Strength Friday 2/8/13 (w/ Bonus Butt Ball!)

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In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

How Low Can You Go?

When I mentioned last week that I wasn’t sure I was getting low enough on my back squats, a helpful reader reminded me that at CrossFit gyms, the coaches sometimes put medicine balls under squatters’ butts.

My reaction? All huffy, I thought to myself, I don’t need no stinkin’ medicine ball under my butt. I know how to tell if I’m low enough.

And just to prove my point this morning, I grabbed a medicine ball, put the barbell across my shoulders, took a big breath in to fill my lungs and pull my shoulder blades together, then I squatted down and hit… air.

I had to drop… drop… drop to get my butt to the ball.

Shows you what I know.

Meet my new back squat training partners:


I was getting pretty low, but not low enough. In fact, I was so “not low enough” that I’m dropping my weights back to last month’s cycle to practice getting down where I belong. (“Getting down,” or, even better, “Gettin’ down” makes it sound like I’m going to bust out some killer dance moves — which would definitely be way more entertaining that working on back squats and trying not to be intimidated by the demon that lives in the netherworld at bottom.

5:00 treadmill: started at 3mph and increased speed every minute til I was jogging

11 air squats X 2
static squat hold & ankle stretch
serious quadriceps and hamstring stretches


Back Squat:
5 @ 65% of max =105#
5 @ 75% of max = 120#
max reps @ 85% of max = 135# – I did 5 + 3.
On the first 5 of my max set, my butt didn’t touch the ball, so I had to have a very stern conversation with myself, then I did 3 more reps.

Bench Press:
5 @ 65% of max =80#
5 @ 75% of max = 90#
max reps @ 85% of max = 100# – I did 5.
I expected to be able to go about 7 or 8 at 100#, but it was not to be. Those 5 smoked me.


For time, but not really:
1:00 jump rope

2 rounds:
10 push press, 50#
25 back squat (with a ball under my butt), 50#
25 kb swings, 12kg

1:00 jump rope
My time: 9:31


2 X 7 deadhang pullups with a band No time for pullups today.
handstand hold at the wall, lots of jiggling my feet away from the wall

After the gym, I ate a big plate of chicken livers, red and green cabbage + sweet potatoes, and a giant bottle of water, then we hit up kundalini yoga. I don’t know what got into my yoga instructors this week, but we did more core work today, and lots of excellent breathing.

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  • Tom R. says:

    Sounds like you are more than “tolerating” the back squat.

    “There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.” -Mark Rippetoe

    I love squatting.

  • Kristen says:

    I hadn’t thought of that medicine ball trick, but I’m not a crossfitter- good idea! My coach had me focus on getting “ass to ankles” on my squat and it cut my back squat weight in half initially, but it made me more powerful and has helped my deadlift considerably.

  • Stompy says:

    Awesome back squats! That’s all I’ve got until post-coffee

  • Kristy S says:

    My trainer calls that “Squat Therapy”.

  • stef says:

    The idea of sitting back always helps to remind me to reach my full squat depth and on the way up, it’s more helpful to think about opening your hips and pushing forward than trying to come up vertically.