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Old 06-23-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
Steve M Herman
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My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

For reference I am 39 years old, 6'1", 220 pounds. The last time I had my body fat checked it was about 25%. That was a year ago. It probably hasn't changed dramatically since then.

I thoroughly enjoy CF. I show up 4 times per week. I mix in some yoga. My food choices are 1000% better than 2 years ago (I started CF in July of 2012).

Yet some of my strength lifts have seemingly stopped progressing. I wonder if it is a programming issue. I wonder if my age plays into it. Or am I just not activating my hamstrings properly?

For the first year of CF specifically my back squat numbers increased quite a bit. I added about 80 pounds to my lift. Yet over the past 12 months I have been stuck at 365#. I just got 365 (again) about 2 weeks ago and then I couldn't stand up with 370. I do some sort of squat every week. Many times it is 1 heavy squat session and then the second and third time is a high rep session with light to moderate weight (think wall balls, thrusters, etc.)

Here is the especially wacky part...

I front squat 335#
I back squat 365#
I dead lift 385# (I can't get 395 off the ground)

I would consider myself an above average squatter. I have quite good mobility and I am able to squat with an extremely up right torso. If you have ever seen the squat therapy video I am able to perform this with my toes on the wall and my arms straight up just like the video (although I don't do the *** squeeze at the end)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9USQl7eLGMY

Anyway I only mention all of this because I wonder if because of my extremely upright position that I am performing the back squat primarily with my quadriceps or something? My front squat numbers have continued to increase over this past year. Yet the lifts that you think would be primarily hamstring focused just aren't progressing. At this rate in 6 months I'm going to be front squatting more than I dead lift for goodness sake.

Is this possible? Any drills or things that I can utilize to check this? When people watch me squat there doesn't seem to be anything wrong.
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Old 06-23-2014, 05:48 PM   #2
Steven Wingo
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

What is your programming like in terms of the frequency of strength work, specifically squat work, weights, and reps?

At age 39 you squat about 165% of your body weight. That is fairly strong and you have already experienced the "easy to get" neuromusclar gains. Most people will hit a point where they are probably going to have to do dedicated strength work to make further gains. Have you been doing dedicated strength work? Or just training all 10 physical skills equally?
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:51 AM   #3
Kenneth Cheung
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

it could be a programming issue... at 220 at least your squatting over your own body weight, looks like you're over your 1.5x body weight as well, which is great, so don't be disheartened.

what worked for me was SL5x5 which got me from body weight (185) up to 300, took a while, but got there in the end.

I've now started an old school squat routine which is 1x20 starting at 60% of 5RM twice a week (increase by 5lb each time you do it)

perhaps adding something like that will help build up your numbers?

incidentally i found this (WFS) http://www.boxlifemagazine.com/train...squat-programs
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Old 06-24-2014, 05:22 AM   #4
Jason Denny
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

I had this exact issue about a 1.5 years ago. I was 6'2" 235lbs and my BS was stalled at 360lbs. From about 2010-2012 I just could not break it. CrossFit alone was not enough to break through. I switched to 5/3/1 for about 9 months then switched to Catalyst Athletics programming after that. Catalyst has done more for me in regards to leg strength. I now up to 455lbs for my 1RM at 247lbs BW.
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:14 AM   #5
Brendan McNamar
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

So at 6'1" and 25% body fat you are carrying 10% extra body fat that is not helpful to your squat. Remove that 10% and we get:

6'1" and 200 pounds.

So we have 365 @ 200 = 1.82 times body weight. That is fairly strong. To increase that number will take focus on strength. If it is important to you talk to you coaches.

If they can't help go talk to Jim at CFWV (the gym I sold). Not sure what they are doing for programming these days but I think they just finished a strength cycle with good results across the board. Jim knows how to get people seriously strong.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:45 PM   #6
Richard Colon
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M Herman View Post
I do some sort of squat every week. Many times it is 1 heavy squat session and then the second and third time is a high rep session with light to moderate weight (think wall balls, thrusters, etc.)
Squat more. 2-3x per week minimum until you crack the 400 mark. There are 6,000 programs out there if you google "Squat Programs" or any sort of thing with words that include "Squat" in the sentence. If you find one that talks about strength, getting stronger and squatting more and it has you Squat 3+ times per week, then you will increase. Guaranteed. The key is to do it. Exactly as it says.

99% of the reason why people don't increase on any sort of Squat program (linear stuff, 5x5, Starting Strength, 5/3/1, Wil Fleming T-Nation stuff, Smolov, Hatch, Smolov Jr, using prilepins chart stuff, CFFB M/W Squat sessions, Candito Training squat programming, Bryce on youtube squat programming, Elite FTS advice, GSLP, Madcow, Texas Method, Everett's Catalyst cycles that have "leg focus", anyone's method that Squats 500+) is simple. They don't stick with/do the program as written. Do it if you want to make cracking the 400+ a reality. Something else has to sacrifice. If your legs are too broken to do Karen for time or you don't feel like doing high rep Squat cleans because of what your Squat sessions do to you, then skip the Crossfit stuff and focus on the Squats - FIRST!

