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Nak

Help with increments and plateaus

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Hi

 

I've been doing heavy lifting for about 3 months now (and before that did some light lifting about a year ago) as a way of building strength to supplement my main sport (Muay Thai). I followed Stronglifts 5x5 for about two months and then switched to a different program which my friend who got me into lifting suggested to me. I'm not sure of the name of it but the basic idea is that it focuses on squat (2 work sets), bench press (3 work sets) and deadlift (1 work set) every weights session, with a bit of assistance at the end. The rep range is 2-6, with the amount of weight increased next session being dependent on how many reps you can achieve. The idea of this is that if you can achieve 6 reps you add 2.5 kg next session, 5 reps 2kg, 4 reps 1 kg, 3 reps 0.5 kg; any less then you don't increase.

 

My problem is that apparently with this program, according to my friend, the reps that you're capable of should decrease gradually over a few months, whereas for me this happens rapidly. For example on my bench I was able to achieve 3x6 on 61.5 kg on April 23rd. The next session I forgot my fractional plates so lifted only 62.5 kg for one set of 6 and 2 sets of 5. I decided to add only 1 kg again because of the decrease in reps but was a bit gutted that on 63.5 kg I could only do a set of 5, then a set of 4, then a set of 3. This seems to me to be a pretty rapid decline of reps proportional to the weight increase and this is the second time it's happened in the past month; I recently deloaded to correct the problem but obviously now I'm facing it again.

 

I'm hoping someone can weigh in on this and offer some advice because I'm planning on toning down my lifting to 1-2 times per week in order to focus more on training to fight and before then I've got strength goals I'd like to hit (Bench my bodyweight/75kg for reps, squat 100kg for reps and deadlift 120 kg).

 

Thanks for any advice.

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Okay, if I'm getting this right....

 

The program seems to aim for making you reach your One Rep Max pretty quickly, and keep you there to build muscle.  So it makes sense with how they are telling you to load weight that you'll decrease over time - because as you get to heavier weights your body can't adapt to you'll just do less.  I.... don't know how I feel about that as a program.  Maybe @Gainsdalf the Whey can offer some more powerliftingy commentary I'm missing, but it just seems that program is meant to burn people who aren't already at an advanced level out.  I'd personally ditch it for something like 5/3/1 as an intermediate level lifting program, but honestly after 2 months of SL I'd say you should go back to that, because you haven't tapped that potential out yet.

 

As for the 'rapid rep decrease' you're concerned about - that makes sense, too.  You aren't an advanced lifter, you aren't as strong, so you can't move as much weight.  So based on this program, you'd be doing less in an attempt to build up.  If you wanted to get stronger/build muscle, you need to eat more.  But you also are still going to have the issue of you likely aren't the target audience for this program, and you're going to plateau sooner than someone who does lifting full time.

 

Also, I can definitely tell you this program won't work well as a secondary workout for martial arts, since it seems to require a significant amount of gym time.  I'd try to suggest a lifting program that meshes will with MA, but I really have yet to find one besides SL or SS that can be cut back a bit and see seem productive.  You just need to gauge how important your lifting goals are to your Art goals.  Personally, I dropped my lifting goals to get better at my Art.  Or at least get more mat time in.  But that's all up to you.

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This is sort of what I'm doing right now. I add 10 lb a week to my squat and deadlift and work up to 1 rep short of failure for 3 sets, whatever that is. Once that gets down to the 2-3 rep range, I'll rest my 1 rep max the following week, then take 20-25% off and start over the next week,. I do the same thing with bench with 5 lb increases. The problem I'm seeing here is that my squat and DL maxes are upper 400s and upper 500s respectively, so I'm adding around 2% a week. That's why with a bench max around 330, I only add 5 lb a week, 1.5%.

 

These programs shouldn't use flat weights for increases, but percentages of your max. A person lifting 100x5 should be progressing weights at smaller increments than someone doing 300x5.

 

I'm really enjoying doing the above, and it's working, so my recommendation would be to work at a 1-2% increase each week regardless of the reps you did. Spending more time in the higher reps is beneficial from a conditioning and hypertrophy standpoint. The other thing may be starting to high % wise. I plan to start at around 75% 1RM next time I reset. Working up to 91% 1RM (should be able to do 2-3 reps per set there) is going to take roughly 16%/2% per week= 8 weeks. That's a 8 week program before I test and reset. Resetting every 4-8 weeks is fine, getting rep PRs at each weght each time. This is compeltely normal. 5/3/1 for eample is a 4 week program that resets each time.

 

I also hate the low work sets for deadlift. You need volume to get stronger. Instead of trying to do all 3 lifts every day, when you switch to twice a week, find a setup where you do each one of those once across those two days while adding some upper body pulling work in as well. Do 3 work sets for each of them.

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