T Nation

Experienced But Weak (If That Is Possible?!)


#1

Hello T Nation!

Before I get down to business, let me say this: I know that I am weak as fuck considering how many years I have spent in the weight room. So there is no need to tell me. I know it and I want to change it, that is why I am here.

A little bit about me: I am 25 years old, between 6' 3" and 6' 4", 231 lbs thereof 23 to 27 % being body fat. In addition to my height I have a wingspan of 6' 7" and an inseam of 3'.
I was about 15/16 when I went to the gym the first time, shortly after I also started to play basketball. Prior to that I was a chubby kid spending a lot of time playing video games and eating bad foods.

By the time I was 19/20 years old I was a quite good athlete (at least for my standards) despite my low strength levels. Things became tricky when I started to study sports and training science back in 2010.
To make a long story short, I am a pretty knowledgable guy but I have problems programming workout routines for myself.

Furthermore I am a perfectionist which does not make things easier. My mind is totally fucking things up for me. I actually hired a strength and conditioning coach a few years back so that I do not have to deal with the programming. I made some progress but was not really satisfied with it. Since then my training has been an absolute mess. In the hopes of finally getting something I created this topic.

My goal for the next few weeks is to cut some body fat while maintaining strength and muscle mass. I want to get back into the 10 to 15 % range. I know what I want to do diet-wise but training is giving me a hard time. What seems to work for me quite nicely are shorter workout sessions (45 minutes) and lower frequency (once a week). But I am open to other parameters. I just want to be successful.

Last but not least, my personal records...
Deadlift, clean grip: 286 lbs, 1 rep
Low bar squat: 235 lbs, 1 rep
Bench press, powerlifting style: 224 lbs, 1 rep
Military press: 114 lbs, 1 rep
Chin-ups: body weight (at about 205 lbs), 9 reps
Pull-ups: body weight (at about 205 lbs), 5 reps

Regards

Rectus Femoris


#2

Welcome,

First of all, the main issue I see is that you think a program is going to be the key to success. It isn’t. Consistency and effort are the key. You could follow any half decent program and make great gains if you do it consistently and put in extreme effort. Or you could have the all time holy grail of training programs and still be weak and look like balls if you aren’t attacking it hard every day.

You seem to fall under the all to familiar umbrella of guys who have read/learned “too much” about lifting for their own good. Overthinking the iron game is a very common mistake now that information is so readily available on the Internet.

So you want a program where you only lift for 45 minutes and only hit muscle groups once a week? To me that says “I don’t want to lay cert long or very often.” I could be taking that wrong but that’s the way it comes across.

Anyway, get on any beginner program, give it 100% effort every day without missing a session and in 3 months I guarantee you’ll be a lot better off than you are now bud.


#3

First you need to accept that this is a slow journey where commitment and consistency trumps everything. Anything that pushes against that will destroy you.

Do a simple program like starting strength or strong lifts, they have apps so you don’t even need to think about your weights (including deloads).

Start with an empty bar and all. Consider that your dues for your dumbarsery. Don’t be worried about the start point or the slow progress - you’ll be 5 repping that RM that took you 10 years to hit in 3 months


#4

gregron, tsantos

First of all: Thanks for the advice, guys! And gregron, your transformation is absolutely amazing, respect!

I agree that consistency and effort are the most important variables. I definitely lack consistency but can not say so about effort. Everytime I decide to follow a certain workout routine or diet I give 110 %. Unfortunately I have always found something to be wrong with my workout routines which has lead to inconsistency.

I also agree that overthinking the iron game is a common mistake. Actually I think it is the worst that can happen to anyone playing this game.

About the 45 minutes a workout and once per week frequency: This is just something I have found to be working in terms of making progress, meaning adding weight to the bar. An example for a workout like this: 5 x 5 squats, 4 x 10 leg curls. Taking every single set to failure or very close to it, I think one should not be doing this three times a week. Maybe you can do it with the leg curls. But squats? Of course this also depends on the individual.
I also like some of the principles of Max-OT and Big Beyond Belief.

gregron: “I don’t want to lay cert long or very often”. Can you explain this for me? English is not my first language. :slight_smile:

Regarding the beginner programs: I actually tried Mark Rippetoe’s programs. After two and a half weeks of Starting Strength it started to irritate my knees. Mentally it was tough as well. I guess I trained with the intensity being too high.

