Squat Deload Ver. 1.0: Beltless Chuck Taylor Squats o’ Pain

Yea, I deloaded, wanna fight about it? The linear progression squat gain train, as amazing as it was, finally came to a grinding halt at 315x3x5. While I think I could have squeezed out another session or two of linear progression truth be told my form was beginning to degrade to the point where I was worried about potential injury. I’m active, and I rely on my bike as transportation, so getting injured is a big no-no in my book. Besides that, I’d rather take a check on my ego than a check on my spinal cord.  I decided to begin my deload at about 15% off of my previous 3×5 worksets and to play it by ear from there.

After the RPS meet I combed over my videos to try to pinpoint where my squat form broke down, which led me to a few conclusions. First, I shift forward in the hole. Second, I lose my chest. Third, I look way too far forward/up. Besides paying close attention to form each and every session, I also have decided to make two major non-form changes:

  1. I will be going beltless as long as possible
  2. I have switched from my oly shoes to my trusty Chuck Taylors (hipster alert)

I feel that a combination of weak core musculature was exacerbated by the forward shift imposed by the raise heel of my oly shoes. In short, I was too weak and immobile to be violent and Viking-like out of the hole.

Since switching to Chucks and hanging my belt up to dry I’ve noticed a few major changes. The single biggest difference is the appearance of slight DOMS in my hamstrings after squat sessions. This, in my opinion, is good. It’s my body telling me that I’m activating my posterior chain, which is, after all, the goal of the low-bar squat. Second, my lower back doesn’t feel as sore as it did prior to deload. I suspect that I was using the belt as a crutch for my weak core, which was causing unnecessary stress and strain on my lower back. Finally, my forearm pain is beginning to disappear. My hand and wrist position, prior to the deload, was all wonky and I was essentially supporting the bar with bent wrists; ouch. This carried over into the press portion of my training sessions which left me sitting in the corner driving a car buffer into my brachioradialis for minutes at a time. While that may sound all good and fun it’s not a good look if your life goal is to look like an amalgamation of Bane, Goku and the Witch-King of Angmar.

What are my plans going forward? Squats, oats, bacon and protein. IF has treated me well, so no doubt I’ll be staying on that. Texas method for press and modified linear progression on my DLs seems to be the ticket for those lifts. I’ve added chins back into the routine and have also made direct glute/ham/abs/low-back work a priority. I’m toying with the idea of programming pause squats into the program in some way, as I feel that there’s no better way to develop explosiveness out of the bottom than by hanging out there for a few seconds, but that’s yet to be decided.

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