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very weak

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 12:31 pm
by Wouter
Hello, I've got a question once again.
At T-nation, there's an article about strenght standards(
I've been training for 9 months and I've made some improvement, but I'm still weak. Even though I basically had no muscle at the beginning of my training, I haven't made much improvement.
Now I was wondering since this chart is made up for adults, does this also apply to teenagers?

I'm going to give some numbres as a comparison:
I'm 172 lbs, I deadlift 132 lbs 10 times, I can do 22 pistols, my military press (al the way down) is 71 lbs 7 times, I can do 110 lbs bent-over rows (9 times).
I haven't got dipping bars, so I can't test that, I can do 20 push-ups or something like it, I can do 4 chins.
My arm strenght is less weak: I can take 62 lbs on a EZ-curl for 10 times and 57 lbs on the skullcrusher for 7 times.
The weakest exercise is the bench press: I can only bench 88 lbs for 7 times. I can take 88 lbs for 13 times on a close-grip bench.

My question is: have I got 'normal' strenght for my age (almost 17 yrs old) and will it increase more rapidly after some time?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 12:55 pm
by Halfbreed
Part of the problem, Wouter, is that it sounds like you are lifting with too many repetitions. If you have been lifting long enough to get accustomed to the weights, and to learn your form, start lifting heavier. Do sets that you can handle from 4-6 reps at, and try pyramiding. Establish a one rep max, and then work from percentages. E.g. start with like 85% of your one rep max for the first set, and lift until failure, then 90% your second set until failure, then 95% your final set until failure.

Do power exercises...squats, cleans, bench press, military press. This old man that I used to know talked about building strength 3 months at a time. You would set a goal weight, and would lift heavy at those power exercises for the three months. You would lift until failure every time. He suggested lifting after warming up for your first set at a weight where you hit failure at 4, then where you hit failure at 2, then your one rep max until you can't lift it anymore, and then you're done for the day. Take long enough breaks in-between sets to let you're muscles recover from the set, and just push, push, push. Some days you won't be as strong as other days, but when you can get outside of those rep-ranges, you increase the weight slightly and keep going.

Also, eat, eat, and eat some more. With bodyweight comes power. Every two hours, no matter what, even if the periods in between your main three meals are only something small. Eat foods that will help you recover, high in high-quality protein. Eggs are the best, and meat sources of protein are better quality than plant sources.

Whether you're normal or not depends just on your body type. Different body types were designed to carry different types of muscle with different natural strengths. Don't compare to others your age, just recognize youre body and its limitations, and with hard work and intelligence you will make the best version of your body.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 1:46 pm
by hoosegow
And finally, who care who is stronger than another? Who are you lifting for? Just lift smart. The gains will come. You've made progress. 90% of the people out there get worse every day. You've gotten better. Welcome to the 10%.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 1:48 pm
by Ryan A
I would stick to lower reps in the deadlift if you are looking for strength gains.

Do you squat? Or are pistols the only "squatting" type exercise you do?

Looking at the rest of your lifts and your comment about no dipping bar, it looks as though you have weak triceps. For one, you are probably not military pressing more than you curl, that is bad. Do you struggle with the military press at the bottom of the rep or somewhere in the middle? If it is in the middle, then it is more likely to be weak triceps.

You are also curling more than you use on skull crushers. It seems kind of comparable but the triceps has the potential to move more weight so you should be at least equaling what you do for your biceps.

What kind of program are you following?
You don't really say how much you were doing when you started so I can't tell if your progress is good/bad. Many people expect to progress more quickly than is realistic.

It looks as though you are choosing good exercises. What order do you do them? I would put the bicep curls last since they seem to be your best exercise or remove them entirely for a short time. Keep working the bent over rows and pullups as those will very likely keep your biceps in top form anyway.

I disagree with the other poster about going to failure on all the sets. I would occasionally go to failure on the last set but try to go just short of failure most of the time. I do agree that you should try some new rep ranges. You seem to be scattered about for what rep ranges you do.

Re: very weak

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 3:53 pm
by Stephen Johnson
Wouter wrote:I've been training for 9 months and I've made some improvement, but I'm still weak. Even though I basically had no muscle at the beginning of my training, I haven't made much improvement.
I wouldn't sweat it. When Angelo Siciliano started weight training, he was scrawny and sickly. But he persisted, and became a bodybuilding legend - though not by his given name.

Don't think about where you are - think about where you'd like to be.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:19 am
by Wouter
Thanks for the replies, I cannot do heavy squatting/benching or test my 1RM since I train at home and don't have a power rack, but my dad gives me my weight to bench.
I do my Pistols against a wall with a Swiss Ball in between (90° max)

I forgot to give my starting strenght (one month after the beginning of the lifting):
I didn't Deadlift or do any leg exercises at that time. It was pretty stupid because I had strong legs at that time.
I did db bench presses at that time with 26.5 lbs 7 times, shoulder press was 22 lbs times 12. My bent-over row was 70.5 lbs times 10.
I did 22 lb curls 10 times and I could handle 31 lbs on the pushdown.

This was my strenght after 3 months of training:
db bench press: 31 lbs*11, shoulder press: 26.5 lbs *11, bent-over row: 80 lbs*12, EZ-bar curl: 44lbs*14, Pushdown :26.5 lbs*11 (after whole pressing day)
I began to do some lower body training, but no deadlifts/squats/...

And according to have a weak triceps: my close-grip bench is equal to my normal bench, so I'd consider my chest to be weaker then my triceps (in comparison).

Edit: while training I use a 1-2 min rest between sets and a 3 min rest between exercises.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:32 am
by hoosegow
So let's look at this in perspective.
db bench press: from 26.5 to 31 is a 17% increase while increasing reps by 10%.
Shoulder press was a 20.% increase.
Row was a 13.5 % increase while increasing reps by 20%
You doubled your curls while increasing reps by 40%

Seems pretty good increases to me. I'd kill to have that much growth in three months.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 12:20 pm
by Wouter
I've been using an adjusted Chad Waterbury program, the one with the 6 exercises (4 compound, 2 isolation) for 3 months. But I adjusted it to 4-5 compound and 3-2 isolation.

Yesterday I've had a teriffic workout ( in case you were wondering why the numbers are odd: they originally were in kg):
Deadlifts: 145 lbs * 9/8/7
Single-legged Ball Bridges (they're very hard): bodyweight*13/14/14
Bench Press: 101 lbs * 6/5 + 92*7
Barbell Bent-over Row: 110 lbs*10/8
Military Press: 70.5 lbs*7/5
Raises : 44 lbs*10/8
Reverse Curls: 48.5 lbs*13/10

I've just added neck (flexions and extensions)/forearm (reverse curls + EZ-curls with hands 45°)/calve training (only single-legged)

I don't normally do that much sets (2 every exercise) and compound lifts (normally 4).
I am thinking about doing only compound lifts exept for the neck/forearm/calves.