T Nation

What the **** Am I Doing Wrong?


Alrite my names Dave and im 25, been training for bout 2-3 yrs and my gains have been shit.

No gains aint cutting it, Im doing courses in PT now, I want to look the part and know what I am doing.

I aint ever gonna quit, I got too much discpline yadda yadda yadda, but im just getting
pissed off that with all the effort i feel im putting in and yet its like its all for
fuckin nothin. I eat good/clean/big (ill post diet further down) might not be the best diet but should surely be enough to get me on my way......I go to the gym every time i set out to, I make sure i get at least 8hrs + sleep.

I basically work 8hrs eating all fuckin day, straight from work to the gym, then get home dinner, prep shit for next day then eat some more then sleep 24/7. like im sure alot of you all do, but i aint seen the improvements/gains whatever you call it that i feel i deserve.

Damn this is turning in to one big whine....SHIT.

My goals, well i used to just want to get HUGE. now i just wanna look like i actually work out, bigger chest/back/shoulders and legs thats all i want. Like i said i know i got the discipline, if i was told exactly 'look eat this and do this' i would do it to a t... so im here for some advice.

First off i aint updated my bio for a while so before you go nuts and OMFG your 6'4 and only weigh 200lbs eat some fucking food, Im now about 240 solid fat baby, nah not all fat....but seriously more fat that i want

Ive been round the block when it comes to routines, all the usuals WS4SB and Starting Strength, SS was good for a while (like half a yr) but then all the squatting was killin my knees so i backed off, my knees aint the strongest but my form sucks all types of balls.

Heres my current DIET and WORKOUT feel free to rip me shreds and all that.

Diet (this is pretty much the same every day, at least 2-3ltrs of water as well)

6:00am - Big bowl of branflakes, 2 slices of toast, 50g protein shake, apple

9:00am - 3 whole eggs 2 egg whites, 6 rice cakes, banana

Snack on nuts

12:00pm - 100 or so grams of chicken with veg and salad and a whole avacado,
and a 70g shake of powdered oats

2:30pm (preworkout) - couple of rice cakes with a shake consisting of 50g whey, 50g dextrose and 50g powdered oats

4:30-5pm (postworkout) - shake consisting of 50g whey, 50g dextrose and 50g powdered oats

6:00 pm - 3+ salmon fillets with veg and 100g+ brown rice

Then for the rest of the night i drink milk milk and more milk

9:00 pm - Tub of cottage cheese and chicken breast

Training - I made this routine up so it probably sucks

Tuesday - Back/traps/hams

Deadlift, do warm up sets of 5 reps till work set then 1x5

Bent over Barbell rows 3x8

Leg curls 3x10

Lat pulldown 3x8

Behing back shrugs 3x15

Wednesday Chest/Tris

Bench press, warm up sets till work set then 3x5 of that weight

Incline DB press 3x10

Supported Dips 3x8

Tricep pull downs

Thursday 30 mins Steady State Cardio

Friday Shoulders & Biceps

Military Press, warm up sets till work set then 3x5 of that weight

DB Front raises 3x8

Rear Delt raises 4x10

Barbell Bicep curls 3x10

Reverse curls 3x10

Saturday Legs

Squat, warm up sets till work set then 3x5 of that weight

Leg press 3x10

Leg Curl 3x10

Leg Ext 3x10

Sunday 30 mins Steady State Cardio

Monday off, although not really as im at college doing a PT course

So yeah, looking at the above routine, it looks pretty shit dont it.



Are your lifts going up? If not, you might try a program like 5/3/1. If you're getting stronger you will gain muscle mass. If you are gaining weight, you are eating enough, you may just need to progress on the weights.



Either read the stickies or tbh keep it simple. I took a break form working out for about 5 years due to work and other commitments. I found a form of rippetoes starting strength on here and it's very good.

More information can be found here - http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224

Or, the variation i follow is -

Workout 1
Squat (3*5), bench press (3*5), deadlift (1*6), dip(3*5), crunches
workout 2
Squat (3*5), bent over row (3*5), OH press (1*6), chin (3*5), planks

rotate workouts 1 and 2 on non - consecutive days. ie m - 1, w - 2, f - 1. Then the next week start on workout 2 and repeat the cycle.

