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22 Year Old, 5'10'', 160 lbs (Warning Long)


#1

Hi, guys. I came here asking for help...Sorry if this is long, but I'm trying to give as much detail so I can get help!

ABOUT ME: A little bit about me. I've struggled with gaining weight in the past with regards to muscle and I would consider myself an ectomorph. I should note that I am not necessarily a beginner, but maybe more of an intermediate. I swam and played water polo in high school and lifted on occasion. I'd like to say I stayed pretty fit, I just did not eat enough or the right things.

I used to weigh about 130 lbs and this past summer I managed to get myself up to 160 lbs. I ate a lot more and used the Starting Strength program with some extra here and there. The progress was awesome and I was really happy with it. One thing, though, was that I felt like I was gaining a bit more fat than I would like to.

So I decided to try and change some things up since I had made some good progress, but wanted to not gain as much fat. This may or may not have been a mistake because since school has started I feel like I am in a spiral of confusion with all the information and different methods with regards to my goals. Should I cut? Should I bulk? Is my rep range right? Am I eating too much or too little? There is so much conflicting information and it is hard for a someone like myself to get the answers I would like. That said I do understand that creating a physique I am happy with is an all day job and a constant experiment.

GOALS: I should probably tell you guys my goals at this point. I'd like to gain a lot of muscle and weigh somewhere around 180-200 lbs with somewhere around 10% body fat. To put it in a more silly way, I'd like to fill the sleeves on my shirts. I am not looking to be in a competition or anything like that. I just want to improve my physique to a point that I am happy with. I'm not looking to go into a cut or bulk cycle, I want to reach a point where I can happily attract the attention of lots of ladies and easily maintain my physique year round. I also want to not lose my mind over everything. The simpler my life can be the better, that said I am still flexible in things I am willing to do.

I am currently 160 lbs with the scale reading about 18% body fat. I don't know if I should try and cut that weight or proceed with lean muscle gain. The way I kind of look at it is if I continue with as lean of a bulk as I can with minimal fat gains I can perhaps reach my goal without having to cut or at least a minimal cut towards the end. I am unsure though since I am not as experienced and that's why I am here asking for advice.

So my rough measurements right now are 160lbs, 18% body fat, Arms: 11.75", Chest: 40", Waist: 33", Thigh: 22", and Calf: 14".

DIET: My diet is around 2600 Calories with 247 grams of protein, 305 grams of carbs, and 45 grams of fat. I tried my hand at drastically dropping my carbs to "cut" which was okay, but my bench press suffered considerably as did my overall energy, which also frustrated me some.

Foods: Chicken, Pasta, Greek Yogurt, Rice, Milk, Almonds, and Whey Protein. Fruits are sprinkled here and there if I get extra hungry. I should probably eat more vegetables, so if you guys have any good recommendations that'd be awesome.

I like to keep my diet as simple as possible, almost the same thing everyday, it's easy for me to follow and stick to. It's what helped me gain the weight over the summer that I did since food is something I really used to struggle with. I am open to some variation on different days though, for example: training days and non training days. I'd also like to do my best to stay away from a crazy amount of supplements, seeing as I am not looking to reach some competition level or be unbelievably extreme.

WORKOUT: I recently swapped from a 3 day a week full body routine to a 3 day split twice a week with 1 rest day. I really like it because I enjoy being at the gym and I feel like it allows me to do more exercises because with the full body I felt very restricted on the exercises I could do. I felt like I had to pick between triceps exercises rather than do multiples. I like doing more than Compounds-> 1 or 2 Accessory exercises -> Go home.

My workout looks something like this right now:

Mon: Chest/Triceps/Anterior & Lateral Delts
Bench Press: 3x7
Incline Bench: 3x7
Dumbbell Bench: 3x8-10
Dumbbell Incline: 3x8-10
Standing Shoulder Press: 3x7
Side Laterals: 3x8-10
Skull Crushers: 3x8
Overhead Extensions: 3x8-10
and Dips/Push ups towards the end if I am feeling it.

