Hard gainer wants to make more progress

I have been training for approximately 3 years. While I have made gains, they seem to be disproportionately small given the amount of work that I do. I have become aware of the concept of “overtraining,” which I believe that I was doing for some time. About 6 months ago I started attenuated workouts. (5x5’s: 5 sets of 5 reps each for each of 4 exercises per muscle group with a 3 day split-on/off/on/off/on/off/off). This has seemed to help, but I am still not getting great growth in size or strength. I cannot get my bench over 185lbs.x 4reps, no matter how many sets or what I do. On the other hand my prone flys are up to 70lbs.x 5 reps.x 5 sets (incl. one warmup). Also, I cannot seem to get my shoulders to widen. A typical shoulder work out is 5x5x4exercises: 1. barbell or dumbbell press; 2. lateral raises; 3. upright rows; 4. standing front raises with db or bb (& sometimes on incline bench). What can I do to make progress more rapidly and consistently? I’m doing something wrong. By the way, I am 6’2"; 190; 56 years old. Thanks.

I was stuck at the same bench weight for the longest time, until I got a home bench to supplement my gym workout. I’d keep doing my standard 8x3 sets at the gym for bench, but when I’d get home ever night, I’d either do a 3 rep max weight or 15 reps on a lighter weight for 3 sets. My bench went up 20 pounds in about a month of doing this. The key is to constantly change it up, if your in a routine, then break the routine by adding alot of pushup, incline, higher weight lower reps, really low weight and massive reps. Keep us updated on your progress.

Dollars to donuts the problem lies in your eating habits. What’s your diet like? The more precise you can be the better.

Also, it is imperative that you work your back. Everyone I’ve talked to that is stuck in a rut (and is eating adequately) usually has a horrible back routine, or none at all. Ian King has a terrific back/chest program that I recommend you check out if you haven’t.

Do a search for “Dawg School: The Bodybuilder’s Hierarchy of Needs.” I recommend this because I noticed that you didn’t even bother to mention two components (diet and lifestyle) of the bodybuilding/powerlifting lifestyle that should be considered BEFORE training. Ignore these, and you can lift until you’re blue in the face, but you won’t make any progress. Also, on a side note, why in the world are you doing twenty sets for delts (or twenty sets for any bodypart, for that matter)? Many trainers can abstain completely from training delts and still have boulder shoulders because the delts are the most overused joint in the weight room. You didn’t mention your overall training split (pairings), nor how many sets you are doing for other muscle groups. I would recommend the “Ian King Cheat Series” to see how your current plan compares to what he recommends. Basically, I’m just shooting from the hip, but I’d say that you’re overtraining.

For a beginner you are still over training!!! Most 5x5 routines have you do only one exercise per body part! If you can not add one rep to each exercise you do in the next workout you are over training!!! It is that simple.
Best of Luck.

20 sets per muscle group seems like a huge amount of work. Especially at your age. Ian King said somewhere that he’d like people to be doing 10-12 work sets every workout. Granted he wants you to do some very thorough warm-ups. 20 sets seems to be a bit of an overkill. I’d ease up on the volume and see how that works for a couple months.

I agree with Zev. The answer lies in your diet.

I believe you’re body is craving training frequency. Cut your volume about 75% and traing your whole body for a while. If you stop viewing your body as a collection of parts and start viewing it as a synergisitc machine, you’ll pobably start growing again. Widening your shoulders? If you are young and still growing, which at 52 I am guessing your growth plates are slammed shut, there is no weight room activity that’ll help, beyond adding muscle to them but then only by a little. Have fun again. teach yourself new exercises. do you deadlift?, power clean? chin? handstand push-up? power snatch? overhead squat? overhead lunge? one arm barbell shoulder press? side or bent press? hanging leg raise? Want progress? earn it.

There is no such thing as a hard gainer. I know b/c I used to think I was one. If you are lifting hard and heavy, then the problem lies with your diet. there are two rules to to follow in diet if you think you are a hard gainer.

  1. Eat more (basically always be eating every 2 hours, lots of protein too) if your friends aren’t complaining about you always needing to eat again, and about how bad your farts are (protein farts are toxic at best) then you are getting enough food frequently enough, nor enough protein

  2. if you are still not gaining weight, refer back to rule #1…eat more

eventually you will by default gain weight. you have to. it just takes discipline.