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WEAKER! Please Help Me!
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NATUREBOY

Guys, I could really use your help. For the last year or so, I?ve been using very heavy weights (for me at least) workout after workout. I?ve been using a 4-6 repetition range.

I started training this way because I made steadier weight progressions than when I was using an 8-12 repetition range. When using higher weights, I?d often find myself stuck for weeks or months at the same poundage. But when I reduced the repetition range, I made continous improvements in reps or weight both week after week for nearly a year.

But now that has stoped and I have started to get weaker. For the last couple of weeks, I?ve hit failure on some exercises at 3 reps. I know that?s too little work to do much of anything.

It is also becoming dangerous! I have a very hard time getting into position using DB?s. For DB Flyes and DB Pullovers, for example, I have a strong fear that my grip is going to give out and the DB is going to fall on me. My weights have gotten so heavy (and I have gotten so skilled in performing these lifts) that it is actually harder for me to pick the weights off the ground than performing the actual exercise.

I really don?t know how to make a good workout anymore. I did regular Dr. Darden HIT for a year and that worked okay. I?ve been doing Mentzer?s Heavy Duty since then and that has worked better, strength-wise at least. Honestly, I?ve seen little physical progress from either program.

Anyway, the point is I don?t know what to do?how to put together a decent program or what to change up. It seems that I?ve tried everything.

I seriously do not think that I could go back to a standard HIT program because I know that my cardiovascular condition has greatly suffered since going the Heavy Duty route?but I?m open to suggestions.

Here?s my workout card for the last 7 workouts:

Workout One
Reverse Grip Pulldown on Bowflex 300/10 320/8
Dip Press on Bowflex/DB Bench Press 200/13 79ea/6
Shrugs on Bowflex 390/11 410/9
BB Reverse Curl 76/3 70/6
(Rest 4 Days)
Neck Extension w/ Harness 28/6 30/5
Calf Raise on Bowflex 440/15 440/19
Squat on Bowflex 400/7 410/6
Situps w/ DB Plates 100/6 105/6
(Rest 4 Days)
DB Pullover 96/4 96/5
Press Behind Neck on Bowflex 230/8 240/8
BB Row 186/5 186/6
Incline DB Flyes 73ea/4 73ea/3
(Rest 4 Days)
Calf Raise 440/17
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 230/6
Leg Extension on Bowflex, Negative Accentuated 300/6
Situps 105/5
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EB Jones

New York, USA

Sounds to me that you're burned out, Consider taking a week to a month off to start with,Let yur body rest. Then during the year take unscheduled time off, You'll thank yourself and so will your body.

I know that it is dufficult to do ,but you really need to do this.
As Art Jones wrote in the Nautilus Bulliten's you should take UN-SCHEDULED breaks through out the year, Unscheduled as if you schedule them you will either work too hard in an attempt to make up ahead of time for the time you're taking off. Find something else to do...chase the women around the block a time or two,works for me :-)
Ed jones
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RW Hawk

Virgin Islands

NATUREBOY--Many on Mentzer-style consolidation-type routines end up very strong, but deconditioned due to not enough frequency and sometimes not enough volume. You sound like you could use a week off.

After that, if you must do a consolidation-type routine, I'd do it three times per week on non-consecutive days. Many who use very heavy weights for low reps have really bad form, but if you were to ask them how their form is, they'd say it's good.

Make sure you aren't using too heavy weight at the expense of proper form. You might be better off dropping the isolation stuff for a while and using a Darden or Leistner-style routine with mostly (or all) compounds.
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Crotalus

I agree , you need some time off.

When I was at my all time low of training volume ; twice a week with a three or four set (total) workout, I was at my highest BF, tired most of the time and progress would come to a screeching halt. I was just hitting it TOO damn hard even though at the time I didn't believe that was even possible - too long, too much , but never too hard, right ? Bullshit. And taking more time off between workouts ( four days like I see you do ) made things even worse for me.

