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35 Y/O Beginner Need Guidance

35 yrs old, 5’11, 168 lbs
I have always been skinny, over the last 4 yrs I went up to 190 lbs skinny fat - no muscle - due to sedentary lifestyle. I used cardio/diet to go down to 160 lbs over 5 months.

Started weight training 10 weeks ago with ICF 5x5 and am now at 168 lbs.
I know 10 weeks is nothing but just want to know if I should keep going this way or make changes.

All these compound lifts are 5x5 (video links at the bottom)

Barbell Back Squat => 95 lbs progressed to 195 lbs
Trap Bar Deadlift => 145 lbs progressed to 235 lbs
Barbell Bent Over Row => 60 lbs progressed to 135 lbs
Barbell Bench Press => 80 lbs progressed to 125 lbs
Barbell Standing Overhead Press => 60 lbs progressed to 85 lbs

Once a week on an off day, I test my chinup/pullup/pushup capability.
I can finally now do 3 consecutive chin-ups (can do 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between) but still cant do a single pull-up. I can now also do 20 consecutive pushups and 15 consecutive diamond pushups.

I will be resetting Squat to 185lb and Deadlift to 225lb next workout as I tweaked my lower back a little due to rounding - form needs work.

I am serious about changing my lifestyle - go to gym 3 times / week and now that the weights are heavy enough for me, it takes 2 hours each workout with warm up/down.
I chose ICF over SS/SL as it has the additional accessory work for Biceps/Triceps/Abs and I have made some progress on those isolation stuff as well.

Bench Press and Over Head Press are my weakest lifts and progress has been real slow. its kinda stalled now. Also moving forward I am not sure if I can keep up progression on Squat/Deadlift/BOR with good form.

I am eating around 2300 to 2500 calories daily with 0.8g protien per bodyweight, the rest I am not micro managing too much, but good carbs / veggies and a 120 calorie frozen yogurt / ice cream cuz I have a fuckin sweet tooth.

I think my body looks a little better, fuller but waist has also increased by half inch. 32.5 now. So a little upset that a mere 2400 calorie avg is giving me about a pound/week increase and lifts are still at novice level. I dont want to be adding 10 lbs every 3 months, unless it comes with good proportion lean mass that I can then cut to.

I just wanted to re-evaluate at 12 weeks. So with all this info, do I keep going or is my 6 hours/week worth some changes in programming or a different program.

Squat video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdQIH5SPYRY

Deadlift video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYpKHGenpsw

Good progress, if stalling move on now to Texas method or something like this…

also watch the ice cream/sweet tooth-will creep upon your waistline if over 30

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Keep in mind that I’m no expert but I watched both of your videos and here are some suggestions I have.

Squat: Keep tighter, it seems to me that you could use some of @Alpha’s tips.

Deadlift: Stop yanking on the bar so much, that’s probably how you ended up tweaking your lower back. The breathing video would help in this case too.

Oh and awesome, [quote=“danglingneuron, post:1, topic:216892”]
I am serious about changing my lifestyle

you’re making a commitment you won’t regret. Keep up the good work.

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So after 14 weeks of training, I am now at

Male 35 yrs old, 166 lbs, 5’11

Doing Full Body 3 times/week - compound barbell with some isolation

Back Squat 202 lbs for 3x5
Conventional Deadlift 245 lbs for 1x5
Flat Bench Press 130 lbs for 3x5
Standing Overhead Press 90 lbs for 3x5
Bent Over Row 130 lbs for 3x5
Neutral Grip Chinups BW for 3x4

I did hydrostatic body composition test and came out to be 15.2% BF. I read, I need to be around 10-12%BF for a good clean bulk (and only go up to 15%BF and start cut again) so I have been on a slight deficit and I have lost 2.8 lbs over past 3 weeks. I still have lots of softness around/under the belly button even though I look rather skinny. My TDEE is estimated at 2100 cals and I do avg around 1600 cals/day with 1g protien/lb.

I have a few issues right now and need some advice:

  1. My lifts are pretty much stalling now… with the bench press being the weakest in comparison to others. Maybe the slight deficit is to blame? my newbie plan is to cut 4 more weeks and go down to 158 lbs. Am I wasting my beginner gains by being in deficit? or should I just keep cutting to either be able to do 8 chins or see some abs before I start bulk again.

  2. I also notice that my left side (bicep/forearm/back/wing/calf) is weaker and smaller in size and can be causing the form breakdown and stalls especially evident in bench press, overhead press and bent over row (left side gives up first and right takes over to go through last reps). In bent over row its evident that the barbell is slightly uneven/skewed when moving up and down, the shoulders move/position slightly differently.
    Should I completely replace barbell work with dumbbell alternatives for a couple months to bring up left side up to speed? I figure this should be a common issue for beginners as everyone untrained is one-side dominant through out their lives. Still none of these beginner barbell dominant programs make mention or recommendation for it.

  3. My goal is not power lifting or competition/sport. I want to be in good shape aesthetically and be healthy; strength is good of course. I started with the beginner strength program because i was shitty weak with just fat. Now I probably have average-joe strength (minus the weak bench press). Should I be considering a “body building” type routine when I start bulking? and what would that routine be?

you have absolutely no business cutting. If you try and cut weight you’ll just be a skeleton with internal organs poking out. You are skinny. Skinny people should not cut.

