Powerlifting Jedi or Sith

Ok boys,

Finally working up the courage to ask my first question in the pharma forum. Here goes:

I’m 34, my power lifts are about 450/350/550. I’ve been lifting consistently since high school. I sit between 175-195 and compete at 180. I’ve done a few bulks and cuts over the past years and my total has pretty much plateaued since 2020. My diet is on point, I don’t drink or smoke, I’ve never done any drugs of any kind. I like to stay where I can see my abs, so just getting fat to move more weight isn’t my idea of fun. My workout program is probably closest to 5/3/1 B.B.B. but I keep frequency and volume pretty high. I do enjoy keeping up with bodybuilding, but I don’t really see stepping on a BB stage.

I’m getting labs done at a TRT clinic but I’m pretty sure my levels are going to be as normal as it gets.

So… do I grind away for another decade chasing that 1500lb total and maybe get it while being a proud goodie two shoes, or do I take the plunge and maybe hit 1600 or 1800 before my joints give out?

Some specific questions I have… I see the trend that bodybuilders are doing well into their 40s as long as they are careful, but how do enhanced powerlifters fair? Can the average gym rats joints handle powerlifting into middle age? I certainly don’t want to be Ronnie running around like I have polio.

Also, my primary reason that I’m not already juiced up to my eyeballs is the legal reason. I have the disposable income, I’m well read and smart with my decisions, I’m not concerned about the sides, but I’m a family/church man and not typically one to break the law outside of having a lead foot.

Anyways, interested to hear people’s thoughts, and if nothing else, just say hello!

Oh and I’m in Arlington Texas (DFW) though I actually haven’t ever lifted at Metroflex, I’ve got a good garage gym and also go to the cheapo Fitness Connection when I feel the need to show off.

Thanks all!

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Lots of them switch to bodybuilding from what I’ve seen. You will likely need to change your training as you age, or at least I did. My shoulders don’t hold up how they used to (I am 35). I still bench, but I can’t train the same as I used to. I can’t push crazy volume. Gear makes things tougher in this regard.

Gear seems to be better for adding muscle than strength. If you go up a weight class and are similar for body fat, you will be stronger though. Or if you were a bit soft at 181, but can come in jacked, that will help. If you are already jacked at 181 natty, using gear will only be a slight advantage (maybe 25-50 lbs on the total) if you stay at 181.

From what I’ve seen in powerlifting, gear just doesn’t do as much as most people think. Going full into the deep end will yield better results, but many find the trade offs to be not worth it. TRT doses and a few low to moderate blasts (I’ve done 3) have gotten me from around 1300 lbs to a tad over 1500 lbs (did this at about 210 lbs). I mostly just blast with Test, but have done Anavar and Tbol in the past for 4-6 weeks at the end of a Test blast. I don’t think unless I fully committed to going full in, that I could hit an 1800 lb total. By fully committed, I mean lots of gear (at least 2 grams a week, and for long periods of time), HGH and slin, a great diet (likely using a coach), great programming (using a coach), and going up probably to 242 lbs (I am 5’10" for reference). I’d basically need to get myself a lot more muscular and still be jacked (or a higher weight class and less jacked). It isn’t worth it to me, but it may be to you. Maybe you respond better than me, and wouldn’t need as much?


Taking steroids to be a better powerlifter is like getting a PhD so you can be the best McDonald’s fry cook.

Powerlifting is a hobby. It’s a thing done for fun. Manipulating your endocrine system will have LIFELONG impacts. If you’re going to do something like that, at least do it for a reason that gets you some cash or helps secure your future in some way.


I do get where you are coming from, but I feel like if your primary goal is money or security, you wouldn’t go the fitness route in general. Don’t most of us do it because we have that ‘need’ to be the biggest, baddest mofo in the gym?

I mean, that’s why I do it. I was fat as a kid, ruthlessly bullied, and now I have that chip on my shoulder where I will crank out that last rep even if I pass out.

But yes, the logical answer is just to settle for it being a fun thing to do and be fine with not being ‘the best’ or what-have-you.

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Thanks man! This is great information, and is honestly what I’ve been thinking. I work out extremely hard, and I just don’t want to look exactly the same in a few more years haha I am about 12% BF at 181, recently cut down to a six pack for basically the first time in my life and I was 170 dried out. I would be ecstatic to be 181 shredded, and maybe sit closer to 200 when not.

I do love bodybuilding, and my routing is somewhat “powerbuilding” oriented, but I agree, I don’t see myself going full in to be able to compete on a bodybuilding stage.

I have a feeling that you’d benefit from a NON-testosterone replacement style of therapy.


I’d suggest you seek out some individuals that have gear experience. Learn to sniff out BS, because some aren’t truthful. Find guys that have used gear about how you’d expect to use it yourself. Ask them about progress with it.

