1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

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1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#1 Postby chc1983 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:51 am

Hello Fellow Plant Lovers,


I've been doing Stronglifts 5x5 for 9 months. Before that three months of machines/cardio. Never lifted before. Currently 28. I couldn't progress on upper body lifts so I eliminated squats/deadlifts after 4-5 months. After that I also started microloading. I'm vegetarian boarding on vegan, meaning I avoid direct consumption of milk/eggs but don't sweat it if they're in something processed like bread. I've gained 30 pounds in this year (150-180 @ 5ft 10in). According to the Omron fat calculator, I'm around 18%. I've been doing leangains for just over a month, no real change in weight or fat %. I have never measured and obsessed over macros, other than trying to get as much protein as possible. I have been doing steady state cardio post workout for the past 4-5 months. Before that I tried it on days off, but it interfered with recovery when squatting 3x/week.

Current Lifts (in lbs):
Bench 147 3x5, Row 147 5x5, Press 3x5 105, Pullups 3x5 bodyweight
When I was still squatting/deadlifting I had gotten to Squat 3x5 190 and Dead 1x5 220

Exact Current Workout Scheme:
A - Bench 5x5, Row 5x5, Abs 3x10, DB Inc Press 3x10, Cable Low Row 3x10, treadmill
B- Press 5x5, Pullups 5x5, Abs 3x10, DB Sitting Press 3x10, DB Curls 3x10, treadmill

I'm still progressing but it's very slow. It takes three attempts at a weight to get a full 5x5 so with microloading, I'm lucky to increase 5 pounds per work weight per lift per month. This past week, I didn't make 5x5 so I'm thinking it may be time to go to 3x5. I've already deloaded twice on each lift per the Stronglifts program.

My plan was to keep with it until I got down to 1x5 and then switch to RPT three day split:

Except tweaking it to:
A-bench/chest accessory
B-Row/Chin/back accessory
C-Press/Shoulders/maybe arms?

I seem to have steadier progression if I actually do every other day instead of taking two days off in a row each week so I'm a little scared to do each body part only once a week on RPT.


Overall, I just want to look like I actually workout. After a year I don't. If someone hadn't seen me in a year, they'd probably just think I got fat, which is what my girlfriend and mother think because most of the time my stomach is bloated from eating so much. My biggest issue is with the belly fat I have accumulated. I don't really have any desire for my legs to grow as all of my pants are already tight in the legs from squatting 3x per week for 4 months.


-Should I stick with my workout plan (going to SL 3x5 then to RPT upper body only) or switch to RPT immediately?

-Also, should I go back to doing squats/deads? They just seemed to exhaust me to the point where I didn't have any energy left for upper body lifts and my legs seemed to grow like crazy but my upper body seemed stalled.

-Should I start being super obsessed and measuring out every little thing I eat, tracking it on fitday.com, and drinking even more smoothies to get up to a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight? The thing I've found with being vegetarian is that the high protein foods are also very high calorie which makes me worry about accumulating more fat.

-Should I cut over the next three months before summer? This sounds scary because I don't really have much muscle to show yet but I would like to get rid of the belly. Also, I keep reading that it's better to bulk from 10% than 20% because of nutrition partitioning? I guess I'm just scared of going three months sacrificing strength/muscle building to lose fat.

-Should I switch cardio to rest days? SL says to do it post workout and Leangains says off days.

-Should I ditch leangains if still trying to bulk?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Please let me know if I've omitted any relevant information. I can post pics if you think that would be helpful.

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Re: 1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#2 Postby blabbate » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:33 pm

First things first, I'd say to put some sort of squats and deads back in the program. They aren't just leg exercises. They're as close to whole-body movements as you'll find, along with the bench and overhead presses. Squats hit your abs, erector spinae, and obliques, as well as a bit of traps. I even find my biceps sore sometimes just from tension on the bar. Deads hit much of the same, with more on the traps and the rest of the upper back.

This doesn't mean you necessarily need to do full barbell back squats and regular deadlifts. If you stalled on them, that's fine. Switch it up to front squats and RDLs with Good Mornings. You'll hit some different muscles, and the variety will probably be more interesting. But don't eliminate those nice compound movements entirely.

