T Nation

Lack of Recovery = Soreness?


#1

Question, If you are meant to change up your program when your recovery capacity is overwhelmed and that usually shows as soreness, especially as leg and lower back soreness that doesn't let you add weight to the bar. What happens when you are not being able to add weight to the bar or you are but a lot slower than before, but you don't feel sore at all.

I went from adding 5kgs to the bar each workout to 2.5 as expected, but now I'm lucky if I can add 2.5 each week. I don't know if I should split things up to be able to increase the weight faster.

Age: 16
BW: 70Kgs
1RMs are Squat: 104Kgs, Bench Press: 87Kgs, Deadlift: 127Kgs

I train the three big lifts, 3x per week. In a simple 5x5 pattern with lots of intensity. Right now I add 2.5kgs to the bar and fail to get 5x5 for two workouts, dial back the weight and then go up to clear 5x5. So it takes me 4-5 workouts to add 2.5kgs to the bar and clear out 5x5. The weird thing is that I don't feel sore at all. I obviously feel tired a while into and after my workout, but apart from that, nothing. Squats and Deadlifts go up like this, Bench is stalling a bit more. I just feel like the bar is too heavy when I add weight, but it doesn't hurt.

I was thinking maybe switching to an A/B split and see how I go from there, but I don't want to not take advantage of being able to do the three lifts 3x per week for as long as possible.


#2

I ain’t too experienced but I’d say that you might be exhausting your beginner gains. Try switching to an intermediate program such as the Texas Method? You can only progress so much doing the big 3, 3 times a week for 5 sets of 5. It is supposed to feel “heavy”, its called weights for a reason, haha. If you’re still capable of adding weight to the bar, albeit at a slower progress, no reason to change it up. Or, you could just eat more and start doing more recovery work (example: foam rolling).


#3

I am in a caloric surplus. Gaining around 300g of body weight per week and my sleep and recovery patterns are all perfect. The thing I am asking is wether you can be not recovering and not feeling sore? or does a lack of recovery always come with soreness?

I know it is supposed to feel heavy. I couldn’t possibly train more intensely. I lifted before doing this so I know how to push my physical boundaries. I just wanna know if I’m fighting gravity for wanting to stay on a beginners program for so long.

Last 4 workouts log for some context:
1.
Squat 92.5kg 5-5-5-5-2
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-2-3-1
Deadlift 112.5kg 5-5-5-5-5

Squat 92.5kg 5-5-5-5-5
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-3-3-5
Deadlift 115kg 5-5-5-2-1

Squat 95kg 5-5-5-5-5
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-5-3-3 (Didn’t deload because I thought I could try one more time)
Deadlift 115kg 5-5-5-5-5

Squat 97.5kg 5-5-5-5-1
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-3-1-1
Deadlift 117.5kg 5-2-1-1-1 (Major fail, no soreness. The bar just felt really heavy.)


#4

2.5kg every about 1.5 weeks is still beginner, you’re just not as much of a beginner. At first, you make gains every workout, then it gradually moves to every week, then every couple of weeks, and so on. Some very advanced lifters are ecstatic to make 5kg in a year on a lift. Also, as you become more advanced, keep in mind that your gains won’t be as linear.

Now your question which I personally think is unrelated to your personal situation, soreness isn’t the only indication of training beyond your current work capacity. Sometimes if I push too hard especially with explosive and heavy work I don’t get muscle soreness I just get a dull achiness in my joints and I don’t have any ‘snap’ or quickness. Don’t let one training session be a barometer of this, only note patterns and eventually you’ll be able to tell just by feel and experience. As one starts moving into the intermediate and beyond range this will even become intentional followed by a training deload to accomplish a supercompensation effect but I wouldn’t worry too much about that yet unless you’re just curious.


#5

What do you think about me changing into an A/B Split. Doing deadlifts, chin ups and OHPs on day A and squats, bench presses and rows on day B?


#6

Honestly, I would just go with a proven program appropriate for your training age. I’d pick something that allows weekly progress for the time being and then every once in a while lower the training max since your aren’t making exactly week to week progress anymore. Once you milk that for its gains pick something that’ll allow monthly progression.

As far as splits are concerned, there’s people who train all the lifts 3 to 4 times a week who are very advanced yet on the other hand there are also very advanced lifters who only train each lift once a week so once your beyond workout to workout progress in my opinion your split is largely preference.

Just pick a routine with a proven track record.


#7

I wouldn’t put much stock in soreness. When I did strong lifts 5x5 I never got sore unless I missed a week for vacation or what not. Strong lifts was a A/B method which worked well for me, especially my deadlift. However once you exhaust gains on a method like that I would recommend 5/3/1. I tried a ‘intermediate program’ and it didn’t do anything for me. 5/3/1 is an awesome program. There are tons of templates to choose from and you can progress very fast even though you are only adding 5-10lbs a month to your training max. You just have to realize you can progress way faster than your training max.


