Can't Handle Any Volume with Heavy Weights

Hey, im just wondering if im the only one with such shit genetics for strenght.
So first thing - i am not natural, in fact, i am enhanced for more than 14 years. I have been brutally lean @ 220lbs as a fighter, but for a year now im trying to build up size and strenght. I am around 260lbs now, goal is around 280lbs. Slowly building up my strenght(mostly doing 531) but what i notice is that my body cant handle big weight. I train with weights EOD and do cardio and HIT on the other days.
As soon as i do a few tripples of 90% the downfall starts - my CNS gets fcked, i get all moody, dont wanna lift(even tho lifting is my favourite thing) my libido goes down even tho i am on test and tren and different other overtraining signs.

So what im looking for are people like me who maybe also have bad recovery and i just want you to share HOW you train with low volume to be able to progress and not feel like an impotent piece of crap most of the days.
Lately it seems for me that i cant even do extra arm work - all i can hanlde is the top set of 531, then a few tripples of 80% or a few singles of 90% of my max - and then VERY limited accessories, like maybe 2 sets of pullups and maybe 2-3 sets of some 3x10 work on some goodmorning after squats, or lunges after deads, or incline bench after overheadpress…

It sounds like your issue is handling INTENSITY: not volume. The issue happens when you’re working in the 90% range: why not work at a lower percentage then?

My bro-science theory is that your muscles have outpaced your connective tissues as a result of being enhanced for so long, so you have the ability to dig VERY deep into your own recovery compared to someone that was not enhanced.


Because the goal is to increase my max and if i dont touch anything above 90% my maxing ability lowers…
I did only 531 for a while and i could rep like a mofo, my training max was increasing etc, but i couldnt do my calculated max because i had no skill for 1 rep max. I need to hold at least 90% in my hands once a week on BIG4 to be able to max once a month. Otherwise i feel shaky… If my biggest weight on Squats are like 95% out of 90%, then if i do true 100% im all wobbly like a spit in the wind, im all shaky and unstable. If i do at least 90% out of my max a bit, i feel much stronger when i improve my max.

this is definetly true… but my maxes arent even that good for my size… im 260 with some fatman abs and my bench is only 360 and dead is 530… i mean, if i would dead like 650 i would understand this problem but i am maybe an intermediate at strenght levels…

i even invested in HGH in hopes it would help… my body does not feel broken anymore but the CNS issues remain…

Wait, is your goal to increase your max is your goal to PEAK your max? Those are two different things. Your max will increase with an accumulation phase, which is LOW intensity with high volume. When a competition comes up, you’ll run intensification, which will help improve your ability to handle max percentages, but the strength is being BUILT during the accumulation.

I haven’t powerlifted in about a decade, but as a strongman competitor, I only touched heavier percentages about 6 weeks out from a competition. Otherwise, I kept it light. You’ll see something similar from the guys with longevity. Maxing outside of comp is for instagram.


My goal is to get to where i want to get strenghtwise, but its not for competition. As a professional fighter and a combat instructor i have had my share of adrenaline and now im not interested in any of that. Im getting close to my mid 30s and i just want it for myself. But still, i want that 660 deadlift and stuff. And i would want to be able to max at least once a month and see where i am at. Or is that impossible? I am a beginner in this sport, so maybe im just asking for the impossible?

Once a month maxing is VERY frequent maxing.

You’re running 5/3/1, so try like this: run 2 cycles without any sort of maxing. That will run you 6 weeks of training. Run a 1 week deload/7th week protocol. For your next 3 weeks, use 3/5/1 as your set up. On the 3s and 1s week, do joker sets IF you feel good. Don’t max: work up to a heavy triple on the 3s and a heavy single on the 1s. And if you don’t feel good, just go for rep PRs. Then deload after those 3 weeks and repeat.

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Ok, i really didnt know that. I will keep that in mind.

Looks like a nice plan.
But when do i try for my max?

