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    Need help/direction on my progress

    A little background:

    Been working out at home for about 5 years. Started off not knowing much about what exercises or programs to do and learning about macros, bulking, cutting, etc. I am sure I wasted a few of those years trying different things, not doing the right thing, and stunting my progress. However, the last two years I would say have been my best using the right equipment, eating correctly, following macros, and following suggested programs on this site. I learned part of my mistake was I kept switching to new beginners workout programs vs going to a more intermediate program after I burned out on the beginner one. Overall I did have a much better grasp on diet and macros (followed the TDEE calculator) and had at one point cut to 10% body fat before switching to a bulk. Unfortunately, I had done that years ago prior to really getting into my workouts with the newbie mindset that I should start with a clean slate and work up vs starting overweight. I was instructed on this site that I should not have done that and it was affecting my gains.

    So in 2021, I switched from the Fierce 5 novice routine to the All-Pro Beginners routine. I have all the equipment needed to do these at home and I saw gains the whole time but hit plateaus in both. At that point (after some advice from this forum) it was determined that I was ready to switch to an intermediate program. I did the All-Pro intermediate 1 program 2 days a week for about 8 months and now for the last 6 months or so, I have been doing the Intermediate 2 program 4 days a week with no stalls and increasing my weight by 5 lbs. each 5-week cycle. My current weight I lift is as follows (I know it's not impressive yet and part of the reason for my post is that I feel I should be much further along). Also, note that I started lower than the max weights that I ended with from intermediate 1 as to not burn myself out too quickly with the new program (maybe another mistake I made). For example, at one point I could squat 200.

    Split A
    Bench = 150
    Bent-Over Row = 125
    Overhead Barbell Press = 90
    Barbell Curls= 65
    Dumbell Tricep Extension 60
    Hammer Grip DB Press 45
    Pull Down 50

    Split B
    Squats = 175
    Leg Extensions = 40
    Stiff Leg Deadlifts = 165
    Leg Curls= 60
    Calf Raises= 145
    Seated Calf Press= 145


    My issue is twofold. One is a question about cutting and bulking, the other is about my progress and what I may be doing wrong:

    1. I have never weighed more than 185. I have a thinner body frame and despite being almost 50, still have a pretty good metabolism and lots of energy (I feel as if I am 30). I recently read online that you should not bulk until you are in the range of 10% - 14% body fat, anything higher, you should cut. I was not following that. I also recently learned that I was bulking and cutting too long at a time. I read you should only bulk for 1 - 6 months and then switch to a cut for 2 - 4 months at a time. I am currently in a cut phase, which started after I hit 25% body fat 177 lbs. after a too-long bulking phase. Even at 25% body fat, people who saw me considered me thin. I am 5'10". However, when I look in the mirror I see a gut and the start of man boobs (this is when I am closer to 180 lbs. and at 25% body fat). My weight always seems to go to my chest and gut 1st. When I cut, currently I am at about 23% body fat and 165lbs, I look too thin. With clothes off as I get closer to 18% body fat and lower, I can see all my muscle tone and the start of my abs but clothed, I just look thinner to people. If I were to go 10% body fat before a bulk phase, people would worry about me and wonder if I am sick. So I feel I am at an impasse, if I follow the cutting and bulking rules as I stated above, then I just don't look good at either stage. If I do bulk when I am at a higher body fat ratio, I don't look thin but lose all the visible muscle tone. So, what should I really be doing?

    2. Am I progressing at a good rate or am I way behind the curve (I would only count the last 2 - 3 years) as I was still learning and trying new things and making mistakes? Mind you, I am not looking to be a pro or have unrealistic goals here, the TDEE calculator says that based on my specs, I would be best at 185 lbs. and 15% body fat. When I see other people who are jacked and or have arms twice the size of mine, I wonder how long have they been working out, what are they doing, and did they get that way naturally. I am really beginning to feel discouraged so any guidance would be helpful.

    Bonus questions: My understanding is that naturally, you can only gain about 1 to 1.5 lbs. of muscle a month, is that true? If so, how do people seem to gain so much so quickly? I also read that your body can only absorb around 25g of protein at one time. So how do you (especially those larger guys) eat enough protein spread throughout the day if you only should be eating 25g max per meal? Even for me at a 40% protein macro percentage, needing 200g per day, would mean I would have to eat 25g of protein 8 times a day. That's just not feasible and I could only guess how many times a day someone who weighs 250 would have to eat protein.

