T Nation

Failed Bulk: Please Help

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
To clarify my initial question of activity level-

What do you do all day?

It doesn’t have to be a specific answer, just a general categorization of your daily activity level.

ex.- Office work= sedentary

Technical work = moderate

Heavy labor = high

This is very important to consider when you aren’t getting the results you want.
Working out for an hour or less once a day a few times a week is not going to cut it, especialy when the other 23 are spent in a relatively sedentary state.

The flipside would be that if you have a very high activity level, you could easily overtrain or just become chronicaly exhausted with the lifting regiment of someone of a different activity level.

Prof. X is also correct in his recomendation of increasing frequency. There is the very important matter of training age and actual age when it comes to determining frequency, intensity, and the weekly total volume that you are going to put out.

When you are younger, both chronologicaly and training wise, you can tolerate a much higher volume and intensity(relative to your ability).

Most of the programs that you will find on here designed to illicit a training effect in a veteran lifter will be lacking in volume and frequency for a relatively new trainee.
[/quote]

Oh, sorry I misunderstood you question. I’m a grad student. So, most of what I do is sitting at a computer and typing or reading. However, I do have a short attention span and I like to get up once every 20 or 30 min and walk around and talk to people.

I’m known as the guy who walks laps around the building! When I’m finished working all day, I just watch TV or hang out with friends on weekends. Gosh, I sound lazy when I say that but those activities are in addition to all the working out I do.

Regarding age: My chronological age is 27.
Training age is a bit more complicated. For about 2 years I trained but I was completely clueless. I didn’t do any reading at all. I would just pick up some dumbells and do whatever exercises I felt like doing.

I did much more arm exercises than anything else. I did accumulate some definition but I really didn’t know what I was doing. I started training seriously last May when I found this site and started Berardi’s Scrawny to Brawny program. So with that long answer, I’m not really sure what my training age is!

Thanks for all your help! I appreciate it.

[quote]kroby wrote:
I would not characterize your situation as a failed bulk. You didn’t gain 22 pounds of LBM. You gained connective tissue, nerve tissue, circulatory tissue, adipose tissue (which you were severely lacking) and muscle.

What kind of rest are you getting?
[/quote]

If anything I may be getting too much rest. I usually get 8 1/2 or 9 hours of sleep. (11 to 7:30ish).

This might sound dumb but what’s adipose tissue?

It’s nice to at least here knowledgable guys here say that my bulk wasn’t a complete failure and I’m not really fat. I was feeling as though I went from 6 to around 22 %bf after looking at my midsection unflexed. I still want to do much better obviously though.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
If I do a slow bulk (0.5 lbs. week), will I really notice a difference?

For example, after 2 months, that would be only 4 pounds of muscle added? In contrast, if I took about 2 months to shed the fat, I could look lean and fit (though still really small) and feel better about myself and then redo bulking aiming for about 2 pounds a month.

[/quote]

Why 2 months? Is that when you’ll finish your lifting career? What if you gained .5lb per week for a whole year or even two years? 26lbs of LBM will make a difference. If you could put on 50lbs in a couple of years you wouldn’t even recognize yourself.

Don’t set such a short timeframe for yourself. If you diet back down to 6% right now, you’ll be right back where you started. I still say bulk. I’m not trying to be harsh, but you don’t have much to cut. Just figure out your calories. Don’t overdo it like you did the first time. Get in the gym as often as you can and train hard.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
If anything I may be getting too much rest. I usually get 8 1/2 or 9 hours of sleep. (11 to 7:30ish).
[/quote]
Don’t worry, that’s not too much sleep, you are doing your recovery a big favor by getting 8+ hours.

Fat.

[quote]Modi wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
If I do a slow bulk (0.5 lbs. week), will I really notice a difference?

For example, after 2 months, that would be only 4 pounds of muscle added? In contrast, if I took about 2 months to shed the fat, I could look lean and fit (though still really small) and feel better about myself and then redo bulking aiming for about 2 pounds a month.

Why 2 months? Is that when you’ll finish your lifting career? What if you gained .5lb per week for a whole year or even two years? 26lbs of LBM will make a difference. If you could put on 50lbs in a couple of years you wouldn’t even recognize yourself.

