What to Do When You Feel There Is Not Much Potential Progress Left?

I started going to the gym at 18 years old, and now at 25 I see that there is much less to gain in front of me that there is behind for the whole put weight on the bar in the gym thing. Sadly it’s pretty much the most rewarding thing I have been doing for all those years. This thread isn’t to brag or anything.

I am just looking at things rationally. I don’t have the genetics to break any record on any lifts. I pretty much started with almost nothing on the bar on every lift. I was unathletic growing up. If there was as much in front as there is behind that would put me in the record zone and this is not possible.

I am feeling kind of uneasy because I don’t see anyone I can look up to that are similar to me (natural, average build without any athletic gift) and that are where I want to go. There is no point for me to compare myself with guys with calves naturally 3 time the size of mine, with guys who lifted weights that took me 2-3 years to reach on the first try or with chemically enhanced people. Even if I know what kind of training works for me, if I know how to trust my instinct and how to not get injured (got injured a couple of times and got smarter), I can’t help but doubt because what is ahead is unknown territory.

I just never encountered anyone that stuck with it and got where I want to go in my head. Everyone took steroids at some point, stopped at another, lost gains, stopped training, etc. I have never seen anyone stick with it for years successfully. Nothing truly respectable. Anyone in my surrounding who outlifts me on one particuliar lift are either obese people or man-pigs with big bones (you get the idea). The only people I see who stuck with it are on the internet and it’s people like Christian Thibaudeau (who is natural but not lifetime natural), and reading that his best time bench is 445, that makes me kind of worried. I can’t have only 80 or so more pounds to gain on the bench…

I just don’t know what to expect. For a normal guy how do you get or can you get for example from a low 400 to mid or high 400 front squat? How do you get from low 600 to 700 deadlift? 455 bench? 315 press? Who got stuck for years and wore out all their tendons and joints? What made the biggest difference going up? Give me hope internet forum.


Are you panicking because you have the last 7 years of your life wrapped up in a hobby and nothing to show for it other than some gym lifts and an above average physique?

If this is the case, then you need to diversify your life.

If this is not the case, you just keep plugging away and try to get better one way or another. Cycle your goals.


Well I have some other stuff in my life and I don’t care about showing off what I got from the gym, but I am addicted to the gym in a way I am not to other stuff.

The gym stuff is easy, just keep plugging away. 455 bench is probably not attainable natural without the best of the best genetics, or unless you are a full brick shit house that probably can’t walk up a flight of stairs and has sleep apnea. Upper 4s front squat and 700 DL should be attainable by a healthy natural trainee, with 15 years training experience (some faster). I reached a 455lb back squat in 2 years training.

I’m 33. When I was coming up on 30 I started shitting myself because I was worried I already passed my prime. I may have, but I’m still going to give it hell. I’m smarter now, and intend on still setting PRs in the gym, and plan on entering powerlifting comps as well.

I’ve taken so many steps backwards in the last 10 years, due to building a career and family + injuries. The journey back to Lifetime PR territory is my new goal, and it’s fun as hell.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be the best version of you.


Well for one, remember you are only 25.

I am 32 and I have shifted my focus in training over the last year or so. I feel pretty amazing actually, joints and all. I still feel like I am in my 20s personally. I use training now as just a means to keep my body athletic, burly, strong and able to perform hard physical work. I will also give myself new challenges to learn or achieve. For example, currently I am working on doing hand stands and using parallette bars.

As a whole, I still squat heavy and frequently. However, I do not bench press or deadlift. Not because I can’t, but because I don’t care about it. Along with squatting, I do lots of overhead pressing of all sorts using all different kinds of implements, lots of dips, chins, pull-ups, and different types of pulling off the ground. I put a huge emphasis on stretching, mobility, and soft tissue work-- I owe how I feel to all of that. I think as you get older, that really does become more and more important if you want to continue to perform at your best and feel good.

Like IronOne, I am still setting PRs. I also take up new feats here and there, such as closing the Captains of Crush grippers or setting new bench marks in my conditioning. I try to keep fresh things in my training. We have our lifetimes ahead of us man, you should be excited about what you have accomplished thus far and what you will accomplish in the future. I can relate for sure man. The gym is my sanctuary as well. I think you should just get more creative with your strength endeavors, there is a lot of cool stuff you can still learn, train to do, and accomplish.

1 Like

Pick a sport, compete in it and crush your competition.

Gym lifting can be seriously unrewarding, especially if all you’re doing is comparing yourself with the internet. Actually having a sport to vector and focus your training can give you some direction and light the fire in you to improve.

It also helps to be competing among a peer group, to give you a more reasonable expectation of yourself. Yeah, you can watch the internet and believe that every guy under 200lbs can deadlift 800lbs, but when you show up to a competition of real people who look jacked and find out that a 700lb deadlift at 200lbs is otherworldly, you get a better grasp of reality.


