T Nation

Im Stuck??

I’ve not posted in a year or so but have read this site regularly within that time.

Since I was last posting, I’ve gained about 20-25 pounds (with some fat) and stayed at about 18-22% BF during that time.

Currently I’m about 182 at maybe 19%BFa at 34 years old.

I didn’t start to eat big until about September of last year…started at about 3500/day now I’m at 4100 each day.

When I started out training (about 7 years ago), I did it all wrong…and continued that way until about September of last year.

Of course, this is when my gains (size) started to come…(begin sarcasm) gee, ya think that’s the reason? (end sarcasm).

Boy was I screwed up before that, huh?

When I originally started (7 years ago), I could barely benchpress 65 pounds for 10 reps. Squat was ok at about 250 for 10 reps (strong quads due to Martial Arts), and never deadlifted.

Well…here I am, 7 years later at:

Bench: 1-2 reps at 225
Squat: 3-5 reps at 315
Deadlift: 1 rep at 375

I know that’s crappy…and I feel I’ve wasted too much time (I’m ‘past my prime,’ so to speak).

But I’m stuck now. Nothing is budging any higher.

Yes, I change set/rep schemes. I’ve done TBT, HSS-100, ABBH I/II, Pyramids, Supersets…so many things.

Now…I can’t help but think I have some crazy imbalances (I know I have a MASSIVE anterior pelvic tilt).

EC’s article today made me think about things.

My goals are to get stronger…I agree with EC that eating big and lifting heavy=getting bigger…so I’m only focusing on strength.

BUT…I don’t have a gym that caters to strength (I currently live/work in Asia)…and (no offense to the BB’s here) they only care about aesthetics out here. I’m not slamming on aesthetics…but it’s not the primary goal for me now.

Therefore, I have no training partners (no one even deadlifts out here and they gather around to watch me do 375 and nod in approval…). No one wants to train like I do.

The gyms are ok…pretty basic but have enough stuff (dumbells, however, all stop at about 65 lbs…no higher). No fluff, though.

I’m guessing that there is perhaps some weaknesses in my body that are preventing me from going further…can anyone suggest ways to find what the weak(er) links are so that I can progress?

Thank you for any help.

Trailblazer

Well based on the info noted… guess you don’t do much other work besides those 3… lifts? It would be helpful if you noted other info but…

Bench :

How often do you switch your rep style and number of sets?

How many variations per chest workout do you do?

  • Do you do Incline work?
  • Do you do Decline work?
  • Do you do dumb-bell bench pressing with variations
  • Do you do dumb-bell flies incline/decline/flat?
  • Do you ever do eccentric work?
  • Do you vary your grip ?
    ** Read HSS-100 Chest

** Have you tried nickel or dime workout? pyramiding 1 -> 10? Westside style? etc?

*** What about rows? Do you do a lot of different rows and of course ( barbell rows? ) Pull-Ups? Pull-Downs?
*** What about shoulder press and military press?
*** Maximum reps on unweighted dips?
*** Stats on weighted dips?

— What I’m making you aware of is that based on the fact you only mentioned 3 lifts and your maxes… it doesn’t seem like your really doing much to promote more growth. The term is like working [muscle A] by not actually focusing on [muscle A]. Bench increases can occur if you boost your triceps, shoulders, back.
**** frontal shoulders that is.

Squat - What do you do normally for legs? how often do you work them out? Do you ever just take a few days off or even a week to let them recover?

** Have you tried other forms, such as doing the full hams to calve squats?
** Have you tried front squats?
** Jefferson squats?
** Leg Press?
** Sissy leg press
** Frog Press?
** Have you tried adding in a sprinter workout?
** Have you tried 1 legged squats from a bench - unweighted ? Have you tried weighted 1 legged squats from the same position? (dumbell/kettlebell)


I think a big thing to note is you don’t really mention or show even a sample workout log, or eating log… Oh and using one of the HSS specializations, those promote growth afterwards but I think it also depends on what your normal workouts are like afterwards… o.O


Deadlift :

Do you do good mornings??
Deadlift strength can also be increased with squat growth see above for more info.
Also linked to back strength, etc. Deadlift employs a lot of muscles… But the first thing I think of when I think of increasing DL strength is good mornings and squats, oh and if you raise your db pressing high enough you can turn moving those heavy ass dmbbells into mini 1-2 rep dumbell dls


I just think… there is a lot you haven’t said that could provide a better picture ~ it’s hard to really help out other then give vague general statements like I’ve just splattered in response to your post.

