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Planning Ahead for the Next Year

Hi Paul.

Lately I’ve been questioning what I did for the last year—Looking at myself in the mirror, I can see some improvements but I don’t know if I actually did everything in my power to make the best gains, and the scale is letting me down even more as I really only weigh about 4 kg more than last year during this same period.

As I talked about in my last thread here, soon I’ll be cutting because I want to get to summer being lean. In the end, I might end up weighing just about the same as last year… All of this after 12 freaking months of training without skipping a workout and trying to eat perfectly.

I don’t know what the issue is here, and I can tell that my strength has surely gone up quite a lot, but I’m just not happy with my muscle mass.
For the last 5 weeks, I noticed something interesting. I started eating 3,000 kcal a day, thinking that it’d be well above my maintenance, but I really didn’t gain weight. I weighted about 77.4 kg.

I bumped it up to 3,300 kcal a day, still no weight gain. I’ve been eating 3,500 kcal for about 10 days now, and when this morning I weighted myself… 77.5 kg.
I was convinced my maintenance was 2,700 kcal from prior experience, but now I’m just confused. I really can’t believe that I might have to eat 4,000 kcal a day to gain weight (many big dudes here are really eating less than that).

Now, there’s not much I can do at the moment. I’ll bump the calories up to 4,000 a day for this last week before the cut to see if the scale moves at all. Fast forward to this summer: I want to be lean during the summer, but at the same time I want to be working on adding muscle mass as soon as possible. This time round I want to get to next summer knowing that I have put on some serious mass and that I did everything perfectly.

  1. I would like some advice as to how I should plan my next 10 months of training (June 2018—April 2019) with the one and only goal in mind being aesthetics. I want to get to next summer with significantly more muscle (as much as nature will allow in this time frame) and then cut and look good.

  2. I’m unsure whether I should focus on my whole body or if I should give more love to those areas that give the body the apparence of being “bigger.” To that regard, I’d eventually like to try your 500 rep shoulder workout and do some specialization phases for the delts, biceps, and back/traps. Upper pecs is also an area I need to improve on.

  3. Does strength training/explosive training have a place in building mass in your opinion? Or should I only train like I’ve been spinning with more traditional bodybuilding methods?

  4. This will be a controversial question but I’ll still try and ask. I made some calculations, and if I spend € 400 I will be able to buy a 5-week supply of Plazma, micro-PA, and Indigo-3g. Is it worth it to spend this money (which for me is currently quite a high price) to get more out of my next mass phase?

  5. I’m thinking of spending the summer training for mass, so eating a surplus but not so high that I gain much fat, then on August do a 4 week cut, and then starting September train for hypertrophy up until April. I would like your take on how to best use this time. As I mentioned, I would like to fit in a couple of spec phases to add muscles in specifically some places, and I need a solid program to follow, and you sure know how to do all of this. So any suggestions?

Excuse me for the long post, I just really felt like including some details.

Hope you find the time to read it all, and THANK YOU for all the advice you’ve been giving to me so far.

  1. It’s beyond the scope of me to help you lay out 10 months of training and nutrition on here. That’s something I do for my clients who pay me.

  2. I have a couple of articles on here as to how to prioritize a muscle group. Generally speaking, you train it twice a week, and put most everything else in maintenance mode. This only works if you’re in a caloric surplus as well.

  3. If more muscle is the goal, then train for that. Not for that and two or three other things at the same time.

  4. Yes I do believe it’s worth it.

  5. You’re getting ahead of yourself. Which you keep doing over and over and essentially overthinking every aspect of your training and nutrition. There’s no way to know if you’ve planned out things perfectly. So much of this is trial and error and there’s no getting around that. It’s also how you learn what works really well for you, and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you, for example, if a routine “looks good” because it might be something that doesn’t work for me, but does for you. That’s part of experience.

Yeah, what I meant is actually: when muscle is the goal, does adding in phases where one does work which isn’t necessarily a traditional hypertrophy split have any value? Sometimes people write that it’s good to add in strength phases because when you go back to hypertrophy training you’ll be able to use more weight for your higher rep sets. This never made much sense to me intuitively, and I see that your approach for mass is indeed more oriented towards progressing with reps rather than weight first.

I’m also asking this with regards to training methods like explosive training which, although wasn’t born to stimulate hypertrophy primarily, has been mentioned by some coaches to be a good tool for hypertrophy. Just curious as to what your take on this is.

Given that € 400 is all I can spend on it, do you suggest I go all-out for 5 weeks (micro PA on workout days only, 2 servings of plazma per workout working out 4 times a week, and Indigo 3g taking a slightly lesser dose on non training days) or that I arrange my doses so I can make it last longer?

I should note that the final amount of money I’ll be spending is the pretty much the same regardless, just want to know if 5 weeks is a large enough time frame to benefit from this or if I should go a little bit more conservative for longer.

I’ll take a read right now, thanks. A quick question—since I mentioned wanting to specialize on delts, biceps, and back, do you think I could group delts and biceps together for a single phase, so I don’t have to do 3 full spec phases.

