T Nation

Help!!! What am I Doing Wrong?


I’ve been lifting on and off for 12 years and steady now for…5 years and well…my physique sucks. I wrestled and walked around at 125 in high school (not the best move I know), I also played soccer and plenty of street hoops. I was never ripped and never had a six pack. So you might understand my frustration.

I was discouraged and at an impasse when I recently stumbled upon Poliquin’s philosophies. So I’m pretty sure I have some serious insulin resistance going on. Long story short, I cut out most carbs, aside from lunch and post workout and stepped up my supplement routine (seemingly to no avail). Here’s what it looks like:

BREAKFAST
STEAK, CHICK., FISH, OR OTHER LEAN MEAT- 8 OZ
ALMONDS OR OTHER NUT- 3.5 OZ
3- fish oil gels
animal pak multi
3- fiber pills

MID MORNING SNACK
WHEY PROTEIN- 2 SCOOPS (48g OF PROTEIN)
3- Universal beef liver pills
3- Fish oil gels

LUNCH
STEAK, CHICK., FISH, OR OTHER LEAN MEAT- 8 OZ
1- MED OR 2- SM. BAKED SWEET POTATOES (NOT CANNED)
SMALL SALAD
or “Chipotle” salad w/ about 1/2 cup of brown rice

PRE-WORKOUT
1 SCOOP OF WHEY PROTEIN (24g OF PROTEIN)
Gaspari Super Pump
Universl Animal Stak

POST-WORKOUT
WHEY PROTEIN- 2 SCOOPS (48g OF PROTEIN)
creatine mono- 5g
glutamine- 10g
fenugreek- 900mg
bcaa mix- 1 scoop
1- MED OR 2- SM. BAKED SWEET POTATOES (NOT CANNED)

DINNER
STEAK, CHICK., FISH, OR OTHER LEAN MEAT- 8 OZ
LARGE SALAD OR OTHER GREEN VEG.

BEDTIME SNACK
CASEIN PROTEIN - 2 SCOOPS (48g OF PROTEIN)
1/2 CUP- GREEK YOGURT, PLAIN
fish oil gels- 3
Universal beef liver pills- 3
Fiber pills- 3

All of this amounts to around 2800 cal., I’m 5’9", 204 lbs, 14% BF (approx.)
I’ve been following this nutritional regiment along with Advanced GVT (from the Poliquin site) for 6 weeks. The strength gains are there, but my weight has stayed the same throughout and I cannot visually see any difference, except for a little more definition in my biceps.

So my goal is, I imagine like most men, to maintain or gain muscle while shedding body fat.
Any pointers you guys can give would be greatly appreciated

  1. Change your picture to something IU related

I’d say that’s higher than 14%, but I’m nitpicking.

Is this your consistent diet? After only 6 weeks what do you expect? Give it 6 months consistently then you will have a better idea.

That said, I’d recommend tracking your weight weekly, along with photos monthly and weekly or bi-weekly circumference measurements.

oh, and increase your veggie intake.

[quote]chobbs wrote:

  1. Change your picture to something IU related[/quote]

Sorry about that whole â??being from Indianaâ?? thing, man. I hope everything works out for you. Go Buckeyes!

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
I’d say that’s higher than 14%, but I’m nitpicking.

Is this your consistent diet? After only 6 weeks what do you expect? Give it 6 months consistently then you will have a better idea.

That said, I’d recommend tracking your weight weekly, along with photos monthly and weekly or bi-weekly circumference measurements.

oh, and increase your veggie intake.[/quote]

Youâ??re probably right about the BF%. The last time I had it done was about a year ago and I looked and weighed the same as I do now, but I imagine the chic who did it was not that proficient. Anyhow, yes, this has been my consistent diet for the past 6 weeks, with a cheat meal or 2 on Saturdays. As a matter of fact, this has pretty much been my diet plan for like two years. Changes I made recently were: replacing my oatmeal (Bobâ??s Red Mill â??5-Grainâ??), sweet potato, and whey protein breakfast with the meat & nut breakfast; completely eliminated bread (because sometimes I would have a sub or other sandwich for lunch as long as it was around 500 cal.) and granola bars from my lunch; and upped my protein intake from 1 to 1.5g per/lbs. of BW. Iâ??d say for about 6 months prior to making these adjustments I was eating around 2200 cal., 1 hour of weight training 5 days a week followed by 15 min. HITT (sprints, burpees, broad jumps), with only post- workout protein, no carbs. I was wondering if maybe I should cut out carbs completely for a couple of weeks. Thoughts?