See if you can manage this first. You’ll be lifting heavy on those 1s weeks.

that shouldn’t be true. Most of the strongman competitors and powerlifters I know, especially the ones that compete at the highest levels, don’t do much of their training at 90%. Some don’t do any, until they are peaking for a show/comp.

Yea that’s a problem, and should actually indicate to you that your training needs a major overhaul.

exactly. Nobody who’s successful in the strength-world does this. Most good coaches I know don’t want their clients touching a max EVER outside of competition. They very rarely use true maxes in training.


I too must agree with the others. I used to max out HELLA frequently. Upwards of twice a week. Mostly just due to me he being overly excited to test my strength.

I’ve only ever competed once, and played it entirely too safe, because…idk…once I stepped on that platform I became overly anxious.

But, aside from that, my gym numbers were hella high. PRs included. As of now I don’t even go anywhere near a true 1RM. I did perhaps 2 months ago, and once again, got anxious and played it overly safe, leaving what felt like maybe 25-30 extra pounds off the bar.

My training now is quite different from what it once was. My working sets are quite up there, but I made it a point to get the working sets up there.

I can understand, and relate to that feeling of wanting to constantly test how strong you’re getting. However it’s quite easy to burn yourself out doing that, and greatly impede your recovery.

First thing first though, I’d suggest you kind of keep an eye on your weight. I understand weight moves weight, however there’s plenty of “usual” circumstances where you just don’t have to weigh as much as you think you do. I understand you’re quite tall at 6’ 2” though.

Instead, as other advanced folks here have said, don’t try to force in so much intensity (concerning your percentages). I think you’d do exceptionally well getting stronger on working sets. It might suit you well to not even go past 75…maaaaaaaybe 80% on your lifts? For like…a good while. If you’re steadily getting stronger on your working sets, or even handling more and more weight at certain points in time concerning volume, there’s a good chance your 1RM, 90+, and 85+ percentages are definitely going to go up. Considering they’re all related/effected/whatever other word you wanna use.

5/3/1 is freaking great, but I wouldn’t see any harm doing different training setups for a while. There’s Upper/Lower splits, PPL (along with many variations), Westside (also with a few variations), building the Monolith (which is like all the Pwnisher ever talks about on here…well mostly lol), etc.

I’d also suggest maybe toning this down a looooooot. And perhaps even taking away one day of the EOD weight training you do. Wouldn’t see anything wrong with doing something like 3-4 days a week with weight, one day dedicated to cardio or HIT. I say “or” because it might be of benefit for you to prioritize one over the other for sake of your strength pursuits.

I take it you’re not focused on competing or anything, so I’d definitely encourage revising some things, even trying new things, or just…incorporating bits and pieces here and there.

I’m speaking in very general terms because there’s a bunch of things you can do. I’d say it’s up to you as the individual. So long as you can adhere to pretty straightforward principles concerning training, I think you’ll keep progressing.

Also…how’s your diet looking? Could also be something in there that could stand do be fixed…even if it’s a little bit?

How’s your sleep schedule? Work schedule? Any stressors?

@T3hPwnisher @flipcollar - thanks for good advice, i will definetly keep that in mind when planning my training after i take a week off now…

In one of the books, Wendler has this supplemental variation of BBB, but it was 5x5 at 80%, 5x3 at 90% and 5x1 at TM(which is true 90%). I would like to add this - 5x5 on 5s week, 3x3 on 3s week and 5x1 on 1s week… Would this be ok? Wendler oftem mentions that TM should be doable for 3 good reps and also there is a Deload variation in which you build up to 1xTM so i take that 1xTM is not something awful in his mind.

Lets say, my main work is 531 top set and after that i just add 5x5 or 5x3 or 5x1 and then just do some pullups on upper day and abs on lower day - would you say this is ok, or i should never even touch my Training Max?

