T Nation

Critique Me?


Hi, thanks for taking a look.

I am 6'2", 218lbs with I would guess around 20% bodyfat.

I am an inexperienced lifter, with some previous lifting experience... 8 years ago. I have a somewhat athletic body. I don't look like a stick, and I'm certainly not obese.
I started a beginner routine 3.5 weeks ago from Jim Stoppani and I seem to be doing good. I have increased all my exercises by roughly 25% or more. My body appears to be a bit more muscular but a lot of it could be just the swell from work outs.

I am confident in my routine, and I think my diet is pretty solid. I also just started to take some supplements, just basic stuff (protein, creatine, glutamine, BCAA and multi).
My GOAL is to be lean around 200lbs within the next year. I figure that is going to require a good 7 pounds (or more) of muscle gain and 23 lbs of fat loss to land me at 200+ lbs with a 10% bodyfat. Ideally I would like to hit that goal around July of next year, in time to feel confident for warm weather clothes.

My biggest problem is planning to meet those goals. At 20% bodyfat, I don't really want to get much fatter. I have been struggling with either bulking or cutting and where to set my calories. On one hand, I don't want to be 25% body fat in 6 months. On the other, I don't want to spin my wheels for the next 6 months trying to lift weight and lose weight... I want to capitalize on my beginner gains and start building.

To be more specific on my routine. I am doing Jim Stoppani's beginner to advanced, which is 4 phases. It starts as a 3 day compound lift, full body routine with 3 sets of 12. As it progresses it gradually adds splits through 4 phases to eventually arrive at a 4 day split with more exercises per body part and the sets go up while the reps go to like 8.
My nutrition is good. I am eating plenty of the staples, chicken breast, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, veggies, eggs.

9:30 Wake up, whey protein, banana.
10am Eggs and oatmeal, or eggs, veggies, cheese and pumpernickel bread
1pm 6oz lean meat, veggies, 3/4c rice or sweet potato
5pm 6oz lean meat, veggies, 3/4c rice or sweet potato
8pm 6oz lean meat, veggies, 3/4c rice or sweet potato
11pm 6oz lean meat, veggies, 3/4c rice or sweet potato
11:30pm in the gym, usually finished around 12:45
12:45 - post work-out. Usually Whey and a banana.
I get home and go to bed around 1:30 and have cottage cheese or plain greek yogurt before bed... about 1/4 cup.
I sleep around 7 hours per night. I'd like to sleep more but I think 7 is my number. Anything after 7 seems fruitless... I get restless and keep waking up every 10 minutes.

I eat lots of chicken where is says lean meat, but do have others meats too... mostly chicken. I fill in a lot with some nuts, avocado, olive oil, whey ect to get into the ball park of my macros.

My average intake should be around 2800 calories based on my body size and weight. That is maintenance according to my research.

Based on all this, any advice?

Honestly? My goal is most important. And my biggest question is, should I try sticking with maintenance or go under or over? Should I cut or bulk?

The last 3 weeks, I think I may have gained 2-3 lbs of muscle... so says my scale. I know the bodyfat tool isn't the best, but it has me showing consistently .1 % down now, and 3 lbs up. I could be retaining some water though.

Any advice is welcome.

Thanks all.


Dafuq is this non sense???

Why do people make this shit so goddamn complicated???


Yeah its long winded... I was trying to be complete enough to avoid having a bunch of questions.

Want cliff notes?

I'm at 20% bodyfat and want to build muscle and lose fat. I'm looking to get in decent shape within a year.

I want to lift heavy and eat heavy, but I don't want to get fatter... I already need to lose weight as it is.

Some folks say eat maintenance and work hard, you'll gain and lose fat. Other say "Dafuq noob, your stupid... you cant do both".

Progress so far? I am probably around maintenance. I doubt I have lost fat, I think I gained muscle...


If you're only 'maintaining' your 20% bodyfat after 3.5 weeks of training, that's a sure fire sign that your program sucks donkey ballsacks.

Your diet looks tiresome and ridiculously generic. And I don't care what exercise program you're on, you probably suck at that too.

So then you ask, 'ok shithead, what should I do then?'

