A Question of Muscle

  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 09, 2011 11:53 PM GMT
    Howdy all!

    A bit of a question here on muscle. I've been working out for a little over a year now and I'm always trying to push myself. I've made great gains and what over that timeframe but I'm not sure where I really stand. But anyways, that's a topic for another day. Here's my question:

    My current profile pic was taken a couple weeks ago. I wouldn't exactly say I'm athletic or slim but more so average. I have some definition in my arms but not as much as I'd like. The thing is, you can see what I have when my arm is slightly flexed... but when I'm... typing a message like this, there's nothing really there. Heck, if I flick my bicep it... jiggles. 0_o; If I hold my arm out the underside is almost like a bingo arm. Mind you, it's not fat but just loose muscle I suppose. Is this my muscle breaking down and what not? I'm not really sure.

    On the two days a week that I work my biceps (Monday and Thursday) they're nice and solid. On the days I don't (even with tricep days -- Tuesday/Friday) they're blah.

    Am I doing something wrong here? I'm wondering if it's a lack of protein again (even though I think I eat enough) but I'm not really certain.

    I've also noticed that I can "peak"(?) the bicep but I can't add any width to my arm... not sure why either.

    Comments? Suggestions?

    Thanks guys!a
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 12:11 AM GMT
    Isn't that called the "pump"?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 12:19 AM GMT
    You left out a lot of information for anyone to help you. Survey time! Yay!

    • Please list your entire routine. Yes, even your non-arm days. Give us an idea of how many sets and reps you're doing too.
    • How long have you been seriously working out?
    • What is your intensity level like on any given exercise?
    • Are you doing any cardio?
    • Do you like pie?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    Patience! Patience! Patience!

    If I were you, I would only be worried if your arms were disproportionally skinny in comparison to your body, but as far as I could see you still have a lot to bulk everywhere. (Btw, we're pretty much on the same BMI) You look like you could lose a bit of fat as well. Give it another year and it will probably look like when you're pumped now.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 12:58 AM GMT
    Dude, your arms are fucking hot! I'd grope them till the cows come home.
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 1:19 AM GMT
    Scruffypup saidYou left out a lot of information for anyone to help you. Survey time! Yay!

    • Please list your entire routine. Yes, even your non-arm days. Give us an idea of how many sets and reps you're doing too.


    Monday/Thursday: Chest & Biceps

    High Cable Flys (aka Cable Crossovers)
    50lbs x 20
    60lbs x 16
    70lbs x 12
    80lbs x 10
    90lbs x 6
    50lbs x 15

    Cable Flys (Laying down)
    50lbs x 12
    60lbs x 10
    70lbs x 8
    50lbs x 12

    Cable Flys (Standing)
    30lbs x 20
    40lbs x 15
    50lbs x 12
    60lbs x 8
    30lbs x 20

    Dumbell Press
    60lbs x 10
    70lbs x 10
    80lbs x 10

    Incline Chest Press (Hammer Strength)
    2-45lb plates each side x 10
    2-45lb plates + 35lb plate each side x 8
    3-45lb plates x 10

    Decline Bench Press
    2-45lb plates each side x 10
    2-45lb plates + 10lb plates each side x 8
    2-45lb plates + 25lb plates each side x 6
    2-45lb plates each side x 10

    Cable Curls (Overhead)
    40lbs x 20
    50lbs x 15
    60lbs x 12
    70lbs x 10
    40lbs x 20

    Cable Curls (Lower)
    30lbs x 12
    40lbs x 10
    50lbs x 8
    30lbs x 12

    Straight Bar Cable Curls
    90lbs x 20
    100lbs x 15
    120lbs x 12
    140lbs x 10
    90lbs x 20

    Hammer Curls
    35lbs x 10
    40lbs x 8
    45lbs x 8
    35lbs x 10

    Preacher Curls (Optional)
    30lbs x 10
    30lbs x 10
    30lbs x 10

    Tuesday/Friday: Shoulders & Triceps

    Cable Shoulder Press
    30lbs x 12
    40lbs x 10
    50lbs x 8
    30lb x 12

    Side Cable Shoulder Raise
    30lbs x 10 (per side)
    40lbs x 10 (per side)
    30lbs x 10 (per side)

