T Nation

In Terrible Shape, What Should I Do?

I just turned 20 a while ago (5-6 months so I thought its relevant to post here).

I’m in seriously horrible shape and I just don’t know what to do in terms of cutting, recomp etc. I’m running a high volume hypertrophy brosplit at the moment. I have been trying to train on and on for 2 years, mostly trying to run 3x5 programs and really just getting nowhere and quitting. For the past few months since December 2018 I have been running this brosplit consistently.

Monday - Chest (22 sets total)
Tuesday - Back (22 sets total)
Wednesday - Shoulders (24 sets total)
Thursday - Triceps (15 sets total)
Friday - Biceps (15 sets total)
Saturday - Legs (22 sets total)
Sunday - Either rest or start again with chest without a rest day

I weigh around 195 lbs, 6’0" height, probably 30-35% body fat sadly. I am working as hard as possibly, spending 1-2 hours everyday at the gym having normal food. Should I go in a caloric deficit and try to gain muscle and lose fat or should I just eat at maintenance?

DB Bench press - 65lbs each arm, 8 reps max till failure
DB shoulder press - 40 lbs each arm, 10 reps max till failure
Squat - 203 lbs, 4 reps max till failure

Here are some pics as off today:

Here are some pics as off December 5th 2018, when I guess I started to train with this brosplit properly:

Basically I don’t think I’ve gained much muscle but probably gained a lot of fat because I am an idiot.

I am commited to making a change, I am wondering what you guys recommend. Should I try to cut or should I try to recomp or whatelse should I try?

Probably slow bulk. If you Cut now there’ll be little muscle under the fat to reveal so not the way to go unless you wanna look like a stick. Train hard and work on consistency as priority. On and off won’t get you anywhere

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I’d recommend a recomp for you. There’s no doubt that doing a bulk will allow you to gain muscle but you’d gain more fat as well (which is inevitable on a bulk as I’m sure you’re aware) which is not what you want considering youre at a pretty high bf percentage now.
As for your food intake make sure you track your food (on myfitnesspal for example). The common rule is you should be consuming your maintenance calories on a recomp. You should be consuming 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight and split the rest of your calories how you want with carbs and fat.
As for your training, you’d find a PPL program a lot more effective as you will be hitting each muscle group twice a week which is best. Make sure you focus on the compound lifts (squat, deadlift, bench, ohp, etc) and try to progressively overload on all of them. Progressive overload is the way to build muscle.


Thanks for the advices. I’ve been consistent for 5 months and am going to continue to be consistent.

I like the recomp idea I suppose I’ll go with that and see where I end up.

I’m just suffering from major anger, frustration and depression because of my current state. I’m working very hard trying to improve, spending 1-2 hours at the gym everyday, but it just doesn’t seem to translate when I look at myself in the mirror or just anywhere to be truthful. Perhaps because I just started off in a very bad position, I’m still stuck in it.

I’ll work hard and try my best to improve and see what happens.

Just worry about the process. If you get that right consistently you’ll end up in good places.

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday? Your 35%+ body fat is not a result of your training, but your diet.

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To be fair, I started off in terrible shape before even getting to training. I had 11" arms with 38 inch waist. I was just in horrible shape before I ever started so this is at least some progress.

As for diet, I only eat twice day, one meal is just steel cut oats with fruits, cinnamon, almond milk.

The bigger meal is a chicken burrito bowl, which seems to be healthy too.

The problem is just that I started off in garbage condition and I am unable to change that so far.

If you are interested, here is the position I started in when I began lifting weights

I’d get in the habit of first calculating your macros so you know what you need to eat for a recomp or slow bulk, and then tracking what you eat for accountability.

If your friends don’t lift, find friends who do. Your training program and diet are pretty trash, and you either need to use the free resources on this site, or hire a trainer.

This is not someone who needs to have one day in the gym just for biceps and one day in the gym just for triceps and one day in the gym training shoulders with more volume than legs.