Take the advice about getting some rest - obviously you need it. I'd take two full weeks off and come back. In that time ask around here for some advice on which direction to go next. I think you milked the Mentzer-type HIT for all it's worth .
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NATUREBOY

Okay, then. I'll take off until the week after next. (4/23). But what changes should I make when I come back?
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bobbyandtara

Florida, USA

NATUREBOY wrote:
Okay, then. I'll take off until the week after next. (4/23). But what changes should I make when I come back?


look at these 3 options

1-reduce your weights aqnd go to a 8-10 rep range. (shock your muscles)

2-try the pre exaust method(this will make it to where you have to use lighter weights)

3-try the Mentzer rest pause system- take your 1 rep max weight. Do one rep, rest for 10 seconds, do a second rep, rest for 10 more seconds, do a 3rd rep, reduce the weight by 10-20% and do one more. This was what Mentzer thought of as an advanced technique when he stopped growing after his pre-exhaust routine did not produce ne more results.

Most definately take at least 9 days off.
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Ciccio

Natureboy,

You wrote yourself that you're deconditioned. There's your answer!
Improve your conditioning.


Take time off like others said, in your case I think better 2 weeks, then start back with fullbody-HIT, 5-6 exercises for 8-12 reps at first, 2times per week. Then first gradually decrease rest between sets from 1-2 min. to 20-30 sec.(means actually no rest except setting up exercise, body positioning and some concentration) for some workouts, then try ADDING exercises, one at once, to maybe 8-10 total.

Don't be afraid when the exercises later in the workout suffer in weight or reps from exhaustion as long as you get pumped in those muscle groups(and you should big time!).

Franco
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

My weights have gotten so heavy (and I have gotten so skilled in performing these lifts) that it is actually harder for me to pick the weights off the ground than performing the actual exercise.

Hey NB,

Sounds like you've taken the strength part as far as you can safely go. You've laid a great foundation and now it's time to change things up to get some growth going.

I totally agree with the layoff part. Here's a few things to consider for when you come back:

1. Switch up your exercises. I know you have a limited set-up there at home, but with some ingenuity you can change it up.

Here's some variations to what you've been doing: Front-Grip Pulldowns, DB Shrugs, Manual-Resistance Neck Work, Lunges, Triceps Pushdowns on Bowflex, DB Wrist Curls (and reverse).

As you alluded to yourself, you may be too proficient at all those other SAME exercises. It's time for some changes.

2. Stop lifting weights. What?! What I mean is that as far as your concentration is concerned, it's time stop lifting the weights and time to start contracting your muscles. I'm talking about a different mindset.

See what Brian (logicbdj) has been saying about J/Zone reps. I'm not telling you to jump on the bandwagon (though they can be a killer addtion to your toolbox), but in his posts he talks about people who focus on lifting more and more weight can get into a lot of sysyemic fatigue because of all the peripheral muscles that get involved "fighting" the weight up to set a new personal record all the time.

Contract the muscles. Squeeeeeeezzze out the reps. Just milk it, baby.

3. Who got the pain when they do the combo. Use your core movements with new ones to get a great superset for your muscles.

Do some sissy squats (they don't even have tobe to failure) and THEN jump on your Bowflex for Leg Ext or BF Squats.

Do a few reps of your DB Flyes, but only in the lower half of the movement. When you get right to failure, then go the DB Presses in the top half of the ROM (credits to AShort for this awesome 1-2 punch). You may need to drop back to 60-65 lbs when you give these a try the first time.

Reverse wrist curls with DBs followed by the Rev Curls on the Bowflex. This is my favorite superset for the forearms extensors (I use BBs for both).

etc etc etc

4. Get out of your comfort zone. I know full well you're the FT guy, but you need to drop the weights down and pump those muscles up once in a while.

You said, you're stronger but not all that much bigger. It's time get some blood pumping in those muscles. Maybe 1 or 2 sets a workout in the 10-12 rep zone.

