T Nation

Desperation

Hi,

Lately, I read lots of the posts from this forum. I found that most of you guys seem to be so piece of cake to increase strength, bulk and lose body fat.

I have been working out for almost 1 and half year without some significant gains. I’ve been spending money buying books offered by bodybuilders and followed them but haven’t got results too.
I workout 4 times a week.
My strength never went up or if it did, probably a tiny bit. My abs, however, seemed to be the the same all the time or even get bigger. My arms only around 13.5 to 13.75 and never go pass beyond 14".
I bench press only probably 100 lbs. I am so in awe with you guys that can lift above your body weight.
I am just not sure what’s going wrong with me.

I am a small guy 5’6 and 140-142lbs. I never tried those fat caliper stuff since the accuracy varies. So i depend on the way i look and how my pant fits me.
As my diet goes, i eat almost 7 times a day with pretty similar content for between meals. I am a college student so it’s just so damn hard to create wonderful meals.
I was raised in Asian heritage so white rice is almost in every meals and easy to prepare.
I also followed Mr. Berardi guide about the nutrition (protein+fat;carb+protein)
My caloric level right now is 3000 cals. Also, not sure if too much or too little.

I just realized yesterday that all the hard work never give me any results. Well, at some point yes, but it’s not really significant. There are ups and downs of course for everybody in gaining muscle and losing fat but for me it’s just too many downs.

I am considering to quit cause i am tired of all the sacrifice without results…

Can someone please please help me out?

Zigma, tell me something about your workout. If you have been working out for a year and a half, you should at least be able to bench your bodyweight. You mention working hard, but from the sound of it, you may be working out too hard. Ian King always says, it is not what you are capable of doing, but what is optimal for growth. I find this to be true. If you are really overtrained, even the regular 12 weeks to superstrength may be too much volume for you. I am of Asian descent also, but I have cut out glutenous rice (the kind of rice eaten by Koreans and Japanese) from my diet. If I have to have white rice, I use a rice high in amylose starch such as basmati. It has a much lower glycemic index. I’d like to help, but please tell us more about your workout.

#1 don’t try the fad diets (the one you spoke of is ok for someone else, not you yet). Just make sure you are getting 25-30 grams of protein in each of your 7 meals. It seems you are getting the carbs, and 3000 calories is about right. #2 I didn’t start seeing noticable size increases until I was in my early twenties, even though I started at 16. Some people take longer than others. Stick with it. #3 look around the gym for a trainer who is getting good results with his/her clients. Don’t worry about how they look, unless they are a fat slob. They don’t have to have a huge ripped physique. Just look around and watch. Most trainers will charge you $50 for a one time shot session or $300 for a ten session package. Think about all the money you spend getting nowhere and it is a bargain. I learned from the old time powerlifters. They taught me for free. I had to wait in the shadows and watch. Once they knew I was serious, they helped me. Look around also, you may find someone who is in good shape, who works out alone, is serious when lifting but friendly during his rest periods. Ask if he minds if you could work in with him and learn. Again, they don’t have to be a monster, most of those guys are on steroids, which won’t help you. I am a personal trainer, I make my living helping people. I don’t mind helping out someone who asks during my workout, as long as you respect my time. I give away a lot of free advice and help. It always comes back to you. Don’t forget that. Someday, you’ll get asked. Good luck.

hmmm… I was 5’6 and 125 when I started out and could barely press 100 lbs. Here are the major things I did to eventually grow. I started eating more and a LOT more, primarily protein. I never realized just how little protein I ate till I counted. Don’t worry about the fat gain for now, just eat a lot to try to pack on muscle. Don’t overtrain, I was going in 6 days a week and getting nowhere (and those bodybuilding books you are buying normally advocate ridiculous volume and frequency), but as soon as I cut back to 4 days per week lifting hard, I could see my strength increasing. I always bitch about being a hard gainer, but at least early in my experience when I hit the kitchen hard and ate 1,000+ calories over maintenance including 1-2grams of protein per lb, my muscle mass started to increase. I just ate as much as I could - I didn’t even know what creatine or other supplements were. To hell with the fat gain, I’d rather have a lot more muscle and a 36 inch waist than still be a weak 125 lbs with a 29 inch waist. I did put on those inches on my waist and with it came quite a bit muscle (at least for me). But then in 3 months I lost the fat I had gain in 2+ years time. It was FAR easier to lose fat than gain serious muscle. Put any fat concerns aside (in my opinion) and eat more carb,fat, and PROTEIN. I didn’t care about the size of my gut until I could benchpress 200 lbs. And I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without a lot of massive eating. My arms were only 12 inches to start (smaller than yours), but I began socking away 4,000+ calories a day while being protein conscious, and I couldn’t believe what a difference it made.

