T Nation

A Little Help Here?


Hi, my name is Rick. I'm 36 years old, and when my wife was pregnant with our second child, I noticed that I once again was gaining weight with her. So, I decided to start working out and eating right. I can't afford a personal trainer and a nutritionist to help me in this regard, so I have been flying blind for about six months now. This is my goal:

Obviously, GSP is a genetic freak, so I have no delusions of actually looking like that. But that is the direction and the general body-type I would like. I want to be lean and muscular, with good definition - not massive. Of particular interest to me (and I guess everyone else) is having the elusive six-pack, and I guess I need to get down to about 10% body fat to see that.

I started out at about 170lbs and about 20 - 25% bodyfat. I had a 34 inch waist. I am now down to a 29 inch waist, 147lbs, and about 13% bodyfat. This in six months. I should be ecstatic. But it seems like the more progress I make, the more impatient I get. Go figure.

Here's what I did for most of the six months so far:

I did HIIT on an elliptical machine on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 30 minutes. In the last month or two, I also incorporated an ab routine on those days before the cardio. I'd do two giant sets:

  1. On a decline board, raise slightly and twist with dumbell in hand, punching upward. Twelve reps each side
  2. Press sit up X12
  3. Leg lifts X 20
  4. Swiss ball plank 1 minute
  5. Side plank X 20 each side
  6. Vacuum stomach 5 times

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I would alternate between two routines. Both were two supersets with moderate weight for 12 minutes a piece. One one day, I would do an upper body pull exercise paired with a lower body push, and on the other day, I would do an upper body push with a lower body pull. I'd follow that with 2 sets of 15 on an opposing muscle group. So, if I did upper body pull, I'd do an upper body push for those two sets. Then, I do 5 minutes of balls-to-the wall cardio.

I'd change out the exercises a lot to keep it interesting and keep my muscles confused. And I'd try to do exercises that work large muscles and activate my core.

As for my diet, I was eating 1700 calories a day.

My first meal (7AM) was 1 1/2 cups of Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidant Cinnamon Oat Crunch Cereal with 1 cup of 1% milk. And I take at this time 3000mg of fish oil supplement and a multivitamin.

Then I go work out.

When I get back (10AM), I have a protein shake, with 1 scoop casein and 1 scoop whey, mixed with 1 1/2 cups of 1% milk

At 1PM, 4PM, and 7PM, I eat again, about 200 calories, always with a protein like tuna or chicken or lean beef.

At 10PM I have one scoop of casein protein mixed with 3/4 of a cup of 1% milk. If usually have about 100 calories or so left, and I'll snack on sugar-free jello and popcorn or something.

At the end of the day, I've had about 1700 calories, 150g of protein, 35g of fiber, 200g of carbs (mostly whole grains), 2500 miligrams of sodium, 200mg of cholesterol, and 35g of fat.

I also drink 2 liters of water, mixed with lemon juice, throughout the day, and about 20oz of coffee with splenda and 1/4 cup of fat free french vanilla creamer. I might have a can of diet soda at night while watching TV.

I made a lot of progress in that time, and got to the point where I could see a "four pack" in the right lighting. My stomach is definitely flat, except for a slight swell over my lower abs. I don't have the definition I want, overall, though. I love the way I look when I am actually lifting, and I wish I looked like that when I am walking around.

I've been feeling lately like I've been getting thin, but not getting the actual shape I was going for. I still have 3% bodyfat to lose, but I'd like to put on a little more muscle, too.

So, I changed my workout and diet a bit to tweak it. On cardio days and off-days, I have been sticking with the 1700 calorie diet, the protien shakes, etc. But on lifting days, I have upped my caloric intake to 2000 calories.

The workouts have been tweaked, as well. I dropped the ab routine from cardio days, and now instead of alternating between two workouts, I just do three different workouts. I still do the 12 minute cycles, but adding the extra day helped me expand the workout to include more muscles. I'm also focusing on doing heavier weights. Here's what that looks like this week:


1st set (each exercise 10 reps per superset)
Dumbbell bench press
Stiff-legged deadlift

2nd set (each exercise 12 reps per superset)
Incline dumbbell press
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Ab roller - 2 X 15
Cardio 5 min


1st Set
One armed dumbell row
Box squats

2nd Set
Lat pulldowns
Prisoner squats

Pallof press (2 X 15, each side)
Cardio 5 min


1st set
Upright row
Reverse curl

2nd set
Arnold press
Supinated curls

Offset farmers carries, 2 minutes each hand
Cardio 5 minutes

So far, I have noticed at least one difference - I am sore as hell. Do you think these changes in my routine and diet will help me add a little muscle without throwing off my fat-loss? I really want a six-pack by summer, so I don't want to sabotage that, but I'd like to have a better shape - a little more mass particularly in my chest, back, and shoulders. And I'd like to get that kind of definition in my shoulders and chest that indicate - this guy doesn't just look like this: he worked for it.

