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  • Beltless squat fatigue

    I've got a question about intensity and beltless lifts (specifically squats). The material I've read/listened to suggests that beltless squats are used in the program to offer training stress at a lower weight than the standard belted variation. How much difference would one expect to see between a belted and beltless squat e1RM (for me it's only about a 3% difference)? And secondly, is it common to be a lot more fatigued following beltless squat variations than belted?

    I'm currently running legacy 12-week Strength and am around the middle weeks. Comp squat is programmed for [email protected], then 4x4 at 15% below the single. For me, the 4x-15% are normally around 250lb and tend to be @~6.5. Later in the week, 2ct paused beltless squats are programmed for [email protected], [email protected] x3. The [email protected] normally starts around 265lb, and drops by about 5lb each set.

    So for me, I'm finding the "Comp Squat" slot pretty easy, both at the time, and to recover from. But then, I'm totally wrecked after the 2ct beltless squat slot, often cramping up a bit around the core (particularly the obliques), and then needing a rest day (sometimes two) before the next training day (beltless deadlift variations).

    Does this seem normal? Overall, I'm feeling like for any of my beltless variations I can get very close to what I'd do belted, if I REALY REALLY force the bracing. This, however, has the result of my core feeling very sore and fatigued after those sets. Are these supposed to be heavily fatiguing sets, or should I take my bracing back to "very hard" and lower the weight/fatigue for the programmed RPEs?


  • #2
    The squats on day 1 and 3 are fine to me. But I changed the day 2 squat slot this time. For me it was just too much after heavy deadlifts and in the later weeks I got extremely sore and 1RM went down on comp squat significantly. Now I just do a SSB squat, not much volume, no belt. Problem solved, so you might as well look at the slot on day 2. It might be that you do not fully recover.
    Last edited by ArthurR; 09-06-2019, 05:01 PM.

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    • #3
      Hi, my apologies in advance for stating something I'm sure you already know: Belt or no belt, you should be holding your breath and bracing your core for every rep. A belt doesn't support your core by itself, it helps you brace a little better. The only real difference I notice about high-rep squats with no belt is additional fatigue in my lower back during the workout.

      In your post you said you're doing 2ct paused squats without a belt. The combination of pausing and no belt will make that squat movement quite a bit harder. While it can seem like a step back, if you are experiencing a lot of fatigue from this specific movement, I'd recommend lowering the weight by a lot (to a point where you can recover from the volume quickly) and then slowly increase the load over several weeks. There's no way to give a specific percentage of how much you should reduce the load, as every lifter is unique. I would just start with something that is really easy. Remember, strength acquisition is a slow process and starting low on this assistance exercise won't really matter in the long run. Reducing the stress to a level you can handle is better than skipping a movement. As you get stronger, higher volume is essential for you to be able to continue to achieve results. You can't get stronger by working out less. Thanks
      Last edited by sjalbrec; 09-06-2019, 07:12 PM.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the advice on this one, team. I did W7D3 last night, and lowered the weight by about 20%. This way I could concentrate on my bracing form, and there was no cramping up. However, it did mean that my programmed [email protected] were more like [email protected] What was confusing me was that it didn't seem to be a volume fatigue that was an issue, but more of an intensity fatigue (does that make any sense)? Having now finished W6 (and most of W7), it feels like this issue is specific to the high intensity paused variations (eg. 2ct pause quat and 2ct pause deadlifts [email protected] x 3). Which makes me think that my problem is holding the brace properly for the 2ct pauses under heavy weight. So I'll drop the weights down on those variations for the moment, and then I might post a form check vid on the facebook page to see if anyone can spot what I might be doing wrong form-wise.

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        • sjalbrec
          sjalbrec commented
          Editing a comment
          This sounds perfect and you're back on track to making progress.

          I'm not sure if you came from SSNLP? When I switched to RPE based training, one of the hardest things for me to adjust to was feeling like my RPE workouts were too easy. When you are acclimated to grinding out heavy sets of fives (which are too much stress), it takes a while to embrace the fact that you actually make better progress when you don't feel beat up all the time.
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