Keeping some in the tank – Why keeping yourself in your box is a good idea.


I’m sitting here in the Libary writing this article after what can only be described as a cluster fuck of a session.  I was planning on taking an easy week this week since I am heading to my Brother’s Stag weekend and wouldn’t be able to take part in a full training week so it seemed like a good time to take a backward step.

The three weeks proceeding this I had started a new training programme with a lower frequency but much higher weekly tonnage for all lifts, things where going well strength wise I was completing all of my working sets and settling into the increased workloads nicely.  Then on the first squat workout of last week I had one of those days.

If you have been lifting for a while you will have experienced it you come in do your own ususal routine warm up, hit what would normally be your first heavy ish warm up and it feels like nothing.  That is when you know your on for a big PB or you going to make your working sets feel like paper weights.  Well last Monday was one of those days.

The planned workout for squat went thus

2 sets 4 @ 200 kg

2 sets 3 @ 212 kg

2 sets 2 @ 225 kg

Total tonnage – 3500

Average Intensity – 80% of Target

Now I was looking at that workout thinking this looks a bit light considering I had lifter heavier loads in the proceeding week so to keep with the programme I would need to up my lifting intensities because…. more is more… right?  What actually transpired was –

2 sets 4 @ 210

1 set 4 @ 230

1 set 1 @ 240

1 set 5 @ 200

Total tonnage – 3840

Average Intensity – 84% of Target

After the workout I felt great no real issues I had just set a pretty good squat PB and made 240 kg look like warm up weight (only 5 kg off my belt less PB) so all in all pretty good.  However of course this exuberance carried into my Dead lift workout the next day.

The next day I pulled 25kg heavier than I was planning, the top set planned for the day was 240 kg x 2.  My two top sets for the day where 245 kg x 3 and 265 kg x 1.  Whilst the two lifts where pretty decent and my form only broke down a little what followed crystallised for me the futility of getting ahead of you planned percentages and volumes.

stiff_coverWalking became somewhat of a task the next day, the feeling from training that I thought was just part of the process was back with avengence.  The muscles of my lower and upper back where toned and stiff I felt like I had just been worked over by a baseball bat.  In short I had just felt like I had done a competition.

In essence this is exactly what I had done, by taking a sudden jump in intensity without doing the nessicarly volume to be working with those loads I had hit a mini peak.  And of course what goes up must come down.

My second squat and deadlift workouts where pretty much a wash, I got through my squat workout but felt like I was going to injure myself with every rep.  Deadlifts where probably 100 kg lighter than I had planned for that session because the thought of going through another 3 days like the previous just didn’t even bear entertaining.

It was obvious that I had pushed too hard, be it in the squats or the deadlifts or in both I had gone off route.  And I was paying the price.


I took the next 3 days off heavy lowerbody and was planning to drop off my volume significantly today so that I can start afresh next week and this time stick to the plan.  Walking to training this afternoon I was thinking “throw the belt on, do a few singles and leave it there”.  After warming up I tried a belt on with 220 kg and what followed was a horrible, difficult backy mess.

I toiled with a weight that I had done in the previous workout for a set of 4.  Did I just get weak in the last 7 days?  Have I lost all of my progress?

Of course not but what I currently inhabit is a tired and recovering body.  So now I am facing starting a new volume block next week so I can get to where I was last week again hopefully in 2-3 weeks time.  Had I stuck to the workout planned I would be moving forward instead this week I am moving backwards and sideways to allow future forward travel.

Take it from my experience next time a programme looks too light, put your ego back in it’s box and stick to the plan.


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