I can't lift heavyweight, is there anyway to still develop strength and build muscle?

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by TidWell, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059
    I have bad knees and shoulder from sports, I read a lot of comments online of people making fun of guys who cant lift heavyweights or cant bench more than 200 pounds.

    im not looking to win a weight lifting contest but just maintain a naturally functional strong body. im a bit over 6 foot tall and a skinny fat 183 pounds, i dont have big wrists or ankles so im guessing i have a small bone structure.
     
  2. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,449
    Likes Received:
    2,553
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Absolutely. You wont be huge but you can certainly build a physique you will be happy with. Light weight training to failure, short rest periods, high volume or high frequency work will get it done. Even with light weight, those last few reps of a set to failure engage the same muscle fibers that heavy weight training engages.
     
    MisterHappy, corpse and TidWell like this.
  3. Saint Of The K

    Saint Of The K Green Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Messages:
    1,014
    Likes Received:
    102
    I guess most posters here will want more details about your injuries and say that you should work around them, which is mostly true. More strength in muscles supporting your knees will improve their condition, and allow you to squat without pain. That has been my case, I cannot go too heavy or for too much reps, but if I'm reasonable then I can get some benefits with little drawbacks. Working on flexibility has helped a lot with pain management too.

    Edit: if you want to go light weight/high reps, take special care of form especially for your shoulders. Do not go to failure or anywhere close if you lose form. My 2 cents.
     
    corpse and TidWell like this.
  4. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059
    My knees are next to nothing remember the basketball player brandon roy he had to retire young from his knees losing cartiledge not as bad because i can still use a treadmill.

    I got bad knees from hard running when i used to play football from the ages of 10 to 22. Im in my 30s now.

    My rotator is okay but i had a slight tear a few years ago, it was able to heal naturally doc said not to lift with it for a few months, i can lift things over my head no pain anymore but i injured it from doing heavy overhead presses. And i dont want to take a chance lifting too heavy again, it was painful.
     
  5. Saint Of The K

    Saint Of The K Green Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Messages:
    1,014
    Likes Received:
    102
    Totally understandable, just to be clear I was not saying you SHOULD lift heavy, just don't throw out the possibility that one day you may be able to again.

    So for now just try a bunch different exercises with not too much volume or weight (would suggest some kind of full body routine) and see if some are painful, exclude those and build a better routine from there.

    And do mobility drills. A bunch. Daily if you can.
     
    TidWell likes this.
  6. selfcritical

    selfcritical Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    3,658
    Likes Received:
    746
    For hypertrophy, the total number of sets you do that are within proximity to failure is probably a better indicator of stimulus than total tonnage. Which is to say light weight can definitely be used to get more jacked, and it has some transfer to strength (lifting heavier weights is more useful in building strength, but makes it harder to add additional sets, which can limit muscle growth)

    Blood Flow Restriction training also uses light weights to achieve muscle growth and strength, but is very painful even though it doesn't disrupt recovery very much. Typically 25-30 percent of your 1RM for sets of 15-30
     
    TidWell, Genghiz and corpse like this.
  7. MuyThaiTom

    MuyThaiTom Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,839
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Northern VA
    Have you ever seen a physical therapist?
     
    TidWell likes this.
  8. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059
    Broke, they cost money if i had money id probably see one
     
  9. NurseKnuckles

    NurseKnuckles My Mom's stronger than you belt

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    9,813
    Likes Received:
    1,300
    Location:
    Brockville, Ontario
    You can't lift weight because of your knees, but you can run on a treadmill?
     
    mike sherry likes this.
  10. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059

    I dont run on a treadmill, i use it for incline walking, with long strides.
     
  11. JimRussel

    JimRussel Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,244
    Likes Received:
    1,105
    Have you tried lifting middleweight? Even welterweight, maybe?
     
    mike sherry and Phlog like this.
  12. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059
    it would be nice if you actually gave helpful info on this forum....
     
  13. JimRussel

    JimRussel Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,244
    Likes Received:
    1,105
    It would be nice if people actually started decent threads.
     
  14. TidWell

    TidWell Red Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    11,059
    If you didnt like the thread why waste your precious time replying?
     
  15. Tiger

    Tiger Random Poster

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,299
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    deep in the toilet...
    Definitely , I switched to lighter weights and just do more reps. As long as you don't use super light weights that obviously don't challenge your muscles you'll be fine.
     
    Hotora86 likes this.
  16. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Messages:
    5,544
    Likes Received:
    9,159
    Location:
    Denmark
    Plenty of good responses in this thread.

