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Are you supposed to keep adding weight to the bar forever?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
    I'm so confused. So those aren't your lifts? You keep trying to complete workouts with weights at which you fail week in and week out? I've never heard of a program that advocated such a thing.
    Those are the weights I'm attempting to do 3x5. For overhead press, since I did 95 lbs for 3x5, I moved it up to 100 lbs. But I'll only get about 3 reps on the first set, then drop back to 95 for the next two sets.

    You're not really supposed to keep failing at the same weights forever on StrongLifts. If you fail to get your reps three workouts in a row, you're supposed to do a deload (cut the weight 10% and work back up). Fail three workouts in a row again, do another deload, and now you switch from 5x5 to 3x5. After the next two deloads, you switch to 1x5.

    I did all this, except I was hesitant to switch to 1x5. You're supposed to be squatting around 300 when that happens, and also I just couldn't bring myself to do only one set. After I tried 1x5 for a couple weeks, I went back to 3x5, and just said screw the deloads.
    "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

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    • #17
      I try not to pimp this too often, especially on a thread for starting strength, but don't disregard the 1x5 done at a high intensity. I think younger fellas can get away with and thrive on higher volume, but some of us in our 3rd, 4rth decades plus categories do well with less volume and higher intensity.

      I personally do 5 compound exercises for one working set to failure twice a week. You can see the "whats your workout today" thread to see what I mean. I've made fairly consistent gains with this for quite some time and avoided injury. It may be good for a change of pace anyhow.

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      • #18
        You gotta change something. What you're doing makes no sense to me and clearly isn't working. When's the last time you took a week off and came back with a weight you could actually handle?
        The Champagne of Beards

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        • #19
          I have found switching to volume helps me break through sticking points. 60% high reps on squats, bench, press (except for DLs) for 4 to 6 weeks. Then, returning to high weight low rep. 2 cents...
          "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
            don't disregard the 1x5 done at a high intensity.
            What does high intensity mean here? Are you talking about the 5 seconds up / 5 seconds down thing?

            Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
            What you're doing makes no sense to me
            I don't understand why you say that. If you keep aggressively adding weight to the bar, at some point you'll encounter a weight you can't handle. What do you do when that happens?

            Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
            When's the last time you took a week off and came back with a weight you could actually handle?
            Two months ago, at the end of my "screw the deload" phase. HST has you begin by taking 9-14 days off, then you start with sets of 15 with super lights weights going nowhere near failure. Over 6 weeks you add weight and cut reps until you work up to 5 reps with your 5RM. Then you do two more weeks of heavy stuff.

            Originally posted by Fernaldo View Post
            I have found switching to volume helps me break through sticking points. 60% high reps on squats, bench, press (except for DLs) for 4 to 6 weeks. Then, returning to high weight low rep. 2 cents...
            I found that mixing in some higher reps added size but not strength. YMMV.
            "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
              I try not to pimp this too often, especially on a thread for starting strength, but don't disregard the 1x5 done at a high intensity.
              Most intermediate programming has at least 1 workout where you do the main lifts for a heavy set of ~5 reps, even Rip's. I think the OP is doing Stronglifts or some bastardization thereof though.

              Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
              I don't understand why you say that. If you keep aggressively adding weight to the bar, at some point you'll encounter a weight you can't handle. What do you do when that happens?
              Switch from novice programming to intermediate, if you're at the appropriate point in your lifting maturity. If not, the idea is to less aggressively continue adding weight to the bar, a/k/a microloading if it allows you to keep adding weight.

              I've certainly never heard of continuing to fail to lift an amount you can't ad infinitum as a strategy for progress.

              As for the idea of more volume, you might have success adding more volume at a higher percentage of your 1RM. Heavy doubles or triples for several sets, to accumulate lots of total reps at heavy weights, rather than backing off to where you can bust out sets of 8 or 12 or 15.

              But I'd take one of two approaches:

              If you think you have linear progression left in you, deload and start increasing the weight by smaller increments. You can buy micro plates or pick up washers from a big industrial supplier that have 2" ID and weigh about .625 lbs each (1.25 lb for a pair). I have 3 pairs.

              If you think you've exhausted your novice phase, pick an intermediate program. Texas Method, Westside, 5/3/1, whatever makes sense to you.

