T Nation

Needing Some Direction

My background: I’m 24 years old. Started lifting when I was 16 but didn’t really start to get anywhere with it until I was 19/20. I was a former fat kid who was too afraid to get fat again and never ate enough to put on size. At 19/20 I really started to put on some muscle and strength, somewhat in spite of myself. I was playing college baseball and was fortunate enough to have an awesome trainer. I followed his programs and ate and saw huge progress. After my playing days were over I fell into some depression and stopped lifting for about two years, getting into running instead. Ended up very skinny. Fast forward to mid 2016 and I got back into it, discovered T-nation and I’ve been at it since. For the most part I’ve followed programming I’ve found here with some relatively short periods of free styling mixed in between programs

My issue: I hate my physique. I guess what I’ve done, even with baseball, as always fallen more into the power building side of things. I like strength training but I also want to look good. Problem is I think I’m more skinny-fat than anything, maybe even just kinda fat. I’m 6”2, maybe a little more, and currently 203 pounds at a body fat probably in the high teens.

My lifts are okay-ish. Bench 255, squat- 365, dead-405, OHP-145. I don’t deadlift often at all anymore, just time to time to see where I’m at.

I feel like every time i try to bulk (clean bulks always) I just end up getting kinda fat. At the same time I don’t feel like I have enough muscle to bother doing a cut.

Based on the background I’ve provided and my pictures, can anybody offer recommendations?

Should add that I’m currently running Waterbury’s Total Body Training (first week) after running The Waterbury Method for the last 3-4 months. With both programs I’ll usually throw in a couple more exercises (3-4 sets each) to add volume as I’m not sure there’s enough as written

There’s nothing wrong with your physique, you just look like someone that hasn’t been lifting weights consistently for a long time, which is what you are.

Train hard, eat well and keep at it for 5 more years and you’ll look great.


^agreed, with emphasis on “consistency”.

I’ll add that you’re no longer fat. If you were in the past (like you say) then your skin is a bit stretched and might be throwing off your view of yourself.

If you have shed some fat then you won’t look the same as someone identical to you who has always been skinny. Your skin stretches and you create fat cells when you gain fat. Those fat cells never go away; they just shrink. It is what it is but keep that in mind when evaluating yourself.

You look like you’re in a good place to grow. Use a smart approach and start moving forward. It’s a slow journey but you’ll be happy you stuck with it in a few years.

If you’ve played sports, and been trained by sport coaches, your Concept of training is probably based on Performance. Bigger lifts, more speed, higher exit velocity, more miles…

Playing well and looking good are different. If your lifting is structured to lift more, but your goal is to look Adonis, the training and the goal don’t line up. The more you train, the more frustrated you’ll become. There is nothing worse than putting in lots of effort, and then not getting results you want.

Waterbury is cool, but true Body Builder dudes don’t train like that. Physique guys want Capped Delts, not X- pound OHPs.

Check out the body building section. Read somebodies contest prep log. Get a feel for the asthetic mind set.

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They can line up…

I think most people who are dedicated mostly to strength training just aren’t lean. Guys who get to very high strength levels and get lean pretty much always look damn good. The goals do not run counter to each other. To me, whatever type of lifting gets a person into the gym consistently is what they should do.

Lol at the delts thing too. I can guarantee you anybody pressing 300 lbs over their head is gonna have ‘capped delts’. Pressing has been excellent for my overall delt development.

No need to put strength training and bodybuilding into totally separate boxes. That’s all I’m saying. I DEFINITELY don’t think the distinction has to be made for a beginner lifter. Competitive bodybuilding is different.

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you look good. You’re not fat. You’re in a good place to be putting on muscle. Don’t be afraid of scale weight going up if you’re working hard in the gym.

What you say is valid.

But you make an important point about “whatever type of lifting gets a person into the gym.”

If dudes program and mindset aren’t helping him train consistently, it may be time to get some new information and develop a new plan.

If OP develops a 300+ military press, but looks like Anthony Ditillo, Doug Hepburn, Big Z or Alexyev, he’s probably not going to be too happy.

