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Advice/Info on Adding Lean Mass

Hi, i’m looking for some advice/help regarding my training. I have been training on and off for around 10 years now. About 6 months ago I decided I needed to strip some fat off me and dieted down from 176lbs to 164. I then started eating a clean diet based on paleo eating and have stayed around the same weight for the last few months.

One of my problems is that I have been eating good throughout the week and then seem to put weight back on over the weekend. I have now decided that I have to knuckle down and get the last few pounds of fat on before I start trying to add some muscle.

10 years ago I can remember weighing around 140lbs and I was lean, so i’ve worked out that within the last 10 years i’ve only added around 10lbs of muscle. I think my main problem is that I go from trying to bulk for a few weeks where I do no cardio and all weights and then get bored and start adding cardio/circuit training.

I would like someone with experience to give me some advice on what I should do to start adding lean mass once I have finished the v diet.
Many thanks.

what are you stats besides weight? Height, aproximate body fat level, strength levels in some basic lifts? What are you basic training/diet principles?

It sounds like your trying to lose fat to gain definition of your muscles but the problem is likely only in part do to your fat levels. What may be an even larger contriputer to this is lack of muscle mass!

Just because your not “cut” doesnt mean you have a ton of fat you need to lose before trying to put on some muscle. Also if you planned on going straight from a very low calorie diet such as the V-diet and then upped your calories to build muscle your just setting yourself up to store fat. I would up your calories now and keep eating clean, lift hard and do some cardio if thats what you like to do.

I’m by no means the most experienced guy around here but I can pretty much put my finger on your exact problem.

You have trouble committing to a plan, this is because of one of 2 reasons:

a. you have no clear goal
b. you have a goal but don’t know exactly what it takes to achieve it.

Unless you are very short (under 5’8") you need to bulk. This doesn’t mean eating a lot for 2 days then not eating much on the next because you ‘feel full’ etc.

It means eating a lot of food EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK for at least 2 months (and usually a hell of a lot longer). Do not be afraid of getting suddenly fat, it’s not like you’re going to look down one day and go “oh crap, I’m somewhat obese”.

Do not attempt to lose the ‘last few pounds’ of fat, unless you are getting ready for a contest. This is highly catabolic even for a guy who carries considerably more lean mass than you (or I for that matter).

I hope this helps, good luck.

I’m not trying to be an asshole here because I’m sure you’ll get the shit flamed out of you in due time but allow me to save you from yourself. If you’ve only gained 10 pounds in 10 years of working out,despite what your goal maybe,your a beginner and should read the “Are You a Beginner?” thread.

I will reply to k narf first as his was the last post I read.

Can you tell me exactly what “I’m sure you’ll get the shit flamed out of you” means.

I also disagree with you saying that just because I have only added a small amount of weight I am a beginner. 6 years out of the 10 I spent in the forces and due to the fitness requirements you cannot just concentrate on getting bigger, you need to have the total package or you would fail tests.

I also know many people that would class themselves as advanced, but they would not have put on much more mass than I have.

One friend I have has only put on around 10lbs in mass, but his lifts have gone up drastically. He is a powerlifter and has tried to keep his total weight down, so he can stay in a certain weight class.

If you meant to say that I was a bodybuilding begginer and due to the lack of muscle gain I would still be classed as a beginner then fair enough, I apologise, but the thing is I haven’t solely trained for adding muscle over these 10 years.
Cheers.

My stats:
5’ 8"
160lbs

Tanita scales say i’m 19 %
Accu measure say I have 10mm, which is 12/13 % fat.

I haven’t tested my 1 rm recently, but will give a rough guess due to the weights I lift.

Trap bar deadlifts - 145/150kg
Squats - 120kg
Bench press - 80/85kg

I have gone from training routines such as Dinosaur training, to using Mike mentzers heavy duty (1 work set to failure).

My goals do change a lot and I can’t seem to stay focused on one goal, I read another article and want to start trying that out.

I’ve read that it’s best to shred all the fat off and then build from there, so my plan is to get down to 154lbs and then start to build from there.

My goals are to spend however long it takes to get to around 175/180lbs with 10% fat or less. From then on I would be happy to maintain my weight while adding cardio (cardio is mainly for health benefits and a bit of a change).
Cheers.

