T Nation

Big Problem Regarding My Training

[center]PRETTY LONG READ BUT THANKS A LOT IF YOU DO DECIDE TO READ THROUGH IT![/center]

I’m a massive overanalyzer & at times it even prevents me from training properly because I think about things too much, and this I think is one of those times.

[u]My Stats[/u]:

Age - 21
Height - 5,10"
Weight - 252lbs
Bodyfat - 17-18%
Experience - 6 Years
Insulin Dependent Diabetic

[u]My Question/Problem[/u]:

I’ve been worrying & worrying now for a couple of weeks about my current routine. For a few years now I’ve been training using a 3 day split (M/W/F) that looks like the following…

Monday - Chest/Biceps
Wednesday - Legs/Shoulders
Friday - Back/Triceps

Every 6 weeks I’ll change the reps from 6-8 to 10-12, and I’ll also change exercises etc, e.g. Barbell to Dumbbell Bench. I figured this was enough to keep the program from stalling & to keep me from plateau’ing.

I don’t even know whether this is working for me anymore. People say “if you are still gaining, then stick to it” but I don’t know if I am. Considering I’ve been training 6 years, and I actually LIVE with my own body on a daily basis, I can’t really tell if a particular training program is working for me or not, because personally I’m not gonna notice a 1-2lb increase in Lean Body Mass.

For all I know, I could be following a program that is doing nothing for me in terms of size & so I’m just basically wasting my time. To be honest, I personally think I’ve looked the same now for at least 2 years or so, but I still convince myself that I MUST be gaining somehow, therefore I keep going back to the gym. I may NOT be gaining at all anymore, and this is one of my biggest concerns because I don’t even know. Also, at my current bodyfat level it’s even harder to tell if I’m gaining any size, and the scales aren’t really a good indicator because any weight increase doesn’t necessarily mean it’s muscle… It could be just fat I’m gaining & I’m none the wiser.

For this reason I’m losing motivation EXTREMELY fast & every day I’m just constantly thinking about whether or not my actually going to the gym is giving me any results anymore. I eat a hell of a lot each day (6-7 times) plus being diabetic I HAVE to eat this often, so I don’t think it’s my diet that’s the problem. I just think that my current training method is a waste of time & I’m basically going to the gym for no reason.

I’m not even sure whether to increase my workout days to 4-5x a week instead of 3x because if this doesn’t work then my motivation will drop even LOWER due to the fact I’m spending more time in the gym, but getting the same results, which at the moment “seems” like none at all.

I thought that by now, having been training for 6 years, I would have figured out what works for me, but it seems I’m just back to where I started when I first began bodybuilding. I don’t know what the hell to do. Should I increase my workout days from 3-5x a week, should I try a completely different training method (5x5 etc?), should I stick to my current training method & keep convincing myself that it’s actually working? There’s a small chance it “could” be working, but how the hell am I meant to know, if the gains are so small (e.g. a 1-2lb increase in size every few months).

My long term goal is to get as BIG as I possibly can whilst keeping bodyfat levels relatively low. To put this in perspective, if somebody said I could look like Jay Cutler or Branch Warren tomorrow, I’d say YES YES YES! I realise these guys have amazing genetics, but if I could even get to be a respectable size “in comparison” to them, I’d be happy. I just don’t think that with my current way of training I’ll ever get there. With so much information around and so many things to choose from, I’m completely lost as I don’t know WHAT to change in regards to my routine.

I don’t know what kind of dedication it takes to get to that level etc. I don’t particularly want to “go back to the basics” either such as doing a TBT (Total Body Training) routine 3x a week, because I hear these are more for beginners, and for me to just go back to doing a TBT routine or something similar after having been training for 6 years, I’d feel like the past 6 years have been a complete waste of time mentally AND physically.

I realise this is getting a little bit long now, but for all who have read up to this point, I really appreciate it, and would be EXTREMELY grateful if somebody could help me out, as I’m not sure where to turn to now. This is basically my last resort.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Dude, I was at the same place about 2 years ago, I needed a drastic change. I wasn’t motivated anymore. I was tired of not reslly knowing if I was making progress or not. I decided, fuck it, I might as well just try to be as strong as possible. I wound up getting on a powerlifting routine. It gave me new motivation because I wasn’t doing something that was hard to quantify, like “get bigger”, or “get leaner”, rather it became simple. Get stronger. All numbers.

