Q&A – 34


Jesus, what a busy week on the site, eh? For all of you new readers, welcome. You probably came here because you thought there were gonna be hot babes or you wanted to argue with me. That’s fine. This website will entertain you (albeit poorly), but it’ll also aim to educate. Regardless of your training goals, there are gems you can glean for your mechanics, mobility, programming, nutrition, health, sleep, strength training, conditioning, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and more. It won’t all come at once, because that’d be an information grenade that would make your head explode (and not necessarily the head on your shoulders).

Doug Young is one of Chris’ dads

PR Friday

Every Friday we post about our training personal records (PRs) in the comments. If PRs weren’t achieved, then readers can at least update everyone on their training. Posting regularly means that other people remember you and enjoy hearing about you; it helps them stay motivated as well. Join the fun.

Weekly Challenge

This is where I pose a challenge for readers to complete. Last week I actually forgot to write something and included a .gif that basically said, “Don’t suck.” Woops.

Next Week’s Challenge:  Perform these foot drills every day in the next week. It should help those of you with lower extremity issues, but let’s see if it does anything else. You can do it prior to lifting and running.

Week In Review

Oh boy. The week started quietly with a post about the New England Women of Strength. Then things got interesting on the subject of treating very simple neural issues. Then things got kinda rowdy. Mark Sisson linked to the site; he runs Mark’s Daily Apple, an enjoyable website about health, nutrition, and primal living (Mark: Do you ever read fiction? My gods, man!). However, in conjunction with that I wrote a post about not needing sexy programming or equipment in training, but at the same time making a point about superficial websites that focus on selling “sexy” things, like pictures, slogans, memes, or catchy phrases instead of content with substance. The following day I pissed off a bunch of runners because I’m not impressed with completing a marathon. I’ll be honest, I only read the first half of the 80 or so comments. I get bored of the same, “Well, why don’t YOU do a marathon, tough guy,” comments over and over, which only prove my original point. I don’t enjoy people who get offended easily.


This is the one day of the week where I pick a few questions from the Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, comments, or other messages and answer them. It keeps me on my toes, and I don’t know the answer I have a lot of friends who are smarter than me that I can ask.



More of a lurker, but I’ve been following 70sbig since the beginning.  After reading your marathon post today, I felt compelled to tell you how utterly awesome that was.  Please write a history book describing significant battles and “athletic events worth emulating” in the same way as you have done today.
I recently bought the TM Part 1 e-book and have been debating whether or not to buy Part 2.  Heading over to the 70sbig store after I send this to you to pick it up.  The quality of information you put out is some of the best in the fitness community and it dawns on me that I need to do my part to support you in this so you can continue to do it for a long time.
Enough ass-kissing, just wanted to say thanks.


While I’m at it, I’ll throw out a question.  I’m a pretty tall dude at 6’5 with a very short torso relative to my long femurs.  Current bodyweight around 215.  Current 5RM low bar squat around 315.  All time best is 360×5 at 240 lbs bodyweight.  However I can deadlift mid 400’s for a set of 5 (all time best 500×5 at 240 lbs).  Squatting is just a very difficult movement, and anything above 225 feels slow as shit; while deadlifting feels completely natural.  Is there a certain type (low, high, front, etc.) of squat a guy in my situation should focus on?  Goals are general athleticism for basketball, jackedness, but would also like to hit a 400 lb squat in a powerlifting meet.
I recently dropped some excess bodyfat, so I’m back on an LP for a few weeks and then will transition to TM.  I’ve read your posts about low bar vs. high bar squatting and you’ve addressed this in your Q&A before, but was just wondering if there were any special considerations/recommendations for a tall guy with long legs?  Just continue driving up my low bar squat 2x/week?
Thanks man,

Dear Tim,

As you know, I’ve talked at length on high bar and low bar squatting. To simplify:

Powerlifting: low bar
Weightlifting: high bar
GPP/S&C: Kinda doesn’t matter, but whichever suits goals best

Guys with your body type — long femurs and a short torso — have difficulty with the vertical style squats (high bar and front) because of the angles and lever arms. That means that you’ll have to lean over a bit more because your torso is shorter. If you have good mobility and “not as extreme” segment lengths, this may not be as much of an issue.

