T Nation

Hard Work Not Paying Off?


What's up everyone. Do/did a lot of reading and searching here, simply awesome and incredible info. I've been reading and reading about stuff relating to me, and "seem" to be doing most of the things ok, but just not seeing any gains.

Some background info about me.. Haven't been real active till 18 and have always been on the chubby side (ectomorph). Lifted weights half ass for year and a half then, and quit. I'm 23 now. Got into motorcycle accident last January and I basically just slept through for 7 months and several surgeries on the wrist. End result = skinny fat ffb with no muscle. It finally pushed me enough into a fit and healthy lifestyle - I went mostly raw-food and took up running (as half ass as I could) and by last december went down to 155 (no 6 pac though) (I'm 6'1), but no muscle. Then I started lifting weights and eating more, but ate too many calories for my next-to-turtle-speed slow metabolism, and gained a decent amount of fat as well. For the last 3 months I've been eating a lot more careful and been "trying" to shed fat, however for the amount of hard work I'm putting into it, I just don't seem to be making poop for progress.

I am ~189 now, 6'1, probably 18-19% bf. When started working out, I did squats, deads, bench, etc. (no pullups though, too weak!). Strength has gone up some (although not much the last 2 months since I've been restricting my calories to try and cut). If I eat more - I get fat. Quick. Quicker than I noticed gaining 25lb in just a couple of months. I don't eat crap guys - I went on a health trip last year and stopped junk food, sodas, and any sort of crap. I love my fruits and veggies, although fruit has been cut out some to try and lower carbs. I eat steak, chicken (lots of it), tuna, PB, milk. I don't calorie count yet (too much stuff going, not home enough, but will be able to in a month or so) but I try to get a good chunk of meat, healthy fats, and quality carbs. I also consume plenty of fish oil and drink only water and fat free milk (not too much of it)

I bust ass at the gym, used to be 3x a week, now 4. So far no solid routine - but that's because I'm trying to just get out of this pussified state to start and normal bulk (not 4:1 fat to muscle ratio). I've been trying to run a mile or so 5 days a week in the morning just for conditioning and to prevent fat gain/stimulate loss, but just don't see progress, or see very very little of it.

Some things that may or may not be reason to hinder growth?
stress, seem to have a decent amount of it, and even more from all this hard work trying to look better doing nothing
fruit? Up to week and a half ago, I ate a LOT of fruit. bananas, fresh orange juices, apple juices, pineapples, etc. lots of fruit. Although from what I understood fructose doesn't get stored into fat cells due to the whole insulin release thing?
wrist injury - Am I somehow psychologically preventing growth because I'm thinking about the wrist too much? but can you really do something like that just by thinking about it??

In a month or so I'll be able to normally start counting calories, but because I've wasted so much time already, I don't want to put off asking for help any longer. I mean as long as you're eating a decent amount of meat and hitting gym Something's gotta improve right? if you're under maint - lose fat, over maint - bulk up, maint - slowly improve overall condition ?? but I don't see much change in either direction.

My metabolism has gotten better from the whole raw food thing, and I try to eat every 3 hours.

Is it as simple as just needing to be 100% accurate on everything? Absolutely clean diet, on-the-clock workouts, etc.? Although everything that I've read suggests that hard work at gym + clean diet = eventually pay off.

Sorry for the long description. I've read all the ffb/skinny fat/newby threads, so would be no point in me asking the exact same thing..

This is a change of a lifestyle for me. I'm sick and tired being in this state and want to improve and start to build up my body already, but just seems impossible to climb onto that first step!

Appreciate all and any help. thank you!


You just sound like you need to get your priorities straight.

If your metabolism is slow and you gain too much fat, try lifting harder. You're probably like alot of the guys I see who wonder why they aren't huge or "cut" or "ripped" or whatever else they say when they only bench press 225. You need to get all your lifts up to respectable weights pronto. A 300 bench, 400 squat and 500 dead is a good goal to shoot for. Your bodyweight overhead is always nice too.

Try working a shit ton HARDER, not necceasirly more. You say you "bust ass" but how about giving us some numbers? If you still can't do a pull up, you haven't been attacking and building your weakness.

Quit overthinking this stuff. Don't worry about eating fruit. No one ever got fat eating too many fruits or vegetables.

Work brutally hard, eat and relax. It really is that simple.


Sorry if nothing in my reply seems to be in any discernible order.

You mention a wrist injury and wonder if thinking about it too much could be holding you back. Yes. The mind is a lot more powerful than we realize.

I'd recommend picking up a copy of "the metabolic typing diet" authored by Wolcott and Fahey. Also, read Charles Poliquin's "The five elements" article on this site.

I know, I know. I'm going to get royally flamed for these two bits of advice. I did it because the amount of effort put forth in the gym or the level of discipline over one's diet is not always the problem. Sometimes WHAT you are doing is the problem, not how hard you are working.

I'm sure you'll get more than enough "you're probably just being a pussy in the gym" and "you're probably not really being strict with your diet, you fucking loser" comments.

You also mention stress. You need to avoid the pissed-off feeling of "Geez, I just wish SOMETHING would fucking work!" It'll eat away at your motivation and pretty soon any little thing will make you pissed off and depressed.

I'll post again if I can think of anything else.


