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Barbell Why can't I get stronger in my squat and deadlift? Please help.

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Mikeyboy

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi there guys!

I've been training for about 3 years now, mostly crossfit and weightlifting. I started from being just a computer nerd into pulling 190kg deadlift and 160kg squat within 2 years. But, after that I could never go higher, and now I have problems lifting that weight aswell. Basically a year and a half has passed now without any improvement what so ever, I do lift 5-7 times a week. I've tried so many programs, 10 sets of everything, 8 sets, you name it. I've tried it.

I have tried to rest more now, as I thought i overworked myself. I do squat and deadlift 2-3 times a week and went from 4+ squat sess a week to 2-3, with no improvement still.

BW: 73 kg, 1.67.
I do eat around 4-5 times a day + 2-3 protein shakes.
I sleep around 9-10 hours.
I'll attach photos of my current program that i did myself. It kinda resembles how i work, but i've done way way worse.

What could be wrong? Is there any suggestions of what I could try? I am close to giving up as i am pushing myself very hard everytime and it's burning me out as I don't get any results from such a long time of doing it.

Thanks alot!
 

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Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Hi @Mikeyboy

My first thought is, that's quite a lot of volume. I would try half that volume for two weeks and see what effects you notice. Feel fresher, stronger, ready for progress?

Second thought is there could be other factors. How's technique? Recovery? What other activities do you do? What condition is your body in relative to your goals (total lean mass, body fat, aesthetically, etc.)?
 
I am close to giving up as i am pushing myself very hard everytime and it's burning me out as I don't get any results from such a long time of doing it.
This isn't uncommon. I distinctly recall from a few years ago: I followed a program, I set a PR at a meet, and I followed the same program again, but reflecting my new PR. And my reaction was similar to yours - everything was too heavy, I was burning out, and in the end, I abandoned my second attempt the program, took a week off, and started up with another approach.

To add to @Anna C's good thoughts:

The only approach I am aware of that can go on ad infinitum is PlanStrong, where the variability in volume and in intensity is built right into the program itself.

Another alternative, which has potential to move a person forwards for a long time, would be some variation of one hard day per week per lift. I think this can work because it allows sufficient recovery time, and because the volume in low compared to other programs.

Any program which requires you to push really hard will inevitably cause you to burn out - such approaches can work well to peak for a competition, but even there, it's usually increased intensity and decreased volume for a few weeks only.

-S-
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Do less. More is not better, better is better.

If you're really in a rut I recommend a drastic change. Train once or twice a week, an exercise or two at a time, one or two hard sets an exercise. Try it for a month and see if you feel better.
 

Philippe Geoffrion

Level 7 Valued Member
It’s hard to say. We cannot observe your technique, have no idea about your leverages, recovery, etc. The program seems a bit is going on there. I only looked at the first shot but I didn’t see deadlifts anywhere, besides RDL, and the squats I saw were done after a bunch of other lifts.

It seems your goal is to improve your squat and deadlift. If that’s the case, they must be prioritized i.e. done first and fresh. It seems they’re included as afterthoughts.
 

william bad butt

Level 7 Valued Member
You are pretty strong for your bodyweight. Congratulations. Future improvements will come slower vs those 1st 2 years. This is biology. But fortunately progress can still be made. In your past, hard work and discipline allowed you to progress. Now that you are at an intermediate stage, that won't be enough. You need specific goals, intelligent programming, consistency, and fatigue management.

My advice is to (1) write down your specific goals. (2) Then choose a System to allow you to achieve these goals (Eastern vs Western vs Conjugate, for example). With StrongFirst consider the Reload or PlanStrong systems (since you are posting on a Strongfirst forum that is what I would recommend). Wendlers 5 3 1 is also popular, as an example. I personally use 10/20/Life Program as another example. (3) Meetup with a QUALIFIED coach or trainer to bounce ideas off of (and maybe get your form checked, too). This can be an online coach. This can be difficult because we believe we know what's best for ourselves. But others can view us without prejudice and see weaknesses and strengths for what they are.

Good luck!