Don’t set such a short timeframe for yourself. If you diet back down to 6% right now, you’ll be right back where you started. I still say bulk. I’m not trying to be harsh, but you don’t have much to cut. Just figure out your calories. Don’t overdo it like you did the first time. Get in the gym as often as you can and train hard. [/quote]

I picked 2 months because I don’t like how I look now and was hoping that could change quicker than taking a full year or so. I know I’ll stay at it for a long time (I plan to keep exercise as part of my life) but I was hoping to look better sooner. Maybe I’m just being impatient, though. I guess when I look at my midsection unflexed I feel like I have a lot to cut, but I know the rest of my body still doesn’t have much fat at all to cut.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I would never start a newbie out on a 3 day a week training schedule. You aren’t training frequently enough and I doubt your intensity. I think most beginners need to be lifting 4-5 days a week with 5 being better.[/quote]

I completely disagree with this advice. Bonn1997 is definitely an ectomorph and ectomorphs tend do do better on reduced training frequency. You don’t grow in the gym, you grow on the days you are away from the gym and ectomorphs need to have more days out of the gym due to their already compromised ability to gain weight. I suspect the training program Bonn1997 is following is the problem. Give a detailed list of your training program and then we can help you tweek it to get better results.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
I play basketball twice a week (about 45 min each) and life three times a week (about 50 min each). I’m pretty active, although I could see why you’d think I wasn’t based on the mid section.

I would never start a newbie out on a 3 day a week training schedule. You aren’t training frequently enough and I doubt your intensity. It isn’t a surprise that you aren’t growing into Mr. O proportions very fast.

I think most beginners need to be lifting 4-5 days a week with 5 being better. I also think you need to decide whether you want to be a basketball player, or whether you want to make the most progress.[/quote]

Sound advice. Learn from your mistakes. I’ll give you one peice of advice. Go to dragondoor.com and buy “Beyond Bodybuilding” by Pavel. Its an awesome book and it contains many routines, some of which are along the lines of what professor x suggested. Read and get to work. If you cant succees having read that book, buy a fishing rod instead! Joking aside, its a very good book

[quote]tekteach wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I would never start a newbie out on a 3 day a week training schedule. You aren’t training frequently enough and I doubt your intensity. I think most beginners need to be lifting 4-5 days a week with 5 being better.

I completely disagree with this advice. Bonn1997 is definitely an ectomorph and ectomorphs tend do do better on reduced training frequency. You don’t grow in the gym, you grow on the days you are away from the gym and ectomorphs need to have more days out of the gym due to their already compromised ability to gain weight. I suspect the training program Bonn1997 is following is the problem. Give a detailed list of your training program and then we can help you tweek it to get better results.
[/quote]
Well here’s an example from when I was in phase II of scrawny to brawny.

Monday Evening: intramural basketball (1 hr); this is an off day when the intramural season is over.
Tuesday Eve: 5x5 deadlift, 5x5 dips, 2 sets of cable rows, core work
Wednesday: Off day
Thursday: 5x5 front squat, 5x5 incline bench press, 2 sets of bulgarian split squat, 2 sets of one arm rows
Friday: Off day
Saturday: 5x5 chinups, 5x5 Hang clean & press, 2 sets of cable pull throughs
Sunday Morning: Basketball (45 min)

[quote]tekteach wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I would never start a newbie out on a 3 day a week training schedule. You aren’t training frequently enough and I doubt your intensity. I think most beginners need to be lifting 4-5 days a week with 5 being better.

I completely disagree with this advice. Bonn1997 is definitely an ectomorph and ectomorphs tend do do better on reduced training frequency. You don’t grow in the gym, you grow on the days you are away from the gym and ectomorphs need to have more days out of the gym due to their already compromised ability to gain weight. I suspect the training program Bonn1997 is following is the problem. Give a detailed list of your training program and then we can help you tweek it to get better results.

