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Tips for Strength and Size?

I’d like to give a little back story before getting into my main question which is advertised as the subject already.

I am a 23 year old male. I weigh about 177 pounds, and my body fat is about 10.5%. I am very slim and have always been athletic, and in recent years I’ve been able to add mass. About 8 months ago I was challenged to a body fat loss contest with 2 friends, and that’s what sparked my consistent lifting. I dropped 3.7% BF in about 7-8 weeks which I was pleased with.

When I was in high school, my senior year, I weighed about 155 pounds and had 1 rep max of approximately 335 squat, 210 bench press, 225 clean and jerk, and 205 snatch. I am not sure about deadlift.

I have changed my training a lot and gone through a lot of off-and-on lifting between high school and college, and now that I’m settled in at my job, I have gotten more consistent and have improved my bench press to 300, deadlift to 400+ (haven’t maxed in a few months), and squat I am not sure about, but I’m going to guess about 375 (although I shouldn’t guess). I don’t do the olympic lifts anymore although sometimes I have a strong desire to do them.

With all of that being said, I feel like my bench press has gone through the roof, but my other lifts haven’t gone up a great deal, and I don’t feel like I’m getting very big except in my chest. For about the past 10 weeks I’ve used a program where Monday is speed upper body (chains/bands), Tuesday is heavy lower body, Thursday is heavy upper body, and Friday is speed lower body (chains/bands).

I have noticed great changes in strength, but I would like to start adding size, and I want to just blow up some serious weight in deadlift and squat.

With that being said, I may not eat enough. Here is my typical nutrition on a training day:

Breakfast: 5 eggs, 1 banana
2nd meal: ~8 ounces lean protein, ~1.5 cups veges
WORKOUT
3rd meal (immediately post-workout): 2 scoops whey protein, water, 1.5 cups oats, 8-9 medium/large strawberries blended together
4th meal (within about 1.5 hours post-workout): ~8 ounces lean protein, ~1.5 cups veges, 1 cup brown rice
5th meal: ~8 ounces lean protein, ~1.5 cups veges, and usually some sort of quick carb like a Fiber One bar or Bear Naked brand oat/fruit mixture

I crave carbs on that last meal. If I don’t get them I feel like I’m not satiated. Throughout the day I feel satisfied, but that last meal and during the evening are the times that I want to cheat my diet because I feel like I don’t have enough carbs.

Also, my diet is not as consistent on the weekends, and I’ll often go out for a nice Mexican dish or something else. I know that my weekend diet plays a crucial role in how successful I am going to be with any program, and I know this is an area that I need to work on.

With that being said, I really need a nice balanced program, and I am always reading each new article as they come out, and I am gaining ideas every day, but the problem is coming up with a balanced program and knowing how long to stick with it. Right now I am trying the routines from “Supersets for Super Results” article, and I have been doing that this week and I frankly love it and feel like my muscles are super fatigued which is good in my experience.

For now, I am looking for general tips to increase strength while adding size. Any help that you all could provide would be very much appreciated. I apologize for my lack of knowledge and ignorance, but we all have to start somewhere, and I want to start young and do the right things.

I personally like eating most of my carbs before I lift (breakfast,snack,lunch,snack) and then post workout. But you only have a bannana and some vegetables so maybe get some more carbs? Works for me, maybe will for you maybe wont. Pretty solid lifing numbers for how much you weigh also

You need food to add size. If your weight isn’t going up, your not going to get much bigger. Eat more. From your workout plan you’ve been doing, it looks like 3 “speed” days and 1 heavy day, which is for lower body. That obviously has worked for you, butnNo wonder your not getting much bigger. You seem like your training like a powerlifter, with the speed days and chains and everything. If you want size look at the people who are the best at putting on size: bodybuilders.

But mainly the food thing. Eat more. If your really 177 lbs and a 300+ bench press, you’re pretty strong especially for your bodyweight. Add more food, and maybe look into changing your workout routine to something more bodybuilding oriented instead of powerlifting oriented. Don’t worry, you’ll still get stronger. That doesn’t mean you can’t still train explosively or do speed work if you want.

Look at Kingbeefs “Do this routine” thread for some ideas for splits. There is no perfect split, and many work. But you need to pick ONE and follow it consistently. Don’t change it for a few months, no matter what a new article says. If after 8-12 weeks your not making any progress, change it. If your making progress, keep it the same.