I still can't believe how little protein some of the people in my gym consume and how poor their training is. There are plenty of great programs on this website to follow, so pick one. From personal experience, eating a shitload and following a well-designed program (mostly big basic movements) worked for me. I've got like a 6-inch wrist and come from a very small-framed family...never point to genetics as a reason why you can't make RELATIVELY impressive gains. Eat lift eat sleep...and repeat. Good luck

Bro, don’t think that everyone is making magical gains. Most of the people on this site have been working out for many years. Some have great physiques, some are average, and some are still working hard.

I started training after high school. I’ve been training now for about 7 years. In those seven years, I have gotten lean and somewhat muscular, and I have bulked up and I’ve been in the middle. None of my gains came easy. And my bodyweight has fluctuated between 130-160lbs in those seven years. It depended on how I was training at the time.

I actually think I looked my best a few years ago when I was really lean. I know I have some more muscle mass now, but I’m not as lean. So I don’t look quite as good. Being 5’4" with small bones makes it hard for me to be big. I’m currently 145lbs, and this is a pretty good weight for me. I need to stay this weight, but keep my bodyfat at 6 or 7 percent. Then I would look good for my size. So that’s my goal. And it isn’t going to be easy.

Recently, I’ve had to add more calories and protein to my diet. I’ve read Ian King’s books and articles. And I’ve learned a lot about training thanks to him. It’s a long process, so stick the basics and work hard. The basics are the key.

Thank’s for the reply guys.

I am not sure if i am overtrained or not. I’ve been changing my workout a lot due to packed schedule.
I am in 3000 cals with 48/37/15 proportion and i think i am getting enough protein already: it’s 280 g/day.
I eat almost every 2 and half hour.

My workout goes this way:
SUNDAY: i workout in the gym(only once per week)–>wide grip chin up, dips, seated row, lat pulldown. Triceps pushdown and Lat pulldown. Pec dec. calf raise machine. palm up curl/palm down curl (wrist) and abs.
I basically do all the exercises i can;t do at home.
MONDAY:squat, incline/flat/decline bench press, leg extension and curl
Tuesday,Thursday,Saturday --> off
WED: Shoulder press, bent over row, lat raise, barbell shrug, chin ups (narrow grip), overhead tricep press superset with preacher curl, lying french press superset with standing barbell curl, close grip bp, incline biceps curl.
FRI: Flat/incline/decline bp, flat/incline/decline fly.

I am not sure if this is good enough. I am just so tireeed and i caught a cold. This really gives me nervous breakdown.

Thank’s to everyone for help.

Everybody reacts differently - genetics. I recommend a drastic change: 4000 cals per day, drop your workouts to 3 - make sure you are using basic core free weight exercises, keep your max rep count between 4-6 per set - no cardio. You must gain weight if you are to see any real improvements! You may wan’t to consider supplementing with some form of prohormone (like androsol) as well - it’s possible your testosterone levels are low - a test can tell you for sure. Also, when you workout is your intensity high? Keep your workouts between 40-60 minutes with a brutal, animal like intensity - it may help. Some weight gainer powder may be a good supplement - American Body Building’s XXL isn’t bad, it’ll give you a quick 1200 cals (I suggest you divide this up to two servings over 4 hours so you won’t blow your insulin levels). Also, make sure you find time (I know it’s hard) between chasing chicks & studying to sleep some LONG hours - like 10 or more a couple of times a week - this can help alot!

Zigma, I know exactly why you are not gaining. You are overtraining–SERIOUSLY overtraining. You are doing ridiculous amounts of sets of some major muscle groups in one workout! I recommend that you take a week off and do nothing except get some quality sleep and eat well. Don’t even think about working out. Then I would start Ian King’s 12 weeks to super strength workout. For legs, you could do the limping series, but if you want to concentrate on your upper body, you will make much better upper body gains if you halved the volume of each leg workout and combined it into one. I gotta warn you about Ian’s workouts though. It will seem like you are regressing at first. He will have you using girly weights due to the incredible lactic acid burn you get. Come Phase II and IV of his programs, you find yourself pushing up more poundages than you ever have before.

Do not work out two days in a row. Don't forget the protein. Get at least 1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight. I GUARANTEE you that you will not get weaker in the legs due to the reduced volume, so don't worry about that. Post workout nutrition is crucial. Suck down a protein shake (you may add some simple table sugar to help replenish your glycogen--and no this will not make you fat) right after your workout. Zigma, I fully expect you to come back after a four weeks and tell how your benching a couple of plates.

Like Ian always says, enough talk. Let's do it.

Dude…what are your rep/set schemes for your workouts? By what you have told us, we couldn’t tell if you are overtraining, undertraining…or not training.

squats and deadlifts tend to make your midsection a little bit bigger because you’re strengthening your stabilizer muscles there. the white rice is killing your waist line a you might consider switching to brown rice, its healthier and wont stick to your ribs like white rice will. hope this helps

2 things… maybe you arent but i think you may be doing too many machine/ isolation movements, and these contribute to overall training volume which as stated is too high so cut out concentration curls and other rather wasteful excercises. Second, we dont know how much you sleep, but get more of it and see if that helps… if you already get 8 hours try for 10…

Guys,

Here are some more info of what i am doing:
I am planning to do 8-10 reps for 2 weeks and change to 6 to 8 reps for 2 weeks and so on… keep changing to aboid overtraining. That’s what i have in mind.