But I suggest if you want the others to help you definately want to get to writing a lot more detailed stuff.

It’s what you’re not saying or not paying attention to that is the problem perhaps.

Wow, what an awesome reply. Thanks. now let me try to answer each of your points. Hopefully I can get the quotations correct.

[quote]kinein wrote:
Well based on the info noted… guess you [quote]don’t do much other work besides those 3… lifts? It would be helpful if you noted other info but…[/quote]

Currently I’m finishing phase 4 of HSS-100. I’m 2 weeks from completion. So right now is a body part split. Before I “fixed my ways,” I was doing TBT-type training. Does that answer your question?

[quote]Bench :

How often do you switch your rep style and number of sets? [/quote]

every 4-6 weeks

right now 4-5

yes

not really as my lower chest is more developed than my upper chest.

Only if the exercise is higer reps (the DB’s in EVERY gym in this town only go to 65lbs.).

Absolutely.

Yes

No…never thought about it. How can you vary your grip on chest exercises?

Yes and I completed it.

Am considering going into westside or at least starting WS4SB.

I do many variations of rows (no DB’s unless high reps for the reason stated earlier).

Yes.

Never counted. Actually, never did high reps on them.

I only know I’ve done 6x2-3 at body+75lbs

[quote]— What I’m making you aware of is that based on the fact you only mentioned 3 lifts and your maxes… it doesn’t seem like your really doing much to promote more growth. The term is like working [muscle A] by not actually focusing on [muscle A]. Bench increases can occur if you boost your triceps, shoulders, back.
**** frontal shoulders that is.[/quote]

Good point. I didn’t think to include that kind of necessary info. My bad.

Squats for money exercise, lunges, extensions, single leg holds (those for the most part

2x/week. One day for Quads, one for Hams

Heck yeah! :wink:

No. I’ve never considered them because I have mobility/flexibility issues once reaching beyond 1/2 or box squats (unless in a SUMO stance).

Yes, I like to take the weight from my back from time to time.

Never heard of them. OOppss

Only as a finisher…

Again, that’s a “no sir”

Never heard of that one.

Do you mean doing sprints as a workout instead of hitting the weights? Yes, I do that occasionally, if that’s what you mean.

Are you talking about doing a “pistol?” If so, my flexibility issues prevent me from doing them under 1/2 way down.


Eating log is easy. I follow the Anabolic diet (low carb/high fat/med protein 5 days a week with a high carb/low protein/med fat on the weekends).

If you would like an example from my last week of working out on HSS-100, please say so and I’ll type it up tomorrow (It’s getting late out here).


[quote]Deadlift :
Do you do good mornings?? [/quote]

not as often as I should, admittedly. When i do, it’s for higher reps (10-15).

Done

The DB’s are only 65lbs each…no point to doing DB DL’s with that weight I’m afraid…


Thank you. Please tell me what else I need to post to get more help and I’ll do it as soon as possible.

Gladly. Please just list what else is needed beyond what I’ve already written.

[quote]It’s what you’re not saying or not paying attention to that is the problem perhaps.
[/quote]

Good point. thanks for the reply and I hope my answers are now adequate. If not, I’ll gladly post more info.

I’m still chuckling over the whole “past my prime” comment at 34!!..

While I agree with the previous post that it is hard to tell you what to try next without a picture of what you are doing now…I will say that I am seeing a picture from your response. May I offer a few humble suggestions/things to think about?

The first thing that struck me is that you are lifting alone? No lifting partner(s)? Have to ask wall-flys for spots? If this is the case, this is a big contributor. Regardless of the complexity or simpleness of your program, if you are not able to train past failure, you are repeatedly training to a predetermined physiological plateau. Sure there are millions of ways to skirt around this, but they will not give you the same results, not to mention the safety aspect.

If what you are doing is no longer breeding results, make a bold change. From the sounds of it (and again I may be off here with what I have to go off of) you have A LOT going on in your program. Try jumping into simple-ville for a spell. Look at some programs/training philosophies from westside/Louie Simmons. Oh, and here’s another gem- research the old Bigger, Faster, Stronger programs from the '80s. That would be something perfect for your environment (as far as gym capacities).

Again, from the sound of it, you are doing a lot. Take a look at what you are doing/scheduling for recovery. Are you getting quality sleep? Are you hydrating? Take a very critical look at your last four training sessions and see if you spot any of the tell-tale overtraining symptoms. Remember, sometimes to make gains you actually need to do LESS. In the case of overtraining, you need to de-load and step away for a bit.

