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Yaad Mohammad

How is it that some people get no hypertrophy at all?

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Yaad Mohammad

I just saw this video:

 

 

How is it that he is still that small being able to do that? I have the same thing, I don't increase in mass at all. What sorcery is this?

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Bryan Wheelock

I'd say genetics mostly.

He looks like he's 19. It got easier to put on mass as I got older.

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Daniel Burnham

If you don't eat a lot there is no way you can put on mass.

On the flip side it may make recovery harder too.

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Joshua Naterman

I just saw this video:

 

 

How is it that he is still that small being able to do that? I have the same thing, I don't increase in mass at all. What sorcery is this?

First off, he isn't that small. The upper body is quite well developed. Second, look at those small legs and low body fat... he's not dragging around much of any extraneous weight as far as GST is concerned.

 

So, what governs hypertrophy and relative strength? Well...

 

It's a combination of diet, genes (including epigenetics, which includes the diet, training, and their influence on genetic expression), age (seriously... you are more neurally complex the younger you are, with unused connections being pruned with age. In general, there is a downward trend in average strength from childhood through adulthood and late adulthood/senior citizen time, though it doesn't pick up much steam until the age of 60), and specific training.

 

A quick word about neural complexity: The key is "what we don't use, we lose." If you take advantage of this early on, you can always maintain a higher level of neural complexiity than someone who starts at the age of 40. For those who start later, like the hypothetical 40 year old, know that the more you exercise consistently the higher your levels of neural growth factors will be. Your exercise literally directly facilitates an increase in neural complexity and adaptation. We build this slowly, which is part of why consistency is very important, but we DO build up in this area as well. If you are young, start NOW so that you can turn your potential into abilities that will continue to grow for many years of consistent training! If you are older, start NOW so that you can keep what you still have, in terms of neural complexity, and so that you can also start building new neural connections!

 

Diet:

 

My personal experience with people, including true "hard gainers," is simply that they do not adequately stimulate anabolism with their diet. They basically aren't eating enough, regardless of what they think, AND they aren't getting enough protein spread through the day. I have not seen this approach fail once when implemented directly with my supervision, regardless of age, racial group, or gender. The degree to which the change occurs is variable, for sure. That brings us to genetics:

 

Genes:

 

We're talking about a host of things here. Bone length in the appendages, both total and segmental; muscle attachment sites; myosin heavy chain subtype; possible myosin light chain subtype; alpha-actinin subtype, innate neural drive (somewhat related to age, but also genetics, and diet as well); genetic regulation of muscle growth, etc. Someone who has a more advantageous lever, whether due to raw lever length, muscle attachment site (which changes moment arm), or an interaction between the two factors,  can easily make a 10% difference. That is HUGE, and will absolutely affect the degree of hypertrophy needed to perform given strength skills. Then there's the internal regulation of anabolic and catabolic pathways, and so on. The cool thing about THIS aspect of genes is that it is affected by our diet and exercise habits. That's where epigenetics comes into play: the genes you have may be in a certain state of activity right NOW, but what you do with your life can substantially change that activity.

 

Age: Let's look at prepubescents, adolescents, young adults, and older adults (over 60 years old).

 

Prepubescents:

 

Young children have several advantages over older trainees: They have much lighter bodies, both from smaller dimensions and from less mineralization of bone; they have shorter levers; and finally they DO have more neural interconnections. It is literally easier to learn skills, including coordinated strength, at the neural level. This all means they require much smaller muscles to perform a given strength skill than an adult would. 

 

Disadvantages of being prepubescent: A lack of hormones to drive muscle growth. You can see this in the build of young gymnasts, though to be sure they are very strong and well-defined. There are some kids who are naturally going to have bigger muscles, and this can also be seen when comparing large numbers of kids. I do not know how much of this size difference is due to hormones and how much is controlled by other factors.

