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  • Squat 1RM Plateau

    I have not hit a new squat one rep max since February of 2018. I've been consistent in the gym since then. Squatting 2-4 times a week at least. A few minor injuries, but nothing I haven't been able to train through in some way. I've tried more exercise variation and higher reps to build muscle. I've tried high frequency squatting (RPE 8-9 Singles, 4xs/week). And all sorts of things in between. Right now I just want to break my squat plateau, everything else can wait. Below is the program I'm going to do for the next 8-10 weeks, then reassess. Let me know what y'all think of it and what kinds of things you have done in your training to break through one rep max plateaus on squats. Thanks!

    Current Squat with Belt Max: 405.
    All time Personal Best (Feb. 2018): 435.
    I write sets and reps like Sets x Reps. 5x6, would be 5 sets of 6 reps. That is just how I've always written it.

    Day One:

    Barbell Squat with belt: Single at RPE 8.
    Barbell Squat with belt: 4x4, 70-80%. RPE cap at 8.
    Pause Bench: Single at RPE 7
    Pause Bench: 5x3. 75-80%. RPE cap at 8.

    Day Two:
    Deadlifts 5x4. RPE cap at 7.

    Day Three:
    Barbell Squat with belt: Double at RPE 7.
    Barbell Tempo Squat with belt (3:0:0). 3x5. RPE cap at 7.
    Pause Bench: Double at RPE 7. 4x4 RPE cap at 8.

    Day Four:
    Front Squat without belt: Triple at RPE 7.
    Upper Body Accessories.(Curls, lateral raises, rows)

    Day Five:
    Barbell Squat with belt: Single at RPE 7.
    Barbell Squat with belt 3x5, 70-75%. RPE cap at 8.
    Upper Body Accessories(Tricep skullcrushers, pull ups)


  • #2
    Where are the rest days, I'm presuming there are two and hoping one is between day 5 and 1. For the % ranges are you increasing relative intensity throughout the block?

    What personally worked well for me is an emerging strategies like approach. If you plan on just repeating this week, it'd be nice if the number of times you repeat it is based on (an estimate of) your time to peak. But more important is logging training and reviewing to figure out what works best (exercise selection, reps per set, intensity, RPE, dosage). Without having your training data or really knowing your preferences I'd probably default to pushing what you wrote into a stricter DUPish thing. It'd be interesting to know some of your rationale for your programming decisions, for example; Why 300 squat and front squat?

    You explain that you've tried a lot of different approaches, which were your favorite? Evidently none of them yielded much progress recently, but maybe taking the best parts of each could get you some progress. Alternatively, some more experimenting may be warranted (Have you tried tapering, different deload strategies, Different amounts of hype, Progression/regression of sets/reps/RPE/% within a block or block to block, form adjustments, training partners).

    Since you asked for other's experience, I respond well to: Pin Squats and Narrow Stance ATG squats, Two top sets per week ([email protected], in a state of minimal fatigue), accumulating volume in sets of [email protected], cuing knees forward and pin elbows to sides. I'm experimenting and having positive experiences with wearing knee sleeves and belt for variations, increasing RPE of top sets throughout a block, quad isolation work (suspect this increases response to the following block, but having sore quads going into a squat session can be problematic).

    you probably don't need a 99% optimal program in order to progress, so I'm curious if there are factors outside the gym that you suspect have been limiting your progress.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi 413x. Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful response.

      "Where are the rest days"
      You assumed correctly. The rest days are between day five and day one, two rest days back to back, like a typical weekend.

      "For the % ranges are you increasing relative intensity throughout the block?"
      My plan was to increase intensity on my top sets as the weeks progressed. Not necessarily increase relative intensity on the back down % work. For example, increasing the day one squat to an RPE 9 after 4 or 5 weeks, and increasing the squat single and double on days three and five to RPE 8's, in the same time frame. So the first 4-5 weeks would be more RPE 7-8 and the next 4-5 weeks would be more RPE 8-9. If I can add weight to the bar on my back down % work and stay at the RPE I set out, then I will, but mostly focusing on the top sets at the beginning of the workout. This peak block is then going to last around 8-10 weeks in total.

      "What personally worked well for me is an emerging strategies like approach."
      I'm not familiar with this type of approach, I would love to hear more about it.

      "Why 3:0:0 squat and front squat?"
      I have form issue of coming up onto my toes and heels coming up off the ground during the squat ascent. I put the tempo squat into the mix to work on keeping balance over the midfoot. The front squat to emphasize a knees forward position and keeping the weight in the quads. I also should have mentioned that I'm performing all my squats high-bar ATG style. That is just what I've done mainly the past few years and what I want to get stronger at.

      "You explain that you've tried a lot of different approaches, which were your favorite?"
      When I hit my best squat I was doing greg nuckol's squat everyday program, but have ran it again since then and not gotten the same results. I hit a plateau in my deadlift last year and what really helped was having distinct top sets in certain rep ranges with RPE caps. Then hitting plenty of volume with deadlifts at 65-80% and increasing frequency. I didn't do any deadlift assistance exercises per say, just increased deadlifting. I'm hoping to do something similar with my squat; adding weight to top sets, doing plenty of specific volume work, and increasing frequency.