I believe there is a strong bias that most people have with steroids. People fall under a spectrum of how much bias they have. Some of this is due to the obvious steroid users. Guys that are pro strength athletes or BBers. Many of those guys lie about how much they were taking. If they are pro, they almost for sure have very good genetics too. I believe that most of the guys you see that look obviously enhanced are taking a lot more than most people think, and they are doing it for long duration.

We don’t typically notice the normal looking guys that are using gear. Just figure they are natty. I think there are more of these guys than the ones that looks big and juicy. Most of the people I know IRL that have used beginner or moderate doses are in this camp. TBH, I can pass for natty, but it’s been over a year since using more than TRT doses, and I never pushed things far (875 mg/wk test was as high as I’ve gone). I think I look pretty good, but I am actually not very strong right now. I’ve cut down to 185, and TBH, right now I look more enhanced than I did at 210, just because low body fat, and I am quite vascular. My blasts have convinced me that I don’t have it in me to be one of the freaky dudes (unless I want the tradeoffs that come with high doses for long periods of time).

@Bauber has used high doses in his past and was freakishly big and strong. His insight here might be helpful.

It was a bummer for me to find out that at least for me, the gear didn’t do what I thought it would do for the doses I’ve used, and the duration I’ve done them. I think having a realistic idea of what to expect given what you are willing to do is pretty important for your decision. Try to best understand what you will get out of it.


You are 100% correct.

I did higher doses than most of your gym rats in ever will, but still tame compared to a lot of pros.

I also tell people I was 245-250 lbs fairly lean before I ever touched gear - running a lot playing division 1 football and then a few years of arena. I repped 225 - 44 times as a junior in high school at the mid south combine.

Never touched gear while I was playing ball.

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Depends on the joints and how much you lift.

I’m staring down total shoulders now in both arms pretty much and I’ve had a multi level lower back fusion. Fusion was from more so how I was born or either hurt at a young age.

All my other joints are good. You’ll eventually pay somewhere in the joint arena.

My advice at your age is to hang it up and lift to feel good and enjoy your joints.


You are still plenty young. You just need to lift smart, so as to minimize injuries.

Your 1,350lb total is respectable. Just build onto those lifts.

Tell us your results. If you are well into the normal range, I would highly recommend against “TRT.”

The 40’s is not old for getting stronger.

Your current totals are not high at all for lifting into your late 40’s.

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Appreciate the vote of confidence, especially from someone of your caliber. Perhaps I should be looking for coaching and not drugs.

…. But yeah I still want the drugs too LOL too much Hulk and Capt American comics.


This is the precise time to take emotions out of the equation and think as objectively and factually as possible.

You are not being objective about the numbers you are lifting. You are dissatisfied because you’ve been lifting the same weights for years that you don’t realize you are stronger than probably 99% of anyone in and outside of your gym.

You are healthy and not showing symptoms of hypogonadism. Wait for your test results. If they are in healthy ranges for your age, I would suggest to leave the drugs alone. Test again when you’re 40 years old. If you start cycling now at 33,34 years old, realize it’ll be harder to bounce back to your previous natural levels when doing PCT, if you bounce back at all.

If you go on TRT now, realize what comes with it. Sure you’ll have increased testosterone levels and may put 40 more pounds on your bench press, but once that thrill is gone, it’s gone and you’re back to where you were except now you’re stuck with:

  1. Pinning yourself twice weekly for the rest of your life, i.e. for another 40-50 years
  2. Having to dial in the correct dosage (not fun at all)
  3. Possibly spending a good amount of money over time at private clinics and labs.

If I didn’t have any symptoms of low testosterone levels, I would never go on a cycle or TRT. That being said, I’m glad I did because I did benefit from TRT to the point that normal testosterone levels pushed me in the right direction to better myself in other neglected areas.


You mention powerlifting, but you didn’t specify if that includes competing. For now, let’s say your testosterone levels are, even, high normal. If you are not going to be competing in drug tested contests only, you are going to be at a disadvantage. If you are eyeing those top 100 lifts for the 181lb class (If Powerlifting USA still publishes those), you are going to be tempted to use AAS. It is a choice.

Before you jump into the AAS fray, let’s look at your lifts. Why is your squat lagging your deadlift so much? How tall are you?

All sound advice. I appreciate it.

I’m 5’9", I have short limbs and a long torso, so I should be fairly well built for powerlifting. I’m not naturally athletic though, I’ve worked up from basically just the bar.

Not really sure why my squat isn’t higher. My back and posterior chain have always been more developed. I squat low bar and hip hinge a bit more than others so I can benefit from my stronger glutes and back.

