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  • How weak is normal?

    Hello Doctors,
    I thought I'd risk this potentially embarrassing question on a public forum, here it goes.

    tl;dr:
    In a nutshell, I think I'm very to the left of the bell curve when it comes to building muscle and strength, and I was wondering just how weak can a male be before you suspect something is going on medically? And not just that I chose the wrong parents?

    I'm 5'8", male, 30 yr

    Starting from my novice phase, my first run at a caloric surplus ended me up with a 37" waist at barely 168 lb and I couldn't even bench 135lb. Not that I did it super efficiently or with the best programming, SS in this case, but c'mon. I moved on from SS to intermediate style programming. I then cut back to 140 lb to improve my health because my blood pressure was notably high. Now at 150lb and now I am taking the caloric surplus more slowly, and with advanced programming. I've gained a bit of strength: I can hit 135 for two, but I feel this is totally unacceptable.

    I track my calories and weight and make sure I hit 1 g/lb of protein at minimum, and that I am gaining weight.
    I sleep at least 7 hours a night.
    I train with more volume than I did previously (did powerbuilding II template, currently doing strength III template)
    I tracked a few typical days of eating to make sure I was hitting my micro-nutrient requirements.
    I did that stop-bang questionnaire for sleep apnea and got low-risk
    I've been training for 2.5 years.
    I have some mild kyphosis, but not any other relevant medical condition or allergies that I'm aware of. I have some weird thumb nail deformity, but it doesn't matter obviously.

    lifts:
    bench: 150lb
    squat: 265lb
    deadlift: 315lb
    (for singles)

    Is it just bad genetics or should I investigate further? On your youtube channel, and you guys had mentioned about unnecessary screening, so I don't want to do what I imagine most of the internet wants me to do, just check my testosterone. Unless I should.

  • #2
    Monty,

    It sounds like you're just starting to really train here. Nothing looks wildly wrong, but would recommend continuing to train appropriately, eating 1.6-3.1g/kg bw/day in protein, and monitoring weight/waist in order to determine what your weight should be doing.

    You might not be a freak responder to the training you've been doing, but you also don't look to be wildly abnormal either. I don't know that strength III is appropriate for you- but it might not be "bad" either. You could repeat PB II a few times more before moving on if you're seeing good results.

    -Jordan
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

    Comment


    • montybot
      montybot commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Jordan, good to know I'm not too abnormal. I guess I set unrealistic expectations for myself and had difficulty adjusting them downward.
      I'll repeat PB II a few times if I get good results as you suggested.

  • #3
    Your numbers are not so bad. If you need some motivation, consider that most people can't imagine picking 300 lbs off the floor.

    From another perspective, if in the next year you added 100 lbs to all of your lifts, you'd be super happy. I think if you continue to train regularly with intelligent programming, you can continue to make progress.

    Eventually though you should look at your training log and try to figure out what you were doing during times when you did make progress, and probably what you were doing before you made progress. Sometimes you're setting yourself up for success, even if you don't immediately see the payoff.

    Comment


    • montybot
      montybot commented
      Editing a comment
      Hey thanks, yeah I'll keep those things in mind.

  • #4
    Originally posted by montybot View Post
    Hello Doctors,
    I thought I'd risk this potentially embarrassing question on a public forum, here it goes.

    tl;dr:
    In a nutshell, I think I'm very to the left of the bell curve when it comes to building muscle and strength, and I was wondering just how weak can a male be before you suspect something is going on medically? And not just that I chose the wrong parents?

    I'm 5'8", male, 30 yr

    Starting from my novice phase, my first run at a caloric surplus ended me up with a 37" waist at barely 168 lb and I couldn't even bench 135lb. Not that I did it super efficiently or with the best programming, SS in this case, but c'mon. I moved on from SS to intermediate style programming. I then cut back to 140 lb to improve my health because my blood pressure was notably high. Now at 150lb and now I am taking the caloric surplus more slowly, and with advanced programming. I've gained a bit of strength: I can hit 135 for two, but I feel this is totally unacceptable.

