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Strength Training to Improve the Stagnant Squat

by TJ Hendrickson, DPT, OCS >> Request an Appointment


Stagnant with your squat?


Sometimes, the amount of information out there can get overwhelming when it comes to choosing a training program. How many reps, how many sets, how many days per week? Good news is there's an awesome program available that's both easy to follow and gets results. Starting Strength's novice progression is a great foundation for new or even seasoned lifters who have not yet run a linear progression.


In this case, being a novice is a good thing. Starting Strength's use of the term "novice" does not indicate that you are new to lifting or exercise. Instead, it specifies that you are new to the loading strategy implemented. Trainees who have not used a linear progression before, or in the recent past, can take advantage of the "novice effect." This effect allows a trainee to progressively add a small amount of weight to the bar each session, recover in 48 hours, and repeat. The program typically runs its course over a 9-12 week period.


The basic structure of the program is based on an "A" and a "B" day which alternate for a total of 3 days per week of training. The actual program involves a squat, deadlift, overhead press and bench press which alternate days, but the squat is performed 3 times per week. There are some accessory lifts built in as well. (Further explanation in video below.)


For the purpose of this blog post, we will just talk about the squat portion. Essentially what you are doing is performing 3 sets of 5 repetitions of a back squat at a given weight, 3 days per week. At the start of the program, you may be able to add 10 pounds each session for the first few sessions, which may then taper to 2-5 pounds per session until you can no longer add weight. At that point, your linear progression is over and you will likely need to make the transition to an intermediate program with more volume and variability to make further progress.


Check out the video for more detail of the structure of the program, and how to find a starting weight.



All credit to Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength for the information in this blog. Grab a copy of the book - it’s a great read!

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