T Nation

Advice on my Regime


#1

I was hoping the pros here could help me with my regimen. I've been on this for the past 5 weeks and so far it has been effective, but not quite as much as I'd want it to be. I've seen people do wonders in much shorter periods of time. So I want to hear opinions on what I could improve on this.

I had given myself a total of 8 weeks before I made changes to this routine. A bit of a background, I'm not new to weight training; I was just very much in-and-out of the gym during the past 1 year during which my waist went from 32" to 36". It's now 34". My overall goal has been to bring my waist back down to 32" and put on at least 7kgs/15lbs of muscle in the next 12 weeks (which is quite generous of me), but I don't seem to be getting there. What would you recommend?

BEFORE STATS:
Weight: 77kgs/170lbs
Body fat: ~19% (based on an electronic fat monitor)
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Age: 29 yrs

CURRENT STATS:
Weight: 75kgs/165lbs
Body fat: ~16% (based on an electronic fat monitor)
Height: same as before
Age: 29 yrs

CARDIO:
I jog early every morning (except Sundays). On workout days (Mon, Tue, Thu & Sat) I do about 5.5 km/3.4 miles in 40 minutes. On non-workout days (Wed & Sat) I do about 7 km/4.35 miles. The idea behind jogging was that I lacked stamina, even 8-10 stairs got me out of breath. And I had also packed inches around my waist - my body fat was up to 20%. These stats are what I am currently doing. I started off with something much lower than this.

WEIGHTS:
I have been following the push-pull routine for the past 5 weeks. I started out with major primary compound exercises but then added some isolated exercises like pec-deck because I really feel that my chest is lagging. So pull is Mondays and Thursdays and push is Tuesdays and Fridays. The aim is to increase weights by about 10% every other week. And so far I've made mixed progress here.

NUTRITION:
Been pretty consistent with taking in at least 255 grams of protein a day (based on my body weight). These come from meat, protein supplements and eggs. This is what it kinda looks like -

Morning (after jog): 7 egg whites + 1 whole egg + 100g low-fat cottage cheese + 6oz low-fat milk with tea for flavor + 2 slices whole wheat bread

Workout: 1 scoop protein shake + 4oz low-fat milk

Post-workout: 1 scoop protein shake + 4oz low-fat milk

Within 1 hour of workout (workout days): 250g of beef + 1 cup whole wheat pasta
Non-workout days: 250g of steamed chicken with vegetables

Early evening: 7 egg whites + 1 whole egg + 100g low-fat cottage cheese

Night: 250g of steamed chicken with vegetables

Before sleep: small handful of almonds & walnuts

Sundays are cheat days. I pretty much indulge in everything with some decency. For example, my last meal of the day will not be carb-heavy and I will still try to take in as much protein as possible.

SUPPLEMENTS:
I take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey protein as my protein shakes. Other than that, I am taking general multivitamins (Centrum) and Seven Seas fish oil. I am also taking Optimum Nutrition 2222 amino acids 30 minutes before meals and 30 minutes before and after workouts. I live in Pakistan so trying to get a hold of Biotest products is expensive since you have to get them shipped and pay customs. We have GNC here so the supplements are pretty much of reliable quality. I'm on fixed income with a family to support, so I try to keep my supplement expenses to a minimum. Iâ??m thinking of starting Zinc to boost testosterone, because these days I feel like I'm losing my energy. Might be the heat as well - it goes up to 47C/116F on good days and higher than that at times too. :slight_smile:

Hoping you guys have some good advice/pointers for me. Looking forward to it.


#2

Learn patience.

Throw away that scale.

How do you feel? Are your pants looser? Seeing more definition? Healthier?

If you are looking to put on mass, add calories. But at your height, you are on the low side of the scale.

Seriously though, throw the damn scale away.


#3

[quote]51747 wrote:
I’ve been on this for the past 5 weeks and so far it has been effective, but not quite as much as I’d want it to be. I’ve seen people do wonders in much shorter periods of time.[/quote]

you’ve seen people do wonders in “much shorter periods of time” than 5 weeks?

