T Nation

Lost Muscle Potential?


Hi, I’m not sure if this is the right subforum to post on, and if its not i apologize. Anyways:

I started lifting about 2 years ago weighing as little as 45 kg (100 pounds) at 180 cm (5’10) its unbeliaveable little, and anorexic. It was due to several reasons: I smoked marihuana and cigarettes alot which supressed my appetite more that normal. i generally didnt have a strong appetite without the pot either though. My tastebuds are not as sensitive as normal, and food doesnt taste as good to me. (No idea why this is).

One day I looked at a video of myself, and was disgusted at how skinny and fragile i looked. So I decided to change.

I stopped the pot, i stopped smoking cigarettes, forced myself to eat, and started working out.

Currently at 75 kg (165 lbs). No idea how much of that is FAT, but I know its alot. Still thats 65 lbs in 2 years.

The thing is, during those 2 years, I have not worked out consistently more then 2 months, with several weeks of break (life, and poor priorities/choices) I have not focused on progressive overload, and my diet has been ****. I have basically just eaten everything, junk and all. Just to get those calories in.

WHAT my question is, does my body still have greater potential allthough I have been working out for 2 years and gained 65 lbs? If i were to eat properly, and workout more intelligently, could I still take advantage of the «newbie gains» ?

Posted pic so you can see my progress

If it isnt obvious, both pics on the left is me at 45 kg(100lbs) and both at the right is 75 kg (165lbs)


There really is no such thing as newb gains.


Sadly no. But if you do all your training naked you could tap into some sweet «nudie gains».


First thing’s first - WELL DONE with recognizing your need to change your lifestyle AND having the courage and discipline to change. In two years, you’ve gone from literally starving to looking healthy and like someone who’s into lifting.

As for your ability to gain more muscle and strength, absolutely yes, you are able to. I’ve had a couple ferocious injuries that put me out of training for years at a time, but I’ve still been able to make gains once I’ve returned to working out.

Your two picture sets shows that not only have you made gains, but you’ve done so with sub-optimal nutrition and programming. As you said, what was important at first was eating everything you could. Now that you aren’t starving, you’re in a place where you can reassess your goals, accrue knowledge about how to accomplish them, and turn your motivation into more progress.

This is a great place to learn a whole lot. I’ll let others chime in with their insights. To help direct the conversation, you should consider what you want to accomplish from here and let everyone know. Size? Strength? Which programs to run ? What to eat and how much and when? All the above? Lol


Hi, thanks man, i appriciate it!

My goals are to atleast reach a weight of 80-82 kg before cutting down on the fat, after that I intend to just get myself together and eat properly 5-6 times a day, CLEAN.

My biggest challenge would be the cutting phase, as I have never done it before. I would rather not be looking scrawny and I am afraid of loosing size and strength.


How about dropping the bulk and cut and just skipping to the eating clean and properly 5 to 6 times a day. Will save you a lot of wasted time.

You have done well gaining the weight you have, I think you could even get away with eating exactly how you have done to achieve your current weight gain but just actually train hard and consistently whilst working on progressive overload.


Will eating clean promote fat loss?
Am I not suppposed to be in a caloric deficit, or cut down on carbs so that the body uses fat instead of carbs as energy.

These questions are not to sound sarcastic, but this is what I’ve learned. I’m just asking for a different opinion, as I said before. This is new ground for me, so I dont have a PRACTICAL understanding. Just a limited theoritical one.

Feel free to provide me with tips, i welcome it. And thank you for it.


Your questions don’t sound sarcastic at all don’t worry.

I don’t mean to offend so don’t take it personal, but you don’t have a great deal of muscle. if you went on an all out bulk without really pushing your training you won’t gain much other than a bit more fat. Same if you go on a cut, you may loose some fat but ultimately you will look like an only slightly more muscular version of your first picture.

You have figured out how to eat to make the scale move upwards, that’s great. Keep the scale moving up slowly whilst progressing in the gym and keep that up for a long time. Like 2 to 3 years, then you may have built enough muscle to do a cut and look much better for it. It’s a slow process and trying to really force it with a bulk is not really going to make it much quicker, plus throwing a drastic cut will also slow down the muscle building process.


