T Nation

Taking a Step Back and Re-Evaluating


Hi guys thanks for reading. Very long post btw!

Current situation:

So I’ve been training on an off for quite a long time, some long consistent bouts in that time, started very skinny when I was 18 probably 8st at 6ft, currently 12st at the age of 25, been training hard and consistently since January.

Everyone will probably say I’m too small to have weakness’ but id still like to put it out there, calves and chest are probably the most out of proportion muscle, other than that I’m fairly happy. My chest more so because of a shoulder issue that won’t go.

Some disfunctions I’ve noticed which id like to point out are my body turns to the left if i attempt one leg squat or step up, weakness in right glute?
Left shoulders had a nagging problem for a long time, exasperated by flies, most likely to do with scap/ lower traps and external rotators I feel, with my left shoulder in front external rotations even resting at the top of the movement proves to be quite difficult. I’ve worked hard on my back with rows and pull ups and now it’s probably my best feature and favourite muscle to train. Though I can row 90kg I’ve noticed I’ve got a habit of shrugging my left shoulder so i’m working on that by lowering weight and going for high rep.

Current routine
Push pull legs

Deadlift 3x5-8
Pull ups 3xF
Barbell row 2x10-12
Seated row 2x10-12
Barbell curls 2x12-15

Db press 3x8-10
Incline press 2x10-12
Press 3x6-8
Lateral raises 2x12-15
Push ups 3xF
Push downs 2x12-15

Squats 2x10-12
Leg press 3x6-8
Stuff leg deadlift 2x12-15
Leg extension 2x15-20
Calf raises 3x8-10
Calf raises 2x10-12

Apart from adding calf raises and changing dips to push ups, this routine I copied exactly from a article on myprotein, I wouldn’t have planned the sets and reps exactly same but I’ve not been progressing how I’d like so thought I’d give the routine benefit of doubt and just eat well and train hard.

Before this I did a upper lower 4 day routine with a lot of volume and found it quite taxing which is why I’ve lowered to three days.

Currently look like this with less pump

Any advice on where to go from here would be great. Goals just been standard get bigger and stronger while keeping body fat below 15%


Pretty vague goals … But you do have a pretty good physique for someone who just has trained “on and off.” I would say start eating more and put on some mass. Its a lot harder to build muscle than to lose fat so any excess weight can be dieted off later. I think that will spark your pec growth as well. Does your shoulder issue prevent you from flat benching with a barbell?


Barbell bench isn’t too bad but I don’t find I get a good mmc in the chest, feel it more in shoulders and tri’s

If I had to be specific about goals

Squatting 150kg
Deadlifting 180kg
Pressing 80kg
Standing ab roll
Move healthy


Those are strength goals … The program you have written is more of a bodybuilding program. If its getting stronger you want I’d look at a program built for that. 5x5 programs are probably best for pure strength. 5/3/1 is better if you need to customize the assistance work a bit. Either way with most of your lifts in the 10-12 rep range you will have a much easier time getting stronger with lower reps and heavier weight.

Also, eat more!


Keep progressing on your main lifts, while you use the assistance exercises to fix your problems. Rows and pull ups worked for awhile, Now you have to fix your scap/lower traps to keep moving forward. You could try facepulls and 1 arm dumbbells rows at a new angle. Or shrugs, or underhand rows. Whatever makes you “feel” the muscles you need.

Same for lower body. Keep the squats and deads moving up, but add in some step ups, or lunges, or standing leg curls. Whatever you need to “straighten out.”

As you bring up your weakness, and get used to moving through ranges (like external shoulder rotation) that are uncomfortable, you will start to move better.


That’s true but it’s hard to be specific about goals in size but you wanted me to be more specific.

I’m not eating loads because that imo is bad advice, why would I eat and get fat. That’s one way to mess up nutritional partitioning. Plus why look good for only few months of year. Rather diet smartly and eat to my bodies needs.


So is trying another exercise better than using lighter weight to fix the bad movement pattern?


Here is a size goal: Gain 7 kg over the next six months, compare before and after pictures, then re-evaluate. I have no investment in what your goals are so you don’t have to come up with something to humor me.

I didn’t say eat til the wheeels fall off either. But if you want to get bigger and/or stronger you need to eat more. You have a decent physique but you are small. You will stay small unless you eat more. Period. Noone is telling you to turn into a fat bastard but if you are unwilling to eat more you will not get bigger.


