Do you wear a belt?
To be honest, if your back gives you issues with the squat, switch to leg press or single leg press as your core lift and use the squat as a supplemental, muscle balancing secondary, or (gasp) tertiary lift to keep your core decent.
With the Squat, the weight goes through the entire back before the legs get to work on it. For us, the purpose is to make the legs super strong, not the back and legs. The back just has to be strong enough to support the transfer of energy through it during the standing start.
The squat is definitely a good lift for training legs and core. But, if your back is a limiting factor, then why let that limit the progression of your legs? Maybe squat to a certain level then use Leg Press to take your legs further than your back can support.
The Leg Press isn't perfect either. It takes the pressure that was put on your back and transfers it to your hip sockets.
I have it on second-hand account that two world-class sprinter teammates train legs differently. These guys have multiple: World records, Olympic medals, World Championships, etc... One uses leg press only, the other uses squat. Guess which one has back issues.
Another option is the Front Squat. Many NCAA and Elite coaches have moved their athletes from back squat to front squat and have seen reductions in injuries. The front squat produces the same training effect using lower weight and an erect spine.
More anecdotal evidence:
I know that the Church of Rip says that if you get injured doing squats you did it wrong. Which is probably true. But, the consequences are severe when you do get it wrong. I have a herniated disc from 2009 that still hurts to this day. It was totally my fault. I lost concentration in my form and let my abs loose when I was racking after the warmup effort with only 160#. It was simple as that.
That off-season, I continued to progress up to 360# or more 3x5. The next season I switched to front squat under a different coach. The season after that I switched to leg press. I got faster each season.
So, for me, if I can get the same benefits without the severe consequences if I screw up, why not?
Carleton (or whoever else is on single leg press), today I did my first sets of SLP that actually felt 'hard' at 205x5x5. This left a surprising tightness in the region right on the hip joint that is only just wearing off now 6-7 hours later. Is this normal? Is this something that you adapt to and don't feel as much or is this the gig?
Going for physiological testing tomorrow (VO2 max etc). I know I have a bad VO2 but it's the training zones you get from the test that are gold. I have a LOT of work to do, My last FTP test I was 70w down. I had glandular fever/liver complications last year and I'm worried that it's wrecked me.
Stronglifts again yesterday and a couple of tempo efforts to try and get my legs working too.
Twitter - @NapD
Current number of working legs - 1************X****2
eWang - 3X******************4 w/kg
Without knowing exactly what's happening, it's hard to say that it's normal.
Are you warming up the same way that you'd warm up for squats? I do.
First omnium of the year tomorrow at VSC. This was on my calendar as a marker to start formal track workouts again. It was already going to be painful, but then... what is normally a low key, "off-season" event was suddenly jolted by the news that Sarah Hammer and Martyn Irvine (reigning Scratch Race World Champion) will be entered. What? 50-something Cat 3 in field with World Champions?
Sarah on my wheel:
Photo: Julio Hernandez
core/explosivity stuff hurt a ton more than usual for some reason.
racing on Friday was tough, but I'm firmly in the mix and throwing moves instead of just following. Training myself into better positional savvy is really starting to work, was in the right spots at the right times this week.
Worst moment of the week was having kitten try to play patty-cake with my rear deraileur in the middle of a trainer workout... insta-leg-cramps and presto-flat-spot-on-tyre-o
I've been watching my food portions more closely and consciously eating less (Thanks, Quinn). I cut out snacking on peanuts.
The result: I'm the lightest I've been in months. Weight is going down consistently but very slowly. It looks like I'm on a rate of -1lb/week. Better than nothing. Oddly enough, when I cheat (like the big awesome cookie I gave myself for having a good presentation at work), my weight doesn't go up, but I do experience Food Coma.
Feeling good in the gym. I mised 2 workouts straight due to snow/ice on the roads. I switched from 3x5 to 5x5 on single leg press. The added volume was a bit of a shock the first week I did it. Now it feels good.
Still tweaking my bike fit with lots of "Why the F didn't I do this 4 years ago??" thoughts. But, I'm having to re-learn how to pedal a bit. My goal is not to come out fast early in the season. Just relax and do a slow but steady focused build. (I really hope this works).
I've been watching the portion size also, and am experiencing the 1 lb/wk loss. I am the lightest I have been in 20 years. Just had a bike fit that dropped my seat almost 2 cm! Old age and an inelastic prostrate caused me to change to an Adamo Attack seat so that I could pee after a long ride, and I am still getting used to finding the right position. It works, but it is weird. Top end speed is up a lot, and my spin is much better after the fit. (Thanks, Nate!). Gym is also coming along, am on SS beginner at 3 x5 by 225 squat (I'm 5'5" and 140 lbs and 64 yrs old). Going up 2.5 lbs/ workout. Target is 280-300 lb 5x5 squat. Should be doable with time and work in a couple of months. Now if I can just stay healthy. I just saw Heather Moise of the Canadian Bobsled team (she trained for a while with our group at VSC last year) doing squats with 168 kg. I am inspired!
carlton, why'd you cut out peanuts?
I ask because I've been reading various reports from a large, well-done study of the Mediterranean Diet (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) - which has shown some pretty promising results and has been lauded as being remarkably well-done in terms of methodology/study design.
One of the test groups was told to snack on nuts just about as much as they want - they're healthy and the protein content sort of acts as a self-limiter: it's hard to gain weight on them, because they make you feel full.
Having a can of peanuts next to my gaming computer meant that I'd eat peanuts...whether I was hungry or not.