T Nation

10 Months at the Gym and I'm Failing HARD


#1

Ok I dont even know where to begin, but here it goes… 32/M/6’2 188lbs…

My first 21 years of my life I was a scranny ectomorph…Then I blew up and I blew up a lot… I shot up to 270lbs… Well a lil over 3 years ago I lost it all… Got down to 152lb… Which is extremely skinny for my height.

I looked terrible while skinny fat with lose skin everywhere. So I finally decided to weight train… I’ve been going hard at the gym for 10 months 5-6 days a week… I never miss days and so far only took one rest period ( 6 days ) about 2 months ago… I’ve put on 36lbs and most of it seems like fat… My stomach and love handles are huge… The lose skin I was told muscle would get rid of just looks so much worse… Now its full of fat again…

I havent made any strength gains in like 4 months… I got that quick starter muscle about 20 something pounds ago… I’ve gained like 20 pounds with ZERO strength gains…

I’m pissed, upset and just wanna give up… Working so so so hard only to look and feel like crap isnt fun… Now I feel like I’m working my ass off to become a fat lard… I just dont get it and I’m extremely dejected…

I’ve tried and read EVERYTHING… I have zero clue what I’m doing wrong… I hit my protein goals everyday… I stay away from sugars and junk… I’d say for the most part I’m eating pretty clean… I take a lot of supplements and I sleep 7-8 hours a day… I look up form and techniques ALL THE TIME…

Are there just people out there who just can’t gain muscle? I know ectomorphs have a hard time with this… And since I once was HUGE my fat cells are forever screwed and fill up so easily… Making bulking and strength gaining IMPOSSIBLE for me


#2

How exactly are you training and eating?


#3

I lift heavy and try for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Sometimes I can only get about 4-5 reps, so I do 4 sets instead. for small body parts I usually do 3 exercises, for bigger body parts like back and chest I usually do 4. It goes something like this

day
1- chest, tri, shoulder…
2 - bi, back, forarms
3 - core
4 - legs
5 - chest, tri, shoulder
6 - bi, back, forarms
7 - rest

4 to 5 meals a day I just eat tuna, chicken, oatmeal,more chicken, pasta with lots of big meatballs, protein bar, 2 protein shakes. The last meal or so I may have what some would say isnt so clean like a breaded sandwhich, few pieces of pizza… So 4-5 of my meals are really clean and maybe 1 thats not the greatest… but I figured for what I was doing I needed the carbs on the last meal usually isnt the best…

One last note… I would like to add due to my circumstances I have to ride a bike 9 MILES ONE WAY to work… So 5 days a week I’m riding 18 miles or so… I’ve heard cardio really messes up weight training / bulking… Could this be the culprit? I’ve had to eat like a savage with Working, Riding, and weight training just to gain weight… Funny thing is even after all this calorie burn I’m gaining fat I dont want


#4

Hi,

Firstly congrats on that weight loss. Though it’s done and dusted all that weight loss is quite an achievement these days when some people are all excuses or looking for the quick and easy fix.

As you haven’t given us much info about your specific training (program, exercise selection, progression, numbers, periodisation etc.) I can only really respond to what you’ve brought up and my own assumptions, assuming that you have almost a year’s lifting experience under your belt.

10 months may feel like a long time to be training but in truth this is a game of years or decades for some. Even with the use of soviet sport supplements if you get my drift time still needs to be put in. What I’m saying is don’t expect too much from 10 months of lifting. I highly doubt that most of your 36lb gain have been fat especially considering noob gains. However the fat gain that inevitably comes with muscle gain is probably masking your results.

Too much to cover all here but in principle we’d like to be gaining max muscle while minimizing fat gain. Pretty much your body can only gain muscle so fast. If you eat enough to satisfy this then you are golden. Anymore goes to other functions and unfortunately is stored as fat. All kinds of arbitrary numbers are thrown around on the internet like 1lb/week or 0/5lbs/week but pretty much its down to seeing how you respond. Perhaps 36lbs/10 months is too much too fast for you leading to more fat gains with the muscle then you’d like. In that case simply drop your calories a bit.

Lack of strength gains is a bit more worrying as without it there is less stimulus for muscle growth. I’ll assume that your diet and sleep really is in check i.e. you are recovering, leaving two factors which could be holding you back and keeping you plateaued: Training.

In terms of training there’s much to be discussed. Progressive overload, Exercises Selection, Overreaching/Overtraining and many other principles and considerations for training. Frankly it’ll take time, experience and research to understand and apply these to your own programs so I would highly recommend using a pre-written novice/beginner program and build a solid base. When I first started I wasted a month following pro bodybuilding routines and then wasted some more time writing my own. At that stage I was too inexperienced to really know what I was doing and there was a lot that was sub optimal about what I was doing. Gains came more consistently when I used tried and proven beginner programs and slowly I built up my knowledge and these days can be successful in my own programming.

Kinda relevant to the above I think it’s naive to say that you’ve tried and read “everything”. If you have tried “everything” or even just a few things in the space of 10 months it sounds like you’re jumping between programs, exercises, styles or what not and not putting in the time and consistency with one approach to make gains. Sort of a paralysis by analysis kind of deal (I get it truly).


#5

Oops didn’t see your reply as I was writing as you posted.

Recommendation still stands: Get on a beginner or intermediate program until you are experienced and knowledgeable enough to write your own.

Diet looks pretty good. Probably better than mine, though perhaps you are consuming a bit too much.

