T Nation

A Question of Muscle Growth and Nutrition


I will tell you my story to start. Quick version. I have been working out the last three years. Previously I had been doing martial arts/kickboxing. I was in decend shape when I started weights. Ok the first year I lost weight and got bigger on my measurements. Year two I gained 15 lbs and measurements stayed the same. I was happy with this, I got more solid and gained strength. Now for this year!!! I have not gained weight or size.

My first thought was nutrition. I eat any protein I find and I think I eat more than I should. People at work are always asking how I stay in shape and eat as much as I do.

Here is the question. How if I am causing hypertrophy am I not growing? If I am not eating enough I would loose weight as hard as I hit it. I usually to 15 sets of 5 to 8 reps compound per body part and 9 sets of 8-12 reps for for the little parts...ie bi, tri or traps. So I do mon-back/bi, tue-legs/traps, wed-chest/tri, thurs-shoulders than I start over.

I am asking this because a experienced guy said it was my workout. I said yes maybe some things are not perfect, but I am hitting it hard and am definatly getting stronger. I allways go up in weight once I can complete my sets.

Whats your thoughts guys?????


up your intensity, up your food intake and see if that helps


Are all of those work sets?


Yes they are working sets. I am not counting the warmups. Mostly 1 minute rest btw sets, at times I take two for fourth or fifth set on squats.

I am upping the food. I will be adding a casin protein shake before bed and a scoop of casin to my after workout drink(I was taking just a scoop of whey now I will add the casin for 48g total).


First that statement makes no sense if you were causing hypertrophy you would be growing.

Can you be more specific in your nutritional intake and training program?


If you aren't gaining weight, you aren't eating enough calories. PERIOD.



I try to train every day about an hour to an hour and a half.

Typical leg day- squat 3 warmup sets and 5 working sets deep with 250lbs. Next lunges 5 sets of 20 reps superseted with barbell shrugs, then 5 sets of 8-10 leg extensions with dumbell shrugs, then calf raises with these cable raise things I do for my traps (straight up front to chin).

chest day 5 sets of 8-10 each high, medium and low cable cross. then tri excersises...skull crushers, cable extensions close grip bench

Back-5 sets of chins (I can only do 5 sets of 8), 5 sets cable rows, 5 sets wide grip cable rows. Then bi work. cable curls, ez curl bar and hammer dumbell curls

Shoulders I really wimp out on. I have a bum right shoulder and work with really light weights. I do only one heavy excercise of overhead press 5 sets of 5. The rest are basicially therapy movements.

As for nutrition I eat everything I can. typical day. 1/2 cup oats w/blueberries b-fast, protein bar 2 hours later, then a greek yougart around 10am, then lunch whatever I have sandwich, lasangna or steak. a afterworkout protein drink, a sandwich around 4pm and then supper.

daily supplements are vitamin, creatine, chromium p, fish oil and sometimes hot rocks.

So I think if you can trust me I am working out with intensity you can see why I am confused about the gains or no gains lately.


try a mass program and stick to the routine.

Eat a better breakfast.


You say "I usually to 15 sets of 5 to 8 reps compound per body part" then describe leg extensions, chest flies but don't mention deadlifting, dips, chest pressing. Step one would be to be honest with yourself about your workout, what you are actually doing and what you want to achieve. There's nothing wrong with leg extensions or chest flies, but there is something wrong with believing they are compound movements and that they are going to be the most intense movements you can complete.

You mention that you've been at it for three years yet mention a bum shoulder. 3 years is plenty of time to determine what is wrong with the shoulder and fix it. The fact that you are using this as an excuse for selecting less intense movements needs to stop if you want to progress.

Three years and no deadlifting? I've found that deadlifting builds my traps better than shrugging (but that may just be me).

No hamstring work is mentioned other than the lunges which don't work them to their full capacity. That needs to change - curls, RDL, goodmornings, hell, anything is better than nothing.

When someone uses "whatever" to describe their lunch and doesn't outline what their supper is, I tend to think that they are either over eating and gaining fat or under eating and not gaining at all.

Mr. P's simple comment is the truth - if you are not gaining you aren't eating. Words to chew on.

My recommendation is put aside a couple of hundred dollars and go see a decent strength and conditioning coach. Tell them your goals and they'll make you a program to help you achieve it. There is a ton of free advice on this site that you aren't following and even in this thread you are resisting the free advice people are giving you. Spend the money because you'll be more likely to listen if you've paid to hear it.



You were happy gaining 15lbs of BW and none of your measurements went up? How do you gain 15lbs and your measurements stay the same? Was all the weight gain on your belly? Please clarify this statement.