Lastly, dont fall into paralysis by analysis. Often, we get way to wrapped around the axle of details. Go lift some weight until your body cant lift no more, then lift more.

Oh, and stop crying about the equipment or lack there of… Try a 120 degree desert with four dumbells, 8 five gallon water cans, three broom sticks taped together and a barrel from a 25mm chain gun. You can get it done bro.

YIELD NOT!

Sounds like you have a handle on your diet, but without any more details it is hard to tell. A training log would be helpful, it might give some insight as to why you aren’t making the gains you want.

The only real suggestion that I have is to listen to your body; are you overtraining, is the problem mental, has your intensity decreased.

If you have been doing a fairly routine workout for an extended period of time your body might have adapted to the workload. Take a step back and throw something new at your body. Try something fairly drastic to break your adaptation.

Just keep at it, and some more detailed information would generate more substantial feedback.

Thank you for all the responses thus far. I suppose I’ll post my training log for this week here (it makes me want to post it in my blog too…perhaps I’ll start to do that too).

So Far:

Monday:

Biceps:

Weighted Dips: 6x3@30KG (65lbs)

Close Grip Bench: 3x6@80kg

Cable Pressdowns: 3x8@6 down (they don’t have numbers, but I failed at set 3 at rep#7).

Rotating Tri DB Extension: 4x7@15kg ea hand.

“V” Cable Pressdown 1x100 (straight thru)

Biceps:
Weighted Chins: 6x2@body+15KG

Straight BB Curl: 3x6@30kg (65lbs)

Cable “Stage Poses”(don’t know name but go to the crossover station, take the upper grips and stand in the middle and do bicep poses like in a bodybuilding competition) 3x8@unknown (4 down, again, no numbers)

Wide Grip/Elbow In “W” Preacher curls: 4x7@bar+9.8kg (ea side)

2-hand cable curls: 1x100@first hole.

Tue: Hamstrings:

Sumo Deadlifts: 1x3@140kg
1x3@150kg
1x1@160kg
1xfail@170kg
1x1@160kg
1x1@150kg
1x3@140kg

Romanian DL’s 3x6@90kg

Laying Leg Curls: 3x8@10 down (again, no numbers on machine, but fail at set 3 at 8)

Improvised Glute-Ham Raises (using a bench and lat machine with a taekwondo kicking pad under my knees): 4x7 (each one assisted to different degrees through use of a push off.

Wed: Back

“W” Bar BB Rows: 1x3@60kg (not inc bar)
1x3@70kg “”"
1x3@75kg “”"
1x3@75kg “”"
1X3@75KG “”"
1x2@80kg “”"

Dumbell Trap Raise: 3x6@25lb ea hand

Standing Back maching (where you stand facing the machine and with straigt arms you extend arms back like you are flying) 3x8@unknown (last pin…again no numbers on the machine)

Scapular Retractions: 4x7@12 down (same story about no numbers)

Lat Pulldown: 1x100@3rd pinhole

Standing Calf machine shrugs: 5x6@max weight+20KG

Thurs: Off

Fri: Got swamped so couldn’t go to gym (it was too late and closed). Normally do Quads. While today I just stayed home and did 500 bodyweight squats (with rest when needed), last weeks workout looked like this:

Back Squats: 6x2@315lbs

Lunges (close stance) 3x5@25lbs ea hand

Leg Extensions: 3x7@all pins+20kg

Seated Leg Press: 4x6@all pins (way too easy)

Tomorrow (Saturday) this is my plan:

Incline Bench 6x1-3@80kg

Flat bench BB Press (to neck) 3x6@70kg

Pec Deck: 3x8@10 or 11th pin down

Laying cable press up/5 second flie down: 4x7@3rd or 4th down

Standing Cable Flies 1x100@whatever I can handle without resting.

then add a little shoulder work:

Seated Oly Bar presses: 5x6@around 100lbs

Seated Shoulder machine: 3x10@whatever I can handle.

I know it’s very crappy, but without facing it, it will never improve.

thanks for all your input and help.

[quote]Platoon Daddy wrote:
I’m still chuckling over the whole “past my prime” comment at 34!!..

While I agree with the previous post that it is hard to tell you what to try next without a picture of what you are doing now…I will say that I am seeing a picture from your response. May I offer a few humble suggestions/things to think about?