[quote]gav223 wrote:
I will reply to k narf first as his was the last post I read.

Can you tell me exactly what “I’m sure you’ll get the shit flamed out of you” means.

I also disagree with you saying that just because I have only added a small amount of weight I am a beginner. 6 years out of the 10 I spent in the forces and due to the fitness requirements you cannot just concentrate on getting bigger, you need to have the total package or you would fail tests.

I also know many people that would class themselves as advanced, but they would not have put on much more mass than I have.

One friend I have has only put on around 10lbs in mass, but his lifts have gone up drastically. He is a powerlifter and has tried to keep his total weight down, so he can stay in a certain weight class.

If you meant to say that I was a bodybuilding begginer and due to the lack of muscle gain I would still be classed as a beginner then fair enough, I apologise, but the thing is I haven’t solely trained for adding muscle over these 10 years.
Cheers.[/quote]

What he means is that you’re skinny, you can’t stick to a goal, and you’re denying you’re a beginner and for that you will probably get flamed. It’s that simple. It doesn’t that you were in the forces for six years. That would still leave you with at least 4 years in which you added 10 pounds. I added more than that in the last four months, and I’m still a beginner. ProfX is in the forces as well. I don’t know how much he gained in the last year, but I’m sure it’s a lot more than 10 pounds.

Your friend doesn’t count. If he’s a powerlifter, he needs to stay in his weightclass. However, you don’t have a high enough 1RM for any powerlift to call yourself a powerlifter. So, you are still a beginner. Being a beginner is not about the time you spent training, it’s about results.

So, stick to something and try getting results. Then you can call yourself advanced. And if every article makes you want to start a new program, try not reading any more articles until you got results, it may help you reach whatever goal you set faster.

Hi Robert,
I think this site is excellent regarding all the info it has on here, however there seems to be some people who get a kick from slagging other people off.

I came on here for someone to give me some decent info/advice. If it was as easy as sticking to one plan/program and not get side tracked by all the other info/books out there then i’m sure a lot more people would reach there goals quicker and there would be a lot of companies going bankrupt due to lack of sale. However it’s hard to believe what is true and correct and what is not.

I said that, if by beginner you mean I haven’t added any muscle then yes you are correct, But adding muscle has never been my sole concern until now. I have tried to concentrate on overall fitness.

You said "Being a beginner is not about the time you spent training, it’s about results. That’s not completly correct, would a tradesman who’d been doing his job for a few years call another tradesman with much more experience a beginner, if he was better at the job than him. I don’t think so.

I renovate property and get in different trades all the time and there’s plenty of people, that only have limited experience which do a better job than the older guys.
I did not mention once that I thought I was a powerlifter.
I do agree with the last paragraph, I do need to stay focused on one program.
Cheers.

[quote]gav223 wrote:
Hi Robert,
I think this site is excellent regarding all the info it has on here, however there seems to be some people who get a kick from slagging other people off.

I came on here for someone to give me some decent info/advice. If it was as easy as sticking to one plan/program and not get side tracked by all the other info/books out there then i’m sure a lot more people would reach there goals quicker and there would be a lot of companies going bankrupt due to lack of sale. However it’s hard to believe what is true and correct and what is not.

I said that, if by beginner you mean I haven’t added any muscle then yes you are correct, But adding muscle has never been my sole concern until now. I have tried to concentrate on overall fitness.

You said "Being a beginner is not about the time you spent training, it’s about results. That’s not completly correct, would a tradesman who’d been doing his job for a few years call another tradesman with much more experience a beginner, if he was better at the job than him. I don’t think so.

I renovate property and get in different trades all the time and there’s plenty of people, that only have limited experience which do a better job than the older guys.
I did not mention once that I thought I was a powerlifter.
I do agree with the last paragraph, I do need to stay focused on one program.
Cheers.[/quote]

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to attack you personally here. However, bodybuilding at a beginner level is really as simple as “eat a lot and pick heavy things off the floor”.

The salesman example you used is actually perfect for illustrating my point. Who’s the better insurance salesman, the guy who has worked a year and made 100 deals, averaging out at two per week, or the guy who has worked ten years and made 50 deals, about five a year? Similarly, who is the more better trainer, the one who added 20 pounds in 6 months or the one who added 20 pounds in 10 years?