But seriously, food. Your lean, strong, and im guessing pretty explosive/athletic by your numbers. Eating enough food to consistently gain weight and sticking with a routine for a few months will do wonders for you.

C O N S I S T E N C Y and FOOD !!!

sleep deep, eat meat and lift HEAVY

You will have much better performance in the gym if you swap your meals to 1, 3, 4, 2, 5 (as long as there is at least 45min between 2 and workout). Getting those carbs in before you train will keep you from gassing out (you’ll be able to lift more later in the session).

Jesus dude, why do you hate carbs…? Eat that shit up!

Your numbers are really good for your size so if you’re not gaining size it’s diet. Eat like you mean it and don’t be afraid of carbs or even a little fat gain.

As said add more carbs in before lifting, but you have 2 speed upper days, 1 heavy upper, and 1 heavy lower according to your post. I’m not sure if you meant 1 speed upper and 1 speed lower but maybe you should change it to that so you have 2 upper and 2 lower days instead of 3 upper and 1 lower.

[quote]PlainPat wrote:
As said add more carbs in before lifting, but you have 2 speed upper days, 1 heavy upper, and 1 heavy lower according to your post. I’m not sure if you meant 1 speed upper and 1 speed lower but maybe you should change it to that so you have 2 upper and 2 lower days instead of 3 upper and 1 lower.[/quote]

Yeah, it was a typo. I have a speed upper, heavy upper, speed lower, and heavy lower. 2 uppers a week and 2 lowers a week.

To everyone else, thanks for the tips. I am going to review all those and see how I can change things and see how it helps out. If anyone else comes up with anything else, just let me know. Thank you.

[quote]beardb wrote:
About 8 months ago I was challenged to a body fat loss contest with 2 friends, and that’s what sparked my consistent lifting.

I have changed my training a lot and gone through a lot of off-and-on lifting between high school and college, and now that I’m settled in at my job, I have gotten more consistent[/quote]
You’re a personal trainer, correct?

If you had a client in your current situation - a lean guy who isn’t sure if he’s eating enough and wants to get bigger and stronger - what would your advice be?

[quote]For about the past 10 weeks I’ve used a program where Monday is speed upper body (chains/bands), Tuesday is heavy lower body, Thursday is heavy upper body, and Friday is speed lower body (chains/bands).

I have noticed great changes in strength, but I would like to start adding size, and I want to just blow up some serious weight in deadlift and squat.[/quote]
In the last 10 weeks: How much has your bodyweight increased? How much has your squat increased? How much has your deadlift increased?

[quote]2nd meal: ~8 ounces lean protein, ~1.5 cups veges
WORKOUT
3rd meal (immediately post-workout): 2 scoops whey protein, water, 1.5 cups oats, 8-9 medium/large strawberries blended together
4th meal (within about 1.5 hours post-workout): ~8 ounces lean protein, ~1.5 cups veges, 1 cup brown rice[/quote]
You might want to consider swapping the post workout nutrition for a pre and during workout shake with protein and fast carbs (not oats). That would also let you get another big solid meal in.

If your body is craving carbs/calories in the hours after you workout, feed it. What exactly do your workouts look like - exercises, sets, and reps? Are you doing high volume work with cardio/conditioning finishers?

I take it you’re pretty lean (and can probably see your abs right now). I wouldn’t stress over relaxing your diet on the weekend as long as you’re getting enough protein in addition to whatever else.

Then don’t “come up with one”. Follow one that’s already designed, and pay attention to it so you learn as you go.

This isn’t the type of routine I’d use to make my squat or deadlift blow up, but it won’t hurt you to follow one of the plans for a month or so.

Chris, you did your research on me. I’m impressed. Yes, I am a personal trainer. I am new to the profession, and most of my clients are interested in weight loss. I have a few athletes, and a few people really trying to add mass, and I have programs and ideas that I have used in the past that have been successful, but I really like good, proven information from people who have lived the advice they give.

And my advice would be to stick with a program, see how it works and adjust as needed and to make sure he’s eating enough.

My bodyweight has actually decreased as well as body fat, and muscle mass is about the same, but I feel stronger. I am not sure about the deadlift and squat numbers because I don’t really max out to see where I am.

