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What to Do Next?

I’m looking for some gym/diet advice and I thought I’d throw this out to the forums. Thanks for your help!

I’ll try to keep this brief but informative.

I’m male, 5’6", 35 years old. I have a small frame. Small, weak joints.
It’s been very, very hard for me to gain lean mass.

This photo shows 1) my starting point, 2) my best shape, 3) my current shape, and 4) what I’d like to look like.

7 years ago I was the skinniest guy you’d ever meet. 129, about 11% bodyfat.
I started lifting heavy. I changed my diet to a very clean, high-calorie 40-40-30 diet. Egg whites, oatmeal, chicken breasts, spinach, brown rice. You know.
Over 7 years I grew - very slowly - from 129 pounds to 145.

3 months ago my bodyfat tested. Hydrostatic test - the ‘dunk tank’.
20.8 percent. Guess what I’ve been growing for 7 years? Fat.

So, I changed a few things, and I’ve started gaining some muscle.

I’m on testosterone replacement therapy now. I have a thread in the TRT Forum here on T-Nation:

I changed my workout: Light weights to failure. Short rests.

I changed my diet: It’s the Metabolic Typing Diet for Protein Types - lots of proteins and fats (butter, full-fat cheese, etc), no junk carbs.
I’m relying less on shakes and more on eggs, meat, fish for protein.

I went up to 150 lbs while my bodyfat dropped to 18.6 percent. About a month ago I was getting closer to my goal. Awesome.

I got really inspired, and I’ve been going to the gym 5 or 6 days a weekâ?¦ and it looks like I’m losing muscle and gaining fat.
I can’t tell you how I got here - a month ago I was right on track.

I know I need to switch things up. Please take a look at my body and my goal and tell me - what would you do?

Can you detail your workouts?

In November, I found a trainer at my gym who is my age and height. He’s basically my size but huge and ripped.
He told me he always uses light, light weights to failure, and he doesn’t count reps. He’s shredded.

I started following his workout strategy in mid-November and it worked wonders for me - that’s the “1 month ago” photo.

I never counted my reps, and I tried to do different exercises all the time.
I concentrated on getting good contractions and truly hitting failure.

I’m using a five-day split: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Arms, Legs.
I start with a light weight and decrease load with each set for 4 sets, until I can perform no reps with little to no weight.
For dumbbell exercises, my last set is empty hands. For cable/stack exercises it’s the lowest weight in the stack.
This takes forever.

Machine Chest Press
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
Cable Crossovers
Pec Deck

Lat Pulldowns
Seated Row
Rear Delt Fly

Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell Front Raises
Machine Lateral Raise

Biceps / Triceps
Standing Dumbbell Curls
Standing Barbell Curls
Standing Cable Curls with rope attachment
Cable push-downs with rope attachment
Dumbbell Overhead Press
Tricep Extensions (cable/rope)

Lying Leg Press
Deadlifts with one huge dumbbell
Weighted Lunges
Donkey Calf Raise

So… yeah. That worked for me, big time, for a month.
But now after 8 weeks, I’m just puttin’ on fat.

Before this, I followed a three-day split, heavy weights, low reps, long rests, and no results.

There isnt a whole lot of compound movments in the routine and your only hitting one BP/day. This tells me you THINK your burning way more calories than you really are.

To steal from the popular thread of the week…DO MORE or EAT LESS.

Frankly its my personal ancedotal opionion that most older folks can’t bulk, they have to lean gain instead no matter how clean we eat.

Why did you chose the username “massivenate”?

[quote]gregron wrote:
Why did you chose the username “massivenate”?[/quote]

Because 150lbs is the new 250lbs.

Honestly, I believe your personal trainer is talking out of his butt. It’s a handy technique used sparingly. As you go to failure your form tends to get sloppy. Shoot for 12-15 rep range making use of the negatives and work in cardio-interval sprints.

[quote]Consul wrote:

[quote]gregron wrote:
Why did you chose the username “massivenate”?[/quote]

Because 150lbs is the new 250lbs.


But on a serious note…

You did that trainers program for a month, got great results and by your own account were in the best shape of your life but you’re wanting to do a different routine now?

EDIT: after re reading your post I see tha you’re doing the same routine but now have started to lose muscle and gain fat.

Did you change your diet?
How is your strength holding up?
How much sleep are you getting?
Has anything in your life changed that has caused you more stress?

start lifting weights

I say “heavy rep” workouts are bullshit… probably why you don’t have any mass. Do 8-10 reps, use compound exercises, eat a lot, and come back in a month.

I find it very hard to imagine training to failure to the point that you could do no reps with empty hands on db bench press?!?

Change your routine now! There are plenty on this site to choose from. Whatever you do, build your strength in the compound lifts

Don’t over complicate things, whether your goal is fat loss or hypertrophy it really is as simple as; train, eat and rest. When you can figure out how to tailor each of these to your individual needs and what works best for you then you are on to a good thing

Thanks, guys for your great suggestions.
I think compound exercises will give my muscles the shock they need.
I think the light-weight workouts put them to sleep.
WIll keep you posted.

[quote]Consul wrote:
150lbs is the new 250lbs.
Damn right it is!

Honestly… it just sounds like you make up excuses for yourself and don’t train very hard.

If every short guy complained of their small & weak joints… we would never see any strong short dudes. Except… there are plenty of strong and jacked short guys…

Hell, there are lots of tall guys who are envious of us shorter fellows for having less frame to fill out… aka we can do it quicker.

Your joints will stay weak unless you strengthen your muscles, ligaments, and tendons…

how do you do this? Big compound movements combined with assistance exercises…

I would suggest trying 5/3/1 with bodybuilding assistance lifts after the main lifts. Linear progression works if you give it your all. If over 7 years you mostly put on fat… you were not training nearly as hard as you thought you were.

My 2 cents… from one short dude (5’2" here with bird bones) to another…

[quote]gregron wrote:
Why did you chose the username “massivenate”?[/quote]
my thoughts exactly.

More exercice for arms than back and leg.

No squat

no barbell/dumbell press for 3 type of fly

no barbell/dumbell row

Deadlifts with one huge dumbbell

Not sure if srs.

Thanks to everyone for their input.
I appreciate the critique of my workout.
I’ve switched to a simple 5x5 plan with Squats, Deadlifts, Press, and Bench Press, 3 times a week, increasing load weekly.

I also had another hydrostatic bodyfat test on Saturday,
which revealed I’ve lost 3.6 lbs of fat and gained 8.95 lbs. of muscle since August.

I gained 5 pounds of that muscle since 11/17, so my panic was probably just a false alarm.

Massive is a state of mind - I’m working to make my body catch up. I’ll get there.

Thanks again.


Quick update and thanks:
Since January I’ve been doing heavy barbell squats, bench press, deadlifts, standing dumbbell shoulder presses.
I cut my cals to 1800/day while increasing my lifts slowly (increasing by 1 pound per exercise per workout).
I’ve dropped 10 pounds of fat like magic, and gained another pound of muscle.
I’ve gone from 18% to 13% bodyfat. I look like my goal photo and I’m super-psyched.
Massive is a state of mind.

Good job. Thinned out real good. Btw, that before photo is hella-awkward, it reminds of pregnant Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover. That beings said, you look good.

Rock and roll. Great job having the fortitude to stick to the basics.

Amazing how they still work after all this time, and how the bullshit that PT’s sell is still bullshit after all this time.