T Nation

Gains Have Crashed

Not posted in a long time but here goes:

Been training roughly how outlined in the ‘Bodybuilding Bible’ thread with heavy influence from Thib’s ‘How to write a damn good programme’ series and sure enough have gained muscle and weight, it seemed to be working damn well. However, I got badly ill for 3-4 days and couldn’t stomach anything, lost some weight and strength… got back into training the same way but have not been able to even get near my previous PRs, especially when deadlifting (shot CNS?) and have consistently felt overworked/under-rested- this correlating with me being home after illness with more food, more sleep and better conditions, which leads me to believe its more then just “eat more”.

Basically I don’t feel like I can push myself in the gym with the current way I’m training for whatever reason, also feel like I’ve lost any “mind muscle” connection I had in terms of getting my muscles to fire quickly, eg. out of the bottom on the bench. What do you guys do in such situations? I just had a week of much less volume then normal and this week I still feel dead.

Deload? Different rep scheme? Try more strength focused rep ranges and avoid the volume till I feel right again? This is probably an annoying thread, but I really don’t know what to do right now and it’s making training a chore rather then enjoyable, mainly because of lack of actual progression in strength. Ask away with anything if you think you could have some ideas, obviously its not the easiest thing to guess at…

are you sure whatever medical issue you had is all cleared up? I definitely hope thats not the case but why not try taking a whole week off. Regroup, reset, and dont think about weight training. Maybe a whole week off physically and mentally with be good and you’ll come back fresh with a renewed sense of focus?

Either way man good luck.

.greg.

[quote]jake_j_m wrote:
Not posted in a long time but here goes:

Been training roughly how outlined in the ‘Bodybuilding Bible’ thread with heavy influence from Thib’s ‘How to write a damn good programme’ series and sure enough have gained muscle and weight, it seemed to be working damn well. However, I got badly ill for 3-4 days and couldn’t stomach anything, lost some weight and strength… got back into training the same way but have not been able to even get near my previous PRs, especially when deadlifting (shot CNS?) and have consistently felt overworked/under-rested- this correlating with me being home after illness with more food, more sleep and better conditions, which leads me to believe its more then just “eat more”.

Basically I don’t feel like I can push myself in the gym with the current way I’m training for whatever reason, also feel like I’ve lost any “mind muscle” connection I had in terms of getting my muscles to fire quickly, eg. out of the bottom on the bench. What do you guys do in such situations? I just had a week of much less volume then normal and this week I still feel dead.

Deload? Different rep scheme? Try more strength focused rep ranges and avoid the volume till I feel right again? This is probably an annoying thread, but I really don’t know what to do right now and it’s making training a chore rather then enjoyable, mainly because of lack of actual progression in strength. Ask away with anything if you think you could have some ideas, obviously its not the easiest thing to guess at…[/quote]

Is your appetite low? If it is, keep eating the same amount anyway, perhaps use this time to eat some ‘cheat foods’ (pizza/McDonalds burgers etc.) to keep the calories up.

Keep the same split or w/e, just stay a couple of reps short of failure on your top set, avoid drop-sets/strip-sets/maximum rep sets. This is hard as shit for me.

Do this for as long as you need until you start feeling fresh/appetite comes back (usually 3-4 days for me) when its all back to normal, blast the fuck out of yourself for 6-8 weeks until you feel like shit again.

My 2c.

Your body probably just needs to rest.

I’ve been in the same boat a couple of times. I’ll take 5-10 days off depending on what I need but that doesn’t mean I’m not active. I’ll lift light (50% of my max) with high volume and shoot hoops or something. Then I go back and start progrssive increases in weight and build up on my lifts.

I had a period like that last year (and plenty others in the past). It took ages for me to start making gains again (a few months to be precise). Although I tried my best to eat the same amount as before, it made me feel a lot more full, and my workouts suffered (seemed to be no cause by myself).

Sounds to me like you are systematically burned out (mainly due to the lingering remains of the illness). It will take time to build back up to a decent “gaining momentum” again, but in the meantime cut the volume in half for a couple of weeks or so (if the volume is high to start with). Also, de-load by around 15%, then slowly work back up again over several weeks. The slower you go, the longer the gaining momentum will last (due to the small steps being more “solidified” / “earned”).

Use this time to work on form etc, and don’t be paranoid - it’ll all come back plus some more.

Needless to say, you must eat enough (especially protein) and rest.

