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Maintenance Mode?

I got a question for a few of you guys that have reached your goals in the fitness world, more geared towards the long time lifters.

I’ve been lifting for 3.5 years, I started at a skinny 135 lbs. Both of my parents have been the same weight all their life, so I’m a hard gainer, and was naturally skinny. 3.5 years later, I’ve reached 200 lbs, I’m 100% happy with my physic that I built, other than the few small details I want to work on such as calves, core, and a few small body parts.

Over that 3.5 years, I kept my routine FAIRLY simple. Weighted Pull Up’s, Weighted Dips, Squats, Deadlifts, Bench, Barbell Rows, then isolation movements at the end of my work outs. Every single week I forced myself to add weight, I grew to where I wanted to be and I’m 100% happy.

After 3.5 years of lifting, the last 6 months on an Arnold Split 2x per day, working 65 hours a week as a heavy equipment operator, and building fences when I could find time, I’ve exhausted myself. I feel I’m at the point to where I could keep fighting it and going and going, but I don’t need to. I have other things I need to prioritize in my life, other than lifting heavy weights all the time. I have a new house that I need to find time to do a bunch of work on. I have a new born child on the way, and a lot going on.

With that said, I’m at the point to where I’m 100% satisified with my physic, however it’s time to stop putting so much time into building. I need time for other things. With that said, I don’t want to waste what I worked so hard for and made so many sacrifices to get, including waking up at 3:30 in the morning for over 3 years straight.

My topic or question is, for you guys who’ve reached that level, what did you do to maintain all your hard work without losing any of it, while giving you more time for your lifestyle? Can I simplify my workouts? Drop all of the isolation crap at the end, and not sacrifice all of my hard work?

For example, just do all of my heavy compound lifts, 2x per week, for a couple sets per lift and maintain my gains? Has anyone tried it?


Bench 2x per week 5 Sets of 5
Deadlift 2x per week 5 sets of 5
Squat 2x per week 5 sets of 5
Weighted Pull Up’s 2x per week 5 sets of 5
Weighted Dips 2x per week 5 sets of 5
OHP 2x per week 5 Sets of 5

Will I be able to maintain my gains 100% without losing anything by doing such thing and cutting so much of my lifting time?

Thanks for the help.

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Really interested to hear the answers. In my head I’ve always told myself once I reach my goal, I was gonna do the absolute bare minimum to maintain. Really hope it works like this :joy:

Strength lasts roughly for 6 weeks without training it. You can also maintain strength pretty easily with 1-2 hard sets a week

I’d probably so something like a push, a pull, a hinge and a squat, a few sets and reps a couple times a week.

You won’t maintain everything, you’ve gotta work hard as you get old to keep it but you’ll feel good and it’ll slow the loss down

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You could even do (twice a week like you mentioned)
A heavy day and a lighter, higher rep day

If I did that I’d probably do the heavy day as like
3 sets of 5
Incline bench
Weighted chin
Front squat
All straight sets

And lighter day
5 rounds of 10
Flat DB bench
Db row
Goblet squat
Kettlebell swing

Get a pump and some conditioning too

But that’s just me and what I like ya know?

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Or now that I’m on a roll, joe defranco has a 3 day pw program for ‘washed up meatheads’ that ought to do the trick

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Yes I think u can make this work in principle. So firstly dieting for maintenance. Eating enough protein and calories to around about maintain your body weight.

In terms of training pretty much whatever you’ve been doing but less.

Theoretically the training stimulus can be insufficient to make gains, so low that u start losing gains e.g. squatting dropping down to just squatting the bar for low volumes, just enough to keep gains but below the minimum to make gains and then all the way up to doing too much overreaching/training. These are loose ranges and they can fluctuate but sounds like your target is that maintenance range.

Good news is that it’s significantly less than what you’ve done to build up to it so it’ll free up time and energy for life things. Bad news is you’ll have to find your individual maintenance volume. So it’s hard to say honestly what u should do exactly. Some tips to try and get you started would include:

Everything is relative to what u usually do but try dropping volume (counting number of hard working sets, 4 or less reps in the tank) by 30-50%. So using your example if your body grows by pushing 5x5 twice a week (total 10x5/week) go 3x5 twice a week (6x5/week). You could do a little less or a little more the point is it’s less sets overall but they are medium-hard sets. Some research has shown 1 very hard medium-high rep top set (2 reps from failure or less) twice a week to be sufficient to maintain so that’s kinda the low end. You may find you need more so I’d start with a bit more volume and see how u go.

Drop isolation movements for most body parts if you find them time consuming and the body part gets trained well with compounds (like delts might need some isolation work because OHP is front delt heavy). U can keep em in if u enjoy them but they aren’t time efficient for ur overall goal.

