Why am I making no progress since I started in October?

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by Stewie, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Stewie

    Stewie Double-Digit Post Count

    Hi. I started it on October last year. Gained 1 to 2 kg per month and then did a cut. But I don't see any muscle gains. Can't do a single chin up. Always 3 sets, range 5 to 12
    My current max is 7x7x7 push ups and rows. Pull up negatives 5 sec x 6 reps. Negative dips 3 sec x 9 reps
    My worst problems are that I train si će October and still look like I don't lift. :(
    People tried helping me with telling me my form is the cause. But how do others gain musclr despite bad form?
    Does someone wanna ask me questions so I can find out what is the reason?
  2. Stewie

    Stewie Double-Digit Post Count

    And the only 2 visuals things which changed are less fat and less muscle mass. Sure I can do 3x7 push ups, and in October I could do 2 reps only. But that progress Is still ridiculous.
  3. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    @Stewie ...
    Perhaps give us some more background information...

    Age, weight, training history, injury history, sports participation, and most importantly what are your specific training goals.

    Also what equipment do you have access to
    Martin Joe and Kozushi like this.
  4. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    as @offwidth says, background will help. Also, sleep, stress, nutrition, etc. will all play a role in this as well.

    Don't forget, putting on muscle is hard. One pound is 16 ounces. Next time you eat an 8oz steak, imagine that 32 of those need to go on your body to get that pound of muscle. It's not easy.
    I say this as I am currently doing a hypertrophy program myself, and I feel the struggle.
  5. Marc

    Marc Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Stewie heads up, mate!
    Actually your progress is not too bad considering the fact you could only do 2. But there is still room for emprovement, i.e. faster progress.
    In some regards you might expect too much. Doing one arm chins is a lifetime goal and might take several years.
    As the good people before me already mentioned: Some background info would be good.
  6. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    The body adapts to what we ask it to do. Bigger muscles are need to lift heavier weights or to lift weight more times - or both. Getting more efficient at strength won't build bigger muscles. There is a reason body builders do 3-10 sets of 8-12 reps per muscle(group) to failure.
  7. Glen

    Glen Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    There's so many reasons why your not progressing but in my mind it all comes down to three things

    1)technique - better technique loads the right areas and ensures long term progress can be made

    2) diet- choose a goal and eat accordingly for a long period of time, don't swap and change goals and dietary habits (I. E bulk fir few weeks, cut for few weeks etc) choose one stick to it

    3) plan you follow and progressive overload. Find a trusted plan that has inbuilt clear progression and stick to it. If you don't do a little more overtime your body has no reason to change.

    You didn't give much in the way of training details but an increase of five push ups over six months or more of training is pretty slow progress. An increase of five reps won't be noticeable physically, personally when your press ups in higher double figures you might notice the physical changes. To do that you need a clear plan that consistently provides overload by asking you to do more.
    Antti and Anna C like this.
  8. Stewie

    Stewie Double-Digit Post Count

    25, 183cm, 75kg, i train since october, no injuries, no sports, goal is bigger muscles. i have rings and pull up bar.
    @bromo i do 5-12 reps, 3 sets. that is muscle growth. i do one exercise, start with 5 go to 12, and then comes the harder exercise. see reddits bwf RR.

    1)technique, targeting right areas, isn't that a split workout? Like, when doing rows, I can do easier variation with 3x12 and then i feel the back very good and all targeted muscles, or i do a normal ring row with 3x7, and here I don't feel the targeted muscle as good as with 3x12 and a easier ring row elevation. The 3x12 doesn#t sound like a whole body workout, more like a split.
    2)what if I choose too eat xxxx kcal, gaining 2kg per month, and after 3 months i see a fat human in the mirror without muscles?
    3)i do reddits bwf rr. i heard it should be a good one.
    4) a clear plan? like the RR?

