Im currently on starting strength, been doing it since the 3rd week of December (prior to that Ive been doing some dumbbell lifting, which was from October to November).

Squat is at 155lbs Deadlift at 175lbs Bench at 115lbs Overhead press at 90lbs

Ive made what I think are significant advances to my lifts but have injured myself a bit from time to time because of terrible form.

Ive managed to fix some of my form issues for the past 3 weeks but have found that while I continue to relearn the lifts by fixing form, I struggle to handle the increasing lift load demanded by the program. Im unsure if its because of my diet or just my form (I believe its both though) that I struggle.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I want to do SS again by resetting my weights (i.e. starting with just 45lbs for all exercises) for a month and then moving up to my current PRs again, this time with proper form.

However Im unsure of what might happen to my PRs and my muscle gains if I do this. But I really feel this deload is crucial for me to move forward.

Im planning to continue my IF with a 4 hr feeding window, and then doing a -30% on rest days while maintenance on training days. The reason behind the deficit is because Ive recently upped my bf% to around 16% and would like to at least go down to 12% in 2 months or so.

tl;dr: Would deloading for a week to fix form issues work for me or would it be counter productive? I will do -30% cals on rest days and maintenance on training days since Im at around 16% bf and would like to be at 12% bf in 2 months time with intermittent fasting.

  • Did you start with the empty bar when you started the program to begin with? I'm curious to know about this because maybe if that was the case then people aren't understanding your question correctly. Feb 28, 2014 at 15:28
  • Id have to honestly say that I didnt. Once I had a slight right shoulder injury thats when I started doing warm up sets and applying some form to my bench press. Currently I struggle with three things, one is stabilizing the push motion while its going up. Two is when I attempt to touch the bar to my chest on negatives I tend to touch it on an almost random location on my chest. And three is keeping my glutes and core tight while I breathe during the exercise
    – reverb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:01
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    I wouldn't be fasting if I were you. I'd be trying to eat as much as possible. With your lifts I'd guess you weight about 140 lbs. Do SS or 5/3/1 for a year solid and eat at a surplus. If you're at 140lbs, 16% BF, that's ~22lbs of fat. If you put on 15 lbs of muscle and kept the same amount of bodyfat, you'd at 13% BF. IMO get your squat to 225 and your deadlift to 285+ and don't step on a scale or calculate your bodyfat until you do. Worry about the fat later, it comes off much more easily than muscle.
    – Daniel
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:47
  • Thanks for bringing up IF, Ive been truly considering if fasting is for me at my current weight and muscle mass composition. Ive been feeling lethargic on some days, and I think Im cutting at a level I shouldnt even be cutting. I dont look fat, but I have most of my fat at the gut area. In result to this thinking of mine, I was considering a -30/+30 for my cals and then maybe using IF still. This is a far cry from what Ive been doing for months which was a -30/+0. A IF recomp.of some sorts is what I was thinking of. But at this noob stage Im in I wonder of its necessary at all.
    – reverb
    Mar 1, 2014 at 7:29

3 Answers 3


Are you truly injured? If you are get better and then get back to lifting. Otherwise.

Should I reset my weights for a month? No, not if you are following the plan in starting strength.

I have read starting strength and it says nothing about a novice lifter de-loading for a month to practice your form. If you are only 2 month into a progressive overload regimented and you are not getting stronger every work out you need to look at your sleep, food, and hydration.

If you get your 3x5 on the bench press at 115lb what weight are you doing next session? 120lb or 125lb. That would be a huge jump. In starting strength they would advocate moving up by 2lb. Does your gym have 1lb weights? Use them. If not wedge some 1lb dumbbells that the aerobic classes use under the clips or go to Walmart and buy 2 1lb dumbbells and bring them to the gym with you.

Don’t get ahead of yourself. Putting 5lb on your lifts a month is good progress.

  • Im not really injured but have had some minor debilitating ones that made me stall on my lifts. I think part of the reason why Im stalling on some days is because of my form and diet though, now that I think about what youve said. I workout at home in a home gym, Ive no 1 lb weights, I do have 1.5lbs though which I use when I struggle to add 5lbs to my lifts. I was under the impression that I was going too slow, with my 5 lb increments, based on what you said, looks like I wasnt then haha.
    – reverb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 2:33
  • @galley you should also look into mobility issues.
    – maxywb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:22
  • Stabilization issues and breathing issues were the restricting factors that Ive found during my lifts. Especially on the bench press. Ill look into mobility as well then
    – reverb
    Mar 1, 2014 at 7:33

If you absolutely can't do the required reps with good form I'd argue that you're not truly following the program. It's not just about lifting X weight for Y sets of Z reps, you also have to be doing the lifts correctly and safely. The weights you're lifting aren't big enough right now that I'd expect it to have an effect on your form, so the likely answer is that you haven't yet learnt to do them correctly (not surprising, this can take a lot of time).

If your form is definitely incorrect, and you definitely can't fix that while continuing to increase the weight, you need to stop increasing the weight - or even deload - while you fix that. Poor form means you're more likely to get injured, especially as the weight on your lifts goes up. It's also generally easier to do the lifts with heavier weights when you're using good form, so there are still gains to be had from fixing it.

It's easier to learn to do them correctly now, even if that means you're not necessarily increasing the weight you lift each session, than it is to fix bad habits later or recover from an injury caused by poor form.

That said, if it's just a matter of struggling to do the required reps with good form, but you are able to do them while keeping your form correct, then that's nothing to worry about. It's expected that you won't necessarily find it to be a breeze, and that the rate at which you're increasing the weight will begin to exceed the strength gains you're actually making.

  • Could bad form also constitute to imbalanced muscle gains and minimal musclr gain?
    – reverb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 15:41
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    @galley short answer: yes. Long answer: it depends on the exercise in question, it's more likely that your muscle gains are comparable, but you put yourself at greater risk of injury eg poorly executed squats put horrible stress on your lumbar spine, but your legs still do a lot of work so the muscle development there is still "good."
    – maxywb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:21
  • Thought so, thanks for clearing that up. Man I seriously need to step up my game
    – reverb
    Mar 1, 2014 at 7:35

For one thing, I don't think a single week is going to do much for either your form or your overall fitness. So short answer: no, deloading for a week isn't going to make you measurably weaker. But I'm not sure this solves your problem, fixing technical issues is a long term project (read: forever). There will always be something with your technique you'd like to fix.

  • Thanks for your suggestion, a week sounds good then, but what about a month? Would that be excessive?
    – reverb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 2:40
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    @galley it might be excessive. I think a better approach would be to not add weight to an exercise until you can do it at that weight with good form.
    – maxywb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 15:28
  • Noted, Ill keep that in mind during my reset week. Thanks for your input
    – reverb
    Feb 28, 2014 at 15:32

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