[quote]
A bit of a background, I’m not new to weight training…
My overall goal has been to bring my waist back down to 32" and put on at least 7kgs/15lbs of muscle in the next 12 weeks[/quote]

you’re not new to weight training but your goal is to lose 2 inches off of your waist AND gain 15lbs of muscle in 12 weeks? To even think that is possible (without ‘assistance’) seems very contradictory to your “i’m not new to weight training” statement.


#4

[quote]gregron wrote:

[quote]51747 wrote:
I’ve been on this for the past 5 weeks and so far it has been effective, but not quite as much as I’d want it to be. I’ve seen people do wonders in much shorter periods of time.[/quote]

you’ve seen people do wonders in “much shorter periods of time” than 5 weeks?

I’m pretty sure he wrote this after just watching the new “Captain America” trailer.


#5

[quote]51747 wrote:
I’m not new to weight training; I was just very much in-and-out of the gym during the past 1 year during which my waist went from 32" to 36". It’s now 34". My overall goal has been to bring my waist back down to 32" and put on at least 7kgs/15lbs of muscle in the next 12 weeks (which is quite generous of me), but I don’t seem to be getting there. What would you recommend?
[/quote]

If you were 18-22 years-old, had never trained before, were naturally athletic, had access to ‘Top-Shelf’ nutrition, were blessed with above-average genetics, and had no priority above training, your goal would be very challanging. Unlikely, but possible. At 29…not a chance! Pick a single goal, not two goals that contradict each other. Both in your lifetime, not at the same time.


#6

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]51747 wrote:
I’m not new to weight training; I was just very much in-and-out of the gym during the past 1 year during which my waist went from 32" to 36". It’s now 34". My overall goal has been to bring my waist back down to 32" and put on at least 7kgs/15lbs of muscle in the next 12 weeks (which is quite generous of me), but I don’t seem to be getting there. What would you recommend?
[/quote]

If you were 18-22 years-old, had never trained before, were naturally athletic, had access to ‘Top-Shelf’ nutrition, were blessed with above-average genetics, and had no priority above training, your goal would be very challanging. Unlikely, but possible. At 29…not a chance! Pick a single goal, not two goals that contradict each other. Both in your lifetime, not at the same time. [/quote]

x2

Sometimes I don’t think people realize how much 15 lbs of muscle is. Go in your freezer and pull out 15 lbs of lean meat and imagine trying to add that to your body in 12 weeks.


#7

[quote]overstand wrote:
Sometimes I don’t think people realize how much 15 lbs of muscle is. Go in your freezer and pull out 15 lbs of lean meat and imagine trying to add that to your body in 12 weeks.[/quote]

ZOMGF!!! Wouldnt that be awesome if it was that easy? hahaha


#8

Agreed. I’ve always been bad with numbers and that’s probably why I believe JFG’s comment is most helpful - I need to stop thinking about the scales and just focus on training and nutrition.

So when you guys are done knocking me about my Captain America goals, can you give an honest opinion about my routine? :slight_smile:


#9

i think u should try a body part split if u wanna some weight on and lose some weight. i really liked the needsize 5x5 program. look it up. will get u stronger and bigger. also instead of having a whole egg early evening have only egg white at night and have 2-3 whole eggs in the morning with ur egg whites. and maybe change your protein. i didnt like it and thought it was more of a advertising thing. get horleys ice or international protein wpi. theyre the best u can get. between the 2 id say horleys


#10

[quote]51747 wrote:
Agreed. I’ve always been bad with numbers and that’s probably why I believe JFG’s comment is most helpful - I need to stop thinking about the scales and just focus on training and nutrition.

So when you guys are done knocking me about my Captain America goals, can you give an honest opinion about my routine? :)[/quote]

Oh c’mon…you didn’t laugh at that?

Things to think about…I would personally cut out jogging and replace it with good ol’ fashioned walking. That much jogging could interfere with recovery and gaining. As far as diet, it looks like you are getting adequate protein; however, the quantity and quality of carbs you eat will be just as important. Think about shifting those morning carbs to preworkout. For some help on choosing good carb options check this out:

Training looks good. 10% is a hefty jump to make every 2 weeks. Eventually this will slow down. Gains will not always be linear, but make sure they are steady (as in steadily rising!)