    Forward Cable Shoulder Raise
    30lbs x 10 (per side)
    40lbs x 10 (per side)
    30lbs x 10 (per side)

    Upright Cable Row
    90lbs x 18
    100lbs x 14
    120lbs x 12
    130lbs x 10
    90lbs x 18

    Overhead Tricep Cable Extension
    100lbs x 15
    120lbs x 12
    140lbs x 10
    100lbs x 15

    Straight Bar Cable Pushdowns
    90lbs x 20
    120lbs x 15
    130lbs x 12
    90lbs x 20

    Single Arm Reverse Pulldowns
    30lbs x 18 (per side)
    40lbs x 12 (per side)
    30lbs x 18 (per side)

    Tricep Dips
    10 x 3 (I've stopped these because for some reason my upper abs constrict too much)

    My ab routine varies from day to day/week to week. I'm never consistent, sadly.

    • How long have you been seriously working out?


    I've been seriously working out since May of last year. Prior to that it was rather sporadic. Everyone makes fun of me because I'm a health nut and highly sensitive about my appearance/weight. Consider it body dysmorphic disorder. If I eat anything remotely bad, my family/coworkers/friends all laugh that I'm going to the gym and working overtime to burn it off.

    • What is your intensity level like on any given exercise?


    Sadly I couldn't tell you. I've never measured my heart rate. I can tell you that my heart rate definitely increases when I do the cable exercises for my chest but after that I'm kinda flatlined in terms of intensity haha.

    • Are you doing any cardio?


    I usually run every other night or two nights in a row off another, repeat in preparation for the Marines/PFT I have to take. It's usually 1.5-2 miles a night.

    • Do you like pie?


    Apple, of course. Sadly I'm afraid to eat it. 17g of fat per slice makes my insides cry icon_sad.gif

    bachian saidPatience! Patience! Patience!

    If I were you, I would only be worried if your arms were disproportionally skinny in comparison to your body, but as far as I could see you still have a lot to bulk everywhere. (Btw, we're pretty much on the same BMI) You look like you could lose a bit of fat as well. Give it another year and it will probably look like when you're pumped now.


    I call shenanigans on the patience thing. I've seen people have a higher turn around that I have in 3 months. And that's from flab to six pack. How they did it I'll never know (Scott Herman Fitness member comparison pics).

    icon_sad.gif I'm going to go cry in the corner cuz you said I have some fat. (Kidding...)

    I'm not sure why but... I have pics of me last year I'll link to. In one I'm perfectly thin and what not, another I'm oddly puffy compared to now and I don't know why... nothing has changed in my diet since then haha.

    paulflexes saidDude, your arms are fucking hot! I'd grope them till the cows come home.


    Haha, I appreciate the comment but... if I wasn't flexing they wouldn't be... lol

    Basically what I'm trying for is the permanent flexed look. There's this really hot guy at the gym that has arms that are just... I think if I touched it I'd giggle like a schoolgirl (which I have never ever done fyi). I just... I'd ask him but he sorta looks like a douche to people outside of his gym circle. I dunno. :/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 1:38 AM GMT
    kuroshiro saidI call shenanigans on the patience thing. I've seen people have a higher turn around that I have in 3 months. And that's from flab to six pack. How they did it I'll never know (Scott Herman Fitness member comparison pics).


    Welcome to the very unequal life we live! icon_cool.gif

    There is good genetics and roids... lots of it. You don't know who's using it and who's just lucky, your safer bet is that they are on roids. Have you seen this article already?
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 1:41 AM GMT
    bachian said
    kuroshiro saidI call shenanigans on the patience thing. I've seen people have a higher turn around that I have in 3 months. And that's from flab to six pack. How they did it I'll never know (Scott Herman Fitness member comparison pics).


