T Nation

A Beginner Shouldn't Stall.

So, I’ve been lifting 3-4 times a week, and I’ve made almost no progress at all.

I’ll attempt to do 5x5 front squats, but I can almost never do the last rep. After that, military presses (or anything else) become near impossible for me to do. What makes this even worse is that I can’t even squat my own body weight once.

I’m not sure if this lack of progress comes down to failure in the gym, or poor nutrition. (How accurately do you track your caloric intake?) What do you think?

How long have you been lifting for?
How can you do 4 front squats but not do a single of your own bw?
How much do you weigh? Are you obese?
How much food are you eating?

  1. If you are a newbie then 5x5 might have too much volume for you body to handle, which by the looks of it is true. Switch to Rippetoe 3x5 and workout Mon/Wed/Fri.

  2. If you are a newbie then why are on earth are front squatting!? (unless your gym does not cater for it). Do Olympic back squats instead.

  3. You are right lack of progress does come down to gym and nutrition (and rest). If you are only doing say 2 exercises at 5x5 then that’s not as good for a newbie as 3 exercises at 3x5.

  4. The way to measure your intake is just to look at the back of what ever you are eating and use a calculator. If you are eating out use Dailyplate.com to guessestimate how much you are eating. You have to hit at least .9g/lb protein a day otherwise progress will be slow.

Also provide vital stats, you should have done your maxes before starting 5x5.

Ah, I should’ve put all this down first. Here I go.

I’ve been lifting for a few months.
I have an exceedingly hard time front squatting weight near my own body weight.
I’m 110 pounds. Nowhere near obese.
I eat every three hours. Usually for the three main meals, meat, vegetables, and sometimes rice. For snack, I have whole yogurt with fruit, whole milk, and sometimes some nuts.

Something about that doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s the almost total lack of information…

If you’re single rep max is 225lbs. you should be doing the 5x5 with something like 185. You might even want to go lower with the weight until the form is grooved in.

As far as not being able to move on after 5x5 front squats, I think something more specific would be helpful. To me it sounds like you’re still pretty new to lifting. If that’s the case it will definitely take some time to build up more stamina. Until then, swallow our pride, strap on your balls and lift whatever weight you can.

Edit: Don’t know why I clicked submit halfway through a post.

Likely, it’s both a misguided approach in the gym and a nutrition issue. If you post your planned workouts and a normal days food (be honest) it’ll be very easy to spot issues and plenty of people here will be more than willing to offer advice.

A lot of people track their nutrition very meticulously. I know I do. It’s pretty easy though if you use www.fitday.com. The recommendation you’ll commonly see is 1.5-2g of protein per pound of body weight per day. I firmly believe in using 1.5g per lb. of lean body weight, as counting fat into the equation doesn’t make sense to me. Fat isn’t going to use protein for anything, and excess protein will be converted and burned for fuel or stored as fat.
Either way, if you’re looking to put on size and make real strength gains that 5x5 programs are designed for you need to be sure you’re eating above maintenance levels every day. That can be tougher than it sounds without a smart tracking system like fitday.

Why front squats?

Try backsquats for a while.

Eat more food, whenever I’m weaker than I should be I can trace it back to not eating or sleeping enough.

Try something else for a while. Shit do legpresses. Anything to get stronger.

We’re all posting at the same time…

If you’re 110 lbs, how old are you, how tall are you?

The same concepts apply from my first post regarding bringing the weight down a touch, but obviously the numbers need to be lowered. That diet looks like it would be ideal for the most part…however the quantities are important too.

Eating a half a cup of broccoli and 3 oz. of chicken does not count as a meal for a little girl, let alone someone weight training to grow.
Ghost is right, back squats are probably a better choice for you at this point. The weight is more manageable for most people, and at least for me I feel like back squats really fire the hamstrings and glutes, whereas front squats only hit my quads.

Calculate your caloric intake roughly and your basal metabolic rate. Make it so you have at least 500 extra calories a day. None of this is exact just estimate and tweak it as you go.

Do a simple program and work your fucking ass off. Get some good music that motivates you and blast that shit. Mental focus is huge.

I stalled for a couple months after I first started because I tried too many programs in too short a time and also didn’t work hard enough in the gym.

Seriously if you work hard and eat enough it is impossible not to succeed.

This will be a long post. Here I go.

