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Elliott Denney 09-26-2013 01:57 PM

Cycle Squatting Question
 
So recently I finished out the basic rep cycle, and I loved it. My snatch went from hitting 165#(my old pr) only if the tides were right to hitting a very solid 185. Plus, just this week I did a complex with 160 that was 3 hi-pulls+hi-hang snatch+snatch balance. Nevertheless, my clean hasn't really gone up a lot, and I think this is simply due to my squat. Right now, my back squat is only 285#, and my front squat is ~250-260. My max clean as of now is 225.

I'm about to start the 6 week strength cycle from July '09, and I'm wondering about the squatting. I think I've made the mistake in the past of working off of percentages and not really challenging myself as much as I should to push my squat up. For example, I am supposed to do 75%x4x5 (215#) when I start the cycle, but Monday I went in and did 235#x5x5, so I know that the prescribed weight will be pretty easy.

So my question is would it totally mess the cycle plan up if I took more of a "by feel" approach to the squatting? I've also considered just incorporating a TM approach because that would not deviate too much from the cycle (M:5x5 instead of 4x5 and heavier, W:still 3x5 FS but heavier, S: either 1rm or 5rm). Thoughts?

(Sorry for the long post)

Javier Sanjuan 09-27-2013 05:54 AM

Elliott,

I think you should go ahead and execute your plan. Your numbers, in theoretical relation to each other (front squat to clean), are "normal." If you've identified the need to increase in leg strength (good for you), then your plan will help you. There are a couple of things that you need to be aware of:

1. Make sure your technique is solid. No 1RM is going to look super pretty, especially in the squat, but if you're just completely off, then you need to revisit your form.

2. Listen to your body. A lot of times, it's mind over matter. You'll feel achy because that's just a side effect of what we do. Learn the difference between pain and injury, educate yourself on recovery techniques (Pendlay and Poliquin have some great tips), and remember to not get ahead of yourself. Numbers don't just magically jump up; they take time, and waiting for that time to come takes patience. Keep putting in the work and pushing yourself when you can, and you'll get there. When you feel completely beat to shit, then take do of those older "lighter" volume days for your recovery. Again, recovery starts the moment you finish your workout until the next time you touch a bar -- make it count.

3. Don't expect your classic lift numbers to jump simultaneously with your squat. You WILL see an improvement in your squat (if you follow point #2), but don't get frustrated when your snatch or clean and jerk aren't necessarily jumping up, too. For example, I was someone who could triple front squat 20 kilos more than I could actually clean and jerk (in theory, if you can triple front squat it, you're supposed to be able to clean it). It wasn't strength, so what was it? I revisited my technique and got that gap closed up. It's still not where I want it to be, but there was much less of a gap. My point here is to NOT forget about your technique. Your legs will be more tired than usual, so it's extra important that you pay particular attention to your lifts.

4. Ask yourself these questions: Am I setting up differently? Am I pulling off the ground any different to compensate? How's my recovery out of lower intensity lifts? Do I feel fast? For squats, ask yourself questions in regards to the squat, but be careful to not psyche yourself out. All these will guide you to choosing the right weight. This is why training cycles are usually either/or: you either focus on heavy strength training and keep the classic lift intensity down, or you have a heavy classic lift wave with lower volume squats (not necessarily lighter). The important thing here is that you don't forget to PROPERLY train your classic lifts in conjunction with seeking more leg strength.

I may have other things for you to think about in the future, but I agree with pushing it when you can -- just be prepared to intelligently compensate somewhere down the road so you can realize your truest potential during this cycle. I hope this helps you.

Best,
Javi

Elliott Denney 09-27-2013 06:54 AM

Javi,

Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I'm glad that I'm at least not totally off-base in my considerations.

From what I have found this week, it seems that heavy back squatting affects my classic lifts less than heavy front squatting. For example, on Monday when I did the complex with 160# that I mentioned previously, this was immediately following 235x5x5 on back squat. However, on Wednesday I did 215x3x5 on front squat, and when I went in yesterday I attempted some 3-position snatches and 135 was pretty taxing on me. I just couldn't hit the proper positions and my back was toast. This is just something I'll have to keep in mind as I approach both my front squats and workouts the next day.

How familiar are you with the TM? I'm not sure if there is a protocol for Monday's working weight. If there isn't, I was just going to attempt 10-15# less than 5rm. Also, would it benefit me more to attempt 5rm or 1rm on Saturdays?

Thank you for all your advice.

Javier Sanjuan 09-28-2013 08:40 AM

Elliott,

This will be a briefer reply because I'm on my phone, but I hope to succinctly answer your question/concern.

From my understanding of the Texas Method, your approach for Monday is correct; Wednesday is a "lighter" day (90% of what you did on Monday for doubles or triples), and Saturday is a day to push for a new 5RM. I'd say to follow your protocol: see how you feel. If you're feeling strong enough, make the judgement call to push for either a 5RM or a new single. Sometimes, you can do both in one day if you're really feeling good. Your "feel" will dictate how you approach Saturdays, to include the weight you put on the bar for Mondays.

As for your experience with the type of squat to your classic lifts, I would say that's normal. Each lift relies on the build up of your front squat; the back squat is to develop raw power and strength, whereas I feel the front squat builds applicable power and strength, if that makes sense. The nature of the bar being slightly forward of your center of gravity to begin the front squat already puts a strain on your lower back, so it's ok if you felt like poop while doing your snatches after heavy front squats. Just make sure you're not losing posture and fatiguing yourself faster with poor form on each movement. Remember ... Efficiency!

Best,
Javi

Elliott Denney 09-28-2013 06:04 PM

So would you suggest that I do lighter triples/doubles on back squat or triples on front squat for Wednesdays? I was planning on doing the latter.

Tamara Reynolds 09-28-2013 06:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elliott Denney (Post 100664)
So would you suggest that I do lighter triples/doubles on back squat or triples on front squat for Wednesdays? I was planning on doing the latter.

Here's the thing about your light day on TM. If you are going to do front squats, then they need to be light in comparison to your front squat and not in comparison to your back squat. Really, think of Wednesday as a proprioception day. Don't try to push and do anything crazy. Think of it as a day to get some work in to avoid feeling super stiff and crappy on Friday.

So, 215 for your sets on front squat is going to be much too heavy for your Wednesday at this point. I'd start with something like 185, honestly. Don't think about moving that number up every week. You may keep it there for a while and then go to 195 for a few weeks, etc. Use the same philosophy for back squat. It's a recovery day more than anything.

Like Javier said, it might take some time for your snatch and clean and jerk to catch up with your new squat, so don't freak out if those numbers stay the same or even go down for a bit as long as your squat goes up.

Elliott Denney 09-29-2013 08:32 AM

I'm actually quite relieved to hear this. Not that I just hate front squats, but recovering from 215x3x5 was really tough for me (215 was a previous 3rm if I'm not mistaken). Given this info, I'll probably stick somewhat close to the cycle's suggestions for Wednesday, if not a little bit lighter.

All in all, I'm just really tired of my legs being so weak. I want to push those Mondays and Saturdays, so having that lighter day will hopefully really help my recovery. At this point, I'm not terribly concerned with what my classical lifts do because they're not going to go anywhere with what my leg strength is currently anyway.

I am starting this next cycle with a couple of buddies though (all of which are stronger than me), so I'm hoping that the shift from training alone to training with a group will help me as well.


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