    Welcome to the very unequal life we live! icon_cool.gif

    There is good genetics and roids... lots of it. You don't know who's using it and who's just lucky, your safer bet is that they are on roids. Have you seen this article already?


    Nah, I can tell the difference between the two. These guys are clean cut... not the puffy kind.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 1:53 AM GMT
    kuroshiro said

    Comments? Suggestions?

    Thanks guys!a


    Your biceps aren't growing because you aren't doing any heavy back lifts.

    Also, you will never achieve an optimal upper body physique when you refuse to work your legs.

    Your routine is desperately in need of squats, chin-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts in my opinion. And is there any reason why you are doing three variations of cable flys?

    Also how long are these workouts?
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 1:58 AM GMT
    TroyAthlete said
    kuroshiro said

    Comments? Suggestions?

    Thanks guys!a


    Your biceps aren't growing because you aren't doing any heavy back lifts.

    Also, you will never achieve an optimal upper body physique when you refuse to work your legs.

    Your routine is desperately in need of squats, chin-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts in my opinion. And is there any reason why you are doing three variations of cable flys?

    Also how long are these workouts?


    If/when I do my back, I'll admit that I don't do much. I do pullups/chinups as a part of my PFT training, but it's really whenever I feel like doing them (or at the start of all my workout days).

    I'll admit that I'm horrible with working out my legs. I was never really a fan of doing them and they're probably the weakest part on my body. So much now that if I stand on one foot I can get pretty wobbly. Definitely not good.

    I've never been able to do squats and deadlifts properly. Squats I'm probably able to do with proper form if I take my shoes off, but deadlifts I just mess my back up with. When I had a trainer I tried focusing on them with him but he... really got too frustrated with me and just stopped paying attention... thus I gave up on it.

    As for the cable flys... it's just a part of the routines I've fallen into. I've been mixing up my workout every three months or so. I followed Scott Herman rather heavily in the beginning and then just started modifying my routines from there. There's only so much I can change up every so often.

    My workouts usually last me anywhere between 60-90 minutes with or without abs.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 1:58 AM GMT
    Your arms are adjusting to the regular workload you're giving them. I notice the same thing too, unless i mix things up. Different workout? Exercise bands? Pull up bar?

    Even better, seriously, work out your arms with a sport. Go to a batting cage. Swim. Take up boxing. When I hit the heavy bag regularly, my arms balloon! They don't keep their "pump" as much from workouts alone, but if I do a boxer's workout and hit the bags, they stay big.

    Just some thoughts....
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 2:12 AM GMT
    You're never going to get big arms until you force yourself to do squats and deadlifts. You're doing a lot of isolation exercises that are not going to give you any real size. All that cable stuff is going to do is tone you basically. That's not to say you should stop doing them. They're great, but they should be put at the end of your workouts. You need to be doing compound exercises.

    The main three things I would add to your workout are:

    • Squats
    • Deadlifts
    • Bodyweight Pullups (not the machine)
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 2:16 AM GMT
    Haha, figures... I suppose I'll just have to use the Smith Machine for squats again until I can acclimate myself to squats again. Although I do wish there was an alternative to deadlifts. I suppose I'll just have to watch everyone else do them.

    As for pullups... I'll have to start attaching a weight. I've never used the assisted pullup machine. I've been doing full arm lockout pullups for as long as I can remember (hovering at 15 now). I need 20 for a perfect score in that column for the Marines so... guess I'll have to keep surging forward with them.

    Thanks for the advice though!

    But for the record... I can't kick myself to the curb too much... I've done all of this on my own without a partner (which REALLY sucks) so I just have to look around to push myself sometimes.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2011 2:21 AM GMT
    kuroshiro saidNah, I can tell the difference between the two. These guys are clean cut... not the puffy kind.


    Not all roids leave you puffy... some are even designed to make you look lean and veiny (like Turinabol)
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    Aug 10, 2011 2:24 AM GMT
    What about starting with step-ups with a bar before you go to squats?