Also, no you didn’t say you were a powerlifter. However, you mentioned your friend who was and kept his weight low. Which is fine, however he is in a very different situation from yours.

Also, I don’t know how you define “overall fitness”, however, if you look at T-nations slogan, you will see that it’s “BODYBUILDING’S Think Tank”. So, whatever you did in the last ten years (which may have worked very well for your goals at the time), you are still a beginner from this site’s perspective. Therefore, you should read Vrooms thread in the beginner section and try bulking for a while.

[quote]Robert P. wrote:
gav223 wrote:
Hi Robert,
I think this site is excellent regarding all the info it has on here, however there seems to be some people who get a kick from slagging other people off.

I came on here for someone to give me some decent info/advice. If it was as easy as sticking to one plan/program and not get side tracked by all the other info/books out there then i’m sure a lot more people would reach there goals quicker and there would be a lot of companies going bankrupt due to lack of sale. However it’s hard to believe what is true and correct and what is not.

I said that, if by beginner you mean I haven’t added any muscle then yes you are correct, But adding muscle has never been my sole concern until now. I have tried to concentrate on overall fitness.

You said "Being a beginner is not about the time you spent training, it’s about results. That’s not completly correct, would a tradesman who’d been doing his job for a few years call another tradesman with much more experience a beginner, if he was better at the job than him. I don’t think so.

I renovate property and get in different trades all the time and there’s plenty of people, that only have limited experience which do a better job than the older guys.
I did not mention once that I thought I was a powerlifter.
I do agree with the last paragraph, I do need to stay focused on one program.
Cheers.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to attack you personally here. However, bodybuilding at a beginner level is really as simple as “eat a lot and pick heavy things off the floor”.

The salesman example you used is actually perfect for illustrating my point. Who’s the better insurance salesman, the guy who has worked a year and made 100 deals, averaging out at two per week, or the guy who has worked ten years and made 50 deals, about five a year? Similarly, who is the more better trainer, the one who added 20 pounds in 6 months or the one who added 20 pounds in 10 years?

Also, no you didn’t say you were a powerlifter. However, you mentioned your friend who was and kept his weight low. Which is fine, however he is in a very different situation from yours.

Also, I don’t know how you define “overall fitness”, however, if you look at T-nations slogan, you will see that it’s “BODYBUILDING’S Think Tank”. So, whatever you did in the last ten years (which may have worked very well for your goals at the time), you are still a beginner from this site’s perspective. Therefore, you should read Vrooms thread in the beginner section and try bulking for a while.

[/quote]

I’m not trying to attack either,what I’m saying that all the informaion is your finger tips, I can give you the same generic advice everyone else always gets if that would make ya happy…

Eat lots of good clean food
Get lots of rest
Drink lots of water
when getting started stick to the big compound movements, because at your level from your stats you need muscle all over. You can toss in some isolation stuff at the end but for the most part stick to…
Dead,Squat,bench, row, pull up,push press, ect…

keep the weight light at first and focus on form.
Use the mirror and photos to judge your progress not the scale or body fat calipers. If at 180 you think your as swole as ya wanna be and like the looks of yourself then more power to ya, its all about finding the path that will lead you to your goal!

All of that could have been found with just a little bit of looking around. The search engine is a wonderful thing, it has all the info you could ever want to get ya started and keep ya going for a number of years.

Cheers Robert for your input. I only have a slight amount of fat around my lower abs and I really want to get rid of it, this is what is annoying. You have put it into perspective for me that I do need to build more lean mass, but i’m afraid of adding more fat.

I have just got to get over the idea of extra fat while i’m bulking. I have read articles by Mike Mentzer that you only have to add small amounts of excess calories to gain muscle, which I suppose is incorrect.
I have also read that you should eat only real solid foods, but I know I could not do that every day, I would need to supplement with shakes.

I define overall fitness as something like ultra fit where there are many different tests that you go through, not just strength tests.
I am starting to read through the articles on begginers and am going to start there.

How much weight would you suggest I add in total before I try to strip the fat down. I understand that you are supposed to do it in many stages.
Cheers.

[quote]gav223 wrote:
Cheers Robert for your input. I only have a slight amount of fat around my lower abs and I really want to get rid of it, this is what is annoying. You have put it into perspective for me that I do need to build more lean mass, but i’m afraid of adding more fat.