The first thing that struck me is that you are lifting alone? No lifting partner(s)? Have to ask wall-flys for spots? If this is the case, this is a big contributor. Regardless of the complexity or simpleness of your program, if you are not able to train past failure, you are repeatedly training to a predetermined physiological plateau. Sure there are millions of ways to skirt around this, but they will not give you the same results, not to mention the safety aspect.

If what you are doing is no longer breeding results, make a bold change. From the sounds of it (and again I may be off here with what I have to go off of) you have A LOT going on in your program. Try jumping into simple-ville for a spell. Look at some programs/training philosophies from westside/Louie Simmons. Oh, and here’s another gem- research the old Bigger, Faster, Stronger programs from the '80s. That would be something perfect for your environment (as far as gym capacities).

Again, from the sound of it, you are doing a lot. Take a look at what you are doing/scheduling for recovery. Are you getting quality sleep? Are you hydrating? Take a very critical look at your last four training sessions and see if you spot any of the tell-tale overtraining symptoms. Remember, sometimes to make gains you actually need to do LESS. In the case of overtraining, you need to de-load and step away for a bit.

Lastly, dont fall into paralysis by analysis. Often, we get way to wrapped around the axle of details. Go lift some weight until your body cant lift no more, then lift more.

Oh, and stop crying about the equipment or lack there of… Try a 120 degree desert with four dumbells, 8 five gallon water cans, three broom sticks taped together and a barrel from a 25mm chain gun. You can get it done bro.

YIELD NOT![/quote]

Thank you for the reply.

About spotters: The gym I train at has employees who spot you on request…usually pretty gladly (even if they are inbetween sets themselves).

Now that you mention it, I’m thinking of doing an One Lift A Day cycle (ala Danny John). I think that should be a big shock to my body as I can’t recall doing anything like that.

BFS…I’ve not heard that in like 16 years. Perhaps it would be a good thing for at least a short time.

Now, the sleep issue…yeah, that’s a big problem. I usually get about 6 hours at night then maybe a 1-2 hour nap during the day. Not the best of circumstances but going to bed earlier is pretty much not happening (body just won’t shut off if it’s before midnight).

Hydration is critical out here especially. It’s a tropical island with temperatures almost year round above 90 degrees (higher of course if it’s 10am-4pm).

I don’t feel overtrained right now…in fact I’m hesitant to use that term because (according to coaches I’ve read) I don’t think my training qualifies as intense enough for overtraining.

I just got off of a 4 week high volume cycle right after I took a week off. In one more week, I’ll take another week off.

I’m sorry if you took my descriptions of the dumbells as “crying.” In fact, I’m not a complainer at all…however when i posted it, it was in an attempt to give information as to what kind of equipment I have available.

thanks for your input again.

The best thing you could do is blow away that really limiting belief you developed that says your past your prime! Many bb’s and strength athletes do not hit their prime until your age or many years older. Given your stats you should be able to change yourself into a whole new person a year down the road.(ie a whole new prime)

As for your training, it sounds like where your living is not on your side. If equipment is limited, Pavels power to the people is a great routine. If your willing to do a more complicated routine, for stunning strength improvements Westside seems good to me.

Sort your head first, then pick a tried a tested routine, do it with intensity and watch your body change!

Ya, ya, you were cryin’…[snicker] just kidding. No, I didn’t mean anything by it other than to say you can always find a way. In fact, sometimes it is the perfect answer. Training in a spartan gym forces you to take things back to simple basics and really concerntrate on meat and potatoes. […mmm, meat and potatoes…]

Remember that overtraining is not just dependant on what you are doing in the gym. In fact, most lifters soon become savy enough to not intentionally push their gym volume and intensity to overtraining levels. It is the other factors that are often the culprits, ie sleep, stress, diet, hydration(to include alcohol and soda), allergies etc.

I have trained soldiers past plateaus just like yours for over twenty years. I have tried dozens of approaches with varying degrees of complexity. The ONE course of action that I have always found results with is to strip things down and do more with less.

Push more weight, fewer exercises, fewer days(no more than a three day trng week) and look at factors outside the gym.I think you will be pleased with the results-on many levels.

Give this three weeks. You can always add more a little at a time.

YIELD NOT!

Ok.

Take home points I’ve received so far (please correct me if I’m wrong):

  1. Keep it simple. Maybe a simple program will help me break thru.
  2. Do basic stuff
  3. Push hard each time

Funny, I figured it was imbalance or something I was missing. But the info I’m getting so far says nothing about that.

Go figure.

Again, thanks for all your help and input. It is certainly appreciated.