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I am really sick of trying to gain muscle and not succeeding


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Books are great as an introduction to weight training and Starting Strength is a particularly good one. Definitely worth the read. I think it would be safe to say that el_flaco is the strongest person who frequents this forum at the moment. He is strong because instead of just reading books about "correct training theory" and consulting experts on how to train, he actually gets out there and trains.

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You have to know someone that knows technique and theory to tell you what to do as a coach or read someone who does. If you just "go out and lift", as you incorrectly portray things, it will end up in failure.

 

And el flaco is definitely one of the biggest assholes here.

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Nick, Lyme disease, Babesiosis and Bartonella did damage to my joints.....as a result some of the issues are tough to overcome and I am a fighter. So, when I say it is tough to overcome, it is tough. I have about 6 months to a year of Bartonella treatment and hopefully will feel much better at that time. I also, as a result have something called MGUS (I won't go into details) and this also can cause peripheral nerve damage and muscle, tendon, ligament issues. So, the that is a big problem for me.

 

Soreness? Well, if I work out hard....I am sore for 2-4 days. The DOMS hit about 48 hours later and then I remain sore for another few days. Why is that weird? So, you see...there is no way I am doing squats on Monday and squats on Wednesday. I'd be doing but copnstantly breaking down muscle with little room to rebuild. Maybe if I took steroids.

 

If I follow my routine, lets say I end up hitting some of the same muscles three times...indirectly. Your listed program hits the muscles three times in one week. In light of that, I don't see an issue with my routine. We may both experience great results. But I don't think I will really make large gains till I am through this damn illness.

 

I am not even a fan of doing squats and deadlifts on the same day because after a brutal set of squats, I feel deadlifts can be redundant...especially with a trap bar.

 

Mon: squats, deadlifts

Wed: bench, dips, press

Fri: pull ups, barbell or dumbell rows.

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I didn't know you had so many health issues and damage from them.

 

Personally I don't trust mainstream medicine, I think they just help people manage to cope with illness through prescription drugs for decades, instead of curing anything. I listen to the Gary Null radio show religiously and I remember alot of shows he names many natural supplements and foods that can help promote joint health, but I can't recall them since that info never pertained to me. You may want to check out one of his books from a local library he has compiled alot of good holistic advice and treatments over his decades long career. His The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing should cover all those conditions.

 

No offense, but I would not put much hope in a mainstream doctor curing anything. Mainstream medical care is good if your finger gets chopped out, you ice it, they can sew it back. But they suck for chronic care. You are gonna have to do some research in my opinion if you want to get better and not rely on your doctor. I have watched my grandma who believes with utter faith in doctors just deteriorate worse and worse after every new procedure, operation and prescription. For these reasons I would go for a local holistic practitioner and solution.

 

Anyway hope you get better.

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And el flaco is definitely one of the biggest assholes here.
Classy.

 

Where did I insult you? You said yourself you've never got the results you wanted. Making light of that in the face of your bold arrogance when handing out advice barely qualifies as an insult. The absolutism with which you deliver your advice can only be found in beginners.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.

 

Moving on, this is another one of those bizarre VBB threads where we'll discuss diet and training programs in minute detail. Recovery time, macronutrient breakdown, HGH levels (!), high intensity techniques (negatives, rest-pause).

 

But for some reason asking how much someone can lift is ignored.

 

Talking about the reasons for a lack of progress without knowing the level of the lifter is completely pointless. It has a direct impact on the frequency with which you can hit the big exercises. It could also be that the lifter just needs to learn to move more weight and the discussion is better moved in that direction.

 

At 6'3, 200lbs and with a long lifting history I'd expect boardn10 is moving a lot of weight, but it doesn't hurt to check.

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Nick,

 

I share your sentiment on doctors! I agree! The doc I see is a Naturopath and an MD. She incoroporates both. She also inludes a nutritionist at her office who is a holistic practicioner.

 

 

Anyway, just to give you an example of how my days can go. Last Monday I felt pretty good and had a great squat workout. Today, my left hip was killing me to the point I was limping all day like I was 100 years old. I tried to do some squats and could not even warm up so I did some light lunges and leg curls.

 

Hi elFlaco!

 

Keep in mind with the health problems I have had...lifting heavy weight really fell off the radar. I just could not do it, too much pain and discomfort, joint cracking, popping, scary stuff.