The reason your deadlift is so much better is because you probably have longer arms (judging by the long femurs), and this helps tremendously with the deadlift. Since your back is short, it may not round as much relative to a guy with a longer torso, and it results in a lever system that is more efficient than normal (or at least more efficient when compared to your back squat).

Without seeing your technique (which could limit you), you just need to keep plugging away at the low bar squat. Part of your issue will be filling out the musculature on the front and back of your legs, and proper squatting, deadlifting, RDLs, or other posterior chain work will do that for your hamstrings. It may be necessary to work on your anterior chain a bit in the form of front squats, but if you’re still sloppy in the movement don’t worry about this for a while. The vertical alignment will train a different motor pathway and it’s some times hard for people to go back and forth between vertical squatting and low bar squatting. This would be something I could determine if I was coaching you, or even had some video.

Continue squatting twice a week with the low bar. Your segment lengths will work best with that style for now, and you stated a powerlifting goal so it reinforces my support for the low bar. The front or high bar squat may augment your low bar (by improving the strength and musculature of your quads), but it may be a bit soon to use that. Be consistent, make sure your technique is solid, and train hard.

Paul posted this link and said, “Look where weightlifting was placed. Discuss.

Dear Paul and whoever wants to discuss,

The guy writing the article is just some editorial doofus with arguably no athletic experience. And the piece included several poor attempts at humor. Let’s ignore all that.

To really rank these, we’d have to define what we mean by “hardest”. Hardest to do that activity on any level? Hardest to excel at the highest level? Hardest to win a gold medal?

Instead, let’s just talk about what Olympic sports could be considered some of the hardest and ignore how they relate to each other. I don’t know where I’d put weightlifting, but I know that it wouldn’t be the “hardest”. The lifts are very technical, yes, but all athletic skills considered, it’s just repeating the same movements over and over. It’s been documented that there are plenty of successful lifters that are not great athletes in other sports. In fact, I think Glenn Pendlay said that in one of our podcasts; the American weightlifter is typically someone who couldn’t cut it in another sport, like football, and they found something they could flourish in (let’s ignore the fact that is specific to our country’s situation for now). Generally speaking, being able to repeat the same movements over and over doesn’t necessarily make you very athletic, though they are athletic movements (especially by a novice’s standards).

Personally, I’m more impressed with sports that are dynamic. Things like weightlifting, swimming, and sprinting are all very impressive, but true athleticism is shown through reaction to an opponent. This would include wrestling, judo, taekwondo, hockey, boxing, volleyball, basketball, soccer, fencing, and rugby. Personally, I’m more impressed with sports that require significant physical skills, perhaps a broad spectrum of them, to be successful in the sport. This would eliminate things like tennis, table tenis, handball, and fencing from “the hardest” category. Soccer and basketball seem to require a specific kind of skill set, and you can develop the physical attributes to participate purely through playing them, so they fall off of my list. Rugby and hockey aren’t relatively technical, they they are both physical. They are high on my list, but maybe not the highest. Taekwondo appears to be more skill dependent than boxing (though boxing is technical, there are only two weapons compared to, well, more than two in taekwondo). This leaves wrestling, judo, and taekwondo. To be able to react to your opponent is so significant in the realm of athleticism, and it’s something we ignore in our “online S&C communities”.

In the realm of precision and consistency, where the skill lies in executing a repetitive motion with unwavering accuracy, archery stands as a testament to both focus and discipline. While it may not demand the same physical exertion as some other sports, the mental fortitude required to consistently hit the mark cannot be understated. Much like a steady hand drawing back an arrow from its arrow quiver, each shot requires a blend of technique, concentration, and control. So while it may not fit the mold of traditional “physical exertion,” archery holds its own unique challenge within the realm of sporting endeavors.

You’ll notice archery or shooting sports, while incredibly technical, did not really get mentioned. It’s not because they aren’t hard, but because they are more in that “doing a skill repeatedly without too many changing variables” group, yet they also have the, “not really exerting oneself physically, relatively speaking” tag. All kinds of things are hard, like triathlons, rowing/kayaking, curling, and golf, yet they are more hard in one kind of way than several ways.

All this being said, I think that decathlons are the hardest thing to be successful in. There is such an array of skills across a broad spectrum of physical attributes. If decathletes were more jacked, they’d probably be my favorite athletes. Oh, and gymnastics is pretty hard and has a large skill set and demand of physical capacity. However, both gymnastics and decathlons don’t have that reaction component, and I deem that as incredibly important

If I had to pick one sport that is the hardest, I would pick wrestling. There’s not too many sports that are so heavily dependent on physical capacity, technical skill, as well as the ability to react to an opponent.