Try and get out of the bulk/cut mindset and concentrate on eating good, nutritious foods. Eat 1g of protein per lb of your bodyweight; get all your carbs from rice and potatoes; get all your fats from animals, olives, nuts or avocados; lift weights 3-4 times a week and learn to enjoy the journey because this shit takes time


@Yogi1 Thank you for the response. I actually was skinny fat with 194 lbs and just dieted / cardio myself down to 160 lbs then realized I should have lifted weights along with it. I dont want to have the belly fat again. My diet is 90% clean. I do eat a 120 calorie frozen strawberry greek yogurt bar daily (right after gym) because eating chicken breasts / turkey / salmon with steamed broccolli, brown rice, sweet potato and egg whites daily gets really really boring.

so you are recommending doing maintenance calories and being patient? Any comments on the other questions?

Also what you probably dont see in the picture is that I have a soft belly. Skinfold on thigh and belly is 17mm and 12mm on the pec. I look skinny because I dont have muscle.

Honestly, I’d forget calories at this stage. In my opinion, counting calories either for bulking or cutting purposes is only necessary once you’ve been at this a while. Beginner-types such as yourself don’t need anything so complex.

If you eat 4 meals a day using the guidelines I gave you, you’ll be lean, muscular and healthy and you’ll look great.[quote=“danglingneuron, post:6, topic:216892”]
I look skinny because I dont have muscle.

well yeah, obviously! Seriously, stop thinking about your bodyfat. It is low. You have low bodyfat, and low muscle. Add muscle; keep bodyfat low.[quote=“danglingneuron, post:6, topic:216892”]
chicken breasts / turkey / salmon with steamed broccolli, brown rice, sweet potato and egg whites daily gets really really boring.

jesus, this sounds like a fate worse than death. You are letting your fear of fat gain hold you back from eating in such a way as to add muscle. Get a steak in ya!


It gets confusing when you keep reading articles every night :slight_smile:

so should I not worry about the left side imbalance either and just stick with barbell training?

do a bit of everything, mate. Dumbells, barbells, cables, machines…

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Up your calories to maintenace even a slight surplus and train harder…

(pretty much impossible to get fat on this routine)

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Started eating maintenance, slight increase in lifts felt amazing… maybe its psychological… maybe a lucky rebound :slight_smile: but will see… for now the slight disappointment that had started to creep in is gone… @Yogi1 Also the bison steak felt heavenly!

I’m glad you ate a steak! But I still think you’re focussing too much on calories.

Try the Precision Nutrition way of eating:

-Deck of cards sized serving of protein
-2 cupped handfuls of carbs
-2 fist-sized portions of vegetables
-1 thumb sized serving of fats (omit this is you’ve cooked in a lot of oil or are eating a fatty protein source

Eating like that 4 times a day will be much more satisfying than thinking about calories the whole time, and you’ll get in the habit of eating good, big, healthy, muscle-building meals. If you choose “clean” foods I guarantee you’ll not get fat.


After about 7 months of training (wasted 3-4 weeks in between); here are my stats:
M, 5’11, 169lbs

  1. Barbell Back Squat: 215lbs - 3x8
  2. Conventional Deadlift: 240lbs - 3x8
  3. Barbell Flat Bench Press: 142lbs - 3x8
  4. Barbell Bent Over Row: 130 lbs - 3x8

Good for you, man.

Word word word word word word word word word word word

Good that your lifts have gone up.

Not to be a jerk, buttt… 1lb more in bodyweight after 7 months !??

Has your waist/fat levels gone down drastically at least?


I was a skinnyfat 195lbs last year that cardioed down to 160 lbs, no lifting.

When I started lifting 7 months ago, I was 160 lbs, went up to 168lbs in first 6 weeks then actually went down to 164 lbs (was foolishly cutting) now back up to 170 lbs. but yes, have made progress in lifts.
I definitely see difference in the way I look… but yes I could have done better :slight_smile: My target is to go to 185 lbs as lean as possible over the next year.
I am currently following the 4-day lyle mcdonalds generic bulking routine,

If you are following Lyle for workouts, read his nutrition books.

You can’t go wrong

And stop saying skinny fat. Thstbisvwhat out of shape people say to make themselves feel better.

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Do this instead, similar but better…

danglingneuron - you are not eating anywhere near enough food. if you’re going to gain weight, you need to eat a LOT of calories and train heavy (3x8 isn’t gonna get it done - doubles, triples and fives.) take more days off between sessions. rest far more often than you are.

i watched your lifts. big breath in and hold it. stay tight when lifting. no relaxing of the muscles. everything under tension all the time.

on this site, read Dan John’s “The Big Five of Getting Big”.

So had a new baby 11 months ago and left gym at OK lifting stats for beginner. Diet went to shit and added 10 pounds of flab :slight_smile:

Started again August 1st, 2017.
Male, 36 yrs, 5’11’’, 180 lbs

Current lifts for 3 day/week FBW - stronglifts:

  1. Squat: 170 lbs 5x5 (last year best 225 lbs 3x5)
  2. Deadlift: 185 lbs 1x5 (last year best 260 lbs 1x5)
  3. Bent Over Row: 105 lbs 5x5 (last year best 140 lbs 3x5)
  4. Bench Press: 110 lbs 5x5 (last year best 145 lbs 3x5)
  5. Over Head press: 75 lbs 5x5 (last year best 95 lbs 3x5)

Focusing on form this time around as have some lost experience under the belt :slight_smile:
Now when I look at my pics posted above - everyone here was so right - I needed to just clean bulk and not worry about adding fat lol. Hopefully this time around I dont make the same mistakes.

Plan is to get to my previous lifts in 3 months of strength training. And then see what would work best moving forward.

Feeeels so good to be back :slight_smile: I have been literally dreaming of gym and weight training over the long lay off.

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