#11

[quote]jskrabac wrote:

[quote]51747 wrote:
Agreed. I’ve always been bad with numbers and that’s probably why I believe JFG’s comment is most helpful - I need to stop thinking about the scales and just focus on training and nutrition.

So when you guys are done knocking me about my Captain America goals, can you give an honest opinion about my routine? :)[/quote]

Oh c’mon…you didn’t laugh at that?

Things to think about…I would personally cut out jogging and replace it with good ol’ fashioned walking. That much jogging could interfere with recovery and gaining. As far as diet, it looks like you are getting adequate protein; however, the quantity and quality of carbs you eat will be just as important. Think about shifting those morning carbs to preworkout. For some help on choosing good carb options check this out:

Training looks good. 10% is a hefty jump to make every 2 weeks. Eventually this will slow down. Gains will not always be linear, but make sure they are steady (as in steadily rising!) [/quote]

Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep the jogging in until my total 8 weeks are up - would like to see results after a more extended length than change right now. I do intend to bring it down a notch after then.

The carbs that I am taking in are pre-workout. I go for weight training about an hour/hour and a half after my morning meal.

I agree, 10% is on the higher end. But the reason for that is that I have to work with the weight denominations that my gym has e.g. if I’m doing a 60kg/132lbs bench press and the only weights that I have available after that are +5kgs/10lbs then I really don’t have a choice. I try to keep it between 5-10% strength gains.


#12

[quote]51747 wrote:
Agreed. I’ve always been bad with numbers and that’s probably why I believe JFG’s comment is most helpful - I need to stop thinking about the scales and just focus on training and nutrition.

So when you guys are done knocking me about my Captain America goals, can you give an honest opinion about my routine? :)[/quote]

Just to clarify what others have said about each goal:

Fat loss goal
Drop calories until weight drops (e.g. 1lbs/week) > Add in just enough cardio/energy work > maintain strength (hence, muscle mass)

Muscle gain goal
Add calories until gaining weight (e.g. 2-4lbs/month) > Increase strength for reps (muscle overload…without which = no long term muscle growth)

It’s easier to maintain muscle than it is to build it (requires the volume to be dropped, but the weight to stay the same or increase). So if you were doing 6-8 sets/bodypart, you can do just 4 sets or so per bodypart/week and still maintain muscle (in fact, reducing weekly volume by at least half is often necessary because the drop in calories, often by half of the bulking intake, means the body can’t recover from the usual high workload/volume). Don’t confuse muscle pump with muscle mass (irritating the muscle is easy and happens up to 48 hours after training, muscle growth is not just irritating/tickling it with lots of exercises/sets)

If the volume isn’t reduced, you often will get weaker on a cut (and/or injuries). As you can see; this leaves no room whatsoever for bringing bodyparts up on a cut. Same goes for weight increments in the gym, you’ll just spin your wheels and feel drained on a cut trying to push for that next personal record. As a newer lifter, you’ll probably get away with strength improvements on a cut, but in the future keep the above in mind.

Leave the strength/muscle gains for when you are gaining bodyweight/bulking. It’s no use to saying, “oh, I need to bring up my chest, so will do more exercises etc for it” when you are cutting. Cutting = maintaining muscle/strength (or maybe gaining some especially as a newer lifter or when doing a new exercise).

Sticking to one goal at a time means you reach it faster, with less distractions and more focus (one foot in front of the other…if you can’t master that, don’t even think about running lol)


#13

[quote]its_just_me wrote:

[quote]51747 wrote:
Agreed. I’ve always been bad with numbers and that’s probably why I believe JFG’s comment is most helpful - I need to stop thinking about the scales and just focus on training and nutrition.

So when you guys are done knocking me about my Captain America goals, can you give an honest opinion about my routine? :)[/quote]

Just to clarify what others have said about each goal:

Fat loss goal
Drop calories until weight drops (e.g. 1lbs/week) > Add in just enough cardio/energy work > maintain strength (hence, muscle mass)

Muscle gain goal
Add calories until gaining weight (e.g. 2-4lbs/month) > Increase strength for reps (muscle overload…without which = no long term muscle growth)

It’s easier to maintain muscle than it is to build it (requires the volume to be dropped, but the weight to stay the same or increase). So if you were doing 6-8 sets/bodypart, you can do just 4 sets or so per bodypart/week and still maintain muscle (in fact, reducing weekly volume by at least half is often necessary because the drop in calories, often by half of the bulking intake, means the body can’t recover from the usual high workload/volume). Don’t confuse muscle pump with muscle mass (irritating the muscle is easy and happens up to 48 hours after training, muscle growth is not just irritating/tickling it with lots of exercises/sets)

If the volume isn’t reduced, you often will get weaker on a cut (and/or injuries). As you can see; this leaves no room whatsoever for bringing bodyparts up on a cut. Same goes for weight increments in the gym, you’ll just spin your wheels and feel drained on a cut trying to push for that next personal record. As a newer lifter, you’ll probably get away with strength improvements on a cut, but in the future keep the above in mind.

Leave the strength/muscle gains for when you are gaining bodyweight/bulking. It’s no use to saying, “oh, I need to bring up my chest, so will do more exercises etc for it” when you are cutting. Cutting = maintaining muscle/strength (or maybe gaining some especially as a newer lifter or when doing a new exercise).

Sticking to one goal at a time means you reach it faster, with less distractions and more focus (one foot in front of the other…if you can’t master that, don’t even think about running lol)[/quote]

Thanks for that. The reason why I added the pec-deck was not because I felt that I needed to do “more” chest exercises. It was rather because throughout my training, my shoulders have overtaken every other body part. The result initially was that I had excellent shoulders, but down the line, my shoulders are always exhausted and the now bench presses (especially incline) have become quite difficult. So I wanted to introduce a couple of isolation exercises to my routine to bring up my chest strength and reduce the strain on my shoulders. FYI, my routine looks like this:

Pull:
DL
Wide grip Pull-up (body weight only)
DB bicep curls
Bent-over row
Cable bicep curls
Narrow grip Seated row
BB upright row

Push:
Squat
Bench press
Dips (on dip-bar, body weight only)
Seated BB shoulder press
Incline DB press
Standing overhead triceps extension
Pec-deck

I do 4 sets of 8 reps each.

I would not say that I am on a “cut”. I just am not too comfortable gaining much weight around my belly since most of it ends up on my love handles. Last year, when I tried following the carb-cycling codex, I gained too much weight around my love handles - they were almost as wide as my back (see attached photo). So I need to take care of that, especially given that I’m not 16 any more. :slight_smile:


#14

^ How low did you go with the carbs and for how long?


#15

On low days it was 190g of carbs, on medium days 250 and around 310 on high days. My weight at the time was 77 kgs so I was taking in about 255g of protein a day and 203g of fat. The total caloric intake each day was between 3500 and 3800. I tried it out for about 10 weeks in total.

To be fair, I already had a pretty “decent” pair of love handles even when I started off on carb cycling.


#16

My advice for you is to not worry so much about macro-nutrient ratios (at least not while you’re aiming for mass in general). In fact, very low carb diets can actually GIVE you stubborn fat (e.g. love handles), I won’t go into details but it’s to do with fat cell types (some are more sensitive to insulin)…Don’t automatically assume that carbs are bad; it depends on your genetics. Get enough from complex sources mainly. Balance is key. Get your minimum protein, and overall calories.

As for training, put emphasis on progression rather than just the “motions”. A pump doesn’t automatically = size.

Drop the sets to 2-3. This will bring weekly volume down to a more manageable 8-12 sets/bodypart/week, which will be better for progress vs long term high volume. So you do as much as you can on your 1st set, then for the set[s] after, either less reps with same weight, or less weight with same reps/more. If while doing the 2nd set you can do exactly the same as your 1st set, the weight wasn’t heavy enough to start with.

Drop the exercises/bodypart to 2-3 (arms may only need 1-2 if doing plenty pushing/pulling). An exercise that didn’t work very well at stimulating growth in target muscle = redundant exercise (just drains recovery for no good return). If your muscles are lagging or whatever, alter the exercise so that your target muscle responds well to it (don’t just add more fluff). At worse, replace it. Example - for chest pressing; put your elbows out more, really feel the contraction and control it on the way down (doesn’t have to be super slow, just controlled), leave a gap between the bar and your chest to take the shoulders out of the move more. Bring bar down to above nipples, not below. And that’s just one exercise.