      " I'm curious if there are factors outside the gym that you suspect have been limiting your progress."
      I think like you mentioned I need to be a better job of logging training data. I keep a notebook, but it's disorganized. There hasn't been any catastrophes in my life keeping me from training, just haven't been able to throw a PR squat together.

      Thanks again for your response, I'll update my progress on here as the weeks go by.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sandy Amburg View Post

        "What personally worked well for me is an emerging strategies like approach."
        I'm not familiar with this type of approach, I would love to hear more about it.
        Emerging strategies is a process for individualizing training. It relies on logging training and then analyzing to figure what correlates with your best training response. Some trademark characteristics include repeating the exact same microcycle for the duration of a block in order to reduce noise, exploration blocks focused on experimentation and figuring what illicits a good response, development blocks dedicated to 1rm improvement where the best parts of multiple exploration blocks are combined, timing blocks based on time to peak, using pivot blocks instead of deloads, avoiding assumptions about best training practices (especially periodization and second order effects). I don't strictly adhere to all that but it has a very strong influence on my programming if you are interested I would reccomend this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdGP120e4B0 and I think this log would be easier to use: https://www.reactivetrainingsystems....tion/LoginPage than a notebook.

        Originally posted by Sandy Amburg View Post
        "Why 3:0:0 squat and front squat?"
        I have form issue of coming up onto my toes and heels coming up off the ground during the squat ascent. I put the tempo squat into the mix to work on keeping balance over the midfoot. The front squat to emphasize a knees forward position and keeping the weight in the quads. I also should have mentioned that I'm performing all my squats high-bar ATG style. That is just what I've done mainly the past few years and what I want to get stronger at.
        Awesome, variations are a great way to address form inefficiencies. I like that you have specific justifications for the variations you use.

        Originally posted by Sandy Amburg View Post
        "You explain that you've tried a lot of different approaches, which were your favorite?"
        When I hit my best squat I was doing greg nuckol's squat everyday program, but have ran it again since then and not gotten the same results. I hit a plateau in my deadlift last year and what really helped was having distinct top sets in certain rep ranges with RPE caps. Then hitting plenty of volume with deadlifts at 65-80% and increasing frequency. I didn't do any deadlift assistance exercises per say, just increased deadlifting. I'm hoping to do something similar with my squat; adding weight to top sets, doing plenty of specific volume work, and increasing frequency.
        Cool, it's been a few months since I last read through Nuckol's squat everyday program, but I wonder if sometime in the future you may consider reusing some elements of that program. Additionally you may want to consider if the training preceding it had robust second order effects. I also think it's reasonable to try training your squat in a way that worked well for your DL.

        Originally posted by Sandy Amburg View Post
        I'll update my progress on here as the weeks go by.
        I look forward to it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Was the ceiling ever broken? I do not have a lot to add as 413x did a great (and comprehensive) job! I would say that lifting shoes with a high heel has helped me with form and (knee pain) which have resulted in some of my "strength gains" I.e. more weight on the bar moving more comfortably. But I really mention this because it sounds like you feel like you are falling onto your toes i.e. form.

          I have the Nike Romaleos with (I believe) the 3/4" heel but would be willing to try the 1" if the opportunity presented itself. For additional foot form I have implemented the Squat University of the "triangle" i.e. where pressure should be applied, at 3 points on the foot. A lot of people say drive through heels or midfoot but there appears to be some nuance to that and the triangle cue is better. I have found that to mean (for me) that I am almost on the outsides of my feet but overall in a foot position that likely wouldn't be a accessible barefoot/running shoes/other due to the lack of support weightlifting shoes provide. Good foot positioning can provide that little bit of stability that you may feel like you are missing during high RPE attempts.

          Additionally you might be able to get your knees, hips, etc into a better position. Finally, I just listened to a Stronger By Science and Nukols mentioned a recent paper about sticking points. One result of the paper is the squat sticking point in a biomechanical one (i.e. you are in a physically disadvantaged position due to bones, etc) and that your quads (though strong) aren't the weak point and that hips are what get you through. To activate the hips more he is cuing for a SLIGHT knees forward (as much as you can..1/2" works) at that point to activate those hips better and move your knees to a slightly better angle. Sorry if sticking points weren't an issue for you! And note I'm not suggesting you have weak hips but more so pointing out hips play a large role in those hard points and how the knee location comes into play.

          Comment


          • #6
            "Was the ceiling ever broken?"

            I'm assuming you mean if I've been able to hit any new squat pbs? I got 365 for 5 reps in february of 2021 without any sleeves and without a belt. That's been my biggest squat this year. I spent alot of the summer not really focusing on training and spending time with friends and family. But i feel more determined this autumn to train and try and hit some new pbs.

            That's interesting information about sticking points from greg nuckols. I'll have to listen to that podcast. Thanks for responding to my post!

            Comment

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