T Nation

No Strength Increase in Yrs


Hey people thought I would post up what has been bugging me for a while now. Short background used to play tennis full time up and till 23 then called it quits had a bad knee and a few other reasons.... Anyway back then I used to do a little bit of lifting, was able to rep 220lbs for say 2-4 reps weighed about 176lbs.

Fast forward 10 years and I am pretty much lifting that weight now, although there there have been times where I would be able to rep 220lbs for 12 reps and my best ever bench 1 rep max has been 275lbs (pretty lousy)

I just can't figure out why my strength sucks so much on most lifts. To be honest I am not training to be a power lifter more bodybuilding training type. Size wise I have put on mass currently sitting on 202lbs with about 12% BF so pretty lean at 6ft.

I am not sure If I am doing something wrong or if maybe my body is just not made to be super strong. Honestly I am not that concerned with lifting huge numbers but I would have thought I would be at least a bit stronger by now.

If I take 2-3 weeks off gym my personal best lifts drop by about 20% add another 2-3 weeks off and easily I will drop 30-40% off my best lifts. To me this sounds like way too much!!

Current routine

Tuesday - shoulders/Calves
Seated dumbbell presses 3 sets 8-12 reps
Seated military press 3 sets 8-12 reps
Lateral raises 3 sets - 8-12 reps superset with
Rear delts bent over standing 3 sets 8-12 reps
Shrugs 3 sets 12-15reps

calves - standing calf raises, seated calf raises

Thursday - Legs
Squats - 3 to 4 sets 6-12 reps
front squats - 3 sets 8-12 reps
stiff legged deadlifts to hit hammies - 3 sets 10-12 reps
Leg extensions 3 sets 12-15reps
Standing leg curls 3 sets 12-15reps

Saturday -
flat bench 3 sets 6-10 reps
incline dumbbells 3 sets 6-10 reps
flat dumbbell presses 3 sets 8-12 reps
flies 3 sets 12-15reps

single arm behind the next extension 3 sets 8-12 reps
skull crushers seated 3 sets 8-10 reps
tricep pushdowns 3 sets 8-10 reps
tricep pushdowns rope 3 sets 10-12 reps
every now and then also add in some close grip bench press

deadlifts 3 sets 6-10 reps
Chinups 3 sets 8-12 reps
barbell rows 3 sets 8-10 reps
lat pull down 3 sets 8-12 reps (sometimes leave out and just do chinups)
Hyper extensions 3 sets 12 to 15 reps
seated rows 3 sets 8-12 reps

barbell curls or ez-bar 3 sets 10-12 reps
dumbbell bicep curls either standing or seated 3 sets 10-12 reps
close grip bicep curls 3 sets 10-12 reps

All days training never really goes beyond 1hr, I go pretty intense.

I eat clean, don't drink never go out. I have tried for a few of weeks the 5x5 routine and did not notice any gains strength wise at all. No matter what I do how I train, I reach my plateau and that is it pretty much. I keep training hard just to keep the strength and size. Like I said take 2 weeks off and I go rapidly down hill. Dad does not understand it either. He used to lift 500lbs on bench and even now he will out lift me on bench very easily without training 15 years.

Is it really that hard to get to the 300lb mark on bench? I see all these kids on youtube put up 300lbs and I think damn wtf??...

Not sure if my lowish testosterone has anything to do with it or what.
I just find it pathetic that my mate who has the worse diet,hardly trains and only lifts 10-20lbs lighter than me (chest shoulders) legs he gets destroyed. I am consistent with everything yet it does not show in my numbers.

Current lifting:
220lb bench 6-8 reps
310lbs squat for 8-10 reps below parallel
310lbs dead lift for 8-10 reps
80lbs dumbbells for shoulders 6-8 reps

Goals -
300lb bench for reps
450lb squat
450lb deadlift
Shoulder press the 100lbs dumbbells

Now those numbers are not extraordinary and well and truly within limits for a person lifting a bodybuilding routine. I have gotten heaps bigger but strength really has stayed the same.

Should I train chest twice a week to strengthen it up, or change my routine having tried the 5x5 before never felt anything from it. I have days in between off to recover as when I train 3-4 days in a row I can feel that I am starting to over work and I go backwards.

Been tempted to jump on the gear but never gone through with it.


How bout you stop fricken taking so long off? No wonder your strength levels continuously suck and stay the same year after year. Train with consistency.


Nice post not exactly the answer I was looking for.

Sorry but I can't help getting sick that is what the 2 weeks is off. Other then that I don't take time off for anything. But If I am really sick what can I do?


Dude if you have to take 2 weeks off because you have been lifting weights for 3 or 4 days consecutively, you need to go to the doctor something isn't right.

You can also eat your way to bigger weights. Ever think about eating more.


Define sick.. neck up - keep lifting, fever or something - take off, but not for a fucking month and a half..

Also, post specific diet and be honest (did you eat that every single day, day in and day out, for the past 10 years?)..

Edit: Also, how much of the past 10 years was lifting and how much was not - I have a feeling you just mentioned the strength drop-off after a lay-off offhandedly (basically, I am assuming you have lifted, at the very least, 9 out of the past 10 years with, at most, 1 year of lay-offs) and that the real issue is that you just need to up your calories.. maybe tweak your technique slightly..


You said that you your strength deteriorated after 2-3 weeks off, and even more if you took off 3-4 weeks off after that (no shit?) which insinuates that you're doing this regularly. The only thing you've done consistently it sounds like, is quit lifting.


