T Nation

Advice on Making Gains


I've been lurking on this forum for a while now, and I thought I'd ask for some advice. I've read a lot of articles, but I feel having individual people answering my questions is better since articles confuse the shit out of me.

I've been working out for about a year on and off (I've taken off months before due to frustration which i believe is because i hit a plateau since I havent made any gains for months). I've gotten back into it a few weeks ago. I did some excercises until failure, I thoguht it worked out great but the next week I could barely do any of the excercises anymore after giving the specific muscle a weeks rest. I talked to a friend recently and he suggested I do low volume, he also gave me this workout:

Monday: 3 sets DB/Bench press (incline or flat)
3 sets DB flies
3 sets military press
3 sets close grip bench
3 sets dips

Wednesday: 3 sets calf raises
3 sets leg curls
2 sets squats ( 1 set of 8 reps, 1 set of 20 reps)

Friday: 3 set BB/DB curls
3 sets hammer curls
3 sets lat pulldowns
3 sets deadlifts

I was wondering if that workout was fine and I would be able to make gains with that. I did the monday workout and I thought i was doing great but I felt like i didnt work my chest out enough.

Another factor I have been working on is diet. I am 5'8 148 lbs so I definitely need to eat. I am in school right now so its hard to maintain a real good diet, but once I'm out I plan to eat the following things everyday:

2 egg omelets, orange juice
Fried egg with white whole weat bread
protein shake
2 chicken tenders with white whole weat bread
peanut butter sandwich
protein shake
some kind of snack (peanuts or something)
for dinner,im not sure

Is this diet good enough for me, or do I need to eat some more? I might add fish and turkey into that diet as well. Another thing i was wondering is how important is sleep for making gains? This summer will be my last before college so I was planning on really going all out, so I was wondering if I should just maintain 10 hours of sleep and suck it up? Any help is greatly appreciated, sorry for typing so much.


Diet's pretty lousy. I don't know how many calories it comes to, but it looks low. In any case, you need fruits and veggies in there. More varied fats: nuts, oils, fish. Other protein sources should be added too. Have you read up on Berardi for nutrition? You should.


What the hell is "white whole weat" bread. Normally bread is white or whole wheat. Opt for the later or any multi grain variation. Chose wholesome and healthy foods as much as possible and calculate about 1g or protein/ pound of body weight for consumption. Eat regularly (MORE THAN 3 SQUARES A DAY)There are abunch of article about this on the site.

Just get to the gym and lift with intensity...


Are you doing the squats and deads at the end of your workouts for a reason?

Have you read the nutrition articles on here yet? You have to eat some real food in real quantities.

Maybe you could just pick a routine, such as Big Boy Basics or something, and do it as written.

You'll get into the information about rep ranges, rest periods and intensity in no time if you start reading the workouts.

Don't think about which one to choose all that much... pick one and stick with it for a while.


The workout your buddy gave you is sort of backwards in a few ways. First, he makes no reference to loading parameters-- you say three sets, but of how many reps? How much weight?

When you read the articles and they refer to the % of your 1RM, does that make sense to you? You need to know how many reps of how many sets of how much weight.

Second, the order is all wrong. You don't want to start a workout with curls-- they are an isolation exercise. Doing deads, squats, or dips last is not such a hot idea. You want to open your workout with a big, multi-joint compound movement.

(This stuff is covered in a lot of the training articles.)

If you haven't been training and getting results, don't assume you know what it feels like to "work your chest enough". I started doing full-body workouts 3x week a few months ago, and while I feel the workouts, it's not the same as shredding yourself to bits.

Someone has probably told you this already, but stick to the compound movements-- have someone teach you to squat, deadlift, and bench with solid form. Do dips, pullups, bent-over rows, bench press with varied grip widths, squats with a close stance (Olympic style) as well as a wide stance, stiff-legged and regular deadlifts, etc. Have someone teach you to do a one-arm dumbbell snatch safely. Do heavy GPP stuff-- heavy farmers walks, waiter walks, etc.

Do this while eating tons and tons of good food (like the other posters have said, READ Berardi on nutrition) and you'll grow.


No, that workout is pretty much terrible.