Add in some contrast therapy, foam roll all day, massage, ice bath, stretch, address your hips all the time, Airdyne or Sled Drag for active recovery, sleep all day, stuff your face (with decent food, but don't try "cutting" or "leaning out" when trying to squat like a beast - as that is stupid). Just make it happen and in 9-12 weeks, you'll be posting about how your stuck at 405.

Thrusters and Wall Balls are not squatting. Not even close. That would be like saying I squat every day because I sit in a chair. Breath is different, necessity for upper back tightness is different - it is all just different. Too many people have this thing where they say
- "I don't know, I'm just not increasing or I'm having a hard time going past 90-95% consistenly on my Squats. I mean I'm on this program where I do band hamstring work, I do pull throughs and GHam raises and I switch between Back and Front Squats. I stay explosive 2-3x per week with Cleans and Olympic stuff and I also do tons of Air Squats, Overhead Squats and all kinds of 'core' work. What gives?"

The response is simple. Do you have a line of raw skin on your upper back. Do all of your shirts just have a massive chalk line along it. Do you put the hood over your head, grind the music (if needed) and drop down and stand up as that program states ALL the time? Nothing else is needed if you aren't elite level already. As with me, when you are in the high 300s - we...both need to just grind more.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:07 PM   #7
Steve M Herman
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

@Brendan - I hear what you are saying. The difficult question is, "What do I train for?" I don't intend to be a CF Games competitor. I show up mainly because I want to be healthy and fit. Sure it would be cool to lift 500 pounds, but I don't need to accomplish that.

Back in March I was asked to write down a fitness goal for this year, and my goal was to reach 20% body fat. I honestly haven't really focused on it very well, but for the past month I have been trying to make 100% good food decisions.

So when I basically came here and *****ed about my back squat... Your point is well taken. Is squatting more important? If I am being honest, it bothers me that it hasn't increased at all. But I don't know if I want to be the guy that is on my own program in the corner not working out with the group either.

Maybe the answer is that a back squat at 165% of body weight you are only going to maintain if you are only squatting once per week. Maybe the beginner gains honeymoon is long over for me. Yet my front squat has continued to increase. A 335# front squat seems more advanced than a 365# back squat. So why is one type of squat increasing and the other is not? That's sort of a rhetorical question, but you know what I am getting at. If it really means I just need to grind more, why is that same theory not holding true for another type of squat?

I guess that is the reason I truly wonder if I am not activating my hamstrings properly. If I am not activating the hamstrings properly and some how activating my quads more then that could be why my front squat (a primarily quad exercise) is still increasing?

@Jason - Thanks for the mention of Catalyst. I hadn't seen their large collections of programs before.

@Kenneth - That 20 rep program sounds interesting. I just wonder if I would game the system I seem to be able to stand under practically any weight to recover. If I methodically go through the 20 reps it isn't so bad. I couldn't bust out 20 quick reps though. The burn would be unbearable. How are you doing your set? I know I would do 1, take a breath or two, do another, take a breath or two, etc.

@Steve - I would say our programming lately (past 3 months or so) tends to be:

Mon - heavy squat, usually back squat (last night was 7x2 at 90%)

Tue - Typically some sort of Olympic lift working up to a 80%-85% 5 rep set. It could be anything from full snatch , C&J, or presses, jerks, or some combination.

Wed - Seems to be something involving deadlifts and a quick met con. This week is a DL ladder then afterwards a tabata of some sort.

Thurs - Is often some sort of pressing. It seems press days usually have a Every minute on the minute component to it. This week is shoulder press EMOM 8 minutes 3 reps at 85%. Then we are going to do the Open 14.1 workout.

Friday seems kind of random. Not many people show up on Fridays, but we often times do some sort of partner workout to up the fun factor. The Friday workouts are usually a grind as many people then recover over the weekend. This week is a 3RM hang squat clean and then a metcon involving thrusters and pull ups. It looks pretty short this week.

Although this is just a 1 week snapshot it is fairly consistent of what the programming is like. A squat, a deadlift, a press, some olympic stuff, some short metcons, and usually one longer 20 minutes or so metcon. We often times have skill specific work either as part of the warm up portion, or even during the metcon.

I know people like to critique/slam other gym's programming, but as you know a CF gym doesn't program for one person. I think hitting all the major strength lifts is pretty important. Don't you? Plus I tend to not get to the gym everyday so I'll miss one of these workouts usually.