I know that I am getting stronger because I lift more weight, as opposed to having to look in a mirror to tell if I was bigger or leaner. And guess what? I wound up adding alot of size anyway because the training style was so much different. Being different it also showed me more ways to do things that worked for me, and more importantly, it gave me a reason to get excited about going to the gym. Just a suggestion, maybe it’ll work for you.

If you want to look like the Warren’s or Cutler’s, then start adopting some of their training strategies. If I were you, I would up the frequency of lifting. 3x a week isn’t cutting it and certainly going in the direction of dropping frequency is not an option.

If your numbers are going up, then that’s your progress right there. The only way they’re going up is if you’re stronger (unless you’re using some body english) and if you’re eating enough, strength = muscle. Changing the workouts or exercises will definately provide a new stimulus and you’ll probably like the results

I realize that the weight issue is something that will excite or humble you. Perhaps its time you started to lean out a bit. I’m not saying to go on the V-diet or get down to 5%, but if you’re looking for numbers on the scale and to build, then perhaps a cut is what you want.

Or perhaps you should keep the diet as it is and just add calories slightly until you reach a goal (like 275 lbs). Again, I can’t stress this enough, make sure your strength is increasing. That’s what’s important.

But what do I know…I’m fricken 75lbs lighter than you.

Honestly, the most important thing you need to do is chill out a little. If you’re worried that you’re not getting the results you want, then CHANGE something. But consider a few things first: you’ve been doing this for six years now. Have your lifts been trending upwards? Obviously there are plateaus and even dips, but if you’re still building muscle, you should be lifting more now than six months ago, and a lot more than 2 years ago. If your numbers have stalled, why would you expect to be building more muscle? If not, why would you change?

Go read some of Dan John’s articles about goals/behaviors. Pick a goal (more muscle, less fat, more strength, whatever), and then ask if you’re doing what you need to do to meet your goal. Sometimes it really is that simple, and right now you seem to be all over the place. Good luck with it either way, and seriously: stop worrying. Start doing.

hmmmm, i’ve been seeing your posts around here now and i feel for you. All i have to say is you should structure your workouts in such a way where you have to beat the logbook week in week out. Either by volume progression, weight progression, rest intervals, TUT, etc. You might be saying i know all this but apparently you don’t have your workouts set up to have any kind of progression planned in, otherwise YOU WOULD KNOW whether you were progressing or not, by looking at the logbook.

Thanks for actually READING the first post guys, I appreciate that. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried cutting, but I’m always so worried that I’ll lose any of the muscle I have, that I end up saying “fuck it, I’ll just carry on clean bulking”.

At the moment a typical diet for me looks like the following:

Upon Waking - Protein shake & 2-3 slices wholemeal bread with natural peanut butter.

Mid Morning - Cup of brown rice & vegetables with 2 chicken breasts fried in Olive Oil.

Lunch - Tin of tuna with 3 TBSP Mayo, 1 Jacket Potato, Vegetables.

Post Workout - Protein shake, 2 slices white bread with jam & tin of fruit.

Dinner - Either cup of white rice or jack potato with tuna/mayo or Minced Beef.

1 Hour Before Bed - Protein shake.

Straight Before Bed - 150g Cottage Cheese or Quark & a glass of milk (around 250ml).

This diet is surely enough for somebody of my weight, which leads me to believe that it’s my training which is the problem.

I “could” up the frequency to 5x a week, but that’d only mean not training Chest/Triceps together & giving them their own seperate days. I can’t see how this would bring around results any better than what I’m currently doing. E.g. giving Chest & Back it’s own day & arms their own day as opposed to pairing them with each other, you’ll still be doing the same amount of work for each muscle, just split into more days.

To “That One Guy”:

I’m not concerned with strength all that much as I’m more into gaining mass. I know that strength & mass go hand in hand though. My lifts DO seem to be going up but sometimes they can stall for around a month or longer before I see any more progress. Also, just because my lifts are going up, doesn’t mean to say that I’m gaining any more size, which is my primary goal at the moment.

Why couldn’t you devote more work to, for example, back if that were the only bodypart trained that day instead of having to train triceps too that day?

Why couldn’t you devote more work to, for example, legs if that were the only bodypart trained that day instead of having to train shoulders too that day?

As to concern about progress, it has to be realized that for example a 1% per week gain week-in, week-out 52 weeks per year (or anything like it) is impossible for a more experience lifter – who winds up being 52% stronger per year? – yet a “mere” 1% is hard to detect.