531 is great, I"m all for this. A lot of people go too heavy on 531 because they mistake their training max for a true max. As you mentioned, all the percentages are based off of a TRAINING max, which is about 90% of your true max. So all your working sets keep you well below a true 90%. Once you get to the ‘5x1 TM’ week, your actual max will likely have increased, so even this session ends up being done at less than 90%.


so that 5x1 of TM(90% of max) is ok? it wouldnt be overtraining? so basically 5x1 at TM is the heaviest one should go, right, and no more that 1 rep?
cuz technically i can do my TM for 3x3 but that one kills me :smiley:

Jumping on here late, but without getting caught up in percentages (because I never paid them any mind anyway),…

I found that I was able to handle more work when I figured out:

  • Every set doesn’t have to kill you. If you’ve been doing this long enough, you know when you’ve reached those “these are the quality reps that are making things happen!” point in a set.

  • Rest as long as you need between sets. Basically until you know you can attack your next set hard enough that it will be productive.

  • Don’t worry about the clock, and leave your phone in your gym bag. You being off the grid for an hour or two shouldn’t ruin anyone’s day

  • Drink something. Some people love workout “nutrition”, others don’t notice a difference. Maybe it’s partially mental, maybe it’s partially effective, who knows? I just know that I feel better sipping something cold, and keeping me feel ready to go hard at my next set.

  • I made my best gains sticking around 5-8 reps on most movements. With that in mind, I found that doing 6 sets of 5 good reps worked better for me that 3 sets of 10. That meant more time between sets, and more time at the gym, but I was very rarely run down, or felt completely spent.

Obviously this is through my personal experience goggles, but if it helps it helps. If not, then I get a point for another useless reply :slight_smile:



If you’ve just gotta strong itch to move heavy iron, a westside BB style approach could work. It’ll let you max once for lower and once for upper a week. Think of working up to your max in your movement that you rotate every 1-3 weeks as 3 attempts working up to a new max. If you want a deep understanding of the ME than I don’t think there’s a better book than The Max Effort Method by Wendler. It’s only 10 bucks and there’s more to it than just learning about the ME. One of the biggest tips that helped me with this method is taking the max NOT psyched up.

For more generalized strength that carries over to athletics, I like Defrancos Westside for Skinny Bastards. That’s not to say Louie can’t make a person athletic and strong, he’s trained plenty of athletes other than PLers, just out of the templates that are available online I think Defrancos is more accessible in understandability and just easier to find info for in regards to athletics and non-PLing recreational lifters.

Cant do Westside as i am in a place thats been locked down for a year, and i have my own small gym that only has a bench, rack and barbell… as far as i know, westside calls for variation and lots of it?

Will definetly look into Wendler book you mentioned - i love Wendler.

Change your stance, change your grip width, buy some bands for couple of bucks, high bar squat, low bar squat, good mornings, add pauses, get a pool noodle or the like and do “board presses”, it’s not difficult to think of variations. Or let the experts do it for you: Google “230 Max Effort Variations You Can Do With 1 Bar”. I assume I’m not allowed to link to this article, but it isn’t hard to find.


You can throw in singles at just below/just above 90%. It’s a challenging enough lift to maintain feel for singles but not challenging enough to destroy you

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That book if you look into enough will definitely give you enough ideas to work around those “limitations”.

I mean… isn’t a standing press radically different from a bench press? Isn’t a Zercher squat very different from a snatch grip deadlift? Even without specialty bars, or building a box for squats, you still have a ton of options.

I know Louis has a hard on for box squats but that’s not to say you can’t get a lot out of the rest of the system without them and you can still use your bench to some benefit. It doesn’t sound like your PLing so it doesn’t seem like it would matter much that your not squatting to parallel if your using a bench to squat to and nothing wrong with free squats imo. If ME free back squats are an issue for recovery for which box squats are good for, fronts and zerchers help with that issue too.

Try pre exhaust. As a 46 year old gym rat with a stressful job, recovery is an issue. Starting to do that more since high % kinda wrecks me now. Can still lift it but have to be smarter when.

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