T Nation

Fatigue on Low Sets


Lately, I've been very, very tired after a low number of working sets. Basically, I go to the gym, warm up to 1 heavy working set on my "exercise of the day," (5-3-1) and that already leaves me pretty tired. As assistance work, I do 3-5 sets of the same exercise, but with mechanical drop sets, followed up by some cosmetic and assistance work. For example, today's workout was:

1 working set of Deadlifts, with around 310 lbs
4 sets of deadlifts: each set went, Romanian Deadlifts, drop to Regular Deadlifts, drop to Sumo Deadlifts.
2 sets of light hamstring work for a pump
4 sets of seated calf work

That's way less work than I used to do in the past, but I'm still very tired after workouts. Should I drop the mechanical drop sets in favor of more "plain" work? Is it at all normal to feel so tired after so little work at the gym? It feels like I'm actually working really hard, lol, but workouts are way shorter than they used to be.


Overusing intensity techniques will result in more systematic fatigue/you feeling tired.

You did 3 working sets if you're on 5/3/1, even though those first 2 are basically like ramping... Oh, and deadlifts/squats also are quite draining, obviously... Are you using the 5 percent table or the 10 percent jump table for 5/3/1 loading parameters? (the 5% one is more draining and imo sucks... Jim also said he preferred the one where the first wave is 65x5, 75x5, 85x5+) Did you correctly underestimate your max for training purposes?

Ok. And you are wondering why you feel fatigued? Are you kidding me? Come on man...
Do you work in 1-week waves or with regular 5/3/1 frequency (4 workouts rotated over 3 days per week in a continuous cycle, hence more time between squat and deadlift sessions).

Maybe you're actually moving some weight now...

Sleep and diet will have an impact, and you should do the deload weeks on 5/3/1... Ignoring them just lands you in such situations.

I've posted several 5/3/1 assistance templates in my training thread... I think one is on the last page, actually... Have a look at that, or use one from the book (not the terrible bb template though, please).

And how on earth did you end up with the idea of doing mechanical drop-sets with deadlift-variants?



I found the drop-set deadlift variants in CT's "Mechanical Drop-sets ebook." The book has a workout that includes back squats superset with leg curls for heavy work, and then drop-set deadlifts followed by drop-set lunges for assistance. I figured, next to that, heavy deadlifts followed by MDS deadlifts shouldn't be too hard.

I deload every 3 weeks after burning out when I failed to do so, and ramp up in 10% increments. I work out 4 days a week. I'd love to have a look at your template, because despite typically being a work-horse as far as set numbers go, I'm burning out fast on this. CT also writes, "Go to the max at every set"; all the drop-sets and going to failure takes its toll.

So, in short, thanks for the advice, CC: as always, you save the day :). I'll def check out your assistance scheme.



(make a post in my thread once you've found the scheme and see what you can put together... We might have to alter stuff a little depending on whether you want to keep working in 1-week waves or with the regular, slower 5/3/1 frequency and depending on if you're lifting raw/geared and all that jazz).