Being Productive In The Gym When You Can't Get Stronger Being Productive In The Gym When You Can't Get Stronger

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Thread: Being Productive In The Gym When You Can't Get Stronger

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    Default Being Productive In The Gym When You Can't Get Stronger

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    If this was discussed in Starting Strength or Practical Programming and I missed it, my apologies. My recollection is that both of those books were about ways to get stronger, but there comes a point when you can't get stronger. When you get to that point, how should you spend your time in the gym? Do you continue similar programming with the goal of maintaining strength? Or can that be done with scaled back programming freeing you up to do other things with your time? An SSC I worked with a few years ago suggested you could maintain strength by working up to one work set for each of the main four barbell exercises. Do you agree with that?

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    There comes a time when you get injured, or sick, or too busy to make progress, or when your priorities change, or any number of things that interrupt your progress. You get past them and resume your training to get stronger. Just this week, I squatted 335 x 3 x 2 to a low box with a dead pause, benched 248.3 x 3 x 3, and will BB row 335 x 5 tonight, better numbers than I have done in a couple of years. Progress is always possible between less-than-optimal events, even though the long-term trend is inevitably downward.

    I recommend against deciding that you cannot get stronger, and then behaving as though this is true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Just this week, I squatted 335 x 3 x 2 to a low box with a dead pause, benched 248.3 x 3 x 3, and will BB row 335 x 5.
    That's pretty bad ass....all things considered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    There comes a time when you get injured, or sick, or too busy to make progress, or when your priorities change, or any number of things that interrupt your progress. You get past them and resume your training to get stronger. Just this week, I squatted 335 x 3 x 2 to a low box with a dead pause, benched 248.3 x 3 x 3, and will BB row 335 x 5 tonight, better numbers than I have done in a couple of years. Progress is always possible between less-than-optimal events, even though the long-term trend is inevitably downward.

    I recommend against deciding that you cannot get stronger, and then behaving as though this is true.
    Thanks Rip, will do.

    Congrats on your numbers. When did you start benching again? I thought you gave it up years ago because it hurt your shoulders (though I remember you adding dumbbell benches at some point).

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    I've been benching for several years. I can manage with a close grip.

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    At 54 years old I have a 475 squat, 550 deadlift, and 365 bench. The gains over the past year have been pretty minimal, outside of my bench, despite a disciplined and concentrated effort. I don't think there's much left in my genetic potential unless I gain more weight which I don't want to do at 5'9" 225+ pounds.

    More strength won't improve my life any. Actually spending less time in the gym will leave me with more energy to do other things in life. I've found that energy is something you lose as you get older. I have a meet coming up this month, and once that is over I'm looking forward to less gym time and doing other things. Like Rip says, priorities change.

    As far as future maintenance programming, my plan is to train twice a week with squats/bench Monday, and Deads/presses Thursday. Work up to a heavy ~90% single on each lift, followed by 3x5 leaving a couple reps in the tank. I'll fill out the program with accessories like chins, rows, and curls and call it good. I trained similarly a few years ago and it kept my strength while still leaving me with energy to do other physical activities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skid View Post
    At 54 years old I have a 475 squat, 550 deadlift, and 365 bench. The gains over the past year have been pretty minimal, outside of my bench, despite a disciplined and concentrated effort. I don't think there's much left in my genetic potential unless I gain more weight which I don't want to do at 5'9" 225+ pounds.

    More strength won't improve my life any. Actually spending less time in the gym will leave me with more energy to do other things in life. I've found that energy is something you lose as you get older. I have a meet coming up this month, and once that is over I'm looking forward to less gym time and doing other things. Like Rip says, priorities change.

    As far as future maintenance programming, my plan is to train twice a week with squats/bench Monday, and Deads/presses Thursday. Work up to a heavy ~90% single on each lift, followed by 3x5 leaving a couple reps in the tank. I'll fill out the program with accessories like chins, rows, and curls and call it good. I trained similarly a few years ago and it kept my strength while still leaving me with energy to do other physical activities.
    Youíre not too far off Andy Bakerís Training Without a Plan approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post

    I recommend against deciding that you cannot get stronger, and then behaving as though this is true.
    This is it, in a nutshell. I think "maintenance" is bullshit. It's code for "I don't want to work hard."

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcknshvl View Post
    This is it, in a nutshell. I think "maintenance" is bullshit. It's code for "I don't want to work hard."
    Define working hard. Adding 50 pounds to your 275 pound deadlift in 4.5 years as indicated on your log? Maybe once you work harder and see what sacrifices are required to get near your genetic limits you will understand why someone may want to go on a maintenance program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpinsen View Post
    If this was discussed in Starting Strength or Practical Programming and I missed it, my apologies. My recollection is that both of those books were about ways to get stronger, but there comes a point when you can't get stronger. When you get to that point, how should you spend your time in the gym? Do you continue similar programming with the goal of maintaining strength? Or can that be done with scaled back programming freeing you up to do other things with your time? An SSC I worked with a few years ago suggested you could maintain strength by working up to one work set for each of the main four barbell exercises. Do you agree with that?
    I have to have this discussion in the gym with clients all the time based on the population that I train. Sometimes "maintenance" becomes a defacto condition based on circumstances such as age, injuries, medical conditions, scheduling issues, or just simple lack of adherence to a demanding routine. I try not to let my clients adopt the mindset of "maintenance" though. Motivation is hard to maintain when there is no hope of progress, and adherence will slip even further. So, guided by intelligence, we always try to get stronger. Sometimes we keep bumping up against the same old numbers, sometimes we "pop" for new PRs if we can string together a nice little run of consistent attendance. Consistency is the key. Especially with older clients, time out of the gym is killer. It takes forever to work them back up to their personal bests when they miss time so often training become very cyclical. We hold a "peak" for a while, then they go on a vacation, travel for business, or get a small surgery or something and then we spend several months working back up to those top numbers again.

    One thing I do remind them of often though, if they get discouraged by slow progress, is that "maintenance" of strength on a given lift can be considered progress as you age. If a guy is squatting 275 at age 60 and can still hit it at age 65, there is something to be said for that. With every decade the forces of nature are trying harder and harder to push you backwards into physical decline. Maintaining your ground and avoiding having to lower your workload over the years is not an easy task necessarily. But you have to have the mindset of trying to push forward just to hold your ground.

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