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Old 11-21-2015, 10:27 AM   #1
Got2Squat
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Default It's all about the volume!?

Just wanted to share my thoughts on training. After finishing up novice training at the end of last year, I ventured into my first year of lifting as an intermediate. I still consider myself somewhat of an early intermediate lifter, in that I am/should be capable of making gains on a weekly or semi-weekly basis....no advanced 6 or 8 week cycles needed to set PR's at this point. I'm not getting any younger, so I intend to milk these "easy" gains for as long as possible before I have to resort to more advanced periodization.

To summarize my year so far, I made very good progress on all three lifts up until 5/15 of this year. From there, bench and deadlift continued to climb, but squat progress became EXTREMELY slow. How slow? Deadlift 5RM went up 55 lbs in 5 months since 5/15, squat 5RM took 6 months to gain 15 lbs since then.

For me, it is important to determine if my progress is close to optimal or not. I know there will come a point where adding 15 lbs to a lift in 6 months is all one can expect. But I'm not that strong yet....not even close. So I looked at the three lifts and believe I figured out the issue. Volume.

I have added a lot of volume to Bench. 2-3 back off sets added in on my heavy day. 5x5 all year on my volume workout. 2-3 extra sets of incline bench added in, or weighted dips. And guess what: steady progress.

I have added a lot of volume to Deadlift. I went from one set of 5/week to adding 2 extra drop sets after my single heavy set of five. I also added a lighter pull(SGDL) for 3x5 on the other end of the week. And guess what: steady progress.

Squat:
Dropped volume, sometimes only 3x5 once a week, then one heavy set of five one other day. At most, 5x5 once a week along with the single top set. And guess what: hardly any progress. Big surprise. Why does it take us so long to figure this stuff out? It's not rocket science. If a lift is stuck, volume is one of the first things we should look at, right?

Anyway, hopefully this will help someone who gets stuck on a lift. Look over your workout logs...it could be as simple as needing to add a set or two here and there. At this point, I don't know for SURE if this will fix the issue, but I expect it to. I don't know if i will find the perfect balance of volume/intensity/frequency/recovery right away, but the next two months or so should reveal pretty quickly if I am on track.

So, hopefully this discussion about volume will benefit someone. Feel free to chime in with your revelations about training during this past year. Agree? Disagree? I'll try to follow up with my progress from here. It took me six months to go from 350x5 to 365x5. I am going to set a goal of getting to 385x5 by 1/29/2016. That gives me just over 2 months to add 20 lbs.
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:59 AM   #2
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15lb progress in 6 months and he complains. If you're squatting 700 lb in ten years will you be disappointed at your horrific progress?
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Old 11-21-2015, 11:59 AM   #3
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Haha if I can squat 700 at age 54 I'll be very happy but seriously doubt that will ever happen...I can't imagine getting past 600 at this point.

But yes, 15 lbs in 6 months on a lower body lift, for me(early intermediate just past first year of lifting) is much too slow.

Now if I was missing a lot of workouts, had poor nutrition, poor sleep, drinking excessively etc etc etc, then maybe not. Next couple of months should determine if volume was indeed the issue, or maybe I am in fact achieving all that I can.
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Old 11-21-2015, 03:01 PM   #4
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The squat is a far more complex movement than it appears, with a good amount of assistance muscle groups that come into play. Adding volume is a prudent approach, but it must be balanced against intensity, and frequency.

You'll need to find your sweet spot, and to do this you will need to squat a lot, but at a lower intensity, a much lower intensity, and work back up to find where you are working right on the edge.

There are several different programs in regard to set, rep schemes you could approach this at. Error on the side of not working hard enough, and slowly move up.

If you have the ability and time, squat 4-6 times a week, but at a much lower % of max, and work at a higher volume. You'll need to reduce, or drop direct lower back work while doing this, so as not to overwork that area. You'll also need to watch how hard you hit the back in general as it's going to be worked hard by the volume you will do.

Many old school classic programs, as well as some Oly specific, smolov, and German volume training use variations of this. Several members here have run these variations, with mixed results depending on their own conditioning level, and how hard they went into the program.

As a natural lifter you HAVE to walk slowly into the volume, or risk burnout very fast.

An example of how you could do this is what I'm currently utilizing to regain my conditioning from the long layoff, and to not kill my joints. Like you I'm in my 50's.

Pick a weight that will allow you to fairly easily accomplish 25 reps. To begin just squat daily aiming for between 3-6 days of daily work. If you feel you need a rest day, take it! Then hit it again, and go for between 3-6 days again, and take a rest day when you feel you need it. Don't work more than 6 days in a row.

You will probably find it hard to get the 1x25 set after a few days of work and will feel all of the smaller assistance groups that are being hit harder by the volume you are doing. DO NOT LET YOUR FORM SUFFER!!

TAKE YOUR TIME AND BREATHE THROUGH THE SETS, THEY WILL BE HARD!!

You will find that some days and maybe for a week or two, you are plateaued
at your current weight. This is normal, just keep working at it.

It's ok to set yourself a minimum rep amount to hit for that day, and accomplish it in a couple of sets, but don't go so hard as to wipeout for more than a day or two, and then come back and hit it. Your ego will take a hit doing this program. You have to really drop your squat weight, BUT, it will payoff.

So, your basic rep scheme is 1x25-50 done up to 6 days in a row

Try just a squat, and press program to start then add in a few other moves as you feel out your own body.
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Old 11-21-2015, 04:19 PM   #5
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Wow, I don't think I'm ready for a high rep program yet...I despise being sore lol. I even kick myself when I do bodyweight chins.

Here is what I have been doing for squats:
Mon: 3-5x5@90% of 5RM
Wed: 2x5 @ 67% of Monday..very light just for blood flow and recovery
Friday: 1x5RM

So really, only getting volume of 3-5 sets once a week, and one heavy set on Friday. Wednesday barely even contributes to volume because it is very light(50-55% of 1RM)

Here is what I am going to do:
Mon: 3-5x5 @ 90% 5RM..Heavy
Wed: 3x5 @ 80% of Monday...Light(adding a little bit of volume and a little weight here)
Fri: 3x5 @ 90% of Monday...Medium(dropping weight here but adding volume)

I might warm up to a heavy single on Fridays...around 90% of 1RM, nothing too strenuous. That's the plan for now, and I am going to run it for at least a couple months to see how it goes. Will probably drop ten pounds on Monday just for a little drop in intensity as well, and I am still not 100% sure if I will do 5x5 or 3x5 on Monday.
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Squat 435 1/2/2016
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Total 1175 @ 196
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Old 11-22-2015, 05:12 AM   #6
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Default

sometimes, the reason a squat slows down is hip mobility, or shoulder tightness, or rowing strength, or weak tendons/ligaments....it's not always a "squat problem" that affects your squat (or any lift).

Compound lifts are a sum of their parts....the more balanced your program, physique, etc. the more progress you will unlock. You must always find the weakest link in the chain and bring it up, then your lift will progress.

But, yes, sometimes the right volume is all you need.
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