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Ripped And Big: But Body Looks Ugly?
I'm 23 years old and haven't trained correctly even once over the years, just the occasional 1-2 month spurts of working chest and biceps maybe once a week, never getting a real pump and not really knowing what I was doing. The past 2 years after turning 21 I picked up every book and magazine I could get my hands on as well as going to every website I found and haven't stopped seriously training since. My research paid off because I went from being 6' tall, 283 pounds without having ever worked out seriously at probably some ridiculous body fat percentage down to my current build which is 225 at 16% body fat. I don't know exactly how much poundage in lean muscle I've added but I know it's a huge amount. My genetics seem to be great at building muscle because of the sheer size I've put on and the comments I've been getting from people who've seem the dramatic change.
Here is my problem: At 16% body fat with a great muscle base I still feel that I look like garbage. The only definition I have is hard to notice delt separation and my arms have gotten more vascular when I'm on a pump, however, friends of mine have gotten their body fat measured along with me and some of them are 20% and over, yet they look a million times better than I do. They have more triceps separation as well as better looking calves and they just have a better appearance than I do. I have really made enormous gains the past 2 years with arms measuring 18.25", a chest measuring 48.5" and a neck measuring 21", but I'm no where near looking as tight as my friends and other people with higher body fat percentages. Could this be because of my extreme fat loss that I have loose skin? My stomach definitely seems that way because my skin just kind of wrinkles and folds since I've gotten rid of the bulging gut and took off about 7-8" from my waist.
I've done my research non-stop on nutrition, cardio, and lifting and I've gotten myself into a great routine. My diet consists of 6 or 7 small meals a day containing a total of under 100 grams of carbs, and 300-350 grams of protein. I stick with grilled skinless chicken and turkey, 1/2 cups of oatmeal, steamed veggies, low-carb/fat protein shakes, plain tuna in water, a dozen egg whites every morning and I don't add salt, oils, flavorings or anything to my food. I have eaten some disgusting and boring things non-stop because I've dedicated myself that much to making the change and I've been so serious about changing my appearance that I haven't cheated the diet and gave up drinking alcohol entirely. My fat intake is very low and my supplements I feel have been good (10g creatine, 20-30g glutamine, Amino Fuel, and moderate thermogenics), I also well drink 2-3 gallons of water each day.
My routine for these past 2 years has been as follows:
Monday and Thursday: Back, Shoulders, Biceps.
Tuesday and Friday: Legs
Wednesday and Saturday: Forearms, Chest, and Triceps.
Cardio is done for 45 minutes, 4 or 5 mornings a week first thing before breakfast along with abs and with thermogenics, and my lifting is done at night after work right before sleep. My recovery speed is incredible and I am normally always ready to continue without stopping but I avoid overtraining so I stick to 4 exercises per body part and as I said it has worked better than I imagined. I wasn't expecting to gain anywhere near this amount of muscle mass... but now that I have made these gains I'm frustrated that I don't look like I feel. Am I missing something? What's keeping me from looking the way I think I should? I look as though I'm over 20% body fat or even 25%. Tanning helps somewhat but when the shirt comes off I get disgusted. I'd appreciate any input or help you have to offer... I worked my ass off in the hopes of looking good this summer. But as of now, the beach isn't going to be seeing me this year.
I selected this guy's question because I believe that he was being sincere and took the time to send in a detailed question. I have answers for him and I know that people with determination like this will do well.
First and foremost I have to congratulate you on your current accomplishments, Bravo Zulu! You seem to be on the right track. The problem lies in the relying on body fat percentages a little too much. If anyone knows me I do not believe that these things a necessary. For the sake of the inventors, I do believe that if used correctly that can be excellent for charting progress, but that is another story. Back to Muscled Mike, in the year of 2000 I was on my way to the Southern Classic, which is held in Jackson Mississippi. I live in Louisiana. I stopped at a gym in New Orleans to have my body fat checked just to see where I was standing at. The results shocked me and discouraged me to the point of not ever wanting to be tested again. The seven site caliper read my body fat percentage to be at 10.6%. I was about to go on stage at a Huge regional NPC bodybuilding competition. I thought that I was history.
When I saw my nutritionist before that show I told him my concerns and he laughed. He said that those machines were not the reference point to determine how you look against other people. In other words, Mike, if you were at 10% and I were at 10% we may have a totally different look due to a number of factors. Genetics, the time of day, the tester, the equipment, and a number of other reason could alter the true results. Well, needless to say I thought that I looked great and my nutritionist said that he thought that I was looking closer to 4 or 5%. Mike, I won my weight class and got into my first overall pose down and I had the time of my life. It was from then on that I solely use the mirror as the true judgment of how I look. Heck, I do not even mess around with the scale too much because I look bigger at 125 pounds than I do at 160 pounds because you can see every muscle that I have when I am stripped of all of my body fat, but weighing 125 pounds plays with my head. Now, I just dig deep and diet and do cardio till I feel that I am ready by judging what I see in the mirror!
Well, Mike it seems that you are on the right track. I mean damn, it sounds to me like you are dieting for a bodybuilding competition. The diet looks great granted that you know how to time those 100 grams of carbohydrates. You may want to add flax seed oil, or other EFA supplements into your program because it seems to me like you are eating very little fats. I like soy-nut butter, try it out! As far as the loose skin... well, that may be of another professional's issue. I know of people that have lost 100 pounds or more and they have had to get some type of cosmetic "touch up" surgery to fix the loose skin. If you are considering this I would wait until you have lost all of the weight that you want to loose so you do not have to go through the painful process of healing up from such a procedure. I have seen women hunched over for months afterward because they were trying to heal up and they personally told me that "it hurts". But the good news is that after the pain is gone then came the pleasure and they were satisfied with their new look. One guy even had to get a new belly button put in for cosmetic reasons. He had lost that much weight!
Keep it up Mike, do not cheat and do not resort to drinking and all of that stuff as they will bring you back to square one faster than you can say "a night out with the guys will not hurt me". I wish that you would learn to be a little more creative in your foods approach as there are many great bodybuilding foods to choose from. Do not fall in to the old clichÃ© way of thinking that bodybuilders live off of fish and green beans. I eat a variety of foods and I enjoy my diet, it is severely restricted, but you make the most out of it, you know. I do not let weak people bother me and let what ever they say go in and out. I am in this for myself. All of that bull talk about you are depriving yourself of life's enjoyments and all of that silly talk is just their way of secretively admitting to me that they are weak individuals. I do not deprive myself of anything. I have outstanding goals and I am a hard worker and I will not let anything stand in my way. That is my attitude!
Wow, you must have some incredible recuperative abilities to follow that workout plan. I am sore for about 3-5 days prior to training any particular body part; you train them every 2 days. I am wondering if your recovery levels are great or are you actually stimulating the muscle enough to make gains. Soreness is a sign of teardown and the body must recover to grow. If you do not get sore I would add weight or reps, but do something to shock the muscles. You should always be stimulating the muscles. Your cardio approach is fine just make sure that you are training in your target heart range. I use the general formula which is 220 minus your age multiplied by 70-80%. (Click here for optimal fat burning heart rate calculators.) Ohh, and Mike, training your abdominals every day may not be the best thing for you to do. We can target train a muscle to grow bigger but we can not spot reduce fat loss. When you lose weight it will be pulled from everywhere, not one particular area. I would limit abdominals to once maybe twice each week. As far as looking like you feel, well this is a good sign believe it or not because you claim to feel great and most people would not feel great following your strict regimen. I applaud you once again, you are a trooper! Keep it up and you will soon look like you feel.