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15 Pounds in 2 Months?


I’ve gone from 165 in late July to about 180 right now - how much of this can I reasonably expect to be muscle? I’m a newbie who started on Rippetoes in late July and started lifting with (something approximating) proper form in early to mid-August (can’t find the day’s workout sheet.)

Just curious if this is a good rate of progress, amount of muscle to fat, etc so I know whether to adjust or not. I know beginners can make some crazy gains, but not sure that’s the case here.

Current stats with good form:

3x225x5 squats
1x115x5 bench press
1x255x5 deadlift
3x85x5 standing military press
5x105x3 power clean

Photo is current - thanks!

This is a photo from July for comparison. I’ve been making strength gains (starting to stall and slow down now) but I haven’t seen a clear increase in muscle or anything.

Obviously I wasn’t expecting to get ‘swole’ or anything, but just noting this (good people on T-Nation have told me that the main gains for teenagers are neurological and have to do with bearing weight and learning to use your body properly.)

Next time try the same pose, same camera angle, and same lighting for comparison pics.

That having been said, you look like you are the same bf% level. And looks like you gained a little size, but its hard to tell with the different pictures and poses.

Oh yea, shuddup and lift

The gains are visible, but it would help to have comparisons of the same pose. What has your diet been like and what’s the typical rep range you lift with?

Well, gaining 15 lbs in 8 weeks is a lot of weight. Judging by your physique I would say that an above-average amount was stored as fat. That is not to take away your gains, as you have made great ones thus far.

I guess I wouldn’t say that your lifts are extremely impressive given your weight at 180. Maybe its time to clean up the diet. If you are 180 and only benching 115 and squatting 225, then I think you have a substantial amount of fat from overeating OR under training.

Just my opinion, I am relatively new too, so take this constructively from another guy who is learning.

[quote]Seinix wrote:
Next time try the same pose, same camera angle, and same lighting for comparison pics.

That having been said, you look like you are the same bf% level. And looks like you gained a little size, but its hard to tell with the different pictures and poses.

Oh yea, shuddup and lift[/quote]

Here’s a photo in same pose and similar lighting. I’m not sure why I posted the MySpace-esque pic first, but it may have had something to do with the fact that I look mildly retarded in this one. Higher resolution in the first one too, but yeah, it’s not a good comparison.

Lifting lifting lifting. If I miss a day, I restructure my week to accommadate a different three-day structure. Starting to stall/get weaker though, but that might be because I’m sick right now.

[quote]JSmith23 wrote:
The gains are visible, but it would help to have comparisons of the same pose. What has your diet been like and what’s the typical rep range you lift with?[/quote]

Diet is pretty clean with the occasional Subway sandwich or slice of pizza. Wild salmon, chicken breasts & thighs, beef (w/ hormones, not grass-fed) and occasionally fun things with buffalo and elk.

Veggies are mostly broccoli, green beans, mixes and that kind of thing. I think I was eating way too much a few weeks ago though, and that might have led to some excessive fat gains.

Program is similar to a typical 5x5 program, but altered somewhat (ask Mark Rippetoes, not me.) Rep range is typically 5, 3 for cleans (with higher set ranges) and 8 for dips (honestly, I just enjoy doing these.)

I would not say that those 15 lbs are all muscle. What was your bench in July compared to now…?

You know joining your football team and wrestling team would do wonders… Track and Field? Shotput! Sprint team!

If you’re going to gain weight at that pace you should probably be working more than just 4 or 5 muscle groups… where do you expect all this weight to be going to, honestly?

Normally the general rule of thumb is, 3-5lbs every month. If you’re gaining more than that then you either cut back carbs or increase cardio.

So if, in the middle of month three, you’ve already gained another 5lbs, then you need to change something.

But for god’s sake don’t get the bright idea that you need to “cut” right now.

What kind of intensity are you lifting at with those weights? Are you pushing yourself to the limit, or leaving anything in the tank?

Also, what are your macro profiles like? If you think you’re putting on fat at too high a pace, kick up the cardio and/or cut back the carbs gradually, maintaining the same caloric intake.

Kick it up a notch. I made similar small gains in my first 2-3 months, but I came home with plenty of energy.

