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    Registered User Xpiro's Avatar
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    Removing load vs. doing less reps when stalled

    In the face of a stall, which do you find more effective: removing 10% or so from the bar or knocking reps back down to the lowest end of your range? Which method is better suited to allow for somewhat of a period of recovery? I say somewhat because we’re assuming that regular deloads are already taken, but maybe one or two specific lifts are still suffering and need individual treatment. And would it be a matter of working back up session to session, or rather a single-session (maybe 2, if said lift has a 2 times/week frequency) treatment?
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    I’d lower reps and if that didn’t work, I’d drop the weight and start back up.
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    Registered User Filmbuff81's Avatar
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    If you’re doing the same lift 2x a week I’d assume different rep ranges, so different weight.

    If you’re hammering the same exercise for the same weights, sets, and reps 2x a week without any sort of variation in RIR/RPE I’d wager that alone would be making the lift pretty stale.

    I think dropping reps if it’s the first time stalling is probably the best bet, so you maintain some neurological benefits of still hitting the same weight, if it’s the 2nd or 3rd time stalling dropping the weight or swapping out the lift would be the better option I think.

    Same time dropping reps instead of weight may just be delaying the inevitable a few weeks anyway and lengthen recovery time.
    Last edited by Filmbuff81; 04-05-2021 at 08:15 PM.
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    Registered User Xpiro's Avatar
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    Maintain load/restart reps has always made more sense to me and has worked occasionally on assistance work, but this is my first squat stall in over a year and I’m not sure how best to handle it. Last time I hit a wall was pre-lockdown, and I didn’t have a rack at home so my only option was Zercher squats. Did those for 3 months, returned in June, and haven’t had any problems increasing reps and weight smoothly until now.

    While that could indicate that switching it out for a different variation could benefit it in the long run, I lost mass... but that could have been a lack of access to a leg press or simply that my variation was inferior. Or both.

    Edit: 2 times/week frequency, same reps and sets.
    Last edited by Xpiro; 04-06-2021 at 08:43 PM.
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    I'd do a broader range of reps & weight, and maybe focus on increasing your max over a longer time period than weekly/monthly. Some days 3x10-12, some days 4x8, some days 4x6, some days 5x3, all at RPE 7-8. Idea being to stay well away from failure and to balance hypertrophy with strength/skill development over the course of a block.

    Of course, it depends on which lift you're stalling on, and how your other lifts are progressing.
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    I do less reps. I do what I did 2-3 week prior and work my way back up. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I studied finance and have 83 beds in my furnished rental houses.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Maintain load/restart reps has always made more sense to me and has worked occasionally on assistance work, but this is my first squat stall in over a year and I’m not sure how best to handle it. Last time I hit a wall was pre-lockdown, and I didn’t have a rack at home so my only option was Zercher squats. Did those for 3 months, returned in June, and haven’t had any problems increasing reps and weight smoothly until now.

    While that could indicate that switching it out for a different variation could benefit it in the long run, I lost mass... but that could have been a lack of access to a leg press or simply that my variation was inferior. Or both.

    Edit: 2 times/week frequency, same reps and sets.
    I’d wager other factors led to the loss of mass.

    I’d say could just reset the reps, but I think you should really alter the rep scheme for one of the days. You’re going to start getting pretty stale and that should help you break some plateaus.

    Or if you have access to 2 different movements now I’d even suggest doing a variation on one of the days along with altering the rep scheme.
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    I’d wager other factors led to the loss of mass.

    I’d say could just reset the reps, but I think you should really alter the rep scheme for one of the days. You’re going to start getting pretty stale and that should help you break some plateaus.

    Or if you have access to 2 different movements now I’d even suggest doing a variation on one of the days along with altering the rep scheme.
    This is actually a relevant subject since I've been stalling on bench quite a few times and I bench 2X a week on the program (been typically getting on the lower range side and the reps out of 4 sets typically look like...5, 4, 3, 3...or 5, 4, 4, 3).

