T Nation

Had Enough of Being Small


Hey guys. I have been training on and off with weights for a few years now.
I have been doing weights for two months now, I am getting stronger but not
bigger. I have been supersetting and doing a split routine 6 days a week.
Saying that I haven't done weights in a week and a half, running and
hill walking instead, due to loss of confidence in it. I don't seem to be making much progress.

Starting to lose confidence that I can actually get big. I always work hard when I train, so I can't understand why it is never working to the degree that I want it to. I would
say I am an above average fit guy, I know how to work hard in the gym but I just
can't get bigger.

So basically I need help, If someone successful in getting big by just ingesting
natural stuff into them could help me with a training program and nutrition guide
I would really appreciate it. I will follow it to the T and give 100% to the program.

I also need to stay a decent runner and I need to be able to carry up to 100lbs on a back
over mountainous terrain. They are both a requirement. I find it hard to combine getting
big with those two requirements.

I really appreciate the help guys. I look forward to reading the information I get back.

Thank you.



Sam my man,

There could be several reasons for this. Your training, which is important no doubt, is probably NOT your biggest cause for not growing. Most likely it has to do with your diet and your recovery stages.

Keep in mind, if you workout for 90 minutes, and sleep 8 hours, you really only spend 5%-7% of your day in the gym. That should tell you that what you do outside the gym has EXTREME effect on how you build muscle. Enter diet....

WEDYEY? What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

Basically, if you are serious about this whole thing, of gaining muscles, you have to be serious about all aspects of it. Training is great, but it's only 1 part out 3 that yield muscle gains. You have been focusing on this 1 part, but neglecting the other 2, well guess what, you're going to lose confidence because the results you see are going to be minimal and shitty. I definitely don't blame you for losing confidence. Now is the time to do something about it.

So... what should you do? Well, there is almost no doubt in my mind you are going to want to optimize your training routine as well, but you really need to:
1) figure out how many calories you need daily, just to maintain your current body-weight. - Take your body-weight in lbs, multiply it by 10, then multiply it by 1.3 - 2.2 depending on your activity levels... so most likely around 1.6.

2) You need to add 300-500 calories to that amount, so you can be in a caloric surplus. Being in a caloric surplus is the ONLY WAY to gain muscle... no matter how many exercises you do in the gym, if you aren't in a surplus, it is SCIENTIFICALLY impossible to gain weight.

3) You need to figure out how much you eat on a daily basis... Lets assume you need 3000 calories to be in a surplus, and you only eat enough food that amount to 2500 calories every, single day, what do you think will happen? Will you see your body grow...? No.
- Figuring out how many calories you eat on daily basis sounds a lot harder than what it is. It does require for you to read a little bit so you can learn how to do it, but it's extremely useful. Think about it, you can use science to make your body grow, why wouldn't you? It's proven to work.

In conclusion, if you don't feel like doing any of those "food related" things, you could just eat as much as you possibly can. That still doesn't guarantee that you eat enough, but if I can make an assumption, whatever you're eating right now, is not enough... otherwise you would be bigger, get it?

So, if you want further help, you need to list two things: How you train, specifically, what routine you use and how many sets/reps, and you need to list what a usual day of eating looks like.... In case it wasn't obvious, the more honest you are, the better. Remember, this is a science...so if you fuck up the numbers, you will not achieve the results you want.. But if you do everything accordingly to plan, you WILL have the body/aesthetics you are looking for.


A great place to start would be here for a proper routine: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/do_this_routine_instead_of_that_dumb_one

Diet is going to be a large factor in what happens inside and outside the gym. Claudan gave you a good place to start from, also the search feature of this site can help find lots of threads and articles on nutrition.


Hey Sam,

Claudan had an amazing post. I hope you read and re-read what he wrote. Doing what he suggests WILL produce results. He's right.

"Lift for strength; eat for size" is accurate.

As said above, think about it like three legs to a stool. 1) Lifting/Training 2) Nutrition and 3) Rest/Recovery. If you are missing or deficient in any of those three, that could explain your lack of gains. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. People here are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. If you are honest and dedicated, with the advice from this site you WILL get results.

'Course YOU will have to put in the effort. Sooo... WEDYEY???


+1. Maybe if enough people say 'WEDYEY' in this thread, we will summon the master himself. Watchya think?


Eating is one important aspect. But there's another reason (hold on tight):

bodypart splits do not work for skinny newbs.

Write that down and remember it for the next two years or so. I can speak about it with confidence because I used to be like you. What DOES work is three full-body workouts a weeks, with a few compounds performed in the 5-10 rep range. I'll post a few I like:



The ONLY thing that matters for the next year is to get stronger on squats, deadlifts, bench Presses, shoulder Presses, chin Ups and rows. The more weight you can lift with good form while eating enough to see a slighter higher number on the scale every 7-14 days, the bigger you will be.