    Those upper body weights you're doing, I would love to approach even just 3/4 of what you're doing. (right now it's more like half)

    I can do 30+ tricep dips though. icon_lol.gif
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 2:28 AM GMT
    Some days I don't even feel those higher weights... it's odd.

    I can keep doing tricep dips until failure but for some reason my upper abs get really tight and i feel like I'm choking... and that's with adjusting my positions. Me think I may have messed something up elsewhere along the way :/

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    Aug 10, 2011 2:42 AM GMT
    Okay, I'm looking over your workout routine again. I see several problems with it.

    First of all, I don't think you need to be working your shoulders twice a week. If you're hitting them hard, once a week is plenty. Shoulders need plenty of recovery time, plus they get worked hard when doing chest.

    Also, I think training chest and biceps together are a bad idea. I say this because there's no way you can work your chest and not train your triceps. Therefore, your triceps are getting worked when you do chest weather you like it or not. So it makes more sense to combine your chest and triceps in the same workout. They are both pushing movements, whereas biceps are pulling. Do your chest first since that's the larger muscle group. Then your triceps will have had a nice warm up from doing chest.

    Put your biceps on your back day, since they are both pulling movements. Again, do the larger muscle group first, in this being your back.

    Honestly, I think you'd be better off keeping your arms to once a week too. They do recover quicker than many muscle groups, but if you're adding squats and deadlifts, I think you'd be better off to stick to once a week.

    This is what I would recommend for you:

    Monday- Shoulders/Traps
    Barbell Military Press
    Dumbbell Military Press (And no, I'm not being redundant)
    Anterior Raises (lie face down on a bench at about 45 degree angle and lift dumbbells.)
    Lateral Raises
    Front Raises
    (You can do the last 3 exercises with dumbbells or those cables you love so much)
    Standing Barbell Front Rows
    Smith Machine Shrugs

    Tuesday- Legs
    Squats
    Machine Leg Curls
    Machine Extensions
    Calve Machine

    Wednesday- Off (or cardio)

    Thursday- Chest/Triceps
    Flat Barbell Bench Press
    Incline Barbell Bench Press
    Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
    Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
    Flyes (dumbbells or machine)
    Skull Crushers (use dumbbells or EZ Curl bar)
    Cable Triceps Pushdowns (rope or V-bar)
    Kickbacks (dumbbell)

    Friday- Back/Biceps
    Deadlifts
    Pullups (if you don't own any canvas straps, get a pair)
    Seated Cable Rows
    Barbell Bicep Curl
    Dumbbell Bicep Curl
    Dumbbell Hammer Curls

    Saturday- Off (or cardio)

    Sunday- Off (or cardio)


    You can change the days up if you absolutely have to, but you need to keep your leg and back days as far apart as possible. You also need to change your exercises up about every 4 weeks to prevent plateauing. But keep those compound exercises at the beginning of each workout. Those do not change. Only change your grip width, leg stance, weight and reps. But do not replace them with something else (squats, deadlifts, bench press)



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    Aug 10, 2011 2:44 AM GMT
    kuroshiro saidHaha, figures... I suppose I'll just have to use the Smith Machine for squats again until I can acclimate myself to squats again. Although I do wish there was an alternative to deadlifts. I suppose I'll just have to watch everyone else do them.

    As for pullups... I'll have to start attaching a weight. I've never used the assisted pullup machine. I've been doing full arm lockout pullups for as long as I can remember (hovering at 15 now). I need 20 for a perfect score in that column for the Marines so... guess I'll have to keep surging forward with them.

    Thanks for the advice though!

    But for the record... I can't kick myself to the curb too much... I've done all of this on my own without a partner (which REALLY sucks) so I just have to look around to push myself sometimes.