[quote]Jeffe wrote:
As far as not being able to move on after 5x5 front squats, I think something more specific would be helpful. To me it sounds like you’re still pretty new to lifting. If that’s the case it will definitely take some time to build up more stamina. Until then, swallow our pride, strap on your balls and lift whatever weight you can.
[/quote]

Yes, I am pretty new to this, and I am trying to lift whatever I can.

I am doing front squats just because this university gym has no squat stand or power rack.

I suppose I could just push press the weight overhead, then just get it into a back squat position. (What other alternatives do you suggest?)

Right now, I’m confident that I’m reaching the 1-1.5 g protein/pound, even though I’m not tracking it.

I don’t have a scale at the moment for measuring out the food I’m eating (I’m at a university, and I have to trick people into giving me more meat.)

I’m 5’5"

The problem with my nutrition is consistency. Sometimes I wake up a bit later than I’d like before a class, so sometimes I just chug some of that whole milk with whey before going to class.

So, what I eat usually looks like this:
~9:00AM: one bowl of oatmeal with milk and sliced bananas and peaches, or eggs, sausages and the occasional bacon.

12:00PM: Either the “Blue plate,” which is just a selection of meat/vegetables (I can’t really quantify how much this is) or a hamburger, usually with two patties, several pieces of tomatoes, a shitload of lettuce, and whatever other meat you’d usually put in a sandwich that I can find in that open salad bar.

3:00PM: A can of tuna, whole milk, fruit, whatever I can find in my room.

6:00PM: Same as whatever I had at 12.

9:00PM, 12:00PM, 3:00AM (If I’m up working. I know I need to sleep, though.): A can of tuna, whole milk, fruit, whatever I can find in my room.

Yes. That is all.

Um, I’m not sure how tall or old you are, but 110 lbs is LIGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHT! Meats, veggies, etc are all good quality foods bro, and can be worked well into any diet, but do NOT, unless you are 3’4", be afraid of carbs. You’re eating (occasionally rice) like a former fat guy who gains easily. This is NOT you. I’m not saying being a fat fucking slob, but I have the same body type (started at 125 lbs grown adult at 5’6") and you need to fucking EAT bro.

I would seriously try and eat a shit ton of food or, if your metabolism is what I think it is, you are never going to grow. What has worked for me is this-

BW X 25 for calories- Yeah, it is high, and a lot of food. For you, 110 x 25 = 2,750 calories

BW x 2 for protein grams- That is 220 grams, which equals 880 calories. Divide this over 6 meals/ shakes.

BW x 3.5 for carbs. That equals 385 grams of carbs, which equals 1,540 calories. Do not fool yourself. That is a lot of carbs for someone your size. They are not all going to be clean. More on this and limiting bodyfat later.

That leaves us with 330 calories left, which will be from fat. 330/9 (9 calories in each fat gram vs 4 in each carb/protein gram) brings us to right around 35 grams of fat.

Basically, every one of the 6 meals you eat should have 35-40 grams of protein in them.

Your first 4 meals will be your carb meals (provided you’re not training late at night) 385 grams of carbs / 4 = 95-100 grams of carbs in each of those meals. You have a super fast metabolism. Your last two meals are going to be basically carbs free. You will not get huge and fat, do not worry. You will grow. In fact, this is about the only way you will grow, so don’t be a “Oh, my abs will disappear if I have a glass of Coke” motherfucker and just get those carbs in, even if they are not the best choices in food. You fucking need them. If anything, just try and keep a large amount of fat out of these first 4 meals.

Your last two meals will each still have 35-40 grams of protein in them, but now you’re going low carb at night to prevent fat gain. 35 grams of fat spread over two meals. Basically, with meal 5’s protein, have a tablespoon of olive oil or some nuts, which will be 14-20 grams of fat for a serving.

Meal #6, your same protein amount and about 20 fish oil capsules. These fish oils are not skippable. They will keep your insulin sensitivity high, help you stay nice and lean while eating mega carbs and help you pack on pounds of muscle.

Give this a sincere try. It is a trial and error slightly modified version of this diet- A lil more protein, a lil less carbs and an earlier carb cutoff to help stay leaner are the only differences, but the principles are the same…

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_diet_nutrition_bodybuilding/the_skinny_bastard_diet

Give this shit a good run, not doing anything different or missing meals for one month. If you’re still stuck, well, you have the worst genetics ever, lol.

Best of luck,
Kubo

eat eat eat eat eat. I would eat every 2 hours if I were you.

Yeah, recently, I’ve been thinking about the whole “ONE WHOLE GALLON OF WHOLE MILK A DAY” thing.

