T Nation

Not Gaining


Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
Just turned 43 and have been working out in the local gym 5days p/w for two years. Started at 200 lbs with 21%bf. Came down to 150 with lots of cardio, but was too thin. In the past year I've added high complex carbs with plenty of protein to match current body weight of 167 lbs 15%bf approx 3000 cal/day.

No gains in weight nor have I been able to bring any significant increases in lifting in the past 6 months. I suspected a T deficiency, so went to Dr to check out. Dr suspected that the Propecia I was taking might be causing something. T results came back with 805ng/dl. Dr stated with that high of a count she would not admin T therapy.

My workout consists of Back/Bicep, Legs, Shoulders/Traps, Chest/Tri. with an added day on shoulders. I've limited my cardio to just a 10 min warmup and 10 min cool down. I have having been doing my homework and have read the newbie threads, read and read all of the material on T. My objective is to gain about 20 lbs and drop the bf to 10%. I've been eaing 6 meals p/day and cannot get any more food in me!


You are in obvious need of a jump start here. 6 mos. with no noticeable change, when that is what you are looking for is a sure sign. Times a week means nothing. What you do with that time means everything.

I'd like to see you go to 3, no more than 4, lifting days a week. Change up your rep/set scheme. You did not list any, but my guess is you are doing maybe 3 sets of 10 or maybe a pyramid type workout. Change that up. Do maybe 6-8 sets of 4-6 reps of "big" lifts. Stick with multi-joint ex. and throw in some add-ons at the end of your workout depending on what scheme you choose.

Total body 3 times a week, or switch upper and lower body for 4 workouts a week. If you go with 4 workouts change the parameters each time you do an upper or lower. First lower 6 sets of 4--second workout 4 sets of 8-10.

Take a look at your diet. You eat 6 times a day, but what is the basic nutrient breakdown. Focus on getting enough protein throughout the day. Plenty of complex carbs early in the day. And make sure to get plenty of good fats a day. Especially at our age, I feel Omega-3's are VITAL. If you buy them at a store you should probably take 2-3 pills 2-3 times a day--minimum. Flax and olive oil are also very beneficial.

Your present workout is somewhat old fashioned so read some of the articles here. That doesn't mean it can't work, but it isn't for you right now so especially focus on changing this part of your program. Good luck


Your correct, std 3 sets of 10 is what I've been using.

Diet starts off at 05:00 with a snack high carb, low protein. Workout at 06:00, follow workout with high carb high protein shake at gym, follow up with bfast - 3 egg whites or high fiber cereal. Lunch, grilled chik with salad no dressing. Afternoon protein shake with banana/Straw-b no fat milk. Dinner- chik or lean groud beef with salad/Veg/ brn rice - no dressing. Last protein drink at 9:00pm with frsh fruit, no fat milk.
Supplements: multi vit, flaxseed oil caps 1000mg. CLA 3000 mg, creatine


This doesn't look that bad, but it might be a little 'lite in the butt' for you to gain muscle mass with. 3 egg whites might only equal 100 cals. Not near enough for this meal. A good place to add some more calories. Take advantage of that window for several hours after your workout.

I see a little conundrum here. You want to gain weight and muscle mass, yet lose body fat. This is extremmely difficult. Try to do one or the other and 'step' your way to your goal. i believe you will find this much more effective.

Make a short term goal to add 10 lbs with heavy strength training. Then change parameters to lose 5 lbs of bodyfat--etc.... Continue till you hit your goal weight.

Trying to attain both simultaineously usually leaves you spinning your wheels.

Plan. Execute. Enjoy the ride.

I think you could also benefit greatly from the addition of fish oil--omega-3s. Good for joint health, inflammation, recovery...just a fantastic supplement. More bang for your buck than CLA. Even flax. If you can only take one oil/fat supp., make it omega


Try eating more. I'm eating 3500 per day at 157lbs and have been making pretty good progress.