 

As I heal, things have gotten better and I am trying to climb out of this hole but it is hard. Part of this illness robs one of strength and makes it difficult to gain muscle. In fact, many people lose muscle easily with what I have.

 

Before I got sick I was flat benching 275 for 6 reps. I was doing sumbell presses at 95 lbs for 8 reps. Unfortunatly I have never gotten too into squatting and deadlifting and I think that is my biggest downfall. I am hoping as I hjeal, I can make these a big part of my program! I was leg pressing 600 lbs. With such long legs, most leg exercises can be a struggle for me. I have really long and lean legs.

 

I also just came off a full 6 week layoff to try to resolve a serious bout of frozen shoulder. I feel I have been to hell and back and yet I keep trying to lift hard, It's in my blood.

 

As I struggle to get back into this my dumbell bench press is only at 85 lbs for 4 reps.

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Keep in mind with the health problems I have had...lifting heavy weight really fell off the radar.

No worries man. Those pressing numbers are pretty good. The main reason I like to focus the discussion on weights is that I've met very few natural big guys, guys who look powerful in their clothes, who don't move a ton of weights. Maybe it's the opposite of what you'd expect, but I've known guys on roids who get big just by looking at weights and don't seem to train that impressively. I've not met many natural guys who hadn't really figured out how to get a lot from each exercise.

 

I agree with you that missing out squatting and deadlifting isn't the best. It would be good to be able to reintroduce one of those and progress on it. You said you had a good squat workout last Monday, what kind of workout did you do? I'd be tempted to keep the intensity very low on them for a while, build the weight up slowly. Nothing anywhere near failure. Even some of the programs that work well for beginners might be worth avoiding for a while - find a halfway house between rehab and training to see what you can do and what you can recover from. You've shown the dedication to keep going so it doesn't matter if the progress is slow, as long as there is progress you'll get somewhere good.

 

You mentioned earlier that not looking like a lifter with your clothes on was a frustration. I'd say that is pretty common for bodybuilder types who keep their bodyfat low. They are pretty difficult goals to balance. Maybe it'd be worth loosening the diet a bit, upping the calories. Your training would get a boost and you might feel better about your progress.

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Someone who admits they don't train regularly decrying the input of a guy with a 600kg+ raw powerlifting total? Only on the interwebz.

As my mum would say "the cat can look at the queen". Anyone is welcome to give advice regardless of level. I go to one forum where a 650 total is on the low side of average, WSM competitors are called out on things they say there just like anyone else.

 

I don't have a problem with the advice NicholasV is handing out. I don't disagree with it. It's the language he's using that bothers me. Maybe it's just a culture thing, US-style self-belief often sounds conceited to us Europeans.

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Keep in mind I have no history of a squat program so I have NO idea of my potential there nor what a steady squat program could do for my upper body.

 

I was told many years ago by the Villanova Football team's exercise physiologist that someone of my height should not be doing squats, maybe not even deadlifts.

 

So, I never got into....instead stuck with heavy legg pressing during college and after as well. These last 4-5 weeks are the first time I have ever put serious time into squating....so I am excited. I actually thought the trap bar deadlift felt a bit better to me. I have quite a few books at home on power lifting and bodybuilding and have spent time reviewing

technique and exercise comparison and it seems if done with enough flexion..for some people the trap bar deadlift might be a decent replacement for the squat.

 

Last monday I felt good, wasn't suffering much pain and did not feel limited. I was doing 225 for about 10 reps with strict form. For me, someone who never did any serious squatting, was pretty good.

I could see where this could go. I hit 225 in no time in a matter of weeks on my first ever consistent program. This past Monday I had a bad day of knee and hip pain and squats were impossible. I could barely climb steps. I'll keep ya posted.

 

Today I did presses, weighted dips and attempted the overhead press but had too much left shoulder pain. I have been told by quite a few to avoid the overhead press due to the high rate of injury but I don't know what to believe. I have never hurt myself in the past nor ever had shoulder issues till I got sick and that was unrelated to the overhead press.

 

Interesting article on dangerous shoulder and chest movements.

http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/training/shoulder_impingement_syndrome.htm

 

Everything I am reading concerning the shoulder press is to do the Arnold Press if you must do the shoulder press.

 

On training....frequency and volume is an issue I need to work out. I find I can't do full body workouts unless I really only do a few exercies. I also find if I do a full body workout or even include back and chest in the same workout.....I lose intensity toward the end of the workout.

