T Nation

Not Making Strength Gains


So I have been taking this bodybuilding/weight training class for over 5 weeks now. I used to lift moderate to heavy weights on an inconsistent basis when I was in high school and college. I understand that when you are a beginner or a person who has come back to hypertrophy or heavy strength training after stopping for about a year more or less, that you will first gain neurological strength more so than muscle mass.

However, I don't think that I am making significant progress in my strength gains. I have this class on mon.-thurs of each week. Every day our coach first has us do conditioning exercises outside on the track and field stadium before we go to the weight room.

Mondays and Wednesdays I do the following upper body exercises exercises within this order:

  1. Flat barbell bench press.
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 65 lbs.
  2. Incline bench with dumbbells:
    4 sets of 12 reps with 20 pound dumbbells on each arm
  3. Cable row machine:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 65 lbs.
  4. Finally, Lat pulldown machine:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 80 1bs.

I take 75 sec. of rest between each set for all these exercises.

Tues. and Thurs. I do the following upper body exercises exercises within this order:

  1. Deep barbell free-weight squats in a rack cage with support bar:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 95 lbs.
  2. Leg extension cam lever machine and alternating between legs:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 27.5 lbs on each leg.
  3. 4-5 sets of 12-15 reps on either lying leg curls and alternating between legs:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 30 lbs. on each leg

Once we do all those lower body exercises, then we have a choice of either going home or continue to do any other exercises that we want. I do 4 sets of 12 reps on back 45 degree sloped back extension bench with a 25 pound weight plate held to my chest.

I take 75 sec. of rest between each set for all these exercises.

These are the weights that I work with for each exercise:

Bench press

During the first week of class we didn't actually get the chance to start on any of these exercises, since it was an intro. week and the students including myself were just learning some new weightlifting techniques. Also, it was the week of the fourth of July. So the coach decided to go easy on us during that week. Anyways, I am very conscientious of utilizing good form in all my exercises too.

In addition, I am 5'9" 148 lbs. with about 12% bodyfat. I have always been skinny and healthy, with usually a healthy diet ever since I was a little kid. Ever since, I was 16 I became even more conscientious about my diet. Moreover, I am still 24 years old which means I am still young with peak testosterone levels. While, I do have long arms and long legs I have broad shoulders and very good muscle tone. So far these are still the weights that I currently working with; although, I have been able to increase the reps by 2 on each set for pretty all of these exercises. One more thing, is that I do each rep slow (2 sec. concentric; 2 sec. eccentric).


First thing your 148 lbs at 5'9" with 12% body fat which means you don't have good muscle tone you probably have none... secondly I am not sure if this is a troll attempt but I am going to give it a shot anyway... your program is a joke man if your going for strength. You need to lower the reps and go heavier. Start starting strength immediately. You should be putting up much more weight for all of those exercises I understand learning technique but man your not even attempting heavy weights. Start eating more but clean you need muscle mass man. I am not really gonna add more because I am still not convinced this is even a real question ... if you are a real person I apologize but it just seems to much of joke of a program.

PS awesomeness job on squats 951lbs for 12 reps is insane :slight_smile:


I know you're taking a class, so you can't really change the routine until you're done, but whenever you finish this class, get on a proven program. That's why you aren't making very good gains.

Check these out, read up on them, and when you're done with your class pick one:

Starting Strength
Madcow intermediate
Texas Method
Juggernaut method

It doesn't matter which one you pick, just pick the one you like the best, and follow it to a TEE.

Also, you need to eat more.


I'm gonna need to see a vid to believe this. PUT UP A VIDEO OR YOU'RE A TROLL!


Like the above poster(s) said, stop analyzing so hard and lift heavier and harder. The recommended programs are great for a starting point. However if you're lazy you could just continue your current program but bump the weights up higher every training day and do 5 sets x 5 reps.


I really like the idea Chad Waterbury and others pedal about doing low rep/ heavy sets with short rest periods. Your kind of getting both halves of the pie this way.


I'm not sure what room you have in your current program as far as manipulating variables, but you could try increasing your rest times to 2-3 minutes. That will likely let you lift heavier.


Also, try "exploding" on the concentric movement (try to make the bar move as fast as possible) and then use a slower 4-6s eccentric. These are just things to try. They may not make any difference. The goal with this approach is to recruit the maximum muscle fibers, especially fast twitch, on the concentric; and then recruit the remaining slow twitch fibers on the eccentric. Remember though that this is theory and may or may not work for you.


lol. Actually I made a typo. I meant 95 1bs., but I fixed the error.


Also, I know that I really want to build maximal muscular strength or maximize my focus on building that I would need to work on the rep range 1-6 reps with 3-5 min. of rest after each set. However, if I did this then given that I do not have that much physical and practical experience with weightlifting, I would greatly increase my chances of being injured.

Nevertheless, I still don't understand why I am not making any significant gains. I mean I am very healthy and having been eating over 2300 calories of healthy foods with balanced macronutrients which include consuming about 24% of calories from healthy fats, about 56% of calories from carbs, and about 24% of calories from protein. I even take in about 150 g of protein per day which actually is more than enough protein needed to build muscle and strength especially for a beginner like myself.

Furthermore, 12 reps is within the hypertrophy rep range, so shouldn't I still make some noticeable strength gains. Also, I forgot to mention that I have always been athletic, and I have been a martial artist for over five years with a blackbelt in Hapkido. Additionally, I started doing running and a variety of muscular endurance exercises a couple months before I started this class. I don't know, maybe I should just be patient or not get discouraged and keep doing what I am doing.


Number one thing... with that amount of athletic background you will need far more than 2300 calories. Try 3500, and see how that works out for you.


2300 is not even close 3000 is minimum and I would be getting 225g protein. A day that's 1.5g per bodyweight. Also yes 12 reps are in the range of hypertrophy but you have no intensity in your program. Honestly are you hitting muscular failure with 65lbs on bench press.

And your not going to get injured doing a 5x5 program with heavier weights as long as you are keeping your form good. You need more intensity, a better program, and more food and you will start to see progress but, those have to be corrected first.


If you're scared that you're going to be injured, you need to learn better form. Weightlifting had the lowest incidence of injury of all sports. I believe StormTheBeach said it was something like .001%, where soccer was like 4-6%, so think about that.

2300 calories is obviously not enough, and neither is 150 grams of protein a day. You know how I know this? Because you aren't making gains. It doesn't matter how good something sounds on paper, it doesn't matter how well it SHOULD work, the only thing that matters is what DOES work. So start eating more meat, eggs, and milk.

Like I said, whenever it is possible, you need to switch to one of the programs I listed and follow it to a tee. The program you are currently doing is shit for strength gains. It's just shit in general.


Lower the amount of reps you are doing to something more like 3x7 OR 4x5-10 OR 3x5-8+ 1 set of 12-16 etc + increase the amount of time between sets.


let me guess; they wonder why she's having problems too right?
wow holy crap this is in the wrong website. I was trying to post elsewhere but can't seem to delete this one.



  1. get on one of the progams already mentioned like 5/3/1

  2. learn how to stuff your face...