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Ex-Competitive Lifter Who's Lost All His Confidence. Need Advice

You would, wouldn’t you?

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I really wish it was as simple as this, if it was- I wouldn’t be asking. The mind is a powerful hurdle to overcome- the fact I’ve identified the problem and working on it is a start. But take people with extreme phobias for example- there’s a popular one on YouTube of a bodybuilder type guy being absolutely terrified of dogs, even really small ones- to the point where he would break down and cry just seeing one. I’d absolutely love to just man up and grind through it- and to a point I am, slowly- step by step, hence why I’m looking for advice/tips on how to do it (thank you for yours)

Thanks for this, I’ve actually been listening to nothing but political crap at the moment, I always put on podcasts before I sleep. Switching to lifting stuff would probably be a massive help- thanks! I’ve just switched on and am listening to Josh Bryant now, I’ve used visualisation stuff before in other aspects of my life- applying it to lifting might be my ticket. This comment was a great help, thanks for not being snarky

Seek the aid of a trained therapist. Don’t rely on amatuers.


You are doing yourself no favours framing your issues like this. You are putting up walls that are simply not there, most likely to protect your ego as you put so much of yourself into being a juiced up manlet.

Every thought about how far away you are from your previous bar can be challenged. By having a plan and telling yourself if you work hard and conquer small goals each month then you will get there.

But you are not doing that. Not only are you reinforcing the things that are stopping you, you are actively blowing them up so it is harder to overcome them next time.

Here is a video from someone who was setting American records as a junior, competed internationally and has taken 4 years to return to the national stage (starts at about 11 minutes)

There are other videos from him about this topic to help you along too. He’ll also reply to emails/DMs and he might just have enough empathy to put up with you.

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I’ve already explained the issue, and broken it down as a strong psychological hurdle I’m attempting to overcome, and having some success so far. It’s hard to combat the negative thoughts/regrets from the past that I’ve associated with the gym.

Yawn, I can smell the projection/dicksizing from here, there’s no need-cmon man, I’ve explained exactly why this is not an ego issue- I had no problem looking like a fat turd- it’s an issue associated with the gym and benching in particular, I’ve worked my way up to going to the gym 3x a week- I just stay away from barbell push exercises but I’ve found I can do weighted dips with no issue, likely the test is kicking in hard now (week4) and I’m feeling a lot more motivated. I took the advice given, I’ll admit maybe half of it was just me needing to man up a bit, but there was a definite cognitive issue I had to address.

My raised estrogen was likely the reason for my emotion analysation - which was a good thing- I got some good advice and FINALLY identified the root of the issue as explained. Im planning to come out the other end of this cycle with a massive bent over row, power-clean, snatch and squat and not worry too much about compound push exercises.

I had a look at the Jon anderson deep water program and I like the high volume style, although I don’t have access to some of the equipment needed like chains and hex bars, maybe there’s another program somebody could recommend?

Much appreciate to all non-toxic replies


There are no chains or hex bars needed for the program.

Whatever you found was not Deep Water.


Tbh, I don’t think the op is ready for deepwater

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No one is…



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I wished that you lived closer to me…I’d love to learn some bench press tips from someone that accomplished what you did, even if you didn’t break the record.

Sometimes if you focus on using what you have to help others that have not, you’ll realize that you have more than you think you have.


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If there’s psych components go to a counsel or psychologist or someone similarly qualified. They are best equipped to assist you. Athletes seek such services often to get out of a rut, continuing to perform at a high and level and push further.

Clarification… what do you consider toxic replies?

IMO, you should spend time training with something you like. 5x5 can be mentally draining. Do something that gets you excited to be at the gym for now. Try to also do something that results in progress as well.

Over time you can bring in more discipline too be more optimal to your goals. Training won’t always be fun, but it can be for now if that gets you back into the routine of showing up regularly.

What’s good every1, just to update I’ve been hitting the gym hard af since I’ve made this post, managed to talk a friend into getting a gym membership and we’re hitting the weights 4x a week. I’ve been doing a basic 5x5 routine Monday and Wednesday, squat- bench- barbell row then messing round with whatever muscles afterwards. Then on Friday/Saturday instead of 5x5 full body I do a higher volume Push-Pull instead. I swapped to 4 days a week instead of 3 full body days as I feel I’m not getting much out of frequency anymore and really need some more volume (getting absolutely no doms whatsoever now).

I finally found the will to get back under the bench, started with something like 60kg for a 5x5. I just worked my way up and now I’m doing around 112.5kg 5x5. I pushed 100kg for 12 reps in a new PR yesterday which felt fucking great. Although I’m ‘enchanced’ and weigh about 10kg more than I did.

Current PRs:
Squat 160kg x3
Bench 100kg x12
Deadlift 140kg x8 (not pushing it with DLs, got enough back problems as is)

I’m starting to experience slight pain around my rotator cuff and left teres-major, I guess my bones/tendons can’t keep up with the massive weight increases every session. I hopped from 60 to 100kg bench 5x5 in the space of a week, the ‘muscle memory’, noob gains from a long ass break AND Test+Tren. I’ve decided to run Smolov Jr again, this time with Squats at the same time, keeping the frequency high with the major lifts but planning to focus on high volume afterward for my lagging back.

Something like:

Monday- smolov 6x6 squat/bench, High vol Back

Wednesday- smolov 7x5 squat/bench, High vol Back

Friday- smolov 8x4 squat/bench, High vol Back

Saturday (or Sunday)- smolov 10x3 squat/bench, High Volume Deadlifts/rackpull (if I can)


Planning to make my weekly weight increments +7.5kg for Bench (RIP rotator cuffs) and +10kg for Squats. I managed 5kg increments when I was natural and around the same strength (although much lighter/leaner). Gonna run the 3 week smolov cycle and then test my 1RM afterwards.

I’m currently 7 weeks in on 500 TestE/week and around 3 weeks into adding 150 TrenE/week, only plan to run the Tren for 3 more weeks and the Test for 5 more. So far the only sides I’ve got is some acne on my chest/back, been very lucky so far so don’t want to push it with the Tren.

Thanks to all that gave advice, much appreciated, main thing that really helped me was spending hours watching youtube lifting videos for motivation, shit like Pete Rubish deadlifting.

Let me know your thoughts on running Smolov Jr on cycle and what I can do for healthier shoulders while benching heavy- after testing my 1rm (hopefully 3plates) after the smolov cycle my bench quest is complete, I won’t be chasing massive press numbers and only go for hypertrophy/higher reps or other exercises in order to save my shoulders.

I think you are going to experience the exact same thing that happened to you before.


May take a while for connective tissues to catch up. With the muscle memory drugs and training ur muscle strength comes up fast but you need to train not stupid so that u don’t injure yourself

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What do you suggest then? Not press at all? There has to be some progression at least. 5kg per week? 2.5kg?
Anyone actually know or give me some figures?

Smolov Jr is a high frequency program, and I’m planning to balance it out with as much or more horizontal rowing movements as pressing.

It’s also high volume, and moderately high intensity from memory. This may not be the droid you’re looking for.

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