    What if my timing of my food intake is the cause for ultra slow progress combined with too little carbs?
    Can I train in the last 2 hours of a day before I go to bed without eating anything after workout?
    Will I grow less muscle if I don't eat between workout and bed?
    Will I grow less muscle if I ate 6 hours prior workout?
    Example: Training at 20:00 or 22:00 o'clock and then not eating, then sleep.
    What is better. Or is both not good?
    Version A: Meal 1 at 13:00 o'clock, and Meal 2 at 18:00, (only 30g carbs). Training at 20:00
    Version B: Meal 1 at 13:00 o'clock, Training at 20:00, Meal 2 at 22 o'clock.
    Sorry for being complicated.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  9. Stewie

    Stewie Double-Digit Post Count

    This guy for example trained for only 1 month and made good gains. images: progress!!

    I don't even have this arm after 6 months of RR. Something is huge wrong with my training, diet or sleep. Even with very bad form, he'd get that new muscle mass. So we can exclude form or technique right? One person said technique does matter, but how much? 1% or 90%? Can't imagine the bigger number to be the case. Let's be honest, what amateur who doesn't read a lot about muscles, has a good form? And they still make muscle. Not me though.

    Currently I'm also very dissapointed about my life regarding the sport and my body.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement, SFB, Senior SFG Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Stewie, get a barbell and plates, and perform the powerlifts: squat, bench press, deadlift. Buy our ebook, Reload, for $6 and follow the instructions. Eat, sleep, lift.

  11. Glen

    Glen Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Hello @Stewie

    Targeting correct areas does not mean turning a program into a split, just that the right group of muscles are doing the work and the correct position is provided the desired amount of workload on the muscle - I.e its possible for a full plank to be easier than a Kneeling plank if the full plank is done incorrectly - removing the element of progressive overload.

    Looking at the reddit BWF rr it looks a decent enough plan.

    At this point if you have a decent plan it comes down to
    A) technique - poor technique can make exercises less effective
    B) how hard your pushing to make progress ( a bad plan pushed hard can work better than a good plan that's not performed with effort) - give yourself goals each session of performing more than the last - more reps, next progression etc.
    C) enough calories and nutrients to support growth. You cannot build SOMETHING out of NOTHING. don't get fat but ensure your weight is slowly creeping up. If your doing B combined with C the end result should be skewed towards mainly muscle with some fat gain rather than the other way around.

    Choose a rep goal or exercise progression goal for the next month. Each session ensure you push hard and make a single step towards that goal (more reps etc)

    Good luck and enjoy the journey, there's more rewards than just muscle to training regularly
    Anna C likes this.
  12. Stewie

    Stewie Double-Digit Post Count

    a) how does the difference between good and poor technique look?
    c) i only gain fat when gaining weight. nope. first i need to know why i'm not gaining anything but fat.

    ps: stave freides, i dont care for strength, i just care about aaesthetics.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  13. Glen

    Glen Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    A) that depends on each exercise, if your willing put a video up on this forum and people are pretty good at offering critique and help you.
    C) your response to Steve gives a little insight why this might be the current case which I'll explain more. Not gaining too much fat is about having a surplus of calories but only slight. It's a slow balancing act of adding weight slowly, muscle is a slow process, an extra few hundred calories each day above your maintenance is enough to slowly grow without chubbing out.

    Why do you think people's aesthetics change? Because they asked their bodies to get stronger - bigger muscles lift more weight or lift the same weight more times (regardless of the type of weight - barbell, kettlebell, bodyweight etc the principle is the same)

    Focus on the performance increase (stronger) and the body aesthetics change along with any new weight more likely to be muscke than fat. Any person who carries a good amount of muscle naturally (ruling out the affect drugs can have) will always be strong
    If your shoulders and arms are strong enough to do ten one arm push ups in good form they will be aesthetically pleasing as well

    (Hint is in the site/organisations name ;))
  14. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    You should look for Ronnie Coleman's video deadlifting 800 lbs for 5 reps.
    Steve Freides likes this.
  15. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement, SFB, Senior SFG Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Then I will be of no help to you. I like being skinny and strong and am content with how that looks.

  16. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I may be coming to the wrong conclusion, but it sounds like you need to develop some context for your efforts. Also need to add it is a lot easier to manage rep and loading ranges using external resistance (weights) - this could be as simple as bags of tubesand or play sand, sacks of pea gravel, rubber mulch, large smooth rocks etc.