I guess you point is similar to Brendan's. What do I want? If I want to become an elite squatter then I need to dedicate myself to it. I don't think that is what I want though. I would be happy with any sort of increases. Even slow increases.

@Kenneth - Your comments are the hardest for me to wrap my thoughts around. I think you came into this thinking that I am trying to be an elite squatter. I would rather just show improvement. The point is well taken though. If whatever I am doing isn't working then I need to do more of that.
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:58 PM   #8
Kenneth Cheung
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M Herman View Post
@Kenneth - That 20 rep program sounds interesting. I just wonder if I would game the system I seem to be able to stand under practically any weight to recover. If I methodically go through the 20 reps it isn't so bad. I couldn't bust out 20 quick reps though. The burn would be unbearable. How are you doing your set? I know I would do 1, take a breath or two, do another, take a breath or two, etc.
I'm doing the 20 quite quickly, no more than one or two breaths at the top, its very painful (burn) but so far it seems to be working, for me. SL5x5 gave me the fastest ad highest gains but as soon as i stopped i had a pretty rapid decline in my 1RM (from 300 down to 200/245ish, hasn't gone below that), i also (personally) found that 5x5 doesn't give enough stamina that you'd need in crossfit, hence my focus with the 20rep program is not only to keep the weight from dropping below 245 (ideally increasing) but also to build in some stamina as well. i read the link as well as the link to how the guys ate Crossfit Mayhem were doing it, and really you want to do them fast, with as little resting with the bar on your shoulder as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M Herman View Post
@Kenneth - Your comments are the hardest for me to wrap my thoughts around. I think you came into this thinking that I am trying to be an elite squatter. I would rather just show improvement. The point is well taken though. If whatever I am doing isn't working then I need to do more of that.
i think you mean @Richard? if not, then, i was simply sharing what worked for me in terms of progressing my squats.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:52 AM   #9
Sean Dunston
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Colon View Post
Squat more. 2-3x per week minimum until you crack the 400 mark. There are 6,000 programs out there if you google "Squat Programs" or any sort of thing with words that include "Squat" in the sentence. If you find one that talks about strength, getting stronger and squatting more and it has you Squat 3+ times per week, then you will increase. Guaranteed. The key is to do it. Exactly as it says.

99% of the reason why people don't increase on any sort of Squat program (linear stuff, 5x5, Starting Strength, 5/3/1, Wil Fleming T-Nation stuff, Smolov, Hatch, Smolov Jr, using prilepins chart stuff, CFFB M/W Squat sessions, Candito Training squat programming, Bryce on youtube squat programming, Elite FTS advice, GSLP, Madcow, Texas Method, Everett's Catalyst cycles that have "leg focus", anyone's method that Squats 500+) is simple. They don't stick with/do the program as written. Do it if you want to make cracking the 400+ a reality. Something else has to sacrifice. If your legs are too broken to do Karen for time or you don't feel like doing high rep Squat cleans because of what your Squat sessions do to you, then skip the Crossfit stuff and focus on the Squats - FIRST!

Add in some contrast therapy, foam roll all day, massage, ice bath, stretch, address your hips all the time, Airdyne or Sled Drag for active recovery, sleep all day, stuff your face (with decent food, but don't try "cutting" or "leaning out" when trying to squat like a beast - as that is stupid). Just make it happen and in 9-12 weeks, you'll be posting about how your stuck at 405.

Thrusters and Wall Balls are not squatting. Not even close.


I'm going to guess that your position is highbar when you squat, because you are complaining that your hamstrings are weak. If that is the case, switch to low bar for at least one session per week.
Also, mix in some adjustments to your stance: wide stance, narrow stance, medium stance, etc.
Try some speed work and some pause squats (3-7 seconds pause at the bottom of the squat). Hell, I'm normally a low bar guy, but my coach put me on a new program for my next competition and I've been doing a lot of wide stance, high bar, pause squats and I have seen a nice benefit already (and I'm on the high end of lifters for small old guys - shooting for a 3x BW squat).
Another thing is appropriate accessory work to build the posterior chain: RDLs, GHRs, Reverse Hypers, Good Mornings, etc.

Good luck - let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:53 PM   #10
Mark E. Wallace
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Re: My back squat has been stuck for 1 year

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Originally Posted by Steve M Herman View Post
I do some sort of squat every week. Many times it is 1 heavy squat session and then the second and third time is a high rep session with light to moderate weight (think wall balls, thrusters, etc.)
Ding ding ding.

Squat heavy weight more often. Your time spent doing light to moderate weight wallball and thrusters isn't going to contribute to a heavier back squat. It could even be detrimental.

If a sprinter told you that he's not getting faster and then told you that 2/3 of his time spent running is doing light jogging, would you be surprised at his lack of progress?

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