T Nation

Loss of strength?

I just finished my first three week strength training routine. it was a 5x5 routine with 3 different excercises (squat/DB bench/DB rows). Started out with 35 lb dumbells and got up to 60 lbs. Squat went from 145 to 155. Over all I would say I am happy with the results. Now I would like some advice. I was planning another 3 week routine with deadlifts, SL deads, and shoulder presses. The problem is that will be 4 weeks(1 week rest afterwards) without a chest movement. Will I end up losing a lot of the strength I gained in that lift? If so, should I throw in a couple sets of pushups on off days to try to preserve it? Exactly how long can you stay off a particular movement before having to switch back to keep strength gains?

Good question. I don’t have a good answer for you right off the top of my head, but I do have some advice that might change your thinking around a bit.

First, is there some specific reason that you only picked three exercises to do on your program? 5x5 is great, but what was your split like? Each BP once a week, twice a week, or what?

To answer your question a bit more directly, I don’t see that there’s any need to leave out a chest movement during your next cycle. If I were you, I would try incorporating more exercises into your split (i.e. something for calves, something for traps, etc.), which will give you more choices. Personally, I’d try an incline press and maybe pullups this time around. If you don’t like these suggestions, Joel Marion has posted an unusual 5x5 program that’s pretty well-rounded in that it hits more or less everything sometime during the week. Lots of good exercises to shoose from. Do a search and it should come up.

Good luck!

Most reputable strength coaches seem to agree that’s it’s around 7 - 10 days.You should be able to preserve your pressing strength quite easily by throwing in one or two sets each week. Bear in mind that doing pushups may not preserve your new strength as well as doing DB or BB presses, since in the DB press you are stationary and moving the DB’s away from you, whereas in the pushup you are moving your body away from a stationary object. This is why most powerlifters won’t bother with dips - the carryover to benching isn’t the best. And you will, if you do chose to stop chest pressing altogther, be able to gain that strength back relatively easily when you do start pressing again in 4 or 5 weeks. You have to decide exactly what is most important to you.
On a side note, however, I am wondering why you are opting to do deadlifts and stiff leg deadlifts in the one cycle, since they both target the posterior chain.

TO Char dawg- I am doing only three exercises because I am using this routine 3x a week. Its the same idea as “The big three” routine but I made it 5x5. So far I am happy with it.

To Ben- I always feel the deads in my quads too. Maybe I am doing them wrong and not sitting back enough. What would you suggest about the deads and SL deads. Should I take the SL’s out and add chins?

Yes, I think that going for deads, chins and delt presses would make a nice split.There’s nothing wrong with feeling your quads work when doing deads. It’s probably a bonus in the fact that you won’t feel compelled to do squats and deads in the same cycle.
If you look back on the 3 day per week routines outlined by Bill Starr in his book “Only The Stong Shall Survive”, he advocates doing some extra work on other bodyparts either by adding another day or, if you wish to keep to 3 days per week, by doing this additional work last thing on the last workout of the week, presumably Friday, so that you have two full days off before working out again. Perhaps after your chins, presses and deads ( or in whatever order you decide to do them )you could add in some chest presses and say, some calf work.
If you decide to do stiff leg deads,you might want to do the clean and press instead of a simple press from the shoulders. In this way, you will also be working your quads and spinal flexion. With chins, you might chose the sternum pullup, since it hits more of the back than any other form of chin.
Good luck

Ben - I am interested to know which ‘reputable’ strength coaches state that it takes 7-10 days to lose your strength in a lift. During my last strength cycle, I was lifting with minimal volume - only twice a week, 6 sets in each workout. (This was due to the high volume of sprint training I have been doing). Because I was only able to lift weights twice a week, this meant I had to alternate the exercises I used every other week. For example, in one week I would do Squats and Incline Press and the next week I would do Barbell Rows and Deadlifts. This meant I was only doing the same exercise every 14 days. I did not lose any strength in between my workouts - instead I had some great strength gains.

Well, if you’re happy with it then stick with it. But I really think that you could add in another exercise or two (especially if it’s not in a 5x5 format, and most especially if it’s not a large compound movement) and not suffer for it. But yeah, definitely substitute the chins for the SLDs.

I was refering to the well known coaches such as Poliquin, King, Francis, and many of the eastern block coaches who’s names I can’t be bothered to check the spelling on. I have read articles by all of them at various stages and they seem to agree that this is a very GENERAL rule of thumb.Of course there are going to be exceptions. If your training program is working for you, then of course you are doing something right, stick with it until it stops working for you. There are of course other opinions. Pavel says in PTP that strength goes down after a much shorter period, around three days. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the loss of strength has to do with the training frequency, i.e., if you train very frequently, such as in PTP, then the detraining effect will be fairly rapid. If you are used to training a bodypart weekly, then the detraining effect will be slightly longer than the period at which you usually apply the training stress. But, logically, there’s got to be a cut off point, as nobody makes gains by doing a training session once every equinox.
There’s also the factor of carryover from one evercise to another. If you deadlift one week and squat the next then the same basic muscle groups are being worked, and as you have proved, it may be beneficial to train this way.
I’d be interested to see how much carryover vertical pushing has to horizontal pushing. ARP, keep us posted on your results.