T Nation

Training Rut

As of the last year I have had a problem building lean muscle mass. I know what you’re thinking you see a ton of these post a week but hear me out.

When I began lifting weights I weighed 140lbs, the first year I trained (w/ frequency 1/wk by the way) I built up to 180lbs, both fat and muscle mass. It was a great start and lifting was something I never questioned, studied, or anything I just trained hard and kept things the same all year around.

About the time the second year rolled around I found T-Nation and began educating myself. This brought in a whole new world of ideas and I left my old program and started trying all kinds of new methods, by the end of the second year I had lost about 16lbs of fat mass and gained 8lbs of lean mass bringing me to 170lbs 9% body fat, abs visable.

This last year has been the problem year, since last year at 170lbs (5’10") 9% body fat. I am now currently…170lbs same body fat…so I have gone no where.

I feel that I know how to eat and know how to train hard but I am not seeing progress in a whole year so something is wrong. Every time I try to add extra calories I watch my waist expand and my musculature measurements stay the same. I will pack on 5-10lbs and gain an inch on my waist while my arms, thighs, chest, etc stay the same. I then back track and get rid of the added fat which takes no time at all, but this cycle has been repeating itself for a year.

I recently switched to full body training about three months back and it has helped with the strength of my lifts but it’s incredibly hard to recover and my body composition really goes no where. Maybe I need more recovery time to grow.

This is my training.

Day I
Squat 3-5rm
Overhead Press 3-5rm
Romanian Deadlift 4x8
DB Row 4x8
Parallel-Bar Dip (chest) 3x10
Curl 3x10
Extension 3x10

Day III
Bench Press 3-5rm
Front Squat 4x8
Support Row 5x6
Back Extension 1xF
Pull-Up 4x8
Extension 3x6
Curl 3x6

Day V
Deadlift 3-5rm
Chin-Up 5x6
DB Overhead Press 4x8
Leg Press 3x10
DB Bench Press 4x8
Curl 3x8
Extension 3x8

  • Every fourth week OFF
  • 4,000kcal on training days
  • 3,500kcal on OFF days
    (this calories are what I use to gain weight, which ends up all fat weight, if I drop to 3500 training days and 3000 off days I maintain weight)

It’s hard to get motivated anymore since I’m spinning my wheels. If anyone could give any thoughts to what may be my problem I’d much appreciate it.

Thanks

I will take a quick stab at your problem. Just from looking at your program it seems like you have an awful lot of volume. If you are doing that many exercises and getting through it is your intensity high enough? I wouldn’t think so if you can do squats, R deadlifts, overhead press, dips, and get through them all. Those are a lot of compound movements in one workout and your not making gains with them.

Try dropping a few and the ones you keep up the intensity to a gut busting level. I think your intensity is off because if you were blasting the muscle hard enough and then eating the calories you say you are you would be adding muscle not fat.

D

Ah man, I just read this…http://www.higher-faster-sports.com/ShitOrGetOffThePot3.html. I read all of Kelly’s bbing articles. I think my problem is I freak out when I see my gut increase when I first start bulking when in reality it is most like water retention. I need to shit or get off the pot, I’ll shit. I feel stupid, carry on.

[quote]Dedicated wrote:
I will take a quick stab at your problem. Just from looking at your program it seems like you have an awful lot of volume. If you are doing that many exercises and getting through it is your intensity high enough? I wouldn’t think so if you can do squats, R deadlifts, overhead press, dips, and get through them all. Those are a lot of compound movements in one workout and your not making gains with them.

Try dropping a few and the ones you keep up the intensity to a gut busting level. I think your intensity is off because if you were blasting the muscle hard enough and then eating the calories you say you are you would be adding muscle not fat.

D[/quote]

Thanks for the info man. I really like training full body, I’ll lower volumes down, maybe cut a set off of each exercise, crank up the pantera and focus on sheer intensity.

2 quick observations.

1- That is not a hypertophy routine and the rep ranges you are using are basicly to build strength. You have no TUT exercises or supersets/ drop sets. Take a look at some of CT’s HSS 100 routines… those are probably 100 times better than the routines you are using trying to build lean muscle mass.

2-I don’t see any periodization for any hypertrophy to even take place. I’m personally spending the next month trying to build up my strength… the follwing months will be a strict hypertrophy phase.

First off thanks for the response.

1.) So my rep/set ranges are too low to create an optimal hypertrophy effect? I tried to get a mixture of low and high end rep ranges in there. Looking at a lot of CT’s works and what not would you recommend my training take an approach more along the lines of something like this for hypertrophy?

Monday: legs/abs
squat 10/8/6/4/PR
stiff-leg DL 3x8-10
leg press 3x12-15
leg curl 3x10-12
db lunge 3x10-12
leg raises 3xF

Tuesday:off

Wednesday: chest/shoulder
bench press 10/8/6/4/PR
db bench press 3x8-10
cable flye 3x10-12
military press 4x6-8
lateral raise 3x10-12
rear delt flye 3x12-15

Thursday: off

Friday: back/abs
deadlift 10/8/6/4/PR
pull-up 3x8-10
bb row 3x8-10
cable row 3x10-12
cable crunch 3xF

Saturday: bis/tris
incline db curl 4x6-8
cable pushdown 4x6-8
bb curl 3x8-10
decline skull crusher 3x8-10
vertical curl 3x10-12
overhead rope extension 3x10-12

This is how I trained for my first year, when I made the best gains in hypertrophy I have ever seen but then again it was my first year of training. I have to admit I have never even tried supersets, dropsets, etc etc. It’s hard for me to go in and just think about gaining muscle because strength is so important to me.

2.) I had it to where I took every fourth week off completely to recover and let my “gains” occur. Maybe I’m not understanding you, if not sorry.

Thanks for the reply again I greatly appreciate it.

There is a thing called deminishing returns. It gets harder to gain as you go. For me I’ve been in the same boat, and just had my test levels checked and they are low.

I’m convinced this is a major factor in my case. How old are you?

[quote]ManOWolves wrote:

2.) I had it to where I took every fourth week off completely to recover and let my “gains” occur. Maybe I’m not understanding you, if not sorry.

Thanks for the reply again I greatly appreciate it.
[/quote]

No, when he mentioned periodization, he meant varying the rep/set scheme (and overall volume) over time. I would suggest reading everything you can from Waterbury, Cosgrove, and CT, because they all promote periodization in some form.

Basically, your muscles will adapt to the volume so you need to change it up so they will keep growing!

Good luck.

Rock - Thanks for the input. I am 22 years old currently. As far as hormonal things go I mean I try to stay as stress free as that allows with school and work. I get on average seven hours of sleep per night although I shoot for eight.

Sword - I wasn’t aware of that, thank you for clarifying. Yeah I always keep volume constant and most other variables stay constant as well. I mean feel I try hard, as hard as I can. I stay one rep away from failure on every single work set except the big four which I pyramid down on.

I did not go lift today because I have an assload of homework to do tonight and plus I have severe analysis paralysis right now. I want to have a clear defined game plan before I hoist the weights back up again. I’m focussing on my nutrition right now until next week, by then I hope to have things lined out.

Strength is my number one priority, I would like to compete in some raw powerlifting while I’m young. I am just tired of being 5’10" 170lbs, it looks good on my frame, you can tell I lift weights but face it I’m small. I would like to put 20lbs of muscle on my frame for my height. Realistically, I am shooting for 30lbs body weight, 20lbs muscle and 10lbs fat by the time I’m done. I have no idea how long that may take but I will accomplish this.

Thanks guys for helping me figure things out, I’m getting closer and you guys are opening my eyes to new things.