T Nation

Program Advice? Body Used to Very High Volume

Can I still make progress after killing myself in the gym for a few years without much results and with tons of volume?

I have stepped into the gym for the first time maybe 6 years ago. I am 21 right now.

I didn’t go consistently.

I was a chubby boy and in high school I really became obsessed with how I look and became borderline anorexic, weighing lowest 53 kg at 180 cm.

At that time, I used to go to the gym all the time and just kill myself with volume so I could feel that I can eat something. I was averaging 1000-1500 calories a day back them. I was about 17-19 at that time.

As you can imagine, I didn’t make almost any strength progress. I was “shredded” but looked like skeleton.

Years flew by and I was still hitting the gym. I have gained over 20 kg over the last 2 years but I look like a total DYEL still. I haven’t take any longer rest in a very, very long time.

What I am worried about is that my body got somehow used to the volume I put upon it and that now I can’t really make any progress even though I look like I look.

After years I have finally got my head a bit better, got out of eating disorder (even though it is still creeping in me somewhere) and now I truly want to make some progress.

I just don’t know how to go about it right now.

I am taking a one week rest completely off the gym right now and I want to go back to the gym and finally start making real progress.

Should I just try and go again with some LP program, such as fierce 5 or GZCLP?

I have been on nsuns 531 LP for some time but I always hit a wall at relatively small numbers.

Thanks for any input and help

My stats right now, to have idea about me:

180 cm
~ 76 kg

Bench max= 100 kg x 2
Deadlift = 150 kg x 3 (very bad form honestly)
Squat = 120 kg x 2 (if I remember correctly. I haven’t been back squatting for a long time because of back pain, but I am back at it. Volume PR right now was probably 90 kg x 8)
Front squat = 105 kg x 2

stick in there

Your the second guy that has mentioned that program. IMO your better off reading up on Wendler since its obvious that the guy in question is trying to cash in on the 5/3/1 brand name


I don’t really think he wants to cash in on it.

It is a free program with a big community around it on reddit.

Thats beside the point.
It does sound like you might be suffering from slight body dysmorphia .Which you might want to get a handle on it or its going to make things miserable for you.


Forget about your past - that was a lifetime ago now. Focus on completing a tried and true program, as is, for 12 weeks.

How long did you progress? How long have you been stuck and what did you change (training and diet) once you hit a wall?


Definitely, I was just reacting to what you said.

Yes, I did as I mentioned in the OP basically. And it wasn’t slight, it was pretty serious, lol. But the past year has been critical to my mental health - I got my mind more right and completely changed to be honest, and this physique related things - I’ve sorted out what I want and what I don’t so I am out of that ED and dysmorphia sh*thole finally.

1 Like

I can forget about it. But what I am afraid of, and why I created this thread, is that my body can’t forget about it.

Well, for example, last year I was on that 531 LP routine I mentioned. I progressed well, that’s when I hit those numbers I mentioned, which remain my maxes.

My problem was exercise fuckarounditis, not so much program one. I have been changing main lifts quite frequently - after 4-6 weeks let’s say and it didn’t help me much.

And another problem - I was extremely stressed out and anxious during those past few years. I believe my cortisol was through the roof back then and overtraining/overreaching wasn’t helping that at all.

Your body will be fine. Do the work.

I suggest you create a log in the training logs area to keep yourself accountable and to get feedback on what you’re doing.

I think that you need to think more critically about your training before.

High volume is a lots of work. If you do lots of work without feeding your body, it shrinks. Like running a lot and starving yourself.

Volume + nutrition (eating) is how lifters get big.

Volume without nutrition makes you loose mass, turning into a skeleton.

Linear Progression Programs are about quickly peaking or maxing out with the body you have right now. A non-muscular skeleton body doesn’t have much mass or muscles to peak.

A skeletons peak is not very high. A skeletons linear gains end too soon to hit a high peak, or big lifts.

You should start over, with “higher” volume and enough calories to grow. Use the volume to build muscles. For a long time. Then, when you’re bigger you can do a short, linear peak to “realize” your strength.

Before your training and diet didn’t match. Your training plan (periodization) was out of order.
That’s why your body produced a skeleton physique and cortisol, not muscles and strength.

Learn from last mistakes and Think more this time.

1 Like

well, maybe I worded myself bad in the OP - right now I am definitely not in the skelly mode anymore. I used to be in it, but that was because my caloric intake was 1000-1500 calories a day so no wonder.

I sure do have some muscles on me, it’s not like I am a skeleton, I look like a normal guy right now - normally athletic, you’d say I play some sports but won’t tell that I am lifting heavy regularly.

Any ideas? :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for your answer btw.

Here is a paul Carter article where he talks about using the push/pull/legs split in different ways for different goals. Pay attention to the different sets/reps and frequency he uses for strength, mass or fat loss. That should get you thinking.

A simple volume approach could be like

A bodybuilding approach to muscle mass could be like

Later, a peaking plan would be about using all the muscle in one lift, one rep.

Maybe some other guys will chime in with more specific recommendations. I’m just trying to show you the differences between the training used for different goals.

Don’t overdo the volume, more is better to a certain point and once you go past that you get worse and worse results the more you do. If your training has been high volume non-stop then take a break from the volume work and do some higher intensity, low rep work to change things up for a bit. I got stuck in the mentality of doing more and more volume for a while, I wasted a lot of time and energy and I’m doing better now with less. Once you get past the beginner gains you need some form of periodization, your body adapts to doing the same thing over and over and eventually you need to do something different to keep making progress. This doesn’t mean changing main lifts every month, but something has to change once progress slows down.

Maybe Volume was a poor choice of words.

I’m thinking 3-4 workouts a week. Like 4 or 5 exercises. Maybe 3 -5 sets. Generally. Nothing crazy.

But higher reps in those sets. Like in the 8-10 or 10-12 range. Maybe even 20 if you do some kind of 20 rep squat plan. In theory. Just staying away from the heaviest weights and the lowest rep ranges for awhile.

1 Like

But wouldn’t I be missing too much on strength gains if I don’t do <5 reps, in that “strength rep range”?

That isn’t a thing. Rep range doesn’t determine strength gains. Low rep practice gets you better at expressing strength in low rep ranges (ie: maximal strength", but I assure you that, if you go from deadlifting 800lbs for 1 rep to 800lbs for 30 reps, you will be inhumanly strong.


If you are going to do 8 reps, just count to 3 then restart your counting at one so you end with 5 reps. Like this 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5.

Confusing the muscles is real and optimal for strength.


Haha, yeah that’s true. I have been secretly hoping that Mythical would reply to my thread with something :slight_smile: I just thought that it is easier to progress in strength while doing those low reps. Everytime I tried to progress on big lifts on something like 6-8 rep range I just ran into the wall again, because I was adding weight too fast. But that’s again just because my stupidity and that want of instant gratification.

That is some Rich Pianino science stuff right there. I like it! :smiley:

1 Like

As an intensification phase of training, you can quickly improve your skill at handling heavier poundages, but this isn’t getting stronger: it’s getting better. Once you max out your skill with low reps, it’s going to take the same amount of time as with high reps, which is typically why training is broken into phases of accumulation after intensification.

1 Like

What is your goal? You aren’t posting in the PL forum so I’m guessing that the main thing is not increasing your 1rm. Even if that was the case, you don’t need to always do heavy low rep work and especially not if you want to add muscle mass.

Do you have a training log? What exactly have you been doing lately? It’s hard to tell someone where to go when you don’t know where they are right now.