You’d do well following this plan: https://www.t-nation.com/training/5-years-of-insane-gains

So you’re lifting 6 days a week and trying to survive on less than 800 calories and about 40 grams of protein per day. There’s literally nothing healthy about that.

Thanks for your input! I am consuming after 2500-3000 calories a day, is that not fine? The burrito bowl itself is 1500, and there are other things too such as Whey protein shakes, protein bars etc. I am going to read into that program of yours!

One thing I’ll say is even though I seem to be running a wonky program I am able to progressive overload I think. I only do exercises with 8-12 reps, so currently its like this for Dumbell Chest Press:

Week 1 - 8/8/8 60 lbs DB chest press
Week 2 - 8/9/9 60 lbs DB Ches press
Week 3 - 9/9/9 60 lbs DB chest press
Week 4 - 9/10/10 60 lbs DB chest press

And currently I just completed the 9/10/10 workout, will attempt 10/10/10 next week. What do you feel about this type of progression scheme, is this progessive overload? And is it optimal?

I dont think your calories are enough to build muscle. 2900-3000 is about maintenance for me and I’m the same weight.

Bro Splits are dismissed as Bro Splits for a reason. Your 1x a week 3 sets of DB press on chest isnt enough training volume, even if youre doing 8,9,10, etc. Biceps and Triceps should be your lowest priority at the moment. Having biceps and triceps on their own day is what n00b teenagers do.

I’d do at least another leg day, and turn your bicep days into back days with a little bit of biceps at the end, and your tricep day into a shoulder or chest day.

You can’t go wrong following a proper program that Chris posted

Thanks for the input, I will look into Chris’ program and try it out.

Do you recommend bulking or recomping?

Do whichever you think works easier. I’d recomp and then slowly increase the calories over time.


The bulk/cut thing is for people that are well practiced at manipulating their body composition for specific effects. People like pro bb’rs, physique models, etc.

Stick to the recommendations in that article and a recomping will happen as a result.

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This is a really bad split. I know lots of people come on here and it’s their nutrition that’s lacking, and this guy’s nutrition is seriously lacking, but let’s be serious here - this is a ridiculous program. Even I, the guy who likes doing too much volume, can say that this is absolutely crazy. I’m surprised @Chris_Colucci is the only one to point this out. You can do literally thousands of different programs and get results, but you can’t literally do ANYTHING. Eat enough food and do a real program. Make a training log. You can get strong and look good, and you have lots of time to do it.


Thanks! Do you have any suggestion for some good hypertrophy programs as well?

As for nutrition, I feel I am improving nutrition these days, here’s an example:

Brunch - Oats, almond milk, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, 1 scoop whey protein shake (25g protein)

Workout - 5g BCAAs

Post Workout - 1 scoop whey protein (25g protein), and maybe 1 protein bar (20g protein)

Dinner - Large chicken burrito bowl with salsa, lettuce, onion, corn, all vegetables, some cheese cheddar (1500 calories), should be around 60g of protein

Snack - A few almonds

So total in a day I’m getting in a good amount of vegetables, protein, fruit I feel. I take Omega 3 and multi vitamins as well. What other suggestions would you give to improve nutrition?


Is there rice or beans in the burrito bowl, too? I feel like there is. That’d be hysterical.

I still say stick with the Paul Carter article I posted. It covers diet and training. Keeping a log would help too.

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Thanks Chris, I’ve been reading the article and I am going to implement it this week!

Is there rice or beans in the burrito bowl, too? I feel like there is. That’d be hysterical.

Yes there is, is that an issue? Should I cut that out?

Rice isn’t really an issue, no. Taking four separate tries to answer “What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?” was the issue.

You may or may not need to cut it out once you adjust your diet. In general, I’d go towards probably yeah, cutting back on carbs a bit (at least on non-training days) until you’re more lean.

EDIT: WTF, man. I just deleted that new account. There’s no reason to start a new username and it’s against forum policy for members to run multiple accounts.


Is that why you suspended my Greenboy account?