T Nation

New To It All and Getting Confused!


#1

Hi all, first post here so hope it's in the right place! Bit of background before I ask anything. I'm 44 6ft and 198lbs. I've lost 21lbs over the last couple of months and started lifting weights. I'm eating ok, tracking calories, macros and taking in around 2200 cals a day.

My ultimate goal it to get more muscular, and just starting to see some of the benefits of it all so don't want to get fat again by bulking. I've read about people using carb cycling instead of bulking when trying to gain size, how does this work (if it does) for gaining muscle? Also should I slim down (I'm reluctant to say cut cos there's not much to cut down to! lol) to around 10% bf before I start thinking of putting size on?

As you might have guessed by now I've probably read too much and over thought the whole thing for a beginner! lol


#2

198 at six feet tall is pretty lean my man, don’t worry about bodyfat percentage or advanced diets or anything like that just yet. 2200 calories is kinda low for wanting to add muscle, I would recommend eating about 250-300 calories above maintenance and see how that works for you and go from there. What kind of training are you doing at the moment? Just being on a solid routine and having your diet in check is the only thing you need to worry about right now.


#3

[quote]cparker wrote:
198 at six feet tall is pretty lean my man, don’t worry about bodyfat percentage or advanced diets or anything like that just yet. 2200 calories is kinda low for wanting to add muscle, I would recommend eating about 250-300 calories above maintenance and see how that works for you and go from there. What kind of training are you doing at the moment? Just being on a solid routine and having your diet in check is the only thing you need to worry about right now.[/quote]

I wouldn’t say I was lean, I’ll add a photo tomorrow but I seem to carry my fat down my sides and towards the back. I get what your saying, I think I’m over complicating things for myself! I’m doing 3 days a week in the gym doing squats, bench, oh press, bent over rows, glute raises, bicep curls and calf raises, 3 working sets of everything plus warmups.

I’m not that strong, squat and bench have just gone over 100lbs for 6 reps but it’s going up a little most sessions. I’m defiantly firming up and the weight’s coming off so I look better. I think my biggest problem is I feel great losing the weight and scared of putting fat back on and it’s become a mental block to me eating more, hence me looking for a way of gaining muscle without bulking up! Tracking how I’m doing is also difficult as weight doesn’t mean much, should I just go by how I look, measurements or something else?

When you say about eating above maintenance, I’ve looked at loads of calculators and almost all of them give a different total. Would you suggest ball parking a number, going with that for a week or 2 see what happens then reevaluate?


#4

You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.


#5

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.[/quote]

When you say a teeny bit more, do I take into consideration my workouts when it comes to my calorie requirements? I’ve decided to up my intake to 2500 as it seems to be an average maintenance for my size and see how that works out for a few weeks, if I don’t notice fat going on I’ll increase again. Does that sound like a God’s plan? I know it’ll all take time but in it for the long haul, excited by the little improvements I can see in a short time so looking forward to what the years ahead will bring!


#6

Thought I’d add a couple of photos!


#7

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.[/quote]

When you say a teeny bit more, do I take into consideration my workouts when it comes to my calorie requirements? I’ve decided to up my intake to 2500 as it seems to be an average maintenance for my size and see how that works out for a few weeks, if I don’t notice fat going on I’ll increase again. Does that sound like a God’s plan? I know it’ll all take time but in it for the long haul, excited by the little improvements I can see in a short time so looking forward to what the years ahead will bring![/quote]

2500 is likely below maintenance for you, but it’s an okay starting point. Get around 200 g protein per day and lift hard for a couple weeks and see if you gain or lose weight. Then adjust calories based on your goals.


#8

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.[/quote]

When you say a teeny bit more, do I take into consideration my workouts when it comes to my calorie requirements? I’ve decided to up my intake to 2500 as it seems to be an average maintenance for my size and see how that works out for a few weeks, if I don’t notice fat going on I’ll increase again. Does that sound like a God’s plan? I know it’ll all take time but in it for the long haul, excited by the little improvements I can see in a short time so looking forward to what the years ahead will bring![/quote]

2500 is likely below maintenance for you, but it’s an okay starting point. Get around 200 g protein per day and lift hard for a couple weeks and see if you gain or lose weight. Then adjust calories based on your goals.
[/quote]

You could be right, I lost a pound and a half last week on 2200 so I’ll see what a jump of 300 cals a day makes for a few weeks. I’m getting the protein but think I was low on fats so upped them a little. I guess it’s all a balancing act while I learn what my body needs. That’s why I’m aiming on the low side at the moment I think, I want the fat to come off anyway so would rather build muscle slower than put fat on and have to lose it again! Probably doesn’t make sense but it’s how my brains working at the moment! lol


#9

How are you feeling right now? Do you have enough energy throughout the day, workouts going well, mood ok? That kind of stuff.