Now, if I were to do Chest press, dips and rows, that is fine. If I want to add another exercise or two such as pull ups or pull downs, I am not sure that is good. I am trying to leave a decent amount of time between sets and it seems to be paying off.

 

So, I started doing a three day split, going by the days of the week as opposed to my biological week I am doing Monday legs, Wednesday Chest/shoulder and Friday back. Even with this there is overlap and possible over training. Stuart McRobert in his book Beyond Brawn brings up a good point about overtraining the shoulders. If you do pressing one day of the week, rows another day...you are waorking the shoulders twice that week and if I am going heavy, I cold over train. I find I can't directly hit the same muscle twice in a week. This could be a similar situation.

 

In light of this I might try a new approach. Lifting days might be Tuesday and Friday. The sequence could be workout 1: legs, workout 2: chest, and workout 3: back in that order over the Tuesday and Friday schedule. This way if I am going heavy pushing new highs in poundages, I am providing extra rest time, as much as 10 days or so between the same workout. Hmmmm....not sure what to think. But it seems quite a few people feel hitting shoulder directly could result quickly in overtraining since so many exercises heavily work the shoulders. Rows, dips, chest presses etc all hit those delts!

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I like throwing back in on leg days. Focus on pull-ups on days you deadlift, rows on days you squat. Someone of your height might find sumo deads useful, or trap bar deads (keep in mind that you might want to do some posterior assistance work on trap bar dead days). Generally, pulling and pressing hit entirely different parts of the shoulder. The only part of the shoulder that is at great risk for overtraining is the anterior head, since it is hit hard on almost every pressing movement.

 

Overhead pressing is fairly safe, because your scapulae are free to move during the movement. Make sure to tuck your elbows at the bottom. If you do overhead pressing on a training day, try dips as an assistance move, since they are relatively front delt light. Doing overhead press and bench on the same day can be very fatiguing on your shoulders. I like the way Wendler splits stuff up for 5/3/1, which might be a good program for you, since it is based on slow progression. 5/3/1 with periodization bible assistance work is great for mass.

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I like throwing back in on leg days. Focus on pull-ups on days you deadlift, rows on days you squat. Someone of your height might find sumo deads useful, or trap bar deads (keep in mind that you might want to do some posterior assistance work on trap bar dead days). Generally, pulling and pressing hit entirely different parts of the shoulder. The only part of the shoulder that is at great risk for overtraining is the anterior head, since it is hit hard on almost every pressing movement.

 

Overhead pressing is fairly safe, because your scapulae are free to move during the movement. Make sure to tuck your elbows at the bottom. If you do overhead pressing on a training day, try dips as an assistance move, since they are relatively front delt light. Doing overhead press and bench on the same day can be very fatiguing on your shoulders. I like the way Wendler splits stuff up for 5/3/1, which might be a good program for you, since it is based on slow progression. 5/3/1 with periodization bible assistance work is great for mass.

 

I deadlift on the day I squat! Now what? If I deadlift on a different day...it will be 7 days apart form squating. Yep...I do trap bar deads. Posterior assistance work?

 

If I can't do any shoulder pressing on chest day...it would have to wait till the following week. I thikn hitting shoulders one day, chest another and back another is over working and risking injury of either shoulder. Same thing with back....deads on one day and back on another in the same week....hmmm.

 

The shoulder joint in general is worked hard on all of those exercises...the rotator cuff, etc. No? Don't you think?

Can you tell me where I can find the 5/3/1 info??? THANKS!