To which I reply; learn how it feels like to actually workout. This can easily be achieved by partaking in your local high school wrestling practice. Understand that you are not a body builder, or a fitness model, or even a pro athlete so this retarded trend of eating 18 meals a day should be eliminated. And by you having the time to prepare so many meals a day tells me that either you have no sex whatsoever, or you really like to fuckin cook. Both of which I'm not gonna judge you on. But you should be able to deduce that you being unsure of your progress is your body's way of telling you, 'hey asshole, I'm trying to either get strong or get laid here, and I'm not really getting either. So I'm just gonna stay stagnant until you get that through your head.'

And whoever says you can't gain muscle and lose fat is probably fat as fuck themselves or just retarded nerds that can't accomplish it themselves.




Lots of ways to do it. I agree that it seems like you're over thinking things, but thats natural in the beginning. My advice would be to stay away from Jim Stoppani, as the man tends to overcomplicate everything, offer pretty typical "muscle-mag" style advice and routines, and has a very, very clear interest in selling you as many supplements as possible. That said, you can get results following his advice, I just think its more enjoyable to do it another way.

As for what to actually do: I'd find your maintenance macros and calories with one of those calculators online (google IIFYM calculator for a decent one) and build your diet around that. The reality is that if you're a legit 20% BF and want to be lean, you need to lose weight. So, eat at this maintenance number for a couple weeks and watch your progress: if you're losing weight but getting stronger you're on the right track, losing weight and not getting stronger you should eat more (add 50 grams of carbs a day and then go from there), and if you're not losing weight but are getting stronger you should eat less (subtract 50 grams of carbs a day and go from there).

Do not fall into the bullshit of needing to hardcore bulk and cut. It does not apply to you right now. As an inexperienced lifter you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, and you absolutely don't need to resort to extreme measures to lose or gain weight. Aim for a loss of 1 lb a week on average, but this won't be completely linear.

You might lose 2 lbs one week then not lose anything the next. Thats okay. Just make sure your performance in the gym is improving and the scale is slowly moving downward and you should be alright.


Pic please at 6'2" 215 I have a hard time believing you really need to lose much weight as opposed to just getting muscular. Im 8" shorter than you and 10 pounds heavier and about 15-18% bodyfat depending on what method or who is looking. Saying that to say I dont even feel I am filled out so I know your not.


good advice right here,


I'm 6'3", 225-230 and I know I could use about 20lbs.

So like Reed said, you need muscles. Period.


OP is probably more than 20. I'm 6'2" and thought I was 20 at 255. Now I'm 205 and am probably about 18-20.


I appreciate the response, despite the complete lack of tact. I have a habit of researching the people who are handling out advice before listening to what they say... and you appear to know what you are talking about, based on your own results, or you are the biggest liar on this forum.

My diet is generic, yes. I am trying to stick to leaner meats and complex carbs. I prepare my meals before work, and break the same thing up and eat it four times. It is too much to eat in one or even two sittings.

It might suck balls, I am a beginner, asking for advice. My strength has improved, I look more muscular. My wife seems to like the changes too which seems to validate that there are changes. There has been some success, but if you want to offer a better alternative, I'm all ears.

Exactly... And from that I gathered, work out harder? I am working out hard. I pour sweat, I push out reps till it burns so hard I cant bare the burn when I stop. I peel myself off the floor, I drag myself out of bed. I hurt for days.
Honestly, I am a beginner, hence I am here asking for advice, not giving it.
I am not out of shape... I stay in shape to stay in the military. I can do roughly 70 push-ups in a minute, run 1.5 miles in 11:00. I'm not a weight lifter, I haven't touched weights for 8 years prior to this. When my work-out is finished I sometimes feel like I could go longer. Granted I max out my sets... last night I did 3x10 at 185 on my bench. The last rep was barely there. I felt like my chest could use more work, but I know I would have been lucky to push out 4-5 reps on another set.
I'm not here because I assume I am doing things right, you know...


It isn't a very good picture, but it is what I have. This is one month ago, before I started. I have gained 3 lbs... I would say it is muscle. I am working right now, so I can't get a recent shot.


When you are not sure what your goals are, you are leaving yourself open to some harsh critique.

You started with this goal:

And you asked for some advice on TACTICS for reaching that goal:

But then you went back to not really knowing what your goal is:

If you want to cut, then do it. If you do things right, you can milk some beginner gains for sure.

If you want to bulk, do it. Just prepare to be fatter than what you seem to be comfortable with for a while.