I am just having a hard time finding a good mix of intensity, volume and frequency. Especially since the definition of intensity is very squishy. I love this article by Tim Henriques:

Regarding frequency, this is another great one by him:

Routines based on frequency can be very tricky for more experienced lifters, in my opinion. I feel like I should go with high intensity (according to Henriques), get sufficient volume for improving strength and muscle growth and then frequency will take care of itself.

I am thinking about a 3 day split set up like this:

Day 1: Legs (high bar squat, leg curl/stiff leg deadlift, hanging leg raise)
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Pull (wide grip row, pull-up/chin-up, curls)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push (bench press, shoulder press, overhead extension)
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Repeat

Or a 5/6 day split set up like this:

Day 1: Abs or rest (Hanging leg raise, some rotation exercise)
Day 2: Trapezius, chest (wide grip row, bench press
Day 3: Glutes, quadriceps, (abs) (high bar squat)
Day 4: Latissimus, shoulders, (pull-up, shoulder press)
Day 5: Hamstrings, (abs) (stiff leg deadlift)
Day 6: Arms (curls, overhead extension)
Day 7: Repeat

Like you guys said, consistency and effort are the most important varibles. I think either of the two routines above would help me achieve it. How much volume do you think is needed on such routines? Usually I would go with something like 4 to 5 sets per exercise and reps between 5 and 10.

Kind regards

Rectus Femoris


#5

#6

You claim that your numbers are weak in relation to your efforts then claim that short, infrequent workouts work best. No offense, but you don’t know what works for you and your numbers are quite low. I’d recommend a 4 day upper/lower split focused on progression with some conditioning thrown in at the end of 3-4 of those sessions. This site has literally hundreds of programs that fit that description. Do that and don’t eat like an idiot and you’ll wind up where you’re trying to go.


#7

[quote]Rectus Femoris wrote:

Regarding the beginner programs: I actually tried Mark Rippetoe’s programs. After two and a half weeks of Starting Strength it started to irritate my knees. Mentally it was tough as well. I guess I trained with the intensity being too high.

Rectus Femoris[/quote]

Seriously, you tried starting strength for three weeks and then gave up. Because you were “too intense”, yeah right. I think you’re just weak minded and delusional about yourself. You could have just taken some weight off the bar and continued, but oh no my poor knees, so lets immediately drop the program, it must be the program. And it couldn’t have been the exercises because, as you claim, you’re experienced with those, I think you’re just a quitter.
It’s obvious from your posts that you’re not knowledgeable about training. The only positive thing I see is that you realize you need to change, but then you’re resistant to that.
You’ve had some great advice so far, now it’s time to do something with it and not whine and excuse yourself. I would advice you pick a beginners program (because you are a beginner), maybe do something like Paul Carter’s BaseBuilding, which has some good autoregulation aspects, and then actually stick with it and have some perseverance. Adjust intensities as needed and see a specialist if you think you have some real health issues.
If every time I had an injury or irritation and then quit my programs I would have been just like you, weak and fat. People end up weak and fat because of lifestyle and/or health issues. You live a certain way, you end up looking a certain way. Deal with reality and make the change. This isn’t debate club, this is a training forum.


#8

Umm… issue is probably with diet, sleep schedule, other lifestyle factors (stress, excessive binge-drinking), or a lack of balls…


#9

You know that you can do full-body training 6x a week and not die right?

Or that you can do upper/lower body splits 6x a week and not die either.

May not be the best for progression because of lack of good rest, but it’s good for training the lift and just knowing what good work is.

You should try it.


#10

[quote]Rectus Femoris wrote:

Regarding the beginner programs: I actually tried Mark Rippetoe’s programs. After two and a half weeks of Starting Strength it started to irritate my knees. Mentally it was tough as well. I guess I trained with the intensity being too high.[/quote]

You did it wrong. You shouldn’t be doing anywhere near your max lifts in week 2 or 3. The program should still be easy (well, moderate not easy)

Start with an EMPTY bar, go from there. What’s the fear? +360lbs in 3 months not enough for you? Take 2 steps back so you can take 5 forward. You need to establish consistency for months first.