Tues: Legs/Abs
Back Squat: 3x7
Barbell Calf Raise: 4x10
Standing Calf Raise: 4x30 or so
Seated Leg Curl: 3x10
3 or so weighted ab exercises

Wen: Back/Biceps/Posterior Delts
Bent Over Barbell Row: 3x7
Cable Rows: 3x8-10
Lat Pull Down: 3x8-10
Dumbbell Shrugs: 3x10
Hammer Curls: 3x8
EZ Bar Curls: 3x8
and Pullups if I feel like it.

I repeat this sequence for Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday is my rest day. I like this split a lot and I'd like to keep doing something similar if I can, but if that is not ideal I'd understand.

I've also provided some pictures of myself to help give you guys a better idea of what I am working with.

So yeah I guess the TL;DR: Should I cut or bulk at my current state for my goals? And how should I go about doing whichever you suggest?


#2

Welcome to the forum and nice work on your progress so far.

Putting on 30 lbs in a few months will come with a higher percentage in fat gain. If you want to minimize the fat gain then slow down your rate of gain to around 0.5-1.0 lbs/week. Same thing applies for losing weight and retaining more muscle where you slow down the rate of loss to around 0.5-1.0 lbs/week. Eating more veggies to get in more fiber would be a good idea. The rest of the diet seems fine. Personally I would drop the protein down to 160-200 in place for more fat.

The training plan looks good. For leg day, I would add in front squats or leg press to add in some more work. Overall, doing more work often will create a demand on your body to build muscle, as long as you get adequate recovery. If you aren’t focused on going really heavy with your main work and more focused on building muscle size, then keep at it with doing a lot of work every session and eating as much as needed. Keep your eye on the rate of weight gain to make sure you aren’t pushing too fast. In some cases when you push your body hard enough, you can gain weight faster while still minimizing fat gain. But if you want to be conservative then stick to the slower rate to ensure fat gain is minimized.

The quality of diet, slow weight gain, high work load and adequate sleep are important factors for putting on size while improving body composition.

For the programming, follow some sort of progression that allows you to increase your workload over time. You can increase weight, reps, sets, etc. Just make sure it gets harder over time. An example for 4 sessions can be 3x10, 4x10, 5x10, 3x10 with more weight; or 3x10, 3x12, 3x14, 3x10 with more weight; or 3x10x100, 3x10x105, 3x10x110, 3x10x105, and so on. It doesn’t really matter. Just make your body adapt to more work.


#3

I personally hate your split. 4 chest exercise, 4 back, 1 leg (ok, 1.5 with the curls), 2 calf. Very imbalanced.

I would just find a trainer (Wendler, Ct, Waterbury, etc) that I can relate to, do the program as written for at least 6 months and re-evaluate then.

It is only complicated when you read all the articles and try to incorporate all. Just start today with a program and learn. Don’t mix, just do.

Are you certain you are getting 2600 calories or are you just guessing? And seriously, why no vegetables? Other meats?

Good luck


#4

[quote]lift206 wrote:
Welcome to the forum and nice work on your progress so far.

Putting on 30 lbs in a few months will come with a higher percentage in fat gain. If you want to minimize the fat gain then slow down your rate of gain to around 0.5-1.0 lbs/week. Same thing applies for losing weight and retaining more muscle where you slow down the rate of loss to around 0.5-1.0 lbs/week. Eating more veggies to get in more fiber would be a good idea. The rest of the diet seems fine. Personally I would drop the protein down to 160-200 in place for more fat.

The training plan looks good. For leg day, I would add in front squats or leg press to add in some more work. Overall, doing more work often will create a demand on your body to build muscle, as long as you get adequate recovery. If you aren’t focused on going really heavy with your main work and more focused on building muscle size, then keep at it with doing a lot of work every session and eating as much as needed. Keep your eye on the rate of weight gain to make sure you aren’t pushing too fast. In some cases when you push your body hard enough, you can gain weight faster while still minimizing fat gain. But if you want to be conservative then stick to the slower rate to ensure fat gain is minimized.

The quality of diet, slow weight gain, high work load and adequate sleep are important factors for putting on size while improving body composition.