As for the cycling aside from making you super fit its probably helping you out, building up your work capacity. Cardio does interfere with lifting however this is only apparent at higher levels where people are moving such loads and volumes that anything work that is not specific to their training will lose them that 1% which could be the difference between world record or not. Even still many elite still include conditioning as the benefits are deemed worth it.

Maybe you’re overestimating the impact of your cycling calories as well. Tour De France participants will ride 100 miles a day burning approx 6000 calories so by that math 18 miles, call it 20, would burn 1200cal. If you are riding a section of Le Tour on your way to work chased down by/ racing against professional cyclists then 1200ish is your number. Obviously the actually calories you end up burning is a little less but tbh 1000 or so calories is not that much. I could look at a steak and get that much in never mind pizza or KFC.

Keep the cycling in. It’s good for you now and will help you long term. Not like you have a choice tho


#6

So in your diet, you are eating zero fruits and vegetables. Your only fat source seems to be your cheat foods, depending on what your meatballs are made out of. I’m not even that well versed in nutrition, and those are the things I’d change almost immediately.

Regarding your lifting; it appears you made this program on your own, and that it has no logical or sustainable progression model to it. Doing the same sets and reps for every bodypart makes little sense, as certain movements and muscles respond better to certain stimuli.

I’d get on something like 5/3/1 for Beginners or Westside Barbell for Skinny Bastards were I in your situation and really re-learn how to train effectively.


#7

I also eat two 100 cal greak yogurts everyday plus some mixed nuts. I love the almonds. so yeah I dont do many veggies or fruits. I do love fruit though. thanks


#8

It is unhelpful to withhold information and then present it later, as it makes troubleshooting difficult.

Could you detail what exactly you ate today?


#9

Note canned tuna gets you omega 3s.

Kind of jealous because you seem to be eating whatever and however much you want. Pls skip the protein bars and donate them to my gains or maybe just use to money to buy yourself a nice serving of fruits and veggies.


#10

4-5 meals tells us nothing.

You are 6’2, 188 lbs

How many calories are you eating, what are your macros?


#11

I meal prep but I dont count calories or macros. I work 2 jobs, 6 days a week… Its hard enough trying to stay eating and meal prepping during all this… trying to macro count ontop of trying to work just seems like to much everyday


#12

x2 with Pwnisher get on a proven program from this site and get your veggies in especially greens.

As a former fat boy I would only have one piece of fruit a day and really watch carbs in general. Swap pizza for rice etc


#13

Is plenty of calories. You’re gaining weight therefore in a surplus. Maybe count protein if you think you’re not getting enough or too much.

Counting your macros would be optimal to manage your fat v muscle gain during your weight gain phase but in the end whats a bit of fat when you’re just gonna diet if off in the end. For the time and stress you save not counting its probably not worth it for you.


#14

I’d like to thank T Nation and everyone here giving advice… I’ve been trying to make a post like this at other popular forums and they all had stupid requirements like post 50+ times etc etc… I’m glad I can finally get the answer’s I want with out ludicrous requirements


#15

“I’ve tried and read EVERYTHING”

How will you know if you are making progress?

" I’ve put on 36lbs and most of it seems like fat… My stomach and love handles are huge… The lose skin I was told muscle would get rid of just looks so much worse… Now its full of fat again…"

Without tracking you have no idea what kind of changes you can make?


#16

Tracking macros is a great tool to monitor progress, reevaluate and make changes accordingly.

There’s lots of other ways to track progress tho if for some reason counting macros is a no go.

Body part tape measurement, Body fat percentage calipers, weight on the scales, how you look in the mirror (given the same conditions e.g. post workout pump same dressing room mirror).

Training wise: Weight, Sets, Reps, rest intervals, perceived exertion at a certain intensity, weekly/monthly/mesocycle total volume per movement/bodypart


#17

If one is too “busy” to set up a macro intake which takes like 10 minutes, I highly doubt they will make the time to track, evaluate and re-evaluate using all those other methods. Finding your maintenance and adjusting intake based on goals is the fastest and easiest way.


#19

So much good info above. I have nothing to add, but by way of a summary:

–You’re getting fat (again) because you’re overeating. There is no need for you to “eat like a savage.” If you don’t change your ways, you’re going to weigh 270# again in no time. (That’s not a taunt; it’s simply a statement of fact.)

–You’re deluding yourself about the number of calories you’re burning. “Funny thing is even after all this calorie burn I’m gaining fat I dont want.” That’s because you’re not burning that many calories. Weightlifting doesn’t burn a huge amount of calories; neither does non-competitive cycling (cycling is a depressingly efficient mode of transportation).

–In lifting-years, 10 months is no time at all. Given your skin issues, it’s going to be difficult to see muscle-related changes in your body contour until you’ve gained a lot of muscle. Patience, grasshopper.

–Pick a pre-written lifting program and stick to it. As for which program you should select, it’s…The one you enjoy the most, because that’s the one you will pursue with enthusiasm. So if you enjoy lifting like a powerlifter, pick a powerlifting program. If you enjoy BBing-type workouts, pick one of those. There are a great many programs to be had for free right here on TN–avail yourself of this resource.


#20

If you cared about your goals you would. Food is one of the variables you can control 100%. So control it.


#21

This stood out to me, too. When someone that’s been lifting for 10 months claims that they have tried and read EVERYTHING that’s usually a red flag re: their consistency. And I also agree with this…

I am sympathetic to the plight of the busy working guy - most of us here are also busy working guys. Therefore, sometimes it’s better to work smart rather than work hard. Take a day that you were planning to lift, look at your macros, and make a weekly diet for yourself. Go to the store and buy all the things you need for that diet. Follow for a month. Evaluate progress. Adjust as needed.