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My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
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Sisyphus Offline
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My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
Hi all. I just made my intro post in the newbie forum - in it I said I want to keep my "help me" threads to a minimum and this is it for now. I figure improving my physique is essential for many reasons, and women is actually fairly low on the list.

Background:
I didn't eat much at all for most of my life. I was 120 lb (5'7) for most of my adult life. Once I started to live a healthier lifestyle I was able to eat a normal diet but overcompensated and became 170 lb with 20% BF.

Fitness Success:
I read that someone with my composition should cut before trying to bulk. I crushed it. Got down to 10%, abs showing etc. I was proud of what I had achieved, but it turns out that it wasn't really a good look for me without having much muscle under the fat and very skinny limbs (i.e. 14" arms).

Fitness Lack of Success:
It turns out cutting is pretty easy but I was bewildered by all of the information about bulking so I started working out with a trainer 6 months ago. I've busted my ass in the gym which is a shitty place for someone like me to be. I've stuck with it very hard but the results have simply not been there. First he had me eating 3,000-3,500 calories. Oh I gained weight alright, but basically just replaced the belly fat I'd spent months burning. Supposedly I gained some LBM but it's not visible anywhere or showing up in my measurements. He then cut me back to 2,500-3,000 cal so I'm still gaining weight but just more slowly.

I was concentrating on high set-low rep, (typically 5X5) and mostly compound exercises, but I tweaked my back deadlifting (bummer because I enjoyed it and considered getting to 125% body weight a nice accomplishment) so I've had to modify it a bit.

I have no intention of giving up, but 0 progress at all after 6 months of hard work is discouraging, especially since I was actually gaining mass (as opposed to being a hard gainer). It had been my understanding that the formula for building muscle was lifting to induce microtears, followed by filling them up with lots of protein (current intake ~ 2.5g/kg) and a caloric surplus. I'm definitely sore after I work out so I think I'm doing what should be right but I'm having no success.

What am I doing wrong? Am I not squeezing out the last rep or two hard enough? Is 6 months just not enough time to see improvement? Is something off with my macros? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
02-06-2017 08:27 PM
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Steelex Offline
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Post: #2
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
It's really hard to say man, there are so many variables. If you didn't gain muscle, then obviously your program had some flaws. Everyone can gain muscle, even skinny fucks.

With that said, 6 months is a drop in the bucket. I would be ECSTATIC to gain 5lbs of actual muscle in 6 months.

Most people over-estimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can do in a decade.

If you want to talk training and nutrition, PM me and I'll be happy to work with you a little on getting closer to your goals.
02-06-2017 09:26 PM
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rudebwoy Away
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Post: #3
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
It takes time to build a body in the gym.

You have gained a lot of weight considering you were 120llbs.

I don't see the point in overeating to gain size, people end up gaining bad weight.

To build muscle, I would suggest doing reps between 12 -15.

Even though I have been training for 20 years, I still do push-ups in my bedroom every so often.

Get a workout partner or a trainer that knows how to train.

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http://www.repstylez.com
02-07-2017 04:35 PM
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Moma Offline
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RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
90 percent of the time it's usually what you eat. How much of your protein is natural? Steak, chicken, fish? Are you planning your meals?

I will need to see a list of your diet to make an assessment. Often when we become meticulous with our training and our diet by which I mean jotting everything down, we realise we weren't eating as clean as we thought we were.

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02-07-2017 06:14 PM
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Sisyphus Offline
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Post: #5
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
(02-07-2017 06:14 PM)Moma Wrote:  90 percent of the time it's usually what you eat. How much of your protein is natural? Steak, chicken, fish? Are you planning your meals?

I will need to see a list of your diet to make an assessment. Often when we become meticulous with our training and our diet by which I mean jotting everything down, we realise we weren't eating as clean as we thought we were.

Thanks for the replies. I eat very clean. A little less so when I was pushing myself to the upper range of the calories I talked about. A typical day would be as follows:

Breakfast:
Omelet - 3 whole eggs + 3 whites + 1/2 an avocado + spinach
or Oatmeal - 1.75 cups milk + 1 cup oatmeal.

Lunch:
Greek yogurt with natural granola (oats, honey, almonds, sunflower seeds)
Sandwich - natural (i.e. stir, no hydrogenated oil) peanut butter on whole wheat

Dinner:
Meat (chicken, steak, fish, occasionally 96% lean ground beef for meat sauce) + carb (sweet potato/red lentils/brown rice/whole wheat pasta rarely) or black beans

Salad: colorful - spinach, broccoli, beets, red & yellow bell peppers, carrots + crumbled walnuts, olive oil & apple cider vinegar

Shake: milk, whey protein; a few: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, goji berries; chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed

snacks: trail mix (cashews, pumpkin seeds, almonds), dried fruit, cottage cheese, "flax chips" or other fancy Whole Foods type thing.

