I need tips on bodybuilding while going to college full time and working part time.
September 6, 2012 10:07 AM   Subscribe

I need tips on bodybuilding(specifically bulking up) while going to college full time and working part time. I live on my own and have no cooking experience.

Im looking to get into weight lifting and looking to add some muscles. I have been lifting since past 7 months regularly. But I don't seem to be making any progress at all. One of the things Im lacking is my diet. I really have been slacking off with my diet. I eat outside at least once a day since I live on my own and have no experience in cooking (Im Indian). One other reason I eat outside a lot is I goto college full time(Engineering major) and work part time. Per week I spend about $70 eating outside which seems a lot and that's just one meal /day. I've just given up eating healthy because I don't have time to cook all my meals. have no cooking experience as I have been fed my whole life and I come from a vegetarian family so I started eating meat (chicken/ turkey) just few years ago. I don't eat beef. Another thing is, since Im used to eating, Indian food, I don't like things that have no taste to it.

My gym routine in the past 7 months has been 5 x a week. I hit every muscle every week. For example:

Mondays - Chest and Triceps
Tuesdays- Back
Wednesday - Cardio
Thursday - Shoulders and Biceps
Friday - Legs

So Im looking for any advice/tips I can get from you guys who maybe more experience then me. Even though, I have been working my ass off in the gym, I made little to no progress.
posted by Parh6512 to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
To add:

Weight: 145 lbs
Height: 5'6
BF: 15%
posted by Parh6512 at 10:19 AM on September 6, 2012

One of the big problems is that proper nutrition is a HUGE part of gaining weight. Some bodybuilders even state that it can be much more important than your routine, though that can be debated.

My first recommandation is to stop the split routine (training different muscles each day). If you are just starting, this isn't doing you any favors. These routines are better for people that already bulked up and need to use different techniques to add even more bulk.

What you need is a full body workout. This will stimulate a much great Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and testosterone response. The workout should consist primarily of compound movements like Squats, Dead Lifts, and Military Presses. The idea is that all of these exercises work out many muscles at once, exponentially increasing your HGH response, which means more muscle.

As far as routines, many people enjoy Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe. He lays out a beginner compound movement routine and then spends many pages describing form. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Next to diet, workout form can really make or break your results. It is really easy to do an exercise and not cause any muscle stimulation because of bad form.

Finally, onto diet. I also had the same problem as you when I was in college. Being in an engineering major can take a lot of time. I will outline what I did to make it through it:

* Every meal consisted of a portion of protein (meat/chicken/fish), legume or complex carb (beans/sweet potatoes), and vegetables.
* I would premake all of these components in large quantity using different styles. For example, I would make a ton of Chicken in Verde Sauce, Grilled Chicken, and Tritip.
* I would usually freeze what I make so that I didn't have to pay attention to expiration.
* 3 times a day, I would load a container with the 3 ingredients from the freezer, microwave it, and eat it. I would also make sure that if I was in class or at the lab, I had the frozen food in my backpack, so that I could microwave it when I was ready to eat.

Note: Many Indian dishes fit these guidelines perfectly. Chicken curry with lentils is a perfect example.

Finally, you need to eat A LOT if you want to bulk. There are ways to calculate how much, but I am not going to get into that.

I want to end with a note about dieting/bulking/body transformation: Just because you are doing something repetitively does not equal success. You should be constantly taking measurements (bodyfat %/weight/body measurements with tape) if you really want to see progress. You must constantly reevaluate your methods and ensure you are making the progress you want. Much like engineering, it's not about doing something but about doing it right.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!
posted by mungaman at 10:37 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would ditch the split routine and go to a full body routine like Starting Strength.

We can't teach you how to cook, but I recommend basing each meal around a lean protein such as chicken breast, with a complex carbohydrate and green vegetables.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2012

The Reddit fitness FAQ is really good and comes from a community who seem to have a lot in common with your situation.
posted by idb at 11:01 AM on September 6, 2012

Seconding and thirding the above advice. Also, check out resources at nerdfitness.com and John Stone Fitness, which you might find really helpful.

Very short version of nutrition is that you will want to increase your protein substantially. I've found the easiest way to do this is with protein shakes (I buy mine at Costco for about $45 for a 6 pound bag). I think they taste pretty decent with cinnamon and frozen fruit. I'd also get used to the idea of tolerating a few bland meals now and then just to make sure you get in your protein.

It will also help you to re-think the lifts you're doing to ensure you're building your program around the critical compound lifts. If all you did were squats, deadlifts, pullups, bench press, military press, rows, dips, and some core work you would probably be okay (not that there is anything particularly wrong with doing other stuff, but if you're spending half your time in the gym or more doing cable cross overs and preacher curls and tricep kickbacks and lateral raises then you could stand to re-order your priorities).
posted by MoonOrb at 11:03 AM on September 6, 2012

Three keys to start with:

1) If you're not seeing results, are you pushing the weight you lift every week? Are you hitting plateaus? I find a lot of people lift moderately heavy weight over and over and believe it will build muscle. If you're looking to really gain size, you need to lift heavier weights. You need to work out til your muscles are exhausted, and as they get stronger, keep exhausting them.

2) Nutrition is also key. Protein is easy to cook and you need a lot of it. Grill a few chicken breasts at a time and toss them with different sauces for variety during the week. Protein shakes are great, nuts are super as snacks. Drink whole milk if that even does not work. Eggs are your breakfast money maker.

3) You can do isolation muscle groups and be okay, but your isolation should be aimed at three exercises in particular; squats, dead lifts and bench presses. Everything you do should be complimentary and not inhibiting those lifts. Those are where your power and size are coming from.

To give you an indication of how that works, I lift 3-4 times a week; the first three workouts include warmup exercises, followed by my power lift of the day, followed by isolation exercises that are aimed at hitting muscle groups that should already be tired. The fourth day, I focus entirely on hitting all three of those movements again.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2012

Nthing you picking up Starting Strength. It is an excellent investment if you plan on getting serious about lifting.

Only other advice: drink a LOT of milk. Chocolate if you like. I aim for consuming my bodyweight in grams of protein each day when I am actively trying to build muscle. For you, that means making sure you're eating 145 g of protein a day in one form or another. Drinking a lot of milk is a pretty easy way to reach that goal.
posted by Temeraria at 4:03 PM on September 6, 2012

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