I compete in USAPL right now. It’s drug tested. They have ‘randomly selected’ me for a drug test at every single meet I’ve done. About 5 meets.

You may not even need a Coach, just a slightly better, slightly more long term plan.

Seeing your abs is awesome. And doing a high volume program like BBB is awesome.

But sticking to a high volume plan while cutting weight is probably a whack strategy for hitting a bigger total powerlifting meet.

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Appreciate the kind words, homie :slight_smile: I’m actually bulking right now, though I’m sure there are still things I’m doing wrong. Here’s my training split for this round:

Day 1:
Squats - Heavy singles ~85-95%
RDLs - 3x12
Chin-Ups - 3x8
Pause Bench - 5x5

Day 2:
Bench - Heavy singles ~85-95%
Rows - 5x8
OHP - 5x8
Squats - 5x8 (form practice / BBBish)

Day 3:
Deadlifts - Heavy singles ~85-95%
Hack Squat - 5x20
Biceps - 5x12
Leg Up Bench - 5x8

Two cardio sessions a week for general health and weight management

Every ~6 weeks I deload, then switch up the rep ranges, like I’ll probably change the singles to 3s or 5s, and change the 8s to 10s or 12s.


Sorry if that first post came off a little harsh. Anyway, I’m glad you were able ti look past it.

However we started, we’re on the right track now.

The outline you just posted looks solid. Less work per week than BBB, with higher average weights. Like good “practice” for the meet. Or an “intensification phase.” So that’s awesome.

But you’re running it backwards! You’re gonna go from singles and 8’s to 5’s and 10’s. That will Lower the weights and Raise the volume.

Next time, Bulk on BBB. Get huge by matching big eating with high volume workloads.

Then run your heavy, intensification plan, only start with 5s instead of singles and 10’s instead of 8’s. Less lifts, but heavier weights as you move forward. Keep eating.

After a couple/few weeks drop to 3’s and 8’s. So you’re doing less per week, but the weights are getting Heavier as you go. Keep eating.

Finally, drop to singles and the lowest reps/sets you need on the assistance stuff. So the volume drops even lower, but the weights aromatically get even heavier. Keep eating.

At that point you’ll be huge, strong and well-practiced moving high weights. Optimal sport form to do a powerlifting meet and hit a big total.

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You are doing a lot of things right. I like that you have cardio in there twice a week. A lot of lifters neglect it. You also are managing body fat which a lot of powerlifters neglect too. That can be a personal choice, but personally, I agree with you. Why spend all that time in the gym and just look like a fat guy with wide shoulders? I get it if you can be awesome at powerlifting, but that isn’t very many people. My gym (powerlifting and strongman type gym) has a ton of mediocre lifters that have become obese to get a bit stronger. Just doesn’t make much sense to me.

I think some advice that may help you with your goal of not looking the same every year would be to add in a 4th training day if possible. If you can recover from a 4 day schedule, it might make a difference over time.

I’d also suggest that you push some of your non-powerlifting movements a bit harder. Train them like they are powerlifting movements. An example is the chin up. I take it you are doing 3x8 with body weight. For a 181 lb lifter with a 1350 lb total, that isn’t very impressive. I too slacked on chin ups. Never occurred to me to train them hard because hardly anyone does. Then this guy (who I became friends with) joins the gym. He is my height (5’10"), and about 200 lbs. I see him training chins with an extra 150 lbs of weight for sets of 6. This guy almost always wears a baggy sweat shirt. One day it was really hot out (and the gym doesn’t have AC), he wears a tank top. Crazy arms. Veins all over them. At least 2 inches bigger than mine. He does assistance exercises to bring up the chin up. Stuff like curls. But they have a specific performance goal to them (to increase the chin up).

I was just doing sets of 10 with body weight prior to being inspired. It was really hard to do set much more than 10. Sure I could do a set of 15, but it would really wear me out, since I didn’t do it much. We see this all the time with the bench press. Guys stick to a certain rep range and don’t progress for years. Varying the load, reps and sets has gotten me progress. I can do about 25 BW chins now. I can do about 5 with an additional 75 lbs. I’ve made it a goal to get half way to were my friend is on the chins. I think he could do a hard set of 5 with 175, so I need to get to a set of 5 with 125.

Don’t do this during a meet prep haha. It will be a negative most likely during that phase. But it is something that can improve physique in the off season. Progress will likely be fast, because you aren’t nearly as developed on that lift as compared to bench press (or squat and dead). Maybe even put the chin as the first exercise of a training day.

I think long term being more balanced will help with powerlifting too. Sorry for the long rant here. Just what popped into my head seeing your training.


Do you compete Raw or Equipped?
(The “shop talk” for equipped in my sphere is “gear,” so when I first read “gear” I am thinking joint support assistance gear.)