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Fatigue Management

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  • Fatigue Management

    Hello, I'm running a programme quite similar to The Bridge that I wrote myself. The basic structure for the main lifts is 3 weeks of 5s (with increasing intensity and volume) followed by a week of 3s and then a final week of singles and 3s before a deload. What I find is that by week 4 (when I go from 5s down to 3s) I'm sometimes not able to add load to the bar (especially on squat) even though I'm going from sets of 5 at average RPE8 down to sets of 3 at average RPE8. I usually put this down to fatigue from the previous 3 weeks of 5s. My question is: is this normal/expected or am I potentially training too hard during the first 3 weeks of 5s and therefore too fatigued by this point in the programme? I can usually add load on bench and deadlift but not squat when I step down from 5s to 3s. Any suggestions? Maybe just going too hard on squats and building up too much fatigue too early?

  • #2
    When you say you can't add load--do you mean you put the same load on the bar and then try to do a set but feel the same exertion after 3 reps that you do the prior 3 weeks with a set of 5?

    A few things I'd check if I found myself in this situation:

    1) Compare videos of squat set of 5 from week 3 with week 4's set of 3. Is the depth the same? Am I 'good morning' my squats in the 5s? Basically validate form and everything is identical.

    2) If you think cumulative fatigue is the problem. I'd try to switch it up and do a week of 3's right after a deload week

    3) If both of those checked out (i.e. even after a deload I couldn't add weight and form looked identical for sets of 5s and 3s) I'd try to push RPE a little higher and validate I was really at 8 in both situations. For example if you're doing a set of 5 at 200 and it feels @ 8 and a set of 3 at 200 feels @ 8, I'd try to go to @9 (set of 6) and I'd try going @9 with a set of 210. The idea being maybe there's maybe a rep or two more in the tank than I thought.


    • #3
      Hi- thanks for replying! Yeh basically that... I can only do roughly the same (or marginally higher) weight for 3s on squat as I could for 5s the week before. I did take one set pretty much to failure to confirm my RPEs weren't too far off. The weight just feels really heavy on squat by the time I get to the week of 3s after the weeks of 5s, which made me think it was potentially an issue with fatigue and pushing too hard in the weeks prior.

      I think it might also be that I'm just not very strong yet at sets of 1-3... I've only been training pure strength for about 5/6 months now after previously doing bodybuilding type stuff in the 8-12 range. So far the strength work has all been sets of 5 in a general beginner/linear progression style. I think this is only the second cycle of actually trying sets of 3, therefore I'm maybe just not strong in that rep range yet.

      I think your idea about switching up the order of the programme is a good one. This will let me practice the skill of lower rep heavy sets when I'm not already fatigued from 3 weeks of training 5s. Good shout!