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Why Am I So Weak?

Hi all

I’m 43 in a couple of weeks. I’ve trained with weights on and off since I was 15 years old. I’m 187 cm and 100 kg, I’m not too fat and look “strongish” to the casual onlooker. Still, I’ve always been unnaturally weak for my size: pushups are work, I can’t currently get a single pullup etc. My big lift bests atm are: Squat 1x6 80 kg, trap bar DL 1x3 110 kg, bench 1x6 55 kg, OHP 1x3 37,5 kg. So very poor.

It’s not that I would lack effort or intensity (take my word for it). I did SS for a month now three times a week, as I started again (was a two year pause), and now I’ve been changing into 5/3/1 three times a week. I mean I’m just competing against myself, but it would be nice to hear of other people who just seem to be naturally weak…

whats the longest length of time you have went actually lifting consistently?


We quite literally cant “take your word for it” on here.

Either you are a genetic anomaly, which very well could be possible…

Or something isnt right. Whether that is your intensity, your volume, your diet, your stress levels, your consistency… maybe you’re mentally blocked… maybe youre “scared” (for lack of a better word) to add weight when necessary… maybe you’re following lifting techniques from people who have perfected the lift with a totally different body composition… too much isolation/fluff work, and not enough barbell/strength/load bearing work…

My roommate has fallen far off the wagon, but he has a lung disease that pretty much grid locks him at 130lbs. He cant process protein properly, and at one point he was up to 200lb bench, 225 squat, and 225 deadlift for reps. Essentially he’s the scraped up remnants of the gene pool, and through hard effort and trial and error, he got up to respectable numbers. Granted it was short lived… if he could do it, its possible for just about anyone short of having debilitating injuries to get strong if that’s the desire.

So, you’ve been lifting for a month & want to hear from the weak people? Why not ask the strong people to chime in? C’mon man, change your mindset. Are you stronger at the end of a month of starting strength than you were at the beginning? If so than you are getting stronger. Keep getting stronger till you are strong.

Do you have traps & shoulders & a big round ass? If not, don’t kid yourself, no one thinks you look strongish. No strong people do, anyway. Getting strong & looking strong take time.

FYI, your lifts are about what mine were after a month. I’m skinny so pullups & pushups were easy, but my barbell lifts were less than yours. Keep lifting & recovering consistently & strength will come, even if slowly.

I don’t mean to be rude here, simply truthful. I’m the same height as you, almost exactly, 15kg lighter on a heavy day and even in my weakened state lift more than you. I, and many others on this site would consider myself to be fat and weak. How you view yourself is down to you, but be aware most on this site will see this very differently.

There’s so much to potentially unpack here, but you actually aren’t strong enough to lift with “intensity”, as you suggest. And I think that is part of the problem. You can do more than you think you can, you simply haven’t discovered it yet. You clearly are not pushing yourself…doing SS for a month and then switching to 5/3/1 is almost the definition of not pushing yourself.

Pick one program, and do it for at least 4 months. ADD WEIGHT AS REQUIRED BY THE PROGRAM and follow it like your entrance to heaven depended on it.

You have an excellent excuse to work harder and smarter than everyone else now. Good luck with your training.

Thanks for all the answers. The word “strongish” was probably a wrong choice (English is not my main language), by it I just meant that I don’t look sickly or skinny, or fat for that matter.

The longest time I’ve consistently lifted was 2,5 years, but that’s already over ten years ago. Even then I only got my bench to 70 kg for a few reps. My BLDL was 150 kg for a single, but I was also well over 110kg bodyweight then.

About intensity, I do work up to failure pretty much every time. I have also been known to push deadlifts to the “puking point” several times.

And I changed from SS to 5/3/1 simply because I wasn’t gaining at all. Two months ago I started benching from 2x5 50 kg and now I’m at 2x5 55kg. That’s barely a little more than half my bodyweight.

My meaning here is not to whine about this stuff, I would just be genuinely interested whether I’m just a genetic anomaly? Actually my son is also very much like me: a big guy for his age (15) but struggling to keep up at sports when strength is required.

Have you had any medical tests done? Or talked to your doctor?

No I haven’t, but actually I have a doctor’s appointment coming up, maybe I could ask for testosterone check or something…

I think that would be a good place to start. Would definitely ask for a thyroid panel.

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This isn’t helping you. There are plenty of gym goers (majority) who work out “hard”, but not smart (take every set to failure). I very rarely (maybe every six months) miss a rep that I start. After making this change my numbers have progressed better than when I was working “harder”.

There is a place for all out sets (taking it to failure work), but probably not as often as you think. I like doing it every three or four week (on one exercise), but I stop after form breaks down, not when I absolutely fail a lift.


I have know a few guys like you , big but not really strong, and by their lifestyle they have not taught their body to be athletic. Your body needs to be taught this, and it takes time. Years!

Prime your joints, muscles, your nervous system . That takes time.

I think the best way to get going on being stronger for anyone is body wt stuff.

Prime those legs to KNOW what to do, how to push wt by doing body wt squats, body wt lunges. Add volume to that, then add wt with an empty bar. Build from the bottom up. Even though you might be a bigger guy, I think you still need to start from scratch and give it time. It might be harder too since your body wt is heavier, that might be an advantage later.

Work on push ups with less range of motion - on your knees- until you can do them normally. Build capacity by walking more, take a back pack with you with books in it. Eat clean , don’t drink or smoke. Sleep well . Put in time.

People who start to lift even later in life might forget that we all started at the bottom, maybe some got off the bottom sooner but we all started there. Our body’s need to learn how to do movements, how to built to adapt to the new things you are asking it to do and that takes time. Our body’s will fight change unless we are consistent for a long time.


Hi Onkeltuta, did you get your bloodwork done ? have you considered you might be borderline diabetic . . . .(bad diet) . . . . if you can’t lift heavy, why not try volume training . . . . just lift lighter weights at crazy high reps untill you feel the burn. Volume training won’t make you bigger, or even much stronger but it’ll for sure get you into great shape and you wont be beating yourself up mentally.