A little exposure to the BB guys might give him something to get excited about.

Thanks for the advice everybody.

Would something like Waterbury’s program not be the best program for my goals?

Would that be better?

Apologies if I ask redundant questions. I just don’t know a fraction of what many of you guys do.

What did you say your goals were?

If you used that program, do you feel like you would have to add some extra stuff to it? Or would you be able to just trust that it was enough volume. It’s no fun questioning your program. It’s easy to keep the positive mindset when you feel like it’s working.

Well, first of all Big Z looks fucking incredible. Do you follow him on IG or anything? He leaned out and looks like an offseason bodybuilder now. Thor looks amazing. Terry Hollands looks amazing. All these strongmen and powerlifters who decide to get lean look fucking awesome.

There’s absolutely no reason to get fat while training for strength. The guys you mentioned don’t look the way they do because of their training style. That’s a diet thing.

I ABSOLUTELY agree with FlatsFarmer about not modifying programs that are already written by a pro, though.

OP, why in the world would you think you have the knowledge required to modify a Waterbury program? The dude has devoted his life to figuring out this stuff. And you, a 24 year old dude who’s barely spent any time in the gym, have decided ‘it’s not enough volume’? Dude. Get real. Pick a program you don’t think you need to modify. You think Waterbury didn’t consider total volume when he wrote the program? That’s pretty absurd to consider, isn’t it?

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Again, what you say is true.

But plenty of guys who lift weights to look good don’t become the strongest man on the Earth, and then slim down.

Some incline flies and reverse pec deck may be a short cut to not hating your physique. Guys with more experience with these ideas may be able to explain it better.

I get that. I just didn’t think it would be detrimental to add more to it, within reason. I didn’t think I was bastardizing the program entirely or grossly overtraining, just trying to add enough to further spur growth. I’d add things like a high rep set of squats after the programmed sets, some sets of horizontal pulling, some lateral raises, etc. Not all of that in one workout, just one or two of them. I’d say that my shoulders and back have improved but it’s possible that happened in spite of my additions.

I’m not trying to say I know better than these guys or reinvent the wheel or anything, don’t take it that way.

And as for your question @FlatsFarmer- that’s the thing, I really don’t know if that’s enough volume to promote some real hypertrophy.

Question for you guys here- how long did it take for you to really start to look like you lifted? Not compared to the average, untrained folk- even I look like I lift compared to most people- but to stand out even at your gym?

Waterbury most likely didn’t think “I’ll write the perfect program except I’ll trick everyone buy underdoing the volume”

At least run the damn thing!! This is like seeing a car and starting to play with the engine before even turning the thing on. Without ever have touched the inside of a car before.

Fair enough. That’s a good analogy to use.

Being only a week into my current program I don’t feel too bad abandoning it. Haven’t sunk much cost yet. I like the look of the program I linked above- volume as well as some heavy lifting. I think that’s why I liked the Waterbury Method so much, it allowed me to build strength in lower reps as well as do work in slightly higher reps.

Analogies! Now we’re getting somewhere.

Maybe Waterbury’s program is like the Jeep Cherokee. Its cool, it’s completely effective and reasonable. Many people do just fine with it. But you think its kinda ugly.

Now you just saw the Escalade (another routine that looks good) Chromed Out with the Denali package. The jeep was OK, but you’re gonna be much happier on those 22’s.

Other people are going to prefer a Subaru. But if you don’t like it, you don’t have to settle for it.

If we really want to use analogies, this is how many beginners approach training

Excellent insight!

Maybe a plane (Mountain Dog Training) or a train (Building the Monolith) could be useful. Many ways to travel, many ways to train.

This seems fitting

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I still don’t know how you, at your training experience and knowledge, think you can determine what is ‘within reason’, and what would be more effective. I think you’re probably thinking that more is usually better, as long as you aren’t hurting yourself. And that’s just not how these things work. You don’t know enough to make those calls, period.


I hope you get out of this mindset. It won’t serve you well.