This may end up being a decently long post - thank you to all those who take the time to read it!
A little about me:
I am 23 years old, just out of college, and heading to medical school next year. I have trained truly off and on since early high school, getting very into Olympic style lifting when I was 16-19, but fading away from that after some issues with one of my knees. Fast forward to today, and I am in no better shape than I was when I was 17, and am dealing with both a shoulder injury (DCO) and groin strain.
My strength levels are obviously quite down, and I haven’t effectively or intensely squatted or deadlifted in over 1.5 years. I started getting back to the gym about 2-3 months ago, and cut off some body fat that has built up during my hiatus, and am now questioning what to do next.
Given my injuries, I can’t fully squat or deadlift for the time-being, and have some inherent instability in my left scapula (due to the DCO), which I am working on. I really don’t have any interest in getting surgery for the DCO, and feel as if I can safely work with it (have been benching comfortably for 3 months) as long as I am proactive about upper back stability and strength.
From where I stand now (~190 lbs, ~16-18% BF with visible abs and V-cut, but some extra lower abdomen “padding”), my goal is to progressively lean gain from this point forward. I tend to put on belly fat quite easily, and prior attempts at “bulking” have certainly led to ## gains, but also excessive fat gain which at this point I am not looking to have to deal with (some fat gain is inevitable, though, I understand).
What would be a strong nutritional plan to follow moving forward? I was thinking along the lines of Shelby Starnes’ Lean Gains Principles, with carb cycling and a goal of ~2-3 lbs gained per month.
What type of program would you suggest following at this point? I tend to like the idea of building dense muscle, using heavy sets, followed by accessory exercises at a mid to high rep range, but would love to hear some popular program ideas.
Currently given my groin situation I have to avoid squatting and deadlifting, but am working on rehabbing it and strengthening my glutes to work them back into my routine. I’d love to hear some suggestions on what to do for leg development in the meantime, especially given the saddening amount of atrophy I’ve seen in my legs over the past year.
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and advice, I have been lurking here for a long time and know that this community is well-versed in all things workout related!