T Nation

4 Years In and Frustrated


I'm a senior in college (21yo). I've been weight lifting for 4 years (starting at 155lbs), and I've been following 5/3/1 successfully for 38 weeks. Currently I'm 6'3'' and up to 197 lbs. My body holds weight on my sides and lower abdominals. I can see my upper abdominals. I've always been skinny but never ripped. In the past I've "bulked up and cut down"... always ending up the same weight and skinny fat.

Be decently strong and look like I lift weights. = (Strong + low body fat %)

Current Lifts:
Squat: 260x5
Deadlift: 315x7
Bench: 215x6
Over Head Press: 140x8

Point of Post:
I'm frustrated and I need direction.

1.) What is a respectable looking weight at 6'3''?
2.) How heavy should I get before cutting to that "respectable weight"? (20-30 lbs over?)
3.) Approximately how long should I appropriate for cutting. (I've cut too quickly in the past)
4.) Any suggested literature on diet/conditioning?
5.) Am I asking the wrong questions? If so which questions should I be asking?
6.) Any suggestions will be appreciated.


You are over complicating things. If you're worried about looking good you need to add muscle; If you want to add muscle you can't be cutting all the time. Eat, lift, and grow now while you can. Focus on getting stronger and the size will follow.


Depends. To the general public you are 6lbs away from obviously on gear if you are low BF. To a normal gym rat, you need a good amount more mass, a good amount.

It will depend on how you carry your weight, shape, proportions, etc etc etc. But I would say the short answer is: a fuck ton more than you weigh now.

No written rules here either. It will be different for every individual. Depends on a ton of shit.

You should be asking: why am I not a shit load stronger with 4 years under the bar and 21 years old?

Have you had a lot of injury?


Dude, if you are 6'3", lift weights and weigh less than 220 while in that kind of shape, you are too small.

If you were super lean it would be different. You need some YEARS spent towards gaining some muscle instead of that fear cycle you're doing now where you diet down constantly only to find yourself still not looking good because there isn't enough muscle there.


Lol! here we go again.


What has your training been like over the last four years? Did you just plateau with those lifts or have they been going up and down? How many times have you bulked and cut?

I ask, because I would honestly expect higher #'s after 4 years training. The weights you listed are typical of what a lot of guys on this site who work hard accomplish after 1 year. If your genetics aren't that great and you started off very weak, then maybe 2 years but that's pushing it. So what happened?

Your 1 to 6 questions are hard to answer. Depends on how you want to look. I'm 6 ft. For me a respectable weight would 220 lbs, lean enough to see some abs and 18" arms. That's the way I define it. I didn't think about cutting till I was 240 and benching over 300 lbs. If not for circumstances out of my control, I probably would've kept gaining till 260. It comes down to how much fat you're willing to carry and how quick you want to get to your goal.

Suggestion? Get bigger and stronger and don't worry about cutting until you have a good amount of muscle mass on you.


You didn't post anything about food, and maybe that's one of the most important parts. Face it, being taller just makes you have to eat more than the shorter guys to look decent. You should strive for more than 250 for your height, that's 50 pounds, now are you gonna be more serious if you have to gain 50 pounds?


I agree thanks for the advice.

No injuries that are worth mentioning. Year 1 I had zero direction in the gyme. 2-3 I would jump programs (half of which I concocted) and yoyo diet. Year 4 I've gotten on a better track with being constant and following a program written by someone who knows what he is talking about (Jim Wendler's 5/3/1).

Fear cycle is the perfect phrase for what I've been doing for these years. I agree with you. I need to stop being a b**ch.


Year one I had little direction in the gym. Yeas 2-3 I jumped programs alot and changed my diet frequently (bulk/cut/bulk/cut). I've cut weight around 3-4 times though-out the 4 years, in which I was spinning my wheel... I feel like I've just figured out training this year with following 5/3/1. Its working very well, and I'm getting stronger. Looking back I can see I've wasted a lot of time...

The good thing is that I have a large apatite. When my head is on strait (i.e. I'm gaining weight) I eat around 3000-4500 cal a day. Buffets are my friend, and I normally get 2-3 entrees when going out to eat. The problem is my consistency. Professor X hit the nail on the head with "being in a fear cycle." I'd be smart to take the mirrors out of my place.


Just consider that if your diet isn't crappy (that means that you're making it mostly from a lot of protein and mainly low glycemic carbs) at your stage I would dare to say you can pretty much eat whatever you want in each food (every 3~ hours) and not gain undesirable fat.


If I can chime in here, ProfessorCHAOS96 said it quiet simply, you need to eat more, and from what you said consistently. Bodybuilding is one the toughest "sports" activities out there, that requires 100% dedication and consistency to succeed. I was in the same boat you were in, albeit I was always a bit heavier, after I lost the weight, I was wondering around the bodybuilding world without direction. Find a direction, in your case, it seems to be gaining weight, particularly LBM, set a goal specific to your mass gain, and follow it wholeheartedly until you achieve it; bodybuilding is all about the will to succeed.