Ok, first off. I recommend takeing a week or two off. Just, dont lift for a week or two.

Then, come back refreshed and keep the workout days to 3 a week, and do a full body each day. Keep the exercises compound with MAYBE 1 or two isolations at the END of your workout.

Keep the volume somewhat low, dont go longer than 50 mins. Also, keep the intenseity very high.

You should also get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night.



Sasquatch has given you some good advice. In addition to this, I would suggest that you read Vroom's "Are You a Beginner II" thread. This thread has a heap of different workouts for you to try.

A couple of things:

  1. Everything works, but only for a certain period of time. You have to change things every so often to continue to get results. This includes both training and diet.

  2. Try and accomplish goals one at a time.

  3. I would relook at your diet, as it seems a little light on. The work by the nutritionists on T-Nation is top notch. Some links are also on Vroom's thread.

  4. Good luck.


Sorry for the hijack here. When you guys recommend migrating to an upper-body/Lower body split, what are the parameters wrt total # of sets?

For example, if I'm doing upper body at 3-4x6, would that be 3-4 sets for each upper muscle group (i.e. arms, back, chest, shoulders)? Or, 3-4 sets x 6 of 2-3 movements/muscle group?

I've always broken my routine down to the more typical 5 days/week @ 1-2 bp's per workout, so this might be a nice modification.

Thanks for the insight, fellas.


Seems like these guys have covered the basis for eating and supplements, lets talk about what excersizes your doing. Are you sticking with the basics (ie: bench, squats, deads, pull-ups, chins, etc.) or are you getting on a machine the mother of 3 from next door is using for her workouts?

If your not basing your entire workout around compound movements, it needs to be changed immediatly. Once your on that for a month plus, start supplementing other excersizes as you see fit, but keep those compound movements as the base of your workouts.



It seems to me you're getting very little fat in your diet and an excess of carbohydrates, have you read any of Berardi's stuff?

Would you mind calculating the number of calories you get from fat for me? Fat plays a central role in building muscle and overall health, and it seems your intake is on the extremely low side. Any reason for this?


Eat more. Especially on lifting days.
Try Omega-3 eggs instead of egg whites.
Add some nuts and sunflower kernels. Add some higher carb veggies like peas, lima beans, corn, etc.
Try OVT or one of Waterbury's programs for lifting.


What are your goals? If you're looking to gain muscle, you should problem add volume. If you chosen a weight that you can do 6 rep sets with, 18-24 reps is most likely sub-optimal for hypertrophy. Check out Chad Waterbury's article:


So, in short 3-4 x 6 is not enough for each muscle group. The volume needs to be more than that. You can raise the volume and either do one compound exercise per muscle group or do multiple exercises per muscle group as you asked. The best approach might be to stick with one compound exercise each workout and alternate. (ie-vertical motions like dip and pull-up and horizontal motions like bench and row the next workout). After doing your compound work with the appropriate amount of volume, you can do some isolation armwork if you wish.

Actually, your best bet-check out Waterbury's ABBH


may be time to ditch the propecia...hair or significant gains...you'll have to weigh the options...

do a different routine for a while...

don't attempt to gain mass and lose body fat at the same time...these two objectives should be done at different stages...

for me, this is where the protein shakes come in...when I just can't possibly eat another bite but still need more calories I drink a protein shake...

good luck!


Maybe-does it really interfere? Cy?


Great info, thanks everyone! To answer a few questions, I will focus on adding on 10 lbs and not be as concerned as as was regarding adding any fat. I realize that I have been too focused limiting fat.

As to equipment, I've weened myself off of the machines at the gym and have placed a good amount of effort on free weights, but do rely upon the smith to assit without falling on my ass.

I would really like to hear Cy's comments on the propecia. I've still got a lot on top and I see what lies ahead with my dad and older bro if I stop taking it!


Thanks, JSB...I'll give that a read and put something together accordingly. Cheers


Not sure if you've read this or not, but I thought I'd throw it out there just in case: