T Nation

Stuck in a Rut: What Would You Do?


I’ve been stuck in the same ridiculous yo-yo rut of gain a little, cut a little for my entire time lifting now. I know I have some mental body issues I need to work out but I thought with others opinions I might be able to stay the path. Commiting to food or working out is easy but commiting to a goal has been a huge challenge. I am 32 currently and want to be bigger, stronger, and leaner but where to start. 6’ and 186lbs, with a BF I’d hate to actually know. What would you do in my shoes, slowly add mass or lean up a little first? Any opinions would be appreciated!


Focus on some performance goals for awhile… say like squatting x amount of reps for x amount of weight things of that nature. You would be surprised how much your body will respond as long as your also keeping your diet reasonable.

its not like your a fat ass…personally if Id say put some more muscle on your frame if possible and dont get hung on BF%.at the moment.

i assume you are fixated on how other might view your appearance?


If you have trouble committing to a goal than I would pick a goal that is simple, already laid out, and has a definitive timeline. I would choose a program from this site (not a template) and run it to the end. Don’t worry about getting bigger or stronger or anything else except completing the program.
There are lots of good ones one here but I am only closely familiar with some of Wendler’s programs. Choose something long with a timeline. the beyond series, or boring but big 3 month challenge are very good. I’ve also heard some of Thibaudeau’s programs are good but I’ not very familiar with them.
Again, choose something already laid out so that you don’t have to think about it too much, then attack it with one goal in mind, to finish it.


Do this first and this

Will be easier to achieve, possibly even while getting stronger.

Then work on this

I found it easier to get leaner when I had a bit more muscle. I’m the same age as you, and started at a very similar weight.

@bulldog9899 and @Roran are on the money. Definitely try a mapped out challenge out of Beyond, there are a few on this site.


Thanks bulldog. I definitely have issues with other’s views, as dumb as it sounds. I haven’t had a shirt off in public for years. I’ve always leaned towards wanting to do size and strength as I know for cut there isn’t much there but then everytime I sit and get that belly rollover on the pants I want to change lol. Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it


That makes a ton of sense. I personally love Thib’s writing and so I will look at something from him probably but will also glance at Wendler first. I’ve actually been using templates a lot and really struggling with them and so I love that you brought that up…Makes sense. Thanks a lot!


Thank you. I really like how you’ve all echoed each other’s opinions. I don’t have many friends who are fit at all and so bouncing things like this off them is pointless.


clean up your diet first


It’s a difficult one, and nobody else can really answer it for you.

If you absolutely hate your body fat percentage, getting bigger and stronger isn’t going to improve that, and could potentially make it a lot worse.

I would argue that you would be a lot happier and more confident if you got leaner first, but it’s up to you to prioritise, and stick with it.


Coach Rip would tell you to put on 40 lbs.


For what it’s worth, I was in a pretty similar position a few months ago and just decided to get lean. Decided I wasn’t going to freak out over feeling small, decided I wasn’t going to refeed as soon as I had a bad workout – I was just going to get lean. I’m not there yet, but I’m down more than 20 lbs and a lot happier with myself than I was 16 weeks ago.


absolutely this. There is no reason to not start eating well TODAY, if you ‘have no problem committing to food’. If I were in your shoes, the first thing I would do is start making better food selection choices. For many people, this will go a long way, and the effort required is relatively minimal. You can start counting calories and tracking food more closely later, but for now, just eating the right sorts of things will go a long way. Doing this along with a basic, proven lifting program is all you need at the stage you’re at. You can redefine more specific goals as you go along, once you’ve built a stronger, leaner foundation.


I’m going to second pretty much all of the above excellent advice:

Look at eliminating the obvious crap from your diet to start with. Check T Nation for Nate Miyaki articles or google ‘precision nutrition how to fix a broken diet’. If you clean up your diet you’ll probaby find that you start dropping fat without obsessing over calories or macronutrient ratios. You won’t need to worry about that stuff if you’re just trying to look a bit better. Even if you want to get shredded you won’t have to concern yourself with those things until you’re almost there.

For training my personal recommendation would be stick to a beginner’s program focused on getting stronger on the main compound movements squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press and chin/pull ups (or some other variation like horizontal rows) use linear periodisation and milk that for all of the strength gains that you can. Have a look for stronglifts 5x5 or 5/3/1 for beginners.

Following the above nutrition and training approach will guarantee an improved body composition provided you’re consistent and you work hard.

I’d also disregard any concerns about what others think about how you look. In my experience everybody has their own issues and each individual focuses on thier own problem far more than others. So while you may be uncomfortable with your body because you feel that others may be judging you, in all reality those others are probably more concerned with what they look like. We all magnify the bits that we don’t like. So while you may not like certain bits of your body, others may not even see why you are so unhappy with that particular ‘bit’.

Good luck to you


I agree with Bulldog. Just focus on adding muscle and the fat problem will sort itself out once you keep accumulating faster metabolic rate. It won’t happen overnight.


Thank you to everyone who provided input, I appreciate it all. I find it really reassuring that the majority agree on the same basic principles. My diet is honestly really clean but I’ve never calorie counted and so that could be the next step. The biggest issue was the chronic switching between surplus and deficit that led to my spinning wheels. I’m going to just hammer at this CT program for months, do some loaded carries and sled work, and eat a little above maintenance and see where I’m at. Power Building 4 Days Workout

Thanks folks!