T Nation

What Am I Doing Wrong?


I am on a hypertrophy workout plan where I seek to gain muscle rather than strength. However, the opposite has been taking place.

here is what my workout looks like:

What I do is I never do a single exercise on it's own. I pick two machines that work opposing muscles and on the rest periods I work opposite muscles:

3 x 12 Bench press (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Rows
3 x 12 Flies (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Lat Pull downs
3 x 12 Incline Bench Press (Counterd with) 3 x 12Upstraight Rows
3 x 12 Pull Overs (Counterd with) 3 x 12 rear delts
3 x 12 Lateral Raises (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Close-grip Rows
3 x 12 Shoulder Press (Counterd with) 3 x 20 Shrugs
3 x 12 Bicep Curls (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Tricep extentions

(This takes me something like 1 hour, 1 hour 15 min max)

4 x 12 Squat (Counterd with) 4 x 12 Calf Raises
3 x 12 Leg Curl (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Leg Press
3 x 12 Hip abductor (Counterd with) 3 x 12 seating Leg press
3 x 12 (opposite of the hip abductor) (Counterd with) 3 x 12 Leg extensions
3 x 25 Weighed cruches (Counterd with) 3 x 20 incline Weighed cruches
3 x 20 Leg Raises (Counterd with) 3 x 25 Of those lateral cruches (each side)

This workout takes me about 1 hour 15 min.

My Split goes:
........... ( I sometimes take another extra day to rest or a rest day between Upper and Lower).

I have increase all of my lifts by at least 40 pounds in less than 4 months (except squats and leg presses. For the squats i went from 100 pounds to 350 and leg press from 150 to 270)

I do see significant strength gain but no significant muscle gain. What could be going wrong?


1) Your workouts range from 12-14 EXERCISES. Thats way too much. If you wanna go down the route of an upper/lower split, just pick ONE main exercise per muscle group per day. Get stronger at them. No more needs to be said about exercise.

2) Exercise is ONLY the stimulus for growth, it doesn't make your muscles grow. Make sure you're eating enough protein and calories to fuel muscle growth. And don't say "I eat enough already", because if you are, you wouldn't be asking this.


Thing is, I eat, eat, eat,eat.
Protein, Healthy carbs, proper nutrient timing, prebed meal, morning shakes...

But the more I increase calories the more fat I put on and I don't seem to put on a significant amount of muscle, even If I work it hard.


Breathing...you are breathing. So stop.


Lay out your last 2 days of eating and tell us the strength gains you've made on your current program.


Cut down the volume.. If you are to use a two way split, then only pick up a handful of money excersises and focus on them in the 6-12 rep ranges.. And don't worry, if you cut down the volume and go heavy-hard, then you wont' gain that much fat, even with higher cals..


You say the opposite has been taking place. So youve been getting stronger rather than bigger?

If this is the case, simply eat more.

Otherwise, cut down on your exercises/volume AND eat more. You are doing WAY too many exercises each workout.


I call bullshit on squats, 350lbs 4x12


I use a support rack. Normal squats put too much stress on my lower back and I've had surgery.

In terms of eating, I just came off a low calories diet and my maintenance was reduce A LOT.

So on workout days I eat 2600 cals with higher carbs. On 2 out of the 4 workout days I eat 2500 with medium carbs and 2 days I eat low carbs with 1800-2000 cals. I know its low but It already quite a bit above my maintence and I feel the fat accumulating around my gut.


I have been criticized for having very little lean body mass, but I am currently cutting on about 2800 calories per day. Can you do more activity AND increase your calories - g-flux style (if you have enough free time)?


While that looks like a shitload of exercises per session, I'll let those who are better program designers than myself address that issue.

The one thing I can speak from experience on is the diet. I personally can maintain around the 165lb mark at 2500 cal per day. But to see any upward movement on the scales I have to up it to at least 3500 cal per day. I am also one of those who seems to gain fat with muscle, WHEN I'M NOT DOING ANY CARDIO. 20 - 30 minutes of fasted cardio first thing on my off days tends to keep the fat down but the scale moving up. JMO


If you're eating 2600 calories, and you're not growing then 2600 calories is not enough.