I might occasionally treat myself to <4 dark chocolate covered almonds and 2 spoons of ice cream (no HFCS). I ate the 2 spoons of ice cream daily when I was cutting as a treat to myself.

I'm very disciplined, have pizza maybe once a month. I've given up things I used to love and gorge upon like chicken fingers and fries. Only drink alcohol socially, average 2-3 drinks a week. Only drink water, no juice or soda. Eat out less than 1% of the time.
02-08-2017 06:49 PM
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Irenicus Offline
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Post: #6
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
(02-06-2017 08:27 PM)Sisyphus Wrote:  Hi all. I just made my intro post in the newbie forum - in it I said I want to keep my "help me" threads to a minimum and this is it for now. I figure improving my physique is essential for many reasons, and women is actually fairly low on the list.

Welcome.

Quote:Background:
I didn't eat much at all for most of my life. I was 120 lb (5'7) for most of my adult life. Once I started to live a healthier lifestyle I was able to eat a normal diet but overcompensated and became 170 lb with 20% BF.

That is rather good progress, given the stats.

Quote:Fitness Success:
I read that someone with my composition should cut before trying to bulk. I crushed it. Got down to 10%, abs showing etc. I was proud of what I had achieved, but it turns out that it wasn't really a good look for me without having much muscle under the fat and very skinny limbs (i.e. 14" arms).

It's vice versa - you always bulk, and then you cut.

Quote:Fitness Lack of Success:
It turns out cutting is pretty easy but I was bewildered by all of the information about bulking so I started working out with a trainer 6 months ago. I've busted my ass in the gym which is a shitty place for someone like me to be. I've stuck with it very hard but the results have simply not been there. First he had me eating 3,000-3,500 calories. Oh I gained weight alright, but basically just replaced the belly fat I'd spent months burning. Supposedly I gained some LBM but it's not visible anywhere or showing up in my measurements. He then cut me back to 2,500-3,000 cal so I'm still gaining weight but just more slowly.

I will rant a little bit here.


First of all, keep in mind that many ( notice I did not say all ) trainers do not know (1) what the fuck are they doing (their main source of information are broscience magazines such as Men's Health, in most cases) and (2) they intentionally hamper your progress because they want you to be dependent on them (in order to boost their ego, and wallets).


This ain't theory. I speak from experience. For example, I remember that one so called trainer gave me a routine, which basically was 3 day split routine (no breaks) and two day rest. Machine work only (Rolleyes). And what did I get? 3 kilograms total in one year. Embarrassing for a newbie.


Quote:I was concentrating on high set-low rep, (typically 5X5) and mostly compound exercises, but I tweaked my back deadlifting (bummer because I enjoyed it and considered getting to 125% body weight a nice accomplishment) so I've had to modify it a bit
.

You tweaked your back doing deadlifts because one of those three reasons:


(1) You did not do squats before (THEY ARE MANDATORY BEFORE DEADLIFT!!!!). If you ran on a machine, that does not count - your lower back was not activated.

(2) You did not eat or drink enough. Given your story, the latter is more likely.

(3) Improper form. I have a friend that also complained about the deadlift killing his spine. When I saw him doing it...I face palmed. Worst form ever.
If your form is not perfect, watch videos of people doing deadlift (or read how to do it on Stronglifts), and go from there.



Quote:I have no intention of giving up, but 0 progress at all after 6 months of hard work is discouraging, especially since I was actually gaining mass (as opposed to being a hard gainer). It had been my understanding that the formula for building muscle was lifting to induce microtears, followed by filling them up with lots of protein (current intake ~ 2.5g/kg) and a caloric surplus. I'm definitely sore after I work out so I think I'm doing what should be right but I'm having no success.

What am I doing wrong? Am I not squeezing out the last rep or two hard enough? Is 6 months just not enough time to see improvement? Is something off with my macros? Any suggestions would be appreciated.


I like the bolded part. You have the right attitude, and that is the most important thing in your arsenal.



Now,considering all information you have provided us, I am with Steelex. I will elaborate why.


First of all, you likely have unrealistic expectations. Many guys believe that they can look like Reg Park, Dorian Yates after 6 months of hard work in the gym.That is impossible. Again...been there, done that... .


6 months is nothing.


Now, if you want to be like them (who wouldn't?), you will need a lot of time (a decade of hard work, even more). Even steroids. Now, looking at your body stats, I think you are doing OK. 5lbs of actual muscle in 6 months is great.


Keep lifting (and don't deviate from 5x5 for now, it's good), and you will be golden.