Fuck mirrors, and weighing yourself constantly (I used to do this way to much!), don't stop until you reach whatever goal you are trying to accomplish. Eat, lift, rest, grow. Muscle growth isn't entirely based on what you do in the gym, its what you do outside the gym.

You said that you eat 3000-4500 calories a day, perhaps you have to up these calories, or be more consistent with them 3000-45000 calories is a big differential. You also said that you are eating out at buffets a lot, buffet food although good for putting on sheer weight, isn't the healthiest or most beneficial food to the bodybuilder (IMO anyway) and could perhaps be the reason for your "skinny fat" look. If its feasible/possible try making a majority of your own food at home, or college, or wherever; eat more healthy complex carbohydrates and complete proteins (don't rely on protein shakes a lot of people seem to do this?), when I was at college I would buy tons of sweet potatoes and clean them, and heat'em up in my dorm's microwave, in other words, preparing your own food might be a bitch at college, but its a necessity to succeed in BB.

Perhaps you could also trying switching up your "5/3/1" routine. As you probably know the body adapts rather quickly and needs to be shaken out of its complacency via the utilization of different routines and eating habits. So eat more, beneficial foods, on a consistent basis, and change your routine and you should start to see some type of results. Hope this helps a bit.....


Nice speech....but I would put money on you having no real life experience in this. I stand to be corrected...


As already mentioned this is your problem.

Photos may help to give some perspective. Im' going to go ahead and guess you are the typical muscleless guy....fair?

Do abit of reading round and you will definitely find many identical threads on this forum which will help you a tonne. In short: keep bulking avoiding cutting. If you are gaining too much fat do not suddenly just jump into a sudden crash diet, adjust what you're doing through MINOR changes.


Shontayne said: "Nice speech....but I would put money on you having no real life experience in this. I stand to be corrected..."

No real life experience in what exactly?.... devoting myself to a specific goal and achieving it? That's a rather baseless accusation.

I lost over 115 lbs, went from fat to thin, and have been trying like hell to achieve the physique I want. I was injured in a nasty accident, lost 3 of my fingers, had them reattach, suffered severe back injury and I fell off of the proverbial "BB wagon" a bit, eating like shit half of the time and not really lifting, because I was bed ridden. But I wasn't some bitch who laid around all day, I got off of my ass, did my own rehabilitation, and started doing whatever exercise I could, to try to maintain some semblance of my former self and I am trying like hell to get my old physique back.


I have been training for a year and a half but this is kinda freaky in that it describes me down to a tee.My stats and height are nearly identical to the op.I 'know' what the right thing to do is thanks to a few guys on this website but lately Ive slipped a bit into yoyo dieting.Im 20 now and dont what to look back in a few years on wasted oppurtunity.Ok rant over but thanks T-Nation for keeping me focused.


I am not attacking you as an individual, so there is no need to take it personally.

This kid wants to go from skinny to big, from what you have said you have done the opposite losing 115lbs. By 'real life experience' I meant experience in gaining enough muscle to turn heads (this is a bodybuilding forum). To me, your reply just didn't sound like someone with any personal experience in gaining lots of muscle themselves.

This may sound harsh but I really do not see how your accident is relevant. You have either gained alot of muscle, or haven't, it's pretty much Yes or No.

I still stand to be corrected however...!


Crazy idea.

Set up some friendly competition with the OP. Hopefully would motivate you both onto new gains?


Just eat man. If you ever start feeling fat and you don't like it just do a Pulse Fast or something. I packed on a lot of extra fat this fall and started spinning my tires and did a 2 week V-Diet with Pulse Fasts to kind of turn things around and it worked (cept I weighed 230 at 5'9", dropped to 210). So to keep you from cutting all the time, check out the fuckin price on a V-Diet/Pulse Fast and make yourself realize you only wanna pay that much in case of emergency.


Shontayne: Didn't mean to come as sounding defensive. I did lose 115 lbs, got down to 150ish, as of late I am at 213, down from 230, so I know a bit about gaining muscle.

Brought up injury because I wasn't sure what you were saying I had no experience in, I thought that you meant in "self-discipline" and not muscle building. Miscommunication......

I am not sure about what I said that didn't make sense: lift, eat, rest, grow?

Moses: No problem. In regards to low GI carbs, any type of carbohydrate by its very nature, will raise the blood glucose level. Carbs that are low on the GI index only cause a slight spike in blood glucose; i.e. a lower GI carb usually equals a lower blood insulin response. Most complex carbs are low on the GI index.

Some examples of low GI carbs would be whole sweet potatoes, oatmeal, multi-grain pasta, quinoa (which is freaking great!), brown rice, ezekial bread, muesli, most beans (kidney beans, etc.). Didn't mean to jack anyone's thunder. Also if your going to eat Peanut butter try to make sure its natural, its a little more pricey, but it contains a whole shit ton of goods fats and usually "natural sugar".

Check out one of the the "Glycemic Index" web sites online for a more thorough list of foods.


That would be pretty cool. Law, if your game, post some pics up and compare them to the OP. We can use this thread to motivate you both to stay the course!