Same shit happened to me in November man. Took fucking FOREVER to get back to where I was, or so it seemed.

Just get in there and go “easier” on your body and joints. Challenge yourself, but don’t be pushing singles or doing 14 rep restpause sets.

You are going to have to settle for form PR’s for awhile and just keep your head down and nose to the grind. Don’t give up, try not to get too discouraged, and good luck.

Keep your food and sleep at a maximum. Rest and recovery are going to play a huge role in your return.

Cheers guys. I think in terms of time off, I’m going to see have the rest of this week on as normal and see how I perform- if its terrible I might just turn everyday into a “speed day” next week.

Appetite is lowish as normal really, just a case of making sure I get enough still despite this, I’m agreeing with avoiding true failure and drop sets etc, because if anything that’s the main thing I’ve been doing more recently (surely drop sets here and there on mostly final exercises aren’t the reason?).

Oddly, I kind of feel like going for a couple of runs a week might help generally how I feel, I have no evidence to backup why this would work, but it might be worth a try. I think regardless of whether I take time off I should avoid training to failure/past it at the very least until I feel better, this possibly coupled with dropping weights off for earlier sets and focusing on one relatively heavy set per exercise rather then 3-4 all relatively heavy- I do actually think that approach combined with more volume then I have been used to in the past might actually be the problem, I figured being just 19 and all my body could handle anything, ha.

Thanks for the motivation so far guys- deload, speedwork, no failure, less volume, food, sleep etc.

How long ago did you get ill? How far off are you from your PRs? I’m curious as to how long you’ve been in this recovery stage.

I’d suggest some morning cardio, easy 30 mins of the elliptical either fasted or after having 15-20g whey. That and you can throw in a HIIT session once or twice a week to keep your metabolism firing, I think that will help tremendously. It does wonders for me.

[quote]waylanderxx wrote:
I’d suggest some morning cardio, easy 30 mins of the elliptical either fasted or after having 15-20g whey. That and you can throw in a HIIT session once or twice a week to keep your metabolism firing, I think that will help tremendously. It does wonders for me.[/quote]

I love my morning walk, outside of the days it was 2 degrees out.

I still get up at 7am on weekends, mainly because the dog won’t wait till 9, but I don’t really mind.

Volume is sometimes treated like the plague by some people (like myself in the past), but if used wisely it can be a good way of giving the system a break. Say for example you’ve been used to low reps, high intensity and generally low volume workouts, you can give your CNS more rest by increasing the set/rep volume (decreasing the load to allow more reps).

This may be a good time to experiment with reps in the 10-12 range for a few months. This way you can “get away” with higher volume to compensate for the lower intensity.

You’d be amazed at the amount of volume your body can handle when you do “high” rep sets - it’ll just keep asking for more. The other good thing about “high” rep sets is that you have less tendency to take more than one set to “failure”. With lower rep sets like 3-6, you tend to want to get near your max on the last few sets.

Cheers again, this place is pretty good when you up a coherent thread that has a point to it. PRs wise I’m basically back where I was with the squats, taking into account I’m now within 8kg at the same reps despite now doing them deep rather then barely parallel. Bench wise I’m within about 7.5kg, but again I feel this is partly due to actually going all the way to my chest, unlike a good 2 inches+ off as before. Deadlift is where the main hit was taken, managed 170kgx6 the week before getting ill and the best i’ve managed since is about 150kgx3.

On the surface it might not seem like the hits are THAT bad but it’s the general “feel” I know I’m not pushing myself to my limits like I could beforehand, my CNS or muscles give up before I do so to speak.

Very positive to hear talk like that coming from you way, I’ve always felt that some cardio could be done and perhaps even has a positive lifting as well as a definite mental effect, however, I’ve stayed off it completely since “getting serious”. Perhaps something along the lines of HIIT one off/minimal gym day and 20-30mins morning cardio on my off day, baring in mind my goal is weight gain.

it_just_me, I definitely understand where your coming from there and it makes perfect sense, but my ego and (perhaps wrong) logic tells me to stick to at least reasonably low reps until I can actually shift a reasonable amount of weight, not sure if I could deal with using such light weights as I’d have to go to for 12 reps, I mean really, it would be embarrassing.

Don’t know if this applies to you but it may be something worth looking into. Hope you get back to killing it soon bud.