[/quote]

I think most of those labels as far as ecto, meso, and endo need to be tossed out of the window. I was a skinny kid. Anyone looking at me would have labeled me an “ectomorph”. I know no one would label me as that right now. What changed? My body responded very well and fast to training and an increased amount of calories…meaning that initial belief of what category I fit into is useless and incorrect.

That means to look at someone and instantly judge how their body WILL respond based on how they look untrained or as beginners is a mistake.

Flex Wheeler was one skinny kid also. Would you label him an ectomorph as well? What about Lou Ferrigno?

Those labels MAY have more significance when related to how someone responds to years of training, but they do nothing as a fortune teller before someone puts the time in.

After these replies, I think I’ll do a slow bulk (forget the idea of cutting and then bulking). After reading this article (http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1268956), I think I’ll cut down from 3500 to around 2800 calories and see what happens over the next 2 or 3 weeks. Is that too large a change to do at once or can I drop to 2800 right now? Regarding training frequency, I guess I’ll wait to see what posters’ replies are to the previous poster who said I’m an ectomorph and should not train frequently.

Also, if you are doing a clean, slow bulk, should your waist size change? I ask because I added about 3 1/2 inches to my waist. I kept telling myself that it was just “part of bulking” until I noticed how big the difference was in the pics.

Thanks.

[quote]elliotnewman1 wrote:
Professor X wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
I play basketball twice a week (about 45 min each) and life three times a week (about 50 min each). I’m pretty active, although I could see why you’d think I wasn’t based on the mid section.

I would never start a newbie out on a 3 day a week training schedule. You aren’t training frequently enough and I doubt your intensity. It isn’t a surprise that you aren’t growing into Mr. O proportions very fast.

I think most beginners need to be lifting 4-5 days a week with 5 being better. I also think you need to decide whether you want to be a basketball player, or whether you want to make the most progress.

Sound advice. Learn from your mistakes. I’ll give you one peice of advice. Go to dragondoor.com and buy “Beyond Bodybuilding” by Pavel. Its an awesome book and it contains many routines, some of which are along the lines of what professor x suggested. Read and get to work. If you cant succees having read that book, buy a fishing rod instead! Joking aside, its a very good book

[/quote]
Thanks; I feel like an idiot for adding this much fat without realizing what I was doing until I looked at my before and after pics. I like your 2nd sentence, though. Life is about learning from your mistakes and I shouldn’t be too harsh on myself. I did try hard. I’ll definitely look into that book and website.

I appreciate all these replies! They’re really helpful. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a new set of pics in 6 months showing what great progress I made. I know I’ll put the effort in at least and hopefully the results will follow.

I always thought I was an ectomorph but I’m less sure now. I thought the classic ectomorph couldn’t get weight (muscle or fat) no matter what he did. He could eat a million calories and would be stuck where he was. I seem to be able to add a lot of weight while exercising. It just wasn’t nearly as much muscle as I had hoped for.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
After these replies, I think I’ll do a slow bulk (forget the idea of cutting and then bulking). After reading this article (http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1268956), I think I’ll cut down from 3500 to around 2800 calories and see what happens over the next 2 or 3 weeks. Is that too large a change to do at once or can I drop to 2800 right now? Regarding training frequency, I guess I’ll wait to see what posters’ replies are to the previous poster who said I’m an ectomorph and should not train frequently.

Also, if you are doing a clean, slow bulk, should your waist size change? I ask because I added about 3 1/2 inches to my waist. I kept telling myself that it was just “part of bulking” until I noticed how big the difference was in the pics.

Thanks.[/quote]

You were extramely thin before. Yes, your waist size is going to increase unless you simply want to continue being able to fit between those gratings in the fences surrounding school yards. If you think you will gain a significant amount of size and never have your waist increase from where it was in your previous state, you are probably simply foolling yourself. The goal, however, is not a trip to obesity so monitor your progress.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I was a skinny kid. Anyone looking at me would have labeled me an “ectomorph”. I know no one would label me as that right now.[/quote]

You are absolutely right but we are not looking at a skinny kid. we are looking at a skinny 27 year old man, so he is a true ectomorph. Bonn1997’s latest post explains why he didn’t grow. He is not doing enough volume per bodypart/per workout to grow and he is doing whole body workouts. Whole body workouts really tax an ectomorph’s ability to recover and a bodypart split with higher volume is the way to go; not more training days.

