T Nation

Yo-yo Progress


#1

I have a problem with yo-yo progress. My lifts will keep going up and then eventually I'll hit a wall and for the next few weeks I feel super weak and my lifts are terrible. I take a step back and build back up to my previous top level, but when I get there again I have the same experience.

My lifts reach a peak, I then go through a period of feeling like I can barely lift and then I try to build back up. I don't want to keep going through this and spinning my wheels. Is this a common phenomena? Am I just not upping my calories, etc to keep up with the work?

Any advice about what's going on here?


#2

You’re doing exactly what I did for years. Basically, you aren’t getting stronger, you’re just peaking over and over again, reaching the exact same zenith of strength each time.

This happened to me when I spent years doing abbreviated training/beginner routines. Low volume, low reps, high frequency. Very effective for building a base, but I eventually reached the limit of it.

I was able to break out of this by radically changing the programming I was performing. I went to 5/3/1 at first with the BBB accessory work, and that was HUGE for my growth as a lifter. I started tweaking things here or there and now follow a mutation of a lot of difference principles.

Best thing you can do for yourself at this point is something completely different, as you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.


#3

All lifters hit a plateau at some stage. It generally means you have milked your current program as far as it will go.
This is often what happens on a linear progression program. The next step would be to go to a slightly more advanced program.
An example of this is starting on a Starting Strength program then moving to Texas Method. Then once you plateau on that lifters often move to an Ed Coan style, Westside, Cube Method, Juggernaught, Sheiko etc…

That’s if you’re interested in powerlifting of course. If you just want to build muscle and get stronger try something like Double Progression Method.


#4

What does your training look like? Food?


#5

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
You’re doing exactly what I did for years. Basically, you aren’t getting stronger, you’re just peaking over and over again, reaching the exact same zenith of strength each time.

This happened to me when I spent years doing abbreviated training/beginner routines. Low volume, low reps, high frequency. Very effective for building a base, but I eventually reached the limit of it.

I was able to break out of this by radically changing the programming I was performing. I went to 5/3/1 at first with the BBB accessory work, and that was HUGE for my growth as a lifter. I started tweaking things here or there and now follow a mutation of a lot of difference principles.

Best thing you can do for yourself at this point is something completely different, as you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.[/quote]

This is basically what I did the first 2.5 years of lifting or so. Barely took days off, never knew when to back off or try different things. What helped me was realizing I was trying to do too much in a given week and wasn’t recovering.


#6

The same thing happened to me. Everyone goes through something similar and you just need to make adjustments each time. When doing 5/3/1, I was doing too much volume with med-heavy accessory work which affected recovery. Doing 5/3/1 BBB taught me how much volume I could handle, the importance of volume, and that accessory work shouldn’t completely screw your recovery over for the next session.

I road out the program for about 8-9 months (5/3/1 BBB for 3 months and the regular 5/3/1 for the rest) without resetting and that was the first time I learned the importance of using volume and intensity phases. Both are important and need to be balanced.


#7

I mentioned the Double Progression Method before because it’s a classic way of making gains in a specific rep range with 3 jumps (6-8 reps for example). The one problem with it is that it can be fairly boring. You will be lifting with the same weight until you can do 3 sets at the top end of the rep range (3 sets of 8 in this example). Then you increase weight and go back to 3 sets of 6 and so on.

Ok so if you are after a few more interesting progression models then have a read of the below link.
Just from a personal point of view I’ve always liked Wave Like Loading with 6/4/2.


#8

Yeah pretty normal to hit a wall with greyskull/ starting strength, move on to one of the programs mentioned.

Also avoid going to positve failure and keep on, even two reps in the tank


#9

do 5/3/1


#10

[quote]Yogi wrote:
do 5/3/1[/quote]
Agreed.


#11

Yes, I’m planning to do 5/3/1. Thanks guys for the feedback…I don’t want to spend the next year stuck at my current lifts.


#12

I’ve started doing 5/3/1 BBB. However, I’m wondering if I should be using the fourth week as a deload or not. It seems like too much deloading giving that my lifts aren’t really that high to begin with. Can I deload on a less frequent basis?

Also, is it okay if my workouts are only 30 minutes long? I plan to workout four times a week, but I want to be in and out as quickly as possible. I don’t want an hour long workout or anything like that.


#13

I do not feel that one can have “too much deloading”.

Keep in mind, you’re trying to do something completely different than you did before, because what you were doing before was not working. If you weren’t deloading before, performing regular deloads would be a great variable change.