So a progression dependent on achieving a numeric increase such as 1% per week is not realistic anyway. It might seem to be being achieved, but for example slowly getting worse with form can create the illusion of increasing ability to handle weight by such an amount per week, for a while anyway before the truth becomes apparent.

Instead, one can have a planned training cycle program, in which say 8 weeks from now you’ll follow the same routine as during these 8 weeks, but at only say 3% heavier. The program will be designed to vary stimulus over the course of it rather than being the same every week. For example one way to do it is to have it start with lighter weights and higher reps, and end with heavier weights and lower reps.

A few of those, and there you go, quite undoubted and quite actual gains.

Simply doing the same basic routine every week, but hoping to eke out a small improvement in performance every week, cannot help but quit working after some number of years of training.

On not being concerned about gaining strength but only about gaining mass: It is unlikely to be realistic to hope to gain much mass without gaining strength. Secondly, as you’ve noted, when bodyfat is anything but at a quite lean level, it’s hard to determine for a fact whether small changes in mass have occurred. However, relatively small changes in strength can be reliably measured. After you’ve put together a respectable amount of strength increase, I doubt the resulting effect on mass will have you wishing “if only I had not cared about strength.”

edit Well I guess I am now “that guy”. lol

You aren’t… “that one guy” is a poster in this thread.

[quote]
This diet is surely enough for somebody of my weight, . [/quote]

This is where people get into trouble… if it was surely enough for you than you wouldn’t be making threads about your lack of progress. Adjust it till you can see or measure change. I’m not going to comment further on two separate forums, diet and getting over your anxiety towards this are of more concern to me than the number of days you workout.

Could you let us know a little more about how you’ve set up your routine?

One thing I notice already is that you are doing some major upper body pushing on two days, and maybe three, depending on what you do for triceps. For some parts of your body, you may be unintentionally mimicking a Waterbury-type TBT routine. The whole point of a split routine is to provide maximum stimulation in one session, then maximum recovery, which may not be happening now.

[quote]matsm21 wrote:
edit Well I guess I am now “that guy”. lol[/quote]

LOL

[quote]leon79 wrote:
Could you let us know a little more about how you’ve set up your routine?

One thing I notice already is that you are doing some major upper body pushing on two days, and maybe three, depending on what you do for triceps. For some parts of your body, you may be unintentionally mimicking a Waterbury-type TBT routine. The whole point of a split routine is to provide maximum stimulation in one session, then maximum recovery, which may not be happening now.[/quote]

The way I train is as follows (Routines are shown in the attachments):

I do routine One for 6 weeks using 6-8 reps. I then do routine Two for 6 weeks using 6-8 reps. I then take a week off & revert back to routine One but this time I change the rep range from 6-8 to 10-12, and so on for routine Two. I set this up, so that there was always a change in stimulus. E.g. Different exercises, different rep ranges etc.

Routine One - http://img33.picoodle.com/img/img33/3/11/5/f_Onem_29f5f7f.jpg
Routine Two - http://img29.picoodle.com/img/img29/3/11/5/f_Twom_0322f90.jpg

Eat more, a lot more, and try lifting as a powerlifter for 6 to 8 weeks, and then go back…

Looks like you’ve been doing some heavy work as well as using good basic exercises. You’ve always been doing three sets every time and just varying reps. Try varying sets for a change and keep doing 4-7 rep range. For example 2 sets for two weeks then 3 sets for 2 weeks then 4 sets for two weeks and then 5 sets for two weeks. After this, cycle back again to two sets for two weeks and restart the increase in set build up.

This way you will almost overtrain in the 5 set weeks but then as you cycle back you will again recover because of less work and you can also go heavier because of the reduction in volume. Your body will adapt to less work again and as you increase volume it will be stressed again untill the 5 set weeks where it will almost be overtrained. If one slightly overtrains for a short period and then do active recovery with much less work after that you body will then start do grow again.

For example-lots of people make the mistake of doing too much after a while and their progress halt until they cycle back to the basics with less work and suddenly they grow again. If this doesn’t work then raise calories by 500 until you see progress. If after a while your joints hurt a bit, do two weeks in 12 to 15 rep range to recover.

An added benefit will be some fat burning in the 4 and 5 set weeks, because as you increase in volume you should decrease you rest periods to keep your total workout time more or less the same for all the weeks. Keep the exercises and the split the same- it should be fine. Good Luck

Okay I haven’t read a lot of the replies here, but there are a couple of things that I find irritating about your post.