  1. If you’re in a caloric deficit at all, it’s not by much.

  2. Because of the marginal deficit, a cheat meal absolutely destroys your ability to lose fat. Two is even worse. Let’s say you maintain at 3000 and are getting that 2800. That’s 200kcal/day deficit, or about a 6% cut in calories. If you’re really good, then six days out of the week, you’ve built up a 1200kcal deficit. On Sunday, you cheat. How likely is it that your cheat comes close to or exceeds 1200 calories? I’d say pretty high.

If you want to lose fat, you need to have a greater control over your diet than you currently do. This is clean eating, but it’s not sufficient to lose.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that your intensity, drive, and most importantly, UNDERSTANDING of how to workout and design a program are sub-par. Not trying to be a dick here, BUT, all too often I see people lifting and dieting and they are spinning their wheels. They get their diets (although yours seems decent) and workouts from musclemag or some other meat head publication and they really have no idea of what and why they are doing what they’re doing. If your diet was even close to being on target and you were killing it in the gym with the proper routine, or at least one that has rhyme and reason, then you would not look like that.

Post your workout. And then tell us how many times you have changed or tweaked it and over what time frame. If you have it (and you should) post your lifts from 2-3 months ago and what they were last week.

[quote]Mateus wrote:
I am going to go out on a limb and say that your intensity, drive, and most importantly, UNDERSTANDING of how to workout and design a program are sub-par. Not trying to be a dick here, BUT, all too often I see people lifting and dieting and they are spinning their wheels. They get their diets (although yours seems decent) and workouts from musclemag or some other meat head publication and they really have no idea of what and why they are doing what they’re doing. If your diet was even close to being on target and you were killing it in the gym with the proper routine, or at least one that has rhyme and reason, then you would not look like that.

[/quote]

In short, you couldn’t be further from the truth, if you weren’t, I would not have posted. Listed below is the regiment I followed for the 2 months prior to my current regiment. Prior to this I was performing, once a week per body part, a compound movement, as heavy as possible for 4 sets x 3-5 reps and followed by a 3 to 4 trisets (depending on how I felt) of: a DB compound movement and 2 isolation movements, i.e. DB flat bench- 8 reps, Incline flies 12- reps, cable coss-overs- 15 reps. The 15 minutes of daily HIIT mentioned above have been routine up until I started this GVT program. These links are what I modeled my diet on:

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/333/My_Dietary_and_Supplement_Plan_2010.aspx

Thoughts?

Mon- Chest
Incline BB bench- 4 sets x 6-8 reps@185 lbs
Flat DB bench- 4 sets x 8-10 reps @90 lbs
Tri-set: Incline, Flat, Decline DB flies-
3 sets x 10,10,10 @40lbs

Tue- Legs
Squats- 4 sets x 6-8 reps@225 lbs
Romanian deads- 4 sets x 8-10 reps @145 lbs
Leg extension- 3 sets x 10-12 reps @125 lbs
Leg curls- 3 sets x 10-12 reps @150 lbs

Wed- Cardio
BB Romanian Deads, Power clean, Front squat,
Mill. Press, Lunges- 3 circuits x 6 reps each exercise @115 lbs
exercises done consecutively without rest
90 second rest between circuits followed by daily HIIT.

Thur- Back & Delts
Weighted wide grip Pull-up- 4 sets x 6-8 reps @15 lbs
BB Bent (Yates) row- 4 sets x 8-10 @ 185 lbs
Seated (2 cable) row- heavy as possible 3 sets x 10-12
Straight arm pull down- heavy as possible 3 sets x 10-12

Mill. Press- 4 sets x 6-8 reps@145 lbs
DB Mill. Press 4 sets x 8-10 reps @65 lbs
Side Laterals bent elbows 10-12 repsx 3 sets @30 lbs.

Fri- Arms
BB curls- 4 sets x 6-8 reps @95 lbs
Preacher curl- 4 sets x 8-10 @ 70 lbs
Incline DB curl- 4 sets x 10-12 reps@ 25 lb

Decline close grip bench- 4 sets x 6-8 reps @205
Decline french press- 4 sets x 8-10 @ 90 lbs
2 cable reverse grip tricep push down- 4 sets x 10-12 reps@
as heavy as possible

I personally think you are doing too much. You have an awful lot of pressing in there with not enough pulling. The biggest changes in my physique happened after I started focusing more on back and pulling. I try to get 2:1 on pulling vs pushing. Why would you do BB military and then DB military right after it? A M-F routine is pretty tough on the body, especially at or below maint calories.

The less is more philosophy may work best for you. The other thing to keep in mind is you rep and set scheme. It is very difficult to serve two masters. Train for strength or size. Now, it is possible to achieve the size once you reach certain levels of strength but I venture to say you are not close. You will have to really experiment with you rep ranges and sets.