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My basic workout template is three days per week (MWF usually) having a A1, B1, A2, B2 workout rotation. On the A's, you pick one big leg/back lift (back squat or deadlift variation), then do an assistance leg exercise. If I squatted, it is going to be a posterior chain assistance exercise (RDLs, glute/ham raises, reverse hypers, back extensions, pull-thrus, etc.) if it was a deadlift, I will do something like a safety bar front or back squat, front squat, lunge, Bulgarian split squat, etc., which emphasizes the quads. So, if A1 uses squat as a main lift, A2 will use a deadlift. On squat day, I like to do several sets of some sort of row, then a few sets of curls and calf work. On deadlift day, I like to focus on some sort of pull-up/down, after leg work, then a bicep and calf exercise to finish. Everything is done for 2-4 sets. On B1 days, I choose a barbell bench variation for my primary exercise, then supplement with a higher rep dumbbell press of some angle, then do some iso (or at least nearly so) tricep work, such as cable extensions, skull crushers, JM presses, PJR pullovers, etc. Then I do some for of upright row (I don't raise the weight very high on these, only below my nipples, so as to avoid excessive shoulder rotation and stress). I follow this up with some sit-ups, ab wheel, leg raises, etc. On B2, I choose an overhead press as my main movement. I follow it with some dips, since they are easier on my and most people shoulders, mostly hitting chest and triceps. After that, I hit up some tricep iso (or nearly so) work, then some lateral raises, then some ab work. This basically has you repeating every workout every 9-10 days, and you have 4-5 days between bodyparts. This is how many, many routines are broken up, because it was popularized by some conjugate method guys. You shouldn't run into issues with your shoulders being overtrained, and if you do, drop the overhead presses for dips, if dips don't bother your shoulders. Just do a few heavy sets of dips (1-5 reps), then drop back and do some dips in a higher rep range. Lots of dipping, but I think dips are amazing, so that is fine with me. Your rotators won't end up overly beat up this way, since you always have a day between workouts. You might want to add in some external rotation, though, and maybe some stretches for your internal rotators. This can avoid some overuse/tightening/imbalance issues.

 

If you search around enough, you might find enough information to figure out 5/3/1. I bought the ebook for $20. Here is a link to start with. http://muscleandbrawn.com/wendlers-531-powerlifting-system/

 

Wendler generally puts his back/bicep work in with his chest/shoulder/tricep work, with legs on the other day, which many argue actually causes more overlap than a chest/shoulder/tricep and back/bicep/leg split. I believe more in the second split, but do what works for you. YMMV.

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Hey Cubby....

 

Thanks...that is actually the program I have been puting together on paper so "ll let you know what I come up with and how it works. One thing I won't do it directly hitting the same muscle twice within that three day a week workout. So I won't do chest press one day and a shoulder press later that week. I find that too taxing on the shoulders, even doing dips. Right now I do dips on my pressing day. Thanks to Lyme disease and a Bartonella infection I have a bad left shoulder, elbow and wrist. For that reason I no longer do barbell pressing....only dumbell pressing.

 

I find it interesting in Robert's Book, Vegan Bodybuilding, he gives a few pages showing one of his workout regimens. I'd be curious at what point in his training career he followed that program. It is a 4 day split he did with a lot of overlap and for quite a few typical trainers would result in overtraining. I'd be curious if he were to elaborate on that training program and what he has done over the yuears. In the book it is on 116.

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Last monday I felt good, wasn't suffering much pain and did not feel limited. I was doing 225 for about 10 reps with strict form. For me, someone who never did any serious squatting, was pretty good.

I could see where this could go. I hit 225 in no time in a matter of weeks on my first ever consistent program. This past Monday I had a bad day of knee and hip pain and squats were impossible. I could barely climb steps. I'll keep ya posted.

 

Today I did presses, weighted dips and attempted the overhead press but had too much left shoulder pain. I have been told by quite a few to avoid the overhead press due to the high rate of injury but I don't know what to believe. I have never hurt myself in the past nor ever had shoulder issues till I got sick and that was unrelated to the overhead press.

Hey man.

 

I guess it's important here to try to find out if the training and the bad day are linked. If the squatting lead to the knee/hip pain then you'd have to be pretty careful trying to introduce them into your routine. If the bad days are going to be pretty random you might just have to accept them, train when you feel good and cut back when you feel bad.

 

I've got no experience with Lyme disease so you'll have to take the following advice with a pinch of salt.

 

I think intensity is more important than exercise selection or training frequency here. I would avoid any high-intensity techniques. I wouldn't take any sets to failure, keep the reps fairly low. No drop sets, supersets, anything like that. Try to up the weight, especially in the big lifts, but do it gradually. Keep something in the tank. Make sure you're successful on all your lifts. Keep the workouts fairly short. This way of training might feel a bit alien to you, you won't get very sore. But you can progress this way.

 

Not trying to grind yourself into the ground each workout might work given your health problems, leave the body with some recovery ability in store. It also makes questions of how to combine exercises less pressing, not taking them to failure means you're less likely to be overtraining anything.

