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Thread: Newbie despair

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    Newbie despair

    Hi all,

    I've been training for 3 months now - consistently without fail 4 days a week (one body part each day) plus 3 HIIT sessions. My weight has stayed stubbornly at 74 kg (+/- 0.5 kg). I've gained in strength but haven't seen much appreciable change in my body appearance. Maybe larger biceps and a few extra veins here and there. But love handles have not budged. What am I doing wrong? Or is it too early?
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    It just takes a longer time than you might at first think. And in particular, if you want to lose enough fat, you need to let your weight drop (in most cases). Weight is controlled by calorie level. In your case, if it didn't change, you are at maintenance.
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    Registered User sokaman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It just takes a longer time than you might at first think. And in particular, if you want to lose enough fat, you need to let your weight drop (in most cases). Weight is controlled by calorie level. In your case, if it didn't change, you are at maintenance.
    Thanks for your kind reply. Yes, I'm at maintenance calories. Thing is, I'm skinny fat and if I go into deficit I may just end up looking smaller.

    That aside, I'm reading a lot that 3/4 months is when you see significant changes. If I follow the trajectory I'm on what can I expect in the following months.

    TIA
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    Thanks for your kind reply. Yes, I'm at maintenance calories. Thing is, I'm skinny fat and if I go into deficit I may just end up looking smaller.

    That aside, I'm reading a lot that 3/4 months is when you see significant changes. If I follow the trajectory I'm on what can I expect in the following months.

    TIA
    You can't rely on unconditional promises like "you'll see results in X months" because it depends on your starting point and how rapidly you are able to progress. Fat loss is very slow at maintenance because you are displacing fat with muscle grown (which is a very slow process).

    Yes, you will look skinny if you diet from skinny fat but you probably aren't going to look how you want for some time because you need both the fat loss and the muscle gain parts of the equation - and like I said, the muscle gain part is slooooow but necessary.

    Focus on a change in measurements and a change in general strength levels over time, that's about all you can do.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    You can't rely on unconditional promises like "you'll see results in X months" because it depends on your starting point and how rapidly you are able to progress. Fat loss is very slow at maintenance because you are displacing fat with muscle grown (which is a very slow process).

    Yes, you will look skinny if you diet from skinny fat but you probably aren't going to look how you want for some time because you need both the fat loss and the muscle gain parts of the equation - and like I said, the muscle gain part is slooooow but necessary.

    Focus on a change in measurements and a change in general strength levels over time, that's about all you can do.
    Thank you for your candour even though it's not what I wanted to hear. But at some point, 6 - 8 months in, I'm going to have to assess my progress and decide if it's worth it all.
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    Maybe post a photo so we can give you the best advice possible? Sometimes people have a hard time when judging their own bodies, and the rest of us might have been in your shoes at one time or another and can provide better advice so you can avoid spinning your wheels longer than necessary.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Maybe post a photo so we can give you the best advice possible? Sometimes people have a hard time when judging their own bodies, and the rest of us might have been in your shoes at one time or another and can provide better advice so you can avoid spinning your wheels longer than necessary.
    Thanks!

    Here we go:
    Attached Images
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    I haven't seen your starting point but actually, for 3 months in, you aren't in a bad place. So I would say it's a combination of expecting too much in the time frame and maybe being overly critical of yourself.

    Remember, don't give up if the only thing you've done is diet because you haven't given the muscle gain part a chance - it's much nicer than dieting because you can expect better progress in your gym lifts. And as I mentioned it takes a long time so even 6-8 months is not enough to see a striking difference - but take photos and measurements so you can at least try to be objective.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I haven't seen your starting point but actually, for 3 months in, you aren't in a bad place. So I would say it's a combination of expecting too much in the time frame and maybe being overly critical of yourself.

    Remember, don't give up if the only thing you've done is diet because you haven't given the muscle gain part a chance - it's much nicer than dieting because you can expect better progress in your gym lifts. And as I mentioned it takes a long time so even 6-8 months is not enough to see a striking difference - but take photos and measurements so you can at least try to be objective.
    Thank you. That's encouraging. My starting point was not hugely different -- maybe a little softer. Right now my goal is to be more toned. I'd be happy if I could shed the stubborn fat I have around my mid-section, add a little more muscle and, if not, at the very least preserve the muscle I already have.