I have just got to get over the idea of extra fat while i’m bulking. I have read articles by Mike Mentzer that you only have to add small amounts of excess calories to gain muscle, which I suppose is incorrect.
I have also read that you should eat only real solid foods, but I know I could not do that every day, I would need to supplement with shakes.

I define overall fitness as something like ultra fit where there are many different tests that you go through, not just strength tests.
I am starting to read through the articles on begginers and am going to start there.

How much weight would you suggest I add in total before I try to strip the fat down. I understand that you are supposed to do it in many stages.
Cheers.[/quote]

You know, that was/is my problem as well. I was deadly afraid of fat, as I was always the kid with abs, so who cared if I was skinny. However, I do realize now that I’m skinny, and have decided to bulk. Already I feel fat, even though I can still see my abs if I flex them. But I know that if I start cutting, I will instantly feel skinny again, so I don’t.

As for getting rid of the fat, do so if you really want to. And then, bulk. Set your goal at 200. If you think that’s too huge, set it at 180. When you reach that, look in the mirror. If you feel you’ve added way too much fat, maintain a bit and slowly add in some cardio to try and maintain/build muscle while leaning out a bit. If you can deal with the fat and aren’t happy yet, go right on bulking.

It’s basically a matter of setting a goal, hitting it, and then either leaning out or bulking on until you reach a point where you are happy and really want to cut. After that final cut, you should be at a point where you are happy. However, if you really want to get HUGE, that won’t happen for several year.

[quote]gav223 wrote:
My stats:
5’ 8"
160lbs

Tanita scales say i’m 19 %
Accu measure say I have 10mm, which is 12/13 % fat.

I haven’t tested my 1 rm recently, but will give a rough guess due to the weights I lift.

Trap bar deadlifts - 145/150kg
Squats - 120kg
Bench press - 80/85kg

I have gone from training routines such as Dinosaur training, to using Mike mentzers heavy duty (1 work set to failure).

My goals do change a lot and I can’t seem to stay focused on one goal, I read another article and want to start trying that out.

I’ve read that it’s best to shred all the fat off and then build from there, so my plan is to get down to 154lbs and then start to build from there.

My goals are to spend however long it takes to get to around 175/180lbs with 10% fat or less. From then on I would be happy to maintain my weight while adding cardio (cardio is mainly for health benefits and a bit of a change).
Cheers.
[/quote]

Ten years…ten pounds added, and no offense, weak lifts. Less than a 200 lb bench, and barely more than a 300lb deadlift.

Ten years later, you are still a beginner. You say you haven’t trained for size, what the hell have you been training for ten years? It hasn’t been strength according to your lifts.

What exactly have you been doing for the past ten years? Running a marathon every day?

I’m not trying to be rude, but someone who has been training for just a year could blow those lifts away.

Sorry for double post, but I forgot to add some advice from a fellow beginner.

Look up Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength workout. Use it. Eat alot. Worry about body fat when you have muscle underneath it.

I can vouch for the starting strength program, I gained ALOT from it.

Hi Eickst, like I said earlier I did not train solely for strength or mass gains. I was in the Royal Marines which is a lot different to the General Army, fitness levels are much higher. There was a lot of running, yomping and circuits. Not much weight training unless you did it in your own time.

We were also out of the country a lot which had you training very little. Since I left a carried on doing the same, but added more weight training. My main problem is consistancy, if I were to keep training regularly I would probably have got to my goals by now.

Thanks for giving me the name of that article. I have been looking on this site for hours, but there is so much info.
Cheers.

First about the comments about you being a beginner: Using your tradesmen example you would still be an aprentice. Its not about time spent doing something but what you have learned doing it. You have not yet figured out how to build a significant amount of muscle or strength and those are the two primary goals of weight training. So in perspective you are in the same boat as a beginner, you don’t yet know how to achieve your goals.

Second getting results is more about how you do it and not exactly what you do. A crappy program performed with pure determination will provide far superior results compared to a great program performed half assed. You need to push yourself and stick with it, if you push yourself hard you WILL see results and this will give you greater motivation as well.

Third you have found a great resource with this site. There are hundreds of training programs and any of them will help you with your goal if you eat enough. Check the beginners thread (top of beginner forum) for some basic programs to get you started. Stick to one of those for the FULL duration of the program why you research other programs and training ideas.