Now, I don’t leave the gym until I either can’t pick up a weight, or until I need to go puke. Give it all you have, extend sets, add sets, increase weight, etc…

The ‘hardening’ factor has been multiplied by 10 it seems, and visible improvements are coming in bunches.

I also stopped with the occasional pizza or any other such nonsense food that did nothing but damage.

It just looks that your diet intake (besides the pizza) is a healthy amount. Kick your lifting up to take advantage.

Just keep pushing, congratulations on your success so far!

3x225x5 squats
1x115x5 bench press
1x255x5 deadlift
3x85x5 standing military press
5x105x3 power clean

I see some decent gains, especially in the front delts.

IMO you should work your way up to 3 plates on deadlift and around 185 on bench and start a 3-4 way split. You’re at a point where some assistance (especially chinups) would do you wonders.

The fat you’ve acumulated becomes much less horrible lookign as you gain muscle. A 200+ pound you at 15% bodyfat will look different then you at 160 pound you at 15%

[quote]njrusmc wrote:
Well, gaining 15 lbs in 8 weeks is a lot of weight. Judging by your physique I would say that an above-average amount was stored as fat. That is not to take away your gains, as you have made great ones thus far.

I guess I wouldn’t say that your lifts are extremely impressive given your weight at 180. Maybe its time to clean up the diet. If you are 180 and only benching 115 and squatting 225, then I think you have a substantial amount of fat from overeating OR under training.

Just my opinion, I am relatively new too, so take this constructively from another guy who is learning.[/quote]

Thank you for the advice - I think I was definitely overeating earlier, looking back on it, and not lifting heavy enough to cover the excess calories. My bench is actually 125, but I was sick at the time and needed too much help to really count it, squat is up to 235. Just have to help out my ego a bit there. :smiley: Thanks!

[quote]kinein wrote:
I would not say that those 15 lbs are all muscle. What was your bench in July compared to now…?

You know joining your football team and wrestling team would do wonders… Track and Field? Shotput! Sprint team! [/quote]

Bench on 18 July was something awful like 3x65x5 on a Smith machine. I’m not sure what it was after going to free weights, I either lost the sheet or didn’t take good notes. Squat then was 3x120x5 on a Smith (ugh) and DL was 110? I looked at myself shirtless today and it’s not particularly pretty, I really need to start running or something again.

Too late for me to join football or wrestling, both have already started (I might have to learn to play football first as well.) Thank you for the ideas though, I hadn’t thought of track & field until now. Hopefully next spring I’ll be learning to throw and jump…

[quote]mr popular wrote:
If you’re going to gain weight at that pace you should probably be working more than just 4 or 5 muscle groups… where do you expect all this weight to be going to, honestly?

Normally the general rule of thumb is, 3-5lbs every month. If you’re gaining more than that then you either cut back carbs or increase cardio.

So if, in the middle of month three, you’ve already gained another 5lbs, then you need to change something.

But for god’s sake don’t get the bright idea that you need to “cut” right now.[/quote]

I thought compound exercises were best for beginners? Obviously I’m a nub or I wouldn’t be here, but that was the impression I got. If isolation exercises work really well for you though, I’ll look into it in a few months.

Carbs are already really low (from grains/cereals, anyways, I don’t count vegetables), almost always below 70g a day. I guess it’s time to start running again. Not going to try and cut. :smiley:

[quote]jimboman wrote:
What kind of intensity are you lifting at with those weights? Are you pushing yourself to the limit, or leaving anything in the tank?

Also, what are your macro profiles like? If you think you’re putting on fat at too high a pace, kick up the cardio and/or cut back the carbs gradually, maintaining the same caloric intake. [/quote]

It seems like everyone’s agreeing that I need to lift harder. There’s usually a bit of gas left, but I do need something to bike back home on. Still, I should probably kick it up a notch - just worried about form (which is already kind of poor on bench, SM press) and injuries (there’s something that feels dangerous in my left quad when I squat.) Is this anything to be concerned about?

My protein intake is something like 160-180g a day (I think, I’ve been eating less recently), not sure about fat intake (moderate range) and pretty low on carbs (a cup of oatmeal a day, Surge PWO and occasionally some wheat bread PWO as well.)

BTW, your icon is very impressive. That’s a sweet-looking grill.

