Hello everyone, I decided to make a thread that entailed some problems I have had recently. Currently I am 17 (I am assuming that is extremely young for these forums) and have been weightlifting for a few months. I was on and off for a few years and just started getting serious around March of this year. I decided to search for some forums about weightlifting to address my problem and hopefully find a solid answer.
My current situation is that I am worried about my ability to bench press. I am not that young anymore and figure I should be lifting some pretty big numbers. I am currently only doing 5-6 reps of 135 lbs, potentially more if I do them before deadlifts. I start out with 10 reps of 95 lbs as a warmup and then start my next sets with 135. I have been stuck at 135 for over a month now. I am worried I am doing something wrong because this seems unnatural to me. I work out every other day (generally 3-4 times a week) and usually follow the same basic routine (occasionally doing different exercises). I always do this with my father as he has been weightlifting for years now. He tells me that I have just hit a peak and I will be stuck at it for awhile, but then jump ahead to a higher weight. I believed it at first...but it has been weeks and weeks of doing the same weight and struggling the same amount. I am starting to think I might be working out the wrong way and not builing those specific muscles enough.
I do not know a lot about weight lifting, or certain terms used, so I decided to ask you guys. I am curious if there are any certain exercises you would recommend to help me get over this peak. Maybe it is what I am eating and until I gain more calories I can't get bigger and can't lift more? I am not sure. All I know is a lot of people my age are lifting 160-190 (excluding football players).
If needed, I will give a brief summary of my workout and myself in case it is needed. I am about 155-160 lbs right now (Haven't weighed in for months but I know I haven't got that much bigger) and just about 6 feet tall. When I start my workout I always do lunges. After lunges I will occasionally do pushups or if I am at a gym I will ride the bike for awhile. I do all of this to warm up. I then start out with deadlifts. Currently I am warming up with 8 reps of 95lbs and then just recently I have started doing 10 reps of 135lbs. After deadlifts we go straight to bench press where I lift what was mentioned above in the other paragraph. After benchpress we do pull-ups and dips (not the same as at the gym, we sit on the bench with legs outstretched on a stool, I put a 25lb on my lap and do 15 reps) back to back for 3 sets. After those are done we do curls. I usually do 1 set of 6-8 reps with the bar (45lbs) and then 2 sets of 6-8 reps with 55lbs. I could do more but at that point my arms are dead and I am much weaker.
So that is basically my routine, weight, height, and my problem. I thought this would be a good place to ask as I saw a lot of helpful replies on other threads.
*Also, I am starting to drink a calorie milkshake from GNC which basically gives me 500+ calories per serving (the normal serving they recommend is 1000 calories but I don't usually use that much of it). I was told to drink it everyday before bed or after a workout. Just curious, should I continue to drink these? My friend told me that these never work and it will just add fat, but my father assures me it will help build muscle. I have stopped drinking these recently and am just curious if this could solve my issue.
Also, it may be good to explain a situation about me. According to my father, genetics haven't kicked in, or something. I find myself tiny compared to all weightlifters and most kids my age. My arms are somewhat small (although now I can see them growing) and my muscles are not defined. My dad assures me he had the same issue but all of the sudden when he was 18 he sprouted out his muscles and it was all due to genetics.
Thanks in advance for all replies and helpful advice!
Gaining some weight will be important. Extra calories with an emphasis on protein should be your number one priority. Check out our nutrition forum for more information on that.
Finding a good progression scheme is paramount, especially at the beginning stages. Constantly pushing at your max is not the best way to break through a barrier. You don't walk up to a wall, press against it, and think you'll break through to the other side. YOU NEED A RUNNING START!
Lastly, benching three or four times a week isn't the best. You'll want to probably cut that down to twice a week at most. Browse our stickies and articles for some great suggestions on routine setups. You might also want to include a good rowing movement as a strong back will help give you a solid base to bench from.
Thanks for the advice! I will be sure to check all of that out. Right now I am just lenient on gaining weight because I still have "baby fat" in my face and I am afraid by gaining weight it will just add more. Also, does anyone have suggestions on good exercises to build chest strength/muscles? I know bench press does but I still have no defined muscles in my chest...at all
Honestly if you wanna break through, and youve been there for awhile
have a spotter and just put five more pounds on the bar,
you would be surprised what you might be able to do.
Most plateaus are psychological
I'd tend to agree with OffRoad, it sounds like you need a deload, as well as fewer bench sessions per week. I've had good results with a Max Effort / Dynamic Effort split (i.e. if your max is 135, shoot for that on your max effort days, while doing ~105 in higher rep sets on your dynamic effort days). Your mileage may vary of course, as everyone responds differently, but it's working for me.
I think my issue might be my diet. I am 6 feet and weigh 155-160 which I have heard is really small for my height. I don't have any set diet or food I eat, I just eat whatever is around and/or made. In fact, often times I don't eat lunch...I just don't pay attention. I was told by my father that I should eat a ton as that will produce my muscles, but I am afraid it will just go to straight fat and not muscle. One of the main reasons I feel this way is that after I work out, and on days I don't, I am usually sitting at my computer for most of the day. I still go out and walk to town (usually a 5 mile walk there and 5 miles back) occasionally with some friends, but I am afraid sitting at the computer is kind of negating what I do in weights...
I would follow a diet posted here but I do not have access to specific foods. My supper is what is cooked and my lunch is whats in the house. Sorry for poor grammar structure in this post, fixing to go so don't have time to write well.
I have also seen that giving yourself a week of break is good. Tomorrow I leave for the beach and will be gone for 7 days with no gym within 30 miles. Should I use this time to take a break? Or should I drive to the closest gym and continue to work out?
A break after 3 or more months of lifting is a good idea. I had an unplanned break recently due to a sinus cold, and I came back feeling much stronger and set new PRs.
Diet is huge. It cannot be over-emphasized. I am also naturally quite thin, 160lbs @ 5'-10". I'm now at 180, and the gain is almost all muscle. I've been eating ~3600 calories per day, which I can say has been a bigger challenge than the actual lifting by far. Like you, I am in front of the computer over 8 hours per day. You will not get fat at this caloric intake while lifting heavily. However, if you do start putting on unwanted body fat, you can always scale back on the calories; it's not like you'll suddenly have a gut one morning.
Last edited by wags; 06-24-2010 at 04:07 PM.
I will echo what these guys are saying about your diet. At your weight and height you are unlikely to build any decent level of strength without some weight gain. If you start gaining too much fat, it's pretty easy to back off the diet a little.
You also need a better system for training than going in and pushing at a max level multiple times per week. Find some that isn't a max effort to start and builds up over a period of workouts.
In the meantime, enjoy your time at the beach and eat some food. The rest will probably do you some good.