Q: I used to be able to do 10 sets of 12 reps of a certain weight and now I can barely do 5 reps of the same weight and 4 or 5 sets of that exercise. My muscles seem to give out and I tire easily. I’ve tried taking more rest, both in my workouts and between them. Has my routine failed me? I eat 6 times a day – 3 meals and 3 whey protein shakes, which is different for me, because my mom stopped buying my food, so I had to trade out food for whey. If I were to change my nutrition back, would my strength go up?
A: We think you’re seeing how difficult it is to be an adult and buy your own food and realize your lofty bodybuilding goals. We also think that you over train voraciously! Who does 10 sets of 12 reps of any one exercise? You didn’t say how many other exercises and sets you do. Unless that’s it, in total. However, even if those are the total number of sets, say, for chest, you definitely need a lesson in training and training load. You shouldn’t train with the same weight for 10 sets! A lot going on here… We’d love to know more, but since we don’t, here’s the deal: Have you taken a break from training or that particular training routine for a while? If you haven’t, your body may be saying, “Hey, give me a damn break already!” Poor nutrition, or a change in the quality and quantity of it – both of which you describe – can really alter your results in the gym. Eating is more important than training, to be honest. Protein is important, and it sounds like you’re getting that, but you’re probably not getting the number of carbs you need to sustain yourself through that workout. so of course your strength is going to go down. You don’t talk of supplements, other than whey, but you should be using creatine or other strength-garnering products. If you are on your own with food and this is the best you can do, start at least adding fat to your protein shakes for increased energy and calories. Use flax seed oil, peanut butter (natural) or olive oil. Poor nutrition and lack of calories opens you up to injuries, particularly if you continue to try to do the same workload and your body just can’t. Take a week off, dude, and just eat and rest. Then go back and try to work up to your old level, but change something about your routine – we suggest that you try varying the weight you use in each set, so it’s not so static. Other than that, without knowing more, that’s what we suggest.
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