    1) you can go see a physiotherapist and get guidance.
    2) you can try to work around your injury finding exercises and modifications that suit you and doesn't increase pain over time.
    3) yes, you can lift lighter weights (which is relative) and still get results.
     
    Hotora86 likes this.
  17. vladimilaz

    vladimilaz White Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    62
    You can definitely get muscle using lighter weights, as long as you do enough sets that will keep you in a hypertrophy range. Many people make a mistake of doing too few sets to com0ensate for the number of reps done, but that's not how it works. You can find studies that prove there's pretty much no difference in hypertrophy from doing sets of 6-8 and sets of 25, as long as the number of those sets is equal (google stronger by science, youll find an article there if you are interested), and you are going pretty damn close to failure.

    I'd suggest that, after you get a bit better using light weights, gradually start incorporating some moderate/heavyish weight back into your training, tho im no doc, so take this with a grain of salt. Mostly personal experience speaking.
     
    Hotora86 likes this.
  18. mike sherry

    mike sherry Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card Yellow Card Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,426
    Likes Received:
    1,892
    Location:
    Boston
    have you tried a linear progression?

    I would be willing to bet money you just went too heavy too quickly
     
  19. JosephDredd

    JosephDredd Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Messages:
    20,227
    Likes Received:
    22,949
    look up calisthenics routines and especially gymnastics routines involving static holds. You can build incredible strength and build some muscle while working movements in very weak positions (meaning not a lot of absolute force is exerted, though the relative force will be off the charts).

    I would highly recommend you get your hands on convict conditioning and see how that works for you.
     
    AshiharaFan, Hotora86 and Valhoven like this.
  20. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    Messages:
    10,429
    Likes Received:
    11,228
    Location:
    Land of Po
    Good call. I am in a similar situation as TS (spinal hernia, shoulder problems) so I can add my 2c:

    1. Physical therapy.
    Yes, I saw that TS said he ain't got the money for it. But seriously, your health is the most valuable thing you're got. Save some cash, cut down on stuff you don't need (cigs, beer etc.), maybe sell stuff on ebay? Visit a legit certified physical therapist - even one visit can change your life. Not kidding. There are muscular imbalances in your body that you are not aware of - a good physio will fix that or give you special exercises for you to fix that over time. It may take a week or it may take a year but in the end you will not regret it.

    2. Calisthenics and pilates.
    Yeah, it's not the same as pumping iron BUT you can get very good results while minimizing injury. I now do pullups, pushups and squats DAILY and I feel much better than when I used to go to the gym 3 times per week and do the regular split routine. No injuries, more energy and even no DOMS, while my body keeps getting stronger, visibly leaner and more chiseled - and I'm 30! Start slow and don't force yourself. This is super important so I will repeat: START SLOW. If you can't do a pushup, start with wall pushups. Do them slowly with good form. Only after you've mastered an easy exercise move on to a harder one. The aforementioned "Convict conditioning" book emphasizes this smart approach.

    3. Eat healthy!
    This is an important aspect which many people neglect, since we've been told for many years that "a calorie is a calorie" and you just need to burn more than you eat if you want to lose fat or eat more than you burn to gain weight. NOT TRUE AT ALL! A calorie coming from vegetables is great for you, while a calorie coming from sugar is KILLING you. Google dr Robert Lustig for an eye-opening research on the topic. For protein eat lean meat, dairy and legumes.

    4. Rest and sleep well.
    Also not deemed important by beginner lifters, getting enough rest is absolutely vital to your progress. If you're not getting your 7-8 hours of sleep per day you are killing your gains. Go to bed early. Put away your smartphone - blue light stops melatonin production. Read a book or meditate to chill out. Get rid of the alarm clock if you can. If you have to get up early for work then go to bed early as well.

    5. Manage expectations and enjoy.
    Rome was not built in a day - and your body won't be either. It will take a lot of time and discipline. I'm a hard gainer and I've spent 10 years (!) doing all kinds of training before I looked in the mirror with satisfaction. And that's another thing - learn to like yourself as you are. Setting goals is fine but "be the biggest guy in the gym" is a stupid goal - there will always be someone bigger, there will be guys on steroids etc. and you don't need to take that road. Train for your own pleasure and satisfaction rather than to one-up somebody. It's a hobby and it should bring you joy, not frustration. Enjoy it!

    I hope the above advice is helpful. Good luck! :)
     
    JosephDredd likes this.

Share This Page