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 Post subject: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:16 am 
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Gorilla

Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 813
Hey all, been on sort of a modified 5x5/Texas Method for a while, and I've stopped making gains. Not only that, but my low back is feeling sore pretty much all the time. It's definitely tightness in the erector spinae, pretty close to the sacrum. My worry is that it might actually be a strain.

Anyway, my squats are stuck at 300, DLs at 315, bench at 185, and overhead press at 125. Brief overview of my current routine:
M - 5x5 squats, bench, and power clean
All exercises building up to 5RM for the last set
Assistance: Weighted situps, hyperextensions
W - 4x5 squats, building up to 80% of 5RM
4x5 incline bench up to 5RM
4x5 DL up to 5RM
Assistance: Situps, bicycles
F - 4x5, 1x3, 1x8 squats, bench, and power clean. The triple is slightly more than the 5RM from Monday.
Assistance: DB Curls, weighted dips, triceps extensions

I'd like to switch to something easier on the spine, at least for the short term, but hopefully still gaining strength and pushing through this plateau. Considering upping the reps and dropping the weight, integrating overhead presses and pull ups.

Any thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:37 am 
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Rabbit

Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:52 am
Posts: 116
Location: Derby, UK
5x5 is a great routine but it does tend to lead to a plateau for most folk after a while. Your lifts are at a decent level now so I'd suggest you try something like Wendler's 5/3/1 routine - good explanation of how it works here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_to_build_pure_strength

Obviously 5/3/1 isn't going to be any easier on your back, although it does allow for a deload every 4th week. If your back is sore you either need to rest for a week or so to see if that helps, avoid spinal-loading exercises like squats for a while (which obviously you can't do if you're following 5/3/1) or seek advice from a physio/chiropractor etc.

Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:50 am 
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Gorilla

Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 813
James wrote:
5x5 is a great routine but it does tend to lead to a plateau for most folk after a while. Your lifts are at a decent level now so I'd suggest you try something like Wendler's 5/3/1 routine - good explanation of how it works here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_to_build_pure_strength

Obviously 5/3/1 isn't going to be any easier on your back, although it does allow for a deload every 4th week. If your back is sore you either need to rest for a week or so to see if that helps, avoid spinal-loading exercises like squats for a while (which obviously you can't do if you're following 5/3/1) or seek advice from a physio/chiropractor etc.

Good luck!

Thanks! That's definitely helpful.

As for the back, I'm seeing a doc next week and will avoid heavy squats until then, but I'll need a new routine once I'm healed up. This looks like it could be a good one.

Thanks again!

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:45 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Posts: 3072
Location: Waukesha, WI
Perhaps changing to a simple one-part-per-week system would also give you some benefit as well, as I can see that some programs that involve squatting and/or deadlifting more than once per week being a bit draining over time and leave you more taxed than you want. Or, even taking some time to do things like light speed doubles (something like 10x2 for squats and deadlifts with only 65% of your 1RM, done for fastest speed each rep) can keep you from backsliding on progress without overly taxing your CNS or putting excessive strain on your back.

I always love to promote what has worked well for me in the past prior to my injuries catching up with me as what worked well on making great progress, which was simply:

Sunday - Squats and benching
Monday - Light walking for 30 minutes or rest
Tuesday - Upper back (rowing and/or pull-ups, shrugs), arm/core work as desired, and any other stuff that sounds good like grip work
Wednesday - Light walking or rest
Thursday - Deadifts and overhead pressing
Friday and Saturday - Rest days

Pretty simple, offers more rest time for periods where you need a bit more recovery, and keeps body parts split well to avoid overlap or working things too closely together (I never understand how people can actually bench and overhead press in the same workout and expect to make great progress on whichever part is put secondary in a session since triceps and front delts will be working overtime on everything!)

Lots of ways to change things up, you've got a good base of strength going there, so don't burn out or risk injury by not changing your course if things don't feel right!

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:35 am 
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Gorilla

Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 813
VeganEssentials wrote:
Perhaps changing to a simple one-part-per-week system would also give you some benefit as well, as I can see that some programs that involve squatting and/or deadlifting more than once per week being a bit draining over time and leave you more taxed than you want.

I think that's the case here. I almost certainly overtrained on the 3-days-per-week heavy squats. Even with a lighter load on the middle day, it's still a lot of tonnage. Once per week might make more sense.

VeganEssentials wrote:
Or, even taking some time to do things like light speed doubles (something like 10x2 for squats and deadlifts with only 65% of your 1RM, done for fastest speed each rep) can keep you from backsliding on progress without overly taxing your CNS or putting excessive strain on your back.

Depending on what the doc says, this is what I'm leaning towards for recovery. Lower intensity to give my back a break, but still enough weight to prevent regression.

VeganEssentials wrote:
I always love to promote what has worked well for me in the past prior to my injuries catching up with me as what worked well on making great progress, which was simply:

Sunday - Squats and benching
Tuesday - Upper back (rowing and/or pull-ups, shrugs), arm/core work as desired, and any other stuff that sounds good like grip work
Thursday - Deadifts and overhead pressing

This looks workable, definitely. Do you use any particular sets/reps, or just varying depending on goals?


VeganEssentials wrote:
Lots of ways to change things up, you've got a good base of strength going there, so don't burn out or risk injury by not changing your course if things don't feel right!

Thanks! Definitely trying to play it safe.

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Posts: 3072
Location: Waukesha, WI
Glad to help any way I can, Bruce!

For set/rep schemes, my usual protocol is low rep sets (singles through 6 reps max) as the focus when I'm trying to gain, moderate reps (8-12) for my maintenance, and higher reps (15+) for when I'm working to build muscular endurance, up my workload capacity and/or lose fat.