I actually started eating carbs, so I guess I’ll just eat like there’s no bloody tomorrow.

Thanks for the advice.

Edit:
Oh, I forgot to mention that I am only 18, but I DO remember saying my height, which is 5’5"

I do happen to go to the gym late at night, usually sometime between 9 and 12, and I usually finish in about an hour.

[quote]Thesecretaznman wrote:
Yeah, recently, I’ve been thinking about the whole “ONE WHOLE GALLON OF WHOLE MILK A DAY” thing.

I actually started eating carbs, so I guess I’ll just eat like there’s no bloody tomorrow.

Thanks for the advice.

Edit:
Oh, I forgot to mention that I am only 18, but I DO remember saying my height, which is 5’5"

I do happen to go to the gym late at night, usually sometime between 9 and 12, and I usually finish in about an hour.[/quote]

Drinking a gallon of milk each day would be a very good place to start. Count your calories too. If your lifts have stalled AND your weight gain is stalling too, then I would definitely say nutrition is the problem. As for cleaning to front squats because your gym doesn’t have a squat rack, DO IT! Seriously, if that’s all you can do, then it will work as your deadlifting too. In fact, ill go one step further and say that cleaning to front squats will make you tougher! Keep up the good work, and good luck!

[quote]Thesecretaznman wrote:
So, I’ve been lifting 3-4 times a week, and I’ve made almost no progress at all.

I’ll attempt to do 5x5 front squats, but I can almost never do the last rep. After that, military presses (or anything else) become near impossible for me to do. What makes this even worse is that I can’t even squat my own body weight once.

I’m not sure if this lack of progress comes down to failure in the gym, or poor nutrition. (How accurately do you track your caloric intake?) What do you think?

[/quote]

first off, dont worry! After reading your second post Thesecretaznman it seems from first glance that you have a good idea on diet, stick with that and listen to the other people in this post about tips.

Regaurding your ‘lack of progress’… I understand where your coming from because I have been there, and so has everyone else.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, it took years. Don’t expect so much so fast you have to be realistic when it comes to gains. Olympians train their bodies for years before they are in perfect tip-top condition. Give it time, eventually you will definently see size, definition, and other things come into play soon enough. If your consistant and dedicated you will be fine.

So, let’s say I followed MikeKubo’s suggestion, and went for the Skinny bastard’s diet… I would probably have to either drop the whole milk, or have it only during the first and last meal, yeah?

It seems that with that plan, a gallon of whole milk wouldn’t be ideal, since I’m trying to keep fat off of 4 of the meals.

I’d like to go for the Skinny Bastard Diet, but I’m already buying two gallons of whole milk every weekend, and I’m already in the habit of eating what I’m eating every three hours.

If I start having one gallon of whole milk every day, is there any reason to change diets?

If you are 110 pounds I don’t think I would worry about cutting your fat out of your meals.

[quote]Wilmernuts wrote:
If you are 110 pounds I don’t think I would worry about cutting your fat out of your meals.[/quote]

I was referring to the “Skinny Bastard Diet,” which specifically stated that certain meals shouldn’t have much fat in them.

Nobody asked him what his actual workout is.

I walk into the gym every one to two days with an intended plan, but as I said earlier, I usually feel mentally drained after the 5xalmost 5 sets of front squats.

As follows:

A:
5x5 Front squat
5x5 Military press
1x5 Deadlift

B:
5x5 Front squat
5x5 Bench press
1x8 Power clean (I’m definitely not doing this with my max weight, then again, I might drop this exercise since those people who work at the gym keep telling me not to drop the weights.)

I’ve started adding 3 sets of pushups to failure on each day.

Is there any exercise I should add?

Given that I’m using enough weight, is the volume fine?

If you’re really cranking it, then yeah, that could be the right amount of volume for you right now.

A few suggestions, though…

First is that I would not do front squats in both workout. It might be better for you to do hack squats (can definitely be done without a machine, the weight is held behind your legs) or leg presses.

Second, change the order of your workout. For the A workout, if the squats are what’s frying you, move them to the end. In that workout, military presses should be the least exhausting. Do them first. 1X5 deadlifts would be next for me. Even though, they’re tough, it’s low volume and not likely to drain you. If you do your squats last you can bring the weight down a bit and work on getting the 5x5.

Each week look to add a bit of weight or an extra rep to each set.

Just for kicks, don’t do any lower body work for a week and see how you feel. You might have flat out overblown it and not had time/enough food to rebuild.