I am 21 year old male and my overall aim is to lean up and build some more muscle/ increase strength, there fore I have adopted a higher protein intake and lowered my calorific intake, could I get opinions on how I could improve my diet and training in order to reach my goals?

EDIT: I have a previous experience in strength training

My stats are as follows:

  • weight: 16St 0lbs (101.9Kg)

  • height: 5' 6.8 (1.70m)

  • body fat: 27.8% (28.3Kg)

My overall aim is to lean up and build some more muscle, there fore I have adopted a higher protein intake and lowered my calorific intake, stats are as follows:

calories a day: Food: minimum - 1450 / maximum - 2200

  • protein: 250g
  • carbs: 120
  • fats: 50 - 70 (How could I improve this figure?)
  • Water: 4 - 4.5 litres a day

I eat a clean diet consisting of chicken, green leaf salads, olives, fruits, occasional pasta/rice, sweet potatoes and protein shakes.


  • Creatine: 10g (2 servings of 5g pre workouts)
  • protein: 8 scoops a day (in the region of. including pre and post workout)
  • zinc and magnesium tablets
  • multi vitamin tablets
  • BCAA (16g a day. 4 servings a day)



AM (before breakfast):

  • interval cardio for 45 minutes = 400 calories


  • Weight training 45 - 80 minutes (lowish weight, high reps in the 15 rep range)


AM (before breakfast):

  • interval cardio for 45 minutes = 400 calories


  • Weight training 45 - 80 minutes (Strength training - high reps in a pyriamid style drop (e.g. 10 x 90, 5x110, 3x130)


AM (before breakfast):

  • Rest


  • Weight training 45 - 80 minutes (lowish weight, high reps in the 15 rep range)
  • steady paced cardio 45 - 60 minutes = 500calories


AM (before breakfast):

  • interval cardio for 45 minutes = 400 calories


  • Weight training 45 - 80 minutes (Strength training - high reps in a pyriamid style drop (e.g. 10 x 90, 5x110, 3x130)


AM (before breakfast):

  • interval cardio for 45 minutes = 400 calories


  • Weight training 45 - 80 minutes (lowish weight, high reps in the 15 rep range)



  • Rest


  • low pace cardio 60 minutes



  • Rest


  • low pace cardio 45 minutes

Examples of exercises that I already do:

tuesday, thursday:

  • squats
  • dead lifts
  • bench
  • military press
  • shrugs
  • leg press
  • calf raises

monday, wednesday, friday:

  • bicep curls
  • tricep extensions
  • shrugs
  • lat raises
  • lat pull downs
  • incline bench
  • hammer curls

I try to sleep between 7 - 8 hours a night in order to try and get enough sleep.

I also aim to eat (small portion size)/ have a protein intake every 2 hours.

How could this training be improved to be more efficient and also to help me reach my overall goals of:

  • becoming leaner
  • increasing strength
  • quick overlook of the exercises: drop some curls and add some rows. Or you could do some chin-ups, or even better, pull-ups! Curls 5 days a week? really? ... :/ That wont get you leaner or increase your strength, it'll only help you point the direction to the nearest beach
    – user4963
    Jan 11, 2013 at 13:03
  • @MarcoLeblanc thats my bad, i dont do biceps every day i just wrote it in by accident, I will edit my post. As for the other feedback, thank you, I have considered doing rows to be honest and think that it might be the direction to go in, thank you!
    – Sam Street
    Jan 11, 2013 at 13:12
  • It seems that you have a pretty solid workout program. How long have you been following it? and what results are you seeing? Jan 11, 2013 at 14:08
  • 1
    @SamStreet - you program is 'intense' and will provide you with the results you're looking for. The only thing I would add is to track EVERYTHING - what you eat, what you lift and the changes in your body (get a scale that shows weight and body fat)....nothing to change, just do it and keep at it - good luck! Jan 11, 2013 at 14:29
  • 1
    Do you have any reason to believe the program you're doing is inadequate?
    – user4644
    Jan 12, 2013 at 15:17

4 Answers 4


Your program can be improved by simplification and emphasis on objective metrics of progress.

Forget about creatine, BCAA, and other expensive supplements. You are so far away from your genetic potential that these are a waste of money. You can make incredible novice gains without them. (Multivitamin is a fine idea though.)

Drop the leg press, anything with "curl" in the name, and all other isolation exercises.

Having fewer exercises allows you to objectively measure your progress over time because you will be repeating the same exercises.

Focus your mental and physical powers on increasing the amount of weight you lift with good form in these consensus exercises:

  • barbell back squat
  • barbell deadlift
  • barbell overhead press
  • barbell or dumbbell bench press
  • power clean

and the number of reps you can perform of these standard bodyweight exercises:

  • pushups
  • pullups
  • dips

And aerobically, the 1 mile run time is an excellent, objective benchmark.