Hypertrophy is going to happen in the higher rep ranges. 8-12 and even up over 20 on some movements. There is definitely a place for heavy compound movements in the 3-5 range but not on everything, every day, every week. Whst is your trst time between sets? How often do you work into failure reps? Have you had anyone look at your form? MMC ( mind muscle connection) is very important.

You really need to make sure that you are targeting the right muscle and furthermore you feel it working. A properly built 3way split or push/pull may be your best option. You may even take a look at WS4SB 3. And again I go back to intensity. The mind will tell you that you have nothing left a few reps before you actually do.

[quote]animus wrote:

  1. If you’re in a caloric deficit at all, it’s not by much.

  2. Because of the marginal deficit, a cheat meal absolutely destroys your ability to lose fat. Two is even worse. Let’s say you maintain at 3000 and are getting that 2800. That’s 200kcal/day deficit, or about a 6% cut in calories. If you’re really good, then six days out of the week, you’ve built up a 1200kcal deficit. On Sunday, you cheat. How likely is it that your cheat comes close to or exceeds 1200 calories? I’d say pretty high.

If you want to lose fat, you need to have a greater control over your diet than you currently do. This is clean eating, but it’s not sufficient to lose.[/quote]

This.

You’re eating too much, period.

[quote]Mateus wrote:
I personally think you are doing too much. You have an awful lot of pressing in there with not enough pulling. The biggest changes in my physique happened after I started focusing more on back and pulling. I try to get 2:1 on pulling vs pushing. Why would you do BB military and then DB military right after it? A M-F routine is pretty tough on the body, especially at or below maint calories.

The less is more philosophy may work best for you. The other thing to keep in mind is you rep and set scheme. It is very difficult to serve two masters. Train for strength or size. Now, it is possible to achieve the size once you reach certain levels of strength but I venture to say you are not close. You will have to really experiment with you rep ranges and sets.

Hypertrophy is going to happen in the higher rep ranges. 8-12 and even up over 20 on some movements. There is definitely a place for heavy compound movements in the 3-5 range but not on everything, every day, every week. Whst is your trst time between sets? How often do you work into failure reps? Have you had anyone look at your form? MMC ( mind muscle connection) is very important.

You really need to make sure that you are targeting the right muscle and furthermore you feel it working. A properly built 3way split or push/pull may be your best option. You may even take a look at WS4SB 3. And again I go back to intensity. The mind will tell you that you have nothing left a few reps before you actually do. [/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Can you give me an example of a push/pull program that you think would be effective?

[quote]PaysageDHiver wrote:

[quote]animus wrote:

  1. If you’re in a caloric deficit at all, it’s not by much.

  2. Because of the marginal deficit, a cheat meal absolutely destroys your ability to lose fat. Two is even worse. Let’s say you maintain at 3000 and are getting that 2800. That’s 200kcal/day deficit, or about a 6% cut in calories. If you’re really good, then six days out of the week, you’ve built up a 1200kcal deficit. On Sunday, you cheat. How likely is it that your cheat comes close to or exceeds 1200 calories? I’d say pretty high.

If you want to lose fat, you need to have a greater control over your diet than you currently do. This is clean eating, but it’s not sufficient to lose.[/quote]

This.

You’re eating too much, period. [/quote]

Could be. Problem is every calorie calculator I’ve used, yes, e v e r y , tells me that a man of my size needs anywhere from 3400-3600 calories for maintenance. What is the most accurate method of assessing caloric requirements?

[quote]willnotlooz wrote:Could be. Problem is every calorie calculator I’ve used, yes, e v e r y , tells me that a man of my size needs anywhere from 3400-3600 calories for maintenance. What is the most accurate method of assessing caloric requirements?
[/quote]

Those calculators aren’t something to be trusted no matter what. They are merely a starting point. Subsequent experimentation is where the real work is. If you aren’t losing, eat less, calculator be damned.

If your consistently hitting 2800 calories and the scale isn’t moving, sounds like that’s your real maintenance quota ATM. Logically you’d need to cut another 2-300 calories most easily by cutting down on your servings of nuts. But that’s a pretty hefty program for someone that wants to cut. Got to follow the law of specificity here. Cut vs Grow

Eliminate potatoes from your diet (and all starchy carbs for that matter). Replace them with a green vegetable. Do the same with yogurt…forget about cheat meals period. Make sure to never dress your salads with garbage. Stick to this religiously and your problem should be solved.

Going off you posted diet (with the exception of the cheat meal) it’s not too bad. Have you ever tried to do a keto or paleo diet? Or even IF? Might be worth playing around with. As far as workout routines go, I read an article this morning and thought of you.
Part 1

Part 2

The only thing I caution you on is not to buy into traditional dogma of there being only one way to skin a cat. The 5 day splits and 6 meals a day plan is great, and made some guys into monsters but there are plenty of other ways for us mere mortals…

as far as workouts go, i got WAY better results for leaning out with the german body comp for athletes program then i did with the GVT.