Regards,

Eric
 

Chrisdavisjr

Level 7 Valued Member
'A change is as good as a rest', as they say, but by the same token, a rest can be as good as a change.

There's some great advice here but I think the first thing to try (assuming you haven't already) is just give the weights a break for a little while and come back to it with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

If you're worried about any potential issues with your form in any of the lifts, feel free to post videos here and welcome to the forum!
 

Mikeyboy

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi @Mikeyboy

My first thought is, that's quite a lot of volume. I would try half that volume for two weeks and see what effects you notice. Feel fresher, stronger, ready for progress?

Second thought is there could be other factors. How's technique? Recovery? What other activities do you do? What condition is your body in relative to your goals (total lean mass, body fat, aesthetically, etc.)?

HI Anna, thank you for your response!

The thing is, I don't feel tired in my muscles, i feel fresh and ready. But I always get disappointed because I can't progress, it always feel heavy, even though i've rested for 1-2 days before.
Form? Here's a video: - 150 kg, 10kg under my current pr, I don't bounce my squats anymore, but it looks very similar to this.
Recovery cud be massage, stretch, netflix, just chill.
I don't know my body fat etc, but heres a picture: jaaaaag.jpg
 

Mikeyboy

Level 1 Valued Member
It’s hard to say. We cannot observe your technique, have no idea about your leverages, recovery, etc. The program seems a bit is going on there. I only looked at the first shot but I didn’t see deadlifts anywhere, besides RDL, and the squats I saw were done after a bunch of other lifts.

It seems your goal is to improve your squat and deadlift. If that’s the case, they must be prioritized i.e. done first and fresh. It seems they’re included as afterthoughts.
I posted a video now. There's 3 deadlifts in first week and 3 in week 2 aswell. I call them R-DL and pulls.. as I do alot of squats i deload my legs by doing romanian deadlifts, less legs more back. Pulls = more legs.
You are pretty strong for your bodyweight. Congratulations. Future improvements will come slower vs those 1st 2 years. This is biology. But fortunately progress can still be made. In your past, hard work and discipline allowed you to progress. Now that you are at an intermediate stage, that won't be enough. You need specific goals, intelligent programming, consistency, and fatigue management.

My advice is to (1) write down your specific goals. (2) Then choose a System to allow you to achieve these goals (Eastern vs Western vs Conjugate, for example). With StrongFirst consider the Reload or PlanStrong systems (since you are posting on a Strongfirst forum that is what I would recommend). Wendlers 5 3 1 is also popular, as an example. I personally use 10/20/Life Program as another example. (3) Meetup with a QUALIFIED coach or trainer to bounce ideas off of (and maybe get your form checked, too). This can be an online coach. This can be difficult because we believe we know what's best for ourselves. But others can view us without prejudice and see weaknesses and strengths for what they are.

Good luck!

Regards,

Eric
Thank you for your compliment! My goal is to win the swedish championship in weightlifting, but I can't progress my strength so my dreams are fading, sadly. I am a very hard worker and I love to work hard, but how do I complement that with progress, I don't want to work outburn myself, but I want to work maximum load, for gains. Get me? .. I love working out, I love fitness.. I nearly can't rest 1 day from it, weather it is running, crossfit or weightlifting. SO you recommend me to do Planstrong for fastest squat weight gains?
I second what Ana said. As you get stronger you should try the actually lift less and accessory more. I deadlift 3.3x bw and I can tell you this is absolutely true in my case. Less deadlifting and more swinging ?
What works for you? I am working really hard and I am not shy of hard work. What do you recommend to me? I want as much gains as possible, I want to lift a 200kg backsquat and deadlift. What do I need to do? RN I can do 160kg backsquat and 180 ish deadlift, I am losing my deadlift.

Thanks guys, very nice to see responses!!
 

Philippe Geoffrion

Level 7 Valued Member
Maybe you’re working too hard... Fatigue will definitely mask your strength. Have you taken a break in a while?

Squatting regularly is a part of Olympic lifting but there’s always quite a bit of buffer. I’d say a single at 90 % or a 3rm is more the norm than doing an all out max weekly. They max out but not very often. The squat looks good. It’s close to your max. Do you squat at such high percentage regularly?