[quote]Dissonance wrote:
Kick it up a notch. I made similar small gains in my first 2-3 months, but I came home with plenty of energy.

Now, I don’t leave the gym until I either can’t pick up a weight, or until I need to go puke. Give it all you have, extend sets, add sets, increase weight, etc…

The ‘hardening’ factor has been multiplied by 10 it seems, and visible improvements are coming in bunches.

I also stopped with the occasional pizza or any other such nonsense food that did nothing but damage.

It just looks that your diet intake (besides the pizza) is a healthy amount. Kick your lifting up to take advantage.

Just keep pushing, congratulations on your success so far!
[/quote]

Should I just try and ratchet up my weight? I don’t want to mess with the plan I’m on - don’t think I’m experienced enough to make good choices - but I don’t want to break form either. I get warm-up sets in, should I add more? What did you do? Thanks!

[quote]zephead4747 wrote: I see some decent gains, especially in the front delts.

IMO you should work your way up to 3 plates on deadlift and around 185 on bench and start a 3-4 way split. You’re at a point where some assistance (especially chinups) would do you wonders.

The fat you’ve acumulated becomes much less horrible lookign as you gain muscle. A 200+ pound you at 15% bodyfat will look different then you at 160 pound you at 15%[/quote]

What else would you recommend as assistance? I do 2x8 dips after squats/BP/DL, should I add chin-ups after squats/press/cleans? My issue there is that I don’t have the upper-body strength to manage much more than one chin-up, max - should I do weighted ones or substitute something else? Thanks a lot.

If all you can do is one chin-up, take the negative really really slowly, especially at the top and bottom of the range. Do 3-5 “sets” of this 2-3 times a week and sooner than you think you’ll be up to two.

Over the summer I worked on my pulling strength, starting with only being able to do 2 with proper form. Now I could probably bang out 8-10. The fact that you can do 1 without training them at your body weight is a good start. Stick with it and good luck!

[quote]blue_star_cadet wrote:

Should I just try and ratchet up my weight? I don’t want to mess with the plan I’m on - don’t think I’m experienced enough to make good choices - but I don’t want to break form either. I get warm-up sets in, should I add more? What did you do? Thanks!

[/quote]

No plan will work for everyone. I have altered my routine to work for me.

Example:

My chest workout used to be:

Pre-fatigue- 24 elevated push ups, 5 second pause halfway every 6 reps.

Incline Bench- 8 reps 60% 1RM

Incline dumbell flyes- 6 reps (usually failure) 65% 1RM

This was 1 set. No break in between. I would do 3-4 sets with about 90-110 seconds of rest between. After that I would do 2 sets of flat bench presses, and 2 sets of decline benches.

Sounds exhausting, but after a couple of weeks I found I had enough energy left to keep lifting. So I started focusing on flat and incline dumbbell presses. 3x10’s each. Thats 60 more fiber tearing motions per day.

This really improved strength gains, and found that I could not only start adding a little weight to each set, but I could do MORE reps before failure.

It’s like compound interest. It all starts with taking your normal routine and pushing it to its absolute.

My current chest routine:

  1. Prefatigue-Compound Superset as described above. 4 Supersets.
  2. 3x8 Flat Bench
  3. 3x6 Decline Bench
  4. 3x10 Flat Dumbbell Press
  5. 3x10 Incline (legs up) Dumbbell Press
  6. 3xFailure Decline Pushups (This is is my exit exercise, and the fire in my chest that sizzles when I walk out of the gym is worth a handful of gold.)

Or, you can just add more weight to each set. Just keep form and go for the puke. I found that when my mind tells me it’s time to stop, my body is far from the same conclusion.

I see a little muscle growing there, but it looks like 1/2 of your gains were fat. Its ok though, you will start making leaner gains as soon as your body adjust to the increased calories. Don’t change anything! Keep doing starting strength. Keep up the good work!

I agree with everyone else in that you’ve added some mass…and your lifts are quite impressive considering your size. The one thing that strikes me as odd is your bench numbers(they should be higher considering your deads and squats).

If I were you I’d lighten up on the bench press and try my luck at dumbells to find whats going on here…because you should really be stronger there(If you can solve that mystery it would add some nice mass on your chest and ant delts.)

