T Nation

7 Months into Lifting, Advice?


Been following this thread ( http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_bigger_stronger_leaner/anyone_willing_to_coach_me?id=5623657&pageNo=0 ) between RDS and Stinger, and have adopted the original routine RDS offered to Stinger. I had originally posted this question there, but it was suggested I start a new thread.

I have basically copy-pasted my question below (so some of my statements may seem out of context, but I am happy to clarify whatever is needed for those not familiar with the above thread), and would love to get some perspective from this forum as I really don't have any real-life role models to go over my plan with. I'm from a very lazy and over-weight family, and trying to get out of that trend.

Im 28, 64, 192-ish pounds. I had never lifted before October, and did not put on any substantial muscle during the years before that. Played ice hockey in college, hurt my hip/low back (all soft tissue stuff due to weak muscle support around my pelvic cradle. Had lots of pelvic tilt, leading to sciatica and back spasms), have had a terrible diet my whole life (fast food), and struggled through the back pain for years. A year and a couple months ago, I started a P90X bootcamp style workout, and radically changed my diet. Went from about 210 to 178 in an attempt to shed off the body fat that had been accumulating.

Ended up looking much too thin due to a lack of muscle, so in October (after 7-9 months of cutting), I started lifting. Got comfy in the gym around Christmas, and started my first attempt at a bulk as my New Years resolution. I think this is the most important point in my training: I am a terrible eater. Not in the sense that I eat a ton of junk food now (in fact, I eat almost no cheese, no processed food, no fast food), but in the sense that my body massively self-regulates its appetite. If I eat 3500 calories today, my body only wants 1500 the next.

Back to the point. Been lifting and eating more seriously since January (although it has not been consistent due to lots of travel for work). Squats have been the hardest lift for me to get comfortable with (pelvic tilt). I have made amazing progress though. Back in November I squatted 95lbs once (back squat) and ended up with back spasms for the next month. Now, using your original routine with Stinger, I do a max-set of 5 front squats at 135lbs, and 5x10 at 85lbs. I know this is not very much, but was a big step for me in recovery from my hip issues, and I know I need to progress slowly, because when I add more weight quickly, my pelvic tilt threatens to come back.

So I found RDS' routine with Stinger, and have been doing the original routine for 3 full weeks now. I love the workout, and I especially love the 2 leg-days considering my hip problems, and considering that it does not ask me to go super heavy and threaten my back health. If you've made it this far, I think I've given a sufficient rambling background, and would love to ask a few questions.

First, here are pictures of me (http://ufsnook.smugmug.com/Sports/Workout/29801947_bMNFQm). And I think it is important to be clear about my goals. My dream body is more Brad Pitt in Fight Club than Ronnie Coleman, but I am not near a point where I currently see that as a goal on the horizon. My real goal is 1) to continue to see progress in building muscle mass on a year-to-year basis (would love 10lbs over the next year), and 2) to get my hips back to a point where I can play ice hockey injury free. I am making real strides on goal 2, as I played ice hockey for the first time in 4 years the other weekend (hence the recent bruises on my hip) and noticed major differences in my body dynamics (as a goalie, I am basically holding a squat for 30-60 seconds at a time, every other minute, for an hour). Questions:

1) When bulking, I face a dilemma. I have made a lot of radical changes this past year, and it is hard to do so much new stuff at once. The hardest thing for me is trying to eat clean to gain weight. Major mental roadblock. Im not saying I will never be able to do this, Ive just come to accept that I cannot eat 95% clean in the volume required at this time. My options are either to eat clean but not hit my caloric goals consistently, or go for a bulk where I eat clean as much as possible, but also allow myself to eat whatever I want (hamburgers, pizzas, chicken wings, etc) when Iâ??m not getting enough calories in order to force on the pounds. Cutting is easy for me (diet wise), so I dont mind cycling bulking/cutting.