Fourth be proactive. If your not making progress towards your goals you need to change something! If your feeling like crap and have been hitting the gym HARD for a considerable period of time don’t be afraid to back off a little for a short period of time.

Finally diet is at least as important as training. If your eating enough quality food and training hard you will see results. If you go a week or two and arent gaining weight eat more food, don’t blame your training or activity levels. If your worried about gaining to much fat aim for slower progress, but you should still be seeing the scale move up every week.

Typical, I just spent time searching for the starting strength article and then realised it was a book. After searching I can’t seem to get it in the UK.
Any chance you can give me an idea of the routine.
Cheers.

[quote]gav223 wrote:
Typical, I just spent time searching for the starting strength article and then realised it was a book. After searching I can’t seem to get it in the UK.
Any chance you can give me an idea of the routine.
Cheers.[/quote]

Workout A
3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift
2x5-8 dips (only add weight if you are doing >10 bodyweight dips)

Workout B
3x5 Squat
3x5 Standing military press
3x5 Pendlay Rows (or power cleans for 5x3, 5 sets of 3 reps apiece)
2x5-8 chinups if you do the power cleans, do 3 sets of chinups

That’s the workout in a nutshell. Workout Mon/Wed/Fri, or Tue/Thu/Sat, etc. Alternate between the two workouts.

So week one would like like this

Mon Workout A
Wed Workout B
Fri Workout A

Mon Workout B
Wed Workout A
Fri Workout B

and on and on and on until you aren’t progressing anymore.

Add weight EVERY workout. Obviously use warm up sets also. Start at a weight where if you add every workout you will be using your 1rm as the workout weight in week four, in other words, don’t start off too heavy.

And EAT. I’m not saying live at Jack in the Box, you don’t have to dirty bulk, but you can’t put on muscle/strength without fuel.

When you get to the point where you can’t add weight to the bar every workout, you can decide where to go from there, whether it’s back down some lbs and start over or try a new program. When I get to where I can’t add, I take three- four days off, and start over about 20 lbs lighter.

Been doing Rippetoe for almost a year now, will switch up when it stops working. Made gains all the way through, apart from the time I became disenchanted and paid too much attention to BF numbers and tried the Velocity diet (lasted only 10 days). Screw that, I like eating.

  1. “but i’m afraid of adding more fat”

  2. in the marines

Possibly the two most catabolic problems when talking about adding muscle mass.

I know a few guys in the marine corps. Unfortunately, none of them look jacked but are tremendously strong for their weight.

What is your goal here btw? I don’t think it was clearly stated. I read about your friend making gains w/o weight gain. Am I to assume this is your goal, or are you finally able to put on acceptable fat with muscle mass? Aethetics or strength or both?

Thanks very much Eickst for the routine. I tried p bar dips about six months ago and used them for about a month. I had to stop as I had pain in both shoulder joints that has taken about 2 months to clear. Is there a substitue for dips. Would you suggest cardio while i’m bulking or would walking my dog for 30/45min 4/5 times per week be sufficient.

To Scott.
I did train with the US marines once for a couple of months and did notice some differences with there fitness compared to ours. I can’t say this for every soldier, but they did seem to be bigger and stronger than us.

One day we had a competition over a few different events and where we beat them in all of the endurance type events they beat us in all the strength ones. Where we would go out out doing 10 mile yomps with 100lb bergens, they we be in the gym. I haven’t got a clue why this is, but we seemed to get it drilled into us right from the start that we need to be able to walk and run long distances for days at a time with heavy weights and perform many bodyweight excersizes.

During the whole 8 months of basic training, we did not go into the weights room once. It was all rope climbs, bodyweight ex and endurance training. It was more muscular endurance than all out strength. This carried on once you finished basic training and if you wanted to do weights you had to do it in your own time.

However if you’d just spent 3/4 hours (depending who your boss was) for that day doing all this other stuff you would be to knackered to hit the weights later. I know i’ve had a few years since leaving to get some serious mass added, but I just haven’t focused enough.
I’m 160 lbs at the moment and the accu measure calipers read 10mm of fat,I will continue until they read 19/20mm which will give me around 20% fat.

I will then start to strip off some fat and start again.
Hopefully i’ll be able to add 20/30lbs before I get to this %.
Thanks to all of you for you response.