T Nation

Squat Max Decreasing Not Improving


#1

Hi

I’ve started 5/3/1 for the first time as a way to regain my strength after breaking my leg earlier in the year. It’s a program I always intended on using but I travelled too much to commit to. However I’m now more stable and thought that it would be good to try.

I’ve completed the first cycle and for three of the four lifts it’s fantastic. I tested my 1RM on all four lifts the week prior to starting the cycle so I’m reasonably confident in their accuracy. My deadlift and military press have shown a definite improvement and my bench press has shot up, but I partially credit re-reading an excellent article by Dave Tate.

My squat is a weird issue which I’m hoping someone can help me with? As I stated I tested my 1RM prior to starting so that I had an accurate and up to date number for the 5/3/1 calculations. So I know that prior to the cycle I started with a 160kg (sorry, I’m English! 350ish lbs) squat. However my squat numbers during 5/3/1 have been steadily decreasing away from that! Today on my first AMRAP of the second cycle I only managed 6 reps at 127.5kg (280ish lbs) which is a reasonably significant drop.

My eating and sleeping patterns are roughly the same every day so I can’t work out what my issue is. That said on other workout days I have a slight problem feeling not at all hungry and have to force myself to eat, after my squat workout I feel starving all day. My deadlift numbers are higher, and thus more work is done, so I’m getting enough fuel there. I’ve always been chunky and I know that I gained fat after the layoff with my leg so I’m wary of eating too much.

So should I just accept that actually the 160 1RM was an aberration and drop the number down and recalculate? Do I just accept that for some reason I need to eat more the day before squat day? Any other suggestions or advice would be very gratefully received.

Thanks in advance and happy Thanksgiving to those to whom it is applicable.
Matt


#2

Starving is not a good state to be in when trying to get stronger. Add some food to your squat day.


#3

Three out of four ain’t bad. I’ve only set PR’s in all four lifts once in 11 cycles. Six reps on your last work set of the 5/3/1 week I don’t think anyone would consider a failure either, so long as you’re getting your required reps. From my experience my gains and PR’s have always came in waves. I might smash a PR for a lift one cycle and go through another two cycles w/out breaking or even seem to be regressing only to crush it down the road and honestly, my lifts didn’t really start to take off until three or four cycles in.

I would just stick it out and be patient. I’m not sure of how much volume or if any at all you were accustomed to before starting 5/3/1, but if you are constantly moving more volume and progressing your body is also constantly trying to adjust to it. I’m not sure what day your squats fit in your week, but if i’m really hunting a PR for a lift/lifts early in the week it may be hard to set or meet PR’s in the latter part of the week. These are my own experiences, so maybe Jim or some of the more experienced lifters can give you better advice.


#4

[quote]tsantos wrote:
Starving is not a good state to be in when trying to get stronger. Add some food to your squat day.[/quote]

Fair enough, thanks for that, I’ll eat more on squat day. I only feel starving I’m fairly sure 3000-3500 calories wouldn’t be classed as about to perish! I’ll try adding a little extra both pre and post workout.

[quote]badboy69cancer wrote:
Three out of four ain’t bad. I’ve only set PR’s in all four lifts once in 11 cycles. Six reps on your last work set of the 5/3/1 week I don’t think anyone would consider a failure either, so long as you’re getting your required reps. From my experience my gains and PR’s have always came in waves. I might smash a PR for a lift one cycle and go through another two cycles w/out breaking or even seem to be regressing only to crush it down the road and honestly, my lifts didn’t really start to take off until three or four cycles in.

I would just stick it out and be patient. I’m not sure of how much volume or if any at all you were accustomed to before starting 5/3/1, but if you are constantly moving more volume and progressing your body is also constantly trying to adjust to it. I’m not sure what day your squats fit in your week, but if i’m really hunting a PR for a lift/lifts early in the week it may be hard to set or meet PR’s in the latter part of the week. These are my own experiences, so maybe Jim or some of the more experienced lifters can give you better advice.[/quote]

Ok, fair enough thanks for that, I’ll stick it out for a while. I’ll admit that they’re not true PRs. As I said I retested my current 1RM as I’m not a fan of those guys in the gym who talk about PRs from ten years ago! I try and make sure that my current numbers are valid. However my latest numbers are lower than I hoped for due to the time off.

I’m ex military and so volume wise I’ve done all sorts of ridiculous reps schemes including far more volume than 5/3/1 uses. A couple of times in my life I have suffered from total over training and I don’t feel like I’m there. I like to push myself and certainly I would expect to advance my maxes for a while due to the layoff.

Thanks for the advice guys. I’ll eat a bit more and just keep patient for a while and see how it goes.


#5

[quote]Matt-Hazy wrote:
Hi

I’ve started 5/3/1 for the first time as a way to regain my strength after breaking my leg earlier in the year. It’s a program I always intended on using but I travelled too much to commit to. However I’m now more stable and thought that it would be good to try.

I’ve completed the first cycle and for three of the four lifts it’s fantastic. I tested my 1RM on all four lifts the week prior to starting the cycle so I’m reasonably confident in their accuracy. My deadlift and military press have shown a definite improvement and my bench press has shot up, but I partially credit re-reading an excellent article by Dave Tate.

My squat is a weird issue which I’m hoping someone can help me with? As I stated I tested my 1RM prior to starting so that I had an accurate and up to date number for the 5/3/1 calculations. So I know that prior to the cycle I started with a 160kg (sorry, I’m English! 350ish lbs) squat. However my squat numbers during 5/3/1 have been steadily decreasing away from that! Today on my first AMRAP of the second cycle I only managed 6 reps at 127.5kg (280ish lbs) which is a reasonably significant drop.

My eating and sleeping patterns are roughly the same every day so I can’t work out what my issue is. That said on other workout days I have a slight problem feeling not at all hungry and have to force myself to eat, after my squat workout I feel starving all day. My deadlift numbers are higher, and thus more work is done, so I’m getting enough fuel there. I’ve always been chunky and I know that I gained fat after the layoff with my leg so I’m wary of eating too much.

So should I just accept that actually the 160 1RM was an aberration and drop the number down and recalculate? Do I just accept that for some reason I need to eat more the day before squat day? Any other suggestions or advice would be very gratefully received.

Thanks in advance and happy Thanksgiving to those to whom it is applicable.
Matt[/quote]

Matt,

As someone said earlier, increasing 3 out of the 4 lifts is great. I have never seen increases in all four lifts at once in my own training or anyone else’s.

Also, this is only your SECOND cycle. You need to stick with this program for 6 months or even a year before really evaluating progress or lack of it. Your squat could labor in weakness for a couple of months and then shoot up out of nowhere, then the other 3 lifts could stall. Training progress isn’t linear, nor is it always predictable.

My advice is to complete this second cycle and see what happens. It’s likely that you may have to drop your training max on the squat 10-15KG for your 3rd cycle.

Most importantly, remember that if you do have to drop your TM on the squat, it doesn’t necessarily mean you got weaker. It’s just where your squat is at the moment. My bench has been total crap for several months. Nothing about the lift feels comfortable, and I am putting up awful numbers with it. But my other lifts are increasing, so I am riding that wave. I suggest you do the same. The squat will come around, even if you have to drop the TM for a while.

Give it time.


#6

Thanks again guys.

Patience is not particularly my forte, but I’ll keep with it.
I have to say that whilst my numbers were down yesterday I can definitely feel it today. So it’s obviously working and so I’ll just up my calorie intake after squats and stick with the program.


#7

“I’ve completed the first cycle…”