Gains extremely slow... What am I doing wrong?

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    May 16, 2007 11:16 PM GMT
    Heya guys!

    I've been working out since January, and I go to lift Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Saturdays, I do a yoga class to ensure I can maintain flexibility.

    Lifting-wise, I go to the gym in the morning, and do full-body workouts. I do pretty much the same routine every day (i'm going to assume it would be a waste of time to type out every exercise that i do), and I do a heavy weight. I'll do a weight that I can only do 6 reps (3 sets) with, then as time goes on and I can do more reps, I wait until I can do 12 reps (3 sets) until I up the weight.

    The thing I don't get is that I've just about doubled the amount of weight I've been able to lift, but I feel as though I look pretty much the same. And I don't mean I could lift 10 now I can lift 20 lol... For example, on the machine I use for my chest, I could do 30 at first and now I can do 90... but my pecs only look a tiny bit different!

    To date, I've gained ~12 pounds and started working out the first week in January. I've had a personal trainer that I saw once a week from mid-Jan up until last week (my broke ass needs to take a break and pay some other bills!!!)

    Nutrition-wise, I focus on eating a ton of calories and protein in a healthy way. I prepare all my own food at home, and use mainly chicken as the protein throughout the day.

    So, does anyone know whats going on? I just bought some Cyto-Gainer and added that in, but that was just a few days ago so I'm going to wait a couple weeks before I see how much it affects me.

    Thanks for any help, and if my picture sucks too much to help, I'll take another one that will hopefully help more!
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    May 17, 2007 1:36 AM GMT
    You've gained 12 pounds since January? That's a lot dude. Putting muscle on is not easy. And you look fairly thin so you probably have a high metabolism which doesn't help when you want to gain weight.

    You mentioned that you eat a lot of chicken and consume a lot of calories. I don't know what a lot is, but when I went from 150-180 pounds of muscle I ate at LEAST 6000 calories a day. Mainly consumed by protein shakes ( probably 4000 of it). At this point you just want to gain the weight, if you're a hardgainer, and worry about the cutting after you get to the proper weight. That being said, I don't know where you live but the Moo'd shakes @ Jamba Juice take care of a huge chunk of that caloric intake.

    Bottom line: keep up the chicken and protien shakes, but kick it up to at least 6000 calories a day. Steady growth is what you want. Don't rush it you might hurt yourself.
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    May 17, 2007 3:12 AM GMT
    My opinion is that four days a week full body workouts is too often. I think you should try concentrating on one muscle group each time, so that you do not work out the same group more often than twice a week.

    Different people find that different reps make them grow. Try different numbers, from 5 to 15 per set, until you find one that works.

    You say that you are lifting as much as you can, but if you really were, I think you would be too sore to work out that often. Carefully and gradually add weight or reps until you really feel sore in the muscles you work out the next day.
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    May 17, 2007 3:50 AM GMT
    hey man,
    I have the same problem. I can't gain wait for shit! January wasn't that long ago, so I think that maybe patience might be a little bit of an issue here, as well as the fact that you probably should consider adding some more variety to your workout. The key is to mix it up so that your muscles have to keep "guessing" and never get accustomed to the same exercises. You'll notice what I'm talking about when you're sore after a new workout for the first time. By "tricking" your muscles this way, you will be able to gain the most in the fastest amount of time. Try it!
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    May 17, 2007 5:05 AM GMT
    Mixing it up is definitely a must. But you will never gain weight without packing on the calories.
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    May 17, 2007 5:54 AM GMT
    read up on super sets. If you get soreness (the DOMS) take calcium magnesium and malic acid. Good Luck!!
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    May 17, 2007 10:22 AM GMT
    I have to agree with Tanktop on this. The nutritional aspects notwithstanding, it sounds like your biggest issue is overworking your muscles. Building mass requires at least 72 hours of recovery time. You may even want to try working muscle groups once a week.

    Here is a suggested workout distribution. This is not the only way, but based on the info above, you should get the idea.

    Monday: Chest and shoulders
    Wednesday: Upper Back and Arms
    Friday: Legs, Lower Back, Abs

    Keep in mind two other things as well. First, the amount of gain of muscle weight is proportional to total muscle weight (i.e. the thinner you are to begin with, the slower the gains will be. They will become greater with time.) Secondly, gaining muscle weight is a slow process. It takes time. Stick with it.

    On nutrition, you should make sure your watching the balance of protein, carbs and fat. It's important to remember the carbs, not just the protein. Complex carbs like brown rice. Additionally, make sure your getting a small amount of fat (low fat is good, no fat is bad.)