I find it hard to believe that you are eating a lot of food, consistently gaining weight, and consistently working out, without getting any stronger. If you are actually pushing yourself in the gym and giving your body what it needs to recover and grow, you should be getting bigger and stronger. I would imagine the missing link is one or more of the things I listed above, with the most likely answer being that you are not really eating enough to build muscle.


Completely agree. Pretty obvious problem you have here OP. If you are taking 3-4 weeks off for being sick you are either really sick and need to get checked out or just a really big sissy. haveing a mild cold would not be an excuse not to lift IMO.

With a 275 bench (what are your other numbers?) you don't have a bad base if you would just stick with it you might get somewhere.

EDIT: Okay your other numbers are not half bad either. 310 squat for 8 is not horrible and you might suprise yourself how much it would increase if you stayed consistent. Imagine your numbers if you trained and ate consistent for YEARS.


Here you go:



Push Harder


Been reading the replies looks like a lot of people are getting worked up about the 2-3 weeks off or 4 weeks off..

Just to clear this up - a cold does not keep me out of the gym. My last sickness was gastro after a flight from Australia to Europe was in hospital for 3 days and 2 days on a drip and felt like crap for another 7 days once I got home. Lost about 7lbs in that week.

I don't get sick often but when I do it usually sucks like getting chicken pox 2 years ago.

So really the only time I ever take off 2 or so weeks is if I really come down with something. What I don't get is the sudden decrease in strength after such a short period of time.

And yes I try and increase the weight every workout, always try and go heavier and heavier.

Food wise:
I pretty much eat the same thing day in day out:
Meal 1
50grams of protein with about 200ml of milk.
100grams of oats with 300ml of milk

train at 9 or 10 usually

after workout I'll have 25grams of protein mixed with milk
meal 2
250grams of beef or chicken breast with rice or baked potatoes bit of sweet chilli and mayo.

meal 3
I'll either have another 100grams of oats with milk 300ml or I'll make myself a shake which consists of a banana and 125grams of cottage cheese and 300ml of milk.

meal 4
same as meal 2. or occasionally I'll have baked beans with 4 eggs.

Then throughout the day I might eat some bananas etc..

I should be precise with my comments and clear some things up.
Everything has improved but not vastly how I would have expected being this consistent. My mate gets smashed 3 times a week, eats crap - might go without going to the gym for 4 months yet when he goes back he really lifts not much less then when he was going consistently for 6 months. Could just be different genetics, just having a hard time putting it all together.

Then if I take my dad who is turning 60 this year, whack him on a bench and he will rep 220lbs like nothing. Give him 1 month and he will rep with 300lbs. How the hell is that possible after a 15 year lay off?

Maybe I just have shitty genetics from my mum side.

Would anyone change anything with my routine?


You don't understand how you can get a drop in strength after you suffer an illness?


I understand that you will lose some strength but to me 20% seems way too much. After almost 2 months I have not been able to get it back. (this is bugging me more)

I mean sure you don't see many people in the gym benching 3 plates very often, but you would think if you are consistent it should come.. But there are probably variables which are out of our hands, genetics and such.. Some people are just naturally strong and others not so.

I just thought that maybe my routine sucks and maybe some opinions would be given how to better it.

Probably would not hurt to hit bench 2x a week and do some additional exercises to go with it, standing military presses, rack pulls just on one day that I usually have off? Maybe just some lower rep ranges on that day??


There could be many reasons. Have you videod your form? there may be some issues there. Also your routine doesn't look bad, but if it's not working then it;s not working and it wouldn't hurt to switch it up. If numbers are your main goal Wendler's 5/3/1 would be good for you to force you to consistently add wieght to the bar.

Besides the few illnesses, You have trained consistently for the past ten years? Have you gone above 12% bodyfat during a bulk before? Maybe eating more cals and gaining weight is what you need, especially after losing 7lb from illness.

Wendler had a livespill about getting a better bench saying 3 things: Gain weight, get stronger shoulders, and be patient.


I'm not a nutritionist, listing the actual things you eat means nothing to me. How many grams of protein would you say you're getting every day? That doesn't look like a whole lot to me, to be honest, but like I said I can't rattle off the amount of various nutrients in different foods.

Look, there's almost no chance that you are some kind of "special" freak who has the world conspiring against him to keep him from getting bigger and stronger. Probably at least half of the bigger guys on this site have "bad genetics."

If you are TRULY lifting with intensity, consistently, and ACTUALLY eating enough to grow every single day, and you have made next to no progress, then you're just not cut out for this. It is NOT as difficult as you are making it out to be.


Got a number for us?


put your food in fitday... guess whole milk used 250g chicken and one med potato your two major meals. is 3000 cals and 300 of protein approx.

I did not include all your bananas. You just like them? They are really just SUGAR.

Post your test numbers.


"Over 35" forum is full of old dudes with 'lowish testosterone' who kick ass.


I have been above 12% probably in the range around of 16% and really looking back strength wise it was not really better. I'll have a read about wendler's program. I am pretty sure I looked at it a while back might give it another go.

Last test
testosterone 13.9 nmol/L (8.3-30.2)
free test 304 pmol/L (225-725)

So the numbers are not great, yes in range but towards the low end. It just gets me thinking if I had double my numbers what kind of effect would it have. I had some blood drawn last week to check again as well as some other issues (thyroid - hypo taking meds for that.) Have some options that I might try to raise it just waiting for my results to come back.


I am the first to admit my hormone expertise is thyroid related hormones...

But in range ain't shit bro.

I'm gonna hazard a guess that number isn't lowish. I'm gonna guess that number is hella shitty.

Take thee off to the T Replacement forum and find out for yourself.

Regarding your hypo which by the way in men does go hand in hand with low T, what is your last free t3 result with lab range please. Also, what med are you on? Synthroid? How much?