T Nation

6 Months In


Hi guys. I've been lifting on and off for the last year but on these last 6 months I've gotten into bodybuilding very seriously.

So I've come up with a basic routine that I'm going to use as a template. My plan is too cut for the next 12 weeks until my bodyfat is reasonable I.e about 8%.

Then I will start a slow bulk by increasing my Kcals 250 at a time until I'm gaining around 0.5 of a pound a month. My goal will then be to maintain that until I reach 12% bodyfat and thus repeat.

Hey Guys, thanks for all the advice.

I went away last night with all your advice in mind and I tried to simply my diet as you suggested.

Here is what I came up with it so im gonna post it and id love your advice as to whether im going the right way or im still off track.

Let this newbie know what you think:)

Height : 179cm
weight 170 lbs
bf 18.1%
lbm: 139.4 lbs

TDEE = 370 + (21.6 * 63.3) = 1740 * 1.55 = 2,690

2,400 Kcals Daily
P= 40% = 240 grams
F= 30% = 80 grams
C= 30% = 180 grams

5 meals daily, first two meals will be P+C, Last three meals will be P+F
Carbs for the first two meals will come from oatmeal, fruit and occasionally beans.
I will not count carbs from veggies but I will count the Kclas

Sample day diet.
Meal 1(6:30am)
55 grams oatmeal
1 scoop of whey protein
250 grams apple
Kcal= 457 P= 30.2grams F= 4.6grams C= 73.2grams

Meal 2(9:30am, post workout)
I tin of pink slamon
450 grams apple
Kcal= 492 P= 40grams F=12.2grams C=62grams

Meal 3(12:30pm)
200 grams lamb liver
500 grams Brussels
Kcal= 458grams P= 53 grams F= 12.5grams C=38.3 grams(carbs from veggies)

Meal 4(3:30Pm)
150 grams Roast chicken meat(mix of skinless breast, thigh and white leg meat)
500 grams of brussels
300 grams carrot
Kcal= 588 P= 58.2 F= 14.6 C= 64 grams(carbs from veggies)

Meal 5(6:30pm)
200 grams lamb liver
500 grams Brussels
Kcal= 458grams P= 53 grams F= 12.5grams C=38.3 grams(carbs from veggies)

Kcal= 2453
P= 234.4grams
F= 56.4grams
C= 275(140 grams coming from veggies)
Workout Routine:

Upper Body workout(Heavy, low reps) 45 Mins
30 Mins H.I.T(1 minute moderate/rest 1 minute sprint)

Lower Body Workout(Light, moderate reps) 45 Mins
30 Mins H.I.T(1 minute moderate/rest 1 minute sprint)

45 Minute walk with 40 lbs Xvest and dog

Upper Body workout(light, moderate reps) 45 Mins
30 Mins H.I.T(1 minute moderate/rest 1 minute sprint)

Lower Body Workout(Heavy, Low reps) 45 Mins
30 Mins H.I.T(1 minute moderate/rest 1 minute sprint)

Abs(light, moderate reps) 45 Mins
45 Min walk with Xvest and dog

45 Min walk with Xvest and dog


if that is you in your avatar, WHY do you feel the need to bulk and cut between 8-12%, im warning you now, you wont like the replies you will get.
and your routine looks like Westside For Skinny Bastards


I think you mean HIIT not HIT.


That was me from before I started my first bulk and totally ruined my body(see my uplodded pictures on my account for a more recent picture)

If I won't like the replys then what would you suggest? As for my routine, I've heard if the program but never actually looked at it since I never counted myself skinny.


Thanks for pointing that out. I hadnt even noticed the mistake:)


That was me from before I started my first bulk and totally ruined my body(see my uplodded pictures on my account for a more recent picture)

now i have seen the pics, i understand what you mean. with that avi, you came across like a teen with body issues lol.



Trust me dude in way past that period. I just wanna get serious about lifting as it's what I love.

I'd say I've read almost every article on this site but there's no substitute for talking to the guys who have been through it.


What progress strength wise have you made in the last 6 months? Sorry to say but looks like you didn't gain much besides fat from your profile pictures... That said I wouldn't recommend cutting as you don't have very much muscle yet.

Maintaining your weight but getting significantly stronger for a while could set you up better to gain weight. I'm no expert but honestly I think you could end up just spinning your wheels.


Yeah, just keeping it real, but it looks like you've gained nothing but fat in your hub photos. It's obvious you know how to gain weight, but you're not gaining the right kind. My guess is you aren't training hard enough.

I'll repeat Jab1's question: What has your strength progress been like since you started gaining? If you can't even say, because you haven't focused on getting stronger, then that's your biggest mistake.


Yeah I kinda knew I'd Put on quite a bit of lard so I don't mind ya pointing it out.