Most importantly, go to the gym at least three days per week, and work with heart and soul every time you go. You will see the benefits very quickly. Good luck sir! We who are about to lift salute you.

  • Also, I recommend reading a novice strength book. Even though I don't like his writing style, I followed Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength and it did what it said it would do on the cover. Can't ask for more than that.
    – masonk
    Jan 11, 2013 at 18:31
  • 2
    +1 thorough answer, thanks for also mentioning to drop curls :) However, I wouldn't use dips as a measurement. You should not work yourself to exhaustion with dips or do as many as you can, because that's a one way ticket to shoulder problems, no matter how good your form is. I personally have a torn pectoral as a result of weighted dips, which is another risk
    – user4963
    Jan 11, 2013 at 19:13

To get lean (lose fat) and to gain muscle mass while also gaining strength seems hard at first; however, a carefully designed exercise program with proper nutrition can get you results as fast as in 10-12 weeks.

It seems like you are doing what I would call a “typical” weight training program that I'm afraid you will not see the results that you are looking for. To save time and to make sure to utilize all major and minor muscle group during each workout, try supersetting. This way, you will be able to target more muscles while saving a lot of time. Each workout should last about 45-60 minutes, depending on how much you really need to rest between sets.

Also, it’s okay to isolate the minor muscle group like curls and extension, but they can take up a lot of time, and that’s why it’s great to also supersetting them. By the way, you can do some cardio on the off days if you wanted, but I would recommend with shorter time (less than 30 minutes) and with higher intensity.

Try this program instead: Male - Gain Muscle Mass - Gym - Intermediate Level

Weeks 1-2 (3 days per week with one day of rest in between) - Total Body Toning

Superset one - Dumbbell Squat Shoulder Press and Dumbbell Push-up Row

Superset two –Barbell Squat and Dumbbell Decline Bench Press

Superset three – Dumbbell Alternate Lunges and Lat Pull-down

Superset four - Planks (front and sides) and Mountain Climber

Pick the weight that will allow you to perform at least 12 reps but no more than 15 reps for weeks 1-2. Repeat 3 more sets before moving on to the next superset. Try to hold the planks (front and sides) and perform the mountain climber 30 secs each . Rest 60 seconds between sets and between superset.

Weeks 3-7 (4 days per week with 2 on, 1 off, then 2 on)

Day 1 and 4 - Chest, Back, Abs and Calves

Superset one – Bench Press and Bent-over Barbell Row

Superset two – Decline Dumbbell Bench Press and Lat Pull-down

Superset three – Cable Cross-over and Seated Cable Row

Superset four – Kneeling Stability Ball Rollout and Planks (front and sides)

Superset five - Dumbbell Push-up Row and Seated Machine Leg Press Calf Raise

Day 2 and 5 - Lower Body, Arms, Shoulder and Fat Burning

Super set one – Dumbbell Lunge Tricep Extension and Mountain Climber

Super set two – Dumbbell Squat Shoulder Press and Bent-over Dumbbell Fly

Super set three – EZ Bar Curl and EZ Bar Skull Crush

Super set four – Dumbbell Bicep Curl and Cable Tricep Push-down

Super set five – Inchworm and High Knee Sprint

Pick the weight that will allow you to perform at least 8 reps but no more than 12 reps for weeks 4-7. Repeat 2-3 more sets before moving on to the next superset. For kneeling stability ball, planks (front and sides), inchworm and high knee sprint, try to perform 30 secs each . Rest 60 seconds between sets and between superset.

Weeks 8-12 (5 days per week including one day of high intensity cardio training with 2 on, one off, then 3 on)

Days 1 and 4 - Major Muscle Group

Superset one – Barbell Squat and Dumbbell Bench Press

Superset two – Dumbbell Squat Shoulder Press and Lat Pull-down

Superset three – Bench Press and Bent-over Barbell Row

Super set four – Dumbbell Push-up Row and High Knee Sprint

Superset five – Kneeling Stability Ball Rollout and Planks (front and sides)

Days 2 and 5 - Minor Muscle Group

Superset one – EZ Bar Bicep Curl and EZ Bar Skull Crush

Super set two - Dumbbell Bicep Curl and Cable Tricep Push-down

Superset three - Seated Leg Press Machine Calf Raise and Mountain Climber

Superset four - Inchworm and High Knee Sprint

Day 6 - High Intensity Cardio Training

Sprint Intervals - either on treadmill or outside

Try sprinting for 30 secs and jog for 30 secs on the treadmill for about 10 minutes Or try to do 100 meter dash and walk 100 meter dash (perform 10-20 times).

