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  1. #1
    Registered User marvena's Avatar
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    Red face Achievable improvements within a year for a skinny total beginner like me?

    TL;DR

    Just wonder based on your knowledge/opinion how far can I improve in 1 year? Is being able to curl a 30lbs-dumbbell very unlikely to achieve?

    My current status:

    • Ectomorph. 29yo, 5'10', 58kg(127lbs). Very skinny. Small bone-frame. Almost no muscle and no fat.

    • One arm standing bicep-curl: ~17lbs

    • Bench press: 80lbs (max)

    -------------------------------------------------------

    (sorry for my basic English)

    I'd describe myself as a nerd who has almost never worked out in his entire life. As you can guess, I had a lot of rough days in my life just based upon my physical weaknesses. I know I have to do something about it, and I also know that it's getting a bit too late but I'm not completely hopeless yet. I'm going to change my current lifestyle. And I'm honest about it.

    Honestly I still have some bad thoughts about my body, like I would never change, I'd be forever weak, I'd have these skinny arms forever and as always I have to hide/cover them as much as I can. Very depressing thoughts.. That's why I came here just to ask if there's chance. Do you have any guess how good (for instance) my bicep-curl and bench-press can get if I regularly workout for like 1 year? I like maths so please include some number in your answers! I really need kinda numeric-milestone just to make sure it's achievable. I need to visualize it. (as realistic as possible, please)


    Thank you.
    Last edited by marvena; 05-15-2022 at 07:44 AM.
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  2. #2
    Registered User EiFit91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by marvena View Post
    TL;DR

    Just wonder based on your knowledge/opinion how far can I improve in 1 year? Is being able to curl a 30lbs-dumbbell very unlikely to achieve?

    My current status:

    • Ectomorph. 29yo, 5'10', 58kg(127lbs). Very skinny. Small bone-frame. Almost no muscle and no fat.

    • One arm standing bicep-curl: ~17lbs

    • Bench press: 80lbs (max)

    -------------------------------------------------------

    (sorry for my basic English)

    I'd describe myself as a nerd who has almost never worked out in his entire life. As you can guess, I had a lot of rough days in my life just based upon my physical weaknesses. I know I have to do something about it, and I also know that it's getting a bit too late but I'm not completely hopeless yet. I'm going to change my current lifestyle. And I'm honest about it.

    Honestly I still have some bad thoughts about my body, like I would never change, I'd be forever weak, I'd have these skinny arms forever and as always I have to hide/cover them as much as I can. Very depressing thoughts.. That's why I came here just to ask if there's chance. Do you have any guess how good (for instance) my bicep-curl and bench-press can get if I regularly workout for like 1 year? I like maths so please include some number in your answers! I really need kinda numeric-milestone just to make sure it's achievable. I need to visualize it. (as realistic as possible, please)


    Thank you.
    First I'd suggest you start by gaining 20 pounds as fast as you can while lifting hard on a good full body program, 3 days a week. You can slow it down after that but you should be bulking for a long time. Body types (e.g. "ectomorph") are not grounded in science.

    If you do that your bicep curl and bench press will go up quite a lot for sure. It's hard to predict exactly how much as everyone responds differently to i) a given strength training program and ii) a given diet and calorie surplus. I started thinking about formalizing this but it's going to be hard to do that beyond just in completely general terms. You can think of the weight moved for a given lift (y) as a function of your bodyweight in pounds which is again a function of your fat mass and lean mass, and other factors (a, we can think of this as your genetics)

    y = f(g(fat, lean mass); a)

    The derivative wrt fat is positive and the derivative wrt lean mass is positive. So if you increase either your fat mass or your lean mass y will increase, with bigger changes coming from changes in lean mass than from changes in fat mass (the derivative wrt lean mass is larger than wrt fat). But adding both fat and lean mass will add to the total weight you'll move. The second derivative is going to be negative as strength gains generally have diminishing returns.

    To predict a number for how much you'll add to a lift you need to specify an exact functional form for the above and that's going to be hard :P And already above we're making questionable assumptions as a is not an argument in g() and if there is a genetic component to bodyweight (most likely!) then that's already a wrong model! And changes in lean mass are going to depend on the quality of your diet and program. So good luck modelling this stuff!
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  3. #3
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Don’t base goals on a 1RM for db curls.
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    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    I was about your size when I started. My working weight on bench press was 65 pounds for maybe 6-8 reps. Years later I could do 225 pounds for reps without a spotter. Don't focus on your 1 rep max.
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  5. #5
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You could put on maybe 30lbs and improve strength in every major muscle group by eating enough to allow 2-3lbs a month and training your whole body with weights on a progressively overloading routine.

