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Today, probably due to having a not very nutritious lunch, I was able to lift noticeably less (e.g. Benching at 55kg rather than 75kg) weight & reps than normal.

In a situation like this, if your muscles at the time don't have sufficient energy, do they still adapt to get stronger, so that the next time you'd be able to lift (probably) more than the 'normal' amount, or will noticeable muscle adaptation not take effect as you aren't hitting their limit due to a lack of energy?

Obviously I know this isn't a good situation to get into, but is it actually worth going through with the full routine if your goal is to just gain mass, and you're not really worried about the lower weight repetition (endurance) range, assuming your supper or whatever is 'good' meaning you get your needed calorie/protein/etc. for the day?

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2 Answers

It's times like this that your body is fatigued. More than likely it's a cumulative affect from the training you've done up till this point, poor nutrition choices, and possibly some life stresses in there. This is normal. Essentially your body needs some relative rest.

Take a week and do deload work: half the volume, or half the volume and half the weight.

Get your nutrition back on track, rest up while doing it. You should be ready to get back to the volume and intensity you were training at before. It's a normal cycle for getting stronger:

  • Normal training stress: body builds up fatigue until you hit the next stage.
  • Overreaching: body is fatigued and the pump is primed. Now you need some relative rest so your body can get to the next stage.
  • Supercompensation: your body adapts to the load you are putting on it, and in the process makes itself faster/bigger/stronger to deal with the increasing loads.

At this point you need to repeat the cycle to capitalize on the supercompensation. Now, if you completely ignore the overreaching stage for a long time and keep grinding your body down you hit over-training. Over-training is the state where your body is getting weaker and your body is more catabolic than anabolic. If you hit this stage you will need some time off.

I personally think you've hit the overreaching stage, and a deload will be good for you.

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If you're tired enough that you can only do 75% of your planned workout, then the training stimulus from that workout is going to be far less than if you had done 100% of that plan. Benching 55kg when you can usually bench 75kg won't make you much better able to bench 80kg.

You need to make the call mid-workout whether to:

  • finish the workout as prescribed (often difficult or impossible)
  • scale back the workout, and just work form, and re-attempt the planned workout in your next scheduled workout day
  • abort the workout entirely to focus on eating and resting

Choosing between those three depends on just how burnt out you feel, and whether you think it's because of a single error (e.g. skipping lunch) or sustained overtraining (e.g. you've been training more than usual, or you're feeling sluggish in multiple workouts).

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