For the programming, follow some sort of progression that allows you to increase your workload over time. You can increase weight, reps, sets, etc. Just make sure it gets harder over time. An example for 4 sessions can be 3x10, 4x10, 5x10, 3x10 with more weight; or 3x10, 3x12, 3x14, 3x10 with more weight; or 3x10x100, 3x10x105, 3x10x110, 3x10x105, and so on. It doesn’t really matter. Just make your body adapt to more work.[/quote]

Thanks for the reply, so do you think I should just continue the best that I can and not worry about cutting right now?


#5

Eat a burger, my man!

I’m not an expert, but in my opinion simpler is always better. Can’t go wrong with squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, cleans, and a press.


#6

[quote]JFG wrote:
I personally hate your split. 4 chest exercise, 4 back, 1 leg (ok, 1.5 with the curls), 2 calf. Very imbalanced.

I would just find a trainer (Wendler, Ct, Waterbury, etc) that I can relate to, do the program as written for at least 6 months and re-evaluate then.

It is only complicated when you read all the articles and try to incorporate all. Just start today with a program and learn. Don’t mix, just do.

Are you certain you are getting 2600 calories or are you just guessing? And seriously, why no vegetables? Other meats?

Good luck[/quote]

Sorry, coach!

I honestly hate vegetables, but I know I should eat more so I am trying/looking around. Do you recommend any good ones to fit into my diet?

Also, do you have any recommendations for what I can change in my routine?

And yeah I have it all written down and calculated so I eat about 2600 cals a day right now. I know my diet needs some refinement though.


#7

[quote]Ynot_6 wrote:

ABOUT ME: A little bit about me. I’ve struggled with gaining weight in the past with regards to muscle and I would consider myself an ectomorph. I should note that I am not necessarily a beginner, but maybe more of an intermediate. I swam and played water polo in high school and lifted on occasion. I’d like to say I stayed pretty fit, I just did not eat enough or the right things.

[/quote]

What are your lifts?


#8

[quote]JFG wrote:
I personally hate your split. 4 chest exercise, 4 back, 1 leg (ok, 1.5 with the curls), 2 calf. Very imbalanced.

I would just find a trainer (Wendler, Ct, Waterbury, etc) that I can relate to, do the program as written for at least 6 months and re-evaluate then.

It is only complicated when you read all the articles and try to incorporate all. Just start today with a program and learn. Don’t mix, just do.

Are you certain you are getting 2600 calories or are you just guessing? And seriously, why no vegetables? Other meats?

Good luck[/quote]

Do this.


#9

If you really must train 6 days a week, you need to manage volume vs intensity AND everything you do must have a proper rationale. This is an example of how you can plan out your chest/shoulders/triceps days.

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps DAY 1
A. Bench Press
Use a proper progression plan. 5x5 or 5/3/1 or ramp up to a top set and increase weights or reps every week
Objective: Load progression

B. Incline Bench
Ramp or pyramid up to 1-2 top sets of 6-8 reps, increase weights or reps every week
Objective: Load progression

C. Shoulder Press
Use a proper progression plan. 5x5 or 5/3/1 or ramp up to a top set and increase weights or reps every week
Objective: Load progression

D. Skull Crushers or Dips
Ramp or pyramid up to 1-2 top sets of 6-8 reps, increase weights or reps every week
Objective: Load progression

E. Face Pulls
3 sets of 20 reps. You can increase weights each set by small increments or do straight sets. You don’t have to go to failure
Objective: Get blood in the area, shoulder health, additional volume for rear delts

Chest Shoulders, Triceps DAY 2

A. Dumbbell Bench
3-4 sets of 8-10 reps, 1 set of max reps
Start with a weight you can easily get for 12 reps. Control the descent with your chest, pause for a sec in the stretched position and explode the weight up USING YOUR CHEST, then squeeze the chest for 1 sec at lockout. This is one rep. Do the same for the next 2-3 sets. You must fight to use your chest to move the weight. Terminate the set once other muscles are taking over and you can’t feel your chest working. This may happen on the 3rd or 4th set. For your last set, use the same weight and just do normal reps. You should still be able to get 10-12 reps.

