T Nation

Not Feeling Muscles Work?

I’ve recently started working out, on my 2nd week, doing full body 3 times a week. I do 3 sets of 12 reps on everything, and do a weight where I can just barley finish the 12th rep and could do one more with a good bit of struggle. The problem is I’m not feeling my muscles work, and don’t feel a burn the day after. The only muscles I feel working are my abs and my biceps (curls and crunches) I’ve done bench press, normal, wide and close grip, and don’t feel my chest, only a bit of triceps. Lat pull down I don’t really feel anything, it just gets harder but without any burn. Tricep dips same thing, my muscles get fatigued but I don’t really feel then working and they don’t burn afterwards. Does it just take more time to get a strong muscle mind connection? I’ve never really worked out in my life. I’m doing the reps slowly and trying to squeeze the muscle im working but I can’t even seen to really do that. Im really enjoying working out, and it’s addicting but it’s annoying feeling like I’m making no progress. Thoughts?

You won’t feel a “burn” on most exercises, especially compound lifts. I Pretty much only feel it on calf exercises. Make sure you shoulder blades are pulled down and back on the bench, and the end of lat pull downs. Focus on the form, video yourself if you’re not sure.

Are you increasing the weight every week? As a beginner, that should be your number one focus. If you steadily increase the weight, you’re progressing.

I plan on it, but that would start this week. This is only my 2nd week, just trying to make sure I’m starting out right. Also I’m on TRT and just had a protocol change, so my T levels may be low, maybe that’s a factor? They tried a 50/50% deca and test cyp mix for HRT, 70mg of each but I wasn’t feeling well. Maybe the deca is still in my system and causing really fast recovery? Or my T is low and I’m not building much muscle.

Yes, get your form down first. Both TRT and weight lifting are a game of patience.

Your big lifts (Bench, squat, deadlifts, rows) you should be able to add on 5-10lbs a week for the first several months. Isolation exercises might only get 1-2lbs.

Just keep going, eventually the lifts will start to feel good, and when you get stronger you will be able to start feeling the correct muscles working. It’s pretty common for beginners just starting to not have the mind muscle connection, or even have the ability to do it.

P.S. why the f would your doc prescribe you deca for TRT?

Check out John Meadow’s mountaindog YouTube channel. He has a number of videos specifically concerning how to feel various muscles.

I have no idea… Experimental I guess, but I’m back to test only right now, and don’t plan to change that.

OP keep in mind that since you’re new to training many of your compound lifts will be limited by skill and coordination, and not necessarily the strength/fatigue of your muscles.

Give yourself some time to master the skill of the lifts that you’re doing, and eventually they will become a very effective stimulus/stressor for the muscles. Keep in mind, that’s not to say that you aren’t training your muscles right now, but the majority of progress you will be making for the next 3-4 weeks or so will be primarily due to improvements in skill and coordination.

Are you doing any single-joint work?

Not sure what single joint work is. What would be the best exercises for me starting out? I struggle with squats FYI, not sure why they’re so difficult for me.

Single-joint work is just exercises like curls, lateral raises, leg extensions etc.

It sounds like your program is focussed around the big, basic movements. That’s great, and keep doing that. I asked about single-joint stuff as it can be easier to feel a pump, but those should only be as an adjunct to the main compound movements

Mind muscle connection comes with pushing yourself over a protracted period of time, like 2+ years.

This guys stuff is a great start…

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What’s a good alternative for squats? I hate that I can’t do them, hard to think I’ve gotten this out of shape…i don’t know what is holding me back, I just can’t get low enough and be stable. My legs are pretty strong, I max out the leg press machine at my gym (400 pounds) so maybe my core and back need more work?

No, you just need to squat more.

Squatting is a skill, just like sprinting, swimming and backflipping. Practice squats and you will be better at squats.

Can you goblet squat to full depth?

I haven’t tried but I’m going to the gym tonight, and I’ll try it. Could I get away with bodyweight squats at home? I’m pretty overweight, I’m actually in the obese range, 6FT tall and 240 pounds, a bit of muscle but not that much. My biceps and triceps or somewhat noticeable considering my weight and fitness level. I have a very active job, and had 1500+ TT for a few months when my dosage was too high, but I definitley got the physical benefits (increased muscle growth and body hair) but with bad sides. Either way still not enough muscle to make me not obese. Most of my fat is in my stomach, love handles and thighs. My arms and calves are sort of defined for someone who is “obese”. I probably had metabolic syndrome at some point do to low T. (primary hypogonadism). My long term goal is to be shredded, not huge and body builder looking. Kind of like Jack from athleanX.

Assuming you aren’t planning to compete in powerlifting someday, there is no compelling reason to back-squat. Now, an argument can be made that squatting-under-load is a fundamental, important motor pattern that should be trained for health/fitness reasons. But there’s no reason it must be done with a barbell across the back of your neck.


I just noticed my gyno looks alot better today. Normally it’s very noticeable and they’re more…pointy? They’re alot more flat and normal looking today. Must be doing something right at least. Honestly if they weren’t so far apart, it would look like I had huge pecs with my shirt on.

Yeah as above, dont need to squat to get in shape. Hit legs hard however you can. Also adding heavy bands to leg press can add loads more resistance.

If want to squat, best bet is improve flexibility and tissue quality. -stretch legs hard immediately after all sessions with lower body work …hamstrings/low back/hips especially.

Going through a bunch of these mid workout will really help as well…

Sorry, I didn’t read through this, but based on the title I will provide my answer:

8x8, 30 seconds of rest between each set, then give it a few days.

This has worked best for me with glute bridges and overhead shrugs, and ends up improving basically all of my lifts. Doesn’t have to be incredibly heavy, put a kettlebell in your lap for the bridges and do the overhead shrugs with a trap bar or something.

Seriously, if you doubt me, then that’s all the more reason to try it. You will no longer doubt.

Totally agree, as I age I realize that back squats only ever hurt me more than anything. Have never quite found a way to do them without neck pain.

Goblet squats and Zercher squats however are amazing. Kettlebell front squats are also great.

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Any type of squatting executed well will probably be better than not squatting.

I strongly recommended goblet squats as they’re close to impossible to mess up.

As a whole, here is a “progression” of squat variants from easiest to hardest to perform correctly, any variation pushed hard will yield results. Videos for all of these will be on YouTube.

1: Counter-Balance Squat
2: Bodyweight Squats
3: Goblet Squat
4: Zercher Squat
5: Front Squat (Cross Grip)
6: Zombie Squat
7: Front Squat (Clean Grip)
8: Safety Bar Squat, handles pushed away from body
9: Safety Bar Squat, handles pulled close to body
10: High Bar Back Squat
11: Low Bar Back Squat

Every one of those squat variations can be made slightly easier to perform correctly by elevating the heels by 1-2 cm (1/4 - 1/2 inch)