If your knees were hurting then chances are your form was fucked, this will also help dial in your form. I would also wonder if more than once a week was smashing you because you over did the intensity, the low base will also help you build up your resilience


#11

Well, a lot of you guys said what I was getting at but in a much more blunt way.

OP, the problem isn’t the program you are or aren’t doing.


#12

You said your diet is good, but I’m skeptical. Please list your typical days meals complete w/ peri-nutrition and macros.


#13

[quote]dt79 wrote:

Nice clip. Thank you! :slight_smile:

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:
You claim that your numbers are weak in relation to your efforts then claim that short, infrequent workouts work best. No offense, but you don’t know what works for you and your numbers are quite low. I’d recommend a 4 day upper/lower split focused on progression with some conditioning thrown in at the end of 3-4 of those sessions. This site has literally hundreds of programs that fit that description. Do that and don’t eat like an idiot and you’ll wind up where you’re trying to go.[/quote]

OK, thanks for your input.

[quote]grippit wrote:
Seriously, you tried starting strength for three weeks and then gave up. Because you were “too intense”, yeah right. I think you’re just weak minded and delusional about yourself. You could have just taken some weight off the bar and continued, but oh no my poor knees, so lets immediately drop the program, it must be the program. And it couldn’t have been the exercises because, as you claim, you’re experienced with those, I think you’re just a quitter. It’s obvious from your posts that you’re not knowledgeable about training. The only positive thing I see is that you realize you need to change, but then you’re resistant to that. You’ve had some great advice so far, now it’s time to do something with it and not whine and excuse yourself. I would advice you pick a beginners program (because you are a beginner), maybe do something like Paul Carter’s BaseBuilding, which has some good autoregulation aspects, and then actually stick with it and have some perseverance. Adjust intensities as needed and see a specialist if you think you have some real health issues.If every time I had an injury or irritation and then quit my programs I would have been just like you, weak and fat. People end up weak and fat because of lifestyle and/or health issues. You live a certain way, you end up looking a certain way. Deal with reality and make the change. This isn’t debate club, this is a training forum.[/quote]

I respect your opinion. Thanks for the program recommendation, I will check it out.
Wait, what is the point of a forum other than debating different topics?!

[quote]MickyGee wrote:
Umm… issue is probably with diet, sleep schedule, other lifestyle factors (stress, excessive binge-drinking), or a lack of balls…[/quote]

Diet? At the moment my diet sucks, yes. Sleep? Nope, I get at least 8, sometimes 9 hours a day. Stress? Haha, I am a fucking undergraduate. :smiley: Drinking? I only drink water, I hate anything with alcohol in it. Balls? Hm… Maybe. I suffered from gynecomastia a few years back. Before I had surgery doctors tested my hormone levels. As it turned out my testosterone levels were slighlty below average while estrogen levels were slightly elevated. Overall nothing to worry about, though. I think my balls are not the problem.

[quote]tsantos wrote:
You did it wrong. You shouldn’t be doing anywhere near your max lifts in week 2 or 3. The program should still be easy (well, moderate not easy) Start with an EMPTY bar, go from there. What’s the fear? +360lbs in 3 months not enough for you? Take 2 steps back so you can take 5 forward. You need to establish consistency for months first. If your knees were hurting then chances are your form was fucked, this will also help dial in your form. I would also wonder if more than once a week was smashing you because you over did the intensity, the low base will also help you build up your resilience[/quote]

In combination with magick’s, this is by far the most helpful post. Thanks again, tsantos! I did not realize it at that time. I thought the fairly low volume of 3 x 5 for each lift would still allow me to lift with moderate to high intensity. Does Rippetoe mention something
about intensity in Starting Strength? If so could you please tell me the page?
What is the fear?

“Weight training components (intensity, duration, frequency) are somewhat inversely proportionate to one another (IDF). This model suggests that if one component is decreased, increasing one or both of the other components may make up for this loss. For example, by training each muscle group every 4 days instead of every 3 days (decreased frequency), the number of exercises or sets may be increased (increased duration), or the amount of weight may be increased (increased intensity). Intensity is the least forgiving of the three components, if intensity is decreased for a time, strength and muscle mass gains will likely deteriorate. Increasing frequency or duration cannot make up for a decrease of intensity. When frequency decreases to a point, detraining begins to occur and less progress can be made” - James Griffing, ExRx.net.