    NO! Do not use the Smith Machine for squats. Bad idea! If you have to hire a trainer to do them properly, do so. Forget about lifting heavy at first. Form is critical.
  • Vaughn

    Posts: 1880

    Aug 10, 2011 2:52 AM GMT
    I've been lifting weights for 5 years and the highest I can get to is 135 pounds even on a 3000+ calorie diet and 160 grams of protein a day (Bowl of pasta every night before bed). Mind you I started at 107 pounds. Experiment a little but keep in mind some people just aren't all that big.
  • Imarks

    Posts: 19

    Aug 10, 2011 2:54 AM GMT
    Change your # of sets and reps for each workout, when you do the same thing over and over again your muscle get used to it. Try doing more weight fewer reps, drops sets, back to back sets, etc. A thing to remember is that muscle size comes with strength so what ever you can do to get stronger will help.

    -General Crap-

    Diet is also a huge part of it as you probably already know. If you are willing to commit and really want big changes try switching to eating 5-6 slightly smaller meals a day, one every 2-3 hours or so. High protein, low fat and all that crap.

    Also get lots of rest, avoid doing bicep intensive activities after you workout. I recommend 8 hours a night but it really depends on you.

    People always say try different things and tune your workout to what works for your body and I agree. It probably took me 8 months to tune for me and once I did I was gaining like 3 lbs every two weeks. 3 years later I am 35 lbs heavier with a lesser body fat %.


    Sorry if people have already mentioned a bunch of this, I skimmed.

    Check out Scott Herman's youtube channel... He gives tons of great advice and workout routines.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ScottHermanFitness


    Good Luck!
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 10, 2011 2:59 AM GMT
    Thanks for modifying that for me, I really appreciate it. Although I do have to play dumb. "Canvas straps"? You mean the wrist straps I see guys with to secure the weights and barbells? I don't understand using those for pullups...

    Haha, I said I follow Scott Herman ;)
  • Imarks

    Posts: 19

    Aug 10, 2011 3:02 AM GMT
    Sorry. icon_surprised.gif
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    Aug 10, 2011 3:17 AM GMT
    kuroshiro saidThanks for modifying that for me, I really appreciate it. Although I do have to play dumb. "Canvas straps"? You mean the wrist straps I see guys with to secure the weights and barbells? I don't understand using those for pullups...

    Haha, I said I follow Scott Herman ;)



    Yeah, I meant "wrist straps." I say canvas because that's the type I think is best. The hi-tech bulky straps with all the Velcro and shit don't seem to work as good as the cheap plain canvas ones. I personally prefer the natural white ones, as (some) of the black ones actually discolor your hands when you sweat. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SK-SPORTS-Canvas-Weight-Lifting-Straps-Pair-/270758760781?pt=UK_Strength_Training&var=&hash=item84b7ede4a5#ht_3418wt_907

    Do not use straps for deadlifts. They are most helpful for pullups and shrugs, but they really help you to lift more. Ask someone in the gym to show you how to wrap them properly.
  • captproton

    Posts: 316

    Aug 10, 2011 8:49 AM GMT
    You're working arms four times a week? Are you nuts? Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays? Unless you're juicing, that's insane.

    I don't care that you're breaking it into two days for biceps and two days for triceps. It's no wonder you're not making gains.

    Try working both bi's and tri's on the same day, once a week for at least 6 weeks. Besides, you work the tri's whenever you bench.

    Then after a couple of months, when you're also getting adequate food and not just protein drinks, try doing arms twice a week--bi's on Mondays and tri's on Thursdays. Mix it up a little.

    You've got to occasionally shock the muscle groups to make them grow.
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    Aug 10, 2011 1:42 PM GMT
    captproton saidYou're working arms four times a week? Are you nuts? Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays? Unless you're juicing, that's insane.

    I don't care that you're breaking it into two days for biceps and two days for triceps. It's no wonder you're not making gains.

    Try working both bi's and tri's on the same day, once a week for at least 6 weeks. Besides, you work the tri's whenever you bench.

    Then after a couple of months, when you're also getting adequate food and not just protein drinks, try doing arms twice a week--bi's on Mondays and tri's on Thursdays. Mix it up a little.

    You've got to occasionally shock the muscle groups to make them grow.



    I agree. I think a lot of people assume if some exercise is good, more is better, but that's just not the case with building muscle. Your muscles grow when they're resting, not when you're working out.