T Nation

Strength Drop Normal After Deload Week?

I’m 160lbs and my bench has been stuck in around 300lbs for 2 years. Usually I can push it to 300lbs in 4-6 weeks. After the deload week, my lift will drop about 10-15%, then I spend another 4 weeks, push it to 300lbs again. If I don’t deload, my lift drops anyway. I’ve used 5x5, 5/3/1, and other programs with different volumes and frequencies, have not helped much.

Any thoughts on how to break the plateau? Thanks.

Your lifts shouldn’t be dropping after a deload.

You’re 160lbs dude. Gain some weight and your bench will go up.

It just seems like I can not keep my strength well…It always drops pretty soon (usually in 1 or 2 weeks) after I hit a PR or semi PR.

I know I’m too small, guess I’m the skinny bastard. My bodyweight has increased from 120lbs to 160lbs since I lift weight. I’ve reached 170lbs for a short time, but it took too much effort to maintain it.

First of all, 300 lbs @ 160 lbs is nothing to shake a stick at. Well done.

I also have trouble maintaining my deadlift numbers following a deload week. I can’t attribute this to not getting enough recovery during this time period, since my numbers on other exercises continue to improve. Have you tried (very) high-frequency benching before? And what does your nutrition look like? I like to really ramp up the protein during deloads, just in case.

That is a good bench at your weight. A video would help see what your sticking points are…

If you have bad form on a touch and go sloppy 300, that could be your problem.

Here is what I would recommend

  1. Frequency - bench more often. 2-3x a week for a flat bench or bench variant.
  2. paused reps- I started doing these a few months ago, and they REALLLY help. I pause every rep of every set. Occasionally, for shits and giggles, I do a touch and go set. I generally do a 1 second pause, sometimes on my backoff sets I will do 5 seconds. You will have to lower the weight and build back up. Trust me, this works big time.
  3. back off sets- I would actually recommend this for all the main lifts, after you hit your top work set, take 10% off the bar and do 1-2 sets of doubles. Then another 10% off and do a set or two of triples. Over time this is quality work added.
  4. Back shoulders and triceps with a ton of volume - train those muscles like a body builder would… I like 30-50 reps on assistance exercises here. 5x10 and 10x3 are good protocols. Steep incline bench, military, db bench or military, rows, db rows, dumbell extensions.

If you generally have two upper body days, add one of the above pressing exercises in with either of those rep protocols, and a corresponding back exercise.

The way you wrote this leads me to believe that you are going for a max single every 4-6 weeks. Which of course, following 5/3/1 you would not be doing.

Make sure you’re getting stronger with your training, not just testing your strength.

FYI after a deload my energy is up and I generally can lift more. I’ve also discovered that I work much better taking a week off for deload vs. doing light work but that’s just my experience and what I’ve learned about myself.

Thanks for the inputs.

My nutrition sucks. I never have good appetite. Need to eat junk foods often to keep total calorie intake. If I eat clean, I lose weight and strength.

I’ve tried different frequencies. From 1 per week to 3 per week, they all work, until 300lbs. I tend to limit the total volume per week, if the volume is too high, my rotator cuff gets sore and I have to back off. So my total volume has always been on the lower side. 10x3 @ 80% 1rm is the most I can do for a week.

Never tried paused reps and back off sets (isn’t it for hypertrophy?), will give it a shot.

I don’t test 1rm often, I calculate 1rm using strstd.com. If I can do 245x6 on the last week of 5/3/1, I usually feel grinding on 5th rep of 225 after deload week. That’s about 10% strength drop. weird…