Also, some people advise against specializing at my stage. What do you think?

I don’t think that explosive training really has any place in the muscle growth paradigm at all. Thibs might feel different, but even he said the Oly lifts won’t get you jacked. And I don’t even think there’s anything about them that is transferable to adding more muscle in a hypertrophic phase.

A strength phase can transfer over because then your rep weights become a smaller percentage of your 1RM, allowing you to do more reps with them. That’s the transferable part.

A lot of progress can be made in five weeks IF you really work hard, and aren’t shuffling around on goals. Which TBH is what I’m picking up here that you struggle with because you seem to have the idea that there’s something more “perfect” out there than what you’re doing. That’s a common theme in your questions. I think if you’ll be honest about it, that’s kind of how you feel. Don’t worry, I’m not judging. I’ve been there. But at some point you just have to decide on something and see it through.

Specialize on three things…think about that for a minute and you’ll have your answer.

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Yes you’re right. I know I have to add muscle to achieve the physique I want, but then I look in the mirror and I realize that I have excess fat. Lower belly, love handles…

So I would like a way to limit fat gain. But then again, sometimes I look in the mirror and I see some good progress, then maybe some hours after that I happen to pass in front of it again and I realize how small I am. Let alone in pics.

So I realize that maybe fat isn’t what I should look after, if I’m still this small. But then I think again about what my goal is—to look good. And I can’t if I’m this fat. See, it’s a vicious circle.

So I thought that maybe the one and only thing to do would be to address one problem and then the other: towards the end of the summer, I’ll get pretty lean, and then bulk up. I’m just afraid I’ll lose even more muscle doing so.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I’m 18 and I’ve been working out since I was 16, so just over 2 years. For the first year I made major mistakes, and for some months I didn’t do things perfectly. But I never stopped working out. Now it’s been at least 8-9 months and I’m doing things ever more seriously, cooking my own meals (I’ve done that for over a year actually) and paying attention to everything. It’s just that sometimes I feel a little down and unhappy with how it’s going—that’s why I’m looking for something “more perfect.”

I don’t know if I’m second guessing everything because I’m not happy with the results, or maybe I’m not getting the results I want because I’ve been second guessing everything.

There is no perfect routine, or diet. So much of what you wrote is really an outward projection about the internalizing you struggle with over your perceived sense of self, i.e. your body image.

So you’re looking for a “fast fix”, which is why you want to do a crash diet, because you want it fixed and fixed now. When what needs to be fixed is really all mental and emotional. You’re not allowing yourself to enjoy the knowledge and experience because you’re so fixated on the end goal. Believing that having it would ultimately make you “happy”. And this is a cycle that so many men get caught up in and lose the whole point of training. It’s there to be something that supplements your life with joy, and not the source of it.

This a marathon, not a sprint. The bad news is you’re not going to have the body of your dreams in a year. And possibly not ever if you DON’T GET YOUR HEAD RIGHT. I don’t wake up each day anymore and agonize over my lifts or how my body looks because those things don’t define me as a man. You’re 18. I get it. You haven’t arrived at that place of self acceptance and lots of men don’t for a long time (some, not ever).

Don’t let your identity become lost in how you look, or a routine, or a diet. Those things should be something you do, in order to become better, but only better in that facet of your life. Right now, from what I’m gathering, you’re placing an enormous amount of your self worth in how you view your body. You’re worth more than your physique. And if you tell yourself that you’ll only be happy when you look a certain way, then you’ll walk through the rest of your life happy or unhappy based on your body. Does that seem like the kind of life you want to live?

It’s a lot of philosophical questions but one all of us as men need to ask from time to time.

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Thank you for the time and the thorough post Paul, I made sure to read it a couple of times and you are so right about it…

I realize how most of this is psychological and I’m just a little sad about how I feel that all I’ve been doing so far might have been for nothing.

But I guess l should just stick to doing this for years and years and eventually I’ll get there, while also working on myself and getting my priorities right. It’ll truly be a marathon.

Thank you for everything Paul, if I ever have the possibility ($$$) I want to be coached from you. I read your blog for sometime and there’s definitely a lot that can be learned from you, and not just training/nutrition wise.

Have a great day!

Most of us go through these things. You’re not alone in that struggle. What’s important is to recognize it and make an effort to understand the “why?” underneath it, and deal with that as well.

We all deal with insecurities that drive our anxiety that can cause feelings of “less than” or being unworthy. So we train and eat and try to fake it until we make it in other aspects of our life. It won’t work. At least, it’s not sustainable and it’s never fulfilling.

Enjoy your training because you CAN. Don’t let it be the thing that defines you and don’t let your current level of development be something that defines you either. If you’re in this for the long haul then enjoy all the little struggles that come with it. Because if you don’t, years will go by and you’ll look back and realize how much of that time was filled with valleys and feeling low because you placed your worth in that.

Chin up, homie.

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