    I do skullcrusher behind the head as an accessory on the first upper body day, but would it be of some use benching on the first upper day and throwing dips, or benching with the football bar in as a variation of bench on the second upper day?

    Although with the latter I'll have to go lighter due to the nature/balancing of the frame on that bar.

    I'm on The Viking's Upper/Lower Split routine, not to interfere with OP's original questions being answered, but would appreciate some insight on this.
    Last edited by Deep-Voiced-One; 04-07-2021 at 04:09 AM.
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  9. #9
    Registered User Xpiro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    I’d wager other factors led to the loss of mass.

    I’d say could just reset the reps, but I think you should really alter the rep scheme for one of the days. You’re going to start getting pretty stale and that should help you break some plateaus.

    Or if you have access to 2 different movements now I’d even suggest doing a variation on one of the days along with altering the rep scheme.
    With the exception of deadlifts I stay away from much heavier work (I’m on 4x8) because the overall volume is already so high/my joints and chronic injuries won’t have it. I like the idea of messing with, say, 4x12 for a change. Said joints and chronic injuries might enjoy the lighter loads. But for squats?

    I could do fronts once a week in that range too maybe...

    I actually gained upper body mass, so I don’t think it was a diet issue or anything. Sleep was more on point than it ever has been.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Filmbuff81's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    With the exception of deadlifts I stay away from much heavier work (I’m on 4x8) because the overall volume is already so high/my joints and chronic injuries won’t have it. I like the idea of messing with, say, 4x12 for a change. Said joints and chronic injuries might enjoy the lighter loads. But for squats?

    I could do fronts once a week in that range too maybe...

    I actually gained upper body mass, so I don’t think it was a diet issue or anything. Sleep was more on point than it ever has been.
    Could be repeated bout effect causing some issues and just getting stale in the range you’re going.

    You may be better off dropping your leg sets 25% for a meso to get some volume sensitivity back and then adjust rep ranges.

    I do

    Legs 1
    hack squat 4x 7-12 reps
    Safety bar squats 3x 15-20 reps

    Legs 2
    Leg press 3x 15-20

    I’m just finishing up a lower volume meso where I dropped 3 sets off the first day.

    So i think you could benefit from a set decrease and then bring it back up along with altering the rep ranges.

    I was doing a lot of heavier work for a while but my legs have developed better than ever the last 5 months while dieting.

    YMMV of course.
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    Originally Posted by Deep-Voiced-One View Post
    This is actually a relevant subject since I've been stalling on bench quite a few times and I bench 2X a week on the program (been typically getting on the lower range side and the reps out of 4 sets typically look like...5, 4, 3, 3...or 5, 4, 4, 3).

    I do skullcrusher behind the head as an accessory on the first upper body day, but would it be of some use benching on the first upper day and throwing dips, or benching with the football bar in as a variation of bench on the second upper day?

    Although with the latter I'll have to go lighter due to the nature/balancing of the frame on that bar.

    I'm on The Viking's Upper/Lower Split routine, not to interfere with OP's original questions being answered, but would appreciate some insight on this.
    I’d say post a thread to ask this. Don’t wanna derail here even though it’s tangently related
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  12. #12
    Registered User Xpiro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    Could be repeated bout effect causing some issues and just getting stale in the range you’re going.

    You may be better off dropping your leg sets 25% for a meso to get some volume sensitivity back and then adjust rep ranges.

    I do

    Legs 1
    hack squat 4x 7-12 reps
    Safety bar squats 3x 15-20 reps

    Legs 2
    Leg press 3x 15-20

    I’m just finishing up a lower volume meso where I dropped 3 sets off the first day.

    So i think you could benefit from a set decrease and then bring it back up along with altering the rep ranges.

    I was doing a lot of heavier work for a while but my legs have developed better than ever the last 5 months while dieting.

    YMMV of course.
    It might help that I could be too run down after my second dose of the vaccine next week to lift at all, but we’ll see. In that event I could skip L1 and hit L2 with a low volume session to really knock down tolerance.

    A set decrease on each lift, would you say? Or could it be better to remove exercises altogether? L2 alone consists of 19 sets (16 if you lump supersets together) so I could even remove all of the isolation work and end up with 10 sets. Or 9, if I remove a set of squats themselves. 25% off 19 still seems pretty high.

    As far as altering rep ranges after the break in volume, I could maybe pull off a day of 4x5-6 if I did something like 12-15 the next day to show my knees a bit more mercy. What do you think?
    Last edited by Xpiro; 04-07-2021 at 07:32 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    It might help that I could be too run down after my second dose of the vaccine next week to lift at all, but we’ll see. In that event I could skip L1 and hit L2 with a low volume session to really knock down tolerance.

    A set decrease on each lift, would you say? Or could it be better to remove exercises altogether? L2 alone consists of 19 sets (16 if you lump supersets together) so I could even remove all of the isolation work and end up with 10 sets. Or 9, if I remove a set of squats themselves. 25% off 19 still seems pretty high.

    As far as altering rep ranges, I could maybe pull off a day of 4x5-6 if I did something like 12-15 the next day to show my knees a bit more mercy. What do you think?
    25% is only 4.75 sets.

    19 sets in a single day seems really high to be honest.

    I think you’ve got a lot of junk volume going if you’re hammering that many sets for legs twice a week.
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    25% is only 4.75 sets.

    19 sets in a single day seems really high to be honest.

    I think you’ve got a lot of junk volume going if you’re hammering that many sets for legs twice a week.
    I’m basically doing Viking’s ULPPL with some modifications in rep ranges and exercises, so not sure. Lockdown had me scrambling to do anything worthwhile for the first month until I got my hands on some equipment, and as soon as I was able to get the routine going at home and in the gym when it opened up (UPP at home, legs in the gym) I saw some pretty sweet new gains with the influx of volume. But it’s been a while since then, hasn’t it... maybe I’ve outgrown the series. I’d love to stay on a PPLUL though if I can.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    I’m basically doing Viking’s ULPPL with some modifications in rep ranges and exercises, so not sure. Lockdown had me scrambling to do anything worthwhile for the first month until I got my hands on some equipment, and as soon as I was able to get the routine going at home and in the gym when it opened up (UPP at home, legs in the gym) I saw some pretty sweet new gains with the influx of volume. But it’s been a while since then, hasn’t it... maybe I’ve outgrown the series. I’d love to stay on a PPLUL though if I can.
    You can easily keep the same setup.

    I just think you need to try dropping the volume down a bit. Your legs aren’t going to shrink from like a 4-6 week block that would realistically still be above maintenance volume.

    Edit: Like even 1 set to failure could maintain mass.
    Last edited by Filmbuff81; 04-07-2021 at 08:00 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    You can easily keep the same setup.

    I just think you need to try dropping the volume down a bit. Your legs aren’t going to shrink from like a 4-6 week block that would realistically still be above maintenance volume.
    Legs only, or overall? I mean yes I’ve got 37 sets of legs per week but if I’m splitting that into quads, hams and calves as individual categories it’s less. Same as I would do for chest, delts, etc.

    Either way, I could easily remove a set of squats on each day and either single leg leg press or hack squats to strip 5 sets off and mess with that for a month or so.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Legs only, or overall? I mean yes I’ve got 37 sets of legs per week but if I’m splitting that into quads, hams and calves as individual categories it’s less. Same as I would do for chest, delts, etc.

    Either way, I could easily remove a set of squats on each day and either single leg leg press or hack squats to strip 5 sets off and mess with that for a month or so.
    If you’re not having issues with upper body then I wouldn’t worry.

    If you break down the parts what are the sets for quads/hams/glutes keeping in mind some overlap.

    But just direct work.
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    After many years, I have come to the conclusion that both have their place. If we assess work done, decreasing load and maintaining reps vs keeping load the same and decreasing reps can be equal. However, rest periods have an impact too. If you lower the load, rest periods can be shorter and work can be done over a shorter period of time.