2) Does RDS's original program work for me, or since I am still a novice to the gym, do I need to dial it back a bit? I am really enjoying the workouts, so would like to continue what RDS laid out.

3) Since I've been a bad eater, I cut out cardio when I started lifting to bulk to save calories for growth. I will box/kickbox or do bootcamp again when cutting, but am I right to knock out cardio when bulking to focus on weight lifting exclusively?

4) I am struggling with a decision of whether I should start a cut now that I have gained a bit of muscle mass, or if I should continue trying to bulk since I still dont have a ton of underlying muscle. I know my body fat is high (especially in the belly), but hate looking super-skinny (October 2012 pic). What do you think, and when I do start to cut, how should I alter the original program (besides adding cardio)?

5) My hips. Again, this is my biggest success although my numbers are low. I notice my pelvis still wants to tilt on squats (I only do front squats now, because they have been much better for my posture/hips, although I would like to try back squats again at some future time). My legs are very long, so I dont go ass to grass, but I am now able to get to parallel, or right above. After playing hockey, I noticed lots of soreness around my groin, hip flexors, and piriformis. I think my entire pelvic cradle could use more strengthening, and it is the weakness in that area that I think makes my squat growth so slow (which I am ok with so long as I progress).

Should I just keep with the 2 leg-days a week and let those areas get stronger through the leg workouts, or is there a rehab style workout like RDS gave Stinger that I should consider incorporating? I am at a desk most of the day and notice a general lingering tightness around my piriformis (the worst) and hip flexors.

Thanks for any help. It has been a bit overwhelming getting into lifting, and I think it is time I got some external voices helping me on this long-path.


Got a reply from RDS on my original comment in Stinger's thread. Posting a copy-paste version here:

-Yo UF, I have no problem helping you out in this thread, so unless Stinger has issue then it's all good as far as I'm concerned. It might be worth starting a new thread purely because then more people will be likely to chip in and give you advice. There's guys on this site than know 10,000 times more than I do.

Thank you very much for the kind words! Really though, you give me too much credit. All I did was give a couple of sample routines and tell him to clean up his diet. Anyone could've done that really. If you look at threads like Zraw training Marzouk or Jake training Spidey, they've got proper tailor made routines and diets planned down to the macro level, I could never do something like that. I appreciate your following along all the same though.

Your background is fairly common with the tight hips etc., so I don't see any reason to do anything too outside of the box. I'll address your questions:

1) With your goals in mind, I really don't think you need to forcefeed yourself all that much. I would describe your goal physique as "athletic", so really as long as you are eating clean, hitting your protein target (1g or protein per lb of your bodyweight), lifting weights and playing hockey then that'll take you where you want to go. Save "bulking and cutting" for the professional bodybuilders.

2) Maybe. Sorry I can't be more specific. It might be too much volume, it might be not enough. Really though, I think that at the stage in your development you're at, along with the fact that you play sports indicates that 5/3/1 might be a better choice for you. Have a look into that, and if you like it I can help you set up the assistance work.

Definitely keep up with those warm ups I posted, that'll help your hip issues. Do some glute activation drills and core work on your off days too just to really get your hip problems sorted.

3) Again, I don't really want you to think in terms of bulking and cutting. As long as you are eating clean and hitting your protein target then you'll build a lean, muscular physique. You probably don't need all that much cardio if you're playing hockey but it certainly couldn't hurt.

4) One more time, lol, no bulking and cutting! Eat healthy = look healthy. Seriously. If you are training hard and eating clean the bodyfat will disappear and the muscle will appear. You don't have enough bodyfat to warrant a full-on cut IMO, and I really think that if you just eat properly and train right then you will get where you want to be without having to "bulk and cut"

5) get a box and set it to the height you can hit just before your back rounds. Use that to keep your depth consistent and to stop you going too low. Like I said before, tons of glute activation and core work.

if you want to do the routine I gave Stinger then by all meas do so, but I think 5/3/1 is still the better choice. That'll give you good leg days anyway. Do some soft tissue work on the piriformis. "

Does moving to the 5/3/1 workout sound like a good idea for me? Following that guide, should I go for the 3 or 4 day split (my schedule works for either)? In terms of the assistance work, should I follow the "Strength Builder Assistance Work" or "Bodybuilder Assistance Work"? Are there any alterations to that guide I should consider, and what additional exercises should I incorporate (on what days in relation to the 5/3/1 split schedule), if any, to add hip stability?