Eat more, you are not above the laws of thermodynamics


1)If your low back is fragile-you need to restore the integrity of your low back before you do anything else-it is very difficult to make much progress without it!!!!
2)I have never seen a male lifter grow on 2,600 cal/day (and that's your big day!) Most of decent intermediate/advanced lifters I know don't even get that low during thier cut.


what do you weigh? to gain on 2600 you roughly must be 144 lbs.
If you are higher than 144 lbs you are not eating enough.

Are you gaiing any weight, even if it is fat?


2600 calories isn't near enough... i've usually ate that by noon everyday... try lifting heavier too the lowest reps you go down to is 12 try some 4-8


I'm 5'6', 160+ lbs. I ate 3500-4000 calories a day for an entire month while also putting in excessive volume to the tune of 500+ reps lifting 4 days a week. The result? I loss muscle mass and gained fat. Why? Excessive volume.

Work smarter, not harder.

You're doing 12-14 exercises x 12 reps x 3 sets. Do the math.

If you have a penny and I give you another penny you've improved your worth by 100%...but you still have 2 cents.

Step 1: Stop what you're doing (Cause I'm about to ruin....)
Step 2: Choose fewer exercises
Step 3: Lift something other than 12 reps. I bet you'd grow on 5 reps. Just because a book tells you 8-12 is for hypertrophy and under that is for strength does not make it so. It's an individual case and it depends on what you've been doing.

I will give you some examples.

Upper Day:

A1) Bench
A2) Bent Over Row or Seated Row

B1) Shoulder Press
B2) Lat Pulldown

C1) Skull Crusher
C2) Incline Dumbbell Curl

All exercises 4 sets of 10. At your strength level use the first set as a lighter warm up then the next 3 use the same weight (ie: Bench 100x10, 150x10, 150x10, 150x10

6 exercises, 4 sets, 10 reps, 240 reps total. More than enough

Lower Body:

A1) Leg Press (you don't get to squat until you get fixed, no smith squats for you mister!)
A2) Leg Curl

B1) Dumbell Split Squat
B2) Glute Ham Raise (natural if you can)

C1) Calf Raise

Same as above, but 5 exercises, 4 sets, 10 reps, 200 reps total. More than enough.

What got you doing so much volume? And why are you blazing through it?

  1. Lift hard, control the descent (eccentic). Don't life like an 18 year old on prom night. Don't count the tempo, just control the damn weight on the way down. This makes your muscles work harder, produce more force.
  2. Take rest. 60-90s between sets. Do this. Don't go apeshit and lift like a marathon runner.
  3. You should be in there for 45-60 minutes. If not then you're either not resting enough or lifting like a 16 year old getting to first base.


For various reasons I think these are all or almost all machine numbers, not free weight. For example, I simply would not believe the OP has increased free weight lateral raises by 40 lb in this time frame and at his weight.

The volume is fairly ridiculous (for most, not all, circumstances) at 42 sets for upper body with over 500 reps; and 38 sets lower.

The claim that 42 sets are completed in an hour would be impossible if much free weights were involved (due to set-up time.)

The stated program is poor, to put it at best. The OP should start a new program from scratch rather than try to modify this one.


okay sounds good. I will modify the program and go with a 5x5 approach.

On 2600 cals I do put on weight and I also feel that the flab covering my abs and overall body gets thicker.

It's true, I do use quite a few machine exercises . I do, however, try to use free weights whenever I can.

But anyways, for someone in my position, who gains fat even on a 2600 cal diet, would you still recommend upping the overall cals?


There's no reason to put on fat rapidly.

If you're 2 or 3 lb fatter at the end of a month, that's not a big deal and it may well have been worth it, as it won't take long to diet that off and muscle gains may well have been faster thanks to it.

But when the fat accumulation is so fast that a lot of the time you could spend gaining is instead spent getting the fat back down to something reasonable again, that isn't efficient. The lost time isn't worth the probably marginal extra benefit to muscle growth compared to gaining fat more slowly.


why? cuz its more than you can do? whaaa whaaa