[quote]tekteach wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I was a skinny kid. Anyone looking at me would have labeled me an “ectomorph”. I know no one would label me as that right now.

You are absolutely right but we are not looking at a skinny kid. we are looking at a skinny 27 year old man, so he is a true ectomorph. Bonn1997’s latest post explains why he didn’t grow. He is not doing enough volume per bodypart/per workout to grow and he is doing whole body workouts. Whole body workouts really tax an ectomorph’s ability to recover and a bodypart split with higher volume is the way to go; not more training days.

[/quote]

When I write “kid”, I meant 18-19 year old . I doesn’t matter whether he is 19 or 29 if he is still UNTRAINED which was the point being made, not the age. Also, if he gains weight that easily on only 3,000cals, what are you basing ecto status on?

[quote]tekteach wrote:
He is not doing enough volume per bodypart/per workout to grow and he is doing whole body workouts. Whole body workouts really tax an ectomorph’s ability to recover and a bodypart split with higher volume is the way to go; not more training days.

[/quote]
Not to complicate a simple issue, but…
I would agree with the lack of volume, but what you have to take in to consideration with regaurd to intensity is that the “total body” routine can be a body pert split that taxes individual perts metabolicaly, or the entire body with emphasis on the neurological system.

A total body using clean and press, deads, squats, and other complex movements will be very intense, and the intensity has to be compensated for by a reduction in volume, either by reducing the weight a great deal, thus shifting it to more of a metabolic type of workout, or by reducing the total reps performed, leaving it in the realm of a more neuro-based workout.

A body part split that hits all of the body parts without using the more complex multi-joint movements is going to be more metabolic than anything else.
They don’t take near as much time to recover from.

I would recomend a high volume body part/ training day split that hits the whole body over the course of the week.

In ther words, a classic metabolic based body building split.

Also, at some point it should be considered that anything other than a body part specialization program is going to hit the whole body over a given period of time, whether it is from workout to workout, or week to week.
The whole tbt/split thing has long since become ridiculous.

Like many have said in more word bro TIME hard work is what you need, consistancy and patients. Eat a solid diet no drastic changes due to thinking your fat you were sickly thin. Eat top perfomr slowly add weight and kick your own ass in the gym for a few years adjusting intake as needed and see what happens.

Phill

[quote]tekteach wrote:

You are absolutely right but we are not looking at a skinny kid. we are looking at a skinny 27 year old man, so he is a true ectomorph. Bonn1997’s latest post explains why he didn’t grow. He is not doing enough volume per bodypart/per workout to grow and he is doing whole body workouts. Whole body workouts really tax an ectomorph’s ability to recover and a bodypart split with higher volume is the way to go; not more training days.

[/quote]

You have to be kidding. Just because someone is skinny for a while doesn’t mean squat. Look at the pics, not the words, its obvious he can put on some good weight.

But anyways, to the op, you look alot better in the after pics. Yeah, you got a thicker waist, but you can also notice your forarms and traps have had some noticeable increases. Your really only 135? Looks heavier.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much, I think Modi touched on it, is the time frame here. We’re only talking less than 5 months. That’s not a very long time to be chasing gains. Also imho cutting 700 calories a day is too steep. You didn’t get real fat, but you may do well to drop a coupla few hundred a day.

On a side note I agree with Professor X on the label issue. Endo, ecto, meso, hardgainer etc has done much more harm to many more people than good over the years and we wouldn’t be losing anything meaningful if they were never spoken again.

Honest self evaluation works just fine without the boneheaded formularized labels. They inject preconceived content into the picture that isn’t helpful.

[quote]Houshin Akai wrote:
Your really only 135? Looks heavier.[/quote]
Two things: a) I’m only 5’4 1/2" (I round up to 5’5" because it sounds better!); b) I think I unfortunately have a naturally narrow skeletal frame, particularly around my shoulders, so that my weight is contained within in a smaller space (if that makes sense?).