Day 2 – You are squatting like a little bitch.

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Bill Starr 5x5 Intermediate Programme
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Are you reading Men’s health? Have you made sure you listened to your obviously qualified personal trainer? Are you wearing a weight lifting belt? Are you making sure your legs reach parallel and no more when you squat?

If so, read this next post like your life depended on it – you are squatting like a douche and need to wake up and sweat out the sand in your thong.

Let me first give you the origin of all the parallel panic. The ancient idea is that when you squat, your thighs should go no more than parallel with the floor because in doing so your knees (with most people) will go past your toes and this is bad – it will cause you tremendous stress at your knee joints and screw you up forever. This is complete crap. We later discovered that performing in such a way actually shifted all of the tension (more so) onto your spine inappropriately. People eventually realised this, started squatting deeper, and began performing better.

In the following video, Mark Ripptoe teaches (in less than two minutes) how to properly squat, before going into a description of an overhead squat – feel free to watch that if you like.

That is a freakin’ squat, ladies.

Also – weight belts, wrist supports or anything in general that helps you lift that isn’t YOU is a waste of time and a distraction from your real ability. You’re just hiding a weakness – instead, identify it and work on it. I stopped reading Men’s Health years ago, apologies if it actually has some worth to it nowadays. In short, supports make you a little bitch. If you feel you need one, outside of an injury, you’re not ready to progress yet.


Today’s session was the mid-week 4×5.

4 x 5 of Squats (Light)
4×5 of Military Press
4×5 of Deadlifts

Any of you who have seen me today will be aware that I was walking around limping like I’d been shot in the leg, more so when I was walking up stairs. I used a knee support today. YES, this was hiding a weakness, but not a muscle weakness – an injury. Turns out I didn’t need it regardless as I could squat completely fine despite still limping when walking. I’ll leave it to someone better qualified to tell me why that’s happening. Usually I’d recommend not doing anything at all that might jeopardise an already injured region – but today I decided to first give it a try to see if there really was a problem. There wasn’t, I could squat and so I did.


Military press was a solid effort, coming just shy of failure on the last rep – as planned. Technique for this has vastly improved recently, again with the help of Mark Rippetoe. Here’s a video for your viewing pleasure –


Deadlifts were brilliant. They’re by far my favourite exercise. If you’re not doing them, your fear is forcing you to miss out on the greatest exercise that exists. In the 19th/20th century it was called the “health lift” as scientists of the time believed deadlifting was the only thing a man had to do to produce every health benefit possible…that isn’t quite correct, but they were certainly on to something with its design. Go try it, tomorrow. Hell, now. Don’t go stupidly heavy, just go play with a deadlift and get yourself some raw strength. You will find nothing better.

All round, the mood tonight was a positive one. We both finished final sets in the right range of fatigue (that is, not maxed out, but a rep or two clear of) and we are fully prepared to up the ante next time we train, in a small increment – the staple of this 5×5 workout.

It’s only day 2 and the positive feelings are brewing. We both leave the gym on a high, an obvious side-effect of exercise, but with this regime, you get the satisfaction of knowing, every time you leave that next time you’re here you’ll be lifting heavier and performing better. It’s not just endorphins, it’s progress.


Your nugget of information today is that you are, whoever you are, squatting inappropriately. If you are not, show other people how to squat properly and let’s get people pushing things heavier than they imagined – appropriately.

Nugget number two – do NOT be afraid to deadlift. If you are not deadlifting (or squatting for that matter) you are a fraud and a coward. If any of you read this and do see my hooded self appear in the ISE, just ask. I’m not an expert, but I now know my way around a squat/deadlift enough to help another guy.
Fiiiiine – here’s a deadlift technique video. Don’t say I’m not a generous guy.


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