put it back into place help?

    And if so to help it do lots of mobility work on the hips?

    Thanks guys.

  2. Bench press 1 RM PR: 205#
    Low bar back squat 3 x 5: 225#
    Press 3 x 5: 115#

    Pretty much all of that stuff was easy. I think it’s because I’ve been eating more and biking less. Regardless, it means my linear progression still has a long way to go. My conditioning has taken a bit of a hit though.

    I’ve raised $300 for Movember so far, $200 to go to reach my goal.

  3. Still no PR’s, first wk back pushing weights up, missed 1 training day this wk. Not going to be using a belt the rest of the year due to the rib injury. I will be stronger for it and I will be working on core strength cause I always lag on it cause I hate it. Not sure if the year end goal of squatting 315, DL 405, and Pressing 185 will happen but I am still going to try and be stronger for it.

  4. PR’s this week:

    Press: 175 x 3
    Squat: 395 x 5,5,4 (upset about missing the last rep, but PR nonetheless)

    Continuing to try and work some conditioning in to get ready for BB season. Justin and others have been cautioning about too much too soon off and on for quite some time as your body’s not adapted to that and you’re going to be met with some impressive DOMS if you overdo it. Amen, brothers and sisters.

  5. Shoveled shit all week, but managed to stand up with 280 today. I’m feeling burnt out, you guys. Thinking about doing nothing but leg curls, upright rows, and tricep pressdowns for the foreseeable future.

  6. I just competed today at USAPL maryland state championship. I opened my squat at 396, and failed my next two at 407 (I hit 405 for a double in training leading up to the meet). For whatever odd reason I decided while at the meet I should relax in the bottom of the squat and I was burying my butt in the ground (too deep) and just couldn’t recover. Pause benched 267 and deadlifted 451 for PR’s and good enough for bronze in the 242lb division. It rocked

  7. Nothing much been happening on the lifting front. Just trying to get my knee back in shape. The recovery LP is at:
    65 kg Front Squat 5 x 5
    40 kg Push Press 5 x 5
    65 kg RDL 5 x 5

    Once weights are heavier I’ll drop volume, but I’ll probably ride this LP until at least a 300 x 5 x 3 back squat. Gotta keep my form though, that’s the big one… I want as much transfer as possible to Oly lifting, and I want my knee healthy and strong. I gotta hope.

  8. Think I’m going to continue posting this question until someone answers it. This should be fun, and not at all incredibly annoying to everyone here.

    Bands and chains are usually seen as more of a geared lifter thing, but a lot of high level raw lifters advocate their use as well, especially chains. What’s your opinion, and how would you recommend incorporating them into the Texas method for lifters at various levels?

    Glenn Pendlay seems to think that bands on volume day is a good idea, FWIW. http://pendlayforum.com/archive/index.php/t-2411.html

    For context, I’m 26, 210 lbs, 6’1″, recent gym PRs: squat 435×1, BP 315×1, DL 465×2.

  9. Competed in my powerlifting meet and did not bad.

    -I got a gold medal
    -set a provincial record in each of the 3 lifts
    -PRd my deadlift by 10lbs, pulled 319.5lbs
    -won best overall female lifter with highest wilks formula
    -qualified for Nationals

    Things I didn’t get:
    -my 300 squat
    -my 200 bench
    -my 800 total (798.7, so god damn close)

    My numbers were:
    Squat: Opened conservative with 275.5 (125), 286.5 (130) Failed 292(132.5)

    Bench: 187.2(85),192.7(87.5),felt like butta,went for PR 203.7(92.5) didn’t get it, but it was a real solid negative:-)

    Deadlifts:286.5 (130) 303 (137), 319 (145).

    All my lifts that I was successful at I got 3 white lights. This makes me very happy. Since moving to my garage and working out by myself. It changes things but lifting integrity has remained. That’s all that matters.

  10. Press 5x5x95
    Deadlift 1x5x325

    Justin, I have an issue I hope you can help with. Whenever I squat, I can’t seem to be able to get my hamstrings to rest on my calves. I feel a resistance to it in the front of my knee and don’t feel like I can sink any lower. Is there anything I can do to improve this or could it just be how my body is? I can already squat to proper depth, but I can’t seem to get ass on the heels like I see a lot of olympic lifters doing. Thanks.

  11. @Lauren. Hey! I’ve also got scoliosis too, although it’s not as severe as yours. I have approximately 9 degree magnitude in my low back and about the same in the upper/mid back. The curvature in my lower spine results in pevlic assymetry. Needless to say sciatic/hip/low back pain is an ongoing issue. After talking to Justin about it earlier this year I tried the side plank thing for several months without success. The ONLY thing I’ve found that works is 1) hanging from pull up bars for extended periods of time every single day to stretch out the spine. I just hang on for as long as possible and relax everything below my shoulders. I try to accumulate 5-10 mins hanging/day. I keep a pull up bar in my kitchen to make this easy. Every time I pass through that doorway I take some hang time. 2) sitting in the deep squat (e.g. KStar’s paleo squat) daily 3) Stretching the lumbar/hip muscles–especially anterior hip–always and 4) never not lifting. If I don’t lift everything seizes up and the discomfort increases big time. 5) Be sure to come up straight on your squats. Justin noticed at a seminar attended that I was coming up a little crooked to compensate for my curved spine. I’ve since been able to reduce some of my discomfort by always thinking about coming up straight. Good luck!

    Training: No PRs or anything just yet, but I felt very powerful in the gym last week. I’m really getting on a roll, having now strung together 6 weeks of solid training on TM. I will be entering PR territory in 3 weeks or so.

    • Nudes next to the platform -or- It. Did. Not. Happen.

      How big/fancy did you go with the platform? I’m thinking horse stall mats at the ends of a single 3/4″ sheet of plywood. The platform area in front of the half-rack I currently lift in is only about 4’x8′ any way. I’m not going to the Olympics, just want something I can drop jelly dick weights onto.

      • My platform is a bit smaller than the usual ones; it’s only 6′ x 6′, because my garage doesn’t have a ton of available space. Also, the rubber floor mats I scored for free are only 4’x6′, so cutting one in half would give me two 2’x6′ sections.

        I built it with two layers of plywood, then a top layer of floor mat and more finished plywood in the center. Used Liquid Nails and screws to hold the bottom two layers together, then just Liquid Nails to hold the top layer of plywood and mats. You definitely want a couple of layers, to dampen the noise and keep everything from sliding around.

        As far as the nudes next to the platform, that would only resurrect the whole ‘fat chicks discourage other chicks from lifting’ thread from last week.

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