              If you think what you're doing now makes sense, I recommend you pick up a book on programming. I know Rippetoe's 2nd book, Practical Programming, is held in high regard by some.
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #22
                Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                Those are the weights I'm attempting to do 3x5. For overhead press, since I did 95 lbs for 3x5, I moved it up to 100 lbs. But I'll only get about 3 reps on the first set, then drop back to 95 for the next two sets.
                ...
                I did all this, except I was hesitant to switch to 1x5. You're supposed to be squatting around 300 when that happens, and also I just couldn't bring myself to do only one set. After I tried 1x5 for a couple weeks, I went back to 3x5, and just said screw the deloads.
                Couple pieces of advice about Stronglifts (don't worry, I'm no expert either):
                1. You aren't supposed to deload between sets, period. If your first set gets 3 reps, keep the same weight. If your second set gets 1 rep, keep the same weight. If your last set gets 0 reps, you're done for the day. You don't ever change the weight of your working set until you get to 3x5 or fail to do so 3 workouts in a row.

                2. Remember that 1x5 is only your working set, and you should be doing 2 or 3 warmup sets before that with ramping weight. IE if you're aiming for 100 on overhead press, start with an empty bar (45 lbs normally) then do a set at 65, then 85 before trying your working set.

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                • #23
                  RM, OK, I'll think about your suggestions. Thanks.

                  Originally posted by prufock View Post
                  1. You aren't supposed to deload between sets, period.
                  Yeah, I know that's not what Mehdi says to do, but I saw it as a compromise between going too light and too heavy. I guess I can try keeping the weight up and just getting fewer reps.

                  Originally posted by prufock View Post
                  2. Remember that 1x5 is only your working set, and you should be doing 2 or 3 warmup sets before that with ramping weight.
                  Yeah, I do warmup sets. But doing just 1 working set doesn't feel like a workout to me. I feel like I'm not even trying. On the other hand, if it works, I guess I don't mind feeling like that.
                  "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

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                  • #24
                    In your shoes I would do a deload that would ensure you could continue with the progressions for at least a few weeks before hitting the same weights again, and then hopefully be able to shoot past that.
                    If not, it's time to pick a different program. I've had great success with 5/3/1 after reaching the point where I couldn't progress every workout.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                      Yeah, I know that's not what Mehdi says to do, but I saw it as a compromise between going too light and too heavy. I guess I can try keeping the weight up and just getting fewer reps.
                      ...
                      Yeah, I do warmup sets. But doing just 1 working set doesn't feel like a workout to me. I feel like I'm not even trying. On the other hand, if it works, I guess I don't mind feeling like that.
                      If you can do 95#, 100# should not be "too heavy." You might not get to your 5 reps, but you should be able to get a few. Aim for 5 every set, don't deload. I stalled on overhead press at 95# too, did 2 deloads at 5x5, switched to 3x5, and now like 10 weeks later or something I've broken through that 100# wall, successfully did 110#, and will be trying 115# on Friday. I'm in my early 30s, but not really bulking, so I'm finding gains are coming more slowly now.

                      You've lost weight, as well. In a sense, good! The downside, you may have lost some muscle mass along with the fat. You're on a bulking diet now, but I assume you haven't been all along since you lost a lot of weight.

                      I would say stick with 3x5 for now and deload by 10% one last time (which would put you at 90# on your OP), and work back up in 5lb increments, keeping the same working weight for all 3 sets. Keep track of your workouts using the spreadsheet available at the SL website. When you fail 3 workouts in a row, deload and drop to 1x5.

                      If 1x5 doesn't seem like enough, add another warmup set or two (how many are you doing?), adding less weight per set, but still ending at the same working weight. If at 1x5 you aren't making any more gains, I would take a week off and come back with a new program.

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                      • #26
                        Deloading/prolonged rest has also helped me, so +10000000 to all who said that.
                        My chocolatey Primal journey

                        Unusual food recipes (plus chocolate) blog

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                        • #27
                          As Rip and Jim Wendler say, you have to eat if you want to get more weight up at a certain point, "most people think they are eating 4,000 calories a day when they simply aren't they are eating 2 or 3, If you want to get weight on the bar you have to eat to recover and grow, aim for 6,000 and you will probably hit under it and be fine." - RIPPETOE

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                          • #28
                            I've been trying to lose weight most of my weightlifting career. I've still had great progress. I did stall out earlier in starting strength than most because I didn't eat enough, but I switched to 5/3/1 and still gained strength while losing weight.