If the answers are somewhere close to ‘good,’ then I’d be inclined to mostly keep doing what I’m doing. As a beginner, I think you can ride these gains for quite a while before you need to make big changes. However, I do agree with the other posters, a few more calories of good food (more protein, veggies, healthy fats) would probably be a good move.

But if things are feeling good and moving in the direction you want them to, keep doing it. A lot of the changes you’re making will take time. You might notice a lot in the beginning, but to really solidify things, it is going to take time.

I also want to say it sounds like you’ve made amazing progress. And you should be able to continue to lean out and gain some muscle by doing what you’ve been doing.


#10

[quote]booksbikesbeer wrote:
How are you feeling right now? Do you have enough energy throughout the day, workouts going well, mood ok? That kind of stuff.

If the answers are somewhere close to ‘good,’ then I’d be inclined to mostly keep doing what I’m doing. As a beginner, I think you can ride these gains for quite a while before you need to make big changes. However, I do agree with the other posters, a few more calories of good food (more protein, veggies, healthy fats) would probably be a good move.

But if things are feeling good and moving in the direction you want them to, keep doing it. A lot of the changes you’re making will take time. You might notice a lot in the beginning, but to really solidify things, it is going to take time.

I also want to say it sounds like you’ve made amazing progress. And you should be able to continue to lean out and gain some muscle by doing what you’ve been doing. [/quote]

I’m feeling really good to be honest, recovering well and can’t wait to get back to the gym! In fact I had to stop myself going in on a rest day earlier this week, want to do more but know over doing it could spoil what I’ve done already so slow and steady is the way I’m going!
Actually I did have a bit of a mood problem recently, started getting angry and a bit aggressive very easily but that’s gone now thankfully! Kinda put it down to maybe a spike in my testosterone from hitting the weights and eating better but like I say its OK now. My mood away from the gym is much better than it was before I started all this. Largely due I think for increased self respect as well as the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
I take in what everyone’s said about eating more and I totally agree, just want to find the right amounts for me and in time gradually and go up from there. One of the reasons I want to get the weight down first is I seem to carry a lot of weight round my back for some reason, I look pretty good in a t-shirt and shorts with having a biggish chest, not too much on my belly and half decent legs but I know it’s lurking round there and it’s got to go! lol Probably daft but it’s a personal goal.
I know it’ll take time and that’s fine by me but it’s good to hear people saying I’m doing OK, thanks man:)


#11

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.[/quote]

When you say a teeny bit more, do I take into consideration my workouts when it comes to my calorie requirements? I’ve decided to up my intake to 2500 as it seems to be an average maintenance for my size and see how that works out for a few weeks, if I don’t notice fat going on I’ll increase again. Does that sound like a God’s plan? I know it’ll all take time but in it for the long haul, excited by the little improvements I can see in a short time so looking forward to what the years ahead will bring![/quote]

2500 is likely below maintenance for you, but it’s an okay starting point. Get around 200 g protein per day and lift hard for a couple weeks and see if you gain or lose weight. Then adjust calories based on your goals.
[/quote]

You could be right, I lost a pound and a half last week on 2200 so I’ll see what a jump of 300 cals a day makes for a few weeks. I’m getting the protein but think I was low on fats so upped them a little. I guess it’s all a balancing act while I learn what my body needs. That’s why I’m aiming on the low side at the moment I think, I want the fat to come off anyway so would rather build muscle slower than put fat on and have to lose it again! Probably doesn’t make sense but it’s how my brains working at the moment! lol [/quote]

Why not try a jump of 100 kcal first, then?


