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Hey! So over the past year I lost a bunch of weight ( I was 69kg and now I am 54 ish). But I really want to build muscle especially around my glutes and my back! As you can see I have very little muscle definition and I look weak and skinnyfat. I’ve increased my food intake quite a lot but stopped tracking calories since it was getting an unhealthy obsession at some point...

I do weightlifting 4/5 times a week, and I incorporate progressive overload, and I’m getting stronger but my body doesn’t seem to really have changed over the past 2 months... neither has my weight gone up even though I increased my food!

I’d love to hear some tips & tricks and also, how long does it generally take to build muscle?

  • 2
    Could you elaborate on what it is you do in terms of weightlifting? I think a good starting-off point would be to look at that, and see how it can be tweaked for your goals.
    – Alec
    Jan 30, 2019 at 22:29
  • I generally have one push-day, on which I train chest, triceps, shoulders, quads. One pull-day, for back, biceps, hamstrings and glutes. Then I do upper/lower. On my push and pull I train all compounds in a 4x5-6 ish rep range, as soon as I hit the 6 reps with proper form I up the weight next time. On my upper/lower days I train hypertrophy, in around 3x10,3x12, 4x10, etc. I really always try to go a little bit harder than the session before. Jan 31, 2019 at 5:00
  • Oh and in every session I always add isolation exercises after the compounds! These I generally train in my hypertrophy rep range. And I try to always add a finisher for my legs. This is usually something like 4x15 banded goblet squats with a lower weight. Jan 31, 2019 at 5:02
  • 2
    It's been about 6 months since you've asked the question, I wonder if you have used any of the advice since, and if you've seen desired results?
    – MJB
    Jul 23, 2019 at 5:41

6 Answers 6


A year is not really a long time, especially if you have spent most of that time trying to lose fat.

More muscle mass will give you that lifted, toned, sculpted and athletic look. Many are surprised but getting leaner often gives the appearance or illusion of being larger.

How do you get there will be a combination of both the right nutrition and training... for an extended period of time.

Nutrition At 54 kilos you are about 120 pounds.

  1. Calories 10-12 times bodyweight in pounds... so convert your Kilos to Pounds first
  2. Protein at least 1 gram per total pound of bodyweight (about 40% of total calories) in pounds... convert Kilos to Pounds first... 120 grams.
  3. Carbs about 35% of total calories... 120 grams.
  4. Fat about 25% of total calories... about 40 grams.

Start here with nutrition. Get the free version of My Fitness Pal or something similar. Set the total calories in My Fitness Pal to the numbers above and then adjust the percentages of the macros to those above. Log what you eat in the free version of My Fitness Pal or something similar.

Measure your bodyweight today and do so every week. Weight inn the same day of the week, at the same time of day on the same scale.

Use a tailor/seamstress tape measure and measure your flexed biceps and hips. Repeat measurements monthly. If the scale is going down and both measurements are staying the same OR even better going up you are getting leaner while losing fat.


  1. Large Multijoint lifts like the squat, deadlift, overhead press, row, bench press.
  2. Use the double progressive with reps in the 8-12 range. If you can not do 8 reps it is too heavy. When you can do all set of 12 reps increase weight.
  3. Sets on the big lifts above 3-4 sets
  4. Train 4 times per week. Push Pull is fine.

Gaining mass takes consistency overtime. Your current reps are on the lower side for maximizing hypertrophy.

Always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program. I am not a dietician or licensed nutritionist... and am referencing my printed work for the nutrition info above.

Get after it, train hard and remember consistency over time will yield the results you are looking for.

  • 2
    "so convert your Kilos to Pounds first" - Easier to just do the calculations with kilos for someone who already uses kilos.
    – Alec
    Jul 24, 2019 at 20:30
  • I totally agree with this post, as this is how I train. But My "bubble butt" lol mostly comes from playing soccer and squats/deadlifts.
    – PmanAce
    Aug 29, 2019 at 17:04

Find a workout routine that focuses on the following compound lifts:

  1. heavy squats
  2. barbell or dumbbell bench press
  3. pull-ups/chin-ups
  4. deadlifts

Do 3-4 sets of these exercises the 6-10 rep range at least once every 2 weeks (or as long as your body needs time to recover between workouts, this might be once per week if you’re in shape). Try to go jogging a mile or two once or twice a week on your off days to keep your heart strong, this makes a huge difference in lifting performance. Try to increase the weight you lift when you think you are ready. This might be every time you lift, or it might be every 5 times you lift. The longer you lift weights, however, the less frequent you’ll be increasing, as newbie gains usually plateau off after a few months.

Avoid garbage exercises that make you swing around kettlebells or 5lb plates, these are weak muscle builders compared to the ones I listed above and just waste your time.

Eat mainly rich, nutritious foods, such as chicken breast, pasta, broccoli, orange juice, oatmeal. Nothing wrong with white bread/pizza/ice cream/candy bars as long as you don’t overdo it.

Do this every 1 or 2 weeks for a year and you will get great results. Do it for two years for even better results. Don’t expect drastic changes overnight, or even after a few months. Persistence is key.

Most importantly, don’t overtrain and get burned out. There’s no reason to spend more than 30-60mins in the gym each workout.

