Weightlifting & Exercise/Help with muscles


I have been trying to gain muscle for over a year now.  I'll admit at first i was very much a beginner - not eating enough, workouts were half a**ed  some of the time, generally did not understand a lot about any aspect of weight training/nutrition.  However, now i feel i am very knowledgeable.  I've spent countless hours researching and studying about all aspects of gaining muscle.  I understand the caloric surplus it takes, i understand constant progression of weight, i understand not overtraining and the importance of getting proper sleep, and so on.
Basically, my question is one of frustration.  Im not seeing the gains i feel i should be, and i want to know why?
Ive always been a skinny person.  However, not to the point that i cant gain weight.  Infact one of the more frustrating things is that i am really developing my gut and not my muscles.   At first i very much thought it was a diet problem, ie not eating enough calories.  But im gaining weight.  Im 5'11 and weight about 168. I eat healthy, very healthy.  I try to take in AT LEAST 3000 calories a day.  I take whey protein, a fish oil supplement (ultimate omega) and just started creatine.  I eat 1.5x my bw in protein.  
My workouts consist of full upper body on monday and thursday and lower on tuesday and friday.  Ive cut all cardio because im trying to use every calorie i can to build muscle.  Im OK with putting on extra fat right now as long as im gaining muscle as well.  What's frustrating is there will be times where from monday to monday i will not see improvement.   Sometimes  Ill be able to lift more weight or do more reps.  However a lot of times i will either do exactly the same as i did the previous week or at times even do less.  I can understand this from a very advanced bodybuilder but for someone like me (who is even supposed to be enjoying the beginners boost where building muscle may happen at a quicker than normal rate) it is very deflating.  It is HARD to constantly be eating and to eat as much as i do (healthy foods sometimes dont pack a lot of calories).  And when i spend a week eating like a champion i wanna see the improvements that next week in the gym.
Working out isnt fun to me, especially with little to no results.  But i feel i have been so dedicated this last year.  I want to prove to myself it is possible to do this.  But im at a point where im close to giving up because the time and energy it takes to do all the things necessary takes a big toll on me.
I know its hard to assess my situation based off of just this.  I guess the best way to sum it up is it just really seems genetics are against me.  I dont lift too fast or too heavy or too little.  I focus on the negatives of a rep and use pretty clean form normally.  I eat.  I sleep.  I drink water like its going out of style.  I havent had a pop in years.  I dont eat sweets.  Even if im not doing SOMETHING right it feels like i ought to be doing enough TO SEE BETTER RESULTS THAN WHAT I AM!
I wont lie because i HAVE gained some strength and i am building SOME muscle.  I remember when i was nervous to put up 125 on the bench and now i do 165 as my normal set.  So it isnt like im completely stagnant.  Its just moving at a snails pace and i just dont think its normal.  If im consistently putting in the effort i am i should be seeing better results.  Its frustrating when you take your bicep measurement once a week for a solid month and see a .1 inches increase at the end of the month.
Even if i was seeing small improvements consistently every week i would be OK.  At least then i would be able to say that it may take longer than most but if i just keep doing this i will eventually get there.  But i cant say that when i spend 4 weeks trying to go from 150 to 155 on the bench press.  Nobody (who isnt my gf or mother or someone like that) has ever said to me "oh you look like you've been working out!"  In fact ive heard that i look like im losing weight (and ive gained 15-20 pounds since ive started).  and not the oh you look good like you'e slimming into shape its the "you need to eat a hamburger you're losing weight" tone.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

Hi Duane,

Your predicament is quite intense as I can see you are very perturbed but rest asure this is not an uncommon problem. I will try to give you some tips and possibly some insight but not being able to see you or how you are training I can only be so beneficial. Now, first of all I want you to take a deep breath and relax. You appear to be to hard on your self. I am not sure how long you have been training but you are a role model for others as far as your discipline and and seriousness with which you train.So let us celebrate your accomplishments first. You went from benching 125 lbs. to doing sets of 165 lbs. and I am guessing your one rep. maximun is maybe 180 lbs. or so. Duane if that is true that is awsome, you are benching more than your body weight, keep in mind not everyone is able to do that in fact the majority of people canot do that. You diet looks quite good as well as you are being strict with what you put into it, make sure you are cosuming ample protein  According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a range of 1.5 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight a day is optimal. If you engage in moderate weight training, the lower end of this range is adequate. If you do more intense workouts, the upper range is recommended. Divide your weight by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms. For example, a 220-pound person weighs 100 kilograms.
Duane you appear to be a lean individual with a very fast metabolism and people like that tend to have a hard time bulking up but here is what I want you to do. Take 5-7 days off and don't touch weights at all. In this time stay active by jogging, walking or riding your bike or whatever. Here is why. As we train with weights we see our most amount of gainn in the first month or two, where it is really like "wow I see results." After that we can still see gains but not to the same extent, that is because our body adapts to training loads, repetitions, sets and frequency. Just like when people begin dieting and trying to lose weight, they she the first 5-10 lbs. quickly, then your body is like "whoa, what just happened"? and it figures it out saying "ok, I need to stop giving up all these calories" as this is the survival mechanism. Well with lifting it is very similar except it is not a survival issue the body just lears to adapt. So, after 5-7 days come back and hit the weiths hard (after a good warm-up of course) BUT, change up your routine. Instead of starting light and going up in the amount of weight you lift, start high (with a weight you can lift say 4-5 resp and really be taxed) and go down in weight doing reps of 10-12. Also do all upper body one day, all upper body 2 days later for a week. Then if you can, do full body lifting (upper and lower body)for a week or so. Also change up the types of exercises you normally do. If you bang out squats for legs, try lunges and leg presses instead. If you bench with a barbell, do some set with dumbells. Vary the hand positions on the pull-downs so as to recruit diffrent muscle fibers.
Duane don't fear that not lifting weights for a week will make you lose all you have gained. It doesn't happen that fast. Body builders do this to over come what are known as "sticking points" as well, that is how to shock your muscles into growth mode. Keep in mind you can only go as far as your genetics will take you, but that doesn't mean you are even anywhere near that point. If there is a trainer in the gym, have them check you out on your form and tempo just to be sure there is not something you may not be aware of occuring in your form. Also, keep me posted as to your success. Follow exactly what I advised and soon you should be seeing so positive results. Check back with me in 2 weeks or so and if need be we can make adjustments. Keep on keeping on and don't get discouraged.


Weightlifting & Exercise

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Greg Hoppe


I can answer questions on proper exercise technique, starting as well as growing in attaining your fitness goals and questions regrading how the human body works from an exercise physiology standpoint. I can assist with any questions regarding anatomy & physiology, stretching and rehabilitation. I am also extremely well versed and experienced in martial arts, self-defense and massage therapy.


I have a B.S in Physical Education and a Black Belt in an eclectic martial art. I am also a certified Fitness Therapist through ISSA and a massage therapist. I can assist with questions regarding hiring a health and wellness professional as well as growing and succeeding in the field for those already working in it.

ISSA, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

B.S. in Physical education, Black Belt, ISSA certfified Fitness Therapist.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.