T Nation

Building Towards a Bigger, Leaner Body...



I have been training for almost a year now, off and on four years before that. And something that I always dread happening and that used to make me want to quit is plateauing. Im trying to mix it up a bit now, but I feel like my intense input is not outputting a whole lot. Ive gained strength. I can feel all the muscles I want to work on. I can even see a glimpse of where I want to be when Im in the gym. But still, something makes me worry. And thats that I really wont get anywhere. So I am humbly asking all of you for some advice.

Ill include what I do for a weekly routine and then Ill also put in my nutrition...

Flat Bench...4 sets, 10(reps),8,6,10 pyramid weight
Incline Dumbbell press... 3 sets, 10,10,10 going up in weight on each one
Flat bench fly/decline fly... 3 supersets, 10,10,10 staying the same weight
Pull down Lats... 4 sets, 10,8,6,10 pyramid weight
Row... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Close-grip pull down/T-bar... 3 supersets, 10,10,10 same weight
Then a 2-mile run at 11p-12am (somewhere in there)

Shoulder press... 4 sets, 10,8,6,10 pyramid weight
Butterfly/Highpull/reardelt lift... 3 trisets, 10,10,10 staying the same weight
Barbell curl/Dumbbell curl... 4 supersets, 10,10,10 same weight
Tricep rope pull down/overhead pull/one arm rope pull down(both)... 3 trisets, 10,10,10 staying the same respective weight
Then a 2-mile run at 11p-12am (somewhere in there)


Flat Bench...3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Incline Dumbbell press... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Flat bench fly... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Pull down Lats... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Row... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
T-bar... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Then a 2-mile run at 11p-12am (somewhere in there)

Shoulder press... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Butterfly/Highpull/reardelt lift... 3 trisets, 10,10,10 same weight
Barbell curl... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Dumbbell curl... 3 sets, 10,10,10 same weight
Tricep rope pull down/overhead pull/one arm rope pull down(both)... 3 trisets, 10,10,10 staying the same respective weight
Then a 2-mile run at 11p-12am (somewhere in there)

2-mile run at noon and then 11pm

High fiber, low fat cereal with skim milk everymorning
Then, throughout the day, I eat only mixed vegetables, baked chicken (very lean) and yogurt with GNC Whey protein to get to my weight in protein everyday.

Ive been doing this for a while now and it feels healthy but not, EXPLOSIVE, I suppose. I want to look like superman, but instead, I look like a beefy alfalfa.


Not the biggest guy here...still, I have a question or two for you: have much has your bodyweight increased since last year? Why are you doing cardio five times a week? If it's you in your avatar, you're on the skinnny side, so no real need to burn extra calories doing cardio.

Probably your diet lacks carbs, hence you not feeling "EXPLOSIVE".


you need to work your lower body too, no legs no muscle! Very important to do your deadlifts and squats they help with everything else. You need to change up your routine work legs on monday when your fresh because they are the hardest.

I think you also need to eat more unless your trying to loose weight? bump the protein up to 1.5X body weight dont be scared of fat and add some clean carbs to your diet. You need to eat to grow.


1 squats and deadlifts on thurs/fri ( or any 2 days to replace those), and other leg work.

2 stop running 2 miles after workouts.

you'll be amazed at the results


I am stunned to see that there is no direct leg training in your routine. And don't say that running takes care of them, because it doesn't.

Worrying about not making progress isn't productive. If you aren't seeing the results you need, you have to consume more food and keep increasing your weights each and every workout.

Superman has huge legs. Train them.


i appreciate the tips. I do some leg stuff, but youre all right, not enough.

It seems like I really need to eat a lot more, but thats kinda troublesome. The hardest thing for me is working into a good torso, abs, everything. I do have an ab routine, but have yet to really be able to get them to show. I suppose I went crazy on cutting fats and carbs because I wanted to eliminate the fat around my stomach/ass.. really where ever. Is it possible to grow and keep lean or do I just have to go through two separate phases?


others already touched on your training.

But look at what you are eating. Training is only half of it. You need to seriously eat more if you want to look in the mirror one day and be happy with what you see.
Your breakfast has no protein other than maybe a gram or two from the cereal and perhaps 8 from the milk.

From what you wrote it looks like you would barely get 2000 calories.

Shoot for around 1.5 grams of protien per pound of body weight. Eat protein at every. single. meal. There is no exception.
The carbs and fats are up to you..if you tolerate carbs well then use carbs for energy, if not, fats work as well.

Find out how much you are eating every day and see if your weight goes up or down or stays constant. If it stays the same, you have found your level of maintenance calories. Increase this amount by 250 or so and continue eating at that amount for a week and see if you gained weight. If you didn't, increase your daily calories some more until you are gaining 1 to 1.5 pounds a week.


Doing ab work will not make your abs show, that is called 'spot reduction' i.e., the idea that exercising a paritcular part of your body will burn off the fat in that area.
If you want to decrease your body fat to make your abs show you need to eat a balanced diet (still more than you are eating now) and exercise, creating a caloric deficit.

You can manage to add size while keeping fairly lean, provided your diet and training intensity are good. But if you want to look like "superman" i'm assuming you need to add a lot more muscle to achieve that. You should assess yourself critically. Do you really need to drop fat? If not, focus on gaining a steady amount of weight and increasing your strength in the gym over time.


You are living in the "3 sets of 10" world and appear to dare not venture out. You also have not listed what poundages you are using. My point being that getting stronger helps you get bigger, and if you are weak, getting stronger is a great start.


x 2
It is pretty hard to add serious size and stay lean at the same time unless you are genetically gifted. If you want to gain 30 pounds, 10-15 of those might be fat, but you'll still be a lot bigger once you cut down again. I would just focus on getting stronger in your compound lifts and eating a lot of meats, milk, oats, and fats. Just eat, eat, and eat some more....when you're not training.


DOn't throw out cardio, just make sure you prioritize lifting.


Should I reduce my cardio? Or place it differently?

Something else Ive been wondering about is what supplements are essential, if any.


1) Yes!

2) Yes, after you added a good amount of muscle to your frame (just kidding! Keep running no more than two days a week, after your LEGS workout - meaning squat and/or deadlift)

3) Probably, no supplement is essential at your current level. Just get on a balanced diet, with a slight caloric excess (as others already said).


How about this.

  1. Fuck cardio, ditch that shit.
  2. Eat your face full of some good carbs before lifting and lots of protein after along with 6-8 good healthy meals a day with 500 calories each.
  3. Deadlift deadlift deadlift
  4. Squat til your ass splits from the stretch marks. Trust me on this one, I went up 7lbs once I started squatting, your legs carry alot of mass waiting to be man.


im curious about nutrition on off days... and still no cardio then either? i know i have to be patient, i cant just make things happen over night, im just prone to want to do as much as possible, to be as efficient as possible. Im sort of addicted to this, as it were.