I know it's really hard to optimally gain mass while optimally losing fat, but will these tweaks and the extra calories on lifting days help me to maybe put on a LITTLE more mass while maintaining my fat loss?

Thanks in advance,



WOW I'm sore as hell jus thinkin bout all that, serious I think your over training. Man I wish I could eat like that, great diet. when I wanted to lose weight I would just run 5 miles every day and not worry about it (its called the 5 mile vitamin).


Overtraining? I was afraid I was UNDERtraining. My whole workout is done in about 45 minutes, and my cardio is done in 30. Maybe I didn't explain it well. It's really hard to put it into words, haha...

I'm definitely losing fat, but I am afraid I am starting to look like a Vegan Yoga instructor. :wink:


Man, I was just reading that interview with Chad Waterbury, and it seems like maybe my workout was better before because it was more of a total-body workout, whereas now I'm isolating muscle groups. Aaargh, I'm so confused...


Remember your not 20 anymore, things don't work like that anymore. I see some of my biggest gains after what I would (used) to consider slacking off. I'm serious about the 5M vitamin. and then due a total body workout at what you mite consider as slacking , this will due 2 things 1)motivate you to make every scheduled lifting day and 2 you won't be sore you will be getting ripped.


Its really hard to tell without with numbers of reps, sets and the weight you are doing.

Plus it would be good to know your height, because if you are taller than say 5' 6" then you are probably headed into vegan yoga instuctor territory.

So more info would help a lot.


Its really hard to tell without with numbers of reps, sets and the weight you are doing.

Plus it would be good to know your height, because if you are taller than say 5' 6" then you are probably headed into vegan yoga instuctor territory.

So more info would help a lot.


If fat burn is your goal, have you tried a low carb approach? I like the following: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/refined_physique_transformation


You should do 5/3/1. Because I said so.


Is sore a bad thing? I always kind of feel proud when I'm sore, like I've accomplished something.


I'm 5'10". My first superset is reps of 10, and I do as many supersets as I can in 12 minutes. My second superset is reps of 12, and I also do as many sets as I can in 12 minutes. It usually ends up being 4 or 5 for the first, and 3 or 4 for the second.

On the benches, I usually use 35s, on the squats, I'm doing about 150, deadlifts 100, romanian deadlifts 35s, lat pulldowns 65, one armed row 40, upright row 40, reverse curl 40, Arnold press 20, supinated curls 20.

Are you thinking less sets/higher weights? I don't want to get too big. I don't want to get too small, either, haha...


I have no idea what that is.


5-10, 147 lbs? You don't want to get too small?

Sorry I just can't resist...


Okay first of all I have some bad news for you. If you don't have visable abs at 5'10" 147 you probably aren't going to have them.

Now I want you to focus on the fact that I really don't want you to think I'm, well trying to be an ass.

But at your height and weight you are almost under weight FOR A WOMAN.

You passed small a long time ago and are pretty close to emaciated.

Now if you want to look like, as close you can get, to an MMA fighter. Then you need to slowly up your calories and put some weight on the bars, lifting around the 8 rep range. You're routine seems designed to "pop" muscles you don't have.

I'm not saying you have to eat everything in sight. Just add 100 cals to your daily intake every 2-3 weeks along with lifting a lot freaking heavier. After a few weeks of increased calories you can add some volume to your lifting.

As much as I hate to say it this way. You are doing everything wrong. Eat more, do a predesigned routine with much heavier weights, and do some heavy GPP. If your farmer's walks don't make you want to vomit they need to be heavier. You'll also most likely need to lift at least 4xweek for that sort of look.

GSP weighs 23lbs more than you do at the exact same height.

There is an upside though, any muscle you add is going to make radical changes in your appearance since you are tiny.


Could always train like a MMA fighter.


winner winner


Welcome to the forum, Rick. Just ignore the guys trying to eat you for not doing 5/3/1.

Actually, the physique in the photo is fairly doable. I reserve "genetic freak" for Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler. Joe is right, 147 at under 6 ft is pretty slender. A little more muscle really won't hurt. I'm about your height and when I was 147 I felt like a toothpick. Be sure you're eating a generous amount of protein and see if you can start moving the weights up.

Can you do regular bench presses? You can use more weight with a bar than juggling dumbs.

As for "I don't want to get too big", take it from a guy who has sweated buckets for every stubborn ounce of muscle, if you've found a fast way of getting strong, I sure wish you'd tell me! :slight_smile:


x a billion

Getting big (with muscle) is earned thru properly applied blood, sweat, and tears; and we all know how commonly that happens.

That said, you can also try a site like rosstraining, run by Ross Enamait, who is an awesome physical specimen. A lot more people there will have your goal(s). It is a younger crowd though.


Lift as heavy and as often as your body will allow.....at 1700 cal/day I don't think you have to worry about getting too big.


Do you think that 2000 calories on lifting days is enough? I'm trying to kind of zig-zag it so that on non-lifting days I am burning fat, and on lifting days I am building muscle. Is that even possible?