Eat 5 times a day, get the right amount of protein. sleep right and ull be fine.


Cool cheers for the replies, I have been on the site for a while, i just dont post often, I have read the sticky. Might go back and read them again.

Rippetoes program isnt that Starting strength???????

Ive got the book Starting Strength Vol 2, Beast of a book


Id take a good hard look at my training intensity if I were you.

You seem to be eating the right foods and performing the right exercises.


option 1: your form is so terrible that you're not getting adequate muscular stimulation and are not able to progress

option 2: you're not working at a high enough intensity, but are rather "going through the motions"

i'm no expert, but it looks like you're getting in a decent amount of food (considering you've put on 40lbs), so you should be seeing some gains in your lifts. are they progressing? what's your deadlift, bench and squat at?

if SS gave you good success, maybe you should select a program that provides a similar structure for progression, like 5-3-1, for example.

personally, i've found good success so far with sticking to some main compound lifts and trying to get better at them. at 6'4, your long levers may make it difficult to put up impressive numbers right away, but stick with it and always use a full ROM.


Any feedback you get without the weights you lifted is kind of pointless. The fact that you wrote out a whole long workout template and didn't bother to include the weights you used makes me think you're probably not lifting very much.

If you want to get big, you need to lift some kind of non-pathetic weights. What's are your big three? How many pushups and pulls can you do?

And I'm not trying to put you down, honestly the amount of weight you start with is basically irrelevant, but you need to be lifting more after six weeks, six months and six years than when you started. If your still lifting small, it shouldn't be any wonder why you're not getting results.


x2 'going through the motions'


he's a PT dude, he just wants to get 'toned'


Amazing. You wrote just enough that you've already answered all your own questions.


more protein, looks like just 200g a day


I am leaning towards the "going through the motions" assessment. You have to train with intensity. I have met people who are absolutely clueless when it comes to what they are doing, but they have unbelievable intensity. Somehow, they look like they workout....

How consistent are you? Do you drink?

Those are 2 things that could seriously hinder your progress.



lol @ drinking 'seriously hindering your progress'


Theres an awful lot of rice cakes in that diet. And are those protein shakes just protein no fat/carb?

If so, (actually either way), I suspect you're not eating enough. Have you tallied up your calorie count?


First off, you admit your form is bad...work on that. Take 4-6 weeks of just form work. On the main lifts do not go over 95lbs. I wrote a program for a guy trying to go D1 football, and had him do this. His form was shit, he was weak as fuck, and making no gains. I fixed his form, and then he started making great gains.

Another thing is, if you want to gain muscle, and it is not happening, then you are obviously not eating enough. It is that simple.

I went from 160 to 245 in about 15 months drug free. Granted I hit a big growth spurt, and went from 5'9" to 6'4" as well, but still yet that is pretty fast gains.

I did that after I joined a powerlifting team. They started calling me squirt, and said I was "way too fucking skinny to be a powerlifter"
So, 10x a day, every day, I would eat until I was about to puke. There is a recent article from Dave Tate where he mentions putting oil on pizza and eating the whole thing. I did that for cheat meals. Whole large pizza, smothered in olive oil with a gallon of whole milk was my cheat meal.

I am not saying you should eat like that, but if you are not gaining with your current diet, then eat more.


When you say intensity what do you mean??? I know what intensity means but just want to clarify

Oh and HolyMacaroni im not a PT and probably wont ever be, nor do i want to get â??Tonedâ?? so good one on the assumptions. Im not doing the course as a career path more as a hobby

Caveman I dunno how you guessed 200 but me just looking through it I guess there to be about 250-300g. Ive been to the point where ive read every label in my kitchen before.

What is this going through the motions you all are talking about, I donâ??t visit this site every day so i aint gotta clue what your crazy talk is.

