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Thread: How's my squat-free lifting plan look? page

  1. #1
    Dickson's Avatar
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    How's my squat-free lifting plan look?

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    So I'm a 23year old, 6'4 220lb guy who started a Starting Strength program this January. It was giving me good gains, but I was miserable the entire time. I have a curved spine and the squats were really screwing up my back. I met with a good certified SS coach, but even after $75 he couldn't change the way my lower back is naturally hyper-extended. I spent the past 2 months with a chiropractor, and now I can get a full nights sleep pain free. Luckily during that time I dropped 15lbs (from 235), without losing anything in my deadlift/press.

    So anyways, I started a new program loosely based on Dan John's Easy Strength. It appealed to me because it a) didn't require squats and b) was flexible in schedule. I'm a full-time worker, full-time grad student so my days are random and crazy. I basically have Sat/sun for sure open (although some weekends I travel to see the girlfriend), and sometimes I will have a weeknight open too.

    Here is what I do in the gym, 1x to 2x per week:

    1. Deadlift: 3x3, reverse pyramid (first set PR, 2nd set 10lbs off, 3rd set another 10lbs off)
    2. Overhead barbell press: 3x3 (same as deadlift, but with -5lbs descending)
    3. Heavy kettlebell swing: 25-50 swings, then increase the kettlebell
    4. Heavy farmers walk around the gym (using the 2x 70lb kettlebells, trying for further distance. Soon I'll start working on the heavy dumbbells.
    5. 5x ab-roller rollouts

    I've took my deadlift up +50lbs in the past 5 workouts (~3 weeks), and my press is increasing.

    On nights I get home earlier or when I am doing homework, I work on my bodyweight exercises with planks/pull-ups/pushups. Also with mobility stuff and stretching, the "grok squat" is doing wonders.

    Also, sprinting about 1x a week.

    Thoughts? Is there an imbalance that may cause trouble down the line? Is 1x a week with the bodyweight+sprint enough?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Dickson; 04-14-2013 at 09:33 PM.

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    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Could you alternate the deadlifts with something that more closely emulates the squat, like trap-bar deadlifts, hack squats, or hip belt squats?

    Your program conspicuously lacks pullups and bench press. Was that intentional?

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    Out of curiosity, the kettlebell swings don't hurt your back? I ask because I have lower back problems, occasionally severe, that got equally aggrivated squatting and kettlebelling, until I really learned how to maintain a set back for heavier lifting. Since that time, I haven't had issues when doing either squats or kettlebell swings.
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    How are you doing deadlifts and not squats if your lower back is "hyperextended"? Do you have lordosis? I think maybe the problem is that you are able to overextend your lumbar spine. Maybe you just need to keep it neutral.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quikky View Post
    How are you doing deadlifts and not squats if your lower back is "hyperextended"?
    I wondered that too.

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    Dickson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    Could you alternate the deadlifts with something that more closely emulates the squat, like trap-bar deadlifts, hack squats, or hip belt squats?

    Your program conspicuously lacks pullups and bench press. Was that intentional?
    I may try the trap-bar deadlift, thanks for the suggestion. I don't have pullups as a part of my gym-workout to cut down on time, but I have a pullup bar on my door frame which I try to do every day I'm not at the gym. The lack of bench press is twofold, the first being that I'm still benefiting greatly from pushups (I can do about 5 in a normal set, with 10 being my best), and the second being that when I did bench, I did it alone without a power rack (I workout at odd hours in a nearly empty gym).
    Quote Originally Posted by quikky View Post
    How are you doing deadlifts and not squats if your lower back is "hyperextended"? Do you have lordosis? I think maybe the problem is that you are able to overextend your lumbar spine. Maybe you just need to keep it neutral.
    I had Scheurmann's disease as a pre-teen (and I guess by default, still have it), which is a curvature of the upper back during the growth period, and causes the vertabrae to fuse together and become completely inflexible. I wore a back brace for five years, and its purpose was to hold the upperback in its place until I was done growing to keep it from fusing at a worse curvature. Unfortunately, the spine operates in a "give and take" relationship, so the brace caused my lower back to curve inwards. I now have a very S shaped back when viewed from the sides, and my lower back curves inward quite a bit at rest.

    A lot of my problems with the squat may not be unfixable. Low bar squats were taking the S and smashing it down with gravity. A stronger core and less-tight hamstrings should help, but as of now I have trouble even bodyweight squatting without losing my tightness in my lower back. Visiting the Chiropractor also has helped tremendously with getting my hips popped back in to a better angle.

    I'm not sure why I can deadlift/swing, but I think when I keep the weight off of my upper back it puts a very different pressure on my lower back; gravity is no longer trying to pancake me.

    My lifts are as following:

    Squat: 135lbs
    Deadlift: 275lbs
    OHP: 120lbs
    BP: 175lbs
    Powerclean: 105lbs

    As you can see, the squat is my Achilles heal.

    Would front-squats be a possible solution? It lowers the weight a bit and for whatever reason I can keep flexion when I am upright at 90 degrees. My sports chiro tried to get me to switch to high-bar, but it really didn't make a difference. Alternatively, would wearing a belt help? I have one and both my coach/chiro recommended it, but I felt stupid wearing it for 135lb squats. My other idea is to suck it up and do a major deload, maybe even down to 45lbs (started at 95lbs but I wasn't hitting depth).

    I'm not set on giving up squats, I still got the $190 Nike Romaleo II's after all (bought them so I'd feel guilty quitting). I just wonder if I need a better general preparedness to get my core ready for the load?

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    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickson View Post
    but I felt stupid wearing it for 135lb squats.
    If there's one caveat to the entire complex of arguments about the necessity of squats, it's "... as long as you don't have to suffer feeling stupid"

    If the belt helps you squat, WEAR THE DAMN BELT

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    not on the rug's Avatar
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    wait.. so you can pull 275, ohp 120, bp 175, but only do 5-10 pushups?
    I have a lot of hard miles on my body from before I realized I'm not 100% invulnerable. Now I just think I'm 75% invulnerable. -Mr. Anthony

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    Quote Originally Posted by not on the rug View Post
    wait.. so you can pull 275, ohp 120, bp 175, but only do 5-10 pushups?
    Yes but there is a major typo there on my part, my benchpress is 135lbs for 3x5, not 175.

  10. #10
    not on the rug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickson View Post
    Yes but there is a major typo there on my part, my benchpress is 135lbs for 3x5, not 175.
    i see.. even worse than originally stated. i'm curious as to how your chest could be so comparitavely weak compared to the rest of your body. other injuries? lack of athletic background?

    i'd also say to maybe get on to some sort of routine and stick to it. starting strength may not be the answer you're looking for, but there are several quality programs out there. you should focus on building a total body strength foundation. i second what RM stated earlier, if the belt helps you, then wear it. the hell with anyone who makes you feel stupid.

    or you could focus on bodyweight squats, slowly adding weight. you could do goblet squats, use a weighted vest, etc
    I have a lot of hard miles on my body from before I realized I'm not 100% invulnerable. Now I just think I'm 75% invulnerable. -Mr. Anthony

    Give me a spouse/life-partner who I don't want to punch in the throat when she talks. -Canio6

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