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9/18/2013 12:17:48 PM -
Squat depth progression over the last 7 weeks

I'm recovering from some serious back trauma(namely - bone bruising as well as fractures of L3/L4/L5 and a clean fracture of the vertebral body of sacrum, as well as multiple herniated discs).

I was told by 4 Surgeons that I will never lift heavy again, surgery will not fix me and if I do lift, I might as well save the date for a spine fusion in the near future. I decided not to accept this, and made the trip to see Dr. Stuart Mcgill on May 1st of 2013.

As of July 20, I'm cleared to start lifting again, but will take my time with progress, as I slowly make way way back to heavy poundage and eventually, gear. I will know more about how I'm progressing in the next couple months, with plans to lift at the Arnold XPC finals in March of 2014


When I reintroduced squatting back into my program in August, it had been 4mo since any type of barbell squat.

The motor patterns had to not only be regrooved by perfected in order to protect my back and ever have a chance at lifting big again.

My back was super tight, my hips were a mess. I literally was stopping 8" high on my first day, and my upper back was rounding, but hips were not moving.

The back tightness wasn't necessarily the bad part, but my lack of upper back mobility was not letting me arch properly and it was just gridlocked.

I knew that no silly stretching program was what was going to solve my issues. I knew that getting back under the bar, allowing my body to adjust to the work, and simply squatting, along with continuing my corrective program/core work along with a LITTLE bit of hip mobility would do the trick.

Here is what I was working with on depth, with 10lb plates under my heels:

From there, the only hip mobility I did was goblet squats, with some side to side action and BW squats. I did this every squat session as a warm-up along with the following:

Suit case carry: 200 yards
Birddogs: 12 sets per side, 10 sec hold

Tiger balm on lower back, glutes and hips

Its important to point out that each week I had a goal. Whether it was having them call me to 4" above parallel, or 2" or whatever.. Each week was a little bit lower, without breaking form.

I also added in 6/10" weight lifting shoes made by Adidas: Adidas Power Perfect II Weightlifting Shoes These are not too aggressive of a heal either.

After about 3 weeks of working the heel, and attacking hip mobility I was getting much closer:


Pretty much there,still work to be done:

So you see what I've been doing over the last 7 weeks in order to return to form, and improve everything.

I still have a couple of flaws to hammer out, but its getting close. One big one is keeping my upper back locked in, and not loosening my grip of the bar, while in the bottom. Little things make the biggest difference!

My goal is to squat 700 in a belt before I add lifting gear back in. This could change, but it think it would be a great indicator of where strength is at before starting up for the XPC in March.

Wish me luck, and see you on the platform soon!

Brian Carroll

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