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  1. #1
    Registered User memoid's Avatar
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    Unhappy feeling crap after stronglifts 5x5, tired, anxious, depressed. CNS Fatigue?

    Hi folks, I'm the opposite of 'strongest people in the world' but I figured this is where the most knowledge might be related to my question.

    Short version:
    I'm a skinny male in his mid 40s. 5ft9, 136lbs-145lbs. After two months of stronglifts 5x5 (starting from empty bar), I feel absolutely terrible, mentally ***ed, tired, lethargic all the time. But despite being so tired, I can't even sleep anymore, I'm feeling really anxious, depressed and paranoid (wtf). This all started a few weeks ago. Before that I was happy as a bunny, felt energetic like a bomb, and slept like a rock. It took me a while to figure out that this was even happening, as it crept on me quite slowy. And I didn't even link it to my workouts to begin with (it didn't cross my mind that lifting weights could lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia; I thought the opposite was supposed to happen!). I was wondering whether it might be CNS Fatigue, but even searching on this forum is giving mixed results: CNS Fatigue is BS, CNS Fatigue doesn't exist, CNS Fatigue is overtraining, overtraining doesn't exist there is only undertraining etc. I'm definitely experiencing something which is not due to over-stressing my muscles, but my central nervous system is ****ed, something is happening in my *brain*, that's the only way that my mood would be affected so drastically. I don't know if it's dopamine or seratonin or some other hormone related, or neurotransmitter related or what.

    I don't know what to do now. I don't want to stop as I haven't plateau'ed on the lifts (though every workout feels like I might plateau, but I somehow manage to hit 5x5), and I'm actually enjoying the fullbody strain while doing the lifts, epecially the deadlift. But this cannot go on like this. My last 5x5 session was exactly one week ago. After one particularly sleepless paranoid depressing night, I decided to stop 5x5. I didn't want to stop lifting altogether, so I switched to a more hypertrophy oriented program. I've started at 65% 1RM x 10 reps (assuming 1RM from my last 5x5). Now I'm feeling great again. My sleep is back to normal and I don't feel mentally sh*t and tired and depressed (And I have DOMS for the first time!).

    So what should I do now?
    Shall I carry on with the hypertrophic approach and ditch 5x5 forever?
    Or do this for a few months then switch back to 5x5? I'm afraid if I start 5x5 again, it'll mess me up again.
    Is what's happened to me 'normal'? I've probably been lifting close to my 1RM for the past month, 3 days a week.
    Just typing that last sentence makes me think, I'm no expert, but lifting close to your 1RM 3 days a week nonstop can't be good for you?
    If so, why isn't some kind of coping strategy built into the stronglifts program? There is a protocol for decreasing weights when you plateau and fail to hit 5x5, but I have been hitting 5x5 with decent form every time, so I kept increasing weights. And now I just feel ****ed.

    What i'm looking for is ideally some decent literature and tips (both scientific and experience based) on what exactly is going on, and what I should do next.

    Long version below in case some of these details are revelant:
    I started 5x5 about 2 months ago (at 136lbs). I wasn't a complete couch potato when I started, I was running regularly, I was doing a simple home bodyweight routine every other day (pushups, bodyweight squats, lunges, core exercises, plank variations etc). I could do 20-25 pushups per set. I definitely wasn't strong, but I was in relatively healthy condition. And after much research, I decided to give 5x5 a shot to get stronger and bigger. And I am a complete gym / weights newbie.

    I started 5x5 with the empty bar (except for row and deadlift) as suggested, did all the warmups and progressively increased weights following the app (which is brilliant btw). Two months later, I haven't stalled yet, and reached squats 130lbs 5x5 (almost my body weight), deadlift 175lbs 5x5 (125% my body weight) and bench 85lbs (which I still find rather easy, but I'm sticking to the 5lbs increment per session).

    The first month and a half was great. I felt fantastic, slept like a rock at nights, and generally felt like superman. The constant weight increase every session is a great psychological motivator.

    But for the last month, every time I do the squat and deadlift, I feel like I'm at my limit. It feels so heavy I don't think I'm going to be able to complete 5x5, but somehow I manage to push and stand up (with decent form I think). But then I'm sure that I won't be able to lift the heavier version in the next session. But when the time comes, I somehow manage that too (I guess I am getting stronger). And to be honest I'm really loving the feeling of the strain while I'm trying to lift the weights, and just pushing through and managing to stand up at the end. I feel super during the workout itself, but during the (20min) walk home it hits me. And the rest of the afternoon, and the next day - in fact the whole week, in fact the whole last 2 weeks, I've just felt terrible, like I've been hit by a train. It's not muscle soreness (in fact I've not felt any muscle soreness or any kind of pain anywhere at all throughout the program). I just feel completely tired and lethargic all day every day all th, I'm even really anxious and depressed, and it's making me unable to sleep. And this is not related to any developments in my life, on the contrary, I've started worrying and panicing about little things in my life which I never used to worry or panic about (and are not worth worrying or panicing about IMHO)!

    I have also been doing 3 accessory lifts on each session. (weighted) dip, side lateral raise, dumbell curl on one day; chinup, side lateral raise, dumbell curl on the other day. The side lateral raise and curls haven't been taxing much (3x15 reps, just for a bit of hypertrophy), but the dip + chinup have been quite heavy too.

    My diet is very decent. I'm eating at a slight calorie surplus, and have gained 4Kg in the last 2 months (and I've developed only a teensy belly, I guess at my age that's good for trying to gain). I'm tracking calories, macros and micros (vitamins, minerals, fibre etc) and making sure I hit them all. I start the day with a oat+banana+whey shake (540kcal, 90g carb, 7g fat, 35g protein) and hit the gym 1-1.5hrs later. I follow up my session with a supershake with more oats, protein, berries, nutmilk, greens, etc. And the rest of the day is mostly carbs, veggies, protein, nuts etc.  And I'm sleeping 7-8 hours every night. (Well I was originally, until I started getting too anxious to sleep!)

    Thanks for reading this far!
    Last edited by memoid; 01-16-2020 at 12:39 AM.
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  2. #2
    Personal Record Holder Rags85's Avatar
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    It simply sounds like too much fatigue. How often are you deloading. Any good program will have deloads in there to promote recovery and reduce fatigue. When you dropped to your hypertrophy workout, it was basically a deload and thats why you feel better.

    You don't need to drop the 5x5 scheme. Just don't do it every week without focusing on recovery (deloads). I wouldn't be able to go 2 weeks in a row with 5x5 without feeling like death.

    Or eat more. Basically you need more recovery. Food, sleep, rest.
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