Prince, while I don't have any injuries box squats always have sounded pretty awesome. Though I would not do it as an accessory but replace my regular squats with that.
Emevas, my routine is very similar to stronglifts advanced (4 weeks volume then 4 weeks intensity). However, instead of 5x5 volume and 3x3 intensity I do 3x8 -> 3x5. Why? I responded well when I tried doing 3x8 for several weeks, and 3x3 is just not comfortable for me. While it is adding volume over the original program, that is still not high volume work by any means. The way I organize my lifts is different but the same lifts and philosophy. Some details on legs, coming from stronglifts I used to do only one set of dead lifts at working weight. Over time I added a second. Still, on my heaviest leg day I max at 5 sets of leg exercises. I feel like there is room for a little more work, especially when I do 15 squats and 10 dead lifts total on some days.
Progess is slow and steady, but the end of my intensity phase had me struggling to hit my previous PR instead of progressing through it.
What is causing my lift to fail? That is a tough question. I make strong efforts to eat a lot, sleep a lot, and balance other physical activities, mainly MMA. I've fixed flexibility and technique issues, but in the end I think I am just a really tall skinny guy and to continue to make gains I have to put on more muscle. A slow process, but something that can be stimulated with variety, no?
Are you training power cleans for 8 reps? Really, more than 3 is kinda defeating the purpose, as they are a power movement, not a strength one, and you want to maintain perfect form and maximal explosion, which you generally cannot maintain beyond 3 reps. It's why all dynamic effort work and olympic training tends to only go as high as 3 reps.
And changing the rep protocol will definitely explain the issues in strength development. Yes, 3x8 may be easier to train and for a period will result in growth due to changing your protocol, but 8 reps is not nearly as effective for strength development compared to 5 or lower. Additionally, the deadlift is a very CNS intensive exercise, and adding a second set ON TOP OF 3 sets of squats can be pretty intense, and my also be a result of the stagnation. Yes, it is only 5 sets of "leg work" total, but the movements and poundages are pretty harsh on your CNS.
Was the program NOT working before you changed it?
Your final comment of " slow process, but something that can be stimulated with variety, no?" is really the heart of the issue. Consistent, linear progression in and of itself is oustanding, and if you accomplishing this, it's hard to get much better than that. Variety for variety's sake does not result in growth, it needs to be well calculated and formulated, with a realistic expectation of what you can accomplish now vs what you can accomplish with changes.
I actually only get 3 working sets of lower body work in my program, in the 3-5 rep range, and manage to consistently make gains in terms of my strength even with a calorie restriction. I don't really think adding volume is going to aid you if you are consistently making gains. It's just a question of time invested.
To go off on a bit of a tangent, and if I may be so bold as to presume, it sounds as though you may be thinking that strength is a result of making a muscle stronger by hard work. If I am wrong then ignore the remainder of this, but this concept is a bit of a misnomer. Strength is more a product of increasing the efficiency of your Central Nervous System, and it's ability to recruit more motor units to a task. Now, my undergrad and masters work has been in politics, so I'm going to butcher the science here, but you're basically grooving a specific movement into your CNS and getting better and better at it.
Think of a pitcher who pitches a fastball in the pros. It's a clear demonstration of power, but a pitcher isn't necessarily a mountain of rippling muscle. He is an individual that has practiced the pitch over and over again to the point that his body can produce incredible results. For lifting, strength is in fact a skill. You train the squat or deadlift over and over again, with an increasingly heavy load, to be able to train your body to get good at this movement and more efficiently recruit motor units for the task. The 1-5 rep range is best at increasing this efficiency due to the demands it places on the CNS (this gets into the realm of type I muscle fibers vs type II muscle fibers recruitment), whereas higher rep ranges are less efficient at this task and more efficient at producing sacroplasmic hypertrophy (inflating muscle size and sacroplasma in your muscles).
There is a role for supplemental/assistance exercises in improving strength, usually by being able to address specific unique weak links within a lift. If you feel that your deadlift is failing due to your inability to break the weight off the floor, you may train deficit deadlifts as a supplemental movement to improve your ability specificly to break weight off the floor, or you may think it's more a quad weakness that requires front squats, OR it may simply be that you need more mass to increase the cross sectional area that your CNS can access/improve leverages in your lifting, in which case you may consider more isolation oriented work in higher rep ranges to build up muscle.
There are a lot of variables to consider before you simply add to a routine, and if your desire is to do so, you want to add for the right reasons with the right movements, as otherwise it's a waste of effort at best and it can actuall detract from your training at worse. In your present situation, I would greatly more consider volume manipulation (most likely back to the original programming) before simply adding movements. I train the same 6 movements within 2 days (3 on 1 day, 3 on the other), and I've made consistent gains sticking with these movements and simply changing HOW I train them. Mike Tuchscherer's Reactive Training System is really big on this, with specificity being the goal and volume/loading manipulation being the method.
I have not been able to maintain consistent linear progression, that is why I continue to tweak things and make improvements. While off hand 5lbs in an 8 week cycle does not sound like too much improvement, that will be 30 lbs in a year and you would have 4 weeks left over for rest, pretty amazing progress I would think. And I have never cleaned over 5 reps, but i'll try out 3.
You make good points about volume, but you also bring up what I think is my biggest weakness, general mass. At 6'4'' at 175-180 I am a skinny guy. That is why I shifted the volume higher in the program. Would you say it is better to keep low volume squats/dead lifts with high volume isolation then having periods of relatively high volume?
What is your diet like? I think that's really more of the variable here.
Living out of college cafeterias. Plan is just eat as much as I can. The good, fresh fruits and vegetables, with the bad, patty melts and greasy pizza (But that **** is high calorie so it really is not that bad). Drink 2-3 glasses of whole milk with every meal. I rarely eat more than three meals a day, so I have to get all my food in large sit downs. I would consider that my biggest flaw in diet.
It's most likely the biggest flaw in why you're not getting bigger too. I don't think more volume is going to spur more growth, I think you simply need more calories.
Originally Posted by FriendlyFire
College cafeteria food is pretty bad not just because you don't know what's in it but also you don't know exactly what you're getting. Have you considered bringing your own food to school?
It's not bad for a bulk, just not a lean one.