What do you guys think?

Kind of limited on questions this week, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of discussion with people still pissed off from the running post. 

Every Man Can Squat 405

Brent was telling me about some dickhead somewhere on the internet that was making a big deal about squatting 300 pounds. I can’t recall exactly what quote Brent used, but the guy apparently said it was “AMAZING” or something. It’s really not. It’s kinda amazing for a girl to do that, but not a guy.

I coached a 14 year old kid a few years ago. He had hypothyroidism, which means that his metabolism was super slow. They had him on some meds that provided thyroid hormone, yet his dose may have been a bit high. This made his metabolism super high. Therefore, he was a smaller, thinner kid. But god damn did he want to be big and strong — he’s still one of my favorite people. The first day of training, he squatted 95 pounds for some sets. Less than half a year later he squatted 305. I don’t have video of that, but here’s old an video of him squatting 275×5 (there are two more sets, this was the first).

This 14 year old kid was able to work up to a 300 pound squat. It’s pretty good for a 14 year old, but I certainly wouldn’t call it “amazing”. For a grown-ass-man, it’s not a big deal. People have been accidentally squatting 300 for 50+ years. Every man can squat 405.

This, of course, assumes a healthy individual with no existing pathology — anatomical or otherwise. A regular guy can squat 405. And when he does, it may only be amazing if he was a weak-ass dude when he started. I’d be proud if “less genetically gifted guy” squatted 405, but I still wouldn’t call it amazing, or breathtaking, or whatever stupid thing the stupid under-achieving guy Brent was talking about said.

What should you do if you can’t squat 405 yet? The simple answer is to squat twice a week and don’t stop until you squat it. If you garner the accumulated work of squatting twice a week for a year, that’s 104 squat sessions. If you do that for 18 months, it’s 156 sessions. Two years is 208 sessions. It doesn’t have as much to do with set/rep schemes, or volume/intensity; it’s just that you continuously get the acute and chronic stress of squatting.

It’d make the most of your time to emulate a linear progression for several months at first, then a volume/intensity approach (like the Texas Method), and then tweak it from there. At the end of the day, it only matters that you squatted.

I’m not asking you if you think it’s possible, I’m telling you: Every man can squat 405. If this is a goal of yours, then get started yesterday. There are plenty of factors that would effect the success of this goal, but none of them are more important than just getting under the fucking bar and doing it. Then do that consistently. Don’t lower your standards for yourself or to make other people feel better about themselves. You’re not a beautiful butterfly, chocolate starfish, or whatever. 405 will make a statement, one that says, “I am average, but I busted my balls to do this, so eat shit guy in the corner who is doing wrist curls with the smith machine.”

Do eet.

Squat All of the Way Down

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been exposed to a regular fitness facility for the first time in a while. People with good intentions wander around the room ready to implement either what they have read in mainstream magazines/websites, or what convoluted knowledge they’ve picked up over the years. It’s a shame that they have been misled by people who know better, but I guess it could be worse; they could be sitting at home. In any case, there are still some things that I see that make my eyes bleed. Alas! This is an unfortunate reality for many readers of this site. Hopefully my observations can prevent any readers from following suit.

In most facilities it’s rare to see someone squatting with a barbell. Hell, it’s rare to have more than one rack to do it in. It’s even more rare to see someone doing anything lower than a half squat…and this saddens me. Skinny guys weighing less than 160 pounds and wearing fingerless gloves load the bar to 185 or 225 (apparently it’s sacrilege to use the smaller plates) and bust out some hard fought half rep squats. These guys don’t have any business loading this kind of weight, and if they did an honest-to-god full squat, they would squat significantly less than my girlfriend. I’ve seen another guy who actually had some squatting experience put 405 on the bar (after I did) and squat it below the halfway point, albeit five inches high.

Shirtless, shaved, and half squatting with stop sign plates. Fuck.

If you can’t or don’t squat ALL of the way down, you don’t have any business squatting. I will personally kick the ass of any reader of this site who does a half squat. If there’s any doubt to the depth of your squat, then it was high. Yes, I’ve cut some reps off before (most people have), but making it a habit is unacceptable. Aside from looking like a complete poon, you’re wasting your time because you aren’t getting much benefit from half squats.