I didnt make any great gains over the 6 months, maybe a few pounds here; a few reps there.

Then I went on the bulking phase and my numbers jumped. I added 30 to my squat, a whopping 60 to my dead lift and 20 pounds to my bench.

Now my lifts are nothing impressive but I was stI'll happy, save all the blubber.

So you recommend I maintain my weight and focus on the bar?


That's my recommendation yeah, but some of the more experienced guys might disagree. It's good that you are adding weight to the bar (would help if you could be a bit more specific) but it seems as though your strength hasn't gone up enough to justify how much your weight has gone up too, if you see what I mean.

Those gains would be great over six months if you were already very advanced but as a relative newby you should aim for greater poundage increases.


I completely agree with you on that one. "With size comes power"

Though I definarly knew I was adding mass to fast and not adding weight to the bar like I should have been.

Here are my lifts and I know their rubbish but I'm working on them.
Squat: 230 pounds went up too 260
Deadlift: 265 went up to over 300(which I was thrilled about until I learnd 300 is speed weight)
Bench: 150 pounds went up too 170.


Your lifts aren't bad for your time lifting, and you shouldn't compare to others anyway - compare them to yourself. By contrast in my first 6 months my bench went from 20kg to 65kg, my squat from 20kg to 80kg and my dead from 30kg up to 100kg. The weights aren't as good as yours, but the progress was much better and really that's what matters.


I totally agree with you on the progress.

My gains were serverly lacking for someone on 5000 Kcals a day:P

And I had always been a biggish guy so I started with a good base of strenght which is the only reason my lifts are anywhere near where they are.


I think you know what you need to do then... Eating is fine (for gaining weight, but obviously reduce them if you plan on recomping at the same weight), your programme s fine, but you need to up the intensity in the gym and try to add weight to the bar more often.


You're thinking waaaaaaay too much. For right now, forget about cutting, bulking, what should I do next, where's my body comp at now, etc...Build yourself a solid foundation and couple it with a solid diet(which you've already outlined successfully). You are still so new that there is no reason you won't see yourself lose a little fat, gain some muscle, AND get stronger all at the same time (if you bust your ass off). None of that's going to happen though until you stop this mental masturbation.

As far as your training program, way too much HIIT. That's probably what's hindering your strength gains. Think about cutting that down to once a week, or eliminating all together in the beginning so that you can focus on getting the most out of every single strength training session. The walks with your dog look good, although some believe they'd benefit you more first thing in the morning. Play around with that, and see what helps the most with fat loss and your energy levels.

Also, what is a "light" training day? You should never be lifting "light" weights. They don't "tone." They don't do much of anything. It's good to switch up rep patterns, but never go light. Lift as heavy as you can handle in that prescribed rep range.

Lastly, cut out the "abs day." What are you even doing for 45 min of abs??? I've never worked directly on my abs for more than 5 min. Add about 5 min to the end of both of your lower body workouts to do some core work, and take Saturday off. The best thing for your abs is big compound lifts and shedding some body fat. 45 straight min of abs will do nothing except maybe make it hurt every time you cough for a few days after.

Best of Luck!


Thanks for the solid advice, ill keep that in mind over the next 6 months and try to add some serious weight to the bar.


Thanks so much for the advice dude. Im going to take it too heart and just forget about bulking and cutting atm.

Ill devote my time and energy into adding some serious weight to the bar and getting the most out of my days in the gym.

The reason I have so much H.I.I.T is i have a really slow motabolism so I was using it for fat loss, do you really reckon its too much? I will admit though my energy levels arnt nearly what id expect them to be so ill try and drop it to one session a week and see what happens.

The walks ill be doing in the morning after breakfast(fasted cardio and me just dont go together).

The "light" days are the days when ill move away from 5*5 in favor of slightly lower weights and use the 8-12 rep ranges.
My heavy days I go as heavy as I can for an all out 5 sets of 5.
An example:
Light leg day: Full squats 3 sets/ 8-12 reps 70% max
Heavy leg day: Box squats 5 sets/ 5 reps 90-95% max

As for the abs day, I was told I should train abs like every other muscle group i.e heavy and once a week. I know this wont help make them more visible but I was doing it to strenghten my core for my major lifts like the dead lift.

Thanks so much for the advice, looking forward to hearing more from you


That's money right there!

How do you know you have a slow metabolism? Because you gain quickly? There are so many culprits for why this is, and you just have no way of figuring it out yet at this stage. Very often people will say their metabolism is too slow or too fast, until they really learn about proper dieting and training. For example, my gf always complains that her metabolism is too fast, so I told her to keep a diet log. Turns out once she had it all down on paper, we realized she was hardly eating, and what she was eating, was not very nutrient-rich. A few years ago I used to think I had a slow metabolism as well, until I reformed my eating habits and learned how to stay lean. I'd say give is 6 months to a year before you assess how good your metabolism is.

