Here is my dumbbells' press (bench) performance in the last two times of my chest workout:

before last time bench's training (dumbbells' press)

32.5kg - 10 reps 32.5kg 10 reps 32.5kg - 10 reps 35 kg - 6 reps

last time's bench dumbbells' press

35kg- 8 reps 35kkg- 7 reps 32.5 kg 8 reps 30 kg 9 reps

In Today's workout, I warmed up for the same exercise and I tried to lift the 35Kg Dumbbells' and failed. So it's not only that I can't go for progressive overload but I can't even the weight I lifted last time. I workout 3 days (only one of these 3 days is for chest, the others are for other body parts) and then have one rest day. I always start my chest workout with bench dumbbells' press exercise. What could I possibly do to avoid this situation again and be able to progress ? Is it a lack of antioxidants needed for muscle recovery ?

Thank you

  • It sounds like you are doing bench press 3 days in a row? You cannot do this. You need at least one day rest between each training day. When you do the benchpress your body is "broken down". During recovery time when you sleep the body is "built up" again. This process takes at least 2 nights.
    – Andy
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 18:33
  • @Andy no. I do chest one day in three days
    – Amr
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 18:46
  • Have you ever experienced a bad day? A day when you weren't as sharp. Maybe you didn't sleep well, maybe it's emotional stress, maybe you did some partying, maybe you ate something you're not used to. It happened once. It will happen again from time to time. Perhaps worry if it happens constantly. I don't know if people can draw conclusions from your post. I guess some take wild guesses, people are bored tight now. But relax. Come back when this becomes a pattern with a better description of your life. Also imo, you're taking big steps for dumbbells. This works imo a bit better with barbells
    – Raditz_35
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


In a word, no. It has nothing to do with antioxidants, and I implore you not to start thinking about nutrition outside of simply eating a balanced, nutritious diet free from excesses. Whilst it is possible that diet is responsible, it is unlikely; the average diet in industrialised countries provides approximately double the normal recommended intake of protein, for example, or roughly the amount recommended for elite strength and power athletes.

What you are most likely experiencing is fatigue based upon your workload and level of conditioning. To put your experience into perspective, an old study of muscle fatigue asked a group of subjects—all novices—to perform a single set of bicep curls to failure. Muscle biopsies were taken and markers of muscle damage measured periodically thereafter. The average subject experienced muscular soreness for 4-5 days thereafter, with the worst still feeling soreness after nine days. However, markers of muscle damage were detectable in one subject as much as 60 days after performing that single set!

That is not to suggest that we require such great periods of time between bouts of exercise. However, it does demonstrate just how long muscles can take to recover fully. And numerous studies have demonstrated that there is no measurable difference in hypertrophy between individuals who train once, or multiple times per week, for example.

All training is essentially about finding the right balance between work and rest, and difference between the casual gym-goer and the elite strength and conditioning coach is their ability to balance those variables correctly.

If you are weaker during your second training bout than you were during your first, it indicates plainly that not only have you not developed, but that you have not even recovered. You are regressing and inviting injury. And that is because you have done too much work (volume), or you have done work that is too hard (intensity), or you have otherwise not given yourself enough time to recover between bouts of exercise (rest). Indeed, you have done all of these things, since they are all relative and related. That is, you can do a large or intense workout, provided that you rest accordingly. Or, you can do a smaller or less intense workout, and do it more often. As your conditioning improves, you will gradually be able to work more, work harder, and work more frequently.

Keep in mind that everyone can overwork, or overtrain, and that the single greatest failing of elite athletes is not doing too little, but doing too much.

So, I recommend that you either reduce the volume of your training bouts, from four sets to two sets, for example, or increase your rest from four days to one week. You are gaining nothing (very clearly) by training beyond your current ability to recover. And I strongly recommend that you read as much as you can about the concept of supercompensation.

I hope that helps.

  • That's a really well-written answer, thank you a lot. I used to train 16-20 sets per session (so 32-40 sessions per week per body part). After some google search, I found out that this is not the correct way to train. May be that was my mistake.
    – Amr
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 12:22
  • I should mention that there is no single "correct" way to train, but only better and worse ways to train based upon your goals, session types, and level of conditioning. The volume that you describe above (16-20 sets per session, 2 sessions per week) might be perfectly achievable for a highly trained athlete. But if you are not recovering, and if you are not improving, it is a clearly too much.
    – POD
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 5:16
  • It is worth noting, also, that it is hard to under-train, provided that you are training regularly and with the correct intensities (speeds, loads, power, ...) Regularity and consistency are key.
    – POD
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 5:20

Recovery is just like strength or endurance, it can be trained.

Consider some GPP workouts to increase your recovery. I don't like mainstream workouts for beginners because they don't consider the fact that actual beginners not only lack strength but they also lack endurance and recovery.

A trained adult can workout multiple times a day 7 days out 7 with no problem, after all, human muscles are built to work 24h with no end (the things keeping you breathing are muscles)

So when you start training you should first focus on overwhelming your resistance to fatigue in a progressive way.

Start training once every 7 days, then once every 5 days and so on until you find your perfect spot, and you will see that after that you will be able to actually progress and not get weaker after each workout.

A good GPP workout to build up some recovery can be anything that makes your heart rate go up and your muscles scream in pain.

Burpies can be a good idea, and also farmer walks are excellent. Do them for one hour or more, don't count reps or sets... Just keep going until you literally can't no more, then rest and repeat until the hour has passed.

Do that two or three times and your body will start adapting, then you can go back to your actual workout which will seem incredibly easy in comparison and that's the exact point of GPP.

  • Thank you for your answer.
    – Amr
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 12:22

Here is a simple idea no one's mentioned yet - are you eating enough? do you ever track your calories and macros? Before being concerned with antioxidants, make sure you have your protein/carb/fat intake sorted. Use an app like myfitnesspal to make sure you are at least hitting your daily caloric needs, although a caloric surplus is needed to build muscle and raw strength beyond neural adaptation.

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