 

Adolescents:

 

Disadvantages include levers growing in length quite rapidly, and also a very high rate of metabolic activity. Both of these contribute to a very commonly observed decrease in "strength." The muscles have not gotten weaker, but their mechanical advantage has been reduced. The high rate of metabolic activity means it is very, very hard to give a kid enough food to fuel significant muscle growth during puberty, particularly when they are highly active for 4-5 hours a day AND attend public school, where they can only eat once in an 8 hour period. They just can't get the food down, and calories matter in the growth process. They also, quite often, don't get enough protein throughout the day. 

 

Advantages: IF these potential barriers are overcome, adolescents can experience growth of strength and muscle that is normally only seen with drug usage. This is not easy, and requires a good parental support system as well as a supportive coaching staff; it also requires discipline on the part of the adolescent. The surge of growth factors during this time is instrumental in creating this (often untapped) potential. 

 

Young Adults:

 

Advantages include more hormones than a child, so given the same relative level of macronutrients we will grow faster. We are also in greater control of our diets, so if we choose to put the effort in we can support our own growth quite easily.

 

Disadvantages: Work schedules often create similar situations to the school day that a child experiences, but we are capable of getting snacks when we need to. It is up to us to make sure this is possible, and will require some creativity in many situations. Other disadvantages are the longer levers, greater body mass, and, to a much lesser extent, slightly reduced neural complexity (this is, by far, the least of our worries). 

 

Older adults (over 60):

 

Disadvantages include decreased sensitivity to dietary essential amino acids, so dietary habits that maintained your muscle levels, or allowed growth earlier in life, may not support growth OR maintenance at this stage in life; If you have not done much up to this point, you will notice that you do not have the same degree of control over your body that you did when you were young. That is because your body has already started pruning unused motor nerves and type II fibers, and reorganizing motor groups. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the very few who have maintained a high degree of athleticism throughout life. The more you have used your body for a wide variety of skills requiring strength, variable speed control, and coordination the more neural complexity you will have. 

 

The good news: You can still make gains. You can gain muscle at more or less exactly the same rate as when you were in your 20's, but your diet will need to include servings of 20-30g protein at least 3x per day. You do not respond well to low doses of protein anymore, which is part of why you may think you just can't make gains like you used to. Now you know how to change your situation. You can also still make significant gains in terms of neural complexity and control... your body will slowly re-organize itself and learn to better use the neural structures it still maintains, and will slowly make new ones. This second process is quite slow, so be patient once your initial gains seem to have slowed down.

 

Finally, specific training:

 

You will always need much more muscle mass to do something 10 times than you will to do the same thing 3 times. That's because of the relative rates of fatigue in various motor groups, and the concept of orderly recruitment. If you can only perform 3 reps of something, you're using nearly all of the mass in the working muscles. The higher end motor groups fatigue quite rapidly, and once they are gone you no longer have enough unfatigued muscle mass to produce the force necessary to perform the exercise or skill, and you fail. If you can do something 10 times, it simply means that you are not using your full muscle mass on each rep, which in turn means that as a little bit fatigues, there's a fresh bit to jump in and take over: Think of it like a relief pitcher in baseball, or a partner in tag-team wrestling. Once you fatigue enough muscle mass to where you no longer have enough to produce sufficient force to power the movement, you will fail.

 

That is part of why higher reps, WITH A GIVEN RESISTANCE, will produce more muscle mass... assuming that sufficient dietary support is already in place for growth. 

 

With lower reps, you are working with a higher percentage of your muscle mass, and a side effect of this is that you are also working much closer to the absolute tolerance of the working tissues. As you do this, your body will literally readjust its interpretation of the signals it gets from muscle spindles and golgi tendon fibers, which is a technical way of saying that your body is re-tuning its safety reflexes to allow you to use a larger percentage of its innate force production capacity. 

 

If you are working with a higher % of your maximum force capacity, you will be conditioning those safety reflexes to allow for a greater degree of force production from the same muscle mass. This is a major reason why continued, patient low rep training will lead to greater relative strength than a higher repetition program, and you can see this reflected in the Foundation programming as we transition to more and more difficult progressions. First we build the structure, then we learn to use it to its full potential, step by step.