Objective: Train MMC, volume with less stress on joints, pump

B. Dumbbell Incline
Same as A.

C. Side Raises
3 sets of 12-16 reps
Raise the dumbbells forcefully with your delts, flex them HARD for 2sec at the top and lower while keeping still tension on your delts. Do this for 4-8 reps, then do 8 normal reps. Again, you must fight to make sure your delts are moving the weights. It is better to cheat WHILE keeping tension on the delts than to grind and let other muscles take over.

Objective: Train MMC, volume with less stress on joints, pump

D. Rope Extensions
3 sets of 12-16 reps
Do the same thing as delts.

E. Facepulls or Rear Delt Machine
3 sets of 12-16 reps
Same as delts.


#10

Howdy.

I know where you’re coming from man. I weighed around 140 at 18 years old being 6 ft tall. 190 @ 26 now. . A couple tips for you.

  1. Don’t worry about fat gain so much. I don’t mean binge on doughnuts, but for naturally lean guys like us it’s much harder to gain than to lose. I honestly think that “bulking” and “cutting” work well for us. Just eat relatively clean and you’ll be fine.

  2. 6 days is probably too much lifting. Keep it to 3-4 while you’re trying to gain. Get on a proven program, there are tons. 531, dc, thibs, Waterbury, ws4sb, mass made simple. … you get the picture.

  3. Get ready for the long haul. It’s a constant uphill battle, but worth it.


#11

[quote]TX iron wrote:
Howdy.

I know where you’re coming from man. I weighed around 140 at 18 years old being 6 ft tall. 190 @ 26 now. . A couple tips for you.

  1. Don’t worry about fat gain so much. I don’t mean binge on doughnuts, but for naturally lean guys like us it’s much harder to gain than to lose. I honestly think that “bulking” and “cutting” work well for us. Just eat relatively clean and you’ll be fine.

  2. 6 days is probably too much lifting. Keep it to 3-4 while you’re trying to gain. Get on a proven program, there are tons. 531, dc, thibs, Waterbury, ws4sb, mass made simple. … you get the picture.

  3. Get ready for the long haul. It’s a constant uphill battle, but worth it.[/quote]

Hey, man, thanks for your reply! I really appreciate it!

Do you have a recommendation for one of those programs that works well for a beginner/intermediate like myself? Or one that worked for you?


#12

[quote]Ynot_6 wrote:
Thanks for the reply, so do you think I should just continue the best that I can and not worry about cutting right now?[/quote]

You can do whatever you want. What you choose to eat is important regardless of what route you take. Try to eat your veggies if you want to improve. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just eat some and gradually eat more over time. Keep track if you must. The things we hate to do is likely what gives results. Eat better and it’ll improve your body composition regardless if you gain or lose weight. I would choose to gain weight because it’s more motivating for me to push for strength gains while still improving body composition.

Dt79 gave some good advice on how to program each lift. For all the lifts you choose, you have to pick which ones you want to hit with heavy, medium and light intensity. You cannot hit them all with high intensity and expect to make quick progress. Typically you want to progress in a way that allows room for growth while still making things harder over time. I would only choose 1-2 exercises to hit hard and the rest of the exercises are low/medium instensity where I can still push hard to feel the muscles work and the pump but that type of work doesn’t tax recovery as hard as the main 1-2 exercises.

If you don’t want to complicate things, I suggest to do the 3-month 5/3/1 BBB Challenge and then move on to the normal 5/3/1 BBB template. It provides great structure and will teach you how to balance intensity/volume within a single training session and throughout a long term training plan. It will push you hard enough to get the results you want. The only thing you have to worry about is getting your diet and recovery in check.

