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Issues With Tempo Squats on Bridge Program

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  • Issues With Tempo Squats on Bridge Program

    Some background information...

    Height: 5'10"
    Weight: 205 (started novice LP at 155)

    Notes from Week 3 (Bridge) - Top Sets Only:

    Squat w/ Belt (RPE 8): 315 x 5 x 3
    Close-Grip Bench (RPE 9): 225 x 5 x 2
    Rack Pull (mid shin - RPE 8): 305 x 7 x 2

    Pause Squat (2ct - RPE 9): 305 x 4 x 2 (could probably have gone a little heavier)
    Press w/ Belt (RPE 8): 125 x 5 x 4 (strength gains SLOW - bad shoulders: AC separation/torn labrum/bicep tendonitis)
    Barbell Rows (RPE 8): 145 x 8 x 3

    Deadlift (beltless: 4" too big for DL's, have always lifted beltess - RPE 8): 315 x 5 x 8
    Pause Bench (1ct - RPE 8): 200 x 5 x 4
    Tempo Squat (3-0-3 - RPE 8): 145 x 8 x 2 (significant decrease in weight from week 2 - 180)

    The issue I'm having is two-fold.

    1) My cardio is horrid (and that is showing on GPP days) - am struggling to get all 25 minutes of work in. I usually end up rowing (10 mins on, 5 mins off, 10 mins on). I'm also struggling to complete sets at RPE 8 with anything less than 8 minutes of rest in between (usually closer to 10 - this was the case with novice LP as well). Lastly, when it comes to the higher rep-range sets (8's for example), I typically find myself gasping for air after 5. I'm not sure if this is related to the second part of the problem, but I feel it is worth noting. Also, I should mention that my cardio is probably the worst it has ever been. I used to be able to run 5 miles, no problem (I now struggle to run for longer than 5 minutes). I assume this has to do with the rapid weight gain.

    2) And, to some degree, this has been a problem my entire life. I experience extreme low back burning/fatigue when performing just about any movement that requires low back muscular endurance. My low back is the first thing to give out when running, rowing, biking, doing manual labor, or even just mowing the lawn. Usually, it is not a problem at high-intensity, low-volume (sometimes it is - but never to the point that I can't finish my sets). That said, when I perform tempo squats, for example, the pain (burning) is excruciating.

    For weeks 1 and 2, I struggled to go slow enough at 180 (too much low back pain/fatigue). On week 3 (last Friday), I performed two sets at 145 (still faster than prescribed). After the second set, I could barely walk. I went out to the parking lot, got in my car, and started driving home. I had to pull over, and recline the seat for 15 minutes to get some relief. The pain was unbearable. My low back was fatigued for the rest of the day. I woke up the next day without pain, just soreness.

    It's probably worth nothing that I have a pretty high pain tolerance - I have had joints reset without anesthesia (no problem), I virtually never take pain medication, and I've played sports through pretty severe injuries without complaint.

    The pain seems to be more intense on the right side of my low back. I should also mention that, without physical activity, I have no low back problems to speak of (I only experience pain when working my low back).

    Any advice? Is this normal to some degree? Should I substitute another squat variation for tempo squats? Should I perform some additional low back conditioning movements throughout the week (hyper-extensions, etc.)?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time.


  • #2
    Sorry to hear about your difficulties, Kevin.

    Based on your description of needing 10+ minutes between work sets, it just sounds like you need to swallow your pride and take some weight off the bar for a period of time. And you can either do something similar with the tempo squats, or "transition" yourself into them more gradually by just using a tempo on the eccentric part of the squat for now (i.e., 3-0-0).
    IG / YT


    • #3

      Thank you for the quick response!

      I just want to clarify, because I'm new to RPE, and am just getting starting to get a feel for it. I understand that I should be able to complete sets at RPE 8 with roughly 4-5 minutes of rest in between (can't remember if I read that in the program PDF, or heard it on a BB Medicine podcast / Q/A).

      That said, even though I require significantly more rest (or at least I feel that I do - it's been about a week and a half since I've tested running sets with less time in between), the bar is never particularly slow on the last rep of any set. I always have more reps in the tank - even on sets 3 and 4.

      If you still feel I should drop weight, then that is exactly what I will do. I just want to make sure that I'm not cheating myself and going too light. When I finished my novice LP, my numbers were as follows:

      Squat: 335 x 5 x 3
      Deadlift: 340 x 5 x 1
      Bench: 225 x 5 x 3 (though it was still going 5 lbs / workout, I decided to switch to bridge anyway - my other lifts were done going up in weight)
      OHP: 140 x 5 x 3

      Thanks again! I really do appreciate the help.


      • #4
        If those ending LP numbers were nearly all-out grinders with 10+ minutes rest in between sets, then you need to adjust your expectations for what your routine training numbers should be like. Because if you plan to increase your training volume over time to drive long-term progress, rest periods that long will quickly make your sessions 3+ hours in length. Again, if you seem to be that sensitive to the tempo squats, you could substitute one of the options I described above, but I do think you need to improve your work capacity / tolerance for training.
        IG / YT