T Nation

Ugh Can't Get Stronger


i don't know why but i just don't get stronger... to give you an idea in the past year i've only gained 10lbs in squat, 10 lbs in deads and nothing in bench... the worst part about this is that i'm still a teenager and should be seeing the best gains of my life...
Now if i was already really strong i guess those gains would be expected, but my 5rms in squat is 180!! bench is 160, and deads are 230!! that blows balls considering i;ve been training for 2 years now.

I now what i'm doing and have tried many proven routines ie 5x5 bill star, ws4sb, CW strength focused mesocylce etc.. but my gains have been shit on all of them.. My diet is in check too since i get enough cals and protein.

I hate when some lucky bastard comes on and posts how he gained like 50lbls in deads and squats in like 6 months.. when my gains are shit..

Is anyone like me or does anyone have any ideas/suggestions??


Maybe your perception of enough cals and protein is not acctually enough.
Also, maybe you're not using correct form. Insufficient sleep or general rest may be an issue.
Just throwing a few possibilities out.


If you're a fairly lean guy and your weight isn't going up, you need to eat more. Endomorphs have to eat more to gain mass. Let's say maintenance for you is 3000 kcal and you've upped that 20% to 3600 kcal; instead try 30% (3900 kcal) and see where that gets you. If you're already getting 1.5 g of protein per lb body weight then that'll mean another 300 fat calories or 33 g.




is it possible your posture and muscle imbalances are so bad your body absolutely refuses to allow you to gain any strength to safe guard against injury?


fellow stallion dude,

you want help, we're gonna need to know some stuff about you.

how old? how tall? what do you weigh? do you care about seeing your abs? how much do you eat? what do you eat?

it's hard to convince us that you know what you're doing when you don't spell "know" properly.

Now, about doing different types of workouts, are you sure you're doing things right? do you try to incorporate any progression into your routines? I know that CW's have some pretty cool methods, so does that Cressey guy... actually, they all do.

Are you incorporating any of this into your training? do you pay attention to rest periods, or are you turning a 40 minute workout into 2 hours? Are you doing a workout then doing an hour of cardio? you're obviously doing something wrong.

we need specifics








I can say with fair certainty that you are not eating enough/not getting enough protein. You may think you are, but I'm almost certain you are not. Take your bodyweight, multiply it by 25. That's how many calories you should be consuming. Bodyweight x 1.5 = how many grams of protein you should be getting.

Secondly, you are switching programs too quickly. For most programs you should be on them for at least 3 months before changing.


well first off i don't care much for mass... i just wanna get stronger.. if some mas comes with it then so be it, but my main goal is strenght.

I'm 19, 5'8, 145 lbs, i eat about 2500 cals/day and between 80-110 g of protein.day depending on whether or not its an off day or not.

I know many of you will say that i need to up my protein intake, but i know for a fact that you really don't need any more than 0.8g protein/lbs (seen this in studies and have tested it out on my self... ie consuming 150+g made no difference in my gains)

I know how to set up proper routines, but just don't see any gains... heres my current routine:
The weights follow the single factor 5x5 by bill star basically to a tee:

mon- weights single factor 5x5
4-8 hours later sprints

tues- tempo runs/cardio conditioning

wed- weights single factor 5x5
4-8 hours later cardio/agility (cardio on this day more stressing than tuesdays)

Thurs- off

Friday- sprints
4-8 hours later SF 5x5

Sat- cardio/ tempo runs


thanks for any help/advice


So you run 5 days a week and workout 3 times a week and you only eat 2500 calories per day? No wonder man, you should be consuming about 3500-4000 calories per day. I've read the same thing about .8g/lb of bodyweight. If you really believe that then you need to add more carbohydrates and fat to your diet to compensate for the rather low protein intake. I don't think that would really make sense, you should just increase your protein to 200g per day and you'd add 400 calories or so. Then you can add smaller amounts of carbohydrates and fats to get your calories up to the desired number.

Just my two cents.


2500 cals/day. There is your problem. Don't focus on only increasing protein. Increase total calories by increasing proteins, carbs, and fats.


