T Nation

Best Program for an Early-Intermediate Bodybuilder?

I plead the 5th :innocent:


Hello Stu,

I’ve got great respect for your advice, with you being a true competitor (like Rob Stein). Mind if I ask a question?

Fire away.


You posted a question asking if you could ask a question?


Sure :lol:

What are your thoughts on training balls to the wall on EVERY set, as opposed to slow progressive overload and leaving “reps in reserve”?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say I’m doing squats. Session one I hit 5 sets of 5; my sets look like 5, 5, 5, 5, 5. Now next session, do I try and bust out as many more reps as possible, or do I “target” reps?

An example of targeting reps would be saying, “okay, I had 25 total reps last time, let me try and get 30 this time. My sets will look like 8,7,5,5,5.” And the next time, 35 total reps with sets looking like 8,8,7,5,5 and so on.

The question is, those last sets of 5 might feel easy…do you leave reps in reserve or go all out all the time?


clearly you know everything.

k bye.

I never assumed that. If I had nothing to learn I would not be hear on the forum. I don’t have such a long lifting career beind to say anything similar. Anyway I came here to ask how someone at my stage would be more or less supposed to train and received lots of good advice. I appreciate even when people do give me advices on diet/recovery. But I don’t see why someone who doesn’t even know me would not believe what I am telling about how much mass I put on, how much time I spent bulking, for how long I did gain weight, for how long I was cutting and for how long I did not even gain or lost weight.
As simple as that, If I am here asking for advices and good information from smn I do clearly believe is more experienced/informed than me… Well, why would I lie? And why would not you believe me if I tell you that I have learned the importance of a big caloric surplus, and that year was the most prolific for my gain? Sorry but I find this quite disrespect

Because you’re denying the meaningful FREE advice of others by acting like a know it all.

If you’re only 160lbs, diet is the MAIN issue to why your training and results are capped off

I’m not denying any of those advices. I see your point, but, as you can understand if I moved from 110 lbs to 185 (after that I cut down to 160 so that I’m 8-10% bf) it means I have undestrood how much it’s important. I do appreciate your FREE advices, but there are many ways to say things: a respectful and a disrespectful way. You could simply answer for what I asked (which you did) and, if you wanna talk about diet, please DO! But don’t start behaving like I’m lying to you about my bodyweight, my story and all…

To be totally fair, the information you posted suggested strongly that you were lying. I’m not saying you were, but from what we were presented with, it was the easy assumption to make.

It might also be interesting for you to look through @jackolee log to see what a bodybuilder of about your height and weight looks like at 8-10%. Is that what you look like?

Edit: he’s added weight since, so for an accurate comparison you might need to scroll back to see his contest prep a few months back. It might also be interesting in that time to look at his strength levels so you have a bit of a comparison there too.

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No. I don’t look like that BUT 1. Why would I lie? I’m asking for advice.
2. I do weigh 160 lbs at 5’10"
3. I am very very very lean (I went on a 6+ month quite aggressive cut)
I have good vascularity and striations. But I’m not satisfied about the amount of muscle mass do have and I do understand I fi didn’t program hopping, which I did, now I’d be way stronger and bigger.

Moreover I do think that 160lbs at my height is too low even though you are shredded, and that is not impressive by far for someone who has been training for 3+ years

This is a bit of a hijack, sorry but not sorry as this thread has already attracted the attention of the people that I’d @, (@isdatnutty, @The_Mighty_Stu, @flipcollar). The only person missing is @T3hPwnisher.

I’ve made the same mistakes as a lot of the people that have been posting here on the board lately and even though I can read their threads and identify the error in their ways, and mine, I still feel a bit lost - specifically I’m trying to come to terms with how much to invest in either quality. Is a 50/50-dedication to either quality be more meaningful at this point than say, 70/30?

To be explicit,

  • Was fat,
  • lost a lot of weight (and some muscle in the process),
  • Got stupid lean.
  • Tried to get even leaner, because I couldn’t see all of my abs (I now presume this has to do with loose skin and won’t ever happen until I fill out my frame).
  • And now fret to a counter-productive amount about calories and carbs.

