No announcement yet.

Having trouble with muscle building

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Having trouble with muscle building

    I've been primal for almost a month now. I lost a few pounds(all fat), but now I've plateaued. I'm having a lot of trouble getting rid of the rest of this bodyfat and puttin more lean mass on me. I've gotten stronger, but I can't really see any more muscle than I have already. And I'm having trouble meeting my daily protein. I should be getting 100+ grams, but I typically get half that.

    A normal day is usually:

    Skip breakfast

    Lunch: salad topped with a protein like eggs, tuna, ham, turkey

    Dinner: meat such as chicken, pork chops, tilapia fillets and veggies

    I also snack on nuts once or twice a day, and some fruit too. Though I get kinda fruit and nut happy I I'm not careful.

    Any help is much appreciated.

  • #2
    I would suggest you up your protein. It doesn't have to be a crazy amount like 200 grams a day, I do well building muscle around 130-150. I was in the same situation and I cannot stress enough how important the low carb diet is. Living low carb has absolutely the way I see food. A piece of fruit is useless to me, why would I eat something that is so readily converted into body fat. This is bad news for muscle building.

    How many grams of carbohydrate do you eat on an average day? How many calories do you eat on an average day? If you don't know these find out. That is your starting point, find out where you are and where you need to be. Set yours goals, maintain them, and the sky is the limit. Also be sure you are doing the exercises you need to be doing and make sure to keep it high intensity. Most people have fuckarounditus when it comes to exercising.

    I would suggest checking out some videos from Dr. Greg Ellis, you benefit greatly from the information he has to offer.
    Stop the Weight Loss Stalls, Dr. Greg Ellis covers this epidemic - YouTube

    There are many others available on his youtube channel. I also really like his interview with - An Interview With Dr. Greg Ellis!

    Hope this helps!
    Paleo since November 2011 - Carnivore since June 2012
    Before and after pics
    Primal Sucess Story
    Primal Journal


    • #3
      Lack of muscle growth is usually one of two things:
      1. Your workouts are not stimulating muscle growth.
      2. You are not eating enough to be building muscle.

      It really is that simple. I think you aren't eating enough, and you may not be lifting heavy enough. You didn't mention it, so I don't really know.

      I'd say skip the nuts and fruit, double your portions of meat (at least on workout days) and make sure your workouts are intense, requiring you to put forth a great amount of effort to lift something heavy. Sprint once a week or so, and walk every day, or at least every day you aren't lifting or sprinting.

      Finally, building muscle takes a long time. Losing fat doesn't. Getting stronger is a good thing that will allow you to build bigger muscles later. Worry about getting stronger, and the size will come. It sucks, and it takes a lot of patience, but that's how it works. The difference between a bodybuilder and a powerlifter's training plans in the first two years is... pretty much nothing.
      Last edited by jfreaksho; 09-03-2012, 06:03 PM.


      • #4
        Don't skip breakfast!! Ay yi yi the cortisol!


        • #5
          Originally posted by TheTeddy View Post
          I've been primal for almost a month now. I lost a few pounds(all fat), but now I've plateaued. I'm having a lot of trouble getting rid of the rest of this bodyfat and puttin more lean mass on me. I've gotten stronger, but I can't really see any more muscle than I have already. And I'm having trouble meeting my daily protein. I should be getting 100+ grams, but I typically get half that.
          From what you've posted you are essentially trying to do two things simultaneously:
          1. Lose fat. (catabolic)
          2. Gain muscle. (anabolic)

          It should really go without saying that these goals are diametrically opposed, and in order to achieve them concurrently you would have to be expert in your metabolic function, as well as have very precise knowledge regarding your caloric intake, macronutrient composition, and caloric expenditure. It doesn't sound like you have yet nailed down these parameters.

          Keep in mind that even those people that literally make it their business to grow their muscles, professional bodybuilders, do not attempt this, even with massive amounts of exogenous chemical support. Rather, the general rule is to accept that muscle gain will always imply some degree of fat gain, and from there, alternate between periods of muscle gain and fat loss, i.e. bulk and cut cycles. Now, I am not advocating that you do this, I'm merely pointing out that there seems to be a whole slew of empirical evidence suggesting that it is an exceedingly difficult thing to achieve. Lastly, let me point out that the word "hypertrophy" comes from the Greek and literally means "to over feed" and its conjugate, "atrophy", literally means "to underfeed." Which means that putting your goals in these terms, you are attempting muscular hypertrophy and adipose tissue atrophy, or simultaneous under and over feeding. While I, for one, would be among the first to sign up for any method that claims to be able to selectively overfeed muscles while underfeeding fat stores, I'm afraid that sounds too much like wishful thinking and snake oil peddling.