Intensity/weight/loading wise a broad range of %1RMs will work but wouldn’t go too light like less than 50% 1RM. Remember we need enough hard working sets so if we use light weights we’ll have to do many reps which is less time efficient. So, I’d start out by trying around 70-85% 1RM. I’d use your training history as a guide also if you’ve been training at a certain percentage of rep range use that and take a little bit of intensity and a decent amount of volume off. Since haven’t included any numbers/lifts I’ll just use my own as an example. So usually I’d push by doing weighted dips with between 20kg / 45 lbs (for many reps) and 60kg /130 lbs (for not so many reps) attached + my body weight (bit less than 200 lbs). So estimated 1RM would be like 380ish lbs (including me bodyweight). So approximately bodyweight would be the minimum intensity (50%) but I don’t want to be doing a set of 30-40 reps. So something more reasonable would be to use 70% 1RM which works out to be close to +70 lbs on weighted dips for however many sets of 8-12. Could go heavier if you want it’d just mean less reps/set.

Frequency wise you may find u don’t need two sessions per week to get in your maintenance volume so that’s even better for u. U can do two short sessions splitting up the volume however you’d like over the week or do one bigger session.


You put on Twenty Pounds A Year For 3 Years! You’re not a hard gainer, you’re a genetic freak, hyper responding Easy Gainer!

Doing 5 sets of 5 in one lift, with the same weight takes FOREVER. If you want a shorter workout, just pick 3 or 4 exercises and work up to 1 or 2 ass-busting sets and move on.

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Here are someT Nation articles about higher intensity, lower volume training.

This is a video about a Josh Bryant 30 minute shoulder workout. If you find it interesting, you can follow links to 30 minute workouts for other body parts.

If you are into 531 at all, running 5’S PRO with 5x5 FSL weights is really the definition of maintenance mode. Pick a TM of 85% and you’re set.

(If you don’t know 531, sorry for the acronyms).

I had to reread the hard gainer part myself…

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He gained, hard.

Reminds me of how the TV-show Cougar Town would take expressions like “cake walk” and point out that walking with cakes isn’t exactly easier than walking without cakes so why does “cake walk” mean that something is easy? And why does “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing?

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Three exercises once per week
Total TUL per week 270 seconds
Leg Press, Pulldown, Chest Press

I’m just sitting here amazed someone actually watched Cougar Town…let alone remembered a specific quote. :laughing:


That show had two cases of bad luck. The first is the name, and the second is taking too many episodes to find what they actually wanted to do comedy about. It’s one of my all-time favourite shows. They make fun of the name more or less during every intro after they realise they needed/wanted to pivot.

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Some good responses here and some great articles. I think it’s going to come down to experimenting. I’m actually going to start experimenting this week because I’m working 65 Hours this week, and have 20 more post holes to dig after work.

I’m not concerned with diet. Over the years I’ve got all my macro’s down, and took in 6,000 calories / 300g+ of Protein per day for over 3 of those years. Now I’ll probably cut back to a heavy maintenance mode diet, enough to keep my gains.

As far as training, I’ve decided I’m going to experiment between the “Bro” Split hitting each body part once per week for 30-45 min in the am and running a simple 5 x 5 program. I’m hoping I can keep at least the majority of my gains. I’m at 203 even at 5’8. And I’m happy anywhere between 195 and 205.

As far as the remarks about the hard gainer, I’ll add something to that. Even with a great success over 3.5 years, I still considered myself to be a hard gainer, being that both of my parents were 135 all their life and I was never over 130 my entire life. To some gaining 70 lbs in 3 years, might not be a hard gainer, but what it took for me to gain that, was down right hard core and took a strict mind set.

Over that 3.5 years, I woke up every single morning at 3 am, then worked 10 hour shifts after the gym, got off of work, went back to the gym, came home, shower, ate heavy, and went straight to sleep. I literally had no life over that time. Some of those days were misriable, because at times I was taking in between 6,000 and 6,800 calories a day. I did everything from the GoMad, did the GoMad x 2, drinking 2 gallons of low fat milk per day for a few months, switched over to the Gironda eating 36 eggs a day, spent a lot of money eating T-Bones at night and I made myself sick eating so much chicken for lunch. So sick that I got to the point to where I had to have a different sauce topping for every day of the week.

To some 70 lbs might be described as the complete opposite of a hard gainer, but I feel the complete opposite. It was a long road of eating myself sick, exhausting myself beyond exhaustion, to get out of that hard gainer state.

But after 3.5 years of hard training, I can say, I feel it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Over that 3.5 years, it did a lot more than get me in shape. It gave me a whole different mind and perspective of the world. I felt it gave me Iron Man discipline, taught me how to work hard for what you want, and it also taught me to be productive. Over that 3.5 years, I left the gym early in the morning, got to work 45 minutes early every day, and got plenty of raises over those years. Coming from a bad lifestyle that was filled with prison sentences, crime, and bad things, that 3.5 years was well worth it.

I’ll close with it’s time to slow down on training, be a new father, finish all the work that needs to be done to our new house, and I still look forward to living a healthy lifestyle and being in the gym daily, I just can’t devote the same amount of time to it.


Sorry man, I didn’t mean to Dis your hard work.

How did you do that? No offense to the op but he implied he was genetically a hard gainer. Which obviously is not the case. At no point did you imply he hadn’t put in any hard work.

I did say “Easy.”

Anyway, not a big deal, I just don’t want there to be any confusion.

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I see… the Op might have taken the term easy out of the normal context when making reference regarding genetic disposition and potential. Which he may have taken as a slight against the amount of work he has put in.

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