If you want advice on whether to bulk or cut, post a picture and ask the question. Once you decide, come back and ask for help on tactics to support that goal.

There are some folks around here with relatively high standards as far as size goes. They're going to advise you to bulk. Personally, I am hearing a cry for a cut. I would advise you to nail your macros and aim for that 2800 calorie mark consistently - make adjustments along the way until you hit your target.

It doesn't sound like you are committed enough to one goal or the other at this point. I would reflect on it and try to connect with what you really want. If you still need to ask people what you really want, then keep working on it. You need to get to a point where you know what you want.

EDIT - I see you posted a pic just as I submitted this, nice.

My advice still stands, although I don't think your options are limited to bulk or cut. Recomp is real and it's an option, you just need to be a bit more precise in your approach.


Thanks for the response Serge. I understand that it could cause confusion. My end goal is to get lean and add muscle. I want to do that in time to feel good about myself next year. That gives me about 10 months...

I guess I am confused myself, because I know I need both fat loss and muscle gain, but don't know which way to go first.

I have been paying attention to macros. I was thinking about it today and figured I was going to go with maintenance and lift hard like you said. Hopefully I will make gains and drops some fat. If not, I have months to reassess. I just don't want to spin my wheels for 10 months and be left with nothing to show for it... which is probably why I am overcomplicating it.


You can't be helped if you don't actually absorb what myself and many others are telling you. Re-read and reassess.


I think I am getting what your putting out, even if I'm not specifically stating it. I would like to be more goal oriented toward one or the other and pick a goal, as Serge said early in his response, but I want both.
If I had to choose, I would probably drop down to 205 which would be a little more comfortable, and hopefully make some gains despite the fat loss.
If, like you said I can do both, and as Serge indicated that recomp is possible... that is preferred. I'd like to get down to 205 and start building more from there... then I can trim some later.

My immediate goal is to stay at maintenance and push hard in the gym. Hopefully I will be doing both. I might pick up a couple days of cardio to help burn some fat. If I am still not making any changes, I'll drop some calories and aim for a short cut.

I am a bit concerned with my routine right now. Eventually it will break off to a 4 day split, which might be a bad move for me. I should probably stay full body or at least A/B split, no? I don't see how dropping to a once per week bench or squat is going to benefit me at the moment. Any thoughts?


There you go again....dude, lift hard and with intensity and eat a well balanced diet. You are more likely to have body re composition where you gain some muscle and lose a little fat. Stop paralyzing yourself with analysis. Work hard, make your muscles sore and eat 200 grams of protein a day. Keep it simple.


HAH... Fair enough.


Well... Weight is up to about 223. The mirror tells me it isn't fat. I have been making progress on all lifts and eating respectably.

I stuck with the program from Stoppani through to the 3rd phase, but I am not ready to do a split and switched off this week to Chris Colucci's 3 day total body. It hits hard. 4 sets of 20-30 leg presses is so unbearable. I really like how his routine hits a muscle very hard on a specific day, and yet maintains total body training. I started out lifting hard on 3-4 days with 1 day of cardio. I'm now on a solid 3 day lift with 1-2 days of cardio.
My lifts have all gone up a good amount. I was really challenging myself with squats and bench presses on my last routine and loved making the numbers go up. I am looking forward to making some awesome progress on this new routine, especially with its emphasis on squats, bench and deadlifts.

As far as body progress goes, I haven't made an astonishing front page transformations or anything, but I do look better. I can feel the muscle growth more than see it. Bodyfat has probably gone down a little, muscle has gone up. I think that is visually detectable.

As for my own critique. I am very good about getting to the gym, I never skip. I'm proud of that. On the flip side I feel like my last routine left me wanting more... I didn't feel spent. Some days I would just wing some stuff in there to get more done, some days not. I think this new routine fixes that though. Also, even though my diet is good, I'm not eating enough on weekends, and some mornings I need to eat sooner when I wake up to get that fuel in me quick, especially since I work out at around midnight and wake around 8-9am.


Honestly, I think body fat wise your fine, but you dont look strong. Hell I wish I was as thin as you. If you want to be taxed and gain size do german volume training. I have a progression (12-16 weeks) that worked very well for me that utilized high volume if you want it. You have to eat though and be good at recovering. But I'm the last guy on here to ask about diet.