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

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

    In Rippetoe Throws Down, I found this part a bit strange:

    "Look in your notebook and ask yourself these questions: How long have I been able to add weight on a weekly or even monthly basis to my back extensions? My triceps pressdowns? My sit-ups, curls, lunges, dumbbell rows, and behind-the-neck lat pulldowns?"

    I agree that you can't keep adding weight to these exercises for very long, but I don't see how that's different from squats, deadlifts, and presses.

    I started StrongLifts in April 2012, after many years of training that wasn't exactly "fuckarounditis," but far from optimal. My lifts went up considerably over the next three months, then peaked and declined sharply. At this point I was halfway through losing 30 pounds of mostly fat, so I figured that was why my strength dropped.

    But now it's 9 months later, and all my lifts are still below their July 2012 peak (except for squats, which are up 10 pounds since then). Monthly progress stopped months ago. I'm 38 years old, male, an ectomorph, on a bulking diet, with plenty of protein and carbs.

    This seems normal to me. When you pass the newbie stage, gains come much harder, and not everyone has the ability to get strong. But some comments I see are making me wonder how normal it is.
    "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

  • #2
    Yes, that's correct. Linear gains exhaust themselves. For males, it is normal to reach about 1.5 BW SQT on the linear gains, which takes about a year-1.5 years. For women it's less. Once LGs are exhausted, an intermediate programming, such as MadCow, 5x3x1 or other is normally recommended, with an expectation of less gains a year. How much you gain during intermediate (opr advanced) stage depends on your age and talent.
    My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
    When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Leida View Post
      Yes, that's correct. Linear gains exhaust themselves. For males, it is normal to reach about 1.5 BW SQT on the linear gains, which takes about a year-1.5 years. For women it's less. Once LGs are exhausted, an intermediate programming, such as MadCow, 5x3x1 or other is normally recommended, with an expectation of less gains a year. How much you gain during intermediate (opr advanced) stage depends on your age and talent.
      This is true, but you should still be making progress. If not, you might be overtrained. What's your current bodyweight and lifts?
      The Champagne of Beards

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      • #4
        No one program is the holy grail. Once your past being a novice you do need to switch things up.

        On that note there are two theories as to capacity to build muscle. Both seem to recognize genetic giftedness, but it goes something like this:

        Theory 1: As long as you eat enough and train right you will continue to gain muscle indefinitely, however the pace may be slower if your not genetically gifted.

        Theory 2: Your going to reach your genetic peak after a certain number of years of hard training with optimal nutrition at which point you have likely put all the muscle onto your frame that you have the capacity for.

        I don't think that there is a definitive answer as to one or the other, but I sure have trouble putting muscle on my frame beyond about 165lbs and not getting flabby.

        That all said I know there are lots of older lifters that do seem to gain strength each year.
        Last edited by Neckhammer; 04-22-2013, 08:49 AM.

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        • #5
          My experience is similar. I got up to around 55lbs on overhead press and that's about as good as it gets. Can't seem to get beyond 75lbs on bench press either. Adding more weight doesn't seem to result in any adaptation at all. I struggle just the same or even worse the week after adding weight. If anything, I've mostly gotten less strong rather than more, although I can do more reps, not more weight.

          I'm going to try 531 even though I'm hardly strong enough for their calculations. On my 5+ set of squats today (95lbs) I managed 20 squats before the exertion headache hit me. Ugh, that's another limiting factor for me. Felt like a good workout though. Got a good case of the jelly legs.
          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
            In Rippetoe Throws Down, I found this part a bit strange:

            "Look in your notebook and ask yourself these questions: How long have I been able to add weight on a weekly or even monthly basis to my back extensions? My triceps pressdowns? My sit-ups, curls, lunges, dumbbell rows, and behind-the-neck lat pulldowns?"

            I agree that you can't keep adding weight to these exercises for very long, but I don't see how that's different from squats, deadlifts, and presses.
            You can usually progress for a longer time on the big compound lifts because you have more possibilities to learn how to implement and improve tecnique and to fire more musclefibers to assist the lift. Rippetoe is still wrong though in his fundamentalist crusade agaist "inferior" assistant lifts...
            "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

            - Schopenhauer

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
              Rippetoe is still wrong though in his fundamentalist crusade agaist "inferior" assistant lifts...
              Did you even read that article?
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                I started StrongLifts in April 2012, after many years of training that wasn't exactly "fuckarounditis," but far from optimal. My lifts went up considerably over the next three months, then peaked and declined sharply. At this point I was halfway through losing 30 pounds of mostly fat, so I figured that was why my strength dropped.
                You lost or started losing 30lb and you're wondering why your strength declined?

                Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                But now it's 9 months later, and all my lifts are still below their July 2012 peak (except for squats, which are up 10 pounds since then). Monthly progress stopped months ago. I'm 38 years old, male, an ectomorph, on a bulking diet, with plenty of protein and carbs.
                Are you doing StrongLifts? What are your current lifts and weight? What was your starting body weight and lifts numbers when you started your "bulk diet"?

                Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                This seems normal to me. When you pass the newbie stage, gains come much harder, and not everyone has the ability to get strong. But some comments I see are making me wonder how normal it is.
                What do you mean "not everyone has the ability to get strong"? What do you consider strong?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                  Did you even read that article?
                  Yep, did I overlook some profound hidden message in it?
                  "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                  - Schopenhauer

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
                    Yep, did I overlook some profound hidden message in it?
                    No, I think you inserted your own

                    Originally posted by Gorbag
                    fundamentalist crusade agaist "inferior" assistant lifts...
                    The Champagne of Beards

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                      My experience is similar. I got up to around 55lbs on overhead press and that's about as good as it gets. Can't seem to get beyond 75lbs on bench press either. Adding more weight doesn't seem to result in any adaptation at all. I struggle just the same or even worse the week after adding weight. If anything, I've mostly gotten less strong rather than more, although I can do more reps, not more weight.
                      Do not despair! I was more or less stuck at 135 on squats for the first year or so that i was lifting. Whenever I tried to add weight, it would feel too heavy or I would tweak my back. Today (5 or so year since I started lifting) I did 290x4. I know people talk about awesome newbie gains, but that was not my experience, at least not across the board. Then again, the first couple years I was lifting, I did not really follow a program, I just went 3x/week and lifted :-P

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leida View Post
                        Yes, that's correct. Linear gains exhaust themselves. For males, it is normal to reach about 1.5 BW SQT on the linear gains, which takes about a year-1.5 years. For women it's less. Once LGs are exhausted, an intermediate programming, such as MadCow, 5x3x1 or other is normally recommended, with an expectation of less gains a year. How much you gain during intermediate (opr advanced) stage depends on your age and talent.
                        Does linear gains mean adding weight to the bar every workout, weekly, or what? I'm at 1.5 BW squat now. I looked into MadCow and 5/3/1, but decided on a hybrid of HST and SL 3x5, with more of an emphasis on hypertrophy.

                        Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                        This is true, but you should still be making progress. If not, you might be overtrained. What's your current bodyweight and lifts?
                        Body weight: 165
                        Squat: 245
                        Bench: 65s (dumbbells)
                        Rows: 125
                        Overhead press: 100
                        Deadlift: 255

                        Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                        No one program is the holy grail. Once your past being a novice you do need to switch things up.
                        Yeah, I decided to switch to HST because I thought it was time to try something different. I like going heavy (2-5 reps), but I thought that doing nothing but that would wear me down.

                        Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                        I'm going to try 531 even though I'm hardly strong enough for their calculations.
                        For HST, I calculated that I was supposed to start with curls at 0 pounds. I guess you have to tweak the formula sometimes.

                        Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
                        You can usually progress for a longer time on the big compound lifts because you have more possibilities to learn how to implement and improve tecnique and to fire more musclefibers to assist the lift.
                        My deadlifts and especially squats did go up for a much longer time than the assistance exercises. But now it could be my curls that go up before my squats.

                        Originally posted by quikky View Post
                        You lost or started losing 30lb and you're wondering why your strength declined?
                        Yes, I don't see why losing 15 pounds (at the time, it later became 30) would mean I had to drop my deadlift from 265 to 215 and still fail to get 5 reps.

                        Originally posted by quikky View Post
                        Are you doing StrongLifts? What are your current lifts and weight? What was your starting body weight and lifts numbers when you started your "bulk diet"?
                        I'm doing a cross between HST and StrongLifts. At this point in the cycle, it's identical to StrongLifts 3x5 with some assistance exercises. My body weight was 163 at the start of the bulk, and it's 166 now. I gave my lifts above - they were the same before and after.

                        Originally posted by quikky View Post
                        What do you mean "not everyone has the ability to get strong"? What do you consider strong?
                        I couldn't possibly define strong, but what I mean is that the ability to gain strength and muscle varies dramatically from one person to the next. I think I'm just not born to be strong, and I would be pretty happy to bench my weight someday.
                        "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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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                          Body weight: 165
                          Squat: 245
                          Bench: 65s (dumbbells)
                          Rows: 125
                          Overhead press: 100
                          Deadlift: 255
                          Don't take this the wrong way, but you're not strong enough to focus on hypertrophy. How many workouts have you failed at these weights that you determined you can't add 2.5 or 5 lbs to each of them from workout to workout? How's your diet and sleep?
                          The Champagne of Beards

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                            Don't take this the wrong way, but you're not strong enough to focus on hypertrophy. How many workouts have you failed at these weights that you determined you can't add 2.5 or 5 lbs to each of them from workout to workout? How's your diet and sleep?
                            Yeah, that's what people say, build a foundation of strength first, then worry about hypertrophy later. But if the strength gains stop and stay stopped, is it a good idea to keep doing the same thing? I did gain some size in my arms and legs recently, so at least I made progress in that area.

                            I couldn't say exactly how many times I failed at those weights, but we're talking about every workout in a row for a couple of months. I know I can't add 2.5 or 5 lbs because the weights are already too heavy, i.e., I can't get 5 reps on the first set (rows are an exception).

                            My sleep is great, for the first time since I was a kid. I don't even really need an alarm clock.

                            I think my diet is good. I don't really stuff myself, but I eat a little past satiety. I stopped doing 16/8 fasting in order to get more food in (now it's more like 13/11). I don't eat too many vegetables, but I don't think that matters. Mostly eggs, chicken, beef, fish, turkey, apples, oranges, pears, bananas, sweet potatoes, greek yogurt, honey, and coconut oil. Weekly frozen yogurt binges post workout, and the ever so occasional donut binge, LOL.
                            "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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                            • #15
                              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.
                              The Champagne of Beards

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