But, as mentioned, you can change things up for doing something like speed doubles with lower max percentage weights as a factor that can help keep you from sliding backward for a while. So, say your squat max is 315, you'd want to do 10 sets of doubles with 205 (65% 1RM), squatting up as explosively as possible for maximum speed up on each rep (usual descent speed is fine, just that the finish of the lift is to be done as quickly as possible). Same can be done for deadlifts, fast pull for speed, normal quick lowering of the weight between reps. Usual thing to do with speed doubles is also to keep rest periods short to about 1 minute (usually not a problem considering the low reps and light workload), and it also help to make some of those lower body sessions go quickly since you can usually get through all 10 sets with rest in 30 minutes or less. If you find that you aren't pulling or squatting each rep with great explosive power, then you may want to reduce another 5-10% off the 1RM amount to get to where you want things to be. If in doubt, check some Youtube videos searching out "speed squats" or "speed deadlifts" for examples - most of the clips are showing people doing box squats (just make sure you click on videos that show people who look like powerlifters, not the ones for things like 'P90X Swiss Ball Speed Squats' or something like that, which could be very different.

So, perhaps just doing the speed squats early in the week, normal upper back, chest, shoulder, arm and core work over the week, and speed deadlifts at the end of the week, and I have the feeling your lower back will be thanking you for the reduction in stress :) If anything, try it for a month or two, add 5 lbs. each session if you find that you're blazing through all sets with no problem, and see how it works for you!

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Gorilla

Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 813
VeganEssentials wrote:
So, perhaps just doing the speed squats early in the week, normal upper back, chest, shoulder, arm and core work over the week, and speed deadlifts at the end of the week, and I have the feeling your lower back will be thanking you for the reduction in stress :) If anything, try it for a month or two, add 5 lbs. each session if you find that you're blazing through all sets with no problem, and see how it works for you!

I'm just about healed up and ready to start back on weights tomorrow, and I think I'll be doing the speed squats and deads. I don't want to stress my back too much to start off, and I wasn't making any progress on low-reps anyway. Hopefully this will make a difference. Thanks again!

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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:23 pm 
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Rabbit
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:34 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Springfield, Ohio
Back off the squats for awhile and switch to "belt squats" with a belt around your waist and the weight hanging between your legs. Your still working your legs but taking the strain off your back. Also do "reverse hypers" See Louie Simon's website to see his "Reverse Hypers Machine" My teammate used it to recover from three slipped disks and returned to deadlifting over 600 pounds with n 8-10 months. It is important to rotate exercises in and out of your routine so as not to over train or so stale.

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Lawrence M. Smith ACSW, LISW-S
Mental Health Clinician & Administrator
AKA as IronSmith (Pen name when I wrote articles in old PowerMag magazine)
Held Drug Free Powerlifting State, National, & World Records in the Federations NASA, AAPF, ADFPA, & Amateur IPA.


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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Posts: 3072
Location: Waukesha, WI
Good suggestions as well, IronSmith - I think the biggest hurdle for most will be that acess to belt squats are limited unless someone is looking to invest at least in an IronMind belt for $100+, and reverse hypers are always pretty rare to come across unless you train where there are powerlifters or lots of serious athletes. But, of course, both would be optimal for those who have access to them, of which I just invested in a hip belt myself (3 severly compressed lower discs) and we're getting a reverse hyper for our facility this March.

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"A 'hardgainer' is merely someone who hasn't bothered to try enough different training methods to learn what is actually right for their own damned body." - anonymous


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 Post subject: Re: Back Pain and Plateau, Need Advice on Changing Routine
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:52 pm 
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Rabbit
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:34 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Springfield, Ohio
I understand the cost of some specialized equipment. Before I bought a Reverse Hyper for my gym we used to place a couple 2x12 boards across the pins in our power rack and tie then down with bands. We then tied 25 or 45 pound plates between our ankles with several old knee wraps. Kind of awkward and we had to carefully help each other into position when it was our turn, but it worked!

Be inventive but also be careful if you jimmy rig homemade equipment to substitute for the real thing. I think there are several examples of home made Reverse Hypers on the internet. Google them for ideas. By the way I used the same belt I bought for weighted parallel bar dips for my weighted belt squats. Worked fine. And it was not too expensive Having my own in home powerlifting gym, I had to improvise a lot along the way until I could save up to buy the commercial made equipment I wanted. Necessity is the Mother of invention!

I have made my own deadlift platform, stack able boxes for box squats, several graduated thickness boards for board presses, my own sled for heavy sled pulling, etc. One of the reasons I was given the nickname of IronSmith when I was in the Air Force in the mid -sixties was that I was always making equipment for the base gym. That is until my lifting team were kick out when one of my teammate dumped a big squat and one end of the bar with plates broke through the gym floor. So we took all of our benches, bars and plates we had all chipped in to buy along the way and moved it all into one of my Sergent's garage. That was the first "Iron Smith Gym." I have set up several basement or garage gyms in my life, all with my homemade equipment until I could buy some select communal equipment along the way. But some of my best equipment to this day it that which I made to meet my and my teams needs. If I can do it so can you. Just be sure to use the best materials you can to make the equipment heavy duty and safe.

_________________
Lawrence M. Smith ACSW, LISW-S
Mental Health Clinician & Administrator
AKA as IronSmith (Pen name when I wrote articles in old PowerMag magazine)
Held Drug Free Powerlifting State, National, & World Records in the Federations NASA, AAPF, ADFPA, & Amateur IPA.


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