I'm currently 17 and my friend and I have been lifting weights for about 5 months. My friend started taking these vitamin pills Dianabol, and although we use to lift the same weights he now lifts like 100lbs more. I don't wish to take supplements because I don't believe in them. Are there any training programs I can do to increase my strength? I heard Creatine is good but I don't want to cheat. I feel I eat a lot: I eat Kraft Mac and Cheese, Tyson Nuggets and Peanut Butter and Jelly, but I haven't gained much weight. Do I need more protein?
Let's start with some basics:
- Dianabol is a known anabolic steroid, not a vitamin
- Creatine is not a steroid, nor does it function like one
An excellent article at Examine.com explores the difference.
Even if your friend did not resort to using dianabol, there can be genetic differences that affect how quickly you can get good at the bench press or even build muscle. The bench press favors people with a barrel chest and short arms because they don't have to move the bar as far as someone with long arms.
In addition, genetic factors control:
- How quickly you can build muscle/strength
- What kind of response you can get from steroids
In short, some people only need a little dose of a steroid to make a big difference, and others can be complete non-responders (i.e. the steroid does nothing for performance).
There is a lot you can do with just training, and 5 months is just too early in the game to take short cuts.
How to build a bigger bench
The main areas to build a bigger bench include:
- Technique -- fixing bad technique accounts for the fastest improvements
- Neural efficiency -- more practice helps you recruit more of the muscle you already have
- Muscle size -- more muscle means you can ultimately lift more
Most beginners and early intermediates are really held back by the first two bullets. Improving those will probably have the most impact on your bench press as of right now.
That said, when you are staying clean and keeping off "gear" (as the steroid using community likes to call it), be careful not to test your max all the time. Strength is built in the 70-85% range. By that, I mean most of your reps are 70-85% of your 1 rep max. Just to give you an idea of what that means when you don't know your 1 rep max:
- 70% is your 10 rep max (one set, and you can only get 10 reps)
- 75% is your 8 rep max
- 85% is your 5 rep max
I've found Strengtheory.com to be an excellent resource for science based strength training articles. Recently, Greg Nuckols did a 2 part series on your drug free muscle and strength potential.
In part 2 of the series, there's an outline for a 5 day a week program to help you make the most of the muscle you have. It's a prime example of what I mean by keeping most of your reps in the 70-85% range. In fact, I wouldn't test your maxes any more frequently then once a quarter. I personally only do it when I'm preparing for a contest which I do once or at most twice a year.
This sounds like a troll, but I'll answer for anyone interested.
For your bench press, the best way for a novice to bench more weight is to just bench more. You can likely recover after about 48 hours after every workout so you can bench three times per week. You might be able to add five pounds to your bench after each workout assuming you eat and rest enough. Eventually, you can get microplates and add 2.5 lbs each workout when five pounds is too much.
For your diet, a calorie surplus is beneficial. Probably about 10% - which should be about 200-300 calories. You might gain 0.5 lbs to 1 lb per week. Some people will tell you to eat limitless calories and honestly you might make good progress but you'll get fat. You can track your calories with an app like myFitnessPal, or, more simply, you can just eat the same way you do now (assuming you are currently maintaining your weight) but eat an extra 200-300 calories snack. Protein is important, but you don't need as much as 1g/lb of bodyweight as people say. 1.6 – 1.8 g/kg of bodyweight has been proven to be sufficient (link).
Dianabol seems to be steroids and taking those can have all kinds of nasty medical consequences, they are not vitamins! Don't sacrifice your health just to get to take a shortcut.
Creatin is good, it's openly used by a lot of athletes, what it does it increase your ability to supply energy to your muscles so that you can do a few more reps and thus get more out of your workout. Not all people have an effect though.
Diet wise, make sure you get enough calories that you add weight over the weeks (not days) and eat a lot of protein, protein shakes are good, get the cheapest one you like the taste of.
And to increase bench, bench, add other chest exercises as well, like dumbbell bench press, flies, tricep exercises and so on. Having a strong back will become important too.