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Need Help Adding Muscle

I set out just over a year ago to add some mass. I started out around 95kg at around 16% bf.

Well a year later I’m 97kg and look similar bf (I cant test it as before as I quit the gym to workout at home now). I didn’t take any measurements (which was stupid really) so I can’t really check but according to the wife I have added some fat but also some muscle. But either way I don’t look like I’ve added much muscle in a year.

Looking through my log, I went up to 105kg and got to 20% bf and did a mini cut to get back to 15%.

So I feel like I’ve wasted a whole year again just spinning my wheels. I’ve not made any substantial gains again.

I feel like my workouts have been on point with intensity and volume but looking back through my nutrition log I can’t seem to get the balance between either cutting properly (as I really struggle to break 12% bf) or gaining a little (rather than eating clean and then eating rubbish on top).

I blame part of this on me being somewhat of a weekend warrior liking a drink and also I seem to eat really clean Monday to Friday and then lose track at the weekend.

I think my nutrition habits in general are a bit messed up. I workout in the morning but have my only really big meal in the evening with the family (to avoid getting my ass kicked by my wife). A normal Monday - Friday day is

6:00 - 2 scoop shake
8:00 - 5 eggs and 1 slice toast and butter
10:00 - 2 scoop shake
12:00 - 1 chicken breast and veg
15:00 - 1 chicken breast
17:00 - dinner, meat, potato and veg (Big meal)

That leaves me in a deficit but at the weekend I seem to have a lot more carbs and end up in a week being in a maintenance position and some alcohol to.

So when I try and bulk I basically added more carbs (via oats adding around 500kal) into my Monday - Friday meal plan bur just end up putting fat on.

So really I feel like shit, thinking I’ve wasted a year and really could do with some help or stuff to read to try and sort my nutritional habits out and get to be adding some muscle.

Any help would be appreciated.

Stop binging on weekends

Yeah I second this. Tbh from my (slightly inexperienced) point of view, I personally think your diet plan looks really good on weekdays. It seems likely that if you get the weekends under control and you will probably be in better shape.

Btw, might be worth posting your training routine as someone more knowledgeable may have some good tips for you on that side of things.

I’m not so much binging on weekends, more I eat up eating with my family and then also try and get my protein as well.

So for lunch rather than a chicken breast and veg, I end up having sandwiches plus a chicken breast. I wanted to still try and eat with the family rather than eating something completely different.

I mean I I’m not going to give up drinking, so I guess I’ll have to work around it.

Training wise i mostly stick to programmes off here. I ran DC training for 30 weeks. I then did the Paul carter superhero programme and have now gone back to the tried and tested body building programme off here.

I only change minor things to work round previous back and shoulder injuries.

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that’s understandable. Do you eat all your meals on weekends with your family?

A solid option would be consume a bunch of protein between meals

Yeah I eat all of them with family, they aren’t unhealthy but a very different macro set to what I usually do.

Overall by the way, my goal is to add some quality mass still. I actually don’t mind being around 15% bf. I have outlined abs (in good lighting) and I live in rainy England so it’s better to look good in a T-shirt than be ripped without one (if that makes sense).

My around 6’ 3, and have 16” arms (tensed without a pump which I think is how you supposed to measure them). So really wanted to fill out my frame a bit more.


How do you know it was just fat?

In my initial time on DC I went from around 95kg and 16% bf to 102kg and 20% bf. So I probably did add some muscle but there was a massive difference in my hips between 16 - 20% bf.

After that initial phase I tried reducing the carbs and ended up back where I started.

I think I’ve found that high protein low carb diets work well for me. The higher carbs I have in my diet just seem to make my stomach bigger.

At the moment I must be doing maintenance calories over a week but within that week probably in a deficit Monday to Friday and an excess Saturday and Sunday. Then through that I’m not building any muscle.

My body left to its own, seems to settle back at 15% bf and around 95kg. I mean that’s where I was 3 years ago as well. I need to change something.

How many drinks do you like?

Honestly, I think your meal plan could be improved quite a bit.

This one?

Seems like you are not honoring the rest day if

This is true.

What strategies do you employ to exercise moderation on the weekend while not tracking?

FWIW, I think if you took this,

and made it into this

You are already in a better place. If you feel like you won’t make your protein goals, either have one with dinner (or just before) - that might help keep your portion-size in check or have one before going to bed.

Also, if you are in a deficit 5 out of 7 days, adding muscle will be… tough. Maybe consider maintenance for 5 days, a surplus one weekend day, and a deficit day one weekend day when the opportunity presents itself.

What do you eat on a rest day? How much are you moving about except for training?

Drinks wise - Some weeks I’ll have a couple of glasses of wine, other weeks like half a bottle of whiskey. I try to stay away from beer but if I’m out with the lads (not that we go out any more) i’ll drink at least 15 pints of bitter.

Yep that’s it the tried and true BB programme. I do the 4 day programme (M, T, Th, Fr) so don’t actually workout on the Wednesday at the moment.

So weekend eating i make sure i get my protein intake in but i don’t count my calories as my wife mainly preps the food so i know I’m over on each meal really. So normally say a chicken breast and some veg. She’ll make me a couple of sandwiches, salad and some crisps. So i know immediately that I’m at least 400 kal over on bread.

Meal Plan - Cheers for the advice, what’s the thinking behind the changes (just as i want to learn more about nutrition).

