T Nation

Realistically, How Much Strength Loss Should Be Expected?

I didn’t put this into the ‘Home Workout Without Equipment?’ thread, as I figured it’s a viable question on its own. Can obviously be moved though if necessary, no worries.

Anyway, as most of us are going to be without a proper gym for perhaps even 12 months at the worst case, how much strength should we expect to lose (if any)? I’ll be working out at home with a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a bench, but I worry about losing strength on the big lifts such as squats, deadlifts, etc. Due to the low weight I have available at home, I’ll have to work predominantly with higher reps, and have absolutely no room or enough weight to deadlift.

If we’re off for a year, focusing on higher reps and not being able to deadlift, how much strength should I expect to lose, and will it be able to come back quickly enough once I start going to a proper gym again, and getting back into my usual routine? Is there anything I can do to try and maintain at least most of my deadlift strength, even with limited weight & higher reps?

Expect no strength loss whatsoever. Expect strength gain. Don’t visualize failure. It’s never good to do that.


It doesn’t disappear quickly. Maybe it does if you were juiced to the gills from day 1 and then drastically changed your hormones and diet, stopped training, etc.

I haven’t lifted in roughly 3 years, not with any consistency. Still active with BJJ and a little bit of kettlebell and basement lifting with light weights. Same BW. I’m not quite as strong as I was at my strength peak, but I pulled 90 percent of my lifetime max a couple months ago in a little strength check. Take that for whatever it’s worth.

So for deadlift strength preservation just keep your BW up, do kettlebell swings and I guess BJJ solo drills. Lots of hip movement there. I’m sure there’s something more you can do than that, but that’s about all I did for the last 3 years, aside from sparring.


Appreciate it, thanks guys. Hope you’re both doing okay. Stay safe!

Even if you loose some strength, after you are back to regular training(even after12 months, but it absolutely won’t be that long) you will catch up in a very short time. There are literary milions of cases like this.
It’s important to be safe and sane these days.
I wish you all the best.

I noticed the same thing. My max dead was in the low 4’s a few years ago, then even through various life changes and difficulties was at mid 3’s with a little warm up and not even a belt a couple months ago.

A lot honestly

For the other cases the deadlift is only one movement, if it was a sample of 12 or so movements you would see a lot more losses overall. Easier neurally to keep one thing.

You will lose your strength on your specific gym routine.

Time to get good at other stuff, with all the available training methods and philosophies its not the end of the world.

1 Like

If you dont do something for a year, Id expect another year to get back where you were (at least for me)

I will absolutely lose horizontal pressing strength and size in the coming months

So my thoughts (and please don’t think I’m being condescending; I don’t know why I’m so opinionated lately):

  • What does it matter? It’s your reality anyway, so we’re going to find out.
  • I do think it’s an amazing opportunity for a lot of us to progress in something else! At the very least, we can become more rounded or heal up some aches and pains.
  • It’s a chance for a lot of us to get creative/ some new discipline - this is cool and will serve us well when we go back to the gym (To make it relevant to your actual question).
  • When I’ve had lengthy forced layoffs in the past (like overseas, field, whatever), I typically had a ton of other exertion and maybe little food, so there’s variables not here. I’d lose a lot of weight and strength. It would come back quicker than the length of the layoff and much quicker than it took to build in the first place. I think a lot of it is just practicing and “waking up” to the movements again. I think there’s some amount of absolute time (like if I’m just being drunk and lazy for a week, it will take me a week to get back to it; if I’m traveling for a month, I may still only need a week to get back right) + relative time.
  • There seems to be some research that says you can maintain pretty well (maybe you to 8 months) by just doing whatever you can do. You’ll still need the aforementioned acclimation time, I’d assume.

Have you ever taken a year or longer off and then tested where you’re at periodically? What were your results?

To be clear, I’m just a stronger than average natty lifter. That about sums my lifting up. I think most stronger than average natty lifters will remain quite strong for quite some time, provided they’re still training/working somehow and not dropping a lot of weight. I’m sure elite level powerlifters and strongmen would lose a much bigger percentage, but I can’t speak to that.