This doesn't look exciting and it means you have to be patient. Seriously though: if you want entertainment, read a book or watch a movie. The gym is there to get results.


I found this which you might use:

Why does a muscle grow? Because it has to adapt. When does it have to adapt? When you expose it to something that it has not done before. When is something that it has not done before? When the muscle is taxed 100%.

Whatâ??s 100% effort? When you train to 100% PHYSICAL, not mental failure. So, to make the muscle grow, you have to train with 100% effort otherwise, the muscle will not adapt/grow.

So, a 100% effort set of an exercise, will make you grow. Then, what is the point to do a second set of that exercise? You cannot go more than 100%. The muscle already has been taxed by 100% from the first set, so why should you do a second one? You will just eat into your recovery ability.

So, you should only do one set to failure per exercise. Muscle will not grow until itâ??s recovered. The muscle will not begin to recover until the nervous system is recovered. It takes roughly 24hours for the nervous system to recover from a workout. Only then will the muscle begin to recover and grow. So, you should never train 2 days in a row. Even if you train different body parts, you still use the same nervous system. You train 2 days in a row, your nervous system recovers, but by the time the muscles begin to, you train again, so the body has to concentrate again on recovering the nervous system.

A training frequency of 3 days per week (Mon, Wed, Fri) is more than enough. Even if you use steroids, you still have to train like this. Steroids increase your recovery ability, but they also make you stronger at a quicker rate. The extra strength will give you the ability to train harder/tear more muscle tissue, so you will need the extra recovery that the steroids will give you.






Thanks for the replies everyone. I think a big part of my problem must be to do with eating enough. I eat around
three meals a day at the moment. Some weeks I eat really well. However then I go away to a different location
and I am cut off from the outside world. I need to invest in some supplements.

I will have a look at the links and try to evaluate what everyone is sending me x.


Is it best to run or do cv work before or after training? Or even keep them completely separate as in days off weights?


The more running you do, the more eating you're going to have to do. The two are correlated.


bodypart splits dont work for newbs............ yer umm okay.


You don't need supplements. You need FOOD. oatmeal, milk, meat, rice, eggs. Veggies and fruit on top of it.


He means full body workouts are SUPERIOR for [most] beginners as opposed to body-part splits. Full body workouts allow you to expose yourself to the basic 6 (or so) compound exercises more often, allowing you to get stronger faster.

Routines like Stronglifts 5 x 5 or Starting Strength allow a beginner to perfect the main compound exercises and get stronger at them at an extremely fast rate, instead of wasting time doing countless sets of isolation movements, when you have yet to understand the basic compound movements. It's like running before you can walk.

I always see beginners doing 3 sets of flat bench presses, then 3 sets of incline bench presses, then 3 sets of flat dumbbell flyes, and they can't even bench half their bodyweight 5 times...

By doing bodypart splits at the beginning, you will see some gains at first, but a beginner will soon see diminishing returns as the weight he can move stays the same.


It doesn't really matter when you do it, I would recommend saving it for the end in order keep the gas tank full during the lift as much as possible. Also, I am excited for you that you want to get bigger, and you will with the advice you get from these posts, but it says that you are in the armed forces.

If your top priority is getting bigger, then you will have to make some sacrifices in other areas that are important for your job. Not to say that you can't do your best to do both, but I just think it might be hard to be successful in both.


Ok, this is just plain wrong and arrogant.


I never got that "all or nothing" full body vs split body fight.


I tried. I tried SL5x5 and was unable to squat 3 times a week at max effort and the mental toll squatting squatting and squatting took on me was so high I had to constantly seek for motivation on the SL5x5 forums.

Why would not a bodysplit with strong emphasis on big moves like bench for chest day, pull up/down, for back day (seriously, pull up were the thing that skyrocketted my strength), squat/dl on leg day, and doing some isolation moves to "finish" the isolated muscles, in an intelligent way, like "ok I m not gonna burn my shoulders the day before I do chest", would not give results.

Experimentation is a good key. I think for guys with hard recovery, working out 2 times a week with 2 full bodys (emphasis on upper, then lower, or pull/push) is probably the best bet. For those who have the lower back and knees the squat 3 times a week, well why not SL5x5.

But why saying "Bodysplit sucks". It sucks if you do your bench at low intensity on chest day, and do a ton of useless isolation behind... Not if you give all your power on increasing the big moves...


The problem is that your neural pathways and your work capacity are weak, especially as a skinny beginner. So you need to PRACTICE the big moves several times a week without killing yourself in the process. For the first few months, you should work on getting your compound lifts up. The best way to do this is to do them frequently, with moderate volume and intensity. Dan John said that you need a 2x BW deadlift, among a few other things, to benefit from splits. I think he has a point. I'm not hating body part splits in general - but I hate to see skinny dudes at my gym perform 10lbs DB flyes for sets of ten, to failure, and expect results from it.