    I know this is a lot but I really appreciate the advice.
    Last edited by crazz2323; 11-25-2022 at 07:10 AM.
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  2. #2
    Cut/Bulk/Repeat Spanishdream's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    So, what should I really be doing?
    Bulking and cutting is the cycle. You are correct in saying that you probably bulked too hard. 25% body fat from 10-14% body fat, imo, is excessive. I learned this myself the hard way and I think if there's one thing to really hammer home to people it's that bulking excessively isn't worth it in the long run. Look at it this way, the less time you can spend cutting post-bulk, the better. Cutting sucks so keeping it to a shortened period as much as possible is only going to be better. I go to 10% and then I'll spend 20-25 weeks in a 250-300 calorie surplus focusing on progressively adding weight to the bar. This usually lands me around 18-19% body fat which is usually a 10-12 week cutting period. You on the other hand have gone to circa double that meaning that you have to cut for longer which means you are spending less time adding to the bar overall which is where you progress.

    I'm going to assume that you have gone for the "standard" 500 over maintenance, possibly even more. Correct me if I'm wrong. I highly recommend a slow bulk (200-300) over your maintenance to anyone. Anything extra just isn't worth it and you won't be able to add more muscle with an extra surplus.

    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    Am I progressing at a good rate or am I way behind the curve
    This is subjective but from a strength/bodybuilding point of view, your lifts aren't impressive considering your weight. You're not weak but you're not particular strong neither (sorry to be blunt). I'm a bit confused as to why you moved to an Intermediate Program because I don't think you are there yet. The term "beginner" has negative connotations because it implies you have just started when in reality, a beginner is someone working their way up to be able to bench press x1 their body weight, squad 1.5x body weight & deadlift 2x body weight. There's a very key difference between novice and beginner. I would consider you in the beginner stage based on your lifts.

    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    My understanding is that naturally, you can only gain about 1 to 1.5 lbs. of muscle a month, is that true? If so, how do people seem to gain so much so quickly?
    Yes to the first question. Noob gains (or illegal enhancements) for the second.

    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    Your body can only absorb around 25g of protein at one time
    This is false. If anyone disagrees with that, please show me the science that is peer reviewed behind this statement. It's personal trainer mumbo jumbo.

    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    needing 200g per day
    0.7g per 1lb of body weight is ideal. You would need ~126lbs. Two shakes and a chicken breast and you're close to it already.

    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    So I feel I am at an impasse
    I think a lot of people feel this way at some point so don't fret. If I were you, I would lose the weight you have currently and get close to 10% & bulk using a 200-300 surplus on Fierce 5 (Beginners). You need to spend more time in a calorie surplus with progressive overload. Your previous bulks have been too much, too quickly and you haven't been able to grow accordingly. The reality is however it will probably take a few cycles of cutting and bulking before you're happy with your look.
    Last edited by Spanishdream; 11-25-2022 at 08:06 AM.
    Currently cutting.
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  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by Spanishdream View Post
    Bulking and cutting is the cycle. You are correct in saying that you probably bulked too hard. 25% body fat from 10-14% body fat, imo, is excessive. I learned this myself the hard way and I think if there's one thing to really hammer home to people it's that bulking excessively isn't worth it in the long run. Look at it this way, the less time you can spend cutting post-bulk, the better. Cutting sucks so keeping it to a shortened period as much as possible is only going to be better. I go to 10% and then I'll spend 20-25 weeks in a 250-300 calorie surplus focusing on progressively adding weight to the bar. This usually lands me around 18-19% body fat which is usually a 10-12 week cutting period. You on the other hand have gone to circa double that meaning that you have to cut for longer which means you are spending less time adding to the bar overall which is where you progress.

    I'm going to assume that you have gone for the "standard" 500 over maintenance, possibly even more. Correct me if I'm wrong. I highly recommend a slow bulk (200-300) over your maintenance to anyone. Anything extra just isn't worth it and you won't be able to add more muscle with an extra surplus.



    This is subjective but from a strength/bodybuilding point of view, your lifts aren't impressive considering your weight. You're not weak but you're not particular strong neither (sorry to be blunt). I'm a bit confused as to why you moved to an Intermediate Program because I don't think you are there yet. The term "beginner" has negative connotations because it implies you have just started when in reality, a beginner is someone working their way up to be able to bench press x1 their body weight, squad 1.5x body weight & deadlift 2x body weight. There's a very key difference between novice and beginner. I would consider you in the beginner stage based on your lifts.



    Yes to the first question. Noob gains (or illegal enhancements) for the second.



    This is false. If anyone disagrees with that, please show me the science that is peer reviewed behind this statement. It's personal trainer mumbo jumbo.



    0.7g per 1lb of body weight is ideal. You would need ~126lbs. Two shakes and a chicken breast and you're close to it already.