I’m eating more than I’m burning that’s not really a problem, just started to slow down/ stagnate in terms of visual improvements plus the little nagging problems I mentioned. I’m also interested to know if I need to try periodisation or incorporate drop sets, rest pause will something like that get me past this sticking point or should I just keep pushing to improve be it reduced rest between sets, or 1 extra rep etc


Don’t overthink it … The number one thing you need is consistency with your meals and your training. Like I said its much better to set incremental, attainable goals and make small adjustments as needed than overhauling your entire approach once the gains slow down. So your outlook might look like this:

Follow a program and commit to a diet for 6 months
Gain 7 kg over those 6 months
Compare before and after pictures

Maybe you notice your shoulders look great but your pecs didn’t grow as much as you wanted. At this point maybe you change up the chest exercises you are using, or incorporate new methods like rest pause, drop sets, etc like you mentioned. NOT completely changing everything you are doing in the gym.

This is just an example, I’m not telling you these need to be your goals. Its just better to address issues as they arise, not try to solve every problem before it happens. Always move forward in your training as opposed to sideways.


Yes, “targeting” weak muscles or movement patterns with specific exercises is way better than continuing to do the same moves over and over, hoping for different results.

This is what separates Training from Exercising.


I think you’re doing fine. Your physique is good and considering where you started from you obviously know how to eat and train, so keep on keeping on.

Trust your instincts. Eat how you feel you should eat and train how you feel you should train. It’s worked for you so far and there’s no reason to think it won’t in future.

I honestly don’t think you need any advice


Looking good. Try 5//3/1 triumvirate with 4 week deload -will lower nagging injuries and have you feeling fresher even tho 4 days a week. Better for strength gains also…

whether do this or stick to current plan add in a good amount of rear delt/facepulls/prehab stuff on upper body days


Cheers guys, I think you’re right yogi I don’t really think that routine is great just still think of my self as been a bit of a beginner, some exercises missing that I would class as necesities like rear delt work, I also like front squats. Appreciate the triumvirate suggestion I’ve done that a long time ago did get some nice strength gains but was back when I didn’t have great mmc so probably missed on on proper size gains.


You dont need to eat loads but you may find you reach a point where you need a small calorie surplus to keep progressing.

While you are still improving, I wouldn’t change anything. You need to leave some tricks up your sleeve when what you’re doing now stops working.


few sets of rear delt flyes in between sets of curls on your pull day would work nicely, and you can sub in front squats whenever you want.

Although it’s a good idea for beginners to stick to a pre-written routine, once you’ve built a bit of muscle and understand how this training thing works it’s totally ok to fuck around with routines and tailor them to yourself. That’s the fun part! Your training is going to constantly train and evolve.


I enjoy writing programs never get any verification on whether it’s well written though.

This is one I’ve recently written what do you think?

Shoulders and triceps
Press 4x6-8
Lateral raises 3x12-15
Rear delt flies 3x12-15
Shrugs 4x8-10
Skull crushers 3x8-10
Rope cable tricep extensions 3x10-12
Push downs 2x12-15

Pull ups 4xF
Barbell row 4x8-10
Pull downs 3x10-12
Seated row 3x10-12
Straight arm pull downs 2xF
Calfs 3x12-15

Chest and biceps
Db press 4x6-8
Incline 3x8-10
Press ups 3xF
Barbell curls 4x8-10
Rope cable hammer curls 3x10-12

Squats 4x6-8
Stiff leg deadlift 4x8-12
Leg press 3x10-12
Lying leg curls 3x10-12
Leg extensions 2x15-20
Hypers 2xF
Calfs 3x8-10

A question I’ve had but never asked better, same or worse to do less exercises more sets?


That plan is not something I would follow or advise someone else to follow. That said, who the hell cares what I think. I don’t train as a bodybuilder and I don’t coach bodybuilders, although most of the younger athletes I train do like to flex and preen and have “Suns Out, Guns Out” shirts.

Does that entire plan have a purpose? Every rep scheme, exercise order, and the muscle group split?

If the answer is yes and you understand why, go for it. Writing plans is fun. It’s like looking at new houses. Cool to imagine all of the things you can do with it.


ok, well in my opinion there’s a few changes you could make.

  • On your shoulders and triceps day I don’t think you need three triceps exercises. Do 2 but make one a long-head focussed exercise. So you could do cable pushdowns and PJR pullovers. You could also superset your triceps exercises with shoulder exercises (so pushdowns with laterals, PJRs with shrugs or whatever). I’m a big fan of supersets; keeps your heart rate up, intensity high, etc.

  • Some sort of flye variation on chest day.

*MUCH higher reps for your leg press. Feel the burn! Go for horribly high like 20-30 reps. Quads love high reps.

Other than that, I think you’re pretty much good to go. Don’t be scared to high intensity techniques like mechanical drop sets, run-the-rack or whatever either.


Look up the kingbeef thread -similar split templates but better.

Generally just read around the site -ther’s a lifetime of highly effective routines that willl save you loads of trial and error.
If worried about volume loads of people have had great results form this…