T Nation

Getting Really Strong for the Weak


Hello all, I've been a long time lurker on here (bout 4 years...I was directed here for nutrition information and kept coming here for the articles).

I've been a skinny weak guy most of my life with not much athletic skill (5'11" 145lbs about). I've tried lifting weights on and off but never really had consistent access to a gym so never got anywhere. Make matters worse at some point I lost my balls and decided to eat strictly vegetarian I got down to about 140lbs eating that way.

I started doing a dumbbell and body-weight routine in February of this year and switched to Stronglifts 5x5 when I got a power rack and olympic bar in my house. I really enjoy squats and deadlifts so the program seemed good enough for me.

My weight went from 150lbs-165lbs (went higher but that was fat and I lost it now)
Squat-160lbs 5x5
Bench-125lbs 5x5
Pendlay Row-125lbs 5x5
Overhead Press-80lbs 5x5
Deadlift-195lbs 1x5, 205lbs 1x1
I started with an empty barbell on everything and 95lbs on the deadlift

I've been following the program as prescribed 3 times a week mon-wed-fri I do pull-ups and pushups frequently too, just sets of 25 for pushups and 10 for pullups
Problem is I still feel weak as shit. A lot because when I got to 115lbs on the squat I racked the barbell wrong and it fell on the back of my neck.

It just bruised my spine and I was fine, but I deloaded to the empty bar again to ease my neck. My right shoulder had been bothering me from benching alone but now I have a training partner, I think that will help my pressing and rowing if my shoulder is not getting screwed from benching wrong.

Before and after I lift I stretch and warm up my hips, legs, and shoulders really well. I wasn't doing that in the beginning but now that I've been doing it for a few weeks I feel like it's helped my joints and muscles.

I haven't written a food log but I know what I eat daily here's an average day when I lift

BREAKFAST: 2eggs, ground chuck cheddar omelet 16oz of whole milk and fruit

PRE-WORKOUT: Meat (a tuna steak or pork chops) and rice with 16oz of whole milk

POST_WORKOUT: either, meat (like sirloin steak) potatoes/rice or a protein shake with whole milk ( I eat both meals just usually switch which comes first.

LUNCH: turkey sandwich with cheese and spinach on whole wheat with fruit and 16oz whole milk

DINNER: Steak, pork chops, or chicken breast, vegetables like carrots or green beans and rice or potatoes. and of course 16oz of whole milk.

I know that's not exactly specific but that's pretty much what's in my diet, I like to think I eat "clean" I don't eat junk food or many processed foods and I only drink water and milk.

That finishes my "about me" I posted that hoping someone could point out any mistakes I'm making that may not be obvious to me

As for my goals, I want to better my technique on the compound lifts I do, and use my 300lbs weight set for at least 2 exercises. I'm also trying to gain weight.

Sorry about the great length, I just wanted to be helpful in you helping me. If I missed anything let me know

Skinny guy started doing stronglifts 5x5 to get stronger went from 150lbs-165lbs
Wants to get stronger and keep gaining weight. I want to know what I could add or change to my routine, and as far as any diet issues I have.


Consistency is key.

Follow program, spreadsheet will tell you to when to go to Madcow.

Consistency is key.

Did I mention consistency?

Eat, lift and sleep. Repeat 3x a week, see you next year.

Consistency is key.

You have made gold progress so far, just keep going, but b consistent.


Thanks for reading that, I'm not eating too much meat and not enough vegetables? I can't stomach too much food so that's why the vegetables and fruits aren't getting eaten as much.

I lost the spreadsheet a long time ago, I just use my head for remembering my weights.

I'm learning about that consistency thing, turns out it really DOES work.

Also do you think I should add some dumbbell exercises after the barbell stuff to help weaker areas like my shoulders? My Overhead press was crap until my friend pointed out the ridiculous form mistake I was making (and watching a Jim Wendler video helped).


I eat a lot of ground chuck, steak, milk, and eggs. Just wondering if that's overkill. Omega3 free range eggs if that matters.


Its hard to say whether your intaking enough protein or not. You have only mentioned that you are eating "meat" at each meal and not giving a portion size. you can find that kind of info at a site like mydailyplate.com . For ease I would shoot to take in about 1 gram of protein per lb. of body weight, and as much vegetables and fruit as you can.

As a beginner you really don't need to complicate things and confuse yourself. Check out some of Nate Green's stuff, as he came from a similar background (skinny guy not sure on where his strength was to start). hope that helps


That does help thank you.
As far as meat, the portions are larger than average, I usually eat 1.5-2 times the serving size. I guess a 12oz steak would be a decent serving.


Spreadsheet is free


I know that, I just figured I would be fine just writing it down or remembering it. I'll download it again just to have on hand, but that mehdi guy still owes me an overhead press vid...

I started eating 2 more eggs a day so 4 a day, and am just trying to eat better in general and more. Hoping to have hit 225lbs on the squat by the years end. Milk eggs and steak should help!


A journal is part of being consistent.

It is pretty easy, add 5 lbs to previous lift except deadlift.

Go to the gym knowing what you are doing.


I agree with the have a plan thing.

And the consistency thing.

Thats pretty much all there is to it, it just takes time.

Oh, and if your serving size is actually respectable i.e. like 8oz or more each time, then I personally feel that this diet is better than most that are thrown up by people. And if you're having 2-3 servings of veggies or fruits each day like you say I wouldn't worry about that, for someone trying to put on weight and get stronger thats fine.


I come back with good news and bad news as far as progress goes. I got my diet nailed down a lot better and started keeping logs of what I do now.

But now my right shoulder feels like it got torn in half. I thought it was from benching, turns out and I say this quite embarrassed, it was from squatting. I'm assuming it's from doing the low-bar...too low. I feel like I made a very poor assumption of thinking on top of scapula meant literally on top of it for the bars placement.

Doing a standing press with 95lbs didn't bother my shoulder but the squats I could just feel something was off. I want to take maybe 7 or 8 days off but am hesitant because I just did that recently. I figure if pressing, rowing and deadlifts don't aggravate my shoulder I could do them and practice with the empty bar for squats in place of the usual weight. But I feel I lack the experience to know if that's the right choice.

I have a burning desire to keep lifting but also a burning pain in the shoulder telling me not to.


if it hurts, don't do it. find a way to work around it. that's what exercise variations and machines are for.

and that's why I don't like low bar squats.


I don't go to a gym, I have a power rack and olympic bar at home. I have a bunch of dumb bells too. I think if I learn the proper place on my back I can continue doing them, but any exercise done with poor form would do the same (I would think?).

If I can't lift I would still want to run and maybe body weight squats just to keep my legs from getting all stiff. Like I said I don't have much experience with strains or sprains still trying to figure out what works for me.


If at all possible, maybe join a gym. There's lots of people there that can help with some of your mistakes especially when it comes to form. Variety of machines can also help target some of your weak spots and will help bring up the weight on your bigger lifts.

The environment is also very motivating.


X2 ! Journal's are cheap. Consistency counts, so write it down.

This way you can also look back in 6 months to see where you have

been and what has been working and what has not been working for YOU!


On the injury thing have you tried front squatting? Just curious. Could be a substitution while you heal up.