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Am I an unusually poor responder to training? Not seeing the gainz lately.

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  • Am I an unusually poor responder to training? Not seeing the gainz lately.

    Hello doctors,

    I'm a 24 year old guy who started training a year ago. I've been through NLP, 5x5, The Bridge, and currently on the 12 week strength program. A year ago I weighed 60kg at 5'10" and I ballooned up to 97kg a few months ago. So you might think my numbers should be decent considering the huge bulk I made. Well, nope, my numbers are very bad and I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

    So after 6 months of learing the movements, doing 10 resets on the NLP and grinding reps with bad form, I ended with these numbers, my BW was like 90kg:
    Squat 110kg 3x5
    DL 120kg 1x5
    Press 47kg 3x5
    Bench 62kg 3x5

    I added more volume to my programming and did 5x5 for 3-4 months, still grinding with very bad form, resting 10 minutes between sets. Kept bulking and ended up weighing 97kg with these numbers:
    Squat 130kg x1, 120kg 5x5
    DL 137kg x5
    Press 55kg 3x5
    Bench 67kg 5x5

    So at this point I was bloated AF! (37kg weight gain in 9-10 months lmfao) and I decided I had to change something.

    So I started with The Bridge and changed my approach to training. I reduced calories to 3000 and reduced resting times to 4-5 minutes. So my numbers went down a little bit but my conditioning improved and I stopped grinding at rpe10. FINALLY, I was doing my work sets without my form breaking down.

    So 5 weeks ago, I started the 12 week strength program. My goal was to get stronger while not adding unnecessary weight/fat on my body. I'm eating 2750 calories right now and I weigh 92kg, maintaining weight.

    My squat and DL has not been trending upwards the way I thought they should be doing. My [email protected] for the squat has been 130kg since week 1, and I'm on week 5 now. My DL is also stuck at 135kg [email protected]

    I've listened to your podcast and was especially interested when you talked about "low responders" to training, and I'm suspecting I'm one of them because of my underwhelming progress. I'm really busting my ass off at the gym and I've tried to reach a 3-plate squat for 6 months but I feel like I'm not getting there the way I should.

    The 12 week program seem to have plenty of volume and I don't feel overly beat up and I think I'm fairly good at judging my RPE. But my week 1 and week 5 has been pretty much identical, same numbers at the same RPE pretty much.

    1) Could I be one of those guys who are on the very far end of the spectrum when it comes to generating a response to training?
    2) Should I add even more volume than the 12 week program offers? I feel like 4 days/wk and the volume should be enough!
    3) I haven't missed a rep in 6 months, could I be undershooting RPE and not inducing enough stress? I think I'm judging RPE good because I only grind the last reps of sets @9.

    Thank you very much for reading through this mess, and I appreciate any kind of input.

    Thank you.

  • #2

    Thanks for the post and I hope you're doing well. I can appreciate that your results in training are the most important things to you here and so you've given us some nuance

    That said, my answers to your questions:

    1) Eh, it's possible, but you've only been training a year and arguably half of it was screwing around with NLP because a group of men on the Internet impressed upon you that this was a good idea.

    2) I'm not sure. I'd first ask you- why are you repeating your weights each week? Do they always feel the exact same?

    3) It's possible, but I don't think one should be missing reps regularly either...
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      Thank you for your reply Jordan, I appreciate it.

      1) Yup, I'd say I've been training for 6-7 months now. The Cult got to me

      2) Ok let me take the squat for example. I'm trying to increase the single each week, but 130kg always feels "very heavy". I'm not sure if it's a psychological issue, I must admit I'm scared of grinding reps because my form was very bad when I started lifting, and I don't want it to creep back. Maybe I'm just being a pussy.

      Comp squat:
      Week 1: Single [email protected] Volume at 102.5kg 5x5 @7-7.5
      Week 2. Single [email protected] Volume at 105kg 5x5 @8-8.5
      Week 3: Single 130kg @8. Volume 107.5kg 5x5 @8.
      Week 4: Single 130kg @9.5. Volume 107.5kg first [email protected], so I had to drop the weight to 102.5kg to complete
      Week 5: Single 130kg @8. Volume 110kg 5x5 @8-9.5.

      My e1rm hasn't really moved in these week, but the tonnage has gone up.

      Maybe I'm misjudging the RPE. Maybe I'm being a pussy and not grinding enough. Do you think I should add 2.5kg by default just to see what happens to my single?

      Thank you for your time!


      • #4
        Yes, let's start by adding 2.5 kg next week and get a bit more aggressive in your approach to the bar. You can also record that single and post it to the BBM FB group to get some eyes on the technique and bar speed.
        IG / YT


        • #5
          Thanks for replying!

          I'll psych myself up and add weight next week. I'm 100% confident I will get it, but I'm more worried about it being a rpe 9 or even 9.5, which still means my e1rm hasn't changed. Don't want to be negative but that's what I've experienced in the past. It's screws up the flow when the e1rm is the same each week.

          And then the dilemma becomes: do I add weight to my volume work even tho my e1rm didn't go up? That means I would be doing work in the 85-90% range soon. Maybe that's what I (a possibly low responder) needs?

          Or, do I repeat the previous week's weight, to make sure it's in the 70-80% range?

          Do you consider it a waste of time to repeat the weights from week to week? The argument would be: if the stress didn't make you adapt this week, or the week before that, why would it adapt you the third time you try the exact same thing?


          • #6
            I think you're concerning yourself a bit too much here. One session where the RPEs jumped a bit more than you want turns into "soon I'll be working in 85-90% range" ... which is a bit exaggerated.

            And yes, we don't like to have people repeating the same weights for weeks on end ... but the system is unfortunately not as perfectly controlled as we'd like. Sometimes you have outside factors impacting your recovery or ability to perform, such that you end up having to perform the same weights on a given exercise for a second week, for example. But if it becomes a pattern of multiple weeks in a row, then yes, we'd change something.
            IG / YT


            • #7
              I trained today and psyched myself up with music and was being much more aggressive and what a difference it made. New bench pr and it felt incredibly easy, same with rack pulls. Also did some squats which felt amazing when I was in the right mindset, form looked better than ever.

              I also realized I was loosing tightness when I did my singles in the squat and when I was fatigued. When I cue myself to keep my elbows pinned to the side and close my armpits, I get tight like a mf'er and can grind reps much better. A real night and day difference.

              Sorry for spamming you with this information, but I'm just very excited