#8

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Honestly, I would just go with a proven program appropriate for your training age. I’d pick something that allows weekly progress for the time being and then every once in a while lower the training max since your aren’t making exactly week to week progress anymore. Once you milk that for its gains pick something that’ll allow monthly progression.

As far as splits are concerned, there’s people who train all the lifts 3 to 4 times a week who are very advanced yet on the other hand there are also very advanced lifters who only train each lift once a week so once your beyond workout to workout progress in my opinion your split is largely preference.

Just pick a routine with a proven track record.
[/quote]

Yeah that’s what I thought.


#9

If you aren’t getting sore and you aren’t making much or any progress then it probably means that your body has adapted to the program. In other words, you have plateaued. The solution is to change something in your program, and usually by adding something rather than taking away. So, increase volume, intensity, frequency, or add some variations of the main lifts. If you are already training each lift 3x/week then you will probably not benefit from doing each lift once a week. One of the 3 day Sheiko beginner programs or the Texas method would be good, or if you want to go with 5/3/1 I would recommend the Simplest Strength Template so that you have some variations of the main lifts as well. Just don’t get impatient, you’re only 16 years old. I didn’t even have a gym membership at your age.


#10

Enrique,
I think your A/B split is a great idea. Going to the 4 day split and adding the assistance lifts will increase your workload without making each session super long. Also, it will change up what you have been doing, but not in a super radical way.

I would suggest having “Heavy A” day, “Heavy B” day as well as a “Light A” and “Light B” day.

On heavy days, do 8 sets of 3. Start light, do a triple, then add weight, working up to a top set of 3.
On light days, do 3 sets of 8(after warm-ups), with the same weight for 3 work sets.

This would keep the same number of lifts per session, but you’d be using way different rep ranges and weights than you’ve grown used to. Again, changing things up without making any drastic changes.

Try this for 5-8 weeks and see how you like it. If you like the split idea, and you like doing assistance lifts you can progress to an upper/lower, or 5/3/1, or Push/Pull/Squat, or even some kind of bodybuilding routine.

If you decide you want to go back to a full body routine you can try the Texas Method, Madcow, or a Bill Starr layout. These are all full body routines that use a heavy/light/medium layout, instead of grinding away at the same weights day after day.

Or, if you really like doing tons of non-max sets in a variety of lifts you can try out an Anthony Ditillo program.


#11

Thanks for the help guys. I think I’m going to follow greg nuckols’ advise on beginner programming and basically just try and keep getting stronger. I don’t think I can mess up too bad If I keep getting stronger.


#12

move on to madcow, maybe take a deload week in between


#13

[quote]EnriqueP wrote:
my sleep and recovery patterns are all perfect.
[/quote]

No. To claim that your sleep, diet, supplementation, and pre-hab are exactly what is ideal for your biochemistry at every given moment and you are always consistent about all of them is a bold claim to make. It is a claim that I only see novices make, and often I hear it from the novices who are very dedicated, but the most inflexible to change/criticism. Changing that attitude and being reasonably open-minded is essential if you want to get anywhere.

It is not helpful to describe your recovery as perfect. Well-paced, steady weight gains are good. Describe to us what exactly your recovery protocol is and we will have a better picture of what is going on.

[quote]
Last 4 workouts log for some context:
1.
Squat 92.5kg 5-5-5-5-2
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-2-3-1
Deadlift 112.5kg 5-5-5-5-5

Squat 92.5kg 5-5-5-5-5
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-3-3-5
Deadlift 115kg 5-5-5-2-1

Squat 95kg 5-5-5-5-5
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-5-3-3 (Didn’t deload because I thought I could try one more time)
Deadlift 115kg 5-5-5-5-5

Squat 97.5kg 5-5-5-5-1
Bench Press 77.5kg 5-5-3-1-1
Deadlift 117.5kg 5-2-1-1-1 (Major fail, no soreness. The bar just felt really heavy.)[/quote]

These numbers look very odd to me. I don’t see why you’re hitting sets like 5/5/5/5/1 on your 4th workout squat. Going from repping it 5 times on your 4th set to only managing a single for a fifth set is weird, barring injury or something like that. Are you taking ridiculously short rests that don’t allow you to recover by the time set 5 comes around? Did you grind out horrible reps in your 3rd and 4th sets in order to get the reps in that you were totally fried by the 5th set?


#14

I grinded out the last two sets and on the final one the bar just felt to heavy. I rest around 3 minutes for each set.


#15

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
move on to madcow, maybe take a deload week in between[/quote]

I second this recommendation. It has all the lifts you want to improve based on your OP and it’s perfect for your training age. I highly recommend at least giving it a read for ideas, but preferably just getting on the program. Then later when you have a better idea of how your body responds and how programming works start making your routines.