T Nation

Feeling Lost, No Direction


I'm sorry if this comes accross as a bit of a rant, but I feel I've lost sight of what I'm trying to achieve. For 5 years now I've been massively into physique/fitness and I feel like I've tried most things with little success. At first I got into triathlons and more or less burned my body down to a tiny 10 stone (140 lbs) with more or less zero body fat. I manned up a bit and decided I wanted to gain a bit of mass, but within 2 years I was up at 13.5 stone (190 lbs) and although I felt stronger I felt puffy, out of shape and equally dis-satisfied.

Since then I've been playing around with a lot of things and I find myself currently sitting at around 12.5 stone (175 lbs) at around 9-10% BF. I lift weights 3 x a week and I sprint 3 x a week. I just don't feel I know what I'm trying to (or should be trying to) achieve- it feels like 95% of my time I'm on a slight calorific deficit trying to shred up a bit, aiming for something like 11.5-12 stone. I feel athletic but I'm not ripped (don't quite have a sixpack). I feel toned (I know, bad word) but not massively muscular or developed in the gym, and I think that whilst I'd look way better than average shirtless you wouldn't really look at me and know that I work out.

I want to have massive shoulders, I want big arms, I want a thick, wide back. But I want to feel lean, feel my abs and obliques when I run my hand over my tummy, and I want to feel like I'm athletic. More than anything, I just want some kind of direction- I have no idea at this stage if I should be trying to gain weight, trim down, whether I should be focusing on the weights, ditching the cardio... it goes on. Can anyone offer any advice?!


You want two things that are completely opposite of each other. Unless you are a genetic marvel, you are unlikely to build huge amounts of muscle mass while trying to simultaneously get ripped.

And if you are really 9 % BF right now, then you should already be very lean - so analyze your diet, add the calories you need to consistently gain muscle mass, work hard on the basic exercises and increase the weight each session....


You have a couple of options: Either wait for I3Gs impending release (semi-serious since it hopes to tackle exactly your problem)


Try and read about the carbs Chris Shugart eats when he's well enough persuaded- despite his massive aversion to them, he still ranks rice and sweet potatoes/potatoes as the way to go. I would venture to guess that ALWAYS sticking to those carbs exclusively, and oats depending on your tolerance, would keep you about as lean as you sound (no-6pac but 'toned') whilst allowing you to eat enough to bulk.

Just don't get too caught up in calories, eat what you have to get the scale moving and when it stops for awhile, eat more, if you want to avoid even more fat gain try and up the healthy fats through avocado/nuts to make up for less carbs. If your playing sports 3x a week you could struggle with muscle gain but it should just contribute to you being fairly lean, so you should have that side covered.


Thanks for the replies.

I think it's been in the back of my mind for a while- it's not normal or healthy to be aiming to trim down so much of the time when I'm already fairly lean- my issue is probably a lack of muscularity more than anything. So if I turn my attention towards slowly creating a calorific excess in order to build a bit of weight, I'm thinking about going for a standard push/legs/pull/off (repeat) split.

I think the idea of going to the gym, pouring my effort in for the forseeable future only hoping to actually get smaller and probably lose some strength is actually quite depressing. I'm not even lifting anything half decent to be honest- benching I use 26/28kg Dbs each side for 12, OHP we're talking even less and I can barely do 11 chin ups at BW.


Don't worry about the strength levels, they will shoot up when you decide to eat a little more. That split is adequate depending what your goals are, just try and get stronger in lifts for all muscle groups and not to neglect bodyparts if your bodybuilding


I'm so used to judging progress on losses on the scales and maintaining my lifts, it's going to be a hard mentality shift. Should I be judging my progress and reinforcing my motivation based mainly on the progression of my lifts or by the gains on the scales?


Your goal is unrealistic. You must decide what is most important at this time. If you insist on remaining lean, it is unlikely you are going to add much size. If you want to be 'Big' someday, you are going to have to handle carrying extra bodyweight for significant periods of time (18-24 months). You can't be a whore monger and a good husband at the same time. You can be both in a lifetime, but not at the same time!


For the record, this isn't me being argumentative, but I do disagree with this, fundamentally. I think if someone can't make legitimate progress without supplements I don't see why they would with them. This goes double for "super" supplements, too. :stuck_out_tongue:

In my opinion, take it or leave it, use the mirror as your scale. Eat a lot, move a lot. Size is not directly correlated with strength but if you're not getting stronger, then you're not getting bigger - flat out. So what you need to do is,

  • Set a strength goal for all lifts, short-term and long-term. Achieve it. If you don't get it, find what the problem is and fix it.
  • Eat a lot of good foods, and some "bad" foods. "Bad" foods are things like pizza, brats, hamburgers, whatever. Stay away from cookies, candy, etc. unless you're Skiploading or something like that.
  • Lots of movement to make up for increased calories. An easy way to make sure you're not doing too much cardio is keeping check with your strength levels, as posted above. This doesn't have to be ridiculous 30-minute cardio sessions. Go shoot some hoops. Take a walk, go for a hike. Do something.
  • Use the scale as a reference point (if you're not 5 lbs heavier 4 weeks from now, something's wrong, etc;) but rely on the mirror to asses your composition and body fat levels. Take pictures at least once a week.

It's not too difficult. Doing ^ this for 5 years and you could have been a beastly fuck by now. It's never too late, though.


Agreed. No way does he need 400 dollars worth of supps - he just needs to get his goals, diet and training in order, and he needs to do it now. Definitely don't wait for some wonder supplement to be available.




One thing that stands out to me is you training only 3x/week. If you want to gain a lot of mass (turn those calories into muscle), you need to give your body reason to. Training 3x/week will get you so far, but if you want to build more muscle, and get better nutrient partitioning, lift more.

Split up the routine more.

The more you lift, the less cardio you'd have to do (provided your body's not inclined to easy fat storage).

As for no direction; when you start to fill out more and get stronger, you'll feel like you know where you're going. Keep at it for months and don't try to combine fat loss with it


Granted, I could've grabbed any one of around 10 major discrepancies with what you're saying, but this one caught my eye/attention/amusement the most.

Unless you intend to be an IFBB pro, and are at/below average height, and have amazing bodybuilding genetics, you are NOT physically capable of having "massive" shoulders, big arms, a thick, wide back, etc etc, if you're afraid to weigh more than 190 lbs. The end. You've gotta pick your priorities man.


When I first became interested in bodybuilding and was dieting down for my first show, I met Terry Bryant in Cincinnatti. At the time he had a legit 1000 lb squat. I told him I wanted to train at his gym and he told me very matter of factly:
"You've got to decide if you want to impress the guys or the girls."
Unless you're a freak, you're gonna have to ride the perpetual wave of discontent.
Too fat, too small, too fat, too small.....
Welcome to the club. The majority of us here are members.


Hence semi-serious ha. I actually 100% agree that people using I3G without much training/diet experience to actually put it to good use, is just a waste of the goddamn compound since its so rare.

Sounds like this guy just needs to not be afraid to eat shit tons of the good stuff (chicken, lean beef, bit of rice, bit of potato, blah).