          Given the above, I would suggest that you prioritize your goals, pursuing one thing with focus, rather than diluting your efforts on potentially contradictory aims. My advice is to first lose the fat while trying to minimize muscle loss.

          You also seem to be forcing the issue insofar as you've only given yourself one month on your new regime. Overall, though, I think your principal problem, apart from the split focus, is that you are failing to quantify your approach, which would leave you afloat rudderless on the diet and nutrition sea, and there are submerged rocks out there, and the occasional sirens luring you towards them.

          To help you navigate these sometimes treacherous waters, stay tuned for your Comprehensive PK Action Counselling CoPKAC* (TM) . I did attempt to post it inline here, but it is apparently too long for a single post ( no real surprise there, given my track record, I guess )


          *Pronounced like "cupcake"
          My blog :

          Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.


          • #6
            WTF is your workout?
            Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
            Don't forget to play!


            • #7
              Comprehensive PK Action Counselling CoPKAC* (TM) :

              1. Quantify
                It does not matter how good your map is, you cannot get to where you want to be unless you first know where you are. Accordingly, the first order of business will be to simply measure where you are. At this stage, you really shouldn't be making changes, just tracking to get an idea of the lay of the land. In all of our quantification efforts, the thing that is paramount in our minds will not be absolute numbers, since we realize that all measurements are subject to error. Rather, the thing to look out for is the overall trend.
                • Inputs :
                  • Caloric Intake
                    Get a scale. It does not need to be fancy, something with 1g resolution is sufficient. Log the foods you eat using various online tools. I make use of fatsecret principally because they provide iOS applications that link with the site. These things tend to be commodity type websites that differ principally in the eye candy. If you are a purist, you can also use the USDA database directly. Realize that all calorie accounting is an approximation, there is really no point in keeping track of 1 calorie. The lower bound of appropriate resolution is probably in the neighborhood of 10 calories. I generally round to the nearest 50.

                  • Caloric Expenditure
                    This requires that you compute your basal metabolic rate and track your activities. Various online tools exist to help you do this (google METS calculator, for instance). There are also various devices ( i.e. bodyfit ) that you can wear that track your energy expenditure based upon various biometric parameters that are collected throughout the day. These are not cheap, and you need to have confidence in the underlying models that are used to compute energy expenditure, but overall they provide a fairly low effort way of tracking. If you are short on funds, then you need to invest the time and effort in computing these parameters yourself. Again, there is little point in going into high precision here, you cannot possibly measure 1 calorie's worth of effort. And just because it is a cool fact : one calorie represents the amount of energy of about 4 heartbeats. To burn one additional kilocalorie per day would require you to increase your heart rate by 3 beats per minute for the entire 24 hours.

                  • Macronutrient breakdown
                    This is fairly easy to do once you start tracking calories. Most websites will automatically generate breakdowns of fat, cho, and protein intake. Always calibrate your macronutrients to your lean body mass (LBM) if possible, or body mass at the very least. So, instead of tracking that you've eaten 200g of protein, assuming that you weigh 100 kg (220 lbs.), your intake is actually 2g/kg. If you knew you were at 20% body fat, that makes your lean body mass 80kgs., so your protein intake would be 2.5g/kg lbm.

                    The reason we want to track LBM vs. simple body mass is due to fact that a recomposition of body mass, that is, gaining muscle mass, but at the same time losing an equivalent mass of fat, would presumably result in an increased dietary protein requirement. If we were only tracking body mass then we would not adequately account for this.

                • Outputs :
                  • Body composition
                    Subjective assessments such as "I've lost a few pounds of pure fat" are pretty much meaningless. I can change my bodyweight by about almost 10 pounds within two days simply by playing with hydration and food intake. So we need to be more systematic in how we approach body composition assessments beyond mass / weight measurement. This will practically mean measuring body fat percentages. To do this, you can use calipers, electric impedance, bodypod, dexxa scan and so on. The most cost effective method is to get a decent pair of calipers.

                    Try not to go too crazy because all methods have some margin of error. You can easily spend 100s of dollars on calipers, but then you are entirely dependent upon the skill of the assessor as well as assuming that each time you take measurements, you are measuring in the identical locations that you previously used. This is unlikely and will introduce some error in the measurement process. Electrical impedance is also highly dependent upon hydration levels as well as shortest path flow of electricity. This means that scales which measure body fat are actually measuring the body fat of your legs and pelvic region, whereas handheld devices would measure the fat / hydration levels of your arms and upper chest. Neither of these methods will measure abdominal / torse fat levels.