For the overall program, if you aren't doing squats, you aren't doing StrongLifts. You may have just progressed to the point where you need to squat less often, in which case it's definitely time to switch, probably to something with squats once a week and deads once a week. Or a mix of heavy/light. I believe some of the intermediate Starting Strength variations would work, or maybe a modified Texas Method, or RPT. You can also design your own. For example, using some of the ExRx templates. The important thing is not doing heavy squats 3x per week.

You don't want to kill your upper body either, though. Benching three times a week heavy can wear out your arms and chest as much as squatting can your legs, especially when alternating with heavy overheads. Honestly, 5 pounds a week isn't terrible, though.

I'd recommend finding a split that keeps all of the compounds but spreads them across days. A pull/push/legs or bi&back/tri&chest/legs or similar. RPT should be fine too. Don't be afraid to try out different routines for a month or two and see how you progress.

As for diet, it depends on what you think you need to change. If you want to look slimmer, you might want to cut. If you think you're gaining too much fat, cut back on fat and calories. These are personal choices, though. Tracking calories and macros might help if you want to make a change, particularly during a cut or when trying to reduce fat.

As far as LeanGains, if you believe it works in general, it should be fine for bulking. You're concentrating calories around the workouts, after all.

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Re: 1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#3 Postby Nikeforged » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:20 pm


First off. Gains are not going to come easy, they're going to be hard and slow. There is a fine line one must learn when weight training. However, in my experience I have found that every time I thought I was training hard enough I wasn't. I made great strides in my first year of training. I too followed the 5X5 Starting Strength Program and made modifications as I became more accustomed to the movements and wanted to look bigger. I started my 5X5 with

185 Squat 5X5
135 Bench 5X5
225 Dead 5X5
90 Military 5X5
100 Row 5X5

These lifts all jumped up significantly. And I kept on convincing myself that I was able to jump up 5 pounds every third workout, and I did. About nine months after the fact I was doing 3X5 working reps with a 100lbs more on every lift. I pushed myself VERY hard, however I looking back I think I could have done better. Better nutrition and better training techniques. However, I did put the time and energy in. I was doing squats 3 times a week for the first 4 months and my body grabbed up big strength as a result of it. I still didn't look like I lifted, as I was fat but... it was a good base from which to work off of.

Fact is.... TRAIN HARDER... push yourself to the limits. Try and rep with 80% of your max. Keep banging them out and you will have no choice but to grow provided your diet is in check.

Good luck

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Re: 1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#4 Postby veggiesasquatch » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:55 am

As you're the person who also posted about cutting up I'll ask you this. Is loosing weight the priority or becoming stronger/gaining muscle? You cannot do both, It's is virtually impossible. The exceptions being seriously under trained people, very obese & lastly people on the juice, These are extreme factors but can/do happen. You can't eat like a mouse & expect to lift like a lion. So ask yourself is loosing weight the goal or to become stronger? Then plan accordingly.

You maybe 28 but your actual lifting age is still very young, It's going to take time,motivation, blood sweat & tears to progress. Lifting is a life time pursuit not a few months/years. Your mentality needs to be focused on performance not a "look", If you lift well then the muscle will come (providing your eating enough) & also with the cardio, do it well & the weight will come off.

If you go down the lifting path then starting strength is a good place to begin, but please squat & deadlift. They may leave you drained but that's the point of compounds, these are key to becoming bigger/stronger. If you can squat you can do anything. It's about getting more bang for your buck. On leg days all I do are deadlifts with front squats & squats with good mornings. Also ghr raises & reverse hypers, that's it. I don't need to use a leg press or a curl machine, What's going to work me better than a squat & deadlift?
Also do not sub out squats for stuff like front squats, Hack squats ect The squat reins supreme over any other lift, that includes upper body so keep at it man...You say you get big leg? That's awesome who doesn't want powerful legs, This also has a knock on effect to other lifts. Also it's about balance, Don't be the guy who has a decent upper body but has to wear jeans all year round because he has Johnny Bravo legs. You say you progress slowly with weights, This isn't a bad thing, Progress is still progress. Slower gains are excepted better by the cns.