As for daily movement, since lockdown i literally sit at a desk allllll day, its horrible. I’m on teams meetings literally from 8:00 - 17:00 (I’m on one now in the background lol). I know i need to change this but i’m struggling to fit everything in at the moment.

Thank you for your help on this.

And that, my friends, tells you everything you need to know about English rugby players!

Take no offence, my friend, I am Scottish, enough said (although I could never do 15 pints of anything. Well done. That must have taken years of practice to get to that level). :innocent:

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That’s a mild night. I don’t get time but used to do all day drinking and easily sink 25 plus pints. Gone are those days though and gone are my days of playing rugby due to my glass like back lol.

Just for clarity as well, my w/o is

Chest & Biceps
DB Bench
DB Fly
Heavy DB Curl
Seated Curl
Hammer Curl

Pull Ups
1 arm rows
Banded Y raises

Shoulder & Triceps
Standing OHP
Lat raises
Front raises ss with rear dealt
Close grip press
Skull crushers

Legs are slightly different, because of my previous herniated disk and fractured hips i tend to do more circuit type training for legs (usually something like the Athlean X programmes on youtube). For me its all about what i can do without aggravating injuries. BUt i work hard for around 50 minutes.

On all the movements, i take every set to form failure (not total failure).

How do you adjust your eating on that day?

So that’s, what? 180 calories * 15 = 2700 calories from beer alone? To be honest, when I came across this thread, and read this,

I was in a bit of a mood and wanted to jab at you with a “if you don’t want to change your habits, then don’t expect different results”. But, I don’t think you have to cut out drinking entirely but maybe consider reducing it? That’s a lot of liquid calories.

Each glass of wine is ~120 calories I guess.

Assuming a bottle is on average 750ml then you are looking at > 900 calories there.

And it’s not just calories, it has an impact on your metabolism or so I’ve read. This might not be my place, as I’m not a British native and understand that the extent of of alcohol consumption is highly cultural but… to me that’s a worrying amount. I’d be concerned about you if I was a real-life friend of yours.

I don’t follow. What do you mean?

I moved the carbs closer to the training, i.e. the potatoes, as they’re insulinogenic and will be more anabolic in comparison to the 5 eggs and slice of toast.

As @JamesBrawn007 s post history would inform you, eating very often is not ideal when the desire is to lose some fat. Eating, even just a pure protein source, will inhibit your body from using your own body fat as fuel. I don’t have any sources to cite at the moment.

I will point out that there are people on this board even that have lost fat while eating frequently. @jackolee comes to mind. However, he was fairly active as a consequence of his job so he’d actually use those nutrients and bring insulin down fairly quickly by simply being active allowing the body to resume using bodyfat for fuel. As an aside, I’ve come to learn that there is a lot of variation in how the human body metabolises caffeine, with subjects having half-times ranging from 3-7 hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar variation exists in regards to how often it’s beneficial for an individual to eat.

Try this?

I don’t know what your circumstances are so I always feel bad suggesting things as they may or may not be reconcilable with your life situation and financial situation but ideas,

  • Go for walks, walking is good. Do them before work. Do them during lunch. Do them after work with the missus.
  • Watching telly in the evening? Continue doing that, but also do some yoga meanwhile. Or band pull-aparts, or something. Anything.
  • Get a standing desk.
    • Get a self-powered treadmill to go along with the desk.
  • Do Limber 11 at home in the morning if you can’t leave the house to walk.

On all training days? This is not the intent. The program specifies that the last set is taken to failure. Maybe you mean on leg days? @The_Mighty_Stu wrote about his non-spinal loading days here,


I don’t adjust my eating currently on workout days to none workout days. In my head i think i should be eating in a surplus on workout days, then maintenance on non workout days to grow muscle (i think that sounds right).

But what i end up doing to a deficit on workout days, then a surplus on the weekend (non workout days) just because it fits in with the family.

Before when I’ve had a surplus on workout days and non workout weekend days I’ve ended up putting on too much weight too quickly (mostly fat).

I guess i need to find a balance with workouts, family eating and my own eating. But i want to grow muscle and i am not doing it right now due to my own faults it seems.

Well, you are having about a days worth of calories in beer alone on the weekends. So rather than having eaten 7 days worth of food in 7 days you’ve had 8.

Your “low drinking” specifics made me laugh. I’m pretty similar, so no judgement here!

Anyway, how long have you been doing the newer template? One thing that jumped out, is most your time is with DC and Paul Carter’s stuff, which is fewer days and lower volume. Maybe the change to higher volume and more stimulus days will give you a kickstart.

I do think it’s hard to add muscle without carbs, but that is not a universal opinion around here - so whatever works for you.

One thing that may help - if you go hard on meat and beer on Saturday, maybe fast on Sunday (except for family dinner)? Or even fast Monday if Saturday/ Sunday are both big? That would let you eat bigger over more of your training days (I think you need those bigger calorie days when you’re actually creating a demand), reset your system and control the free time damage, and not disrupt your real life.

What number of sets and reps during your workouts?

Are you “stuck” in one narrow range, doing the same thing every time?

How about progression? What do you do to make your workouts harder week to week?

From a year ago, i did DC training until about 35 weeks until lockdown and then quickly moved in PC training (as it worked at home). Then i’ve moved to the tried and true BB routine over the past month.

I have run it before and king beefs routine which both have me feeling really good and i do think i look bigger when running them but just not been able to keep my mass (apart form around my hips it seems).

Cheers for the advice, i think fasting Sunday and would probably help if i have higher calories around the workout days.

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