    If you ever read the hundreds of studies, they all work to a degree.

    Instead of constantly being undecided,
    I decided to devise a plan; use conjugated methods to improve over short and long periods. Break up your workouts in to 4 and 12 week blocks. Use overload techniques, then back off and decrease load with shorter rest.

    The bottom line is, don’t let your workouts stall out and stagnate. For me, part of the enjoyment I get is being creative with my short term goals.
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    Originally Posted by Filmbuff81 View Post
    If you’re not having issues with upper body then I wouldn’t worry.

    If you break down the parts what are the sets for quads/hams/glutes keeping in mind some overlap.

    But just direct work.
    Glutes are are hard to differentiate, I do leg presses with a wide stance so I guess that’s like a quad/glute crossover... if we’re categorizing them as quads I’ve got 20 sets per week, and 14 sets of quads per week if we call them glute work (so then 6 sets of glutes). 11 sets of hams per week including deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and leg curls. 8 sets of calves/week.

    Edit: Lol, almost everything is a crossover. Might be better to list the exercises @ sets per week

    Back Squats 8x
    Leg press/wide 3x
    Single leg leg press/wide 3x
    Barbell hack squats 3x
    Sissy squats 3x

    Conv DL 2x
    RDL 3x
    Leg curl 4x

    Calf press 8x
    Last edited by Xpiro; 04-07-2021 at 08:43 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Kraken View Post
    After many years, I have come to the conclusion that both have their place. If we assess work done, decreasing load and maintaining reps vs keeping load the same and decreasing reps can be equal. However, rest periods have an impact too. If you lower the load, rest periods can be shorter and work can be done over a shorter period of time.

    If you ever read the hundreds of studies, they all work to a degree.

    Instead of constantly being undecided,
    I decided to devise a plan; use conjugated methods to improve over short and long periods. Break up your workouts in to 4 and 12 week blocks. Use overload techniques, then back off and decrease load with shorter rest.

    The bottom line is, don’t let your workouts stall out and stagnate. For me, part of the enjoyment I get is being creative with my short term goals.
    8 week blocks instead of 12 might suit me better since I typically deload every 2 months, but interesting take. 8 weeks of heavier loads and fewer reps followed by a month of lighter loads and higher reps?
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    20 sets of quads is quite high and 8-12 week blocks also seems a little nutty unless you’re really good at managing fatigue or not that advanced.

    Conventional deadlifts would be more of a direct glute exercise.

    But anyway I think there’s quite a few different variables going on to create some issues.

    Maybe you should lay out the plan, your progression, etc.
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    My modus operandi for squats has always been to start with 4 sets of 5 and add one rep per session (2 if I’m feeling it, 3 even more rarely), and almost always on the last set followed by the second to last etc. So after achieving 4 sets of 8 across (or some other iteration of 32 total reps namely 7, 8, 8, 9 to keep set 1 low in RPE), I’ll progress like so:

    L1: 5, 5, 5, 5
    L2: 5, 5, 5, 6
    L1: 5, 5, 6, 6

    Etc. etc.

    All sets are RPE 8-9, usually clocking in at 8.5 for the later sets as I progress with a load. Hit a 10 the other day which absolutely humbled me because I’ve managed to stay away from that for a long time.

    Everything follows a similar progression protocol, with leg press (3 x 7-10) leg curl (3 x 7-10 on L1 and 3 x 9-12 on L2) , and sissy squat (3 x 10-12) sets occasionally dipping into RPE 10. I don’t know what a deadlift (2 x 3-6) or Romanian deadlift (3 x 7-10) RPE 10 feels like, or really even a 9... I’d definitely like to keep it that way for as long as I can. RDLs are my most smoothly progressing exercise overall, easily handling multiple rep increases per session, and conventional deadlifts have had some minor hitches but mostly due to visibly discernible “yellow light” form issues rather than a lack of actually being able to pull.

