T Nation

What Am I Doing Wrong?

First off, I want to say that I am actually a little nervous posting for my first time. I have been lurking here for almost a year. I have read through all the training articles here, and at many other sites.

So here goes…

I decided to give this a real effort about 8 months ago, and after pouring through the training articles, reading books like scrawny to brawny, and starting strength, and doing my research, I hit the weights. When I started I weighed 175. I am 6 ft. 28 years old. No real training experience before. After some trial and error, my training now looks like this:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Lift heavy. Squat, Bench Press, and variations of shoulder presses, chin ups, pull ups, dbell snatch, good mornings, rows. Basic lifts.

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Core work, hand and neck training, and conditioning. Mainly jump rope intervals, and hitting the heavy bag.

Food intake: As of today, my daily intake is 1 dozen eggs, 1 pound of ground sirloin, 2 chicken breasts, lots of walnuts, 2 almond butter and raisin sandwiches, PWO protein shake, TONS of spinach and broccoli, lots of fruits whenever I feel like it, and a gallon and a half of water. Some times I will have a Arbys market fresh turkey bacon and ranch sandwich, or some oatmeal raisin cookies. I am not taking any creatine or glutamine, but I am taking a multi vitamin, and ZMA before bed.

I am coming up on a solid 6 months of consistent, dedicated training and my numbers before and after are:

Squat from 180 to 245
Bench from 190 to 210
Dbell Snatch from 70 to 85
pull ups from 7 to 12
I have increased in most of my other lifts, but not as much as these.

Weight from 175 to 190, but NO increase in my chest, or arms.

Waist from 33 to 36
Arms still the same at 13 inches
Chest still the same at 40 inches.
Legs are 23 inches

My question is what am I doing wrong? I am getting fat, I thought my chest and arms would be bigger by now, but they are not the only thing thats getting bigger is my gut. If you were to see my in public, you wouldn’t tell that I have been working out. The only thing that I have been happy about is that I have gotten stronger. Maybe I am doing the right things, but the wrong way? I am getting so frustrated, my training doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Thank you for reading this, and any advice, strategy suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I am not an expert compared to many people here, but from what you say, 6 months of consistent lifting, and you being a relative beginner (right?), with what looks like a pretty solid bulking diet, your gains are pretty bad. I mean, I expect a newcomer, whose lifting with much intensity and eating well, to make a lot more progress.

I mean, I don’t want to discourage you, but when you’ve finished your last set, are you shaking and quivering and feel like you’ve been run over by a train?

Because that’s how I usually feel, and my arms and chest are a lot more impressive than before I started lifting. Even though I still feel I’m pathetic, I at least am motivated by my progress to keep working towards my goal.

Hi

it’s not easy to say since you are not giving any specifics of your training program.

But if you have been doing TBW for full 6 month, i think you really need to change something, maybe a upper/lower or push/pull/legs split.

Another thing to remember is the set/rep scheme, everyone reacts different. Some do best with very heavy loads, other with 10-12 reps and less weight, and even that is changing for everyone when they are training.

But whats most important is to remember, that everyone seems to overestimate how ‘hard’ it is to get a noticeable effect from training (people think they have to torture themselves every day and endure great amounts of pain, which is not the case), but they also underestimate how long it takes (the first ~6 weeks of training, there is hardly any muscle grow, only neurological adaptation, and after that a gain of 20lbs of LBW per year is much).

Last but not least, you often don’t notice the effects/gains of a bulking phase until after you’ve dieted down to a lower BF%.

So i would recommend to change your training program, experiment a little with set/reps, and don’t worry too much about a noticeable optical change as long as you are improving your lifts.

[quote]steinnes wrote:
I am not an expert compared to many people here, but from what you say, 6 months of consistent lifting, and you being a relative beginner (right?), with what looks like a pretty solid bulking diet, your gains are pretty bad. I mean, I expect a newcomer, whose lifting with much intensity and eating well, to make a lot more progress.

I mean, I don’t want to discourage you, but when you’ve finished your last set, are you shaking and quivering and feel like you’ve been run over by a train?

