My training over the last many months has basically been going in with some sort of plan of hitting PR's in terms of reps or weight. It has worked great. Of course, I use more sense than I probably make it sound like. Not every day has been going for a new record, or even high volume or heavy. So, I have a couple of questions, and I guess these won't have any concrete answers, but opinions are worth hearing.
1. Recovery is huge. Maybe last week I could squat 400 for several reps, but due to whatever factors, I might only feel comfortable squatting 300. Even though the resistance is dropped so much lower, maybe my technique is better, I have quicker execution, and overall, less strain put on my body. Instead of constantly pushing that 80-85% barrier(and higher) of my best lift, can weeks like this actually allow for respectable increases in strength? I'm not talking deloading, but simply not as strong on THAT day as one would like to be. Even with a. Single, dramatic loss in strength, could these prove to be beneficial?
2. To add on from the last, maybe this week the plan was to not go above a certain weight, but once the lifter has started, he realizes he can handle a lot more than he thought. So, he maybe does the same rep range planned, but with heavier weights. How important, or counterproductive for that matter, do you believe this could be in the long haul?
3. Say the lifter has exhausted himself on the main lifts, or even the first couple of planned top sets. He is starting to feel weak all over, but he knows he can do more if he starts taking very long rests and drasticalły lowers the weight on his assistance exercises. Would he be better off calling it a day and going to recover, or to exhaust his body even more and put recovery on hold just a while longer?
I know this is just auto regulation, but I've experienced and done every option presented in the questions. I just know that as the weights get heavier, my training might have to be smarter to keep progressing. I've pushed on with great success, and I've even quit during warm ups and left knowing it was a good idea to leave. Given that, I could just say that it all "depends", but I'd like to hear other opinions and answers from you all.
1. I have these type days and typically it means I'm starting to venture into overtraining territory usually because I had a few hard days at work. I typically notice it when my nose is stuffed up in the morning, bad nights sleep, and elevated bp and pulse. I take the day off in those situations, get a 6 pack of beer and soak in the hot tub.
If I don't have signs of overtraining I will do my normal workout with what i feel good with. You are not going to be increasing strength or at max strength all the time and some days are just off worse than others. Those days are just a mystery so train through them.
2. Assistance for me are just that, and secondary. I concentrate on my main lifts and assistance goes how it goes. If I can add 10 lbs to my deadlift I dont care if it blows up my assistance for the day.
3. I don't like extending rests beyond 2-4 minutes since I want to be done in an hour or less. I strip plates off if thats what it takes to get done. I lose focus after an hour.
disclaimer: I'm a noob at powerlifting
Best advice I have ever gotten has been make a plan and stick to it. You can make progress doing what you are doing for a while but you need to nail down a plan of progression. Nothing is worse then hitting a rut and not knowing how to get out of it. You won't know where you're going if you don't know where you have been.
I agree with Cody, you can go in a smash stuff for a while, but eventually it will stop working. This can be for various reasons: overreaching, too much volume, too little, etc et c.
I think your second question is the most interesting, as it really depends on the type of routine you are following. If you have a specific meet/testing day in mind and want to show up at your absolute best on THAT day, then I think going off program is very counterproductive. The entire program is centered on making you ready for that day; by deviating from it, especially going heavier than you need to, you are defeating the purpose of programming. Now, if you aren't training for a specific event, you can just sort of wing it and hit PR's as you can, but I think it tends to only work for a short period of time before stagnation.
Number 3 I think has an easy answer; do the bare minimum to garner results. If you are already so trashed that you need to rest forever and a day and use lighter weights, you are done. Think of it this way, if you do too much or too little, either way you are not at your best. If you are going give up a few lbs to your best, wouldn't you rather train less, not more? You will feel better, be more recovered, and likely have improved motivation since you are killing yourself every time you step in the gym.
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