I understand where you’re coming from. Thing is though, if you are actually eating enough (sorry to sound like a “broken record” lol), then you will get a lot stronger in either rep ranges (whether it be 5 rep sets, or 10 rep sets).

That is probably where your “faulty logic” lies. Just because you do maybe 10-15% less weight (in order to get more reps), doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you won’t get much stronger in that rep range (and the weight progression is not that much smaller as you’d think compared to low rep sets).

In my opinion, it’s a better test of “true strength” if a guy can lift a decent weight for say 10 reps, compared to just 3-5 (despite using heavier weight in the 3-5 rep range). You can’t loose, because you’ll likely get bigger as well (although this is often debated).

Also, higher reps is not just an excuse to go easier, it is by no means any easier (in fact, it takes a hell of a lot more focus/experience to take it to the max with higher reps than lower).

With all that aside, is the rep range that you’re doing just now actually providing results? Are you getting stronger? I could bet you that you will start to make progress again if you switch it (provided everything else, especially food, is in order).

I’m not saying that higher reps is king, just that after a few months of being in one range, it’s good to switch (could be a simple case of alternating between 6 rep sets, and 10 rep sets…as an example)…and by switching, you stimulate a different path and give the other a bit of a “break”. You still need to learn when to pull back (for me, it’s every 3-8 weeks depending on food intake/stress), but a switch in rep range can allow you to squeeze some more gains out before you end the “cycle” and work back up again.

You’ve got to also think about the cost of your training. What I mean is, is the stimulation your creating worth it? Some people are that obsessed with trying to bring their strength up that they try to “morph” bodybuilding training with powerlifting. With powerlifting, you need to keep volume relatively low, and intensity very high.

With bodybuilding, you need enough volume to stimulate growth. So some people do enough volume for bodybuilding, but similar intensity to powerlifting. So what often happens is that the person doesn’t reach either goal very well; they hit a brick wall (usually burn out, sooner rather than later if they have no idea of how to pull back/de-load).

So why beat your system up with low rep sets taken to the max, when the growth that you get from it is mediocre compared to high(er) rep sets? Bodybuilding training has “evolved” to the way that it is for a good reason…

[quote]jake_j_m wrote:
not sure if I could deal with using such light weights as I’d have to go to for 12 reps, I mean really, it would be embarrassing.[/quote]

Are you lifting to impress everyone in the gym or to make gains? Don’t let your ego get in the way of results. I mean do you look around at every guy lifting and decide who’s a pussy and who’s not depending on how much weight they’re moving? I know personally I’m too focused on what I’m doing to notice anyone unless I know them or they’re doing something weird/funny lol.

And even if I do notice someone who I would consider a beginner/novice I’m always looking at their form and control not what they’re moving or not. I’m also looking for effort, which also has nothing to do with load.

I think most people would agree that it’s just as impressive to see someone dominate a moderate weight for a good amount of reps as it is to see someone erk up big weights a couple times.

Besides all that I think you’d find that if you worked your 12rm for a while you’d be putting up decent weights in it soon enough.

[quote]jake_j_m wrote:
logic tells me to stick to at least reasonably low reps until I can actually shift a reasonable amount of weight, not sure if I could deal with using such light weights as I’d have to go to for 12 reps, I mean really, it would be embarrassing.[/quote]

Is it logic though? Since you’ve been using nothing but low reps to failure (while probably not eating enough, because if you was, those low reps would eventually turn into high reps with the same weight), you’ve ran yourself into a wall.

[quote]trav123456 wrote:

[quote]jake_j_m wrote:
not sure if I could deal with using such light weights as I’d have to go to for 12 reps, I mean really, it would be embarrassing.[/quote]

Are you lifting to impress everyone in the gym or to make gains? Don’t let your ego get in the way of results. I mean do you look around at every guy lifting and decide who’s a pussy and who’s not depending on how much weight they’re moving? I know personally I’m too focused on what I’m doing to notice anyone unless I know them or they’re doing something weird/funny lol.

And even if I do notice someone who I would consider a beginner/novice I’m always looking at their form and control not what they’re moving or not. I’m also looking for effort, which also has nothing to do with load.

I think most people would agree that it’s just as impressive to see someone dominate a moderate weight for a good amount of reps as it is to see someone erk up big weights a couple times.

Besides all that I think you’d find that if you worked your 12rm for a while you’d be putting up decent weights in it soon enough.[/quote]

x2

The linked article definitely speaks sense to me, I always like the idea of active recovery, I may well incorporate some sessions like that soon if needed, though this week has already been experimentation/volume de-load.