Because that’s how I usually feel, and my arms and chest are a lot more impressive than before I started lifting. Even though I still feel I’m pathetic, I at least am motivated by my progress to keep working towards my goal.[/quote]

You don’t have to be an expert. You nailed it. No one trains that hard and makes zero progress in terms of muscle mass unless they really aren’t pushing themselves in the weight room. You don’t get extra credit just for showing up. Maybe he works out at Planet Fitness.

You increased your bench 10% and you expect your chest to explode?

You don’t do any direct arm work and you expect your arms to grow?

Also, depending on your bench press form, you could be gaining strength in the shoulders and triceps. I don’t doubt that you put the effort in, but you have to focus it on the right places.

Add direct arm work and direct chest work. Whatever your starting numbers are on those exercises, increase them by 30-50% and then tell me you haven’t gained a lot of size.

Give CT’s HSS-100 a try. It’s a solid program and very different than what you’ve been doing.

[quote]steinnes wrote:
I mean, I don’t want to discourage you, but when you’ve finished your last set, are you shaking and quivering and feel like you’ve been run over by a train?
[/quote]

You know, I never really thought about it THAT way. I always thought I was giving 110 percent. Somedays I am shaking at the end of the workout, and I always feel great, full of energy and just in a better mood overall. I didn’t think it was necessary to destroy yourself after every workout, especially if you train 6 days a week.

See this is what confuses me the most, some people tell me that I am training too much, and some people tell me it’s not enough. Some people tell me that it just won’t ever happen, and some tell me to just keep plugging away. I have read that you shouldn’t train too hard, then I read that you should be vomiting at the end of every workout.

Mr. Professor X, I am actually honored that you replied to my post. No, I don’t work out at Planet Fitness. I work out in my garage.

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I actually thought everyone was going to tell me to eat more. I will rethink what I am doing. The thing that frustrates me the most is this “trial and error” phase that I can’t seem to get out of. But thank you all, you were all a lot nicer than I thought you were going to be.

Well, as I said before, I’m not much of an expert, so I don’t know if feeling like a trainwreck is required for everyone, forever, however feeling that way is for me a sign of progress. No pain, no gain. Your body is basically designed to adapt to things, and getting away with as little as possible. It’s up to you to force it to change.

Intensity is the key. I don’t think you need to lift 6 days a week. With my intensity, I couldn’t. I sometimes get overenthusiastic, and go two days in a row, because I “feel” good, and often I end up pulling something, which delays me. I attribute that to intensity, rather then a crappy body :wink:

I love the feeling of loading up a bar with more weight than last time, and feeling a little rush, as I “gamble” whether or not I can do it.

If I was in your shoes, I would be pretty pissed off, 6 months and relatively little progress, would spur me into hitting the iron with some good old rage.

[quote]skaz05 wrote:
… When I started I weighed 175. I am 6 ft. 28 years old. No real training experience before. [/quote]

I think this is the core of your problem. If you start at your age, with no previous training experience, I would expect you to take a couple of years to get anywhere near decent gains. Solid gains in six months only happen to guys who are (say) under 25 when they first start. Under 21 is better. The main reason is that growth hormone levels drop of rapidly once you become an adult.

I started when I was 50 and it has taken me 5 years to get anywhere halfway decent. Even then, I have gained a lot more fat than I would like.

That said, I think your program could do with looking at. The best bet at your stage of development is high volume, but no failure. (The no failure bit allows you to do more volume more often). There are a number of good volume programs on this site and elsewhere. GVT and OVT are both good, Waterbury has a number of good programs, also there is Thibaudeau’s HSS100 that has already been mentioned.

The other thing that is important at this stage is to concentrate on a few “money” exercises, these being the ones that promote most growth hormone release. Squats and deadlifts are the kings in this regard.

Finally, you need to think about recovery. If you are really giving it 100% in the gym three days a week, using big compound exercises, you should only be doing recovery-oriented exercise in between. Light weights and high reps to get the blood flowing.

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
I think this is the core of your problem. If you start at your age, with no previous training experience, I would expect you to take a couple of years to get anywhere near decent gains. Solid gains in six months only happen to guys who are (say) under 25 when they first start. Under 21 is better. The main reason is that growth hormone levels drop of rapidly once you become an adult.[/quote]

I have thought about this at length as well. I still feel like I did when I was 21 though. My prior training experience was mainly a lot of running, and bodyweight exercises.

This thread has been very helpful to me, thank you all very much for your replies.