Of course people will mention the Bulgarian method, but modern literature has cleared the air about this. This was seen as more of a TM, training max and not a true max. Alas, most of us have other things to do like work, family and aren’t being paid to lift this such a system is beyond commitment.

Sometimes when you chase something relentlessly, it evades you, almost spitefully that it drives your pursuit even harder. Sometimes, taking a step back, giving yourself some credit and rebalancing will allow it to come to you.

Setting weekly goals could help, assessment of how you feel, how the lift and weight feels and making the necessary adjustments will pay dividends.
 

Mikeyboy

Level 1 Valued Member
Maybe you’re working too hard... Fatigue will definitely mask your strength. Have you taken a break in a while?

Squatting regularly is a part of Olympic lifting but there’s always quite a bit of buffer. I’d say a single at 90 % or a 3rm is more the norm than doing an all out max weekly. They max out but not very often. The squat looks good. It’s close to your max. Do you squat at such high percentage regularly?

Of course people will mention the Bulgarian method, but modern literature has cleared the air about this. This was seen as more of a TM, training max and not a true max. Alas, most of us have other things to do like work, family and aren’t being paid to lift this such a system is beyond commitment.

Sometimes when you chase something relentlessly, it evades you, almost spitefully that it drives your pursuit even harder. Sometimes, taking a step back, giving yourself some credit and rebalancing will allow it to come to you.

Setting weekly goals could help, assessment of how you feel, how the lift and weight feels and making the necessary adjustments will pay dividends.

Hey again!

Yeah they do, and that's what freakin' me out because I don't really know their program, but it looks like theyre squatting everyday. But obviously they don't.

Yeah I always squat at 85-90%+ - 2-5 reps, 5-10 sets. I always tryna push the limits, but my body aint following my mind.. hehe..

I don't work right now, so I do have time, and I am commited.

I guess I just need a program to follow that will give me weight gains, because otherwise I will just keep working (to hard?) and never gain results because I always think ( working hard, gains ) but apperantly not.
 

Philippe Geoffrion

Level 7 Valued Member
Hey again!

Yeah they do, and that's what freakin' me out because I don't really know their program, but it looks like theyre squatting everyday. But obviously they don't.

Yeah I always squat at 85-90%+ - 2-5 reps, 5-10 sets. I always tryna push the limits, but my body aint following my mind.. hehe..

I don't work right now, so I do have time, and I am commited.

I guess I just need a program to follow that will give me weight gains, because otherwise I will just keep working (to hard?) and never gain results because I always think ( working hard, gains ) but apperantly not.
Effort is certainly important. But to quote Pavel answering a similar inquiry in Beyond Bodybuilding. “The issue is not your effort. It’s that your program is based on emotion and not on science” or something like this.

I don’t know enough about oly lifting programming to recommend a program. But I know how to observe. You come from a CrossFit background it seems, which is not a problem. But the training mindset of strength athletes, who sit around for 5 minutes between sets, conflicts with a CrossFit mentality of going from A to B to C then starting all over again until the lungs collapse. A “doing less better” approach may suit your goals more.
 

william bad butt

Level 7 Valued Member
Thank you for your compliment! My goal is to win the swedish championship in weightlifting, but I can't progress my strength so my dreams are fading, sadly. I am a very hard worker and I love to work hard, but how do I complement that with progress, I don't want to work outburn myself, but I want to work maximum load, for gains. Get me? .. I love working out, I love fitness.. I nearly can't rest 1 day from it, weather it is running, crossfit or weightlifting. SO you recommend me to do Planstrong for fastest squat weight gains?
What is more important, progressing in olympic weightlifting (snatch and CJ) or progressing in the squat and deadlift? Usually as one develops further and further (this applies to most things like education, not just strength training), their work narrows and even specializes (even if it is just in the short term like 1 training block). I think Plan Strong programming could work well.
 

Starlord

Level 5 Valued Member
Just read through the thread.

From what I can gather is your main goal right now is to progress your back squat and deadlift to over 200kg ASAP.

