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Question on squats
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I'm doing the Training Bible weight routine and working up to a squat goal of 3 sets of 6 reps at 275 lbs. Yesterday I was able to do 4x6@255 + lesser weights before and after.

I've had several people at the gym tell me that I should be wearing a weight belt given the weight I'm lifting. I thought that I should not wear one since I want the core muscles to be strengthened, however, I've got absoluting no weight lifting experience so I thought I'd check here. I'm positive that I'm using correct form as I've had it checked several times. Unfortunately, I don't trust the trainers at the gym to tell me anything other than what their corporate script tells them to say.

My second question - doing the squats I am limited in the amount of weight that I can squat solely by my lower back muscles. Is this normal or does it indicate that I've got a weakness there?

If it matters, I'm male 29 yrs old, 6'1" 165lbs. My most important races this year are 1/2 IM's.

Thanks for the continuing help I always get from this forum.
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Re: Question on squats [tom] [ In reply to ]
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Tom I know what you mean about corporate trainers, alot of them do not have a clue about what they are doing--just look at them.

I am ACE certified trainer and which only means that I am a reconized tested trainer. I do not have a degree but have been lifting and training people for many years now. I have competed in many shows and am 5'10, 180 pounds with 6% body fat. Just got into tri's last year.

Now if you progress slowly with the increase in weights for your squat it will build up the muscles in your lower back. Also I would make sure you do plenty of quality ab work to keep everything nice and tight as you squat. That weight by Joe Friel always seemed heavy to me for what type of athlete we are talking about. I usually only squat twice a month and do leg presses twice a month for my major leg workout. I do leg extensions and leg curls first, 15 reps for 2 sets to get warmed up. I progress to the squat or leg press next. I do 135 for ten, then I do 225 for ten and 225 for 15 or more depending on my stregth for the day. I do some calf work and that's it. 275 for a squat is a lot of weight. I only recommened doing weight that you are comfortable with without leg wraps and a belt. We don't need to do it for what we are training for. It is bulk you do not need. If 135 is all you can do "unprotected" then do it for a increase in reps not weight. Strength for us is repetetions because this will help you in distance. Quality is better than quanity.

Hope that helped, if not send me a email and we can discuss further.
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Re: Question on squats [tom] [ In reply to ]
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Tom,

I too use trainingbible and have nearly the exact physical deminsions as yourself. I like trainingbible for its web usability but often find that the virtual coach isn't quite specific enough for my individual needs. This is something that Friel addresses in his book and admits and encourages tailoring suggested workouts to improve their effectiveness for each athlete's individual needs. With this in mind, the question at hand is whether or not the targeted weight is ideal for you to build needed leg strength and lower back stength. Since you said that you have little or no weight experience, I will assume that doing some weight training will be beneficial in building overall muscle strength, power, and endurance.

First, I would definitely wear a weight belt. If you are looking to build your "core" stength, you should do so safely if the squat (with heavy weight) is your excercise of choice. You will definitely not be doing an IM if your lumbar goes out in base training. The weight belt will not only give you lumbar support but also inner organ support that comes with the pressure of squats.

Second, for a target weight to use, select one that will challenge but not strain. Keep in mind that hitting these MS (Muscular Strength) weight workouts is to increase the muscles capacity for ME workouts and Power workouts later in the base period and build periods. If 255 felt comfortable than increasing 5-10 lbs for the next two weeks until you hit the 275 sounds pretty accurate. I would not do more than 3 sets though.

As far as back weakness, as with most people (probably not all triathletes) your back could use additional strength. Incorporate some back crunches and other lower back weight and stretching excercises to help strengthen these. Any person who has had lower back problems will know an array of good excercises for this. And on a final note, look at Yoga as an option for core strengthening. I have been doing it for 5 months and can tell a huge difference on my balance in running as well as a different awareness of all physical activities. Sorry for such a wordy reply...hope it helps some. Safe training and good racing.

Daniel
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Re: Question on squats [Matt Berner] [ In reply to ]
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You'd be suprised how much weight you can squat--- Especially if you do not go past a 90 degree bend in your knees. I found that Friel's weight guidelines applied to both myself and a group of female riders I coach. Most of the women have little problem squating 1.8 or 1.9 times their weight during the MS (low rep, high weight) phase. We added pilates to our schedule last year and I have found that I no longer need a belt thanks to the core strength I developed from it.

The key is to follow all the phases and err on the side of being conservative. Any aches or pains just stop. Also, limit yourself to 2 sessions a week.

-MK
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Re: Question on squats [Matt Berner] [ In reply to ]
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10 - 4 on what Matt said. Tri training is more about reps more so than weight. ie "slowtwitch". though weight has its place early in season.
Last edited by: textrirunner: Feb 4, 03 6:34
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Re: Question on squats [tom] [ In reply to ]
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No belt! Search out an article titled "Back Strong and Beltless" for a good overview of why it's better to NOT use a belt. But with that said, I'll say that I do use a belt on occasion -- when I'm going to failure.

Make sure that you're doing side bends and TVA vacuums to completely train the core. That is what will be your protection when squatting and deadlifting. And speaking of deadlifts, I recommend them to train the entire posterior chain. A bit more form intensive than even squats, but with proper concentration, are just as safe. For me, I do two weight workouts a week, one with squats, the other with deadlifts.

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Re: Question on squats [tom] [ In reply to ]
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My 2 cents = No belt. I squat without a belt. I feel that if I need a belt to move the weight then the weight is simply too heavy. More functional strength gains will be realized if you lift without a belt.

As mentioned above - The depth of your squat will greatly influence how much you squat. My preference is to go all the way down so that my calves and hamstrings are firmly touching.

In general I choose to do front squats and overhead squats more that back squats. It is much harder to lean too far forward with these two lifts (you will drop the weight if you do lean too far forward.) They also seem to naturally make me use a full range of motion or depth. I compliment these two types of squats with stiff leg dead lifts and reverse hyper extensions.

Please check out the following web page for more overhead squat info: http://danjohn.org/overhead.html

Good luck. David Krahulik
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