From petite to strong ~ just can't bulk up

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    From petite to strong ~ just can't bulk up


    I'ts been quite a while since I've been on darebee and I'm trying my best to get back to good health.

    Some Info beforehand:

    I used to do a lot more sport when I was younger and even went to the gym, but I never ever reached any significant muscle growth. When I was in the gym I tried to do full body muscle growth/strength workouts, but after a year I had quit. Even though I did everything my trainer wanted me to do, I felt no progress in my body.

    Now I'm full-time working in a diy/hardware store which is also physically demanding, aside from the mental torture of some customers. I struggle with a lot of strength related work so my goal is to finally bulk up and get my stuff done, to be at 100% workforce as a small petite woman in a workplace full of big strong men.

    Situation right now:

    Since I hadn't done any significant sport in the last 3-4 years, I started with the program named "Foundation" (I reached day 19 as of today). I do some days as Level 1, some as Level 2, mostly depending if it is upper body or lower body workouts. E.g. day 18 I had my limit at Level 1 when I did the shoulder workouts, as in, the levels of pain became very noticable.
    I'm doing my workouts mostly between 19 and 22 o'clock and eat about half and hour afterwards atleast something small.

    When I'm done with the program, I really really want to level up. I don't want to be stuck with pumping dumbells every 2 days and seeing no results like back at the gym.
    I finally want results, I finally want to gain muscle and be stronger.

    So my question to the more advanced and experienced people here: what should or could I do as the best next workout? Another 30 day programm or a mix of the single workouts? Anything else I need to do?

    P.S. The foundation program already helped me a lot. I feel much more comfortable in my body, my backpain and neckpain completely disappeared, too. I also have far less moments of random fatique.
    P.S.S Food related - I'm a heavy picky eater and on the spectrum. I can't eat things with specific textures. I do like to eat meat (low fat stuff though), milk and scrambled eggs. I do like to eat bananas, paprika and peas. I'm allergic to some food like apples and some nuts. I am aware that the diet makes a lot of differences in workout success and I'm trying my best to eat enough of everything.

    It sounds like food is your key. Make sure you are getting enough fats (I'm a picky fat eater as well so I have to watch it or I'll under eat my fats by like half), then protein (should be pretty easy if you like lean meat and milk), then fill in the rest with carbs or whatever. You would probably also benefit from tracking your calories for a little while to make sure you are eating enough overall. Once the body is fed the muscles will develop.

    Give this time and find workouts you like. The 30 day programs on here have a lot of variety, are well thought out, and are easy to follow if you want to do a few more of those. Maybe trade in and out between the strength and cardio ones. The best workout is one you enjoy.


      I've also thought about diet immediately. Watching your protein intake could be a good idea (if you have no problems with the texture, I can recommend Quark or Magerquark. Maybe as a shake with milk. It's an excellent source of protein in ratio the the calories and price). If you want to track your calories (and macros) and seeing that you're living in Germany (and probably speaking German) I can recommend for that. It helps me immensely right now.

      Another thing: How's your sleep? Do you get a good night's sleep? AFAIK that could be another issue.


        @Azercord Well I can't eat fatty meat (e.g. with literal fat slices through it), as the texture literally makes me puke. Another example is that the only type of cheese I eat is the one on pizza. My whole diet is pretty low fat I guess. Is their any diary product or meat product that I should specifically try?

        I used to track calories through a diary because I had to be checked on that by a nutritionist (I used to be a bit underweight for a long time). It turned out that I'm overeating by roughly 500-700 calories and I'm loosing weight still. I went to an endocrinologist for about 6 years for check ups on my thyroid, adrenal cortex and any other hormone related stuff that can cause weight loss and it all was consistently negative. So to this day I don't know why I loose weight even when I'm overeating.
        For my body size and type I do eat a lot (160cm /50kg), for meals I can take in as much as a male coworker (185cm~/ 110+kg). Most people just say that I should be happy that I can eat as much as I want and anything I want without gaining a single kilo, but obviously it doesn't help a lot here.

        I enjoy the foundation program a lot. As written above it helped me feel more comfortable in my body (phyiscally) and reduced most (stress related?) pain. I don't know which program I will do next but my focus is definitively on upper body.

        I absolutely hate quark and anything related, sadly.
        I sleep very well and I also like to sleep. On sundays I do a nap midday. Usually I go to bed around 22-23 o clock and wake up around 6 and I sleep through without problems, never had any.

        Edit: forgot to thank for your replies !


