T Nation

Training Frustration


Hi, I'm hoping to get some advice on where I should go with my training. To say I'm frustrated is an understatement.

While I've been around the gym/weights for 20 years or so now, most of that time has alternated between bodybuilding/running/conditioning. I just "discovered" powerlifting about three years ago.

At that time, my maxes were 345/285/380. Fast forward to now and my maxes are only 420/320/455 at 6', 220 lbs. On top of that, my squat and deadlift have only increased by 15 lbs and my bench by 5 lbs in almost two years. I was close to these numbers 10 years ago when I was more concerned with bodybuilding than strength.

I've mainly trained using either 5/3/1 or conjugate, except for the past 6 months where I was using Sheiko. I'll train for 3-4 months, maybe get a 5 lb PR and then go another 3 months only to find I've gone backwards or stayed the same. I thought Sheiko would be the key and after the first 16 weeks, I hit some PR's, only to go 3 more months and not get a single PR.

Does anyone have any advice or words of wisdom they could pass on? My biggest concern is that at 34 years old and with my maxes as low as they are, I won't go very far only putting 5-10 lbs on each lift per year.




I don’t have great advice other than one thing: I’ve been working with a strength coach and believe it has paid off huge dividends. I’m 46 and did it mainly for injury prevention/form adherence, and secondarily for programing and accountability.

So far so good.

Use of a pro may not be practical for most or many, but if you have access to one, even temporarily, he/she may get you going again.


Did you use a proper peaking program each time you used it? Sheiko has you doing a ton of volume to build strength but you need a low volume tapering program like Sheiko 32 to see that translate to a max attempt.

How did all of the training sessions feel? Did you have breakdown in form? Did you consistently finish each training day and over the course of the program did the quality of your reps improve from beginning to end, e.g., did your bar speed for your 80% weight improve? If so then that’s a sign that you can increase that 80% weight next training cycle by 5-10 lbs. The 80% weight is your main practice weight that you need to own.

What Sheiko #'s did you run and what were the training maxes for each month?


Thanks guys,


I actually did hire an online trainer (fairly big name) for 12 weeks at the beginning of the year. My technique definitely improved, but my lifts didn’t go up at all. I found out about 5 months later that the program he had me doing was probably a canned one when he started sending out pretty much the exact program to his mailing list. I am hoping that he tailors it to his client more after the first 12 weeks, but at $400 a pop, it was to much for me to find out.


I did use 32 before retesting. My first time through, things went smooth right to the end and I hit some solid PRs. I used these new maxes (420/320/455) as the base for my second cycle. The second time through, I had a terrible couple of weeks leading up to and into 32, where I had a lot of work stress, wasn’t getting much sleep, and missed a couple reps in training, so that may have played into things. Apart from the couple of bad weeks, all my sessions felt good and 80% felt solid. I generally finished in an hour and walked out feeling good about the work.

I did 29, 37, 31, 32 the first time and 37, 31, 32 the second.

Actually writing this out got me thinking. Perhaps it may be worth giving Sheiko another shot. Because of the bad couple of weeks, I don’t really know if the PRs from the first cycle were truly strength or technique improvements and if the bad second cycle was just a bad cycle (in the end I still matched my previous maxes, so I didn’t go backwards). I probably should have redone 31 before moving right into 32. The PRs I got after the first time through were the largest I have had from a 12 week cycle, so that’s saying something. Maybe I just screwed it up.


If I were you I would do the same thing as before (29,37,31,32) because it worked. Don’t skip 29 because it eases you in to the high volume lower body work and gives you a break from the fatigue accumulation of the previous cycle. I know you made great gains the first time but instead of using your true max for you training max, you should keep them dissociated. Just add 10-15 lbs onto the previous training max based on your judgment to handle the new workload. For example if you used a squat training max of 350 the first time and peaked to hit a max attempt of 420, then next time use a squat training max of 365. That gives you an increase in workload that is challenging but doable next time around. It’s likely your true max will still improve as well.


That sounds like an awesome plan. I really appreciate the advice and will give it another go.


Yeah no problem. Hopefully those PRs become a regular thing.


Have you read the DUP thread ?
I have been in the same boat as you ( aside being older and weaker ;D, and have trained for longer time ), but the DUP really have worked wonders for my lifts the last month, I feel like its total newbie gains :slight_smile:



I just took a look at those threads. It sounds really interesting and I’ll definitely be interested to see if guys are still doing it in a couple months and if the strength gains are consistent. After thinking about things, right now I don’t want to abandon Sheiko, which gave me great results, because of one bad cycle, which I may have been at fault for. I’d like to give it another 3-4 months and see where I’m at instead of getting caught in a knee jerk reaction and just jumping to a new program. If training goes well, but I still end up no better, then it may be time to look elsewhere.

Thanks for the tip on the DUP threads. It’s definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind.