T Nation

No Gains / Fat Distribution


#1

Okay guys, I'm in need of some desperate and knowledgable help please! I'll try keep this short but wanna give a concise story.

From a family of bad genetics, at 19/20 years old I decided to break the trend and lose weight. After reading up about nutrition and how to lift I went from 90kg to about 72kg.. Great, never have I been this lean.

For just over a year I ate around and sometimes over a maintenance with a variety of bro splits/ LPP/ 5x5. My strength increased, but fat came too quickly and I'd cut back down. This September I measured 5'11", 76.5-77kg and around 10% bf...

I've decided to bulk, around 2600-2700 calories on an L/U-L/P/P split for the past 3 months and lifts have slightly improved, (marginal) but weight has increased to 82kg. But a LOT of body fat (14/15%?). (See pics attached)

My current lifts are:
Squat 100kg x 5
Incline Bench 70kg x 5
Deadlift 130kg x 5

My strength is pretty good for my size, as I look tiny. 14.5 inch arms but a 32 inch waist.

KEY NOTES: My fat distribution is to my hips, I do have mild uneven gyno (even when lean, just a cold picture) - my test came back at 9.8 and 11.7 (normal is between 11 and 30 nmol/l).. I'm 22 btw.

KEY QUESTIONS: Why won't I increase muscle mass? Is this a hormonal thing? Why do I look so small for my weight? Does anyone have any advice please? It's killing me - my dedication to diet and gym is driving my crazy!

Thanks in advance all

http://postimg.org/image/i5jxa7b6r
http://postimg.org/image/ecb6qcxzh/


#2

Muscle growth takes time. A long time, for natural lifters with average genetics.

So first thing is to moderate your expectations. You’re not going to suddenly get jacked in 3 months. Plan longterm – 10 lbs of muscle in a year, say. You will look a lot bigger if you can do that, but it works out to small gains per week and requires consistency with both diet and training. I suspect you are way below “optimal” with both of those things.

Dietwise you might be eating too many carbs/fat or a combination of both, or too much junk. Or you’re just underestimating calories or eating too many overall. Probably a combination. If you’re concerned about bodyfat, aim to gain 1/2 lb of bodyweight per week, no more.

Training-wise I suspect there are issues also because, no offense, your strength is NOT pretty good for your size. Not sure why you think it is, unless you’re comparing yourself to really skinny / out of shape guys at the gym. Compare yourself to guys with the same degree of dedication to lifting as you, and you’ll find you’re pretty weak. Focus your training on getting a lot stronger and gradually increasing total volume over time.

If you add 100 lbs to all your lifts while gaining 1/2 lb per week for 6 months I bet you’ll gain significant muscle.


#3

[quote]craze9 wrote:
Muscle growth takes time. A long time, for natural lifters with average genetics.

So first thing is to moderate your expectations. You’re not going to suddenly get jacked in 3 months. Plan longterm – 10 lbs of muscle in a year, say. You will look a lot bigger if you can do that, but it works out to small gains per week and requires consistency with both diet and training. I suspect you are way below “optimal” with both of those things.

Dietwise you might be eating too many carbs/fat or a combination of both, or too much junk. Or you’re just underestimating calories or eating too many overall. Probably a combination. If you’re concerned about bodyfat, aim to gain 1/2 lb of bodyweight per week, no more.

Training-wise I suspect there are issues also because, no offense, your strength is NOT pretty good for your size. Not sure why you think it is, unless you’re comparing yourself to really skinny / out of shape guys at the gym. Compare yourself to guys with the same degree of dedication to lifting as you, and you’ll find you’re pretty weak. Focus your training on getting a lot stronger and gradually increasing total volume over time.

If you add 100 lbs to all your lifts while gaining 1/2 lb per week for 6 months I bet you’ll gain significant muscle.[/quote]

Thanks for your reply dude…

My concern was the amount of fat I’d put on in just 3 months with such a small caloric surplus. Macros looking like 180-200g protein, 200-300g carb and 70g fat. Carbs and fats varying on rest and workout days but would be hitting 2600-2700 p/day.

I find my weight on the scales fluctuates by even 2lbs per day (same time) - is there a way of balancing this out to ensure consistency to track this small goal of 1/2lb p/week

Have been comparing my lifts to people who look my size. I look skinny but some how weigh quite a bit. Doesn’t seem right - perhaps I’m deluded haha.

My split looks like:

Lower:
Squat 3x5
Leg Press 3x10
Back Extensions 3x10
Curls 3x10
Calf/Ab Superset

Upper (Pull) (Trying to fix Kyphosis):
Lat Pulldowns 3x10
Face Pulls 3x10
Cable Rows 3x10
Lateral Raises 3x10
Tricep Pressdowns 3x10 SUPERSET Bicep Curls 3x10

Rest, followed by Lower:
Squat 3x5
DL 3x5
RDL 3x8-10
Leg ext/curl Superset 3x10-12
Calf work

Push:
Incline (avoid flat coz of gyno) 3x5
Shoulder press/OHP 3x8-10
Tricep Push down 3x10
Tricep Ext/Ab superset 3x10
Lat Raises (sometimes)

Pull:
BOR 3x5
Cable Row (close grip) 3x8-10
Pull ups/downs 3x10
Face pulls/rear flies Superset 3x10
Curls (any) 3x10

Rest and repeat.

I sleep 8 hours if I’m lucky (try and get 10 on the weekends). Is the above something I should be addressing or is it fine?

Thanks again


#4

based on alot of threads like yours,
you may want to get bigger and stronger but,
your diet and training is probably geared to stay lean


#5

First, I’d point out that you haven’t gained THAT much fat, and that some fat gain is unavoidable when trying to gain muscle. Worrying about it too much can be counterproductive.

DIET. I think it’s likely you’re underestimating calories, at least some of the time. If I were you I’d stick with exactly 200 g protein, 250 g carbs, 70g fat for at least a week and see how bodyweight responds. Then slowly increase carbs up to 300 g or so. As bodyweight / strength increases slow/stall over the next months you can add more carbs and fat to increase the surplus.

If you’re eating/drinking mostly the same stuff from day to day your bodyweight really shouldn’t fluctuate that much. I weigh myself first thing every morning and the results are pretty predictable based on what I ate the previous day. That said, it’s not the worst thing in the world if you gain a little more than 1/2 a pound in a week – just stay consistent with diet.

If you really want to dial everything in you can focus on food quality (most carbs from vegetables / whole grains) nutrient timing (most carbs around workout), and other minutiae, but the most important thing is overall macros by far.

TRAINING. Where do I start. Lots of room for improvement with your split. The easiest thing might be to buy the 5/3/1 e-book and read it cover to cover (a lot of good info), then choose a template from there, such as Boring But Big. But assuming you want to keep your current split - Lower, Upper, rest, Legs, Push, Pull - I would basically increase the volume.

One of the dumbest “fitness rules” out there is that a workout shouldn’t be longer than 45 minutes or an hour max – that nonsense screwed me up for years. For example, if you’re only going to bench once per week you can hit it really hard - way more than 3 sets. But given the split you have I’d make your “Upper” day a heavier day where you focus on weight progression and your push/pull days more volume-based.

For example:

UPPER
Bench / Incline - 4x6
Row - 4x6
Shoulder Press - 4x6
Weighted Pullup - 4x6
Heavy curls / tricep movement (6-10 reps)

Then keep your push/pull days more or less the same but include a DB pressing movement for chest and do more total sets in the 8-15 rep range with relatively shorter rests (1-2 minutes).

Your lower body work looks more or less fine – just focus on progressing the big movements. Add 5 lbs to the squat per workout for as long as possible, when that gets really hard drop the weight 20% and increase the reps and work your way back up. You could also move deadlifts to “pull” day. Don’t do curls on the lower day.

As far as kyphosis, don’t program your main work around that, just do a lot of upper back overall, spread throughout the week. Buy bands and do a variety of band pull-aparts (different hand positions) every day. Mostly try to keep elbows above shoulders. Then do slightly heavier upper back work when you train back – e.g. face pulls w/ rope 4 x 15.

Also consider adding some cardio/conditioning, if you aren’t doing that. Even just walking. Eg 30-60 min fast/incline walking per day.

EDIT: or just do the 5-day split in the first post here: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/power_building_4_days_workout


#6

Try not to let this hormone shit get in your head. It will drive you crazy if you start to believe it. You can build a LOT of strength and muscle mass even in the lower end of the normal testosterone ranges. Not even saying you have low levels, I am just saying that you can accomplish a lot without worrying about anything to do with hormones. There are women that are way stronger than you, that are natural, and obviously with less than ideal hormone profiles than you I am sure. The difference is years of hard work and persistence, not hormones.

The whole process takes a lot of time, food, patience, experimenting and hard ass work. Don’t think it is anything less.

Great advice above, just wanted chime in.


#7

Thank you both for your replies.

Especially craze, I appreciate your time!

Addressing the fat, I understand some fat gain is unavoidable, but I know it can be kept minimal, should I cut off a few pounds and start back up, or just forget the bf and go for size over xmas?


#8

[quote]ltmk wrote:
Thank you both for your replies.

Especially craze, I appreciate your time!

Addressing the fat, I understand some fat gain is unavoidable, but I know it can be kept minimal, should I cut off a few pounds and start back up, or just forget the bf and go for size over xmas?[/quote]

It just depends on your priorities. Either is okay. Personally I think that a guy at your level who doesn’t worry too much about bodyfat – i.e., staying lean and “aesthetic” – and can just focus on getting bigger and stronger for 6 - 12 months at a time is going to make better progress than the guy who is cutting/bulking continually.

Minimizing fat gain is a good idea, but not at the expense of progress in your training. So you might eat at maintenance calories for a few weeks and see how your workouts go and then gradually increase to a surplus that has you gaining ~ 2 lbs / month in order to fuel progress in the gym.

In other words: focus on training. On making continual progress week-to-week, in terms of weight on the bar, max rep sets, total volume, etc. Focus on getting stronger and increasing your work capacity with every workout, and base your nutrition on supporting that. If you’re training really hard in the gym and doing conditioning work and eating clean and watching total calorie intake, it will be hard to gain too much fat.