But I said I would welcome other parameters. But before I give it a shot: Keep in mind that I want to cut some body fat first. Would you still recommend Starting Strength and starting with an empty bar?

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
You said your diet is good, but I’m skeptical. Please list your typical days meals complete w/ peri-nutrition and macros. [/quote]

Where did I mention that my diet was good? Please quote!


#14

You should be approaching each rep with the same intensity that you would approach a 1rm.

Well, except the whole psyching yourself up with screaming and slapping yourself and inhaling ammonia and whatever other “crazy” shit people do to pysch themselves up.

When you reach the tail-end of SS, or more accurately come close to hitting a deload wall, you’ll probably feel like falling apart after doing squats.

But that is supposed to come months later, and by the time it comes you should be thinking in your head “this is only 5-10lb heavier than what I did last time, this should be easy and I should be crushing it”. And you should be frustrated that you’re not crushing it and should think of a way to crush it.


#15

In response to your response to my response (lol)… I’ll take your word on the sleep and drinking, but as somebody who himself binge drinks a few times a week… I’m going with the issue being diet or intensity (what I meant by balls, not testosterone levels)…

I am far from a genetically gifted, high-testosterone subject and I am only 4 years in, but something is very off with your progress… I would not use the term experienced…

To give you an idea, and hopefully this helps you out… I have been relatively serious about this for all 4 years of my training career, but I made really shit progress the first two (I made progress, yes, but I believe it was crap compared to what I could have been making… considering I am making the best gains of my life right now… 4 years in… and that is definitely an anomaly and can only point to very improper protocols to begin with)…

Moral of the story… yes, consistency trumps all, but sometimes we think we are doing everything right, and yet I believe small changes can reap gigantic rewards… like when I first dropped binge drinking daily, or when I finally started tracking macros… or when I finally grew a pair and decided to up my calories despite not being ecstatic with my body fat levels… I am presently 200lbs in the morning at 5’9 and seeing great strength grains with the simple addition of pop tarts (too much clean food, my diet is mostly eggs, chicken, veggies, etc.)…

Post your goddamn diet… also, there’s a good chance you can be overestimating your calories… for the first few years, it seemed like I was having a dietary revelation every few months on how I could improve things/be more accurate… maybe your counting veggies (I know that I do not)…

As a point of reference, protein is at 1.5, fats are at roughly 30%, and carbs are cycled with I think an average of around 320g at the moment… I am very inactive with a 9-5, not much activity outside of gym and I only do cardio to account for drinknig calories… so it is what it is…

I think I got derailed for a bit, but my overall point is that you must never assume everything is dialed in… there is always room for improvement… in your case, probably mad room… /rant… lol


#16

your knee issues are likely caused by valgus collapse, which is quite easy to remedy.

Do some side lying clams and fire hydrants in your warm up. Makes sure you get a good burn in them glutes.


#17

By your own admission, you bounce around from program to program after as little as three weeks and your diet sucks… and you wonder why your progress, physique and strength levels are sub par?


#18

You could try paying someone to coach you, once you spend money you are more likely to follow the program. Or you could just man up


#19

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
You could try paying someone to coach you, once you spend money you are more likely to follow the program. Or you could just man up[/quote]
He already said he hired a coach and stopped after a few weeks :confused:


#20

[quote]Rectus Femoris wrote:

Wait, what is the point of a forum other than debating different topics?!

Rectus Femoris[/quote]

Change starts with (self)awareness AND acknowledgment of that awareness.
For a beginner like you it means acknowledging your reality that you’re weak, fat, not an experienced lifter, not knowledgeable about training and that you’re too busy defending your ego instead of making the changes necessary.

What you need to do is “empty your cup” because right now it’s filled with nonsense. Take the advice given and start a beginners program, post it on the beginners forum together with a diet. Post the occasional update and listen to feedback that might be given. Do this IF you want to change from weak and fat to strong, lean and healthier. Forget about what you thought you know about training (and diet) because it’s not been working for you.

You could have already done just that but you probably haven’t, which is your problem.
It’s much easier giving advice to someone that actually lists what they’ve started to DO with updates on how things are GOING as opposed to someone that wants to talk about it and talk about it and talk about it.
So let’s talk about training and diet, what are you doing right now?