                            Now I'm at a weight where I don't feel the need to lose so I eat more but still use 5/3/1.

                            So what I'm saying is that progress is possible without huge calorie overloads, it just takes longer.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Ghshl View Post
                              In your shoes I would do a deload that would ensure you could continue with the progressions for at least a few weeks before hitting the same weights again, and then hopefully be able to shoot past that.
                              If not, it's time to pick a different program. I've had great success with 5/3/1 after reaching the point where I couldn't progress every workout.
                              This is excellent advice. The advice to keep being stalled at your present lifts is terrible advice.
                              The Champagne of Beards

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Ghshl View Post
                                In your shoes I would do a deload that would ensure you could continue with the progressions for at least a few weeks before hitting the same weights again, and then hopefully be able to shoot past that.
                                If not, it's time to pick a different program. I've had great success with 5/3/1 after reaching the point where I couldn't progress every workout.
                                I just have one more workout left on my 8-week cycle, and then I'm going to take some time off and deload. I looked into 5/3/1 once, and didn't like the looks of it. Pyramids instead of reverse pyramids, less than great exercises like hanging leg raises and leg curls, and he specifies both the weights and the reps (in reality, you can pick one but not necessarily both). But I didn't read the official PDF, so I can look into it again.

                                Originally posted by prufock View Post
                                If you can do 95#, 100# should not be "too heavy." You might not get to your 5 reps, but you should be able to get a few. Aim for 5 every set, don't deload. I stalled on overhead press at 95# too, did 2 deloads at 5x5, switched to 3x5, and now like 10 weeks later or something I've broken through that 100# wall, successfully did 110#, and will be trying 115# on Friday. I'm in my early 30s, but not really bulking, so I'm finding gains are coming more slowly now.
                                RM was asking how I knew I couldn't add a little weight to my current lifts, and when I said the weight's already too heavy I just meant that I can't get close to 3x5 so there was no point in adding more weight. I didn't necessarily mean that it was too heavy to work with, though I do prefer to get something like 5, 4, 4 rather than 3, 2, 1. FYI, I was working with 110# on overhead press before I lost the weight.

                                Originally posted by prufock View Post
                                You've lost weight, as well. In a sense, good! The downside, you may have lost some muscle mass along with the fat. You're on a bulking diet now, but I assume you haven't been all along since you lost a lot of weight.
                                Actually, I initially lost weight quickly and effortlessly on primal, despite eating a lot and taking creatine in an effort to gain weight. I don't think I lost much muscle mass because at first I was just returning to the weights after a long layoff. Losing the weight was definitely a good thing, in spite of the strength loss.

                                Originally posted by wolfman View Post
                                As Rip and Jim Wendler say, you have to eat if you want to get more weight up at a certain point, "most people think they are eating 4,000 calories a day when they simply aren't they are eating 2 or 3, If you want to get weight on the bar you have to eat to recover and grow, aim for 6,000 and you will probably hit under it and be fine." - RIPPETOE
                                I would do that if I wanted to gain strength at all costs. But losing fat is an important goal for me, so I don't want to put on much extra fat now. And I don't know how I would even approach 6,000 calories a day on just primal foods. Last night was the first time I had a dozen eggs with one meal. That's only 960 calories, which is a drop in the bucket. But I'm worried that if I eat too many, the taste will start making me sick.

                                Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                                This is excellent advice. The advice to keep being stalled at your present lifts is terrible advice.
                                Why is that? Mehdi gave two reasons for doing a deload after three failed attempts in a row, neither of which seemed particularly great.

                                - To avoid becoming demotivated. Well, this can go either way. Some people would be more demotivated to go back to lighter weights.
                                - To get more recovery time. But taking a week off and then continuing at the same weights would give you better recovery in less time.

                                I don't see any major advantage in deloading vs. just pressing on. Neither one broke me through my current plateau. Deloading is nice for a change of pace, but it also makes you waste time with weights that you already know you can lift.
                                "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

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