I’m not offended, dont worry. I am aware that I’m not «muscular» per se, and when I look in the mirror I still see that scrawny kid (some things are never good enough) but thats not a bad thing, its motivation to keep going.

As for your advice on keep bulking clean, I think I will follow that, you’re right. But a question; with a cleaner bulk, consisting of healthy fats, complex carbs and protein, is there a chance I might loose some of that belly fat along the way? Even though I’m in a caloric surplus?

Also I dont do cardio, never have. Should I start doing HIIT on non-training days aswell? Or would that mess up my recovery and in the worst case, fatigue my CNS?

I have a job with alot of movement, I typically walk 28 000 - 35 000 steps a day. I think because of my job I have a lower tolerance for training frequency. I’ve had good progress on upper/lower splits, and push/pull/legs splits. Anything more then 4 days a week training makes me lethargic and easily fatigued.

What style of training should I implement now that I’m a novice?

Alot of questions, sorry for that.

Thanks in Advance


Don’t worry I’ve been there, that feeling of being small will stay with you for a while!

Here was my before and after with about a years training. So I have been the very skinny guy! I’ve also came along way since the picture on the right. Years of bulking and cutting didn’t get me far though, the past 2 years since stopping that way of thinking have been my best years.

It is possible that you may loose a bit of fat and do a bit of a recomp. It can and does happen especially if your training gets more consistent and your food choices are better. Also don’t forget that as you build muscle you will also look better with a higher level of fat, so may not be so hung up on the fat you have, which doesn’t appear to be a lot anyway.

In terms of training, my advice to someone who in the past has struggled to stay in the gym for more than a few months at a time would be to do what ever style of training will keep you motivated and in the gym. Generally speaking an upper lower or push pull split will work just fine and it’s what I tend to use 90% of the time, also I have pretty much only ever trained 3 times a week.

It may be beneficial to add a days conditioning work in, maybe just start with 1 day and see how you get on.

What’s your goal physique?


I too enjoy the 3 days a week split, its not too much and you can give 110% each time your at the gym. I tried chest/back, legs/shoulds and arms separately twice a week, but it was too much for me. Ligaments and tendons gets beat down really easily, and I tend to overdo it when I’m working out.

My ideal physique is around 78-80 kg at 7-8% bf
and the timeframe i’ve set is within 5 years.


Impressive gains by the way!


If someone is under middle-aged, it’s not as if newbie gains are lost. The newbie stage is not some magical time period. Perhaps what people are confusing as to what is such a crucial time of training is that most people in the so-called newb stage are very young, ages at which it is quite easy to gain some significant amount of muscle because one has never trained before, life stressors are low, and recovery ability is high!

There are plenty of people who made significant gains when they started doing things properly and dumped ineffective ways, including myself. Check out my Leaning Out/Contest Prep thread and see how at age 37 I transformed my body in six months!


This was a side by side I made a couple years ago, but the difference was like 75-80 lbs bodyweight between the 2 pictures. And I’ve made significantly more progress since that picture on the right, as you can see in my avatar picture.

Don’t worry kid, you have A LOT more potential to tap into. Keep up the good work!



When I see that pic, I can’t help but think that even then you’d have probably held your own pretty well wrestling in the lighter weight classes. ( just commenting on the build, not skill, mat experience, etc.)


I really don’t know anything about wrestling, lol. Would, say, a 5’5 or 5’6 guy have had an advantage over me at my 125 bodyweight? or would my limb length have been beneficial against shorter , thicker guys? Just curious. I’m 5’11ish


There’s a trade off. The stumpy guys were usually great with explosive power but the lanky guys had great reach for snagging a single leg and leverage for turning half nelsons, chicken wings, etc. What most people do is become technicians with what works best for their proportions.

I’d seen a good bit of the guys built like you were that would point people out (15+ point lead) just shooting takedowns, virtually unstoppable. That type of tech proficiency usually comes after some years, so its not like their mat work suffered for it either.

I did have one of my most embarrassing matches against a shorter powerhouse type when I shot a sloppy takedown, he under hooked, tossed and pinned me in 12 seconds.