This is a general question, but I'll give some specifics to fill it in. I'm on the Texas Method periodization program. On Monday, I was unable to complete the prescribed workout of a 5lb increase in the squat weight. In fact, I was just really weak on Monday. I hadn't slept and probably hadn't eaten correctly either. After the first set, I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of doing four more, so I lowered the weight by twenty pounds - and I still failed a rep in set three. I had no idea what I should do for the rest of the day. I just made something up - it doesn't much matter what, since I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but basically, I lowered weights on all the planned exercises.

Not only do I not know what to do on a low performance day, but I don't know how to modify the rest of the week, and presumably the week after, on a periodization program. Please clue me in.

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    A lot of programs will have that information if you know where to look. Examples include repeat the session, repeat the week (I think that applies in TM), reset 10% on that lift and progress from there. Dec 19 '12 at 19:53
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    "I hadn't slept and probably hadn't eaten correctly either". Need to address that first, then re-read the information on the Texas Method, couple of good books out there, I suggest Rip's Practical Programming Dec 19 '12 at 20:43
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    @ Wayne Gimme a break dude. I've been rock solid consistent for 25 solid months and I had a bad day. Any serious lifter is going to have off days. And I've read PP, didn't see what I was looking for. Even if I had seen it, it would still be useful to hear other opinions on the general question.
    – masonk
    Dec 19 '12 at 23:15
  • Page 27 of PP only says to stop the workout as soon as one notices overtraining, e.g. due to extra workload in the previous session. I'm not sure that applies here. Dec 20 '12 at 2:29

Joe Micela's Minimums and Maximums

One of the foremost problems in my own strength training is that my strength work often gets pushed around by other athletic and social endeavors. I frequently find myself in a workout without the capability to hit the numbers as scheduled.

At the moment I've simply reduced total lifting volume, and that’s fine. Another approach would be periodic back-off weeks. Or perhaps I could simply get used to self-directed workout intensities. (There are people who have fancy names for “go as hard as you can, which will vary, in each workout”. That strikes me as putting lipstick on a pig.)

In the free issue of the Performance Menu (email registration required), Joe Micela discusses a middle path I had not considered: minimums and maximums.

My program is based off set goals the athlete must hit for a workout, week, and cycle. We work partly off of set percentages and how the athlete feels. When they feel good, we push it beyond what the program calls for. When they aren’t feeling up to par they still have minimum numbers they need to hit to keep pace for their weekly and cycle goals.

So there are planned workouts, which the lifter tries to stick to. But if one is having an off day, volume or intensity can be reduced, down to a set minimum. Vice-versa for those days with a surfeit of testosterone and glycogen. I very much like this idea.

Something like “add five pounds each workout, but if the first work set is way off, reduce 5% and continue as planned”, or “add five pounds every other workout, but if the first max rep is way off, deload by 10% and add an extra two sets” seem to work quite well. As always, however, being one’s own coach is the hardest part here, particularly when as inexperienced as myself.

The way this would play out in your particular scenario depends on how bad the first set feels. If I feel totally awful in the first set, I'll sometimes go as far as reducing the weight by 15% while maintaining volume in that exercise, then calling it quits for the day. In the next workout I'll give it another shot, without moving forward to the next prescribed jump. On the other hand, if I feel pretty good, sometimes I'll only back off by 5%, or reduce the number of reps per set from 5 to 3, and otherwise complete the workout (and the workouts after) as scheduled.

  • So if you have to curtail Monday's workout by dropping 15% and then skipping the other exercises - do you try to do Monday's rx on Wednesday?
    – masonk
    Dec 20 '12 at 18:04
  • @masonk If it's that bad, yes. But I'm not on 5/3/1, so it's a little different for me--usually I'm just doing a slow linear progression, or a simple A/B. I have no clue how to handle the rest of the week in a more complex periodization model. Dec 20 '12 at 18:46
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    In a Texas-type system, the first day is supposed to provide the growth stimulus for the week. I'd think the way to address it would be either doing more reps at lighter weight or shifting the entire week back a day (including a retry of day 1).
    – G__
    Dec 20 '12 at 19:52

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