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  1. #1
    Registered User MisterNoGains's Avatar
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    What am I doing wrong? Incredibly frustrated

    Hey guys,

    I've been lifting for about 2 years for it, but judging by my physique you would think I started going last month. I used to be really skinny and have always been weak, after a few attempts of bulking and cutting I am left with this skinny fat physique and really embarrassing lifts. I haven't ever even benched > 170 for more than 3 reps. I've tried high frequency, low reps, high reps, bro splits, PPL, nothing. Nothing works. As I said, I used to be incredibly skinny so I thought maybe I'm a hard gainer, so I upped the calories and now I'm left with significantly more bodyfat with more or less the same strength that I had a year ago. I even got my test levels checked and they are normal. I'm not sure what do as I'm too fat to continue bulking, but if I cut I won't gain any strength/size. Here are some stats:

    25 years old
    6'0
    185 lbs
    18-22% BF
    14" arms

    Lift (all for reps about 8 reps)
    150 lbs bench
    65 lbs incline DB press
    45 lbs seated DB shoulder press
    135 lbs BB row
    175 lbs squat
    135 lbs romanian DL
    80 lbs DB row
    55 lbs EZ bar curl
    50 lbs skullcrusher
    15 lbs weighted dips
    10 bodyweight pullups

    I'm also running this current split:

    Chest:
    -DB incline press
    -Weighted dips
    -Incline bench press
    -Incline flies
    -Lateral raises

    Back/Bis:
    -Pull ups
    -BB row
    -Lat pulldown
    -DB row
    -Shrugs
    -EZ bar curl
    -Preacher curl
    -DB hammer curl

    Rest

    Shoulders/Triceps:
    -Seated DB shoulder press
    -Plate raise
    -Lateral raise
    -Rear delt fly
    -Face pull
    -Skullcrusher
    -Tricep pushdown
    -Underhand pushdown
    -Overhead extension

    Legs:
    -Squat
    -RL deadlift
    -Hamstring curl
    -Calf raises

    Rest

    Repeat

    I'm open to any advice as I feel I've exhausted everything. Are my genetics just crap?
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  2. #2
    REMAIN INDOORS SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Probably your routine. You need something that is going to push you to progressively overload in a handful of key lifts.

    Like Fierce 5.

    Very easy to go through the motions when you have too many exercises done too infrequently - and not really push beyond what you did before.
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  3. #3
    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    ^^^

    Get on a basic barbell routine for several months. There are some good free ones:

    Fierce 5
    All Pro's
    Viking's
    Candito Linear
    Stronglifts 5x5
    Starting Strength
    Currently running Calgary Barbell 8 Week:
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=175647011&p=1603141691&viewfull=1#post1603141691
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    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    ^^^

    Those programs have about 5-8 basic lifts that will hit all your muscles. You've got 26.

    It's like taking a kid right out of high school and putting him into a nuclear physics class. He's not going to learn, because he doesn't understand the fundamentals. Same thing with your program. You're not going to advance with 26 exercises when you haven't mastered the basic 5-8.
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  5. #5
    Registered User MisterNoGains's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Probably your routine. You need something that is going to push you to progressively overload in a handful of key lifts.

    Like Fierce 5.

    Very easy to go through the motions when you have too many exercises done too infrequently - and not really push beyond what you did before.
    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    ^^^

    Get on a basic barbell routine for several months. There are some good free ones:

    Fierce 5
    All Pro's
    Viking's
    Candito Linear
    Stronglifts 5x5
    Starting Strength
    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    ^^^

    Those programs have about 5-8 basic lifts that will hit all your muscles. You've got 26.

    It's like taking a kid right out of high school and putting him into a nuclear physics class. He's not going to learn, because he doesn't understand the fundamentals. Same thing with your program. You're not going to advance with 26 exercises when you haven't mastered the basic 5-8.
    Thanks for the responses. At what point can you consider yourself having the fundamentals down? Is there a certain level of strength/size for that? I've tried similar PPL programs in the past including I believe 5x5, and the problem I often have is I struggle to achieve progressive overload. I usually go up for the first 2-3 weeks of the program and than flatline. I also notice a worse pump/hypertrophy on these programs. Are they made with size in mind or just strength? Also, will working out only 3x a week really be enough?