My advice is the following.
Monday - Friday.
Back squat to a max. Start with 150kg and add 1.25kg per side each session.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Deadlift to a max. Start with 150kg and add 2.5kg per side each session.

What else? LIGHT snatches, C&J and anything else that'll keep you healthy and injury free during this specialization phase.

I'm talking back raises, GHRs, reverse hypers, pull ups, cable leg curls, hanging knee/leg raises, planks, ab wheel etc. Bang these out as part of a giant set so you minimise your time in the gym.

For example:
Back raises, cable leg curls, pull ups, hanging knee raises, ab wheel 3/4/5×10. So each week you add another set to the giant set. Each lift is done for 10 reps per set. So you are still accumulating volume as your weights increase. But it is in lifts that are restorative in nature.

The other factor. MINDSET. I don't know how you normally lift. Whether it is in a controlled frame of mind or whether you are tapping into anger and rage. I would advise the latter when it comes to shifting heavy weights. Loud, heavy metal blasting into your ears so the sound hits your body like a solid object. Tapping into that dark place. Getting locked in and attacking the weights. That doesn't mean completely gun hoing the technique. This phase will have you getting specifically good at lifting 1RM in your desired lifts. I have used this method to get specifically strong in a variety of lifts in a very short space of time. It will work for you if you apply the right mindset to that final working set of the day.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
HI Anna, thank you for your response!

The thing is, I don't feel tired in my muscles, i feel fresh and ready. But I always get disappointed because I can't progress, it always feel heavy, even though i've rested for 1-2 days before.
Form? Here's a video: - 150 kg, 10kg under my current pr, I don't bounce my squats anymore, but it looks very similar to this.
Recovery cud be massage, stretch, netflix, just chill.
I don't know my body fat etc, but heres a picture: View attachment 12732

You are doing great! Congratulations on what you have accomplished. IMO you have great form, body composition, strength, and work capacity. Have you been coached? I think you need to find a high level coach to help you progress from here... although there is some great advice in this thread!
 

Mikeyboy

Level 1 Valued Member
I'm curious to your starting bwt, and what it is now? You've done really well IMO.
starting bw was around 63 kg, i did workout around 3 times a day for a year and i shortened it to twice a day and now I am doing 1-2 a day because I am mainly focused on my strength.
Effort is certainly important. But to quote Pavel answering a similar inquiry in Beyond Bodybuilding. “The issue is not your effort. It’s that your program is based on emotion and not on science” or something like this.

I don’t know enough about oly lifting programming to recommend a program. But I know how to observe. You come from a CrossFit background it seems, which is not a problem. But the training mindset of strength athletes, who sit around for 5 minutes between sets, conflicts with a CrossFit mentality of going from A to B to C then starting all over again until the lungs collapse. A “doing less better” approach may suit your goals more.
I agree with hearin the term, emotion and not science. It's not what sounds best but what actually IS. That's why I am ready to do whatever it takes to get stronger, as long as I know what I am doing, is right.

I don't use my crossfit in my weightlifting, when I weightlift, i make sure to rest about 5+ minutes for strength sessions.
What is more important, progressing in olympic weightlifting (snatch and CJ) or progressing in the squat and deadlift? Usually as one develops further and further (this applies to most things like education, not just strength training), their work narrows and even specializes (even if it is just in the short term like 1 training block). I think Plan Strong programming could work well.
For me Squat and deadlift. My technique in lifts aren't an issue. I did clean and jerk 135 kg with a 140kg all time max front squat. My strength really drags me down, but my frontsquat right now is 155kg. I will check Plan Strong out, thank you!
Just read through the thread.

From what I can gather is your main goal right now is to progress your back squat and deadlift to over 200kg ASAP.

My advice is the following.
Monday - Friday.
Back squat to a max. Start with 150kg and add 1.25kg per side each session.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Deadlift to a max. Start with 150kg and add 2.5kg per side each session.

What else? LIGHT snatches, C&J and anything else that'll keep you healthy and injury free during this specialization phase.