The “low bar” squat (as indicated in “Starting Strength”) necessitates proper depth. Growing up, proper depth was always considered to be at parallel (even though parallel isn’t clearly defined), but it should be thought of as the point where the hip joint is below the knee joint. Visually, that would be a point where the crease flexed hip is below the top of the knee (note: this gets harder to see when the lifter has more girth).

Lowering the hips below the knees does a few things. Specifically for the “low bar” squat, it ensures there is enough depth for the adductors and hamstrings to stretch so that they can subsequently contract with the aid of the “stretch shortening cycle“. Taking advantage of this “bounce” is vital for a strength trainee. If the depth is cut short, then the bounce isn’t possible because the related muscles aren’t stretched adequately prior to their contraction. Visually it will look like a slower rep than if the bounce occurred.

Squats at proper depth also train all of the musculature around the knees and hips through a full range of motion. There is no utility in training half of a muscle’s range of motion. Half squats at the high or low bar position handicap the lifter and severely limit their strength progression. They also make the lifter look like a fucking Nancy. If you’re gonna spend time lifting, you my as well do it right. If that means reducing the weight by as much as 50 to 100 pounds, then so be it. It is what it is.

And I don’t want to hear any shit about people doing half squats to make their lifts go up. 99% of people on this site don’t have any business dicking around with half movements anyway. Unless you’re Mike Tuchscherer, eating and squatting all the way down should be your only concern. Every time you don’t squat to depth, I pour a beer down the drain. And I HATE wasting beer.

Chris hits solid depth on this 585 double:

My Friends…

My Friends Are Stronger and More Funny Than Yours

AC has Heracles-esque strength, and I’ve known this for a while. This is why I befriended him long ago; so that I could keep him close as a friend in preparation of when he was a foe. Secretly I know that he is my nemesis (don’t tell AC this), and one day we will battle to the death…

But in the mean time we are best friends, and as Brent would say, “His strength is ill.” He recently pressed 245 for a triple at a body weight of 216. Yeah. I know.
Edit: Sorry for the quality, it’s a cell phone vid.

AC and Brent were talking about this video (sheeeeeit, everybody is talking about it), and on AC’s last rep, he yells “YEAH KENT!” to the guy holding the camera. I don’t think this Kent actually “exists”, but Brent thought this was pretty cool (I don’t know why). Being the chivalrous nemesis guy that he is, AC said he’d dedicate his next bench workout to Brent, which was to be 365 for a triple. This pleased Brent, because he is easily pleased by such things, so he decided to dedicate one of his own sets to AC (AKA Ace McGonague). Brent squats 410×5 (he did three sets at this weight) at a body weight around 177.

You’ll notice my other besties with testies, Chris and Mike spotting Brent in the video (we’ve come full circle). To complete this roundhouse kick, here is AC’s final contribution, the video of him squatting 525×2 and benching 365×3 (with a surprise appearance by Taylor, another one of my friends).

Just hanging out, gettin 70’s Big from A.C. on Vimeo.

So, as you can see, I have proved many points today. I have proved that my friends are stronger than your friends. I have proved that one day, I will destroy Arin W. C********. I have proved that my friends are more amusing than yours. And I also proved that 70’s Big is the way of the chainsawed warrior. Need proof?


On a side note, doesn’t AC look way more awesome (obligatory no homo because I know I’d get comments on it) with longer hair? Vote on it, for this is the poll to end all polls.

[poll id=”10″]

Brent Belts Big Ones

I’m glad to hear that you guys are listening about belts. I had a talk with Brent, who is an Olympic weightlifter, last year about wearing one while squatting, and he listened. ‘Twasn’t long before he was squatting more than the rest of the Asian population in Wichita Falls combined. This video is from earlier this year (he would later unintentionally break the Texas State Raw Record on his third attempt at the USAPL Texas State Meet in April with a 458 pound squat):

Brent is 5’5″, so a conventional four inch belt doesn’t fit him. He bought a belt from Elite FTS that is 2.5 inches in the front. Yes, it is one of those belts that tapers from a wider back to smaller front (look at the links below to (re)learn why this is silly), but it is one that he can wear comfortably and take advantage of the strength building benefits of wearing a belt.

To review some information that I have written in the past on belts, click the following links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3