  • 2
    Once every 2 weeks is incredibly low frequency and volume, and will not provide results for more than a very short duration. (I.e. Progress will likely stall after a couple of months.) Feb 11, 2019 at 22:32
  • @DavidScarlett i didn't say only work out once every 2 weeks, i meant only do each one of those workouts once every 2 weeks (or every 1 week if you're able to). It's unlikely a newbie will be able to do a brutal squat workout on Monday then a brutal deadlift workout on Thursday, and expect to get right back to the gym and do the same squat workout the next Monday. They're gonna be very sore and underperform Feb 12, 2019 at 0:58
  • Regarding the junk-food comment, just my opinion, I would say maybe "as long as you don't overdo it" should be changed to something more like, "reserved strictly for rare consumption on special occasions." Mar 17, 2019 at 17:36
  • @RyanMortensen I disagree. Long term goals are achieveable if you change your lifestyle in a way that you can maintain for the rest of your life. If you eat a pizza once a week, you can still have incredible results, while making it a durable way of living for you. If you restrict having a meal like that to once in like 3 months on special occasions, chances are you'll fall back into bad habbits on the long run.
    – MJB
    Jul 22, 2019 at 12:59

Consider that everything having to do with the body is highly variable and unpredictable. I personally have gone through many periods lasting multiple months where I either gain a lot of muscle or maintain or even lose weight despite maintaining a large caloric intake the entire time. It all depends on a number of variables, and it's impossible to be aware of them all.

I recommend that you continue to maintain a large caloric intake and continue well-programmed resistance training if your goal is to gain mass in general. I personally have followed these practices and despite fluctuations, I have gained muscle and weight over the long term despite having similar issues and periods of stagnation.

Side note: Check out Bret Contreras (skip to the glutes section). You will not be disappointed. https://bretcontreras.com/articles/


If your weight stays the same and you're eating a surplus of calories then you are possibly losing fat and gaining muscle, or gaining fat and losing muscle. But if you're gaining strength I would say it's gaining muscle and losing fat. Before cutting weight off to show muscle, I would try to gain muscle (like you are doing). Muscle gains for people that are new to weightlifting can be as high as 6.8 kgs or greater in the first year. According to Schwarzeneggar in his book "the encyclopedia of bodybuilding", after newbie gains are gone, He says about 2.2kg max a year is standard after that. I think for your goals, I would focus more on the following during your workout routine:

  • Work on glute medius more, such as split squats or lunges, which will build the side of the butt more
  • work on upper back muscles more by doing different variations of rows. If you dont want to look too muscular or wide you can stick to neutral grip landmine rows, supinated grip rows, dumbbell rows, etc.. and avoid wide grip rows and wide grip lat pulls.
  • work on your core. It helps the posterior chain muscles do its job.
  • See a physical therapist.. Sometimes back curves or bad posture can make your body look entirely different, including back and glutes! This will help you the most.

I good tip is to work on strength, muscle, and endurance. A reverse linear periodization plan using blocks is a great strategy, as is linear periodization. for 4 week blocks, do 12-15 reps, 8-10 reps, and 4-6 reps working your way down. Some people prefer reverse and working backwards but there isnt enough evidence I can find online that one works better than the other. A great tip for adding muscle is adding volume every so often, so adding more and more sets each block, than reverting to a normal amount of sets once you get down to the 4-6 rep strategy.

For cutting, I would use a strength day to maintain your strength, and surround it with endurance days, and cardio. It's pretty detailed to get into the entirety of gaining muscle but you should use a year or so to work on muscle and then cut down depending on what your goals are (I am guessing just to have a good body?)


I like a number of the answers above (in particular the one from @user31548). One other thing that I'd like to add is that some people get stronger more than they get bigger.

I look reasonably fit, but not like the guy you call to move a fridge. I can lift more than you'd think by looking at me. Using more or less the same programs, intensity,... other people get bigger than I do, while I get stronger than them.

It was a common joke at the gym I went to (in the before times...) that trainers would bring big guys who were being annoying over to me so they could work in with me. When they noticed that I was doing their PR for reps they frequently started to listen to their trainers.

You may be one of those types who just doesn't get that big. I wouldn't stress it unless you have your heart set on a bodybuilding competition. So long as things are moving in the right direction, then they're moving in the right direction.

Good luck with whatever you do.


I'd say that you are focusing too much on the incorrect exercises or the incorrect execution of your workouts. You mentioned, you have gotten stronger, but that doesn't correlate entirely to a dramatic changes in your body, specially when trying to build an aesthetic look with the objective of increasing volume.

I might not be a physical therapist but I can tell you this, focus more on hypertrophy exercises than on sessions that can build your strength but won't target muscle size, specially on the glutes. If you want a better rounded glute aspect you'll have to do exercises that lift it up and this size is also accompanied by a very well rounded nutrition plan. As for the intake of food, maybe you have increased the ammount of meals but are not eating a proper ratio of carbs to protein for example (which when tryin to build up mass is the first the one that needs to be more significant in your meals), so make sure you are not making this mistake. Don't focus necessarily on calorie counting but on your macros and their proportions, "how much grams of protein per lb of bodyweight how much fat", etc.

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