In terms of changing the rep scheme, I am strongly considering it, the only thing that’s holding me back is-

a/ volume already seems to be more then I can handle, this would end up considerably more total volume unless I chose to do only 1 truly challenging set per exercise, the others focusing on speed, form and building up the CNS for the hardest set. (possibly what the “bodybuilding bible” thread was trying to suggest? but it also suggested keeping the reps the same whilst ramping up from bar weight, which I’ve tried and truly dislike in terms of my performance on work sets) All I want is to be able to put 100% into the sets that matter for progression.

b/ exercises like the deadlift are hellish enough without trying to maintain great form throughout 10 rep sets for example, however, I suppose if I were to use what I discussed above, 1 true “heavy” work set then it would be very doable. When deadlifting something along the lines of 80kgx10, 120kgx10, 140x10, for example… however, I cant help but thinking that not many people built a big deadlift from 10 rep sets- on this point, is there any exercises you would not consider using such high rep ranges for?

This may be a moot point with just as many people I’ve spoke to saying they gain “nothing” from high reps (in strength terms) as wannabe bodybuilders claiming it’s the only option.

Prefix here is that for each muscle group if I am doing 3 exercises I am already doing 6, 8 then 10 reps for each exercise respectively, so it’s already far from “low rep”.

Maybe “stimulate, not annihilate” really should be what I’m going for here…

As much as “annihilating the muscles” is not good continuously, it’s still needed to some degree for good gains (within reason) most of the time. The only time when you have to asses this more is when calories are restricted and/or you’ve been doing it for several weeks and “gains have crashed” (in which case, a simple “cruise” period is sufficient enough to allow your body to bounce back). In other words, don’t become intensity/volume phobic. Keep this in mind;

Step 1 - Push to the limit/just over the edge (almost over-training)

Step 2 - Pull back/go easier

Repeat (build back up again)

The length of time that you can push to the limit all depends on

-volume
-intensity
-genetics
-level of development
-stress
-rest
-steroids/supplements

And probably most importantly:

-food intake

You will have to experiment to get a general idea of when to “take it easier” (for me, I can last no longer than 8 weeks before I need to “cruise” for a week or two).

For advanced trainees, they can tell when exactly to cycle their intensity/volume. And for some others, they even cycle it on a workout to workout basis (e.g. CT always recommends this approach with his “Auto Regulation”)…however, I feel that it takes much experience to be able to do this and that you’re more likely to get it wrong as a less experienced trainee (especially if you love intensity and find it hard to hold back), so I’d rather recommend a more rigid “template” to start with (e.g. 3-8 weeks pushing yourself to the edge, followed by 1-2 weeks of “easier” training). You can’t go far wrong, and you’ll get to know how your body responds and can tweak things when you become more experienced.

Generally, building up to 1 to 2 “near failure” sets per exercise is enough. On a calorie restriction, you’d probably only manage one max set.

I was under the impression that your reps were much lower than that. I don’t see the problem with the 6-10 rep range…but you can still try the 12 rep range for a while if you want (like I said before, the higher rep ranges aren’t as hard on the nervous system).

I know what you mean, I personally feel like my muscles are “stimulated enough” quite easily though, so I think (relatively) low volume by bodybuilding standards (perhaps no more then 9 total sets per muscle group), with just 1 or 2 truly testing sets is how I’m going to go for awhile.

The main problem I have is that my cruising/days off period ends up being an opportunity to do things I wouldn’t do when training at full capacity, less quality sleep and barely enough food, however, I’m settled down for the next 5 1/2 weeks now I believe.

I think I’ll stick to this range but work on understanding when I can perform my best CNS wise. The best answer might lie in that I enjoy lifting as quick as possible much more and find my performance can last much better lifting like that, volume needed may change from muscle group to muscle group, but when I first started progressing my deadlift quickly just 1 set of 5 per week was enough to constantly hit PRs (also squatting 3 times a week there, interestingly).

I just feel like I’ll get more mentally and physically out of listening to my body and only pushing it to the limit when I’m sure I can handle it on the day. For example some days, I know even on my first set that it isn’t going to be a PR day. I don’t even mean this as some sort of vague excuse to counter “hitting PRs every session regardless”, I just feel more then ever (and from what I’ve seen actually work in the gym) that if I’m prepared to perform at my best, PRs are practically a given.