Unsure of next fitness step

  • vbportugal

    Posts: 82

    Feb 10, 2015 9:45 PM GMT
    Hello all,

    For awhile now I have been frustrated with making gains in the gym. At this point in time I want to ask should my next step be to continue to gain size or to lose some weight?

    A little background, I lift four days a week, sometimes five along with a cardio day and volleyball practice/tournaments. I just added insanity as a cardio into the off days because I find it more interesting to do than steady state cardio.

    As for progress, I have noticed a slight increase in size to my back and arms, but my shoulders and chest do not seem to be growing. On the other hand, my strength has increased all over the board, (dumbbell bench press 50 -> 80lbs in 4 months/ bent over row 55 -> 75lbs ect.). Up until recently, I feel like bench press exercises targeted my arms more than my chest. Although I have made progress in these areas, my biceps seem to not be gaining much strength at all. I can still only do 30lb curls on a good day. As for diet, although it is not the best, it has been improving, I get around 200g of protein a day (I am 200lbs), and eat 4-5 meals (usually chicken breast and rice/eggs and peanut butter toast). I get between 3000-3500 calories a day and my weight has been stagnant.

    So as I mentioned earlier, should I continue to try and increase my strength/size gains and push through my bicep plateau? or is now a good time to drop some fat as I think I am starting to push to 15%? I have been fairly indecisive in what direction I should go and would like some advice from more experienced people.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 11, 2015 11:02 PM GMT
    First and foremost fix your diet. Find a good sports dietitian so he can create a proper diet for your schedule and budget. You don't necessarily need to push your calories down, but you need to check where these calories are coming from.

    You are too tall to talk about seeing growth. You're not a 5'8, it takes a lot longer for changes to become visible when you have a bigger bucket to fill. You shouldn't measure your muscle growth in the mirror, you should get your body fat checked so you can assess how much lean mass you're gaining. You might be making a progress you just can't see.
  • jjguy05

    Posts: 459

    Feb 12, 2015 4:46 AM GMT
    Good advice from bacchian.

    My input:

    vbportugal saidHello all,

    For awhile now I have been frustrated with making gains in the gym.


    What's "a while"? How long have you been lifting?

    vbportugal said
    At this point in time I want to ask should my next step be to continue to gain size or to lose some weight?


    You're very lean.

    vbportugal said
    A little background, I lift four days a week, sometimes five along with a cardio day and volleyball practice/tournaments. I just added insanity as a cardio into the off days because I find it more interesting to do than steady state cardio.


    Definitely don't do steady-state cardio, but you may also have to stop doing the insanity workouts, and/or stop playing volleyball. You'll have to dial down the cardio.

    vbportugal said
    As for progress, I have noticed a slight increase in size to my back and arms, but my shoulders and chest do not seem to be growing. On the other hand, my strength has increased all over the board, (dumbbell bench press 50 -> 80lbs in 4 months/ bent over row 55 -> 75lbs ect.). Up until recently, I feel like bench press exercises targeted my arms more than my chest.


    It's possible your nervous system is adapting to the higher weights, which allows you to lift more without getting bigger. Once your nervous system can adapt no more, then you'll start growing if you eat for it, and you do proper sets and reps, and don't kill your gains with excessive cardio.

    If by "arms" you mean your triceps, that's certainly possible. The bench press utilizes both the triceps and the chest. You should supplement bench presses with lifts that isolate the chest, like flyes or crossovers. But you will still need to do the big heavy presses. Additionally, your grip width will affect whether or not you're using triceps more, or chest more, or both equally. Play around with this.

    vbportugal said
    Although I have made progress in these areas, my biceps seem to not be gaining much strength at all. I can still only do 30lb curls on a good day.

    ...So as I mentioned earlier, should I continue to try and increase my strength/size gains and push through my bicep plateau?



    I have a feeling you haven't been lifting that long, and 30 lb DBs is not a small weight for someone at your level. And don't obsess so much with your biceps strength (and you forgot to mention how many reps you can do 30 lbs for). You should, however, do some heavy cheat sets on occasion. Grab like a barbell that's more than you can do with proper form, so maybe barbell 70-80 lbs, and do some cheat seats (use slight momentum), and/or some cheat sets where you cheat for the concentric portion of the rep, but proper/strict negatives. These may be able to boost your biceps strength. Don't rely on cheat sets, but do them on occasion, or make them a regular part of your routine in addition to stricter forms of biceps curls. Another lift that might help boost your biceps strength is pullups/chinups with a reverse grip (thus using mostly your biceps, not your back).


    vbportugal said
    As for diet, although it is not the best, it has been improving, I get around 200g of protein a day (I am 200lbs), and eat 4-5 meals (usually chicken breast and rice/eggs and peanut butter toast). I get between 3000-3500 calories a day and my weight has been stagnant.


    Increase the protein intake. Shoot for 300g/day. Also, you'll have to figure out the amount of carbs. You may need to increase those. Do you ingest protein and fast-digesting carbs immediately before and after lifting?

    I wouldn't obsess over calories. I go by grams of protein and carbs.

    vbportugal said
    or is now a good time to drop some fat as I think I am starting to push to 15%? I have been fairly indecisive in what direction I should go and would like some advice from more experienced people.


    If your pictures are current, I wouldn't worry about bodyfat. Bodyfat can be kept in check with clean eating, and with lifting actually. You can have "cardio" days, where your lifting is faster paced, and/or makes use of some supersets. And you can have your lazy days, where you go slower, and make up for it with heavier weights. Don't overthink it though.

    Definitely keep bodyfat in check, but don't prioritize losing bodyfat over lifting. Bodyfat's easy to drop once you've reached a nice size (muscle-wise). Muscle is harder to put on, so you wanna start building muscle asap. And the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns on a daily basis just to maintain.
  • vbportugal

    Posts: 82

    Feb 12, 2015 5:01 AM GMT
    Thank you for the replies. @jjguy05 I have been lifting consistently for a year and a half and as for the reps on the biceps its between 8-12. That is the range for all exercises mentioned.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 13, 2015 5:57 AM GMT
    Eat, my friend...eat.