Look, if your gonna do a program (thats what we call many workouts stacked together), then do a program written by Chad Waterbury. Take time to learn the exercises. Think about gains in a matter of months, not weeks or one summer.


I found my gains came when I moved away from muscle group splits to full body workouts. As InCorp said above, stick to the compound movements. Deads, squats, weighted pull/chins/dips, rows, bench.

This may sound controversial, but I think you should avoid direct arm work for the next six months. I have found it to be completely unnecessary if you are doing the compounds regulary. My arms finally grew when I stopped direct arm work and used that time in the gym for more compound work.

Eat, eat, eat. Lots of protien.


YES. So true.

I have definitely found what reddman said to be true; my arms and shoulders are bigger and better defined now than ever and I'm doing no arm isolation work.


LOL on the white whole wheat comment. Well sad fact is all breads are WHOLE WHEAT or able to be labeled so. That start with the WHOLE WHEAT and process the hell out of it. Even the Brown colored WHOLE WHEAT labeled breads are just colored white bread. What we need to get if eating bread is WHOLE GRAIN and look for high fiber content.

As for the OG poster and your probs. It all stems to getting a GOOD, diet training and recovery plan and not getting frustrated be consistant. this stuff takes YEARS/LIFE not weeks or months.


You'll need to be eating a lot more than what you're eating now. More meat, milk, eggs and peanuts

www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1 for training... much better than what you're doing now


Thanks for the replie so far.

About the bread thing, sorry I've been out of it for a while, i meant whole weat.

As for the diet thing, I'll add more things to it and read some articles.

For my workout though, I will ditch my friends workout. For a new program does anyone have any suggestions on any. I can't decide on the programs previously mentioned. Should i follow Big Boy Basics or 5x5? Another thing, can anyone explain the 1RM stuff? I have an idea but I would like to be clear on it.


I'd say go for 5x5 then BBB 8 weeks after. Just go to the link of the 5x5. www.goecities.com/elitemadcow1 and take it from there


Hey Worth -

Checking in after a couple of weeks. How are things going? Did you go to a 5X5?

Couple of other suggestions. I am a huge fan of 5x5's and 8x3's. I make sure I can dominate the weight before moving up. Try to measure your rest intervals and keep them consistent. Once you can handle the weight for 5x5, try shortening your rest interval before increasing the weight. Avoid working to failure to keep your CNS fresh.

Let us know how it is going.


I dunno if someone has already explained the 1RM thing to you in a different thread, but here it is:

RM--stands for Repetition Maximum. Basically, an all-out effort for X amount of reps. So, 5RM--5 rep all-out, barely completed with good form, tiring load. 8RM is with 8 reps. 1RM is the truest way to measure max strength. It is the total best lift you can make one time with good form. So % of 1RM is a percent of your max best lift. They're guidelines for the most part, as some people will be able to use more than the % and some less. Think guideline.

So a 5x5 routine is five sets of a NEAR 5RM weight with strict form. Since you have to repeat the same lift for five sets, you can't use a TRUE 5RM weight, because it would be too tiring to repeat, so use a little less.

As far as gains go, think long term. The first 2 months at least are going to be coordination and nervous system improvements. After that you will start gaining muscle, IF you eat enough. Think about switching to a higher repitition range to take a break from the 5x5 heavy lifting for a while. Get coordinated at 8-10 RM range and then move heavier for a month or two. Alternate.

As far as food goes, your sample diet is about 2 of my 7 daily meals. I weight 200lb (sub 12% body fat) and am cutting. This should give you an idea of how much you need to eat, give or take. This should also give you an idea of the importance of eating clean foods, as if I ate this much of crappy processed food or junk food I'd balloon up in no time. You can eat more clean, high fiber calories than junk calories. You can't tell me that 4000 cal of ice cream is the same as 4000 cal of chicken, veggies and fruit. Ain't gonna happen.

Hints: increase meal #'s and calories slowly every couple weeks (say 2x a month) for a while. This will help your body avoid adding too much fat while gaining muscle. Stabilize for a while until your gains stop or until you get really chubby and decide to cut back the calories, slowly.

You can also think about alternating liquid meals with solid meals. It makes it easier to get the calories in without feeling like you're going to explode all the time.

Good luck.