                  • Body Measurements

                    Get a tape measure and use it. Again, absolute measurements will fluctuate from day to day based upon hydration and other factors, but we want to track the trend. Most women tend to do this instinctively via the fat / skinny jeans test, but we want to make this practice more systematic.

                  • Body weight
                    This is not very informative, since it does not track changes in density, so, assuming that we gain muscle and no fat, our body fat percentage would have correspondingly decreased, but our body mass increased. Nevertheless, this is brain dead simple to measure, especially if you make use of scales that automatically sync with the net, like the Withings, making it a useful, albeit fairly crude, metric.

                  • Waking heart rate
                    There are various devices that can help you track this automatically, or you can simply put your fingers on the carotid artery in your neck, count pulses for 20 seconds, and multiply by 3 to get your heart rate in beats per minute (BPM). The reason we might want to track this is that changes in waking heart rate ( assuming that you do not wake up drenched in sweat with your heart pounding from a nightmare ) can be indicative of stress such as overtraining. If your heart rate is trending upward, then you might want to dial back the activity level and or increase the amount of rest that you get.

                  • Waking temperature
                    As with waking heart rate, changes in waking body temperature can signify stress conditions. All else being equal, stress manifests as a lowered waking body temperature. If you intend to track this, get yourself a basal temperature thermometer. These are used by women to track menstrual cycles and are more accurate, as changes in body temperature are fairly narrowly banded, so the added accuracy is necessary here. Note that if you fast, your body temperature will be affected ( lowered ), so you need to account for that.

                  • Hours of sleep
                    Sleep is a bit tricky because it is both input and output. You can affect sleep by simply going to bed earlier and setting your alarm for later ( if you set an alarm ). At the same time, you will sleep better if your activity / nutritional plan is working for you, or more fitfully if it is not. But since sleep duration and quality are fairly simple to track, there is not much to lose by doing so, and there is a potential gain here via the feedback it offers.

              2. Plan
                The elements listed under the inputs section above are effectively the things that we will attempt to manipulate.

                We will only do this, however, once we have reached a steady state. The ideal item to do this, then, is when we're weight stable. Otherwise, we would confound random changes in our body weight, for example, as having actually been caused by our actions, which would definitely lead us astray.

                With that said, you are definitely eating far too little protein. The general guideline is a minimum of 1g of protein per kg of lean body mass. Given that you are effectively a massive protein synthesis machine, not feeding yourself adequate amounts of protein is definitely going to hold you back in terms of muscle gains as well as overall health.

                Overall then, set targets for your macronutrient breakdown using your LBM, as well as your caloric intake and exercise / activity plan.

              3. Execute
                Arguably the simplest step. Now that you have a plan, implement it for a minimum amount of time. I would suggest that you give any approach a minimum of four weeks before passing judgement. Any less than this and you risk mistaking random noise for signal.

              4. Assess
                Throughout the execution phase, you will also be continuing with your quantification, but this time with an eye towards discerning any trends. After your execution period, you will assess your results, and tweak your plan accordingly. This is the rinse and repeat phase of the approach.

                So, let's say that you want to lose fat, but your body comp and weight numbers are heading in the wrong direction, or stalled. You can try a number of things, but ideally, try to only change one factor at a time, in order to understand how your metabolism responds. Maybe you suspect that your macro nutrient ratios are off. With that in mind, you can try potentially decreasing your carbohydrate intake, commensurately increasing fat intake, all the while maintaining your caloric intake.

                If you take a four week cycle approach, this means that during the course of one year, you have 13 different cycles, which should provide you with ample feedback, and feedback is the all important thing that we are after.

              Remember, there is no failure ... only feedback! All you have to do is listen to your feedback.

              My blog :

              Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.


              • #8
                I hope you're lifting weights.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by NowhereMan View Post
                  I hope you're lifting weights.

                  Heavy and often. Complex movements like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press. If you are trying to add muscle then you should be eating right afterward.

                  You can always try some herbal supplements -- perhaps your hormones/testosterone are out of whack.

                  Yohimbine (not yohimbe)
                  vitamin D

                  If you are trying to lean out while adding muscle I strongly advocate the methodology:

                  - 8 hour feeding window (between first and last time food is consumed during a day)
                  - Fasted morning lifting (MB advocated BCAAs - I think food directly after is fine)
                  - Big carbs post-workout (lots of carbs)

                  hope that helps
                  ad astra per aspera