If you don’t make better progress from all that ^, I’ll eat my hat :slight_smile:


#17

[quote]its_just_me wrote:
My advice for you is to not worry so much about macro-nutrient ratios (at least not while you’re aiming for mass in general). In fact, very low carb diets can actually GIVE you stubborn fat (e.g. love handles), I won’t go into details but it’s to do with fat cell types (some are more sensitive to insulin)…Don’t automatically assume that carbs are bad; it depends on your genetics. Get enough from complex sources mainly. Balance is key. Get your minimum protein, and overall calories.

As for training, put emphasis on progression rather than just the “motions”. A pump doesn’t automatically = size.

Drop the sets to 2-3. This will bring weekly volume down to a more manageable 8-12 sets/bodypart/week, which will be better for progress vs long term high volume. So you do as much as you can on your 1st set, then for the set[s] after, either less reps with same weight, or less weight with same reps/more. If while doing the 2nd set you can do exactly the same as your 1st set, the weight wasn’t heavy enough to start with.

Drop the exercises/bodypart to 2-3 (arms may only need 1-2 if doing plenty pushing/pulling). An exercise that didn’t work very well at stimulating growth in target muscle = redundant exercise (just drains recovery for no good return). If your muscles are lagging or whatever, alter the exercise so that your target muscle responds well to it (don’t just add more fluff). At worse, replace it. Example - for chest pressing; put your elbows out more, really feel the contraction and control it on the way down (doesn’t have to be super slow, just controlled), leave a gap between the bar and your chest to take the shoulders out of the move more. Bring bar down to above nipples, not below. And that’s just one exercise.

If you don’t make better progress from all that ^, I’ll eat my hat :)[/quote]

Thanks for the workout tips, man. I see what you mean and will definitely incorporate these into my routine. I never confuse a pump after a training session with increased size. Reminds me of some guys who used to hit the gym on Saturday evenings to pump up their arms for Saturday night with the ladies. I still can’t get over that! :slight_smile:

As for nutrition, I know exactly what you mean. When I started working out 5 years ago, my friend recommended T-Nation as a good source of information and since then I’ve been pouring over its pages like I was going to be tested on it. So I get the stubborn fat distinction as well as the good/bad carbs distinction. What I have also learnt from the forums here is that you really need to get to know your body and see how it functions. My diet is based on both these foundations - experts’ principles and a little of my own knowledge. So based on past experience, I’ve realized that sustained intake of carbs does not do me too well. However, carb control followed by a spike has a phenomenally good impact (hence, the cheat days). So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m learning how my body works. And with tips from more experienced people, such as yourself, I hope to be able to make some good and sustained progress.

PS. The reason why I never made great progress over the past 5 years was because of inconsistency. Staying fit and building a good body isn’t easy and I had never been up to the task.


#18

^ If more people just did things in the gym/with diet, take notes and monitored how their body responded, they’d be bigger/leaner after a year than if they’d read every manual under the sun in that time.

Reading is all good once you have the experience to take what’s useful out of it, but when it changes your whole outlook on your training (you completely change routines etc) every time you read, then it’s not good.

A good bodybuilder takes the principles away from an author, but a bad one takes away a complete template even if it’s completely different to what they’ve found works. An experienced bodybuilder doesn’t get confused/frustrated when they read.


#19

[quote]its_just_me wrote:
^ If more people just did things in the gym/with diet, take notes and monitored how their body responded, they’d be bigger/leaner after a year than if they’d read every manual under the sun in that time.

Reading is all good once you have the experience to take what’s useful out of it, but when it changes your whole outlook on your training (you completely change routines etc) every time you read, then it’s not good.

A good bodybuilder takes the principles away from an author, but a bad one takes away a complete template even if it’s completely different to what they’ve found works. An experienced bodybuilder doesn’t get confused/frustrated when they read.[/quote]

Hear hear!

PS. I’ve started to see some results already. :slight_smile:


#20

Good to hear :slight_smile: Keep it up