Since I felt like I had hit a wall with respect to my squat poundages, it was opportune that a fellow lifter (much more experienced than I) had suggested that I wasn't fully utilizing my hips when he saw me in the gym 3 weeks ago. Since then, I've lowered the weight I'm using in order to drill the correct form.
I saw him in the gym today and asked for his feedback. His comment that my upper back was in a much better position but that I still wasn't getting the hip thrust in early enough in the squat. As this is an action that I haven't used ever, I'm very weak at it but I can readily see how it will benefit my lifts once I've adapted to it. In order to try to feel the movement better, I dropped the weight down quite a bit and practiced form.
Squats: 135x10, 225x5, 275x5, 275x5, 275x5, 275x3, 135x10
Enough load to require some effort but light enough that I could concentrate on trying to groove my technique. It will probably take a number of weeks to full acclimate to this change but in the long run, it should help me build a better foundation for bigger squats in the future.
Next up were deadlift sets of 5. Since I felt good squatting and deadlifting without a belt last week, I decided to go beltless today as well. The weights I'm handling are sub-80% weights so the belt isn't necessary anyways.
Working on trying to hit the bar with the hips seemed to increase my speed but my tight hamstrings are hindering the my ability to get the hips involved as early as they need to be. We did a little experiment where my lifter buddy took me through a short PNF sequence to increase my hamstring length and then he had me do a speed single with 405. Increasing my mobility allowed me to get my hips firing significantly earlier in the pull. While it's not typically advised to stretch a prime mover immediately before trying to exert force, the gains in mobility far offset any nominal inhibition in my hamstrings. A good signal for me to work on increasing my hamstring mobility in order to facilitate better power position at the beginning of the pull.
Deadlifts: 315x5, 405x5, 455x5, 475x5, 405x1
Next week is a reset week where I'll lower the work weights and continue to drill technique.