    I track my calories and weight and make sure I hit 1 g/lb of protein at minimum, and that I am gaining weight.
    I sleep at least 7 hours a night.
    I train with more volume than I did previously (did powerbuilding II template, currently doing strength III template)
    I tracked a few typical days of eating to make sure I was hitting my micro-nutrient requirements.
    I did that stop-bang questionnaire for sleep apnea and got low-risk
    I've been training for 2.5 years.
    I have some mild kyphosis, but not any other relevant medical condition or allergies that I'm aware of. I have some weird thumb nail deformity, but it doesn't matter obviously.

    lifts:
    bench: 150lb
    squat: 265lb
    deadlift: 315lb
    (for singles)

    Is it just bad genetics or should I investigate further? On your youtube channel, and you guys had mentioned about unnecessary screening, so I don't want to do what I imagine most of the internet wants me to do, just check my testosterone. Unless I should.
    Not my place to say, but I also think this shows how some people are stronger than others in certain areas and their lifts respond to training at different rates.

    E.g., my bench 1RM is fairly higher than yours, where as my 1RM squat is the same as yours - I take this to mean my bench responds more to my current training, whereas my squat needs some work. I wouldn't suspect there is anything wrong if I were you.

    Comment


    • #5
      My situation is eerily similar to yours. Current e1rm is almost exactly what you posted, only my deadlift is a bit higher, same height but 162lbs with a 33" waist at the moment. I've been training for almost the same amount of time, with the last year being spent on BBM templates and everything before that being spent endlessly resetting on LP. I haven't gained a whole lot of strength in the past year, but I also have only maintained or lost weight during this time, and the weight loss always resulted in some strength loss.
      I've had the same questions in my mind, is it just bottom of the barrel genetics, or is there something else at play? Though maybe I should reserve my judgment until I go on a caloric surplus again.

      Comment


      • montybot
        montybot commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree, I would wait until after your next run on a caloric surplus.

    • #6
      I was actually thinking of posting a similar question. I've been working on Powerlifting for YEARS and I barely have my numbers where they are now. and they're still comparable to yours.

      Similar to what Pat said, my bench is higher, but you have me beat on squats and our DLs are similar. But, I've been working on this for YEARS now. That part is frustrating to me.

      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by Marvinq42 View Post
        I was actually thinking of posting a similar question. I've been working on Powerlifting for YEARS and I barely have my numbers where they are now. and they're still comparable to yours.

        Similar to what Pat said, my bench is higher, but you have me beat on squats and our DLs are similar. But, I've been working on this for YEARS now. That part is frustrating to me.
        Marvin,

        I can understand that frustration. A question, if I may:

        When was your first competition and what were your numbers? What are they now?
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

        Comment


        • #8
          Originally posted by Jordan Feigenbaum View Post

          Marvin,

          I can understand that frustration. A question, if I may:

          When was your first competition and what were your numbers? What are they now?
          I never competed. but when I started measuring my PRs they were

          2014
          Bench: 155
          Squat: 145
          DL: 180

          2019
          Bench: 205
          Squat: 257 (estimated based on 250x2)
          DL: 317.7 (estimated based on 300x3)

          Today I'm 49, 158 lbs, Currently I've been cutting my bf is about 16% I'm trying to get it down to 12% and recently I have been experiencing some loss in strength .

          But I'm hoping I can bring it back up, when I eventually start gaining weight again.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by Marvinq42 View Post

            I never competed. but when I started measuring my PRs they were

            2014
            Bench: 155
            Squat: 145
            DL: 180

            2019
            Bench: 205
            Squat: 257 (estimated based on 250x2)
            DL: 317.7 (estimated based on 300x3)

            Today I'm 49, 158 lbs, Currently I've been cutting my bf is about 16% I'm trying to get it down to 12% and recently I have been experiencing some loss in strength .

            But I'm hoping I can bring it back up, when I eventually start gaining weight again.
            That looks pretty good actually all things considered. You should enter a meet. I bet your numbers would take off
            Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
            ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

            Comment


            • #10
              Thank you Jordan,

              I've actually been considering getting help to see if I'm doing something fundamentally wrong that's just slowing down my progress. That or maybe it's just sub-optimal genetics?

              Wow, I never really considered entering an actual meet. I guess I just don't think I'm even strong enough to try without embarresing myself! But you encouraging it, actually has me a little bit convinced. I just may look into it.




              Comment

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