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Yaad Mohammad

If you don't eat a lot there is no way you can put on mass.

On the flip side it may make recovery harder too.

I've actually counted the amounts of calories I eat and protein. I eat at average around 3000 calories a day with around 130 grams of protein. I weight 53 kg and and 170 cm, I'm pretty sure I eat more than enough.

 

First off, he isn't that small. The upper body is quite well developed. Second, look at those small legs and low body fat... he's not dragging around much of any extraneous weight as far as GST is concerned.

 

So, what governs hypertrophy and relative strength? Well...

 

It's a combination of diet, genes (including epigenetics, which includes the diet, training, and their influence on genetic expression), age (seriously... you are more neurally complex the younger you are, with unused connections being pruned with age. In general, there is a downward trend in average strength from childhood through adulthood and late adulthood/senior citizen time, though it doesn't pick up much steam until the age of 60), and specific training.

 

A quick word about neural complexity: The key is "what we don't use, we lose." If you take advantage of this early on, you can always maintain a higher level of neural complexiity than someone who starts at the age of 40. For those who start later, like the hypothetical 40 year old, know that the more you exercise consistently the higher your levels of neural growth factors will be. Your exercise literally directly facilitates an increase in neural complexity and adaptation. We build this slowly, which is part of why consistency is very important, but we DO build up in this area as well. If you are young, start NOW so that you can turn your potential into abilities that will continue to grow for many years of consistent training! If you are older, start NOW so that you can keep what you still have, in terms of neural complexity, and so that you can also start building new neural connections!

 

Diet:

 

My personal experience with people, including true "hard gainers," is simply that they do not adequately stimulate anabolism with their diet. They basically aren't eating enough, regardless of what they think, AND they aren't getting enough protein spread through the day. I have not seen this approach fail once when implemented directly with my supervision, regardless of age, racial group, or gender. The degree to which the change occurs is variable, for sure. That brings us to genetics:

 

Genes:

 

We're talking about a host of things here. Bone length in the appendages, both total and segmental; muscle attachment sites; myosin heavy chain subtype; possible myosin light chain subtype; alpha-actinin subtype, innate neural drive (somewhat related to age, but also genetics, and diet as well); genetic regulation of muscle growth, etc. Someone who has a more advantageous lever, whether due to raw lever length, muscle attachment site (which changes moment arm), or an interaction between the two factors,  can easily make a 10% difference. That is HUGE, and will absolutely affect the degree of hypertrophy needed to perform given strength skills. Then there's the internal regulation of anabolic and catabolic pathways, and so on. The cool thing about THIS aspect of genes is that it is affected by our diet and exercise habits. That's where epigenetics comes into play: the genes you have may be in a certain state of activity right NOW, but what you do with your life can substantially change that activity.

 

Age: Let's look at prepubescents, adolescents, young adults, and older adults (over 60 years old).

 

Prepubescents:

 

Young children have several advantages over older trainees: They have much lighter bodies, both from smaller dimensions and from less mineralization of bone; they have shorter levers; and finally they DO have more neural interconnections. It is literally easier to learn skills, including coordinated strength, at the neural level. This all means they require much smaller muscles to perform a given strength skill than an adult would. 

 

Disadvantages of being prepubescent: A lack of hormones to drive muscle growth. You can see this in the build of young gymnasts, though to be sure they are very strong and well-defined. There are some kids who are naturally going to have bigger muscles, and this can also be seen when comparing large numbers of kids. I do not know how much of this size difference is due to hormones and how much is controlled by other factors.

