T Nation

Haven't Ever Made Much Progress


Hi All

I thought I would put my question on a forum because I have been training for a number of years on and off. I have never really made a decent amount of progress and I would like to correct what I have been doing.

I am currently in my early 20's and have been doing various forms of weight training for a while but often through various reasons I haven't kept it up for a long period. I have a stressful job so I find it hard to fit in workouts during the week.

I have tried a number of workout programs but find that I often get stuck and then my motvation wanes. I have tried things like stronglifts etc.

I have two goals. One I would like to add some muscle and two I would like to be able to see some abs.

My current routine is I am doing 5x5 chest and back one day followed by legs and shoulders the next.

Incline Bench
Deadlifts (I change and do rows on alternate days instead)

One type of Squat (front or back depends)
Press (Sitting Down or Overhead Press)

I then do other supplement exercises like tricep extensions and curls)

I find it hard to put on weight and would say that I have a kind of skinny fat look to myself. Most of my bodyfat is situated on my body (chest and stomach). My arms and legs actually look okay.

I think a big area is that I never know what to eat. Also because I am busy and im not great at cooking it takes me a long time to make things. I really just need food with minimal prep and maximum eating time.

I need some structure and was wondering if somebody could help.


Make the gym a priority and you'll see progress.

There is a limit to the results you can see with only doing workouts one or twice a week, especially if you haven't built a base yet and especially if you put in breaks every now and then.


First, be consistent. This is the most crucial factor to making long term, sustained progress. You've got to make time to get to the gym if you want to see results.

Second, get on a proven program. It will be much, much better than what you're currently doing. Check out the Madcow Intermediate program or 5/3/1. The 5/3/1 program has the added benefit of being incredibly flexible, so that may be a better plan for you.

Third, as far as diet, it really isn't as complicated or difficult as many make it out to be. I like to use Jim Wendler's diet template because it makes it about as easy as it can be:

At every meal, eat the following, (in this order of importance):
1- A large serving of meat or eggs
2- A serving of vegetables or a piece of fruit
3- Some good carbs if you are still hungry

Eat 3-4 meals a day, or you can eat 3 meals and a protein shake


Okay thanks the good thing is I can do most exercises with reasonably good form, the bad things is that I wouldn't call myself an intermediate. Im not very strong but then equally im not and will never be a big guy. I have small wrists and ankles etc. Im pretty good with lower body exercises but have no upper body strength.

Should I still do the Madcow intermedate as I don't feel I am good enough to do that.

With the diet stuff, is there any thing more specific that I can find. Set meals the I can learn to cook and just alternate on a few days basis.


I have small ankle and wrists too. I suggest you stop making excuses, if you want to be big, get big.

If you can perform the lifts properly, then you can do the program. There's not certain lifts you must have to do the program.

Go get a cookbook or ask your mom how to cook or something. It's not that hard


follow 5/3/1 religiously for a year, report back


I'm a newbie with years of lifting too. It comes down to following a routine for a good length of time - 12 weeks or more as has been said. It also comes down to nutrition. Start recording everything (and I mean everything) you eat each day for a week or two. You might be surprised where your macros are and proper nutrition is at least half the battle. You said you want bs, they are found in the kitchen not the gym

What sort of level are you at for the big kits - squat, deadlift, bench, OHP?


Consistency and proper nutrition are the ONLY ways to make progress. Sure, training has an effect, but without the other two things mentioned, you are just spinning your wheels.


If you tell yourself this and believe it, you've already lost. I'll let you in on a little secret here: 99% of the people on this site told themselves shit like this once upon a time too. We all believed we were hardgainers and screwed for life in terms of building muscle. But obviously this wasn't the truth. Changing your thinking is the first step. Instead of saying "I'll never get big", try "I will get big, I just haven't quite figured it out yet, but I will."

Small joints aren't necessarily a bad thing. While you won't be on WSM anytime soon, small joints are certainly good at creating the illusion of being bigger than you are.