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I'm Failing On Madcow Badly

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Hi, this is my first time posting, and am I suppose to just reply to the thread under Madcow Failure or can i start a new one? Pardon my ignorance of forum etiquette.

With that out of the way, I should talk about the topic at hand.


Here are some statistics of me to help with the assessment I hope?


I have been training since the first quarter of 2013, but everytime i was peaking well, something came along. In 2013 i was down with dengue, and in 2014 i went on a ketogenic diet and loss weight too fast lol. In 2015 i'm not sure as to what is the cause hence the reason for this post.


Age:18 going to be 19 in October of 2015

Height: 178cm/5"8

Weight: 81.3kg/179lbs

Lifts as of the month of March


Bench: 80kg/176lbsx5


These reps and sets are from the most recent workout, and the figures are weird beccause the gym I am going to uses metric iron plates.


Previous best in February(Peaking well), mid-february 2015

Squats: 140kg/308lbs (belted)x5

Bench: 90kg/198lbs x5

Deadlifts: 155kg/341lbs(belted)x5


Before leading up to the month of March, I did a modified version of Madcow which I modified myself, instead of training three times a week, I trained 5 times a week, my splits look something like this

Monday:                   Tuesday:              Wednesday:                 Thursday:                Friday:

Squats                      Overhead Press   Deadlifts                       Bench Press            Squats

Bench Press             Dumbbell Press    Stiff-Legged Deadlifts   Close-Grip Bench    Overhead Press

Close Grip Bench     Pec-Flyes             Pull-ups                         Pull-ups                   Pendlay Rows

JM press                  Bicep Curls

Pull-ups                    Pendlay Rows


Diet: I live in southeast-asia, specifically Singapore, more of rice and noodles than meat, but I still get my protein in, tons of milk meat and eggs available here, but i usually eat out and it's more of rice and noodles then meat.

I've also been on intermittent fasting to cut some weight ever since February, I train fasted and only eat after training and at dinner, i don't count my calories or macros.


In February, my strength levels were really great, however, I came down with a fever at the end of February, I did not train for 4 days and lost about a kilogram in that time span. I continued intermittent fasting and was in a caloric deficit, and i lost another kilo and was 81kg in March. In March, my strength was the complete opposite of the previous month. I was missing my previous best in all the lifts despite taking multiple deloads.


On 23rd of March, I could only manage a 140kg/308lb squat belted for one rep, which was grindy and I even needed help to finish the lift, my bench was also suffering, although it was a conserved effort of 80kg/176lbs for 5, it moved slowly.


Today, on the 26th of March, I was suppose to do deadlifts, and i only could do 145kg/319lbs for a double

I then decided to do 135kg/297lbsx5 which i thankfully manage to hit (bodyweight was 81.3kg gym weight for both of these days)

(This week of training was after a deload week of active recovery)


As you can see, the drop in my strength is quite drastic when compared to the month of February!!


At this juncture, I am not sure as to what is causing the failure, therefore, I was inclined to post it here in the hopes of finding wisdom in one of the many veterans or fellow trainees here.


I've narrowed down my possible reasons for my stalled progress:

1. Overtraining and not enough recovery due to the 5 Day split the previous month

2. The rapid weight loss of 2kg in 2 weeks, i'm still sitting at 81 kilos as compare to the previous months 83kilos

3. Going on a caloric deficit on madcow


If anyone could shed some light on my situation it would be great!

I'm planning to work my way back up about 6 weeks back from my previous best at this point of time

Thank you for taking the time to read!


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Prolly not one or two. If you went on intermittent fasting in February and your lifts started to decline after that, it's probably the reason. It's not necessarily the weight loss, but being in an energy deficit. If you're not eating enough you're gonna feel crappy and get weaker.

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I would say all three

Madcow is a hard effing program already, and this is Madcow + extra exercises + extra training days on a deficit with rapid weightloss

that is tons and tons of extra exercises / volume with no caloric surplus

And it's not really a split, either, every day except tuesday is a full body day

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Madcow was designed to get high school American football players ready for the season in as short a period of time as possible.  It requires being able to sleep well, eat with abandon, and have a pretty stress free life.


It appears your goals are in conflict with the program you chose, but I'm still a bit unclear as to what your primary goal is right now.  The biggest challenge right now is that you need to gain more lean mass.  Can't remember which coach I was reading, but he had a ratio he wanted his athletes to hit:

  • First goal: Lean Body Mass of 2.75 x Height in inches.  This should be possible within the first 2-3 years of training if you make it a goal you work towards.
  • Ultimate goal: Lean Body Mass of 3.5 x Height in inches.  This would be for an elite strength athlete.  Not everyone can attain this.
  • Body Fat% goal: 10-15%

Given the fact you are 68" (5'8") your first goal should be to increase your lean mass to 187 lbs (85 kg).  If you keep 10-15% body fat during that process your final total body weight should be somewhere between 207 lbs (94 kg) and 220 lbs (100 kg).


Trying to lose weight on a program like this, particularly with the added features is a recipe for failure.  You only have so much recovery available to you.  A common analogy is that each exercise you do fills up your recovery capacity reserves, like pouring water into a cup.  There's a hole in the bottom of the cup, and this represents sleep and eating and represents how quickly your body gets rid of the exercise stress.  You either need to make a bigger cup, or a bigger hole in the cup you have.


Adding to your lean mass is one way of making a bigger cup.  However, you can make yourself recover more quickly by essentially making a bigger hole in the bottom of the cup.  You do this by adding reps with the same weight week after week for a while, and then when you go back down to the old volume you were doing, you can progress further.


As an example, let's see how that would look with your deadlifts.  One day a week you would do deadlifts at your 5RM:

  • 155 kg 3x1
  • 155 kg 4x1
  • 155 kg 5x1
  • 155 kg 5x2
  • 155 kg 5x3
  • 155 kg 1xAMAP

After all that's done, you go to 160x5 and build up from there.  You would do the same types of things with the other lifts, but there would be more reps involved overall.  Notice you aren't increasing weight, just the number of reps you can do with that weight.  That will get you a bit further, and you'll likely have to reapply that approach later.


I do think you are cutting when it's unnecessary.  If you increase your weight slowly, you can maintain a lean look and add mostly lean mass.

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Thank you all for your replies. Yeah, the caloric deficit on madcow was a stupid move on my part, plus the adding in of additional exercises(should stick with the damn program). I was on a caloric deficit as I am enlisting in the army as part of compulsory national service in May, and I cannot exceed a weight of 85kg as they use a BMI calculator to determine if you are overweight or not. I would be relegated to the overweight training program which is more lengthy and they force you to be in a deficit in order to lose the "excess" weight.


My goal on madcow for this season was to linear progress on my lifts until May on a caloric deficit, after reading your replies, that is a unrealistic goal. I'll probably be eating more now don't think i can gain 4 kg in a month lol.


Thanks FerrousMaverick, didn't know about the lean body mass part, I shall work towards that in the future as well as the input on the recovery capacity reserves, read Mike Tuscherer's article on increasing volume capacity, but never really knew how to put it into practice.


Thanks everyone for your replies!!!!

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