I might do too much exercises but the problem is i don’t know which exercises can be deleted. I don’t want to leave any single basic exercises because i am afraid i will leave some muscles undertrained.

Most of the reps are 2 except: squat (3), all the chest bench press (flat/incline/decline) are 3 sets, chin ups (3), lat pulldown are 4 sets because i do 2 sets for the pulldown behind neck and 2 sets pulldown in front of the neck. Seated row i do 4 sets with 2 sets with narrow grip and 2 sets wider grip. Triceps pushdown i do 3 sets.

Hyok, I so desperately want to try the Ian King's super chest and back and the leg program. However, i only workout once in the gym and some of the exercises i can't do at home. I only workout once in the gym and that's on Sunday. My school is just so damn busy. Btw, i am in 3rd year pharmacy school right now. My workout schedule is Sunday, Monday, Wed,Fri Sunday is at the gym and the rest is at home.

I just don’t know how to workout at home without dip machine, lat pulldown, or triceps pushdown machine.
I have a chin up bar at home but i have to put a book underneath for support. In contrast, in the YMCA gym i go to, there’s a gravitron chin up machine where you can adjust the resistance.
For seated row, i use bowflex at home and i can feel the difference when i do the row at home or at the gym.

My sleep has been OK so far… except these couple of weeks when i got cold and even right now. I sleep 8 hours per day. I wish i can sleep more but i just can’t.

I will commit myself to eat brown rice today. The problem is with my roommate. She loves white rice and i just don’t feel like to hurt her feeling because we share 1 rice cooker.
But i eat every 2 and half hours… is this fine?
What other good source of carbs easy to prepare? Rice is definitely easy.
What about macaroni?

Everyone, thank’s again for the wonderful and uplifting advice.

As for Ian King’s program the superstrength for chest and back:
Is it allowable to switch between the triceps and biceps? I mean can you do the chest with shoulder and biceps and back with triceps?

As for the leg exercises, i think the exercises that Ian uses is tough and i can’t fully understand the description.

Can i combine all the programs together? Like the superstrength for chest and back with the great guns?
I am just curious.

Thank’s

Zigma, Ian King does not recommend that you combine his Great Guns workout with his other programs. I have heard of others on this board say that they ignored it and made good gains nevertheless. In my experience, I followed King’s advice and just maintained the other bodyparts.

I devoted one workout to legs, mostly deadlifts and squats, and maybe some calf raises. I limited myself to 12 sets per workout, give or take a couple of sets. I devoted another workout to upper body. Again, limiting myself to the 12 set limit.

There were times when I was only doing 8 sets total for the upper body per week at certain phases. You know what? I did NOT get weaker. In fact, I actually gained five pounds on the bench! I put up 210 for the first time in ages. Not bad for just "maintaining" huh?

Hyok,
I’ve been thinking and planning on Ian King’s super strength for chest and back. However, i have to make specific changes due to my schedule. It goes this way:
SUNDAY(back and triceps as supposed to back and biceps). MONDAY (Leg and abs). TUES,THURS and SAT are off days. WED (Chest, biceps and shoulders). FRI (Leg and abs).

I am not planning the leg exercises since most are complicated and i don’t have more time to go to the gym unless most of the exercises can be done at home. I have a squat rack, barbells, dumbells, a bowflex, and powerblock dumbells.

What do you think about this?

Zigma, that sounds like a good plan. Ian recommends using the first week to get a good feel for the exercises and what weights you can do for each exercise. The workout should leave you feeling refreshed. Then the second week should be a bit harder. About 80% perceived effort is a good guideline. Then in the third week, go balls to the wall. Then go to the next phase and start over. I would keep a good training log so that you can dial in the poundages that you lift from week to week.IF you ever feel the need to do more sets than the program outlines, think about this. You have made little to no gains for a year and a half–exact same gains as if you did NOT work out. I hate to quote Ian King over and over (but he’s got some good one liners), but don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

I will commit to do what is right this time. I will keep posting.

How much cardio should i do though?

I’ve been at 29" but i was so skinny at that time but actually it felt good that i could feel my abs. Now, it just seems to get bigger anyway.
What nutrition program if any goes with Ian’s program?

What nutrition program do you use? How many cals/day?

I don’t know what’s going on with my body and that’s why i keep changing the amount i eat. If i eat with this much calories and within 2 to 4 days my abs are getting bigger then i switch to something else. I just don’t like having enlarged abs. My pants are getting small for my tummy now. BAD!

Help!

Geez…just do it already!