 

I'd be tempted to drop the deadlift for now as you get back into squatting. The deadlift is a great exercise but it's very taxing, focus on the squat until it's more obvious how you cope with it. Maybe go for 2 or 3 sets of 5 on the squat, kick off at 160lbs or so? That'll be easy for you, but maybe a good starting point.

 

Not sure how to fit that together, it depends on what exercises you like. I'd probably go for some kind of pretty straightforward upper/lower split. That helps keep the frequency flexible. If you're having a bad day you can just chill, take another day or two off and get back on the split easily. If you have a more complex four day program missing a day isn't as easy.

 

Not sure what you make of any of that. If you liked some of the Stuart McRobert stuff it might have some appeal - very simple and based on just slowly progressing the weights on a few favoured lifts. The key thing for me in regard to the original point (sick of trying to gain muscle) is to try to reintroduce the big "bang for your buck" exercises and see how you react to them. I'd sacrifice some variety and program complexity to try to figure that out.

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Thanks bro,

 

Yes, the pain has never ever been there prior to the illness. Since then I have had off/on leg pain, knees, hips, etc and this is well before trying to squat again. In fact, as I was saying two weeks ago I felt great.....amazingly so and had a great workout. A week later....my hips and knees were killing me, so no squatting that day! I am also an avid snowboarded and even after all this hip/knee pain started...I have had some full days of snowboarding and also hard downhill mountain biking in Colorado with no pain...so I know what is causing it. At least I hope I do.

I am pretty in tune with my body in that way.

 

You know that is a good point on the going to failure concept. I do find myself going to failure quite often...especially in chest and back exercises. Rather I might take anew approach....and try to hit a certain number of reps and then up the weight and work back up to that number of reps but avoid failure.

 

Great point on the squatting and deads bro. I was wondering the same thing. I might just hit it hard with one or the other and then do a few accessory movements like calf raises and some ab work but make the squat or dead the focus. I fear a little of the squat about compression of the spine and my height. Quite a few articles I read talk about compression of the spine while squatting and also the fact that some people over 6' really should not be squatting....and that the trap bar dead is the best alternative.

 

So I still wonder about the overlap of doing deads and back the same week......McRobert also talks about all the work the shoulders do in a complete week of lifting. Hmm....never thought of it that way, he makes some nice points.

 

Finally, with my left shoulder issue since I got sick...shoulder press is too painfull. However I can do chest pressing/inclines and weighted dips all day long...just not overhead.

 

I agree on the big, basic exercises. That is partly why I have been re-reading Beyon Brawn. I sort of lost site of that.

 

By the way...I played tennis for three hours yesterday and was sore enoguh today to skip my leg workout. Plus work was crazy so I couldn't get away.

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From a muscle building standpoint, overhead pressing isn't necessary, so that isn't such a big deal. You can get all the development you need from various dips and horizontal presses, with some lateral raises possibly for accessory work.

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From a muscle building standpoint, overhead pressing isn't necessary, so that isn't such a big deal. You can get all the development you need from various dips and horizontal presses, with some lateral raises possibly for accessory work.

 

Thanks bro. I was thinking the same. People seem to overlook the dip and I have really been getting into doing heavy dips. I throw in a few sets of lateral raises for good measure....but some people also forget good form is essential with lateral rasies otherwise setting up for an injury is possible.

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I believe my diet is holding me back. Having to avoid gluten, soy and most anything made with flour or anything that is not whole intact carbs is killing me. I have a huge apetite and fast metabolism. 4,000 is about minimum what I need to sustain life...I eat a lot. I should be eating 5-6,000 calories but can't.

 

I am also struggling with the squat and deadlift. I was told I am too tall for those big exercises. I was told my knees will always get in the way with deads causing poor form and was told I am too tall for squats to be performed properly.

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Try rack pulls instead of deadlifts. This will also put most of the focus on the back which (to me) is awesome! This allows me to really keep up the intensity on both legs and back. I still dead from the floor sometimes but in a romanian style so as to keep the hams out of the equation. Regardless Arnold was 6'2" and squatted like a mofo You do what you feel can be done. Don't listen to someone saying you can't unless you have actually tried. If you truly feel that squatting is doing nothing but hurting you then don't bother. There are some bodybuilders who literally never squat. They utilize the Hack squat and leg press. Is this great for strength? probably not but it WILL build muscle. There's nothing you can't work around bro. If there are guys in wheel chairs showing off amazing muscular physiques then I'll be damned if you or I can't.

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