 

Adolescents:

 

Disadvantages include levers growing in length quite rapidly, and also a very high rate of metabolic activity. Both of these contribute to a very commonly observed decrease in "strength." The muscles have not gotten weaker, but their mechanical advantage has been reduced. The high rate of metabolic activity means it is very, very hard to give a kid enough food to fuel significant muscle growth during puberty, particularly when they are highly active for 4-5 hours a day AND attend public school, where they can only eat once in an 8 hour period. They just can't get the food down, and calories matter in the growth process. They also, quite often, don't get enough protein throughout the day. 

 

Advantages: IF these potential barriers are overcome, adolescents can experience growth of strength and muscle that is normally only seen with drug usage. This is not easy, and requires a good parental support system as well as a supportive coaching staff; it also requires discipline on the part of the adolescent. The surge of growth factors during this time is instrumental in creating this (often untapped) potential. 

 

Young Adults:

 

Advantages include more hormones than a child, so given the same relative level of macronutrients we will grow faster. We are also in greater control of our diets, so if we choose to put the effort in we can support our own growth quite easily.

 

Disadvantages: Work schedules often create similar situations to the school day that a child experiences, but we are capable of getting snacks when we need to. It is up to us to make sure this is possible, and will require some creativity in many situations. Other disadvantages are the longer levers, greater body mass, and, to a much lesser extent, slightly reduced neural complexity (this is, by far, the least of our worries). 

 

Older adults (over 60):

 

Disadvantages include decreased sensitivity to dietary essential amino acids, so dietary habits that maintained your muscle levels, or allowed growth earlier in life, may not support growth OR maintenance at this stage in life; If you have not done much up to this point, you will notice that you do not have the same degree of control over your body that you did when you were young. That is because your body has already started pruning unused motor nerves and type II fibers, and reorganizing motor groups. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the very few who have maintained a high degree of athleticism throughout life. The more you have used your body for a wide variety of skills requiring strength, variable speed control, and coordination the more neural complexity you will have. 

 

The good news: You can still make gains. You can gain muscle at more or less exactly the same rate as when you were in your 20's, but your diet will need to include servings of 20-30g protein at least 3x per day. You do not respond well to low doses of protein anymore, which is part of why you may think you just can't make gains like you used to. Now you know how to change your situation. You can also still make significant gains in terms of neural complexity and control... your body will slowly re-organize itself and learn to better use the neural structures it still maintains, and will slowly make new ones. This second process is quite slow, so be patient once your initial gains seem to have slowed down.

 

Finally, specific training:

 

You will always need much more muscle mass to do something 10 times than you will to do the same thing 3 times. That's because of the relative rates of fatigue in various motor groups, and the concept of orderly recruitment. If you can only perform 3 reps of something, you're using nearly all of the mass in the working muscles. The higher end motor groups fatigue quite rapidly, and once they are gone you no longer have enough unfatigued muscle mass to produce the force necessary to perform the exercise or skill, and you fail. If you can do something 10 times, it simply means that you are not using your full muscle mass on each rep, which in turn means that as a little bit fatigues, there's a fresh bit to jump in and take over: Think of it like a relief pitcher in baseball, or a partner in tag-team wrestling. Once you fatigue enough muscle mass to where you no longer have enough to produce sufficient force to power the movement, you will fail.

 

That is part of why higher reps, WITH A GIVEN RESISTANCE, will produce more muscle mass... assuming that sufficient dietary support is already in place for growth. 

 

With lower reps, you are working with a higher percentage of your muscle mass, and a side effect of this is that you are also working much closer to the absolute tolerance of the working tissues. As you do this, your body will literally readjust its interpretation of the signals it gets from muscle spindles and golgi tendon fibers, which is a technical way of saying that your body is re-tuning its safety reflexes to allow you to use a larger percentage of its innate force production capacity. 

 

If you are working with a higher % of your maximum force capacity, you will be conditioning those safety reflexes to allow for a greater degree of force production from the same muscle mass. This is a major reason why continued, patient low rep training will lead to greater relative strength than a higher repetition program, and you can see this reflected in the Foundation programming as we transition to more and more difficult progressions. First we build the structure, then we learn to use it to its full potential, step by step.