I'm talking back raises, GHRs, reverse hypers, pull ups, cable leg curls, hanging knee/leg raises, planks, ab wheel etc. Bang these out as part of a giant set so you minimise your time in the gym.

For example:
Back raises, cable leg curls, pull ups, hanging knee raises, ab wheel 3/4/5×10. So each week you add another set to the giant set. Each lift is done for 10 reps per set. So you are still accumulating volume as your weights increase. But it is in lifts that are restorative in nature.

The other factor. MINDSET. I don't know how you normally lift. Whether it is in a controlled frame of mind or whether you are tapping into anger and rage. I would advise the latter when it comes to shifting heavy weights. Loud, heavy metal blasting into your ears so the sound hits your body like a solid object. Tapping into that dark place. Getting locked in and attacking the weights. That doesn't mean completely gun hoing the technique. This phase will have you getting specifically good at lifting 1RM in your desired lifts. I have used this method to get specifically strong in a variety of lifts in a very short space of time. It will work for you if you apply the right mindset to that final working set of the day.
You recommend me to Backsquat to a 1rm every Monday and friday? Increasing 1.25kg every time? No additional sets or reps?
I lift in a controlled frame, always. I have decent technique and I don't need metal music to lift my max, I could use oprah. I always give my best though. I do add alot of accessories as you mentioned but, my legs and back are 100% prio.
My bests right now are:
87.5kg military press ( 70 kg bw )
120kg pushpress
155kg frontsquat
160 Back
190 Deadlift
135kg cj ( been a year since i lifted, due to injuries and covid, gym closed )
You are doing great! Congratulations on what you have accomplished. IMO you have great form, body composition, strength, and work capacity. Have you been coached? I think you need to find a high level coach to help you progress from here... although there is some great advice in this thread!
Thank you very much Anna, sadly I myself am not impressed because my goals and dreams are very high, and I always aim higher. Which means I am not satisfied, sadly.
I have only coached myself, I have never asked anyone for anything or been coached. It's hard to find a decent coach around here and I don't really need lifting advice( oly lifts ) ( i am not cocky ) but it's because, the only thing bothering me is my strength.
 

Starlord

Level 5 Valued Member
You recommend me to Backsquat to a 1rm every Monday and friday? Increasing 1.25kg every time? No additional sets or reps?
I lift in a controlled frame, always. I have decent technique and I don't need metal music to lift my max, I could use oprah. I always give my best though. I do add alot of accessories as you mentioned but, my legs and back are 100% prio.
My bests right now are:
87.5kg military press ( 70 kg bw )
120kg pushpress
155kg frontsquat
160 Back
190 Deadlift
135kg cj ( been a year since i lifted, due to injuries and covid, gym closed )
That is exactly what I am recommending. Starting at 150kg and upping tbr weight every single session. If you are fortunate enough to have micro plates then your increments can be smaller and this will be maintainable for a longer period of time.

Zero back off sets. Just enough reps to warm up with before attempting your new max for the day.

Because of the high levels of intensity and frequency the last thing we want is to add unnecessary, junk volume. This is a specialization program. You have all the muscle needed to hit those numbers. I repeat YOU HAVE ALL THE MUSCLE NEEDED TO HIT THOSE NUMBERS. All this is going to do is get you good at maxing. You will become neurologically primed to hitting 200kg in the squat and deadlift.

All my biggest lifts were acheived after hitting specialization phases. Everything from 200kg zercher deadlift, to 180kg bench all the way to 300kg conventional/sumo and 400kg high handle trap bar.

Disclaimer. After you finish the specialisation process and move on with your training in another direction you won't be as strong in the lift you previously specialised in. For example when I went back to the zercher deadlift I started at 140/150kg. However my previous starting point was 90kg when I first did my zercher deadlift specialization. So the new strength "starting point" is already MUCH higher and I bet next time I coke round to doing zercher deadlifts I'll finish at around 220kg.

Just some food for thought. Oncd you've hit a major mile stone in the squat or deadlift you develop a new level of confidence that allows you to do better in your rep work.

The mindset starts to spill over into other aspects of performance outside of 1RM in specific lifts.
 
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