T Nation

380 lbs of Weight and Still Not Ripped

I go to the gym by myself. And because I don’t have a spotter, I use the machines that use free weights. For the flat bench press (where I’m sitting up) I lift about 2-3 sets of 5 reps at 270 lbs. (that is if the machine arm is about 40 lbs). I will typically do another 2-3 sets at 240 lbs. depending on my energy level.

I also do my lower peck workout on the same kind of machines. I guess it’s called a decline bench press. But I am sitting up on this machine as well. I do 2-3 sets of 5 reps at 360 lbs. Again, that is if the machine arm is about 40 lbs. I also do another 2-3 sets at a lower weight of about 330 lbs. depending on my energy level. This last week, I lifted one set of 5 reps at 380 lbs. So I’m increasing.

I’m 46, 5’7", 155 lbs. I am hardly ripped. First, is this a good weight ratio? Second, why can’t I get ripped? What am I doing wrong?

The weight used on these machines (likely hammer strength machines) are not the same as you can lift on a free weight movement. While it is decent weight it is far from being equivalent to the real thing as far as poundage goes. I actually stopped using the decline variation (well I only did it once) because I couldn’t fit enough plates on… I actually had to add weight on the handles. Did 5 plates per side plus 25lbs on each handle. Which would be 500lbs in weight. I do not count the weight of the machine because it is insignifiant. 500 was fairly easy for 6 reps. And at the moment my bench press is not strong because of a shoulder issue. I doubt that I can lift more than 365 on the regular bench at the moment (my lifetime best is 445 on a barbell).

What I’m getting at is that you cannot determine strength based only on these machines. I trained alone for years and always did the regular bench press. The “no partner no free weight” is a weak and dumb excuse. Go to a large commercial gym and you will see plenty of guys doing free weights alone.

With those numbers I would predict something like a 195 - 205lbs x 5 real bench press. Which would be decent for your size, but nothing to write home about.

As for not being ripped… hard to say without seeing you. But my gut answer is that you just don’t have enough muscle and carry too much far. 155lbs on 5’7" is small, especially if you are not super lean (and if you were super lean you would look ripped so you likely aren’t). Lifting weights will build muscle, but being stronger doesn’t linearly correlate with more muscle size.

At 5’7" a decent amount of muscle would leave you at at least 170l-175lbs and lean enough to see abdominals. So you likely need to gain 20-25lbs of muscle and lose some fat to have the look your strive for.

It sucks to hear but sugar coating it wont do anything to help you.

How in God’s name can I know? You haven’t given me any info about your diet (the MOST important to get ripped) or your training. You mentioned the weight you use on three machines not what you do for your training plan. So how can I know what you are doing wrong if I have no idea what you are doing at all???

Igo to a powerlifting gym I know everyone get along with everyone but when it’s time to lift i throw in my head phones and go to work I prefer to lift alone always have. I get more done in less time with less distraction and i rarely if ever use machines. We have a bench made so that it has two catching arms if something would go wrong so you can roll the weight down over your belly if you fail a rep. If you don’t have a bench like this it’s very easy to set up a power rack to do the same just position the bars below your chest where the bar stops before your press. I believe TC even has an article about it. Don’t make contact with the safety bars

I regularly do 5 sets of 3 at 345 before doing some singles that’s when I look around for a spotter and if you don’t know anyone this is a good way to meet people meat heads and gym rats were always willing to spot someone and talk shop.

Now stop using that lame excuse and push some iron leave the machine work to planet fitness and their pizza and candy nights.

As far as why you can’t get ripped?

Top guesses since you didn’t say much

  1. Poor diet
  2. Poor sleep
  3. Excuse driven attitude
  4. Poor hydration
  5. Poor over all technique, knowledge, and little to no real time spent in the gym. You can live there but if you have no idea what your doing or how to create that muscle mind connection then you might as well be a speed walker at the Olympics

Excellent post!!!

I live out in the country, and lift alone. I built a home made power rack to bench/squat in. It’s not rocket science. It always boils down to… How bad do you want it?

You just don’t have a clue that’s why.

Why can you get ripped?

Because it’s tough and you’re doing it wrong.

Do what everyone’s saying in this thread and you have a fighting chance. The clock is against you though at 46 (just being honest). But you can still make major progress.

Like CT said, you need more muscle. At least 20lbs of lean mass, before you should even consider trying to get ripped.

Get off the machines. Get on a proven strength building program. 5/3/1 boring but big would be good for your goal.

Good luck.

If you are worried about benching without a spotter, use the dumbbells instead. Then all you have to do is drop them to the sides if you get in over your head. Personally, I rarely do drop them, because I don’t want to damage them or the floor, but that requires staying within a certain range of weight of heavy but controllable, which you will discover on your own.

In training, why would you try a rep without being 95% confident of hitting it?