This is what I tried back when I did the 3-month challenge:

Day 1
Military Press 5/3/1
Bench 5x10
Pullups 50 reps
Curls 30 reps
Tricep Pushdown 30 reps
Face Pulls 50 reps

Day 2
Deadlift 5/3/1
Squat 5x10
Ab Wheel 50 reps

Day 3
Bench 5/3/1
Military Press 5x10
DB Row 10,10, AMRAP (increase weight when getting 30 reps)
Curls 30 reps
Tricep Pushdowns 30 reps
Face Pulls 50 reps

Day 4
Squat 5/3/1
Deadlift 5x10
Hanging Leg Raise 50 reps

Throwing in some band pull-aparts wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Edit: Keep track of calories and the scale. Shoot to gain 0.5-1.0 lbs/week. This can be adjusted depending on if you need more food to keep up with the demands of the program. Counting calories is never completely accurate but it is accurate enough for you to make your own adjustments based on your weekly weight.


#13

[quote]lift206 wrote:
The training plan looks good.[/quote]

What are you smoking? Horribly unbalanced as far as lower body is concerned, and while upper body push/pull is balanced, there are too many exercises with too much redundancy.

Important general rule for programming: there are tons of good exercises and it’s easy to get carried away. The key skill is being able to purposefully select the ones you need (and not focus on the ones you don’t), program them to meet those needs, and be flexible enough to change your training as your needs change (and listen to your body in general). People spout shit about programming all the time, but it’s actually not an easy thing to implement well. That’s why a lot of people don’t recommend DIY programming for newbs.

dt’s plan isn’t bad. Personally, I’d pick at some of the minutiae, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what the OP has laid out here.


#14

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:

[quote]lift206 wrote:
The training plan looks good.[/quote]

What are you smoking? Horribly unbalanced as far as lower body is concerned, and while upper body push/pull is balanced, there are too many exercises with too much redundancy.

Important general rule for programming: there are tons of good exercises and it’s easy to get carried away. The key skill is being able to purposefully select the ones you need (and not focus on the ones you don’t), program them to meet those needs, and be flexible enough to change your training as your needs change (and listen to your body in general). People spout shit about programming all the time, but it’s actually not an easy thing to implement well. That’s why a lot of people don’t recommend DIY programming for newbs.

dt’s plan isn’t bad. Personally, I’d pick at some of the minutiae, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what the OP has laid out here.[/quote]
Yeah I’m just giving an example of how and why certain techniques are used, and how to use them while training heavy before someone goes,“GASP! 6 days a week? I…I…ISOLATIONS?” or links him to some advanced bodybuilding program which he has no idea how to make full use of.

He can do his reps normally and achieve the same results by ramping up the weights in small increments on the lighter day. There are lots of ways to do this.


#15

Reread the last post more carefully, it was obviously intended as an illustrative example.

Doing 6 days a week really requires good control of intensity and volume, whichever way you do it. I know several reasonably experienced guys that can’t implement it well because they don’t have the self control to auto-regulate the programming properly.


#16

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
Reread the last post more carefully, it was obviously intended as an illustrative example.[/quote]
I was responding tp this part.

I’m not sure why you are bringing up autoregulation when we’re talking about a basic layout for a 6 day split with sets and reps more or less already determined. This is why I went indepth about the EXECUTION of the exercises, which is meant to keep the weights lighter while allowing him to train with sufficent volume while stil using full intensity. If he can’t handle this amount of volume while going all out with the intensity, then a 6 day split is not for him.


#17

Didn’t really think this was the place to discuss said minutiae, but this was more what I was referring to:

The template you set out is very bench-heavy and has a relatively minor emphasis on delts. I don’t think this is the right fit for a guy who’s training for women. Once you can see some pop in your pecs through your shirt, the average population thinks you have a nice chest, regardless of how imbalanced it actually might be.

Also, I fail to see the value in doing strength work with skullcrushers. I know many people, myself included, for whom all that would accomplish is killing their elbows. Not entirely sure what the value in doing 4 back-to-back strength movements that utilize similar muscles is either. I certainly wouldn’t be able to sustain any sort of load progression on a slow moving lift like OHP after already going heavy on bench and incline bench.

If you’re using 531 for strength progression, many people would have to be quite conscious of their daily max in joker sets or RPE in + sets. For many, it’d be quite easy to burn out quickly, especially if he’s adding a second high volume day with ample AMRAP sets. Especially given the tendency of many people (especially late novices IME) to start with overly liberal training maxes.