Use this in conjunction with #3 --- do the first part with heavy wt and low reps (2-3) and then drop down for the second exercise/set pump. You could even use the same exercise for a drop set. But instead of dropping the weight 10%, try dropping it 30-40%.

Later,
Scott
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kata14

Ciccio wrote:

Take time off like others said, in your case I think better 2 weeks, then start back with fullbody-HIT, 5-6 exercises for 8-12 reps at first, 2times per week. Then first gradually decrease rest between sets from 1-2 min. to 20-30 sec.(means actually no rest except setting up exercise, body positioning and some concentration) for some workouts, then try ADDING exercises, one at once, to maybe 8-10 total.

Don't be afraid when the exercises later in the workout suffer in weight or reps from exhaustion as long as you get pumped in those muscle groups(and you should big time!).

Franco


Franco,
Now I see your clear good advices.
Please post an example of fullbody-HIT with 5-6 exercises.

For not suffering in weight or reps, could you change the exercises order?

Kata



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splice

Ciccio wrote:
Natureboy,

You wrote yourself that you're deconditioned. There's your answer!
Improve your conditioning.


Right on the money here. I do a once a week workout but i also do some sort of cardio. There would be no way i could lift weights once a week and that's it. If you end up trying it again then do some sort of cardio vascular work it will help.
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RW Hawk

Virgin Islands

Natureboy--I'd go with what Franco recommended. The basics of Darden/Jones-style HIT deliver time and again. There is no need to make strength training more complicated than it has to be.
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Ciccio

kata14 wrote:
Ciccio wrote:

Take time off like others said, in your case I think better 2 weeks, then start back with fullbody-HIT, 5-6 exercises for 8-12 reps at first, 2times per week. Then first gradually decrease rest between sets from 1-2 min. to 20-30 sec.(means actually no rest except setting up exercise, body positioning and some concentration) for some workouts, then try ADDING exercises, one at once, to maybe 8-10 total.

Don't be afraid when the exercises later in the workout suffer in weight or reps from exhaustion as long as you get pumped in those muscle groups(and you should big time!).

Franco


Franco,
Now I see your clear good advices.
Please post an example of fullbody-HIT with 5-6 exercises.

For not suffering in weight or reps, could you change the exercises order?

Kata





With simple equipment I like something like that:

1. Deep DB squats
2. Lat Rope Pull (take the rope-attachment you would use for triceps pushdowns, attach to a high cable pulley and do a pullover-like motion while kneeing in good distance from the cable machine, so that your upper body is bent forward 30dgr. or so)
3. Bench Press (wide grip, elbows flared out to emphasize pecs)
4. BB Curl
5. Triceps pushdown or bench dip
6. Shrug or upright row
(for 5. exercises only, just alternate between 5. and 6.)

Keep in mind that this are exercises I personally enjoy and give me results and I think in this combination are not overly taxing systemically and are a good start for somebody deconditioned. It is as well my "core-routine" where I add in 2-3, sometimes 4 other exercises in rotational fashion.

About changing order, yes that's absolutely possible. Either every workout (like Joe Mullen suggests), working the exercises with the least reps/improvement first or every 3rd or 4th workout.


Franco

EDIT: All exercises done in smooth, slow fashion, avoiding look out and extreme stretch to have continous tension on the muscles used.

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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

It is also becoming dangerous! I have a very hard time getting into position using DB?s. For DB Flyes and DB Pullovers, for example, I have a strong fear that my grip is going to give out and the DB is going to fall on me.

Heavy DB POs hurt my wrists. Instead of the POs, try a stiff-arm pulldown with your Bowflex. Stand a couple feet back and lean your torso forward a bit. When you start, your arms will be up over your head at a 45-60 degree angle with the ground.