LL â?? what do you mean how consistent am i?? If you mean do i stick at a program â?? yes, do i go to the gym same time/days that i set out to every week â?? yes without fail. Oh an i donâ??t drink hardly at all as in like never

Muskull â?? How do you consider 6 too many rice cakes??? There 28cals a cake 6g carbs and all the rest is like fat 0.1 protein 0.1, there organic no frills kind. Oh and you must have read my shakes have 50g of powdered oats and 50g dextrose for carbs.
50g of dextrose is roughly 180cals 35-40 carbs
50g of instant oats is 194 cals 35-40 carbs
50g of whey is bout 190 cals 35-40 protein
So about 550 cal shake with about 40g protein 80g carbs

Maybe more food is the answer, but this diet got me from 200lbs to about 240-250 so I thought this was enough, last thing i wanna do is get more fat. With regards to diet do you guys literally read all the labels and work out exactly the cals your getting???

Squirt â?? My form isnâ??t that bad, only my squat needed work, Ive dropped back majorly on that I was doing 125KG for 3x5 but now ive gone to 80KG, my knees were going past my feet, im making sure to nail form down now. Other lifts i feel im fine with, my dead is ok â?? grip is getting poor now that ive gone past 140KG but some chalk should help there, Bench is ok, I work out by myself none of my mates are into training like i am, theyd rather check out the chicks and sit in the sauna so i donâ??t really have anyone to ask â?? does this look right â?? even if i did ask a stranger they probably wouldnt have a clue. I learnt all i have basically through the web and Starting Strength book, which is a fucking amazing book i might add

Thanks for the replies


You're training seems mostly in the higher rep ranges, do much max effort work? If not a strength phase could help. Keep it real basic, train hard but not to failure, maybe 3 days a week so you have more rest days, including lifts like squat, deadlift (maybe switch to sumo stance for variety), military or push press, db or kroc row, etc. Sets of 2-3 reps, number of sets- as manay as it takes to get the job done. Do this f 4-6 weeks, adding weight to the bar every session, deload, then restart a basic hypertrophy phase.

And read "37 Tips and Tales" by Dave Tate


Everything you're saying sounds good. I don't see any reason why someone following your plan wouldn't progress.

I have a pretty good idea of what the problem is though. All your exercises say 3x8 or 3x10 or something. Does this mean 3 sets of the same weight and same reps? If yes, this means your first 2 sets aren't challenging at all. And on the third set, which is the only one that might be worth a damn, you are already fatigued from the first 2 and won't be performing at your body's full strength.

And if I were a betting man, I'd bet that on your third set you don't ever go beyond the prescribed number of reps. To recap, you are only really doing one working set, and at that you are probably not going to failure. That would be enough to cause you not to progress, if this scenario is accurate

As I once read from Professor X - "the power isn't in the numbers, it's somewhere in you, if it's anywhere at all"

Forget the rep schemes - do your warm ups, and then take your top weight and get as many reps as you can (and then one more for good measure). The next session, aim to either add weight or reps to this set. Your 2nd and 3rd sets, you should Not be able to get the same amount of reps


Gym savvy â?? ive tried some max effort work before, doesnâ??t work to well for me, probably for a number of reasons but i took it that i was not getting enough intensity from just doing 3 reps of an exercise, I dunno i may give it a try, i never really tried 3 reps with as many sets as it takes.

I will read up on that article, thanks for the heads up.

Thogue â?? yeh man the 3x8 or 3x10 ranges, I use the same weight but up it slightly each week.
But what i do do is more like 2x8 1x12 or something, the first two sets just get the reps the third set go past 8 or 10 to where ever i fail, if i can do this i take it as a sign that i can up the weight for next week.


don't post much on here but i read everything on T-Nation best damn training site on the net that being said it looks to me like you have no goal that you are working towards....i would suggest you figure out what you want to accomplish specifically.and attack it.i would reccommend bill starr's 5x5 and just keep it simple.and eat don't worry about calories you are young you will burn them fast so just eat eat eat and train.you can find bill starrs workout just google his name has template all set up.follow it.it works trust me it works and it teach you proper wieght progression.and that's that