Once again, I recognize that the template you gave was intended to be an illustrative example of how to incorporate strength and hypertrophy training techniques and progression into one’s programming as opposed to saying, “do this program.”

I’d probably set out a 6 day template something like this:

Day 1 - Upper (strength - bench, hypertrophy - chest, horizontal pull, triceps)
Day 2 - Lower (strength - squat, hypertrophy - lower body with a quad focus)
Day 3 - Abs/Accessory/Conditioning
Day 4 - Upper (strength - OHP, hypertrophy - delts, vertical pull, biceps)
Day 5 - Lower (strength - deadlifts, hypertrophy - lower body, PC focused)
Day 6 - Abs/Accessory/Conditioning

Or if he wants to continue with a PPL:
Week 1 - strength days - bench, squat, rows (+ a little bit of strength focused assistance work and prehab for each day)
- hypertrophy days - shoulders/tris, hams/calves, vert pulls/bis
Week 2 - strength days - OHP, DL, weighted pullups (+ assistance)
- hypertrophy days - chest/tris, quads/calves, horiz pulls/bis


#18

Feel kind of bad for derailing the OP’s detailed request for some help with all that crap.

OP, wouldn’t worry too much about bulking or cutting right now. If your goal is to get bigger, eat like you want to get bigger. Just do it slowly and carefully and learn how your body reacts to food.

As far as programming goes, this whole discussion went pretty in-depth about it, which just goes to show how complicated and subjective programming can be. Browse around, find a tried-and-true type begintermediate program that appeals to you, and throw it up here. We can evaluate it and maybe make some small tweaks to suit yours goals better.


#19

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:

[quote]lift206 wrote:
The training plan looks good.[/quote]

What are you smoking? Horribly unbalanced as far as lower body is concerned, and while upper body push/pull is balanced, there are too many exercises with too much redundancy.
[/quote]

I didn’t say his program is the best program. But it can work. I provided an outline for what I think would be better but if he wants to experiment then he has components that can make it work.

I mentioned that he only needs to focus on 1-2 exercises with high intensity. The redundant stuff can be used to focus on building the muscles. I stated that so he wouldn’t push to failure on every single exercise. I think that back squats and front squats are enough to build his legs especially if he kept the front squats to higher volume and is working his legs 2x a week. Adding in posterior chain dominant work for his lower back and hamstrings can be beneficial but he doesn’t seem concerned with that. It sounds like he just wants to pack on weight and prioritizes that over his erector and hamstring strength.

I personally would keep it simple and hammer 1-2 assistance exercises. If someone else would rather split that into 3-4 exercises with a bit less intensity, go for it. I’m not going to say it’s wrong. The main thing I advised was to show some sort of progression over time with all that volume because I believe he could get bigger if he does that.

You are right about the little emphasis on delts compared to chest. Although that also depends on his degree of incline.


#20

[quote]lift206 wrote:
I didn’t say his program is the best program. But it can work. I provided an outline for what I think would be better but if he wants to experiment then he has components that can make it work.

I mentioned that he only needs to focus on 1-2 exercises with high intensity. The redundant stuff can be used to focus on building the muscles. I stated that so he wouldn’t push to failure on every single exercise. I think that back squats and front squats are enough to build his legs especially if he kept the front squats to higher volume and is working his legs 2x a week. Adding in posterior chain dominant work for his lower back and hamstrings can be beneficial but he doesn’t seem concerned with that. It sounds like he just wants to pack on weight and prioritizes that over his erector and hamstring strength.

I personally would keep it simple and hammer 1-2 assistance exercises. If someone else would rather split that into 3-4 exercises with a bit less intensity, go for it. I’m not going to say it’s wrong. The main thing I advised was to show some sort of progression over time with all that volume because I believe he could get bigger if he does that.

You are right about the little emphasis on delts compared to chest.
[/quote]

Ok that makes more sense now, thanks for explaining, since everything else you said, and the advice you give in general, seems pretty reasonable.

The 531 BBB template you provided looks the exact same to the one I did a couple years ago. Not optimal for me, but also not a bad place to start.