Squatting. On the way to breaking my PB

This week is about strength training. My favourite is 5×5 which works like magic. Until you hit a plateau and it becomes demotivating. You keep on failing to do complete 5×5 every single week, your form gets worse and worse. Your squat is not as deep…

I was stuck at 150kg 5×5 for months, I couldn’t do all sets of 5 repetitions. It drives me crazy.

The video below is from 2015 October, which is a highlight of my 5×5 routine as learned at 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts. I started at around 100kg 5×5 and went all the way to 150kg but it got stuck there. Eating more, resting more, working out harder didn’t work.

But I still kept on going. Maybe one more week and it all be sorted. But it wasn’t.

Bloody 9 month later, I would squat same weight, although with a better form. It got stuck with no way up…

Another year passed, but squat is stuck at 5×5 150kg. Two freaking years passed but my squat PB remained the same!

But was it? What should I do? Digging further on into books of the best strength teachers around the world…

“I’m convinced that everything works. And, if you read my work, I think everything works for about six weeks” – Dan John”

Charles R. Poliquin or famously known as a Strength Sensei is recognized as one of the World’s most accomplished strength coaches. He wrote guidelines for muscle gain and defined several muscle laws including

“Muscle Law 4: Variety of loading parameters is critical to achieve mass gains.”

“Muscle Law 5: A program is only as good as the time it takes to adapt to it”

The laws are so important in varying everything, the author even wrote final law

“Muscle Law 23: Varying the tempo of the exercise is critical in accelerating mass and strength gains”

Pavel Tsatsouline suggests varying equipment and performance technique. Therefore I between heavy squatting in my barefoot and squatting shoes.

Moreover, not just training needs variation, but also food sources. If you been on chicken breasts for a while, consider a change. In cliche “if you been doing what you have ever been, you’ll get what you had”. One more general advice, have a plan in advance. Write in on a calendar and plan all our times off. Last but not least, times for a workout should be fairly consistent.  For example, if you workout in evenings and suddenly change to mornings, your results might drop by 1-4%. This is because your body temperature might change slightly if it’s adjusted for expected heavy loads. Therefore, stay with similar time of a day for workouts!

Given all lessons, I changed my 5×5 program in something more challenging. I started following Smolov program. My squatting schedule looked like this:


It includes squatting 4 times a week and varying sets/repetitions. Note: when you set your 1 repetition max (1 RM) it’s better to underestimation than overestimate.

A month in, I tried to break my PB:

Yahoooo!!!! I’ve broken my personal best and long plateau. Thanks to power of variation and Smolov squat program

Now a week of rest in a tropical Indian Ocean island. More about this in next week’s blog post!

Best wishes