Amazing post Joshua, I'll have to read this multiple times to let it sink in!

 

Edit:

Okay I read it again and I can see why I'm not increasing in size. My main problem lies in specific training. I always do real small reps. My goal is to achieve a 10 sec full planche and from there on move on 20 sec etc. At the moment I have a 2 sec full planche, now my question is. Will I gain muscle mass trying to achieve this? I mean, 20 sec is planche endurance right?

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Aaro Helander

Would it be true in most cases that taller and naturally heavier (long arms included etc.) individuals tend to get more muscle mass from gymnastic training due to lower mechanical advantages? In my experience, learning the proper handstand posture, presses and handstand pushups have a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio regarding mass gains.

 

https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/uploads/gallery/album_65/gallery_5498_65_135753.jpg

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Fred Mak

joshua naterman,

 

are you a gymnastics coach?  you seem to have a lot of knowledge about this stuff.

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Fred Mak

yaad mohammad,  did you start gymnastics as a small child?  

 

because if that is the case, like joshua naterman said, your body might have enough neural recruitment that your body does not require more muscle mass to pull off the skills that you have been doing.

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Yaad Mohammad

I started at the age of 14, so it makes sense, but this brings up the question about why olympic gymnasts are so big. They start at the each of 4-5, so what's up with that?

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Briac Roquet

I think this leads back to this part 'You will always need much more muscle mass to do something 10 times than you will to do the same thing 3 times... etc'

Olympic gymnasts pretty much train all the time so I imagine they'd need quite a bit of that mass to perform the number of reps of whatever they do in their training sessions.

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FREDERIC DUPONT

Would it be true in most cases that taller and naturally heavier (long arms included etc.) individuals tend to get more muscle mass from gymnastic training due to lower mechanical advantages? In my experience, learning the proper handstand posture, presses and handstand pushups have a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio regarding mass gains.

 

https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/uploads/gallery/album_65/gallery_5498_65_135753.jpg

 

If this is the usual 3ftx8ft (90cm x 250cm) stall bar, you are really HUGE Helander! :P

 

gallery_5498_65_135753.jpg

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Joshua Naterman

I started at the age of 14, so it makes sense, but this brings up the question about why olympic gymnasts are so big. They start at the each of 4-5, so what's up with that?

They don't remain 4-5 years old, dude. Come on. Look at the age of the competitors. They are all past puberty, more or less finished growing in height. That leaves more net energy for muscle growth.

 

Additionally, they continue working higher levels of strength, and they are working out with a fairly high volume of activity 5-6 days per week. Not only does this allow them to maintain a very low body fat %, it also allows them to hang on to their muscle. They are using it every day, but never to failure.

 

Finally, they aren't giants! Even Brandon Wynn is only 5'7, 163 lbs. He's not exactly pushing the limits of the human frame, even though it looks like it. At this size, and 5% body fat, he'd only have a FFMI of 24.75, far far away from natural limits of around 26. If he was at his limit, he'd weigh 171-172 lbs at the same 5% fat. That would be a massive difference, both functionally and visibly, and based on what he's already doing he doesn't need the extra muscle so his body probably won't build it.

 

Brandon easily has the highest FFMI of any gymnast I am aware of, even Chen Yibing was only around 23 to 23.5. As you can see, more muscle doesn't guarantee you'll be a better gymnast.

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Aaro Helander
If this is the usual 3ftx8ft (90cm x 250cm) stall bar, you are really HUGE Helander! 

I'm 185cm (6ft1) tall and about 86 kg at the moment  :P.

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Coach Sommer

The individual in the video possesses relatively short muscle bellies with long tendons. This particular body type tends to be very lean, compact and incredibly strong.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Yaad Mohammad

They don't remain 4-5 years old, dude. Come on. Look at the age of the competitors. They are all past puberty, more or less finished growing in height. That leaves more net energy for muscle growth.