The problem with just being lean but not really having a lot of mass is that once you stop being lean then you end up in okay-but-average-land. My lifts are what some would call weak as piss if looking at poundages, but in relation to my body-weight are just shy of some landmarks,

  • ~2x BW DL on a good day (just shy)
  • 1x BW Bench
  • ~1.5 BW Squat on a good day (again, just shy of that and more-so than on the DL)

I’m 186 cm (that’s 6"1’), and ~73 kilos (160lbs) on waking. I suppose, at that height, I should weight at least 86 kilos before allowing myself anything akin to a deficit. Tend to undereat now if not tracking, resulting in the occasional binge-fest now and again. I’m intending to live life for a couple of more decades, and in the short-term I’d really like to learn how to eat without having to be too anal about it so I can expend less energy on what is now essentially a minor eating-disorder. Right now, planned caloric surplus feels too similar to the habits of planned under-eating (deficit).

I can get away with squatting twice a week without aggravating my hip-flexor (the result of weak abs). Usually, if I go just above parallel (5cm) I’ll usually be fine.

If I care more about how I look than how strong I am, but still wanting to be stronger than I am today, what approach would you adopt? Specifically, I’m curious as to if it’s appropriate to combine trying to progress with strength and mass simultaneously, i.e.

  • Train main lift for strength (3-5, 4-6) reps,
  • Train supplemental stuff in functional hypertrophy/size-range (6-8, 8-12) reps,
  • Not overdo assistance too much.

or if a trainee is better served by interlacing strength-oriented blocks with hypertrophy-blocks? Or am I just continuing with the issue of fretting over minutiae here, and should get my head out of my ass and apply @Lonnie123’s words of wisdom:

I’ve read most of your replies to these threads lately, so I have a guess as to what you’ll reply with (if you end up replying), but it feels meaningful for me to engage with you all directly.

On TRT (Nebido) because of primary hypogonadism, but recently started so I have yet to stabilize hormonally. This, combined with my previous fatassed-ness, makes aggressive calorie surpluses slosh right back into my old fat cells (lower abdominals / love-handles).

For reference, this is me the other day,

and me at my leanest,

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

Sometimes you got to look bad to look good. My initial bulk from 52-110kgs was not pretty but it got me dozens of kilos of muscle. I’m not saying you should get fat, but don’t stress over not looking your best for a while.

[quote=“Allberg, post:33, topic:259192”] I
suppose, at that height, I should weight at least 86 kilos before allowing myself anything akin to a deficit.

Really, being a certain weight at a certain height is pretty arbitary. You liking the way you look and feel is fsr more important than you BMI as long as you’re not either extremely fat or skinny (to the point where your weight is damaging your health).

In your case I’d do a slow bulk to whatever weight it is that you feel you want to be at, and I wouldn’t eliminate the though of cutting every once in a while. Just realize that not every diet has to be taken to the extreme. If you want to get away from tracking, I’d suggest that You try to eyeball your food while still tracking it (so estimate, then weight it) and slowly moving on to becoming better at estimating and thus needing the scale less and less.

Personally I’d just train in the 4-6 rep range for my main movements, 6-8 in their variations and do sets of 10+/amraps/myo reps/whatever for volume on isolation assistance lifts. If I wanted to focus more on pure strength for a while I’d drop all of those rep ranges down a bit and maybe add singles @ RPE8-9 for my main lifts.

But really anything works if you just go hard.

PS. Looking good, not fat by any measure.

Well I’m 6"1 and 83kgs when 10% and I still feel skinny so yeah I feel you. What I did personally this year was stopping focusing so hard on strength (anyway I got surgery on both knees and wrists so I also want to take a slower, more sustainable road) and try to focus on muscle. So on big lifts, reps around 5 but focusing only on quality reps. And going apeshift on the assistance/ isolation using intensity technique and focus on the muscle instead of weight. And I gained 4kgs of lean mass which is more than the previous 3 years where I was fooling around so

If you are “very very very lean” but, do not look like Jack, what do you consider him to be? 4x very lean? Why don’t you post a picture?

Why would program hopping matter if you are progressing? Most programs use the same or variations of the same exercises.

160 lbs shredded is what many people compete at.

Make it simple. Pic of the OP from the neck down for proper evaluation of his condition.


If you can’t hit a 2 plate bench despite training for it, a 6+ month aggressive cut should have been low priority

5’10 185 is still skinny. I know because I was skinny at 5’8 185 and was benching mid-2s

Thats probably a good plan right there man, just make sure the hypertrophy stuff is “hard” (ie, you are getting close to failure on at least some of the sets)


always enjoy seeing people who have never posted a picture saying stuff like this. I lol.