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So I am working out for around 1 and a half years now, about 1 year ago I started tracking my body fat and my muscle percentage. It both was stable at 14% fat and 44.5% muscle. Last two weeks I noticed, that my body fat was raising extremely fast and my muscle declined (+1% fat, -0.4% muscle). I did not change anything in my plans.

I am around 2 Metres (6' 7") tall and weigh 87kg (191.2 lbs), ride my bike to work (software engineer, not very much movement) for in total 1 hour a day and work out for another hour.

I would say I eat healthy (no junk food, no ready-to-eat meals) and reach my calorie goal every day. My calorie goal is at 2.5k + around 1k a day for all the sports I do ( + 500 cal for gaining muscle, I read that this value should be optimal, but I do not really reach that value daily). As for macro goals I haven't really set some except for Proteins, where it is at around 2 grams/kg bodyweight

Its very frustrating not seeing any progress in over a year and then noticing your body change that much in a negative direction in like 14 days. Do you have any suggestions for me about what I might do wrong?

My workout routine (some of these are translated with google translate. maybe the image can help to understand what I mean): https://imgur.com/a/f2iy4MS

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    Hi Philipp! Could you add information about how you measure your body fat and muscle %? Also, how does your current workout routine look like? – UnbescholtenerBuerger Feb 7 at 20:47
  • I use a normal weight scale with a functionality to measure these values. Also i am splitting in back biceps, triceps chest shoulder and leg stormache. I try to hit the gym 5-6 times a week. Or do you want me to show you my exact exercises? – Philipp Honsel Feb 7 at 20:51
  • As well as the workout routine --> what is your calorie/macro goals? Has anything changed outside of the gym in the last two weeks (sleep, work, stress)? – C. Lange Feb 7 at 20:54
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    I added my routines to the post itself – Philipp Honsel Feb 7 at 21:14
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    Thank you! It is a strong indication that a routine is pretty poor when you're doing more sets for the biceps during the week than for the legs. Hope to find some time for an actual response tomorrow. – UnbescholtenerBuerger Feb 7 at 21:51
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There seem to be two issues at hand: First, your scale gives unexpected readings, second, you can't seem to make progress with your current workout routine.

While I believe the chance is high that these two don't have anything to do with each other, there's the possibility that both are caused by a medical condition:

Overtraining syndrome.

Doing 2h of sport on 6 days a week while being (full-time?) employed requires special attention for proper recovery. Your routine looks rather intense, and if you are very strict with your calories because you really want to see that BF% go down, I can see how your body could eventually enter a state of overtraining. The weird readings of your scale then would check out, too, as some symptoms of overtraining, such as resting heart rate and increased transpiration could alter the bioelectrical impedance between your feet (i.e. the metric that a body fat scale relies on.) Check out whether you suffer from some or all the usual overtraining symptoms, and if yes, immediately give your body a break and maybe even seek out medical advice from a specialist.


The inconsistent scale readings.

So, let's say you're not suffering from overtraining syndrome and you indeed did not change your dietary plans and workout schedule significantly over the past few weeks. In that case, I wouldn't give much credit to what the scale is telling you: 1% bodyfat equals around two pounds of fat, or around 8000kCal. This means that you would have to consistently exceed your daily calorie goal by 550 kCal for fourteen days. I'm sure you would have noticed.

More likely, something else has changed. Few examples:

  • Your feet are drier/wetter than usual when you step on the scale
  • You developed some calluses on your sole
  • You started to drink a glass of water every night before you go to bed
  • Or it could be something with the scale itself: A cold solder joint, a mechanical shock, and now the device's sensors suffer from a small offset.

The possibilities are endless and personally, I think every one of them is more likely than you accidentally eating a slice of cake everyday for two weeks without noticing.


Your workout routine.

Let's move to my favourite topic - workout routines. I'll be frank here, I don't think yours is particularly useful, and here's why:

  1. You neglect your legs. Your bicep gets activated in twice as much sets than your legs, although your biceps only covers one single degree of freedom, while your legs cover almost a dozen. Is it your goal to look like this?
  2. Where are the big movements? You are doing a lot of isolation work, but I suspect you lack the fundamentals. You could cover your whole first day (sans the rotary torso) with a couple heavy sets of barbell squats. Then you still have plenty of time left to do some accessory work for muscles you didn't fully exhaust by heavy squatting.
  3. It's overly complicated. At first and second glance, I can't tell what protocol you are following, because your sets vary wildly in weight and rep count. How and when do you progress, when you hit 10 reps on all weights? It also isn't comparable easily. Take an exercise with 4 sets, weights 15kg, 17kg, 20kg, 22kg. On which day did you perform better, the one with 10, 10, 8, 8 reps, or the one with 10, 10, 10, 7 reps?
  4. You're doing less volume than you think. Take your last curls exercise. You're able to rep out 10 curls with 10kg, and then another 8 with 20% more weight? In that case, those 10x5kg you did are worthless. This set won't have the slightest training effect whatsoever. It was a warmup set. Except that you don't need a warmup when the 20 sets you did before already activated - even isolated - your biceps.

You say that you've been training for one and a half years, but don't see significant progression for one year already. This is typical. Because as an absolute beginner, you already make gains by giving weights a stern look. So you train for a few weeks or months, the numbers on the plates increase, you notice some positive changes in the mirror and thus think that your routine must be effective.

taken from www.exercisebiology.com/index.php/site/articles/why_you_should_not_change_exercises_too_often

Image taken from www.exercisebiology.com

However, those changes are mostly due to an increased neural activation of muscle tissue and a higher resting tone. Those effects cap out rather quickly. And this is where you hit a plateau and your poor routine bites you in the ass.

What I suggest:

As someone who wasted a significant time in my life with routines similar to yours (after all, it's the exact kind of routine that gets pushed in the Planet Fitnesses and McFits of the world), I have become a huge fan of linear progression style workouts in the vein of Starting Strenght, with focus on the big movements Squat, Deadlift, Benchpress (and Overhead press). Well, you're already hitting the gym 5-6 times a week, so the usual three-day schedule of Starting Strength, Ice Cream Fitness, Greyskull LP, Stronglifts 5x5,... might not be enough for you.

Therefore, I'd like to direct you towards the Candito Linear Program from competitive powerlifter Jonnie Candito. The program is dedicated to beginners and is a four-day upper-lower split with one heavy and one technique day for each muscle group. Variations are provided to focus on technique, on power movements and on hypertrophy. The other two days you could fill with some functional training, yoga, some team sports... or just resting as you see fit.

Oh, and don't be fooled by the words 'powerlifting' or 'strength training'. The whole "hypertrophy rep range vs. strength rep range" is mostly a false dichotomy when it comes to novice and intermediate trainees.

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  • Wow. Thank you for the time you put into this post to help me. I really appreciate it. I'll take a closer look into the linear program and try something new with my training routine. Hopefully, it will help me out of this silly situation. – Philipp Honsel Feb 8 at 13:57
  • You're welcome. At the risk of sounding like a preacher: The moment I ditched random 3-way-split routines with mostly isolation work in favor of LP style programs with focus on the big movements was easily the most significant turning point in my life when it comes to lifting weights. So I'm more than happy to pass on that insight. – UnbescholtenerBuerger Feb 8 at 14:18

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