 

Additionally, they continue working higher levels of strength, and they are working out with a fairly high volume of activity 5-6 days per week. Not only does this allow them to maintain a very low body fat %, it also allows them to hang on to their muscle. They are using it every day, but never to failure.

 

Finally, they aren't giants! Even Brandon Wynn is only 5'7, 163 lbs. He's not exactly pushing the limits of the human frame, even though it looks like it. At this size, and 5% body fat, he'd only have a FFMI of 24.75, far far away from natural limits of around 26. If he was at his limit, he'd weigh 171-172 lbs at the same 5% fat. That would be a massive difference, both functionally and visibly, and based on what he's already doing he doesn't need the extra muscle so his body probably won't build it.

 

Brandon easily has the highest FFMI of any gymnast I am aware of, even Chen Yibing was only around 23 to 23.5. As you can see, more muscle doesn't guarantee you'll be a better gymnast.

I didn't even know there was a succesful ring gymnast at my height! More motivation! Anyway, I've stopped growing for 2 years now and I'm still not gaining any mass, will it come over time?

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Keilani Gutierrez

I didn't even know there was a succesful ring gymnast at my height! More motivation! Anyway, I've stopped growing for 2 years now and I'm still not gaining any mass, will it come over time?

I "grew" an inch when I was hanging off my rings 3 times a week before Foundation was released and that was with bad posture. 

 

perhaps once i have a better line and get back on the rings, I'll be back to 5'8 instead of 5'7 :P hahaha

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Joel Tomkins

He looks (relatively) skinny when his arms are stretched out sure, but at 0:15, before he hops on the rings, he doesn't look skinny at all. I can imagine this is how I would look at 6'2 with 5-10kg more muscle mass. And I'd be more than happy to look like that!

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Joel Tomkins

I love all the times people have tried to arm wrestle me thinking 'look how skinny that arm is' and then been surprised when I beat them. I always tell those people that if I was a foot shorter with the same muscle mass they wouldn't look at me and think 'that guy is weak!'.

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Vincent Stoyas

I love all the times people have tried to arm wrestle me thinking 'look how skinny that arm is' and then been surprised when I beat them. I always tell those people that if I was a foot shorter with the same muscle mass they wouldn't look at me and think 'that guy is weak!'.

I was doing jiu jitsu for a little while and the professor would always say, "Watch out for this guy, he doesn't look like much, but don't be deceived!" I never knew if I should take that negatively or not.

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Joel Tomkins

I was doing jiu jitsu for a little while and the professor would always say, "Watch out for this guy, he doesn't look like much, but don't be deceived!" I never knew if I should take that negatively or not.

hahaha yeah I know the feeling!

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Keilani Gutierrez

hahaha yeah I know the feeling!

i don't think many have been exposed to GST trained martial artists :P

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Jon Douglas

i don't think many have been exposed to GST trained martial artists :P

XD

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Keilani Gutierrez

XD

.....#walksaway

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Fred Mak

yaad,

 

you mentioned that you haven't grown in 2 years.  my response is that if you keep on doing what you've always been doing, you're going to get what you've always gotten.

 

if you want to bulk up, you have to change something, whether that be your exercise program, your diet, or your sleep.

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Yaad Mohammad

yaad,

 

you mentioned that you haven't grown in 2 years.  my response is that if you keep on doing what you've always been doing, you're going to get what you've always gotten.

 

if you want to bulk up, you have to change something, whether that be your exercise program, your diet, or your sleep.

My goal isn't to bulk up, I just wondered if it would ever happen. I mean at some point I just have to increase in muscle mass. Right now, I'm slowly moving on to endurance. First I want a full planche on rings, and then I will try to do ring routines with planches and iron crosses in it. Of course, this is exactly what I've always been doing, increase in level, but these 2 years I've only gained 3 kg muscle. Sounds so... weird and absurd, from not being able to do good push-ups, to a full planche, gaining only 3 kg muscle...

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