Also, if your having carbs (ie, sweetpotato) EVERY-DAY, then there is no need for a cheat meal or 2 on the weekend. have one or the other, not both. I would personally say to save the sweetpotatos etc… for a “carb-up” on the weekend and skip the “cheat meal” if leaning out is really important to you. That would be a great start.

My other suggestion would be to cut back on your protein shakes except for immediately PWO. Whey can stimulate significant insulin release and is missing alot of other nutrient. I would replace those snacks with some more meat and veggies. I really like canned sardines as they are great sources of protein, healthy fats and other nutrients and are pretty affordable.

My final suggestion is to cut out your “bed-time snack” even though casien and greek yogurt are alright foods, for some people eating ANYTHING right before bed can negatively effect sleep and the release of HGH. Try “fasting” for 2 hours before you go to bed for a few weeks and see if your sleep quality improves as well as your body composition.

Ok, Iâ??m definitely going to have to tweek my diet. I figure that around 2400 calories a day is sufficient, at 1.5g of protein per lbs of BW. Iâ??m going to: reduce my nut consumption at breakfast by half, eliminate carbs from my diet aside from peri workout, eliminate whey, aside from post workout and eliminate the yogurt in my night time snack. But back to the peri workout carbs. I know that some have suggested eliminating starches completely, but I like the sweet potato post workout because itâ??s low on the GI and I donâ??t want to spike my insulin off the charts. Any recommendations?

Thanks for those links Mateus, that guy, actually, mad a lot of sense. But as for workouts, Iâ??m not quite sure what Iâ??m gonna go with, but Iâ??m definitely leaning towards the German Body Comp For Athletes that Tork94 recommended or the I-bodybuilder program.

In light of the recent thread by JFitness on calories in vs calories out and after reading up on Torks thread. Ive realized that Ive got some long term insulin resistance going on and who knows what else, and I really gotta dial in on my eating. So I’m gonna scrap the carbs completely and go with the 14 day no carb boot camp…starting Monday, of course. Ill keep you guys posted.

Ok so , I did lose some weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas, about 8 lbs., 5 of which I put back on during the Christmas season . I got back on the wagon after the New Year and this is where Im at. Ive been doing the German Body Comp program for athletes by poliquin. When I started my numbers were as follows (I only have 6 skinfold sites bc those are what the trainers at my job know how to take):

203.8 lbs, 13% bf
Chest- 6.7
Tricep- 6.7
Subscapula- 20
Umbilical- 21.7
Suprailiac- 11.5
Thigh- 12.2

One month later.
199 lbs, 11.8% bf
Chest- 4.6
Tricep- 5.2
Subscapula- 17.7
Umbilical- 21.7
Suprailiac- 11.3
Thigh- 10.13

Its obvious that Ive got some insulin and cortisol issues going on. For Insulin Ive been taking 2 tablets of a sugar support sup (details below), 3g fish oil and 2400 mg of fenugreek per meal , along with Glycine with every meal and Phosphatidylserine post work out and in the evening. I use the cortisol protocol on a 2 week rotation, rotating it with Arimedex HD by BPI- test booster.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 TABLET
Servings Per Container 60

Amount Per

Serving % Daily
Value

Vitamin C(As Ascorbic Acid) 100 Mg 167%

Biotin 100 Mcg 33%

Magnesium(As Magnesium Oxide) 67 Mg 17%

Zinc(Opti-Zinc) (As Zinc Dl-Methionine) 5 Mg 33%

Chromium(As Chromium Picolinate) 200 Mcg 167%

Gymnema Sylvestre(Leaf) 100 Mg N/A*

Momordica Charantia Extract(Fruit) 100 Mg N/A*

Fenugreek(Trigonella Foenum-Graceum)(Seed) 67 Mg N/A*

Alpha Lipoic Acid 50 Mg N/A*

Inositol 50 Mg N/A*

Ok, so I did the 2 week no carb boot camp and Im following the protein goal diet (ketogenic) which puts me right around 3000 calories per day with 300g of protein. With a 24 hour re-feed period starting after my workout, around 4pm fri to 4pm, sat where I try to get 800g of carbs ala Lyle Mcdonalds CKD.

Im beginning week 6 and Im not satisfied with my progress. Im definitely seeing more definition in certain places but not where I want of course.

So, should I: Cut out the re-feed completely or just reduce it? Should I add some cardio? If so, how much? Should I reduce my calories? And lastly should I do all of these at once or do them rule them out 1 by 1.