#12

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You don’t have to ‘bulk’ to gain muscle. Eat enough protein, eat a teeny bit more calories than you need (from good food) and get stronger. You’ll have to be patient but it’ll work.[/quote]

When you say a teeny bit more, do I take into consideration my workouts when it comes to my calorie requirements? I’ve decided to up my intake to 2500 as it seems to be an average maintenance for my size and see how that works out for a few weeks, if I don’t notice fat going on I’ll increase again. Does that sound like a God’s plan? I know it’ll all take time but in it for the long haul, excited by the little improvements I can see in a short time so looking forward to what the years ahead will bring![/quote]

2500 is likely below maintenance for you, but it’s an okay starting point. Get around 200 g protein per day and lift hard for a couple weeks and see if you gain or lose weight. Then adjust calories based on your goals.
[/quote]

You could be right, I lost a pound and a half last week on 2200 so I’ll see what a jump of 300 cals a day makes for a few weeks. I’m getting the protein but think I was low on fats so upped them a little. I guess it’s all a balancing act while I learn what my body needs. That’s why I’m aiming on the low side at the moment I think, I want the fat to come off anyway so would rather build muscle slower than put fat on and have to lose it again! Probably doesn’t make sense but it’s how my brains working at the moment! lol [/quote]

Why not try a jump of 100 kcal first, then?
[/quote]

Good point but with everyone saying I’m low on calories and after suggestions and trying a load of calculators I recon 2500 is probably around maintenance for me. Like I said I lost 1.5lbs last week so even without the possibility of putting muscle on I’m way under at 2200 and if I have put some muscle on (which I think I have) I’ve lost even more fat. Which is good so can afford to go up and test the water at 2500 for a bit I think.


#13

I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate


#14

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

Sounds good to me.


#15

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

When you say keep doing what I’m doing, do you mean stick at the 2200 cals?


#16

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

Sounds good to me.[/quote]

I’m with these guys. You feel good, you aren’t forcing things, and you’re getting steady results. Tons of people struggle to find this balance, when you’ve got it, ride it out until it stops working.


#17

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

When you say keep doing what I’m doing, do you mean stick at the 2200 cals?[/quote]

yep


#18

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

When you say keep doing what I’m doing, do you mean stick at the 2200 cals?[/quote]

yep[/quote]

Don’t you think losing 1.5lbs last week might be a bit much though? I’m not interested in my weight so much as how I look, so staying the same weight and losing half a pound of fat and gaining half a pound of muscle would be perfect. I know it doesn’t work exactly like that but you get what I mean. By the way, I’m not questioning the advice at all, it’s very much appreciated, I just want to understand and learn what I’m doing and why, hence all the questions!


#19

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

When you say keep doing what I’m doing, do you mean stick at the 2200 cals?[/quote]

yep[/quote]

Don’t you think losing 1.5lbs last week might be a bit much though? I’m not interested in my weight so much as how I look, so staying the same weight and losing half a pound of fat and gaining half a pound of muscle would be perfect. I know it doesn’t work exactly like that but you get what I mean. By the way, I’m not questioning the advice at all, it’s very much appreciated, I just want to understand and learn what I’m doing and why, hence all the questions! [/quote]

Main point was don’t radically overhaul your diet or training plan while its still working. If you want to add an extra portion of rice/clean carbs etc here and there its fine.

Also dont worry about losing weight too fast, even if you are a bit flat when you hit 185 thanks to muscle memory its nothing a couple large refeeds won’t fix


#20

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

[quote]Dave_70 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
I’d keep doing what your doing til you hit 190/85 and then evaluate[/quote]

When you say keep doing what I’m doing, do you mean stick at the 2200 cals?[/quote]

yep[/quote]

Don’t you think losing 1.5lbs last week might be a bit much though? I’m not interested in my weight so much as how I look, so staying the same weight and losing half a pound of fat and gaining half a pound of muscle would be perfect. I know it doesn’t work exactly like that but you get what I mean. By the way, I’m not questioning the advice at all, it’s very much appreciated, I just want to understand and learn what I’m doing and why, hence all the questions! [/quote]

Main point was don’t radically overhaul your diet or training plan while its still working. If you want to add an extra portion of rice/clean carbs etc here and there its fine.

Also dont worry about losing weight too fast, even if you are a bit flat when you hit 185 thanks to muscle memory its nothing a couple large refeeds won’t fix[/quote]

OK man that makes perfect sense. I might just add a few extra carbs on workout days and that’ll do me for now. Thanks for all the advice, nutrition is by far the hardest part of all this to get my head round! In the gym for me it’s just a case of a basic compound lifting routine and hard work but nutrition is a science! lol