Use a close grip and try to smoothly bring the bar down until it hits around your upper thighs or pelvic area. Keep your torso in position and don't use it cheat heavy weights down. On a free-weight pulldown, I started about 10 lbs less than my DB PO weight --- I don't know how that will translate to Bowflex.

Whereas, DB POs give great stim in the stretched position, this one will hit you hardest in the contracted position.
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BloodandGuts

Ciccio wrote:
3. Bench Press (wide grip, elbows flared out to emphasize pecs)



that type of form on bench presses is a good way to set yourself up for a shoulder injury. Plus it puts you in a weaker position mechanically than keeping the elbows about 60 degrees or so and with a grip just outside shoulder width.

B&G
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Ciccio

BloodandGuts wrote:
Ciccio wrote:
3. Bench Press (wide grip, elbows flared out to emphasize pecs)



that type of form on bench presses is a good way to set yourself up for a shoulder injury. Plus it puts you in a weaker position mechanically than keeping the elbows about 60 degrees or so and with a grip just outside shoulder width.

B&G


Quite the opposite is the truth. Of course you're weaker in this position because you work mainly with your pecs and have much less synergy from front delts and triceps, which is exactly what I want, working/developing the pecs. I'm not after bench press records in powerlifting.
How can this injure your shoulder?
Which part of the shoulder you mean anyways?

Franco


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Ciccio

simon-hecubus wrote:
2. Stop lifting weights. What?! What I mean is that as far as your concentration is concerned, it's time stop lifting the weights and time to start contracting your muscles. I'm talking about a different mindset.

See what Brian (logicbdj) has been saying about J/Zone reps. I'm not telling you to jump on the bandwagon (though they can be a killer addtion to your toolbox), but in his posts he talks about people who focus on lifting more and more weight can get into a lot of sysyemic fatigue because of all the peripheral muscles that get involved "fighting" the weight up to set a new personal record all the time.

Contract the muscles. Squeeeeeeezzze out the reps. Just milk it, baby.


Btw, very good advice from Scott here!
If you're a bodybuilder (which is practically anybody who wants muscle gains) then you should listen to this.
If you have problems with feeling the target muscle, stage reps can indeed help you to better develop that feeling and are a nice change of pace.

Franco


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NATUREBOY

simon-hecubus wrote:

4. Get out of your comfort zone. I know full well you're the FT guy, but you need to drop the weights down and pump those muscles up once in a while.

You said, you're stronger but not all that much bigger. It's time get some blood pumping in those muscles. Maybe 1 or 2 sets a workout in the 10-12 rep zone.

Later,
Scott


How about alternating each workout between low (4-6) and high (65% of normal weight) repetitions?
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spud

Train for 8 - 10 weeks and then take 2 weeks off.

When I say 2 weeks off, I mean completely off with no training at all.

Contrary to what many believe, 2 weeks off will not lead to drastic deconditioning and loss of muscle.

If anything, you'll find that whenever you return to training after one of your 2 week breaks, you'll be raring to go and you won't have lost anything.

It's good for both mind and body. Trust me.
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

NATUREBOY wrote:
How about alternating each workout between low (4-6) and high (65% of normal weight) repetitions?


That should be an interesting experiment. My only concern for you, Mr. FT, is that 65% won't represent that many more reps --- at least not at first. But give it a go and see what happens.

Start with the 65% weight for whatever it gets you and keep the weight the same for a while until you can get at least 10 or maybe 12.

It may take time as you get better conditioned as Franco was talking about. I've been experimenting with more sets done with minmal rest and it takes some getting used to.

At my gym, typically I can group 2-3 in a row a la Dr. D's Tarzan routine. Many times though, I'm resting 40-50 seconds between exercises.
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

Ciccio wrote:
3. Bench Press (wide grip, elbows flared out to emphasize pecs)


BloodandGuts wrote:
that type of form on bench presses is a good way to set yourself up for a shoulder injury... Plus it puts you in a weaker position mechanically...


