Long read so please bear with me-
So, I started lifting when I was 15, just messing around at the gym- soon, me and a buddy of mine were going 5x a week and after a couple years we were throwing around some crazy weights.
I was age17, 5’8 72kg, very shredded @8%ish (I can never seem to gain fat, just genetics I guess)
Bench 1rm 137.5kg (soo close to 3 plates)
Squat 1rm 165kg
Deadlift 1rm 195kg
So I went to my first powerlifting meet, I had just run 2 back to back program ‘cycles’ of ‘smolov jr’ for bench and was feeling confident.
My bench press blew even the weight class above out the water. Managed to attain the under-18 74kg unofficial UK record for bench press (137.5kg). To make it official I had to do another meet in front of 3 officials, I went to that meet and ended up failing the lift due to a slight shoulder injury, only managing to push up 130kg which I believe was just under the record at the time.
Failing this lift and being so close to the record destroyed my confidence, I had potential sponsors/scouts watching and was a ‘rising star’ in the UK lifting scene, I was only a couple months away from turning 18 and I obvs couldn’t compete in the u18 class again. Having that all torn away made me give up powerlifting, I still did bodyweight/light dumbbell exercises at university to keep my aesthetics but just could not go to the gym , it was like a mental barrier that prevented me from getting back on that bench. Although I had always sworn to myself I’d remain natty when I reached 21 I ended up doing a couple low dose cycles of steroids (test, dbol, PH.etc) at university and did loads of calisthenics/strongman exercises- hoping that would help motivate me to get back to doing powerlifting- it didn’t. I got back into swimming and rugby and forgot about lifting altogether after my 2nd cycle.
Fast forward to june 2019, age 24, somehow despite never going above 12% bf my entire life, I found myself with no gains and a massive stomach, drinking/smoking- severely unfit and a stressful job.
I finally decided enough was enough and got a gym membership, I only went a couple times a week and could never stay for long- the mental barrier was still there and pumping iron was just impossible. So a couple weeks ago I decided to hop on a Test cycle to see if it would improve my motivation, it actually worked- I’m back to gyming 2-3x a week and being around 11% bf and every week I’m putting on a ridiculous amount of lean mass due to a combination of noob gains+ muscle memory + roid gains (pls don’t hate on me for this, I don’t plan to compete ever again)
Now i’m at around 78kg and squatting 100kg for a 5x5 and increasing the weight by 5-7.5kg each session. I’m following the stronglifts 5x5 program, but having to skip the bench/military press as the mental barrier is still there and when I try to do it: I feel like all the motivation just drains out of me and I’m flooded with shitty memories.
How do I go about getting past the mental block? I’ve done the first baby steps of going to gym, starting a clean bulk- but to go from benching 100kg (225lb) for 15 reps to barely being able to press 80kg for 5 reps is just killing me inside. Even knowing I have that extra Testosterone running through me doesn’t help (like it did with other exercises like Squats). I feel the same way when I do dumbbell press or shoulders or any push exercise really. Would really like some advice as to how I can get back to my previous level on the bench and regain my destroyed confidence.
Sorry for the long read- I promise to read and carefully consider every reply as you took the time, and sorry if I’ve upset anyone with mentioning of steroid usage, I just had to do something to force the motivation. Also- are there any alternatives to the 5x5 program somebody could recommend? When I was competitive I almost always ran full body 5x5 or the Smolov/Smolov Jr program, but now being at a much lower level as well as being on TestE I know I may have to switch things up a bit