Ceterum autem censeo Scandinavia delendam esse.
(This post was last modified: 02-09-2017 12:42 PM by Irenicus.)
02-09-2017 12:28 PM
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Sisyphus Offline
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Post: #7
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
I wouldn't say I have unrealistic expectations - I really don't have enough knowledge to form any real expectations. I would figured I'd see some sort of noticeable difference at this point, but if that's unrealistic then so be it and thanks for letting me know. When I read things in the popular magazines that say "Add 10 lbs of muscle to your arms in 4 weeks with this SUPER SHREDDING PROGRAM!!!!" I know enough to not take that seriously.

I don't know the people you named, but I don't ever expect to look like one of them and I don't especially want to. I don't want to juice either. I once saw something that showed a range of 6 body types ranging from the extreme ectomorph to endomorph - it said to pick your body type (for me extreme ectomorph) and then realistically you can expect to go 2 in either direction so that seemed reasonable to me. Who really knows if Charles Atlas' story is actually true, right?

So far one vote for 12-15 reps, one vote for 5x5. It seems like this is the eternal debate and I imagine the answer is something along the lines of it's different for each individual...
02-09-2017 07:47 PM
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Steelex Offline
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Post: #8
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
It doesn't matter if you do 5x5 or 12-15 reps.

What matters is that over the YEARS you turn that 10 many reps with 135lbs to 10 reps with 505 lbs.

I guarantee you, the day you incline press 405 for 25 reps on a rest pause set, your chest will have a grand canyon groove down the middle.

Quit looking at the small picture, and reverse engineer the problem. All the big fucking guys are moving the kind of iron that will lower a truck bed a few inches. So you know you gotta get yourself to that point. So find your way to gradually lift heavier and heavier in whatever rep range, and make those increases as fast and as often as possible.
02-09-2017 09:59 PM
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H1N1 Offline
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Post: #9
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
Steelex is correct. Focus on getting stronger in any rep range, and spend years doing that. I averaged out my muscle gains over the past 7 years, and it works out at about 4-5 lbs/year. It's not always been a priority (I boxed a lot during that time), but the point is that over time you can make good progress and transform how you look, within the limitations imposed by your frame and genes.

Everything works so long as you continue to add weight to the bar. What doesn't work is to change rep ranges and movements every time you stall for a week or two. You go from 12-15 down to 5 rep sets, life a bunch more weight for a while, and feel you've got stronger, whereas you've really just improved technique and efficiency (perhaps with some moderate strength gain).
02-10-2017 08:15 AM
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Irenicus Offline
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Post: #10
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
I did not say that you MUST do 5x5. I have mentioned that regimen because it's the oldest, and most popular (many professionals such as Arnold use(d) it). Of course, you will not look like him (you obviously don't have his genetics and you are unwilling to go on gear), but still, you will look better than 90+% of people your age when naked. You will look younger too (take a look at Chuck Norris - he is almost 80, but looks like someone half his age).


The most important thing, like the posters above me said, is to continue to add weight to the bar. It does not really matter if you do 5x5, 3x8, 12-13 reps etc. There are many paths to victory.


As I have said earlier, you have the correct attitude, which many lack. You can do it, and I wish you the best.

Ceterum autem censeo Scandinavia delendam esse.
(This post was last modified: 02-10-2017 12:19 PM by Irenicus.)
02-10-2017 12:10 PM
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Sisyphus Offline
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Post: #11
RE: My Fitness Journey: Success -> Lack of Progress
I'm bumping this thread because I was hoping to get some advice. I broke through my lack of progress - I prioritized progression and caloric surplus and I've been able to lift heavier and my chest, shoulders, arms, and quads have grown pretty noticeably. The most obvious difference is the fit in my t-shirts.

The problem is that my back problems that I alluded to in the first post have gotten worse. I started physical therapy a few months ago and I adjusted the lifts I was doing to maximize back support (OHP on a machine for example, leg press, etc.), but the overall effect has not been positive. I went for a walk in the park yesterday and I was really struggling. Walking is my favorite physical activity and I used to be quite good at it; I've done a lot of mountain climbing and long distance hiking but now I can barely even get to a mile without feeling pain. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I realized that I have to make a change even though lifting has been my top priority in life and I've really been enjoying my progress.

The question is what that change should be. Despite my adjustments to my routine, it seems logical to me that lifting heavy things is not a good way to approach fixing back pain. Is hypertrophy a realistic goal with lower weight and higher reps or even body weight? Should I use this time to cut (body fat went up to about 20% which has been the other big negative)? Should I try to just maintain for a couple of weeks, keep doing my PT exercises every day and see if the situation improves and re-evaluate then? Another option?

I appreciate any input.
08-31-2017 08:14 PM
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