    Lastly, remember to avoid comparing yourself to people who may be genetically predisposed to easy muscle gains or be of a different body type than you. They have regimens that would probably not work for you.

    I hope this helps.
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    May 17, 2007 10:33 AM GMT
    Wow, thanks alot all of you for your replies! I'm definitely going to try out the ideas presented here :)

    To tell the truth, I guess I am not doing enough weight because when I first started working out my muscles would be so fatigued it would be hard to, for example, walk up stairs or hold a gallon of water since I worked them so much (which would cause me to laugh my ass off because it was funny to watch) and I haven't had that happen in months.

    So again, thanks alot and I hope to report back soon with some good news!
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    May 17, 2007 4:45 PM GMT
    12 lbs since January? Dude, that is REALLY good. Keep in mind your body has to adapt to support the new muscle... I think you just need to stay with what you are doing. It sounds like it's working well!
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    May 17, 2007 5:11 PM GMT
    12 pounds is great! Don't sweat it.

    Just keep eating. Just keep lifting.

    See food diet: See food; eat it.

    You're doing fine.
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    May 17, 2007 5:57 PM GMT
    keep it up...its progress...progress is good. I would change it up to keep those muscles guessing on whats coming...that keeps them in a state of shock. I would also focus on individual muscle groups or do split muscle groups. With different exercises do different weights and reps. Your body does need time to digest what your putting it through. You can't always be in a state of wears you out in the end. I do a few weeks heavy, a few weeks light, and a few weeks in between...for one I won't get bored that way and two different reps and weights affect muscles differently. And EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT. Your a skinny guy and skinny guys have issues on can eat anything and not gain a pound. Muscle mass needs eat some more. Try and get fat to get big. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!
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    May 18, 2007 1:09 PM GMT
    Honestly, 4 times a week for full body can be too much for some people but others will thrive under that sort of volume. As a beginner, it may be too much for you though.

    1. As a beginner looking to build a base, make sure you are doing compound exercises primarily with free weights. You mentioned the chest machine that you use. You should instead be doing barbell/dumbbell bench presses at various angles and dips for your chest. The big compound movements that you should make sure you include in your routine are: Bench, Row, Pullup, Dip, Squat, Deadlift. Especially if you are doing a full body workout, you are wasting your time in the gym on a chest machine at this stage of the game. As you get more advanced, isolation and machines can come into play, but for now, stick with the big lifts.

    2. If you are going to do full body workouts and use the BIG LIFTS mentioned above, then you should probably go to 3x a week for a little while since your body has not built up a very high work capacity yet. Don't get too afraid of "overtraining" because if you are sleeping the full 8-10 hours a night and eating enough food to recover from your workouts, overtraining is hard to achieve. If you feel rundown in the gym its because you aren't eating or sleeping enough.

    3. EAT. You may think you eat enough. You probably do not. It is hard for beginners especially who are lean to eat enough because they are afraid of losing their natural leanness. It is even harder for us as gay men to accept that we have to eat a lot and bulk up sometimes because we don't like to see fat. You need to give your body the building blocks it needs to grow muscle, and if a little bit of fat comes in the process, oh well. You can cut it off later. Growing muscle is harder than losing fat. I don't know how many calories you eat daily and you may not either. Many people overestimate how much they truly eat. Go to and make a food log and track how much you eat for a few days to get an idea of how many calories you really are consuming. And then add 500 to your daily intake and wait two weeks. If you didnt gain any weight, add another 500 and wait two weeks. If you gain weight but too much is fat, back off by 100 or so calories. Wait two more weeks. It is all trial and error and you have to find the balance for your body. Keep in mind that as your weight changes, the amount of calories you consume must change as well. What helped you gain 3 months ago might be maintenance now. Calories must increase just like weight lifted.

    4. The accepted gain in weight from week to week for natural lifters is about 1 pound per week. Don't be alarmed if you don't see scale weight changing; look in the mirror too. It's possible that as a beginner you are losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously, so you will look better but not gain a ton of weight. Also, when you first start lifting all the strength gains come from your body responding to the stress of training by becoming more efficient at recruiting muscle fibers to perform your workout. Only once your body has become efficient at doing that will you begin to see growth, which is the other way your body adapts to training stress.