    What about my diet as well? Given my bodyfat yet low strength situation, should I continue to bulk or cut? Eat at maintenance?
    Last edited by MisterNoGains; 05-20-2020 at 11:14 AM.
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    ^^^

    Get on a basic barbell routine for several months. There are some good free ones:

    Fierce 5
    All Pro's
    Viking's
    Candito Linear
    Stronglifts 5x5
    Starting Strength
    Out of all these, All pros would be what I’d use if I were in your shoes again
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  7. #7
    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Thanks for the responses. At what point can you consider yourself having the fundamentals down? Is there a certain level of strength/size for that?
    The saying goes: If you have to ask, you're still a beginner. There are different tiers floating around, with plenty of disagreement. You can plug your numbers into symmetricstrength.com and it will show you one picture of where you stand. Strengthlevel.com is another. Alan Thrall, Steve Shaw both have videos about strength standards. Focus on training and you'll advance faster.

    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    I've tried similar PPL programs in the past including I believe 5x5, and the problem I often have is I struggle to achieve progressive overload. I usually go up for the first 2-3 weeks of the program and than flatline. I also notice a worse pump/hypertrophy on these programs. Are they made with size in mind or just strength?
    PPL split is a hypertrophy split, it means Pull, Push, Legs. Most beginner programs are full body. Size and strength are the same thing, read Suffolk's sticky about it. When most people think "size" they think of the pump you temporarily get from lifting in the gym a lot.

    Eventually everyone hits a wall with 5x5 linear progression. You could try a HLM 5x5 like Madcow. (I ran it last year and it was just alright.) Or try something periodized, with different set and rep ranges and lower intensity. Kizen Infinite Offseason is another program you might look into.

    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Also, will working out only 3x a week really be enough?
    Generally, yes. But you can choose a 4 day Upper Lower program if you like it more. (I prefer 4 day programs.) Candito, Fierce 5, Kizen, and Viking's have ULs.

    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    What about my diet as well? Given my bodyfat yet low strength situation, should I continue to bulk or cut? Eat at maintenance?
    Eat at a small surplus (200-300 calories a day) over your base tdee for several weeks while running a structured program, and then reassess. Calculate your tdee and track your macros.
    Currently running Calgary Barbell 8 Week:
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=175647011&p=1603141691&viewfull=1#post1603141691
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  8. #8
    REMAIN INDOORS SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You are still in the novice category - so focus on novice things. Don't worry about what's a long way down the road.

    There is no reason to worry about the distinctions between strength and size routines at the moment. Read the size vs. strength sticky thread if you want the reasons for this.

    You admit you have had trouble progressive overloading - and this is why you haven't seen much results. Focus for long enough (without program hopping) on getting your rep count up at higher weights in all the main lifts and you will have more muscle.

    And don't try to diet and spoil this progress either - that can wait until later. Otherwise it's the same as program hopping - you don't make progress on any one goal.
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  9. #9
    Registered User CommitmentRulz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    I also notice a worse pump/hypertrophy on these programs.
    That's a hangup you'll need to overcome. 'Pump' means NOTHING - but that's why you 'think' your massive 27 exercise workout is better. You can get a pump by basically doing cardio with weights (lot's of reps with fairly light weight) and get a nice pump, but that's not near as effective as a good program built around the big boy lifts with progressive overload.
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  10. #10
    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    ... ...I believe 5x5, and the problem I often have is I struggle to achieve progressive overload. I usually go up for the first 2-3 weeks of the program and than flatline....
    Then you have misunderstood this. The orthodox approach to progressive overload on say a 5*5 style program is to Slowly increase the weight having started from a point much lighter than you current train and I mean much lighter sometimes even an empty bar or close to that.I

    If you hit a wall at 2 or 3 weeks you have either started way way too heavy or progressed much too fast ---> or both.

    While I'm not necessarily suggesting Jim Wendler's programs he summed up the process in 5 principles (Although starting Jim Wendler's 3 day fullbody program "5/3/1 for beginners", starting as light as if you were a complete beginner, may be a good move)

    1) Start too light, way too light
    2) Progress slowly, really slowly
    3) Set personal records
    4) Use multi-joint lifts
    5) Balance (don't focus too narrow, have some variety and balance in what you do)
    Faith in Jesus first and faith in squats second.
    Then other details will start to slot themselves into place.

    Attempting "Convict Conditioning", http://www.4hourlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Convict-Conditioning-Progressions-Wall-Chart.jpg
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  11. #11
    Registered User Magomed1's Avatar
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    If you are stalling 2 or 3 weeks into a 5x5 program or any program really, then you started with weights that were way to heavy in the first place.