Ciccio wrote:
Quite the opposite is the truth. Of course you're weaker in this position because you work mainly with your pecs and have much less synergy from front delts and triceps, which is exactly what I want, working/developing the pecs. I'm not after bench press records in powerlifting.
How can this injure your shoulder?
Which part of the shoulder you mean anyways?

Franco


I'm with Franco on this one. I am currently experiencing some rotator cuff issues and typical bench presses and inclines hurt like hell. The bench to the upper chest with elbows wide is much better and it burns the hell out of my pecs, esp. the upper part.

As far as being in a "weaker position mechanically", so what? AJ told us we needed to find ways to make the exercises harder, not easier.

If this were just a More Weight = More Muscles game, then there would be more huge HITers out there. Admittedly, this works great in your early lifting years, but only a scant few can grow from the "more weight" lifting philosophy.

Scott
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Crotalus

If you have problems with feeling the target muscle, stage reps can indeed help you to better develop that feeling and are a nice change of pace.




Better yet, start training with JREPS .....
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

Crotalus wrote:
Better yet, start training with JREPS .....


All right, Mr. Smarty. We don't need that brouhaha carrying over to this thread!
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NATUREBOY

simon-hecubus wrote:
My only concern for you, Mr. FT, is that 65% won't represent that many more reps --- at least not at first.


Yeah, that's exactly what happened. I had my first workout since April 11th today (April 25th) and despite reducing the weight to 65% of what I normally use, I still failed at about the same number of reps.

Calf Raise 200/23
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 150/7
N/A Leg Ext on Bowflex 200/12ea
Situps w/ DB plates 70/8

PREVIOUSLY
Calf Raise 440/17
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 230/6
N/A Leg Ext on Bowflex 300/6ea
Situps w/ DB plates 105/5


What now???????
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

NATUREBOY wrote:
Yeah, that's exactly what happened... my first workout since April 11th today (April 25th)... I still failed at about the same number of reps.

Calf Raise 200/23
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 150/7
N/A Leg Ext on Bowflex 200/12ea
Situps w/ DB plates 70/8

PREVIOUSLY
Calf Raise 440/17
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 230/6
N/A Leg Ext on Bowflex 300/6ea
Situps w/ DB plates 105/5


On the calf raises, try single progression in jumps of 20 lbs/week. Keep the reps at 23 or even better as you get conditioned to the higher reps.

The DL is the worst one. Stick with that DL weight until you can do 10-12 reps (I'm betting 2-3 workouts tops -- set that goal!). After you hit 10-12, try single progression in jumps of 10 lbs/week to see if you can get to 230 x 10. Even if the reps go down after a while and you wind up at 230 x 8 or 9, you'll have made a breakthrough.*

The Leg Ext & Sit-Ups actually look pretty good, esp the leg ext --- try and jump in decent increments of 10-20 lbs while still doing the 10-12 reps.

The sit-ups may require only 5-lb jumps in weight.

After getting acclimated to higher reps, your next step will be mixing rep schemes in a workout and changing up your exercises more often to keep it fresh.

*For example on your DLs, you may even benefit my zigzagging your way past that last plateau:
150 x 8
150 x 9
120-130 x 11-12
180 x 8
200 x 8
220 x 7
180 x 9-10
240 x 6 --- or 7 or 8!

Later,
Scott

P.S. Use the SEARCH function and check out rest-pause training thread from the last several months. You may be a good candidate for it. Just read up on it as much as you can and save it for when you hit some more plateaus. Use it sparingly --- VERY INTENSE!
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RW Hawk

Virgin Islands

NATUREBOY wrote:Calf Raise 200/23
BB Stiff Legged Deadlift 150/7
N/A Leg Ext on Bowflex 200/12ea
Situps w/ DB plates 70/8


Natureboy, your alternating routine isn't very balanced. You'd be far better off doing the routine Franco suggested two or three times a week. If you're at a point where you aren't gaining, then why are you doing ab and calf work?
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