T Nation

Few Questions


#1

Hey all, just had a few questions I could use some answers for.

First off, I'm doing 5/3/1 and have been lifting for about two years. I'm in the Army, I'm 19 years old, 198lbs. My current lifts(using the 5/3/1 formula, haven't done 1RM in a few months) are a 325 Bench, 515 DL, and 390 Squat. Can post my actual routine if anyone would like it.

My lifts started stagnated lately, worse still my Bench and DL have been dropping slowly, and I just generally feel like shit during lift days. I was doing a lot of assistance work but recently reduced the amount I do so I'm not burning myself out so much. I recently started eating a lot less than what I was taking in(~5000kcals/day) trying to save money, and also because I feel comfortable at my current weight for the time being, and would like to compete in a raw 198 competition soon enough. Any tips on still increasing lifts without a huge calorie intake or weight gain?

Deadlifts: on my last set should I be going for high reps in the very heavy range? I notice form starts to break down fairly quickly, and I've heard doubles and triples are the way to go with heavy dead's.

Also, I was looking for some help on squat work. My squat has been increasing, albeit slowly, but as long as there's improvement I'm happy. However I was looking for some feedback on the assistance work I'm doing, to make sure I'm doing everything I can. The main problems I've had are coming strong out of the hole and also sometimes I'll fall forward slightly and my back will have to compensate. Is this just form work? I believe I have a video from last week I can post if needed.

Typically after my 5/3/1 Squat I'll do the following:
4 x 8 Shoulder width box squats
4 x 6 Romanian Deadlift
4 x 8 Front Squat

Finally, typically on the lighter days I'll be able to get a greater "max"(up to 25lbs difference) according to Wendler's formula than on my heavier days(90%+). Is this normal or should I be getting even numbers across the board?


#2

I would try squatting 2+ times a week to get more practice in. Of the three lifts, squats usually respond the best to simple hard work and practice - assistance won't do much, particularly if your form needs work. If you would like to stick with 5/3/1, change your assistance work to volume of the main lift on squat days (boring but big is popular, though I'd prefer lower reps, say 10 sets of 3).

If you are struggling to maintain strength, be sure to check your diet is on track, even if you don't want to increase your bodyweight. If you do not currently track calories/macronutrients, I would recommend that you start and adjust based on results.
If possible, Smolov or another squat specialisation program could help you a lot (although you would have to be prepared to eat well).


#3

By the way, what's up with the 3 types of squat + Romanian deads all in one session? No wonder you felt burnt out, especially with reasonably good numbers...


#4

Yeah, unfortunately what you said makes sense.... You are pretty strong for 198, and cutting your calories when you aren't a beginner is pretty much guaranteed to make strength gains a lot harder to come by. The right move is definitely to reduce volume a bit, so that you are only training as much as you can recover from with your current caloric intake.

Tips for still making strength gains while eating less calories? Make as much of those calories come from meat as you possibly can. Protein is what's gonna help you maintain lean mass and keep you recovering. I have always found that simply limiting my carbs is the easiest way to lose weight. Not necessarily cut them altogether. But just know that the more delicious meat (red meat especially) you eat, the more bang you are getting for your calorie buck. At least, that is how I feel.

Secondly, I agree a lot with what halcj said. IF you want to get better at squatting, I would just squat. Get rid of the box squats, and just do lots of squats and front squats.

For deads, rep range is kind of preference.... different people like different things. But I would say, if you have doubts about hight rep work and your form, etc, try doing the lower reps you talked about, and see if you feel better/get stronger. Best way to know what works best for you is to try both ways. Right now you are getting weaker doing the high reps... so try something else.


#5

Nutrition really has to be on point if you want to maintain or lose weight and still gain strength. Last few weeks saw my weight drop 11ish pounds, while maintaining strength, and Im thrilled with it.

Same with me, its all about what you do with carbs. Keep em a little lower and try to get the carbs you do eat in peri-workout. If you feel too drained and are losing too much strength/weight, up the carbs a bit. I've also found high fat intake helps my recovery without doing a damn thing to my weight, but that approach may or may not work for everyone.

Also, look into work active recovery work.


#6

In the words of Donnie Shankle "Ya gotta eat to get strong...what you put on the fork is as important as what you put on the bar"


#7

Yeah, I've noticed my mass dropping pretty rapidly as well. About how many kcals would you recommend, and what micros should I be shooting for? Again, this is kind of a bitch as I'm limited as to what I have access to eat, but no excuses for progress, right?

[quote]N.K. wrote:
Yeah, unfortunately what you said makes sense.... You are pretty strong for 198, and cutting your calories when you aren't a beginner is pretty much guaranteed to make strength gains a lot harder to come by. The right move is definitely to reduce volume a bit, so that you are only training as much as you can recover from with your current caloric intake.

Tips for still making strength gains while eating less calories? Make as much of those calories come from meat as you possibly can. Protein is what's gonna help you maintain lean mass and keep you recovering. I have always found that simply limiting my carbs is the easiest way to lose weight. Not necessarily cut them altogether. But just know that the more delicious meat (red meat especially) you eat, the more bang you are getting for your calorie buck. At least, that is how I feel.

My Monday consists of 5/3/1 Bench, 50 Weighted pull ups, 4x10 Guillotine Bench, Kroc rows and 50 weighted dips. My chest is really lacking though as when I'm doing heavy bench I noticed my chest gets fatigued and eventually I'll have to "shrug" the weight up with my shoulders.

Tuesday is 5/3/1 deadlift, but I think I'll be changing this to 5 sets of heavy triples after my warm up. Followed by shrugs.

Thursday 5/3/1 Mil Press, Close grip bench, Weighted chin ups. Cuban press and weighted dips.

Friday: Changed my squat day into 5/3/1 squat then 10 sets of triples for volume, then 4 sets of 8 front squats.

Other days are core/cardio work.

Anything I'm doing thats could be improved, please be free to give advice. Appreciate it all