    The problem with training for a pump is that it is not sustainable, unlike strength which is.
    Training log
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    Registered User MisterNoGains's Avatar
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    Hey guys, sorry for the late response and thank you to everyone who chimed in with some advice. Looks like I'll need to run more of a full body split. I was looking into Fierce 5, and their novice program is only 2 days a week. Is there a way to extend this to 4 days a week or would I have to run their intermediate split? Also, doesn't the program neglect things like traps or side delts? And lastly, how does one fit in cardio with this all?
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  13. #13
    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Hey guys, sorry for the late response and thank you to everyone who chimed in with some advice. Looks like I'll need to run more of a full body split. I was looking into Fierce 5, and their novice program is only 2 days a week. Is there a way to extend this to 4 days a week or would I have to run their intermediate split? Also, doesn't the program neglect things like traps or side delts? And lastly, how does one fit in cardio with this all?
    Do some shrugs on back day. Do some cardio on days you don't lift. It's not rocket science mayne.
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    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Hey guys, sorry for the late response and thank you to everyone who chimed in with some advice. Looks like I'll need to run more of a full body split. I was looking into Fierce 5, and their novice program is only 2 days a week. Is there a way to extend this to 4 days a week or would I have to run their intermediate split? Also, doesn't the program neglect things like traps or side delts? And lastly, how does one fit in cardio with this all?
    Read F5 again (and the FAQ) without just glancing it, it's 3 days/week. Run it as written and don't do 4 days/week.

    OHP and face pulls will hit your side delts somewhat, and rows/face pulls will hit your traps somewhat. It's a beginner routine and focuses on what you need to at this point - if you currently have no gains I'd worry more about the bigger muscle groups. You can do cardio on off days or after your workout on lifting days.
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    Registered User Magomed1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Hey guys, sorry for the late response and thank you to everyone who chimed in with some advice. Looks like I'll need to run more of a full body split. I was looking into Fierce 5, and their novice program is only 2 days a week. Is there a way to extend this to 4 days a week or would I have to run their intermediate split? Also, doesn't the program neglect things like traps or side delts? And lastly, how does one fit in cardio with this all?
    It's 2 workouts rotated 3x a week.

    For example
    Mon WO1
    tues rest
    Wed WO2
    Thur rest
    Friday WO1
    Sat rest
    Sun rest
    Mon WO2

    As a beginner routine you do not need to worry bout traps and side delts. You need to get stronger overall.

    These are meant to be a starting place, after sufficient strength is developed one can move to a more refined program according to ones goals.
    Training log
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    Registered User drTonyD's Avatar
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    What is your diet like?

    I agree with some of the thoughts on the workout but you haven’t mentioned your diet at all.

    Originally Posted by MisterNoGains View Post
    Hey guys,

    I've been lifting for about 2 years for it, but judging by my physique you would think I started going last month. I used to be really skinny and have always been weak, after a few attempts of bulking and cutting I am left with this skinny fat physique and really embarrassing lifts. I haven't ever even benched > 170 for more than 3 reps. I've tried high frequency, low reps, high reps, bro splits, PPL, nothing. Nothing works. As I said, I used to be incredibly skinny so I thought maybe I'm a hard gainer, so I upped the calories and now I'm left with significantly more bodyfat with more or less the same strength that I had a year ago. I even got my test levels checked and they are normal. I'm not sure what do as I'm too fat to continue bulking, but if I cut I won't gain any strength/size. Here are some stats:

    25 years old
    6'0
    185 lbs
    18-22% BF
    14" arms

    Lift (all for reps about 8 reps)
    150 lbs bench
    65 lbs incline DB press
    45 lbs seated DB shoulder press
    135 lbs BB row
    175 lbs squat
    135 lbs romanian DL
    80 lbs DB row
    55 lbs EZ bar curl
    50 lbs skullcrusher
    15 lbs weighted dips
    10 bodyweight pullups

    I'm also running this current split:

    Chest:
    -DB incline press
    -Weighted dips
    -Incline bench press
    -Incline flies
    -Lateral raises

    Back/Bis:
    -Pull ups
    -BB row
    -Lat pulldown
    -DB row
    -Shrugs
    -EZ bar curl
    -Preacher curl
    -DB hammer curl

    Rest

    Shoulders/Triceps:
    -Seated DB shoulder press
    -Plate raise
    -Lateral raise
    -Rear delt fly
    -Face pull
    -Skullcrusher
    -Tricep pushdown
    -Underhand pushdown
    -Overhead extension

    Legs:
    -Squat
    -RL deadlift
    -Hamstring curl
    -Calf raises

    Rest

    Repeat

    I'm open to any advice as I feel I've exhausted everything. Are my genetics just crap?
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    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Fierce 5 Novice is a great program. However, if you really want to train 4 days per week, I can recommend this program:

    https://rippedbody.com/novice-bodybuilding-program/

    Less volume than Fierce 5 U/L and the website has an article on other methods of progression for when your lifts stall.

    https://rippedbody.com/progression/

    I got nearly 6 months out of this program and could have stayed with it for much longer.
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