Pick the weight that will allow you to perform at least 6 reps but no more than 10 reps for weeks 8-12. Repeat 2-3 more sets before moving on to the next superset. For kneeling stability ball, planks (front and sides), inchworm and high knee sprint, try to perform 30 secs each . Rest 60 seconds between sets and between superset.

Eating is very important regarding how you want your body to feel and look, especially for the washboard abs and to have energy throughout the day. If I were you, I will just focusing on eating a lot more of these foods instead of buying all of the supplements due to cost and not-effective: whole eggs, mixed nuts, peanut butter, avocados, chicken breast, fish, sweet potatoes and to make sure to load up with lots of fruits and vegetables for the natural vitamins and minerals. Let me know how you feel after about 4 weeks into this program.

Don't forget to warm-up! And for intermediate fitness levels, a good way to warm-up is to perform 2 sets of 10 of burpee push-ups each time prior to starting your workout. By the way, make sure you know how to perform each exercise properly to prevent injuries and for best results. You can find all of these exercises on youtube these days. Good luck and have fun!

  • That's a very random workout plan you've put together. This would be a better answer if you explained the principles behind your exercise selection and scheduling. He's also already doing squats, deadlifts, overhead press, lat pulldowns, yet you mention that he may be missing out on muscle groups. You've prescribed a rep range that's not optimal for strength gains. Omitting rest by supersetting also accumulates fatigue so this program breaks away from specificity of training with strength as the goal.
    – user4644
    Jan 12, 2013 at 15:08
  • Kate - You made a great point regarding "strength." I was focusing more on the "leaner" side of his original program. This program is specially designed for an Intermediate Gain Muscle "Leaner" looking individual. Although strength gain does come with weight training, but specific strength gain as a goal must be applied to the drop-set principle. Muscles need at least 48 hours of recovery, especially if you are training at a higher intensity, therefore this program is broken down like that.
    – QikMood
    Jan 12, 2013 at 15:40
  • Also, supersetting accumulates fatigue and although you may get more muscles to work with this program, but you are correct regarding it will hurt true "strength" gain due to more rest time is needed, especially with the drop-set principle. Thanks for pointing that out. I completely forgot the fact that his other goal was to increase strength, too.
    – QikMood
    Jan 12, 2013 at 15:45
  • 1
    Same Street - I apologize for not keeping in mind regarding your other goal as to increase muscle "strength."
    – QikMood
    Jan 12, 2013 at 15:48
  • I love this answer and all the good ideas for supersets. I'm going to try some of these. Oct 29, 2015 at 18:17

Maybe this will help more...with references at the end.

To do with weights

Many bodybuilders follow training routines that have them exhaustively train each muscle group only one time per week. While this may provide decent results over time, it is actually a rather inefficient way to train. A study in the “Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology” found that muscle protein synthesis dramatically increases 65% above baseline 24 hours after a heavy bout of resistance training, and then drastically declines back to baseline at about the 48-hour mark post-workout.

Therefore, a much more prudent way to train would be to hit each muscle group 2-3 times per week and split the volume across each session. Think of each training session as an opportunity to induce growth; would you only want to grow your chest 52 times per year or, say, 104-156 times per year? Still not sure how to answer this? Well a second study in the “Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research” found that subjects who trained only one day per week had only 62% of the strength gains compared to subjects who split their training over 3 days per week (volume was matched between the two groups).

To do with cardio

Cardio isn’t essential for fat loss, but it may help. Science tells us that we lose weight when we burn more calories than we consume, so if performing cardio helps with that equation, then sure, it’s advisable. But consider this – lifting weights also elevates the heart rate and burns calories. In fact, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. So there could be an argument for the fact that burning calories through lifting weights is arguably more beneficial in the long term, but we won’t get into that here.

To do with Eating

The theory that your body would find it easier to handle and digest multiple smaller meals per day in comparison to larger, more infrequent feedings makes sense to a certain degree, right? It’s reasonably similar to the notion that dumping an enormous pile of wood onto a fire might not be as advantageous as gradually adding in one log at a time – but your metabolism isn’t a fire.

Every time you eat, you burn calories digesting the meal you’ve just consumed. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Whilst different macronutrients contain a different increase in TEF, whether you look at the percentage increase from a meal perspective or a day’s worth of eating, that percentage is going to remain the same.

Different macronutrients have a slightly different thermic effect, but at the end of the day, 10 x 250 calorie meals is ultimately going to burn the same amount of calories through digestion as 1 x 2500 calorie meal, provided the macronutrient breakdown is the same of course. So quit with the stop-watch – there’s no need to time your meals to the minute just to lose fat, so long as you aren’t consuming too many total calories.