    I stripped 10% off barbell hacks the other week because my knees were a bit wonky. Originally a 3 x 10 scheme, I’ve decided to run 3 x 12 instead. We’ll see how it goes.

    Calves are calves, I gave up with hard and fast rep goals because I seemed to be getting ahead of myself too easily so I pretty much just keep drilling in a weight for anywhere between 12-20 reps until I decide it makes more sense to just add weight.

    Order of exercises stays true to the original program.
    Last edited by Xpiro; 04-08-2021 at 03:17 PM.
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    So you’re basically trying to use some sort of MEV to MRV set progression?

    I wouldn’t encourage you to just actively add sets every single session.

    That’s a very large volume increase especially if you’re not giving yourself any week of an RPE closer to 7-8.

    Adding sets if totally fine, but based off your broad generalization of how you’re doing it, it doesn’t sound as systematic as what Mike Israetel lays out and your version seems like it could be somewhat detrimental.

    Or do you mean you add 1-3 reps per session?
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    Reps lol my bad
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Reps lol my bad
    Ok cool that makes more sense I was thinking holy fuk no wonder you’re having issues jumping up that many sets.

    I’d still say take a break from 19ish quad sets a week. Try like 12-15 and see how it goes.
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    Think I should knock back squat sets themselves down to 3 each? I figure I can get rid of either of the leg presses so that’s -3 already. My only concern is accurately gauging squat progress when I’m doing less than I normally would/will be eventually anyway.
    Last edited by Xpiro; 04-09-2021 at 05:41 AM.
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    Thinking about it... I may be able to do without hack squats instead of removing sets of back squats. I still have sissies (on the apparatus holding a barbell like a front squat) for specific targeting, and they’re less impact on the knees and still manage to give my quads a nice high rep beating.

    Reviewing similar programs, I’m surprised at how many quad sets Bare Bones has. 20 is pretty insane compared to the 12-14 I’m seeing elsewhere, yet my quad development seems to have stagnated in the last month or 2.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Thinking about it... I may be able to do without hack squats instead of removing sets of back squats. I still have sissies (on the apparatus holding a barbell like a front squat) for specific targeting, and they’re less impact on the knees and still manage to give my quads a nice high rep beating.

    Reviewing similar programs, I’m surprised at how many quad sets Bare Bones has. 20 is pretty insane compared to the 12-14 I’m seeing elsewhere, yet my quad development seems to have stagnated in the last month or 2.
    Unsurprisingly you’ll see most advanced lifters scale back leg training unless it’s a clear weak point.

    You’re disrupting so much muscle that I’m amazed you can even recover systemically.

    Dropping hack is fine. You can always rotate them in later, but I certainly don’t think barbell squats are necessary.

    If your entire focus is hypertrophy then you really just need to worry about stimulus.
    Last edited by Filmbuff81; 04-10-2021 at 03:40 PM.
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    Hmm I mean I’m evidently not recovering as well as before, but yeah I was able to handle the high high volume for a couple years straight with linear (not newbie gains linear, just in the sense of slow but steady rep increases leading to load increases) progress. All things must come to an end or whatnot.

    My only thing with dropping hacks is sacrificing the work it does for my traps, even if it’s not that much... but then I don’t know if dropping sissies instead will have that great of an impact on my recovery in comparison.
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    Originally Posted by Xpiro View Post
    Hmm I mean I’m evidently not recovering as well as before, but yeah I was able to handle the high high volume for a couple years straight with linear (not newbie gains linear, just in the sense of slow but steady rep increases leading to load increases) progress. All things must come to an end or whatnot.

    My only thing with dropping hacks is sacrificing the work it does for my traps, even if it’s not that much... but then I don’t know if dropping sissies instead will have that great of an impact on my recovery in comparison.
    You’re overthinking it too much.

    Just drop a set from each movement and see how you do.

    If you’re already losing mass like you say, you’re not gonna suddenly lose even more.

    Are you taking measurements?

    Some some measurements and monitor.
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