    I think a lot of people feel this way at some point so don't fret. If I were you, I would lose the weight you have currently and get close to 10% & bulk using a 200-300 surplus on Fierce 5 (Beginners). You need to spend more time in a calorie surplus with progressive overload. Your previous bulks have been too much, too quickly and you haven't been able to grow accordingly. The reality is however it will probably take a few cycles of cutting and bulking before you're happy with your look.

    I really appreciate the feedback. This has been a learning process and most of the advice/info I have received over the years has been from this site. I got my numbers from the TDEE calculator for my weight, height, and age. For bulking, it said I should do a +500 calorie intake which puts me at 3000. Said my maintenance is 2,500. Of the 3 options, all had protein at 225 or higher. I do a 40 protein, 40 carbs, 20 fat split. I will cut to 10% and will look like a cancer patient again lol but then will only bulk at 300 and see how it goes.

    As far as switching to intermediate, I was advised on the All-Pro board based on my numbers and that I had stalled out after about a year on the beginner program that I should make the move. I have had no issues increasing my weight each cycle on the intermediate but again, I made the mistake of going backward and using less weight than I ended with on the beginner.
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  4. #4
    Cut/Bulk/Repeat Spanishdream's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    I made the mistake of going backward and using less weight than I ended with on the beginner.
    Regardless of the program you run, progressive overload is required to stimulate muscle growth. You're aware of the mistake so this time will be different.

    I still think you would benefit more on a beginner program (Fierce 5) but it's not like they're that different. Good luck.
    Currently cutting.
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    I think this is one of those rare cases where an intermediate upper lower would be your best bet. Even though your numbers are novice level not everyone has good leverages/genetics to get strong.

    Also the whole cutting to 10 percent and bulking to 14 is completely personal preference. Latest studies show that only natural lean lifters gain better at a low bf not dieted down individuals.
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    Originally Posted by TAWS6 View Post
    I think this is one of those rare cases where an intermediate upper lower would be your best bet. Even though your numbers are novice level not everyone has good leverages/genetics to get strong.

    Also, the whole cutting to 10 percent and bulking to 14 is a completely personal preference. Latest studies show that only natural lean lifters gain better at a low bf, not dieted-down individuals.
    Been doing the intermediate 2 upper lower for about 6 months now and it has been working for me so far with weight increases after each set of 5 weeks so I would imagine if it was not right, I would have felt it by now. As far as bf, would it be better to just go to 15% and then bulk to 20% then repeat?
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    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    Been doing the intermediate 2 upper lower for about 6 months now and it has been working for me so far with weight increases after each set of 5 weeks so I would imagine if it was not right, I would have felt it by now. As far as bf, would it be better to just go to 15% and then bulk to 20% then repeat?
    You could. I personally wouldn’t go much over 17-18 percent.
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    Originally Posted by TAWS6 View Post
    You could. I personally wouldn’t go much over 17-18 percent.
    So the advice I got on this post is to only do .7g per pound of protein which seems to contradict the calculations on the TDEE calculator and even the advice from this site which suggests using the TDEE calculator. The calculator says that even to lose weight, I should be taking in 201g of protein at a 40/30/30 split. This site suggests 1g per pound. So I am getting contradicting advice (which is all over the internet) and part of the reason I have made the mistakes that I have. So what really should I be doing? Is the .7g accurate? Then am I doing the calories and fats wrong as well? The TDEE calculator says to lose weight I should be doing 201g of Carbs and 45g fats.
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    Originally Posted by crazz2323 View Post
    So the advice I got on this post is to only do .7g per pound of protein which seems to contradict the calculations on the TDEE calculator and even the advice from this site which suggests using the TDEE calculator. The calculator says that even to lose weight, I should be taking in 201g of protein at a 40/30/30 split. This site suggests 1g per pound. So I am getting contradicting advice (which is all over the internet) and part of the reason I have made the mistakes that I have. So what really should I be doing? Is the .7g accurate? Then am I doing the calories and fats wrong as well? The TDEE calculator says to lose weight I should be doing 201g of Carbs and 45g fats.

    TDEE is nice for calories but not bodybuilding/powerlifting macros.



    Get your 1 G protein *or more if you like* and fill in the rest with carbs and fats. That can vary day to day, meal to meal but get your min daily fats required and go from there.
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    Originally Posted by coachcalande View Post
    TDEE is nice for calories but not bodybuilding/powerlifting macros.



    Get your 1 G protein *or more if you like* and fill in the rest with carbs and fats. That can vary day to day, meal to meal but get your min daily fats required and go from there.
    Ok, thank you. So if I do 1g per lb. of body weight to bulk with my weight being 165 currently, that would mean I would need to do the following for a 2,700 cal bulk. (My maintenance is 2500):

    protein = 165g which is about 25% of total calories
    carbs = 303g which is about 45% of total calories
    fat = 90g which is about 30% of total calories

    This look right?
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