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To Squat, or not

On Saturday I said on Facebook that I would no longer back squat because of old injuries, and a few of you supported this, thankyou. However, it’s been plaguing me ever since. I chose to retire the lift because of an old injury, as injury that once prevented me from putting my socks on, which I can now do, from cycling, which I now do daily, bodyweight squatting, which I do daily, from deadlifting, which I’m stronger at now than pre injury and much more.

So not back squatting because of this injury is akin to giving in to it. It’s compromising because of it.

And Wild Geese don’t like compromise.

So, if an old injury that prevented me from doing a stack of things can be beat, and I can do all those things except one, then I haven’t beat the injury. I can’t be having that.

So I came up with a plan. It’s a simple plan inspired by two well-known strength coaches/authors, Pavel Tsatsouline and Charles Staley.

Charles wrote an article that I loved, it’s called boil the frog (you can read it here) and talks about how he overcame a knee injury to return to squatting. He started so gently and incremented the load so slowly that his body never noticed. Much like the analogy that if you put a frog into cold water and gradually heat it, it will boil to death, whereas if you heat it quickly it’ll jump out.

Pavel has a book out, one of his best, called Power to the People. Aside from its cheesy title, it has a great philosophy held within it. Strength is a skill and like all skills it must be practised as often as possible while avoiding fatigue. He advocates a program of deadlifts, 2 sets, 5 days a week. The first set is the “work” set, the second is a lighter back off set. Gradually the weight is increased.

Two very similar approaches. Both tested and proven to be successful. I personally did well on the exact program Pavel outlines in PttP when my injuries allowed me to return to weight training.

So the plan:

Dave Tate teaching the Box Squat, click image for his FULL instructions

Back Squat to a low box, 5 days a week for two sets. I started today, this is what I did:

12kg Kettlebell: Swings x 2min, 2 swing 1 snatch x 2min, 1swing 1 snatch x 2 min, snatch x 2 min. This was then repeated in the other hand, no breaks.

Barbell Back Squat: empty bar x 5 (warm up), Bar + 20kg x 5 (work set), Empty Bar x 5 (back off set)

The swing/snatch drill is my regular Wednesday drill, just to develop some grip endurance. It also served as a general warm up for the hips getting them good to squat. The Squats are to a box set below parallel, and they felt surprisingly good. I’ll stick to the exact same weight on the squats all week, next week and each week thereafter I’ll increase is by 10kg. On the Saturday, which is my regular Squat day, I’ll switch to Front Squats and keep the volume low, staying well away from failure.

With luck, this will get me back to squatting safely and efficiently with respectable loads. It’s always been a weak lift for me, and that’s unacceptable.

This is an experiment, and I urge you not to follow my lead if you do, well you take full responsibility for your own actions and outcomes.

I’ll be posting regular progress reports on this, here and on facebook could be interesting.

One more thing, did you get Motivation yet? Click the image, follow the instructions and you’ll get 41 stories from 41 Coaches, Fighters and Athletes and it’s free:



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