An increase in motor unit recruitment and only motor unit recruitment will result in an increase in strength but not size. You're incorrect to assume that if you weren't eating enough you would have to be shrinking. If you're eating at maintenance you could get stronger to a point (until motor unit capacity has been met)and then at that point more mass would need to be built in order to get stronger. Solution for you, you need to eat more than you currently are in order to get bigger. Big fuckin surprise.


don't be silly. carb-only breakfast FTW!


Patmac I will make some things clearer. I am sorry I didnt let this out earlier. I do deadlift but only on my leg days. I have been mixing up stiff legged and conventional.
As for as bench press type movements, my shoulder is not an excuse it keeps me up at nights if I bench. I have a appointment on the 21st of this month for an MRI. I have been trying to fix or determine whats wrong the last few years. I have seen a Cyropracter, used ice, heat and stated away from heavy bench. Only staying away from the bench seems to work. I love benching thats why I finially made a apointment for a MRI. I have a $5000 yes $5000 deductable so I have fought off going to the doc for a while. No fucking way could I do or try dips with my injury.
As far as ham work I know I could do more but squats do work your hams I feel it after.

I am seeing the light on the eating thing. I eat alot now but I have to eat more. There ain't a safe grocery in the house now!!! Whats your thoughts on the Casin after workout and at night?



You were happy gaining 15lbs of BW and none of your measurements went up? How do you gain 15lbs and your measurements stay the same? Was all the weight gain on your belly? Please clarify this statement.[/quote]

Well its like this I lost fat on my arms, legs, shoulders and chest. At the same time I gained muscle. Its very obvious to people around me. I actually look bigger yet the measurements are the same. IT was a trade. Actually belly and hips measurements went down slightly.


As far as I know carbs at breakfast are ok and lots of guys eat oats first meal?????? I could eat more of them. School me if I am wrong.


Whey during and after workouts, along with dextrose or maltodextrin - but this is the final 5% so worry about it only once you started eating more good quality protein, carbs and fat.

Casin is fine, but my feeling is it`s better before bed..

Glad to hear that you are deadlifting and are just not doing it right now. I would consider adding it in again and doing some snatch grip with shrugg variations to work the entire posterior chain. I would also consider doing some direct hamstring work because they make up about about a third of your leg mass so they represent a lot of growth potential.

Casin protein after work out is fine, but I consume it before bed.

My shoulders suffer badly when I do barball bench press but not when I do dumbbell press - neutral at the bottom and pronated at the top. I've been doing a lot of rotator cuff and scapula work in an attempt to eliminate the pain but it's slow going. Check out Cressey's articles on shoulder rehab and health if you haven't already done so.

For the record, I think you're off to a good start simply by accepting that you need to increase you food intake. I stand corrected about you not following free advice.

Good luck as you move forward!


My breakfast is spelt oats, whey powder and fish oil.

I encourage everyone to eat protein at every meal.

My feeling is that you don't need to worry about limiting carbs first thing in the morning as you are not gaining weight.


PatMac my shoulder issue is not a rotator problem and thats what makes it so difficult to figure out. But the MRI should stop the guessing.

As far as breakfast I have a big glass of milk with the oats to help choke them down. Sometimes I have to put something sweet in the oats like strawberries or sugar. So I do get protein with B-fast.

I know I will be flamed for this but here goes the question...

If I was only eating maintence calories and not xcess, wouldn't I then grow or loose body fat %. If a muscle is worked and microtears, wouldn't it have to heal if I was at a maintenance level? Likewise if I was below maintence would I not just loose body fat?

Really I am not trying to be an ass but sometimes my thick skull has a hard time understanding.


PatMac my shoulder is not a rotator injury and thats what makes so hard to figure out. The MRI on the 21st should stop the guessing.
Dumbell work hurts far more than the barbell. You would be happy I deadlifted today, 8 sets of 3 with 365lbs after my Squats. I had to show up this punk who kept hitting the speed bag while I was squatting. I was squatting heavy and dont like the noise. I should get a IPOD! The Kid was deadlifting 225 with straps when I came in. PUSS!

Anyhow I do have a big glass of milk to help me choke down the oats. So I am getting some protein.

Ok FLAME away but I still cannot understand if a person is almost daily working out intensly how measurements would remain the same. If I was only eating maintenance calories wouldnt I then loose body fat% to help my body repair? WHat happens to microtore muscle? It has to repair if I can work out week after week.

Really I am not trying to be an ass I just am to hardheaded to get it. Hopefully someone here can crack my skull and get the info in and make me understand.


Muscle grows when there is a significant energy surplus and based on the amount of foot you eat and your activity level, you are no longer fat enough to supply the energy to create a surplus; you're only just fat enough to repair your body back to where it was BEFORE the workout.