Hope this helps…

Or maybe you should stop eating like an offseason bodybuilder just coming off of a cut and taking anabolics when you aren’t even training like a bodybuilder in the first place.

Like I said… WHERE DID YOU EXPECT ALL THIS WEIGHT TO GO?

You don’t need some special tweak to your training, and your numbers are going up just fine strength-wise. You need to slow it down diet-wise and that is it, especially if all you’re doing is a beginners strength learning routine.

how tall are you, damn 180! yea it looks like you have more fat than muscle… but don’t stop… keep hitting the gym hard…

look around the forums for extra help

Keep up the good work!

youre young, gaining weight, getting stronger, better haircut, you’re doing great kid.

your bench is very weak, but your squats are decent for someone whos just starting out.

keep it up

[quote]tenken wrote:
If all you can do is one chin-up, take the negative really really slowly, especially at the top and bottom of the range. Do 3-5 “sets” of this 2-3 times a week and sooner than you think you’ll be up to two.

Over the summer I worked on my pulling strength, starting with only being able to do 2 with proper form. Now I could probably bang out 8-10. The fact that you can do 1 without training them at your body weight is a good start. Stick with it and good luck![/quote]

I probably should have been clearer about the chin-ups, it was one rep when I was in the 170’s. My ego and I overlooked that. :confused: I’m still reasonably confident I can crank one out (haven’t tried in a while), thank you for the advice. I know bodyweight exercises are excellent and I want to get stronger at those.

[quote]elano wrote:
I see a little muscle growing there, but it looks like 1/2 of your gains were fat. Its ok though, you will start making leaner gains as soon as your body adjust to the increased calories. Don’t change anything! Keep doing starting strength. Keep up the good work![/quote]

I shouldn’t cut my calories back? That seems kind of counter-intuitive to reduce excessive fat gains. I’ve cut back my calorie intake from like, 3500 (way too much to me) to something approaching 2500 a day (haven’t been counting, sort of guessing here.) Is that too drastic? I’m afraid if I go back up again, I’m going to start yo-yoing back and forth. Definitely plan to stay on SS.

[quote]Steel88 wrote:
I agree with everyone else in that you’ve added some mass…and your lifts are quite impressive considering your size. The one thing that strikes me as odd is your bench numbers(they should be higher considering your deads and squats).

If I were you I’d lighten up on the bench press and try my luck at dumbells to find whats going on here…because you should really be stronger there(If you can solve that mystery it would add some nice mass on your chest and ant delts.)

Hope this helps…[/quote]

I’m going to assume you mean DB bench presses? I tried a few sets the other day and was able to do something like 70x5 once or twice, I think I can go higher for sure. Should I alternate between BB and DB or just stick with one for now? Thanks!

[quote]mr popular wrote:
Or maybe you should stop eating like an offseason bodybuilder just coming off of a cut and taking anabolics when you aren’t even training like a bodybuilder in the first place.

Like I said… WHERE DID YOU EXPECT ALL THIS WEIGHT TO GO?

You don’t need some special tweak to your training, and your numbers are going up just fine strength-wise. You need to slow it down diet-wise and that is it, especially if all you’re doing is a beginners strength learning routine.[/quote]

I was under the impression that because I was young and ‘lifting heavy’ I needed to eat a shit-ton of food every day (1/4 gallon to 1/2 gallon of whole milk in addition to an increased food intake.) I’ve cut back from 3500 to 2500-3000 gradually and my weight’s been about stable since, although I noticed that one day after waking up, I was at 177lbs (I’d been 181 the night before.) Can this just be attributed to water weight, or something else?

[quote]aznt0rk wrote:
how tall are you, damn 180! yea it looks like you have more fat than muscle… but don’t stop… keep hitting the gym hard…

look around the forums for extra help

Keep up the good work![/quote]

I’m only about 5’8, I think I’ll peak out around 5’9. I’ve always looked at least 10-15 lbs lighter than I actually am, I think it’s because my mother’s side has really dense bones or something. Thanks!

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
youre young, gaining weight, getting stronger, better haircut, you’re doing great kid.

your bench is very weak, but your squats are decent for someone whos just starting out.

keep it up[/quote]

Definitely will.