Ultimately, you are free to do whatever you want, but were I in your situation, I’d follow the program exactly as it is and make a habit of trying as hard as possible to not allow my current training to gravitate toward my past.


#14

You’ve got to build your base. Instead of peaking, and driving your lifts up, up, up, you have to slow down and expand your base outward.

Stick with the 5/3/1. The point of the program is to avoid the “peak.” You just keep putting in work, climbing 2/3 of the way up the mountain over and over.

30 minutes is pretty short, but I think its a good idea to keep your main sessions short. Then you can do your other work separately. Sprints or hills or jump rope. Or stretching, foam rolling or yoga. What ever else you like to do to cover the bases that lifting weights alone doesn’t cover. Focus on getting this stuff in every week.

It’s not as much fun as slamming the big weights, and puking every session. But you have to spend time, doing the boring work, slowly building your foundation before you can get much out of insane training sessions.

Also, get your protein! However many grams a day you need, every day. Hit this goal as hard as your bench press goal.


#15

Funny thing is when I did 531, rarely did anything ever feel “heavy” (other than ohp, but that’s another story). My lifts had been pretty stagnant for years. After many months, I blew through old plateaus. Just trust it & run it. Though, you can deload either after every cycle (original) or after every 2 cycles (beyond). Whichever you prefer, unless you’re doing a specific challen ge where it’s explicitly stated.


#16

With BBB do you still go for max reps on your last set or do you just do the required reps? Or is it just for the 3 month challenge version that you go for the required reps only?


#17

[quote]DiddlySquat wrote:
With BBB do you still go for max reps on your last set or do you just do the required reps? Or is it just for the 3 month challenge version that you go for the required reps only?[/quote]

Yeah just the 3 month challenge. Nothing wrong with doing just required reps now and again if feeling beat up tho/short on time/low energy etc


#18

[quote]TX iron wrote:
Funny thing is when I did 531, rarely did anything ever feel “heavy” (other than ohp, but that’s another story). My lifts had been pretty stagnant for years. After many months, I blew through old plateaus. Just trust it & run it. Though, you can deload either after every cycle (original) or after every 2 cycles (beyond). Whichever you prefer, unless you’re doing a specific challen ge where it’s explicitly stated.[/quote]

I plan to deload after every 2 cycles in the beginning, but if I start feeling gassed then I’ll do it every cycle.

I did my first OHP 5/3/1 workout yesterday and it wasn’t too bad, but I felt kind of exhausted after doing 5x10 OHP, but it felt good too. I’m not use to hyperthrophy type workouts, but I liked it.

My plan is to run 5/3/1 for a year. I’m hoping to not really stall on anything too much except for OHP.


#19

[quote]DiddlySquat wrote:

[quote]TX iron wrote:
Funny thing is when I did 531, rarely did anything ever feel “heavy” (other than ohp, but that’s another story). My lifts had been pretty stagnant for years. After many months, I blew through old plateaus. Just trust it & run it. Though, you can deload either after every cycle (original) or after every 2 cycles (beyond). Whichever you prefer, unless you’re doing a specific challen ge where it’s explicitly stated.[/quote]

I plan to deload after every 2 cycles in the beginning, but if I start feeling gassed then I’ll do it every cycle.

I did my first OHP 5/3/1 workout yesterday and it wasn’t too bad, but I felt kind of exhausted after doing 5x10 OHP, but it felt good too. I’m not use to hyperthrophy type workouts, but I liked it.

My plan is to run 5/3/1 for a year. I’m hoping to not really stall on anything too much except for OHP.
[/quote]

If you do stall on OHP, Punisher (above) dished out some advice that worked amazingly well for me, which was to meaningfully incorporate lots of front, rear, & lateral raises. Been going up ever since.


#20

My lifting stats aren’t very good. I’m 150 lbs and here are my approximate 1 rep maxes.

Bench - 160 lbs
Press - 125 lbs
Deadlift - 300 lbs
Squat - couldn’t do before due to hip mobility, but was using hack squat machine. I currently built up enough flexibility to start squatting.

I’m wondering if you think these numbers are too low to be doing 5/3/1? However, I sometimes have issues getting to sleep and my diet needs more work. So, I think a program that’s less taxing on me than something like SL 5x5 would be better, since I lack some of things that would make me recover more quickly.

If I could get my bench above 200 lbs and Deadlift closer to 350 lbs on 5/3/1 I’ll be happy. My goals are kind of modest. Anything I can add to the press is icing on the cake. The squat I’m planning to train as 3x5+ and not follow the 5/3/1 protocol until I get it high enough.