Thanks for the tip on the nutrition. I definitely think I need to add carbs before I workout and later in the day when I crave them.


Here is a “picture” of my workouts over the last ~10 weeks (they change from week to week but with the same basic structure of 1 explosive upper, 1 explosive lower, 1 heavy lower, 1 heavy upper):

Monday (speed upper):
Banded bench press 8 sets of 3

Superset: tape press 5 sets of 8 with cable tricep pushdowns 5 sets of 8

Superset: Plate raise seated on stability ball 5 sets of 8 with lateral raise 5 sets of 8

Pull-ups 5 sets of 8

Tuesday (heavy lower):
Deadlift 3 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3, 1 set of 1

Superset: Glute ham raise 5 sets of 8 with good mornings 5 sets of 8

Abs

Thursday (heavy upper):
Board press 3 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3, 1 set of 1

Superset: Incline press 5 sets of 5 with rack press (close grip) 5 sets of 5

Superset: Seated DB cleans 4 sets of 8 with face pulls 4 sets of 8

Pull-ups 4 sets of 8

Friday (speed lower):
Banded squat 10 sets of 2

Banded glute ham raises 4 sets of 8

Superset: RDL 4 sets of 8 with KB Swings 4 sets of 8

Abs

Note: I started to use chains as a progression instead of bands.

Just wondering why you wouldn’t use that type of routine? Too much single leg work or do you feel that the longer rest periods and higher weights is more beneficial for mass?

[quote]beardb wrote:
Chris, you did your research on me. I’m impressed.[/quote]
Ha, somehow you made my clicking the “Hub” button and then clicking “Info” sound creepy.

This is solid advice and, not surprisingly, it’s pretty much exactly what you should do. In this case, the “eating enough” part needs some attention.

If your bodyweight is decreasing and you’re losing bodyfat, you’re on a successful fat loss plan. Since you said your goal is to add size (in addition to increasing lower body strength), your nutrition needs fixing. Basically 'ya need to eat more, kid. :wink:

Bump up total calories (from protein, carbs, and fat) and increase intake until the scale starts to go upwards whenever you weigh in (once per week, tops). Until that scale starts moving up, you’re not on the right track for your stated goal.

Some nutrition articles to get some ideas on arranging an eating plan for size:


You don’t have to max out to determine progress. Going from 275x5 to 315x5 or from 365x3 to 405x3 is progress.

I said I wouldn’t use the “Supersets for Super Results” plan and expect a huge increase in my squat or deadlift. That’s because all the superset routines JP wrote about in that article are for hypertrophy, not strength. Good tool, but wrong tool for this job.

You’ve got a few choices. Keep your training the same (or tweak just a bit) and increase your food - the old “train like a powerlifter, eat like a bodybuilder” schtick - or increase your food and use a different training plan that puts at least slightly more emphasis on lower body work and overall volume.

Something like:
http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/blending_size_and_strength_version_2
It still has two upper body days and two lower each week, but the overall higher volume (even on the heavy days) should be more of a growth stimulus. Plus the lower day is focused on simple heavy squats, rather than your current deadlift-based heavy day. Many powerlifters say increasing their squat has more carryover to their dead, than vice versa.

Just some stuff to think about. But really, the highest priority is, as I said, you’re currently on a successful fat loss diet and that should be corrected ASAP.

I actually thought you facebooked me because I forgot I put that in my profile. Kinda funny now that I realize that, and I am sorry for making you sound like a creep… ha!

I am going to check out those articles ASAP to get some more ideas. I really appreciate all of your feedback. I am going to implement it, and I will post my progress after a bit. I am going to revamp my nutrition starting this weekend. I’ve already made my meals for this week, and I have been tweaking as much as I can with what I have for this week, but next week I am going to change it up for sure.

As far as the squat and deadlift numbers, it’s hard to tell how much I actually increased because I did a rotation that was different throughout the weeks where for 2 weeks I’d do heavy deadlift, 2 weeks I’d do heavy front squat, 2 weeks I’d do heavy back squat, etc… always switching it up.

I also see what you’re saying about the supersets for super results workouts. I am going to try it for a month and follow it up with a good strength program. I am gonna do my research and implement the advice and let everyone know how it goes.

Thank you.