To do with cutting or toning

There seems to be a variety of misconceptions attached to weight training; a popular one in particular is the idea that lifting lighter loads for more reps (say 15+) will “tone” muscles better than using heavy loads for fewer reps (6 or less). Aside from the fact that “toning” is a nonsensical term when it comes to muscle morphology, there is little basis to the presumption that using light weights and doing many repetitions is superior for muscle hypertrophy over using a weight that you may only be able to complete 5 reps with per set.

At the end of the day muscle hypertrophy is muscle hypertrophy; muscles grow or atrophy, which is what changes their shape. Using a mix of several rep ranges with both higher and lower loads will ultimately be best for building and maintaining muscle.

Let your diet do its thing for fat loss and keep training much like you would when trying to gain muscle—what builds muscle best retains it best. Moreover, you cannot “spot-reduce” certain body areas no matter how much you target/stimulate them.

If you want an etched six-pack of abdominals, skip the marathon sets of sit-ups; work instead on providing progressive overload to the abdominals and losing sufficient body-fat. The best way to ensure you’re building or maintaining muscle is having a progression scheme in place. When you go into the gym one of your main priorities should be trying to progress from your previous workout.

Keep in mind that progression doesn’t always have to mean adding weight to the bar, but can come in the form of adding more volume, increasing frequency, adding various intensity techniques, etc. Just focus on progressing/improving in some capacity each week

  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., Wilborn, C. D., Krieger, J. W., & Sonmez, G. T. (2014). Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 1.
  2. Ostrowski, K. J., Wilson, G. J., Weatherby, R., Murphy, P. W., & Lyttle, A. D. (1997). The Effect of Weight Training Volume on Hormonal Output and Muscular Size and Function. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 11(3), 148-154.
  3. Kinsell, L. W., Gunning, B., Michaels, G. D., Richardson, J., Cox, S. E., & Lemon, C. (1964). Calories do count. Metabolism, 13(3), 195-204.
  4. Sofer, S., Eliraz, A., Kaplan, S., Voet, H., Fink, G., Kima, T., & Madar, Z. (2011). Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity, 19(10), 2006-2014.
  5. Adibi, S. A., & Mercer, D. W. (1973). Protein digestion in human intestine as reflected in luminal, mucosal, and plasma amino acid concentrations after meals. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 52(7), 1586.
  6. MacDougall, J. D., Gibala, M. J., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, J. R., Interisano, S. A., & Yarasheski, K. E. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian journal of applied physiology, 20(4), 480-486.
  7. McLESTER, J. R., Bishop, E., & Guilliams, M. E. (2000). Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,14(3), 273-281.
  • Hiya, fantastic answer, but it is probably worth noting that this question is nearly 5 years old. A lot has changed over time and I actually moved to a heavy lifting routine and intermittent fasting, I went from 105Kg down to 92.5Kg over 3 months using that approach.
    – Sam Street
    Dec 20, 2017 at 16:48

The question is to improve programme to get leaner, I would say how do I improve the diet to get leaner!!

After reading your question and seeing your stats, the only thing I have to add is that at the moment, as everyone else said, the programme it could be improved here and there, but for now it is ok.

What need to happen first is for you to lose some fat, because to be over 100kg at your height and age, either you have huge muscles or you have fat and water retention.

The goal at the moment is to "see" how much muscle you actually have, and to do that you need to lose the fat and water.

To do that you need to change the way you eat and how much, as based on what you have written, you are not going to lose the wait, till you have in the blood stream the amount of insulin generated by the amount of carbs and proteins you say you eat!

This is scientifically documented all over the net by doctors and trainers, if you need to check.

I do not know how often you eat, which makes a big difference, but you need to start from there.

It is not difficult once you get to know the logistics of how to implement the diet.

  • This is... a blob of text with no answer at all.
    – JohnP
    Dec 18, 2017 at 22:28
  • It is a text that start to introduce the idea that perhaps the diet at this stage it is more important then the training, given that most answers were suggesting different training schedules and not ways of eating, so I did not want at this stage to suggest anything till he answered how is eating at the moment, given that this is crucial to get leaner.
    – Flavio
    Dec 19, 2017 at 9:14
  • The purpose of Stack Exchange is to provide expert answers to questions. If you want clarification of what the diet is, that is what the comment system is for. Posting answers to foster dialogue is not an accepted practice.
    – JohnP
    Dec 19, 2017 at 14:23
  • Thank you to clarify, I am new to this, I will be more direct from now on.
    – Flavio
    Dec 19, 2017 at 14:30

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