    My first bit of advice is to read more, Steve recommended an E book, pick it up, pick up some others and read. There are common principles of strength and size training that can be applied across modalities. Second you should join a gym or at least tour the local ones in your area, use any free or discounted trial periods. Pay attention to what's going on in the places where people have impressive physiques. Make a list of exercises you want to use and study video examples until you understand the best form. Do not try to kill yourself when learning form, that comes later.

    Push, (pushup variations, incline, decline, one hand, off the knees, dips, dive bombers, Iranian, Dand)
    Pull, (pullup and rowing variation - it pays to have suspension gear or at least a pullup bar you can drape a towel over)
    Hinge, (Swing, Good Morning, Deadlift variations, single leg deadlift, standing broad jump)
    Squat, (Squat, Pistol, Lunge, jumping lunges, step ups, Hack Squats, Sissy Squats, Skater Squats)

    The above list is far from complete. Find and learn at least two varieties of each, even if you only wind up using one most of the time.

    You need to increase protein consumption, don't just eat more food in general and expect to do anything other than generally get bigger, and with it more fat. More lean protein. This could be as simple as knocking back a can of plain tuna fish in addition to your regular meals. Whey powder is a godsend for increasing protein consumption though it might make you gassy.

    For all of your chosen exercises you need to do a light warmup and execute a single set to failure, absolute, gravity wins, failure. Approach this aggressively and honestly. This number of reps sets the loading you will be using and what sorts of mechanical disadvantages you need to apply to keep your rep count in a good zone for muscle growth. You won't need to do this very often, but you will need to pay attention to when you need to add more weight.

    The reddit BW RR is not a bad start but really the set and rep counts are meaningless if they don't bring you to the edge of mechanical failure - a point on most of your sets where you are reasonably certain you can't do another clean rep or two. With bodyweight training it can be tricky to manage this, you need to challenge your ability to complete the reps and do it in a rep range under 15-20 at the absolute most per set. A rep range of 6-10 is ideal for size and still give you strength gains to work with. If you are stuck with using higher reps than that, you can still make gains but are going to be out of the best range for building size or strength.

    Cluster sets and Rest/Pause are great tools for this type of work when training bodyweight:

    Say you can do 12 reps of pushups. You would use about 8 reps, rest 3 easy inhale/exhales = 15 -20 seconds and do another 8, repeat, repeat again. You can use this until you cannot complete 8 anymore, or follow it down until you cannot even get 3-4 reps or until all you can do is slowly lower yourself eccentrically and have to scrape yourself off the floor. Training to this level of failure should only be done on the last set of whatever exercise you are doing, and maybe not more than once per week per exercise. The other 2 sets leading in should still be challenging but limit the effort a bit to blow it in on that last set.

    You can also use mechanical drop sets with bodyweight training:
    same pushup example of 12 reps max, but this time you go to 12 and immediately switch to pushups done off the knees, again going till you cannot get another clean rep.

    In general if your rep count increases into the 12-15 and greater range you need to swap variations or add weight somehow - this goes for all of your exercise movements! Manage the variations of given exercises so you can progressively load yourself, and if using mechanical drop sets have variations ready that you can use to extend your set duration. Drop sets work best if you can restrict the first set to a serious strength range, 3-5 reps or so and then immediately continue with an easier variant to get yourself to 10-15 total reps.

    You lifting cadence should be fast on the concentric, slow on the eccentric. Pushups as example, press as fast as you can and maintain good control going up, take 2-3x that time coming down. It doesn't matter if as fatigue sets in you can no longer press yourself up quickly, what is important is that you try to press quickly and lower slowly right to the last rep.

    Once you begin to make some improvement you can seek out more advanced programming, but you need to first establish a base of energetic movement and a gauge of and ability to apply serious effort to your exercises. If you are applying mindful, consistent hard effort, you will see gains - trust the process. You cannot just do a routine of a given number of reps and sets independent of the amount of effort and without progressive overload. For any physical activity the body tries to maintain a survival surplus of effort at which point it encourages you to terminate any further effort. You need to push into this surplus a little to increase the available reserve. If you do not challenge what you are capable of, the body will not invest the resources to increase capacity.

    Do not worry about cutting or bulking at this stage. Eat more and if you get fat without adding muscle, eat less. If you develop more muscle tone and don't get bigger, eat more.