  1. Your view that “I’m not concerned with strength all that much as I’m more into gaining mass. just because my lifts are going up, doesn’t mean to say that I’m gaining any more size”. This is false. You SHOULD be DAMN concerned with gaining strength. What do you think builds muscle? Just lifting the same weight for the same reps and stuffing your face with food? You need to actively be PROGRESSING IN WEIGHT. Why haven’t you realized this?

  2. “I can’t see how giving muscle groups their own days would be better”. When you give muscles their own days, you can attack them with more intensity. Try doing a fullbody workout and attempting to hit everything with sufficient intensity. Chest and Back are huge muscle groups to work together. I don’t know about you but I feel whiped after training chest and I have no idea how I would train back properly (especially if deadlifts are involved). This is why the pros train 5x a week with different muscles on different days.

You might also want to address the issue of your bodyfat. As you mentioned, sometimes it’s hard to see motivating changes in lean body mass through extra tissue like that. Knowing myself, I would gain a lot of fat with that amount of carbs. Of course, I’m absolutely not qualified to give advice on diet to a diabetic, but I’m sure someone around here must have experience there.

If your condition limits your diet changes, try tossing in short cardio sessions after you lift. I lose fat pretty quick just by adding 20 minutes on a bike after I lift.

Start doing heavier, lower rep sets for a bit, if you’ve been training for a good while in or around the same rep changes, ain’t no way you’re going to see changes.
When I’m stuck in a routine, I find it very hard to change. I found I was gaining minimal amounts for a while. I realised that I had been training in some sort of simple body split. So, I decided to change it completely.

I went with TBT for a couple of month. My body said “what the fuck!” and couldn’t help but respond.
Point I’m trying to make is the best type of trainig you can do for your body is whatever you’re not doing.(within reason!!)
That’s my bit-Good Luck
.

I feel you brother.

From the very outset of your post it is obvious that you need to make some significant changes, changes that may break you out of your stagnation, but also break you out of your intrinsically restrictive comfort zone. I was too once like you, so here are some small pieces of advice.

1: Make sure your diet is in line. Based on the fact that you’re an insulin-dependent diabetic and have a fairly high bF%, perhaps decrease the carbs…alot. Eat alot more vegetables and more complex carbs. IMO, white rice period and 3 slices bread with breakfast, for example, is unnecessary.

2: Let’s get out of the training rut. You’ve been doing a split, the same split, on the same days for years? I was a split freak, and also diverted into TBT now and then. However, I did not start really making gains until I experimented with other training modalities (most of them discovered on this website so your in the right place!).

I never did explosive lifts or power lifts, but since incorporating cleans, clean+presses, snatches, etc., I have made some of my best gains! TRY IT!

3: HEY, are you doing squats and deadlifts? You better be if you’re trying to gain size. Are you doing pullups in addition to lat-pulldowns? dips in addition to benchpress? Standing barbell military press? Back to basics, perhaps?

4: Just make sure you’re working yourself over in every session. If it is at all easy or consistent or typical, your workout, that is, then you need to amp up the intensity, bro

I would love to give you more specific answers to your questions, but please hit me up in a message with specific concerns. I get overloaded with info on these boards and cant think linearly.

[quote]Vanchatron wrote:

The way I train is as follows (Routines are shown in the attachments):

I do routine One for 6 weeks using 6-8 reps. I then do routine Two for 6 weeks using 6-8 reps. I then take a week off & revert back to routine One but this time I change the rep range from 6-8 to 10-12, and so on for routine Two. I set this up, so that there was always a change in stimulus. E.g. Different exercises, different rep ranges etc.

Routine One - http://img33.picoodle.com/img/img33/3/11/5/f_Onem_29f5f7f.jpg
Routine Two - http://img29.picoodle.com/img/img29/3/11/5/f_Twom_0322f90.jpg

[/quote]

Looking at your routines, I appreciate your attempt to minimize overlap between the actual lifts (i.e. flat BB bench, incline DB bench), but you might look at varying the set/rep schemes a little more. For instance, taking your three chest movements, pick the one that allows for the maximum weight lifted, then ramp the weight so that you end with a max set of 6 (you could even add a drop-back set), rather than use straight sets. The next chest movement, go for higher reps, shorter rest periods, ramping or straight sets, drop sets, whatever allows you to fatigue that muscle. Then the last movement, since it’s usually an isolation, can be used to flush as much blood as possible into the muscle.

This is really the backbone of many of CT’s latest routines.

This thread looks awfully familiar doesn’t it Scott?