          Can you eat fish? Mackerel or salmon are excellent sources of protein and fat. You could also try going GOMAD (Gallon of milk a day). What about peanutbutter? I've read that you are allergic to some nuts (well, peanuts technically aren't nuts, but you probably know what I mean).
          Now this might be absolute broscience, but maybe your body has trouble utilising certain things, like protein? I'm just throwing ideas out there, thyroid would be another guess, but you've already got that checked.


            The only fish I enjoyed eating was swordfish at the ostsee - can't buy that here and its also pretty expensive (39-45€ per kg!!)
            Gallon of milk could be possible, I like drinking milk and I have the habit of drinking 1 cup in the morning before anything else. But I've read that there is ahigher risk of inflammation?

            Peanutbutter is sadly a no-no.

            I would think that I badly process oil based on my "loo leavings" after I eat sauces with more oil in it. Never had any symptoms regarding bad protein processing.


              As everyone else has already mentioned, food is the key here. It's hard to know exactly what you need, you mention eating a lot, but without actual numbers, it's hard to know how much is a lot. Also it's not just about the raw number of calories you eat it's also about what those calories are made of.


                Hm well I would say 2 sandwiches + 1 cup of milk or like 3-4 eggs (as in scrambled eggs) in the morning,
                lunch usually a full meal like spaghetti, self-made pizza, lots of pasta or rice with chicken stuff , hard to measure that though
                evening usually the same as morning minus the milk
                inbetween I eat bananas or paprikas


                  While finding the right diet for you I would continue with bodyweight training with a 30 day program that inspires you, learning to use your whole body in a harmonious way is a great thing


                    so far I picked up express tone and 30 days of gravity as potentional next programs, are they suitable?


                      BlueB ... everyone here seems interested in helping you gain weight - including you - yet the problem you specify is weakness.
                      And you seem to be getting better - re: weakness - with just the Foundation Program. A program designed more to evaluate and balance than to buff you up.
                      So, while it isn't doing much - if anything - to bulk you up, it is certainly helping!
                      Suggestion: continue the Program, don't worry much about the 'Level', then repeat it - second time through shooting for Level III every day.
                      When done with round 2, find a Strength-related Program - the IRONBORN Program, if you have dumbbells, or the 30 Days of Gravity Program, if not.
                      There are others that should help, but IRONBORN allows you to work with different size weights so you can go through first time with (say) 4kg weights, next time with 6kg, again at 8kg, etc, until you run out of 'bell sizes.
                      Without - technically - duplicating your efforts. An important concept !
                      There are - currently - nine Programs designed to boost your Strength.
                      Of the thirty+ Programs available, most will help you with that, but those 9 are the most focused on it. Best of luck.


                        thank you for your feedback!
                        I started the foundation program with the idea of coming back to sport, so yeah no bulking there
                        I currently aim to do level 2 which I barely do. It is definitely helping me to get my general fitness up.
                        Level 3 is pretty far away for what is possible in my case, so I don't know if a second run for only Level 3 is useful?

                        I do have one dumbell, but I will never be able to lift 4kg twice! I can try to do just the stick without the weights, since that is already pretty heavy for me!

                        I would love to advance right after foundation is finished (11 days to go). I have set my goal to be buffer by october actually.


                          BlueB They are both demanding programs, perhaps it would be better to choose only one but it is only my opinion


                            Maybe the next step after Foundation could be Zero Hero, Totals or, if you feel up to it, Athena's Playbook. Express Tone is also a good idea, because you don't have to lift heavy. Btw, if you're looking for upper body strength, I can recommend the Upperbody Light Challenge. I think I've already heard from around six or seven other Bees that they had good results after finishing the 30 days. It looks deceptively easy, but gets a bit brutal at the end (but still very doable).


                              You can add an upperbody strength workout once or twice a week to your routine. Search the database and click difficulty 1 or 2 for now. You might find it fitting yourself even better.

                              ​​I agree with Nihopaloa on the Upperbody Light challenge. I imagine that you need to raise your arms up a lot to move or hold objects for your job, and your shoulders can be crying soon (that's me.) Doing exercises like those in the challenge will improve your shoulder endurance, which can really help.

                              Weight doesn't have to be dumbbells. I have a pair of adjustable ankle weights which I can change with 2lbs increments, and I am using them for my lowerbody strength training now (holding in my hands), although I also have a pair of 2kg dumbbells.

                              Another thing you can do to have an easier time for your job is technique. Learn how to use your lowerbody to help yourself. For example take a squat stance or wider and bend your knees when you want to pick heavy things up from the ground, and then just complete that squat. Use your hips to help getting your torso back up after you bent down. Thing like that. I don't have much upperbody strength either. Although I will still need it for labor but engaging my legs can help half of the work. Training your lower back will help, too.