    When I started working out I weighed 140 and considered myself a hard-gainer. I am now 215 and see changes in my body weekly from intense lifting and eating a ton of food. Don't get discouraged, once you figure out what works for you, you will see progress.
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    May 19, 2007 8:32 AM GMT
    I have the same problems with gaining weight. Twelve pounds in 5 months is really quick though. It's taken me 1.5 years to put on an additional 15 pounds to my frame. The one thing that helped me though was consuming a combination of supplements...creatine monohydrate, glutamine, and taurine. I would take 6 grams of creatine, 3 grams of glutamine, and 1 gram of taurine after every workout. You can add more if you want to load yourself, but I haven't been compelled to do so. Eating more is definitely key...a lot of protein foods and shakes. I try to get a jamba juice with a protein boost after I work out. Staying with it is definitely the key, and it's best to work out your muscles until you're almost too sore to lift gymbag.
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    May 19, 2007 9:11 AM GMT
    12 pounds since jan is great. the cytogainer will be a big help. Look into creatine.
  • GQjock

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    May 19, 2007 11:33 AM GMT
    Give yourself some credit where credit is due
    12 lbs of muscle is fantastic in 5 months
    I know we wanna look like the gym gods we see plastered in mags and who we see in the gym all the time but those guys have been doing this for years and years
    ...keep plugging away
    talk to guys you wanna look like ... ask them what they have done in the past and little by little you'll gain a knowledge base that you can use to help you on
    the thing I think can help you out a lot is a better diet
    to gain mass...which is what I think you wanna do at this point is eat
    I know it sounds scary...but you need to pack on lbs...and eating alot is the only way to do it
    good luck my man
    you're doin fine
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    May 19, 2007 3:41 PM GMT
    This is from a world class powerlifter with 25 years of weight training experience. See my profile.

    1. Looks like you have a body type that will always be on the slim side, possible a hard gainer, but you do have the advantage of long muscles. You will not get huge like Haney or Cutler, but shoot for a shapely, trim body with well defined muscles.

    2. Monitor weight by fat percentage. Keep fat percentage in the 10 to 15 percent range. As you get bigger (more muscular), can drop to 5 - 10 percent fat. Do not go below 5 percent. Typically this is 1/2 to 1 inch fat pinch range on the abs. Do not use BMI to monitor fat. Gaining 30 pounds is not good if it is 2 pounds muscle and rest fat.

    3. Eat 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. At your age and level go for 1.5 to 2 grams. Use whey protein to supplement food intake. Eat carbs to no more than the protein inake, but get some carbs. Atkins type diets are not good. You need energy. Good carbs only (whole grains, Special K, mostly leafy vegies, fruit. Adjust weight with fat intake. If fat percentage is low, go to whole milk, don't worry about the chicken skins or fat in the beef. If getting a high fat percentage, go to skim milk, chuck the chicken skins, trim the beef fat. But eat some fat, you need it for energy.

    4. Good supplements are creatine, glutamine, multi vitamin like Centrum.

    5. Muscle gain without steroids is 10 to 20 pounds per year. You are already in that range, as long it is truly muscle.

    6. Train each body type twice a week at your age. One day heavy, other day light. Do upper body work the day before heavy lower body work. Much sure your heavy day is to maximum. This means that 2 to 3 sets in each exercise is to failure. Mix up the rep ranges week to week. Do light weight, high reps (10 to 12) first week, go down two reps (upping the weight) each week to a minimum of 4 reps. Pyramids are also good, vary the starting and ending rep number week to week. High rep (10 to 15)'burn sets' after squatting and benching work well. If not weight training fast enough for aerobic benefit, add 2 days aerobic work, 30 minutes, on off days.

    7. For weight training, favor free weights. Use the Olympic weights and bars. Stay off the single muscle machines except for fill in work. The powerlifting movements, squat (get to parallel!), bench press (touch the chest!), and deadlifts, are the best bulking exercises.

    Little John
    Powerlifting To Look Good
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    May 19, 2007 3:44 PM GMT
    One more imporatant thing

    No more than 40 to 50 grams of protein per meal. More protein means more meals. Two hours min between meals.

    Little John
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    May 19, 2007 10:47 PM GMT
    As someone who was once in your condition, I reccommend protein shakes, 3 times a day, in addition to all your food and trips to the gym.

    SInce February I've put on 30 pounds. I lift weights 6 days a week and have my shakes 3 times a day.
    Just be careful not to drink on days you don't workout. Keep the body fat low.
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    May 20, 2007 4:11 AM GMT
    In response to a few things being said...supplements are great, but only if you have diet, training, and recovery in order. Creatine is not a miracle drug, nor is glutamine, nor is any other supplement, and they will only help you if you have the basics in line.

    I would first make sure you are eating and training properly for gaining before relying on supplements. They help, but they are not the key to being muscular.
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    May 20, 2007 2:44 PM GMT
    "What am I doing wrong?"