I think we can blame that "relative/functional" strength bullshit for that mentality. I am surprised to realize that many of these guys completely seperate strength from muscle size. They actually believe that you can get big without lifting much weight or that all bodybuilders are weak. That might explain the many who never actually push themselves in the gym and then wonder why they aren't making progress.


There's a lot to your post, and the potential responses could fill volumes. I'll just focus on one small part that others are likely to skip:

"...but because I've wasted so much time already, I don't want to put off asking for help any longer."

Fair enough, but consider this: everything you've tried and learned so far hasn't been wasted. No one steps into the gym on Day One and knows exactly what to do. If you click on the "Over 35 Lifter" forum, you'll find people who didn't start until they were much older. They are making gains; you will, too.

You are starting on a healthy pursuit that should become part of your life. Assuming you have several decades of life left in you, don't get into the mentality that "I must look good by 25 and then work to maintain that look."

This is a LONG-TERM game, and everything you have to deal with will teach you something about how your body responds. You'll either find a good technique, or you'll learn from a dead-end and move on. But it's LONG-TERM, and any progress is a stepping stone to more. The last thing you want to do is get down on yourself over slow progress.


I agree entirely. I never put on any muscle until I started lifting heavy.

And speaking someone who was first skinny/fat, and then just skinny, and has now finally put on some size : You have to calorie count, and you have to eat every 3 hours, and you have to watch what you eat. Nothing wrong with fruit, but milk has one of the highest GI's around. And you might not even be able to metabolise it. Stick with yoghurt.

Have you read about Dr Berardi's Massive eating, the 7 habits etc? The man's a genius.
One more thing - I suspect that the morning runs might not really be that helpful. The only difference between fasted and non-fasted cardio is that the former is more catabolic.


The Romans did! (kidding)

OP: I feel for you buddy, I was and am in a similar position to you since starting to lift weights and eating religiously.

I simply bit the bullet and have been putting on some visible chub to become stronger as I'm more concerned with the latter than the former, so I'm curious as to what people's responses will be too.


I simply bit the bullet and have been putting on some visible chub to become stronger as I'm more concerned with the latter than the former, so I'm curious as to what people's responses will be too. [/quote]

That's the stuff. If you're eating and training to bulk, or for strength, and doing it properly, you're going to get 'bulky'. If you don't put some size on your belly as well as your biceps, you're not in an optimal anabolic environment. There seems to be too much emphasis on six-packs as the be-all-and-end-all in men's physical development. In this country at least. Curse you, Men's Health!


You said several times you've been half assing it and not following a real routine. Fix that and keep eating clean and your problem should be solved


Pick a plan, and stick to it. There is a ton of info here, but try to avoid the kid in a candy store move of trying everything once for a couple of weeks. Think months. Several months at the minimum.

Pendulum training comes to mind.


I would say that is your main problem. Find a program and stick with it. (for a while) There are a ton of great muscle building programs/routines listed on this site and you should be using them. People with incredible muscle building knowledge are carefully creating them. Also quit running. I am a FFB and you will burn enough calories with a solid routine in the gym. Also your cardiovascular capacity will increase as well.



Get your big rocks in the jar first, then worry about, and I amplify to clarify, "I eat 1.25 grams of protein per day broken into 4 meals and a snack with a x:x:x breakdown. I do high intensity for x minutes and wait until my heart rate is exactly 66% of the peak which I maintain for 36 seconds....
To make the body lay down protein it is easiest with a acalorie surplus. Daily, weekly, all during the desire to gain muscualr weight. To cause that to happen, you need to lift a heavier weight than you have been. Heavy compunds, etc. To lose fat, allow the
new lean tissue compnent to nibble at the fat component. You know all this. Do this though. Write down your priamary goal, and direct your energies to it for whatever timeframe you think is sustainable in a way that you know to be best to achieve that goal. If it isn't working after a little time, the liklihod of it ever working is nill. If it is lean tissue gain, remember, even if someone says they gain 10 pounds of total weight of which 8 is lean, that still is 2 ounds of fat. Is that acceptable? Focus on the big rocks. Until then, the micromamgement is wasted effort.


Thanks for the replies. I've read JB's articles, and the stuff on fasted morning cardio, and pretty much read T-Nation at least daily.

Guess I'm on the right track, just have to dial things in, get a more serious routine on, and just be more patient with results.

I will definitely work hard for some good before/after results that would be worth posting.

Thanks again for the advice, it will all be put to good use.


I just want to make sure the part about getting stronger sunk in. Everything else is just gravy.


Man you just love jumping all over the relative/functional strength topic! I like what you said about not ALL bodybuilders are weak, certainly Ronnie is no "peanut", but his counter part Cutler can't even touch Ronnie's weights. I would say for his size he IS weak. It's guys like him that are in the media all the time that make people think that all bodybuilders are just inflated steriods, and thus weak and unfunctional.


Definitely. I've been mostly in the 8-12 ranges just trying to improve overall, wanting to save the low reps for once I get out of this state, but I guess I need to be doing the low reps to get out of it in the first place.

Going to start the ABBH routine and also try to follow the "100 reps to success" to increase recovery, since it seems like its a problem as well.

Thanks again.


Cutler can deadlift 2000lbs and crush boulders like grapes, you heathen. He also has the power to control the weather.