    Use squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull ups, rows, overhead presses as your yardsticks for improvements - curls are almost irrelevant.
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  6. #6
    Registered User marvena's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    First I'd suggest you start by gaining 20 pounds as fast as you can while lifting hard on a good full body program, 3 days a week.
    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Don’t base goals on a 1RM for db curls.
    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    Don't focus on your 1 rep max.
    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Use squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull ups, rows, overhead presses as your yardsticks for improvements - curls are almost irrelevant.
    Thank You All. I really appreciate you.

    I've kept note of all your advice. So as everybody mentioned I think gaining some weight should be the first priority/goal. I do my best although I feel it's harder for me to gain weight compared to the majority.
    Any advice here? Hopefully you have a well-known diet plan/article in mind and I can search and learn more about it. I don't know how much and what percentage should be carbs/protein/etc. Please let me know if there is any critical do/don't in your mind about gaining weight. Is being patient a key here? Or results should appear after one week or two?
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  7. #7
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by marvena View Post
    Thank You All. I really appreciate you.

    I've kept note of all your advice. So as everybody mentioned I think gaining some weight should be the first priority/goal. I do my best although I feel it's harder for me to gain weight compared to the majority.
    Any advice here? Hopefully you have a well-known diet plan/article in mind and I can search and learn more about it. I don't know how much and what percentage should be carbs/protein/etc. Please let me know if there is any critical do/don't in your mind about gaining weight. Is being patient a key here? Or results should appear after one week or two?
    This is very common. The reasons are simply that you have a smaller appetite than heavier people do - and you may also have a faster metabolism.

    So you need to consistently eat more than you usually do. You may need to count calories to make sure that you are achieving this day in day out for a sustained period of time. Once you are on track, aim for about 1kg gain per month. Some people go a bit crazy and swing too far the other way. Piling on fat will not help your cause.
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  8. #8
    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by marvena View Post
    Any advice here? Hopefully you have a well-known diet plan/article
    Get plenty of protein. 100-125 grams a day. I spun my wheels for 2 years eating dorm food. Once I moved out I ate like my associates that took special vitamins. That's when I made some serious gains. Some of those associates are dead now, from those special vitamins.

    Those guys would go to a grocery store and order some shaved roast beef and cheese from the deli section. Then they'd go to the bread aisle and get a few slices of bread from a package. Then they'd go to the condiment section and get some mayo and mustard to put on the bread. They'd make sandwiches, eat them, then leave the store.
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  9. #9
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    While I can't relate to a struggle to eat enough, I would recommend foods like pizza, burgers or ice cream to bolster your calories, since (in good varieties) they're mostly comprised of wholesome ingredients and high in protein.

    What are some of your favorite foods, OP?

    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    Get plenty of protein. 100-125 grams a day. I spun my wheels for 2 years eating dorm food. Once I moved out I ate like my associates that took special vitamins. That's when I made some serious gains. Some of those associates are dead now, from those special vitamins.

    Those guys would go to a grocery store and order some shaved roast beef and cheese from the deli section. Then they'd go to the bread aisle and get a few slices of bread from a package. Then they'd go to the condiment section and get some mayo and mustard to put on the bread. They'd make sandwiches, eat them, then leave the store.
    Did they bring their own knifes for the condiments, or was it only the squeeze-serve kind?
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  10. #10
    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Did they bring their own knifes for the condiments, or was it only the squeeze-serve kind?
    This was in 1989, before the squeeze serve existed. They just stuck their fingers in it. A couple of those guys lived about 50 feet away from me in an apartment complex. One guys girlfriend would pass out and we would get to see a show like the 2nd sentence in this paragraph. Those were some times of perverted debauchery.
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  11. #11
    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    OP, you are exactly me 30 years ago. One thing you need to realize (and it took me a really long time to realize this) is that you're probably a chronic undereater, very likely without even noticing it. Take a long hard look at what you're eating and introduce more calories into your daily diet. Things like full fat milk, whole eggs, lots of protein (go for chicken thighs over chicken breast to get more calories), steak, potatoes, pasta/rice (lots of it), etc. Try to get in at least 3 full meals a day, plus some snacks.

    If you can gain about 3 pounds a month while doing some basic strength training a few times a week then you'll be on the right track. You can follow any one of the free programs in the workout program forum, like All Pro, Fierce 5, etc.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.

    Don't be upset with the results you didn't get from the work you did not do.
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