To all you guys who have no access to weight, why don’t you have access to weight? I mean aside from the obvious logs, stones, random shit in a duffle bag you carry, etc. why can’t you find a way to attain a barbell, weights or at least enough for weight for one heavy dumbbell?

I have a Barbell, two squat stands and about 250 pounds of weight in my Honda Accord right now with about 150 pounds extra or so in my apartment. I have the bar going through the trunk sticking straight through the back seat pull down and it goes up to the center arm rest upfront. I have the weight distributed through the trunk and backseat and the squat stands lay across the top.

When I want to overhead press, it’s easy because I can leave the squat stands inside or in the car and just clean and press. If I wanna squat or deadlift, I grab the extra weight from inside, carry it down two flights of stairs (don’t understand people complaining about having to carry weights either. Yeah it wastes energy, but you’re trying to get stronger and carrying makes you stronger. Win win) load it in my car and go to an empty lot or train here in my apartment’s lot.

Assuming everyone has access to a vehicle, shed, spare room, etc I just really can’t understand why you can’t own a bar, weight and a couple of squat stands and still get in squats, deads, ohp, rows and floor press movements. You have the room and the space unless you’re homeless or live in a closet in which case lifting should be furthest from your mind anyway.

If you want to still lift in this situation and it means that much to you, find a way to make it happen. Otherwise, go do some calisthenics, pick some odd heavy shit up outside, run, jump rope, anything with no equipment.


Just got shutdown here in Australia. I may bite the bullet on a pair of adjustable dumbbells up to 50-60kg/ 130lbs.

Anyways I reckon I can put together decent work for all muscle groups. I feel like my top end squats/deadlift strength will suffer but I’m aiming to not lose muscle during this period (dunno how long) so am looking to clarifying training principles for muscle maintenance:

So is it as simple as doing sufficient volume, sufficiently heavy load and close enough to failure?

One area I’m concerned about is my hip hinge pattern /glutes+hams. I could do Romanians with the two dumbbells I guess

1 Like

I think so. Studies seem to suggest the load doesn’t even matter near as much as the failure for hypertrophy.

For RDLs, I don’t know how strong you are, but I could smoke myself with that weight if I use a slow negative and pause at the bottom.

If that’s still not enough, maybe pre-exhaust by doing some hip thrusts or long-step lunges first, straight into the RDLs.

1 Like

I ain’t super strong but like you said proximity to failure wise I’d be doing quite a few reps. Would rather hit sub 15 reps if possible. Lunges/split squats are glute dominant for me so making them to main movement sounds like a good idea

1 Like

The Russians will say that max strength will stick around decently well as long as you don’t lose much muscle size. It might be a good idea to practice some high-CNS intensive activities like low-amp plyos, jumps and sprints (6 seconds or less) to maintain your nervous system adaptations, but it isn’t perfect

I was originally posting this on the “Maintaining Muscles” topic so it may seem out of place in this “strength.”

For muscles, the number of reps per set doesn’t matter as long as you push close to failure(whatever that means). 8’s or 15’s or whatever are cool as long as you push it.

Exercise selection or order doesn’t matter much if volume stays consistent. You can use whatever exercises in whatever order you want for 10 hard sets of 10. Next time you can do a different combination of exercises for 10 sets of 10 and still get the gains.

If you’re doing a bunch of sets/reps (8 x 8, 10 x 10) using 1 exercises, like in German Volume Training, don’t BS around with light sets up front, trying to build fatigue or something. It’s more effective to make each set difficult and then lighten loads as you advance through the sets if you need to.

You don’t need to use Progressive Overload or any sort of linear scheme workout to workout. Like you don’t need to do 8 sets of 8, then come back next workout and do that again, just heavier. You can do 12 x 12 and get a good workout. Then do 8 x 8 with different loads and get a good workout. Then next session can be 10 x 10 with challenging weights for that set/rep range and get an effective workout. Then finally, you can go back to 8 x 8 a little heavier for a fourth good workout.


Lol Chris is panic consolidating threads all over the place