I've been doing Madcow 5x5 for a month and the 3x a week squats is really pushing me to the limit each time so I decided to take it a little easy for one week because of some muscle pain, and mix up the exercises a little. On Monday, I did 4 sets of 5 and one set of 3 for squats, instead of flat bench yesterday, I did incline DB presses, and instead of barbell rows, I did DB rows and upright rows.
I want to try something different rather than the 3 sets ramped up of 5 and then two working sets of 5 for back squats today. I was thinking 3 ramped sets and 2 working sets of high reps, or hct-12 style squats, or front squats. What are some other options? I'm also looking for a deadlift substitute, I don't really know what I could use other than deficit deadlifts.