I may of left you an "unhelpful" comment on your lean gains post, but I know a lot about dieting, Macros. I read endless articles on diets & I came to the decision that I will listen to my body & also what works for me. I'm not interested in if I should eat an apple over an orange, counting calories I'd rather count sets & reps. People become obsessed with macros, Unless you're planning on getting onto the stage to compete stop counting macros.

Here's a bit of a post I put up from my blog, I had wrote about people asking about bulking up:
To finish off this rant I'm going to start with this conversation I had; "I'm wanting to bulk like you but I don't want to gain fat & I want visible abs while doing it". Face palm moment, I gave advice & I could see the "nah I'm not believing this" look in the guys eyes...may advice went along the lines of (also this goes to anyone wanting to gain):

"To gain muscle you're going to also have to gain fat, if you want to stay mega lean then you won't add any weight to your frame which in turn leads to over training & frustration. Under normal circumstances it's almost impossible to loose/not gain fat but add muscle..the only exceptions at a rarity being very obese, untrained people or folk on the juice"

I don't care If anyone bothering to read this doesn't agree & I in return I don't care you don't agree. Fact is your six pack is going to become a little blurry. I don't care how many crunches or ab circuits you do, even if you say you hit a million ab movements a day with multiple angles. All this does is over train the abs & burn much needed calories, also cardio (intense) is next to no good on a bulk. Minimal cardio on a bulk, just to keep the cardiovascular systems in check.


You can't bulk & cut...simple! So man up, commit to the bulk & stop whinging!

To finish some quotes from Mr Wendler

"Here’s what I propose to people: Eat to win, Train to win and Condition to win. You do these things and LIKE A MIRACLE, everything falls into place. You weigh what you weigh – I can’t believe that men are so wrapped up in what they weigh and not what they do.
In conclusion, lift weights and get stronger"

"I am getting tired of reading headlines about diets. I stopped reading articles about them years ago when I figured out that like most major religions, most diets are about the same. And like religion, people are FANATICAL about their diet to the point of red-faced lunacy. And woe be the opponent to their eating beliefs - you are an infidel in their macronutrient war"

ps this is a decent routine to follow if you want to try something new, it's still focuses on strength like starting strength...good luck

http://www.builtfit.com/workouts/streng ... x5-workout
"Don't fall for that crap that people are peddling on the message boards, in magazines or on TV. Get your shit in order, and get your training in order. Start kicking ass, and take out the crap that doesn't matter" Jim Wendler

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Justin Morgan
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Re: 1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#5 Postby Justin Morgan » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:53 am

What you described above seems really frustrating and I can see some things that I personally would change, but there's a lot to cover. I think the easiest thing to share though is just to share what I do. I'm also 180 ibs, but calipers have me at 12% BF, and I'm still dropping BF. I basically follow the 80/10/10 diet, but I'm not strict or legalistic about being raw. Everyday I eat about 20 bananas and 5-10 dates. Most of those are in shakes where I add greens and maybe a little almond milk. I'll add a little cooked rice and beans to my salads at lunch/dinner with some tomato and soy sauce. I also eat papaya, mango, pineapple, apples, grapes and oranges and (cooked) sweet potatos. I eat 900(g) of carbs everyday, 90% of them from fruits. I get about 100(g) of protein, from all those same foods, and I get 50(g) of fat from either adding an avocado to my salad at the end of the day, or getting some nuts or seeds. I tried standard bodybuilding diets for several years, and for me they worked for building muscle to some degree, but not near as well as what I'm doing now. I don't waste money on supplements or any of that because I don't need to. My diet has everything nutritionally that I need. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but it works. It's working for me, and that's all I can say. I'm not strict about being a raw foodist, but I basically stick to it.
As far as lifting I read over the routine at the link you sent and I thought it looked great. Put that squat back in there though. Don't remove any of that. Just because you don't see gains in your upper is not a reason to stop working other parts. Dead lifts and squats cause your body to work in harmony with itself and for lifting I think they are essential, assuming you're not injuring yourself or anything like that.

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Justin Morgan
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Re: 1 Year In, Still Feel Skinny in Gym, Fat at Home

#6 Postby Justin Morgan » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:51 pm

I should add that I drink almond milk which is fortified with B12, calcium and Vitamin D, so technically counting those I do take supplements.

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