I do it for the endorphines. F*** the rest.

Re-read what you wrote a few days ago: "Back alignment, knees and elbows inflammation and such are pretty much the limiting factors for progress for me.

If that stuff is alright then I am progressing as much as my genetics and natural status allows me and everything is great and alot of fun. I don’t care about the rest. Numbers don’t even matter, for me it’s all about increasing them in a bodybuilding concept."

Sounds like as long as you’re healthy and improving, then “everything is great and a lot of fun.” So… focus your training on staying healthy (mobility, prehab, body comp, or whatever “healthy” means to you) and work to increase your numbers in a bodybuilding concept (whatever that actually means).

Basically, get specific with some goals and attack them. Seems like you’ve been kinda training just to train for a while and a lack of focus/direction is leaving you feeling kinda… blah… about lifting. I’d say that’s a phase most (non-competitive) lifters go through once in a while and it gets sorted out once you decide on, and start achieving, some particular goals.

1 Like

You have got to get better. And smarter about training. And improve your weaknesses. And lift better. And train stuff you are neglecting.

You learned how to train your inexperienced, teenage body. Now you’re no longer an inexperienced teenager.

The work you have done has taken you this far. Now you need to figure out what work will take you forward. If you joints or back are fucked up, it’s because something (muscle?movement pattern?) is weak and they are not working correctly. If you’ve been lifting for 8 years, but have an average build, it’s time to figure out how to build muscles as a 25 year old guy with a sore elbow.

Check out Dave Tate’s Iron Evolution series, here on T Nation.
Read Thibs book, or another text book about strength training.

The harder it get to break records, Or get results, the more rewarding it is.

Brian Shaw, and Eddie Hall are strong dudes who continue to get better. BOTH mention

  1. Rest Days/Deloads

  2. Speed Pulls

As 2 really important factors in their success.

Arnold was doing pretty good, then he trained with his hero, Reg Park.

Reg had him get up at 4am to do calf raises with 1000 pounds. That way, they could take care of a weakness, without cutting into their real workouts.

Stan Efferding was doing pretty good. But he didn’t know if 3x5 meant three sets of 5, or 5 sets of 3.

So he got with Flex Wheeler, to learn some new stuff. Efferding was like 45 years old, and jacked. Flex took him to the next level by feeding him more carbs!

Jokers talk about juice and genetics.

They top guys are doing EVERYTHING better.


@FlatsFarmer quotable!!! Damn.


What athletic things do you enjoy outside of the gym? Use the gym to get better at those. That really helps to switch up your training.

If you have no athletic hobbies, there is no reason to put in more than a bare minimum of effort into the gym. Look good, be healthy, but get a fucking life outside of it.

I am not into any sport. I really need the impression of progress I get at the gym to feel good about myself. If it was a group thing I would have ran away and not stuck with it.

Right. That’s what I am saying; fix that.

Getting beat a few times after paying an entry fee, taking time off and traveling is INCREDIBLY anabolic in my experience. Increases gains by like 300%.


Couldn’t agree more, playing baseball again has made lifting more satisfying. My workouts are far more intense now too, knowing it’s gonna make me a better athlete on the field.

I have a home gym but once every 2 - 4 weeks I travel to train with a group of people.

All you need is to have some punk kid catch up to you and you’ll find you quickly add 10kg to your PR :blush:

And you always need to keep in mind that you need to work much harder to add 5% to your lifts as you get on than you did adding 500% in the initial stages. Celebrate the small wins because they are actually not that small.

From a different perspective:

I train as hard as I can, as often as I can, because there are two types of people in this world: predators and prey. Being as physically strong, mobile, and mentally tough as possible, allows me to survive and when needed to, kill the enemy as efficiently as possible.

When I am in the States, it never ceases to amaze me , the amount of overweight people (especially men). I look at them and think, how can you fight for your family? How can you defend yourself? You could not run 50 yards to a bunker with rockets coming in to even save your own life. Remember, whether you are out with your spouse, partner, friends, parents, little sister or nephew, its on you to provide the best protection possible and that means staying strong, alert, and ready to move at any time.

Active shooters, terrorists, gangs ect, being strong is the first step in preparation. Just some thoughts. good luck.


If you want peace, prepare for war


There is some good posts here, but really the idea that a 700 DL and 495 FS is attainable eases my mind and that’s good enough. For the bench press I am not sure but since I am not really into bench pressing anyway (more into DB), that’s not a problem.

I understand that sometimes if you fail to make sense of something it’s good to go back to the basic of survival, but really doing crossfit and storing food cans would bore me. Without being dramatic the biggest threat in my life now is my own negative mind.

I might post here but I really can’t stand people much in real life so I don’t think I’ll ever compete.