T Nation

Squat Strength Drop, Minor Injury?


I was cutting down at the time I had the opportunity to join a gym. It would be optimal to gain mass and then gain CNS adaptations, but that’s not how it played out.


What flip is saying is that squatting in the 1-3 rep range can indeed allow you to move more weight. Your body is recruiting more muscle fibers that already exist (CNS adaptation). What you are not doing is laying down new muscle tissue, which is the only way you will grow significantly stronger over time.

It has also been my experience that lifting on a calorie deficit will make you more prone to feeling beat up (like what you’re describing) and even more significant injuries (like the sports hernia I had a couple years ago). That’s not to say you shouldn’t lift when you’re dropping weight, but it is to say that eating to recover is just as important as it is when you’re trying to build muscle.

As for what you’re describing, nothing sounds strange to me. You’re new at squatting, you were able to add weight to the barbell for a little bit, as anyone new to squatting can. Now you’re hitting a wall where you can’t add weight every workout and you’re getting banged up while dropping weight. No surprises there whatsoever.

To put this in perspective, several years ago I started bringing a friend to train with me in an effort to help him. I didn’t know for certain at the time, but he was shooting heroin. He was still able to add weight to the bar for a couple of weeks. Sadly, he passed away not long afterwards, but it still illustrates how simply squatting when you haven’t squatted before can produce short-term strength gains in nearly anyone, even people who barely eat and shoot heroin daily.

Ultimately you can lift weights (or not) in whatever manner you wish. It is an optional activity. There are established and documented methods for every goal you can think of, so consider what you’re trying to accomplish and consume information from credible sources.


Good job adding weight to the bar, btw. That’s an important part of the process.


First off, I’m very sorry about your friend; drugs can be a harsh thing to deal with.

I do realize he meant use the higher rep ranges to get more volume accumulated to stimulate hypertrophy and to increase maximal strength potential while adding strength. I was just giving him shit.

I wanted to use 1-3 reps for strength/CNS adaptations only. Perhaps add additional sets of 5-8 after a 3x3, now that I’m going to bulk up again?

I know I’m not the smartest or strongest, but that’s a low-blow, haha :wink:


I wasn’t being sarcastic. Adding weight to the bar is a very important part of the process. I’ve seen plenty of people in commercial gyms working out with the same weight for years on end. Your eagerness to put more weight on the bar is good, and my compliment was sincere.

As for what you should do, you should lift in a way that gets you to your goals. You will either achieve them, or not.

@flipcollar is a nationally-ranked strongman with a very long history of lifting progress. You can take advantage of his willingness to engage with you, or not. It is all optional. Most of us get a kick out of new lifters who want to argue with successful lifters, so by all means, proceed along that route if you believe you are right.


Oh, I didn’t know people actually stayed on the same weight like that. I appreciate the compliment.

As for @flipcollar, I see what he’s saying, increase muscle mass and then CNS adaptations. That wasn’t going to work at first in my situation as I was cutting down when I joined, and I wasn’t about to try and put on a ton of mass on a cut, as that’s quite difficult.

My initial goal was to back squat at least 305x3 when I hit the one month mark, but unfortunately I don’t know if that’ll happen, which is disappointing.

I appreciate anyone who chimes in, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.


Did you forget that you already injured yourself after 3 weeks?

You squatted 275x3, there is nothing to brag about.


As I have stated in the post you replied to, it seems you have left that out of your quote. I said it probably wasn’t good anyways. I’m not sure where I should be at 3 weeks in, especially on a cut.

No, I didn’t forget :). I’m taking a training session off and see where it goes from there.


I’m going to rephrase what I said.

There are a few ways you can improve your 1 rep max squat. One is to improve technique on the lift. Another is to improve CNS efficiency with a maximal load. And the third, which is the most important, is accumulating more muscle on your frame. That’s wonderful that you’ve improved by 10 lbs a week in your first 3 weeks, but it’s also expected. CNS adaptations like this happen very quickly, and then they stop. For a new lifter, they might last a little longer, maybe as long as two months if you’re lucky, but then the gains will grind to a halt, and there will be no more room for further adaptation. You’ll also run the risk of burn out and movement in the opposite direction. I’ve had this happen on deadlift, when I’ve tried to start peaking for comp with low reps, and peaking a few weeks too early, then ending up lifting less on the day of a comp.

Putting on more muscle through higher rep work is what will build more muscle in the long term. That’s sustainable. It’s ALSO how you can avoid injury. Simply put, squatting with 225 on your back is going to be easier on your joints, tendons and ligaments than squatting with 275. You’ll be able to put in more work, with a lower chance of injury. It’s a win-win.

Your goal of ‘305x3 after 1 month’ is incredibly short sighted, and I can’t understand why that would be important to you. If your long term goal is just ‘get to 305x3 and stay there as long as possible’, then what you did makes sense. If that’s not your goal, you’re approaching training wrong. I’m trying to help you see a bigger picture.


why the hell would you start a thread asking for advice, only to defend your current method of training when you’re given advice? If you’re satisfied with your results, there was no reason to start a thread in the first place. You asked how long you should take it easy. I gave you the best answer you are likely to hear. You argued. Cool man, that makes sense. Defend your shitty training style. See how much you improve in a year, and how many injuries you accumulate.


I suppose I should I have clarified this valid point in the OP. I leave for the US army at the end of January, so I have approximately two months left. Aside from training my aerobic endurance, I wanted to see how far I could push myself before I ship out. That is why this goal seems short-sighted, it is.

I originally was asking for advice on the injury and if it could cause a sharp decrease in strength (looking back now, it seems obvious that it would) I wasn’t really looking for advice on my training style, although I do appreciate the training advice, and it will be applied. I was originally going to stick with 3x3 to max out CNS adaptations, but I’ll take your guys’ advice and use varying rep ranges, and see how much mass and strength I can put on by the end of January.

I do appreciate the input from everyone, thank you.


So your goal is literally just to hit the highest number possible, rather than building strength/ muscle that will stay with you in the months after you leave for the army? That’s a rather odd goal, but to each his own. Even given your goal, a more effective route, over 2 months, would be to do 5 sets of 10 squats twice per week for 7 weeks, and then testing the 1-3 rep max in the 8th week. You’ll hit bigger numbers that way, I promise.

well, no. you actually asked a direct question about your training, that I answered. which was this:

remember when you did that? lol. So I answered that question, and provided my reason for it. If you didn’t want to talk about that, you shouldn’t have asked the question.

Anyway, I’m out.


You are right, I was wrong. I wasn’t looking for training advice on my OP, I forgot about the ‘going easy before 1-3 reps again’ training advice question. My bad.

I’ll be without weights for at least 16 weeks, I’ll be doing a lot of running, and bodyweight resistance excercise. I’m not sure how much I’ll retain, but I’m going to assume you mean “muscle memory”, it’ll take less time to achieve my strength and size again.

I will apply the 5 sets of 10 and I’ll see where that leads me.

Thank you for your input and willingness to share your knowledge. May the gains come your way.


I’d recommend doing your 5’s, running often, stretching often, and not even worrying about a 1RM max. Your priority should also be to stay injury free before you go away too.


Who told you to train like this, the Taliban? They must want you to get injured before you even make it to boot camp.


Nobody told me to push myself, I just want to see how hard I can push myself to do things. I now realize that 5-10 reps would be better suited for me.


You have to take a long term approach to training, you won’t get very far in a short time and to make significant progress will take years. And from what I hear you can still lift when you are in the army, maybe not in basic training or whatever but I know a guy who is in the Canadian army, he got sent to Afghanistan and was still lifting over there. He is one of the top lifters in Canada.