    I've cut back significantly on cardio (10K runs), which I only just now realise doesn't help. It all seems much more mysterious than I initially thought.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    It all seems much more mysterious than I initially thought.
    It really isn't

    - calorie balance determines if you gain or lose weight
    - protein and resistance training determine how much of what you gain or lose is muscle.
    - you can't lose fat in a calorie surplus but you can gain muscle in a caloric deficit (although it becomes more inefficient and ultimately turns negative with larger deficits).
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It really isn't

    - calorie balance determines if you gain or lose weight
    - protein and resistance training determine how much of what you gain or lose is muscle.
    - you can't lose fat in a calorie surplus but you can gain muscle in a caloric deficit (although it becomes more inefficient and ultimately turns negative with larger deficits).
    If you can gain muscle in a calorie deficit, then calorie balance isn't the ultimate determinant, no? In my case, I'm at maintenance calories. I've been hoping (naively) that as the muscle is piling on, fat is shedding at the same rate -- hence the reason my scale weight is the same. But the bathroom mirror tells another story.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    If you can gain muscle in a calorie deficit, then calorie balance isn't the ultimate determinant, no? In my case, I'm at maintenance calories. I've been hoping (naively) that as the muscle is piling on, fat is shedding at the same rate -- hence the reason my scale weight is the same. But the bathroom mirror tells another story.
    No, I only said it determines your weight. If net calorie balance is zero, you stay the same weight.

    However, as I've said already, muscle gain is slow - which means that corresponding fat loss would also be slow. So you either go lighter to get lean sooner or you just have to be patient...
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    No, I only said it determines your weight. If net calorie balance is zero, you stay the same weight.

    However, as I've said already, muscle gain is slow - which means that corresponding fat loss would also be slow. So you either go lighter to get lean sooner or you just have to be patient...
    Thank you so much for sharing your advice. I'll hang in there. Admittedly, I've been taken in by claims that newbies can gain 5kg of muscle (without steroids) in just 12 weeks! Unrealistic.

    Right, I'm off to the gym!
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    Sounds like you are running a bro split, you should consider running a beginner program from the stickies in the nutrition section. You may benefit from increase frequency and their structured progression.
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    Originally Posted by cmacken View Post
    Sounds like you are running a bro split, you should consider running a beginner program from the stickies in the nutrition section. You may benefit from increase frequency and their structured progression.
    You're right. I'm gravitating towards a beginner program. I need to choose wisely. Maybe Fierce 5. I'll give it a go. Trouble is I can't do chin ups and my knees can't take too many squats. Which means focussing primarily on upper-body development.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    You're right. I'm gravitating towards a beginner program. I need to choose wisely. Maybe Fierce 5. I'll give it a go. Trouble is I can't do chin ups and my knees can't take too many squats. Which means focussing primarily on upper-body development.
    How old are you? A lot of people can't do pull ups when they start out, thats a fairly common issue that can be fixed with practice using weight assisted pull up machine or band assisted pull ups.

    If you're older and have knee issues then I can see how squats could be a problem, but if you just lack strength to squat then all the more reason you should be doing them or some other similar type exercises to build up your strength such as goblet squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, etc. Do not make the mistake of ignoring your lower body.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    How old are you? A lot of people can't do pull ups when they start out, thats a fairly common issue that can be fixed with practice using weight assisted pull up machine or band assisted pull ups.

    If you're older and have knee issues then I can see how squats could be a problem, but if you just lack strength to squat then all the more reason you should be doing them or some other similar type exercises to build up your strength such as goblet squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, etc. Do not make the mistake of ignoring your lower body.
    I'm in my early-50s. For my legs, I do HIIT sprints. That in itself does my knees in but it's manageable.

    I'm not looking to be big. I just want to be more toned.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    I'm in my early-50s. For my legs, I do HIIT sprints. That in itself does my knees in but it's manageable.

    I'm not looking to be big. I just want to be more toned.
    You won't build appreciable muscle with HIIT.
    I can tell time. Time cannot tell me.

    Formerly LactoseTolerant. I'm not very imaginative.
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    You won't build appreciable muscle with HIIT.
    I'm aware of that; I was just saying it's the best I can manage with my knees at my age.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    I'm aware of that; I was just saying it's the best I can manage with my knees at my age.
    I'm 47, and didn't start lifting until I was 43. I also used to think that I had knee issues, but squats and other lower body exercises actually did a lot for my joints (and associated connective tissue strength). My knees are now better and stronger at 47 than at any point in my 30's and 40's. Just something you might want to think about.

    Running (and HIIT sprints) are probably going to be harder on your joints than doing squats would be.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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    Originally Posted by sokaman View Post
    I'm aware of that; I was just saying it's the best I can manage with my knees at my age.
    I'm 51. I'm not moved by that excuse.
    I can tell time. Time cannot tell me.

    Formerly LactoseTolerant. I'm not very imaginative.
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    I'm 51. I'm not moved by that excuse.
    Alright, guys! You've convinced me!
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