HIIT can be a good tool for fat loss, but I really think you're overusing it at this point for a couple of reasons. 1. It will hinder muscle recovery from weightlifting, especially when you are doing it as often as you are lifting. 2. Since you are still learning the ropes, cutting out HIIT (just for now) will help you to figure out what an ass-kicking leg workout really feels like...the kind when you can't get out of bed the next morning, let alone run sprint intervals. You'll learn how to get the most out each leg workout. Once you have a better understanding of the capacity limits of your lower body, you can then figure out how much HIIT is ideal for you and when it's best to implement it in your routine. Plus, if it makes you feel any better, during the months that I dropped from ~20% to sub 10% body fat earlier this year, I did zero HIIT and zero steady state cardio. I'm not saying that's what you need to do, I'm just saying that it can be done. By eliminating conventional cardio, I was able to fine tune all my workouts in the weightroom and make them as hard as they needed to be. I was able to push myself maximally, since I didn't have to worry about "saving enough in the tank" for my next HIIT session. Does that make sense?

That's what I figured. The point I was trying to drive home was that you should get it out of your head that you're going in training "light." Train hard. Train heavy. Obviously, to sustain higher reps you will need to use less weight, but you're still lifting as much as you can handle.

Abs do need to be trained, but remember you are training them every time you squat, deadlifting, pullup, push press, etc. The preferred way to strengthen your core for the big lifts, is to perform the big lifts...and don't rely on weight belts until you hit the really heavy weights. Let your abdomen become your natural weight belt. Also, remember that the function of the abs is different than most other muscle groups. Anything more than 5 min of direct abdominal work is overkill.

Why? First, the role of the core is to stabilize the spine (keeping your lumbar spine from going crunch when you pick anything up.) That means we should train it to PREVENT movement. How many direct abdominal training exercises allow you to do that? Just a few. Planks and their many variations, rollouts and their many variations, offloaded exercises (single arm or leg), and anti-rotation exercises like Pallof Presses.

Second, there is no real purpose of training the abs to fatigue. We want a good, strong contraction without compensation. Training to fatigue really doesn't do all that much except trick people into feeling like they did something. Same goes for typically any muscle pump.

Third, the only real way to get more visible abs is to get rid of the fat over your abs. Abdominal hypertrophy doesn't show unless the fat is gone.

So, when it comes to ab training, stick with the basics. I recommend performing some anti-extension exercise for a couple of sets at the end of your first leg workout (planks, wheel rollouts, etc.), and then perform some anti-lateral flexion and some anti-rotation exercise at the end of your second leg workout (side plank, pallof press, landmine, etc.)


Thanks so much for all the advice man, ill defiantly be taking it to heart and putting it too use(a newbiw actually taking advice? Gasp, shock, horror!). I had a look at your pictures so I can clearly see you know what your taking about when it comes to shedding fat and gaining lean muscle. On that note, fucking amazing transformation.

I was assuming I had a slow motabolisim or perhaps I just have an excess of fat cell for two reasons. 1)When I started I was well over 200 pounds and dropped to 150, after reading a few articles by Chris Shugart I figured I was like him, a FFB and would always have a an easy time packing on the fat. And 2) Yes, because of the rate I gained that amount of fat eating clean foods lead me to assume I have a slow metabolism or im carb intolerant.

Then again it might have just been the way I did it. I went from eating a 2200 hypocaloric diet(low fat, low carb and high protein) too a 4000-5000 hypercaloric diet(high carb,moderate fat,moderate protein) with no intervale phases i.e. I went from 2000-4000 in a weeks space and kept eating at that pace.

And if im to be really honest with myself my effort in the gym was serverly lacking because I wasnt paying attention to the number, more just going through the motions than anything.

Im going to take your advice for the H.I.I.T and drop it too one day a week on a Monday after the upperbody workout.
Would you suggest replacing the other 3 with 30 mins of low intensitity cardio? Something like incline walking on a treadmill?
The reason I ask is Ive been told you should do 30 mins of cardio daily regardless.

Again im going to take your advice and cut the abs day on Saturday and instead subsitute it with two sets of ab excercises at the end of each lowerbody workout i.e. Planks,Leg raises and then side planks and landmines.

My last question for you is one thats really racking my brain so I figure I should just ask, please bear with me if this seems like an idiot's question:P

In terms of my diet, Im pretty sure my template is fine i.e. high protein, moderate carbs, moderate fats but I cant figure out how much I should eat.

At the minute im eating 2400 Kcals daily which is about 300 below my maintenance, so should I continue to eat a hyercaloric diet like this or should I bump it back up to my mantinance level which is 2700? Sorry if this seems like a silly question but im just unsure:)

Thanks again for all the advice, you have no idea how much your helping this newbie.