    By amazing coincidence, that's exact same question I asked owner of my gym, former Mr. America, Jim Morris. I was 29 at the time and had been pumping serious iron since my 13th birthday, when my father bought me a set of 110-pound weights that weighed more than I did. But at age 29, I was still a skinny geek. The gym owner asked what kind of cardio I was doing, and I said I jogged six miles a day! He said, "STOP!!!" Wait until you pack on some size, then return to cardio. I was addicted to the jogger's high (endorphins), so I resisted his suggestion for a while but finally stopped jogging. WOW! Within 8 months people stopped telling me I had a swimmer's build and asked me if I were getting ready for a "contest."

    So, if you're doing a lot of cardio and don't have a family history of heart disease, stop all cardio until you bulk up. Then you can start cutting up with cardio.

    Also, the other guys' postings are correct. You're overtraining. I used to do the same in my impatience to gain size. Each muscle group needs at least 48 hours to rest and recuperate. The way you grow is when you stress the muscle by lifting weight, you tear down a bit of that muscle. When it builds itself up again, it adds a bit of extra muscle and that's how you grow, but you need to let the muscle rest for at least 48 hours so it has a chance to rebuild and add muscle. Work each body part every other day, or better yet, every third day.

    Someone else recommended supersets, which also transformed my body, even tho they also made me throw up at first. LOL. Supersets are too complicated to describe in this forum, but you can buy Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography on used for 6 bucks. The last chapter of his autobiography describes supersets in detail.

    Also try "forced reps," which I've cut and pasted here from one of my other websites. They too will transform your body: "This is what forced reps are: For your last set of bench presses, ask a passerby to spot you. Pack on so much weight you can only do one rep by yourself. Then have the spotter "force" or help you do an additional three or four reps. Then look in the mirror! The pump is so dramatic after even one set of forced reps you won't recognize the stranger staring back at you in the mirror with a pleased grin on his face. I am not exaggerating. You can also do forced reps with the military press, preacher bench curl (the best exercise for bulking up AND defining your biceps), lat cable pull-downs with pulleys and my personal bete noire, squats. (yechh!)"

    One last bit of encouragement. Your metabolism naturally slows with age and you will gain weight more easily as you get older. That's why most older people, men and women, get fat when they age. However, if you continue to go to the gym in middle age, instead of getting fat, you will get HUGE! The gym is the fountain of youth...from the neck down :(

    Now if only you could do bench presses for the face... :) We'd all look like Brad Pitt around age 12.

    Good luck and keep pumpin'


    RealJock screen name is ShreddedBeef
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    May 23, 2007 4:54 AM GMT
    All these guys are saying a lot of good stuff. Just one thing I'd add.

    I was talking to a buddy of mine. Because of a job, I had to take a ten month hiatus from the gym. When I came back, I noticed that all the guys at my gym who hadn't taken ten months off hadn't changed a bit. This was very different from gyms I belonged to in NYC where everybody always seemed to be changing week to week. I guessed that steroid use was more prevalent in New York, but my friend said, "They're probably just not putting any intensity into their workouts."

    A lightbulb went off for me when he said that. Since that time, I've made sure that every lift of every set I'm giving it all I've got. And I have to say, in the past four months, I've seen the results I always wanted.

    That doesn't mean that you destroy yourself with every workout. That's never a good idea; it means you're working hard rather than working smart. You should be able to exhaust the muscle groups you're focusing on that day in about 45 minutes. But it does mean that if you're working your chest, at the end of 45 minutes, your pecs are shredded. Two days later, they should be tender. Don't get complacent with the weights you're lifting. Remember, the idea is to lift to failure. (And, with the help of a spot, beyond failure.)

    All the best,

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    May 25, 2007 9:20 AM GMT
    OK first of a body is formulated in the kitchen a tonne of calories is not nearly enough info Whats your exact intake whats your macro split

    Training back to back with the same exercise does more harm than good, the whole purpose of weight training is two things:

    1) to tear muscle fibres and allow them to REPAIR this doesnt happen over night so dont train like it does

    2) To release growth hormone and thereafter build more muscle and strengthen the fibres.

    Knwoing your routine is imperative or how do we know what you are doing right or wrong. A poorly structured routine is not conducive to muscle growth

    But and big but you are suggesting 12 lbs of growth now if I was to assume that was lean muscle mass and not fat as well then that aint bad in 4 months if its total weight including body fat then it could be a different story

    So back to basics to work out your intake and know that this is exceeding your gym demands