Is your training working?
First, let me start this thread with a statement I am going to close it with:
There is no need to wait more than a few weeks to make the determination if a routine is working or not, if it didn’t work for the first month, it’s not going to magically start working next month.
I have read 4-5 posts on various boards over the last week alone from people that stated that over the last six months in one case, and as long as 13 months in the most extreme case they have gained NOTHING! No additional weight on the bar, and no additional body mass. And the sad part is, a LOT of lifters are in the same boat. They read pages upon pages of info about how to get big and strong, and for all their knowledge (mostly useless) and efforts, they are not even moving slowly towards their goals. Before I go on, I will define the audience I am talking to/about. This is directed at beginner and intermediate level lifters that are not already quite big and strong—you know, most of the people on these forums trying to make big changes in their physiques.
At this level there is absolutely no reason to not be making steady progress towards your goals. Your initial barometer of success needs to be ever increasing amounts of iron on the bar. You can do all the “pump sets” you like, but as long as you are lifting girl weights, you’re gonna have a girl body. Bodyweight gains are a harder thing to gauge as LEAN muscle gains do not occur extremely fast unless you are a rank beginner, or using growth enhancing drugs. Getting on the scale and trying to see it go up 2 lbs each week USUALLY just means you are getting fat, so first worry about making the bar heavier, then worry about if the muscle is coming on fast enough. And guess what? It is a pretty simple thing! If you are CONSISTENTLY getting stronger over the long term (not the I gained 10 lbs on my bench how come my pecs aren’t bigger now type) you should be slowly gaining weight. And if you are not, you simply are not eating enough. People, think this one through. IF you are eating enough to gain mass you will either be gaining muscle, or gaining bodyfat, but if NEITHER of these two are occuring, you simply are not eating enough.
If you are gaining fat instead of muscle, AND your lifts are going up on a consistent basis you are either too high over maintenance or have the macro-nutrient ratios screwed up, and as a starter, if you are not getting at LEAST 1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight (for guys that are 7-18% bodyfat) you might as well stay home.
Now that diet has been addressed (but surely not covered in detail) lets talk about training. Simply put most of you fail because you attempt routines WAY outside your current capacity. Beginners always want to do intermediate routines and intermediate advanced, or extremely advanced routines. At your stage of the game all you need is a routine that hits all the bodytparts with the big compound lifts and not much else. You need to squat, deadlift, bench press or dip (or both), row or chin (or both) military press, and do some curls, not exclusively, but as cornerstones of your routine. There is nothing wrong with doing a couple of lifts per bodypart, but unless you are moving some OK poundage’s (and 200 lb benches and 300 lb squats are NOT OK poundage’s) there is simply NO REASON TO DO MORE. Use as much frequency as you can and still make consistent gains. You have ZERO reason to worry about imbalances because in most cases the beginner lifter has one major imbalance, they don’t have enough strength on the big lifts and muscle on their frame.
If you are not getting stronger on a consistent basis when at beginner and intermediate level in almost all cases the lifter is either doing way too much workload as far as volume, or frequency or both, or is the shmuck that trains bench and biceps 3 times a week and wonders why he’s not “swole”.
You don’t need the latest “flashy” trendy routine to “buff” you in 8 weeks. You need a sold STRENGTH BASED routine that you can consistently add weight to the bar using. And this means consistently, but perhaps not every time. And the reason I say that is you should periodize your routine whether that consists of programmed unloaded weeks, or added deload or cruise weeks periodically. And another reason I state that is I KNOW for a fact that LOTS of you guys use a routine until you have ONE bad workout, assume the worst and change your entire routine (usually to the latest thing on a lifting forum or muscle mag) and start the process anew.
It really is this simple, unless your weights are going up on a CONSISTENT basis your training or diet or both are screwed up. There is no need to wait more than a few weeks to make the determination if a routine is working or not, if it didn’t work for the first month, it damn sure isn’t going to work the next month (excluding SOME types of advanced loading YOU don’t need to be using in the first place). First look at diet, then training and if those are good, look at sleep and stress, but that is a topic for another day.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."