    You will improve a lot faster in a gym environment training with barbell and surrounded by experienced, motivated people, but it is possible to get there at by yourself at home using bodyweight if you are creative and determined. Again, even at home you will find the going a lot easier with externalresistance - weights of some sort. Many folk tend to think of bodyweight training as basic or foundational but in many respects it is a more advanced form of resistance work than many other options.
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  17. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    On good form:
    a) Film yourself.
    b) Ryan Hurst from GMB likes to say: "Make it pretty". That is solid advice. Good form looks good. No energy leaks, no pain face, no wiggling and compensating.
    c) Learn feed-forward tension (read Naked Warrior"): Stay tight and apply maximal tension first (glutes, grip, abs). This helps with form. Smile anyway and try to relax your face.

    On aesthetics:
    Get strong first... hey, you're posting at StrongFirst. "Functional" strength looks great, at least on my eyes.
    Worry about hypertrophy later. At the beginning, both might actually go together (beginner's gains). I currently do S+S with pretty light weights (12, 16 and 24 kg) and have gained some visible muscle. Sets of 5 a great for both strength and muscle gain (at least at the beginning).

    On progress:
    To quote Dan John: Show up. And eat like an adult. The fundamentals are the fundamentals (good form, proper sets and reps, fundamental human movements, proper nutrition and rest). All else is secondary. Consistency is the most important factor for progress. Results will follow.
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  18. George Locke

    George Locke Double-Digit Post Count

    Just to provide some mechanistic context for this: hypertrophy occurs when the high threshold motor units are recruited and fatigued (preferably at high tension). Muscles are divided into "motor units" with ascending size and strength. Each motor unit is "on" (contracting) or off (resting) in a binary fashion, depending on your nerves/brain to tell it want to do. When you're holding an egg, you apply less force because fewer motor units are active. When more strength is called for, more MU are recruited, and the largest MU are recruited last Henneman's size principle - Wikipedia . Emphasizing a fast concentric through intention means exerting max effort, and max effort means max MU recruitment, and that's what you need to get big (and strong). (This is one of the reasons for "dynamic effort" days is Westside/conjugate method programming - accommodating resistance means you don't have to think as much about decelerating the bar. Band resisted push-ups function similarly. See also contrast training Get Stronger and Faster with the French Contrast Method - Juggernaut Training Systems )

    If this kind of exercise physiology stuff is interesting to you, you can read more from Chris Beardsley, for example: How does proximity to failure affect hypertrophy?
    North Coast Miller likes this.
  19. George Locke

    George Locke Double-Digit Post Count

    I just wanted to add that I strongly reaffirm everything @North Coast Miller said. I do a lot of bodyweight stuff and am very happy with it, but I've got years of weight training under my belt. There's no reason you can't succeed with just bodyweight, but progressive overload is just easier to manipulate/organize with weights.

    Yes. Also, nutrient timing isn't a big deal; it is certainly not the reason you're not getting the progress you want. Try and get 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (1 lb of poached chicken breast has ~150 g of protein, for reference); aside from that just track your weight like NCM says. (Incidentally, if you have ~$100 to spare, a sous vide wand makes it ridiculously easy to cook large quantities of lean meat and keep it juicy. Add ~1/4 tsp salt/lb and a spice mix of your preference, and optionally finish in a cast iron skillet at max high heat for the flavor and look of browning. Lean meats get dry really fast if they get too hot, and the temperature difference from undercooked to dry is narrow - can be tricky get it right in a pan or oven, but sous vide makes it foolproof.)

    It is just easier for some people. Bad genetics are a thing. Even so, whether your genetics are good or bad, the only thing to be done is hard work.

    Finally, if you're frustrated and really want to make a change, then consider that programming and/or consistency may be the problem. Find a good program and stick to it. "Get Strong" by Al & Danny Kavadlo is one option if you want to stick with bodyweight. Starting Strength is a great option for barbells.

    This is also a good program. Limiting your sets forces you to put all your mental focus on that one set.
  20. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Try German Volume Training (GVT) for a month and eat a ton of protein and carbs shortly after each training session. If 10x10 reaching failure by the end and eating more doesn't work for you...
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