You may not be concerned with gaining mass, but are you adverse to it?

If you put on mass, you WILL gain strength. Muscle mass obviously can't be used to predict strength, but there is a correlation between size and strength. So relative to yourself, if you get bigger you will get stronger. If you'd like to minimize size gains with respect to strength gains, try low reps with long rest intervals (say 3-5 minutes). If you really want to get stronger, try some 10x3 and for goodness' sake EAT MORE!


Hi Ironstallion,

The 0.8g/lb of protein number is the amount of protein a sedentary individual needs to consume to maintain their muscle mass. Most studies conducted by the FDA are not conducted on, nor geared towards, athletes. With the amount of activity that you are doing, you definetely need to increase your protein intake, regardless of whether you are trying to gain mass.

Also, at your age your metabolism is in overdrive, and judging by your build (based simply by your physical stats), you have a naturally fast metabolism to begin with. This means that you must consume substantially more calories than 2500. In fact, 2500 calories probably doesn't even cover the amount of calories your body needs to function adequately. Remember, at your age your body is going through one of the most substantial growth periods in human development. This means that it requires a lot more calories than would a fully grown adult.

I would suggest that you consume at the very least 3000 calories per day. And to be honest, you should probably consume more than that.

Up your protein and your calories, then wait 6 month and see if your gains don't substantially improve.

One more thing I wanted to mention, an Endomorph does not need to eat a lot to gain muscle. Endomorphs are generally large, husky individuals who put on weight (muscle and fat) extremely easily. Ectomorphs on the other hand do need to consume lots of food to gain weight. My guess is that you are an Ectomorph. Just wanted to clear that up.

Good training,



I'm not sure why you thought you needed to come here for advice. I mean, hell, you're 19 and you've obviously got it all figured out. The authors that contribute here, they probably just make up that nutrition stuff as they go.

2500 daily calories and 80 grams of protein, while your strength doesn't improve? I'm sure those two things are completely unrelated. Maybe gravity is just more powerful where you live, makes it harder to get those weights off the ground...


Laughing my fucking ass off. Does everyone now understand how much damage this "relative strength" bullshit can cause? Muscle strength is DIRECTLY related with muscle size unless drugs are largely used to enduce growth. Anyone thinking they are about to get hugely stronger with absolutely no gain in muscle mass is deluding themselves.

To answer your original question, no, I haven't experienced what you are because I wasn't afraid to gain muscle mass. That was my goal along with strength so my strength grew as well.


How long of a period did you increase protein for? If it was for less than a month, you probably weren't testing for long enough.

Imagine that you met a guy that was a total beginner, and had only increased his total 30 lbs over the past year. You probably wouldn't take advice from him, correct? In the same vein, you shouldn't be so quick to assume you know anything about powerlifting, since anything you do know hasn't helped you very much at all.


If it is possible to get much stronger and no bigger, and that is one whopping big if, then it would probably be a LOT harder to do than to get stronger and bigger. And probably take a lot longer. IF it is possible.

It might be possible, for example gymnasts from say Russia tend to be a lot smaller than those from USA. And I think they concentrate on isometric exercises a lot more. But who knows what the statistics are, on their strength / size etc... - and that is the only example I can think of.

And there are a lot of pretty strong people who are not huge, but again, how strong are they exactly, and are they some flukey freaks.

No point here, just rambling.

IRoNStaLLion, eat more dammit.


Add fork curls to your current daily schedule. You should be raising a fork from your plate to your mouth (with the emphasis on high reps) about 5 - 6 times a day.



yes food is an issue. but dont count out you could be over training too. dont forget back off weeks



I'm in a pretty similar situation to you. I'm also 18. However, I seem to be one of those "lucky bastards" because I've up my powerlifting total more than 300 pounds in the past 7 months. It probably has something to do with the 30 pounds I put on though...

Seriously, I try my best to gain 1 pound per week. For me this means eating 5000+ calories a day. It's weird because although 30 pounds seems like a ton, people hardly notice it unless I have my shirt off, because I was so fucking skinny before. Hopefully in another 30 pounds, people will notice it a little easier...