So much text haha

In one sentence, what is your goal?



To gain muscle for aesthetics while gaining core/hip/thigh strength to help me as an ice hockey goalie.


If you want to look more like Brad Pitt than Ronnie Coleman, go for it. I think your best bet would be to spend the majority of your efforts on your diet. Training should revolve around BW exercises and intense cardio.


About 8 years ago I used the below to drop from 175 to 153.

Mon/Wed/Fri - AM
AM 3-6 mile jog. Go with friends if possible, helps push you.

Tue/Thu/Sat - PM
Run a timed mile AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. I got down to 6:15.

Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri - lunch time
Upper, Lower, Upper, Lower
-Lot's of pull-ups, push-ups, dips, used rings as much as possible, BW rows, etc...


Breakfast: 3 eggs with veggies
Snack 1: 3 clementines
Snack 2: Tuna fish
Lunch: Chow hall food (just use dinner left overs, no breads or pasta).
Dinner: Chow hall, no bread or pasta.
Snack 3: 6 inch turkey Subway sub with oil on wheat. NOTHING ELSE (no veggies, no cheese, etc...)

I literally did the above for 6 months and that's the result.


Keep lifting


Throw a pic of yourself up, if you are comfortable with it that is.


Here is a link documenting my body over the past 3 years ( http://ufsnook.smugmug.com/Sports/Workout/29801947_bMNFQm ). If that doesn't work, I can upload a pic directly, but think the 3 year context is probably important for getting a feel for my body type.


Do you eat clean or not? Just seems a bit conflicting there ha


Do 5/3/1. Emphasize posterior chain (glutes/hamstrings/erectors) and abdominals in your assistance work to help with your hip issues. Do not bulk or cut. RDS was right. At your stage, just eat healthy, although if you want to add muscle, you have to eat a surplus of calories, so don't confuse healthy with undereating.

Finally, it strikes me as odd that so many dudes say they want to look like another celebrity/athlete male, and especially Brad Pitt (guy's abs haven't been relevant for like a decade, and yet he is still the most cited celebrity I read; weird). Anyway, you and everyone else should let go of this line of thinking, UFsnook. There are many uncontrollable variables that make Brad Pitt (or any other dude) look the way he does (bone structure, muscle insertion points, etc.), and you will never look like him. You should strive to look the best version of you, and only you can decide what that is.

If your point was merely that you don't want to be big and "bulky," don't worry about it; you won't be. Avoid AAS and a high BF% and you will never that big.


The guy wants to look like Brad PItt, wtf is wrong with that?


Because it's the kind of unrealistic wishful thinking that often leads to disappointment and people giving up on training. His picture didn't load for me, but I'm guessing they don't have the same body, and even if OP got jacked and cut, he still probably won't look anything like Brad Pitt.

If an average looking girl with completely different anthropometry than a Victoria's Secret Angel tells you she wants to look like Miranda Kerr, what do you say to that? You say, look, you can transform yourself into a fitter, better looking you, but you need to stop idolizing an unrealistic body type and aim to just be a better you. That's my take on it, especially since the dude came here asking for advice as a newb, and it's almost always beginners who want to look like someone else. It's my opinion that that mindset is a bad way to get started. I don't even think Brad Pitt is a great goal to shoot for, but I understand OP may have just meant he'd rather be lean and athletic than like the traditional bodybuilder, which is why I added the bit at the end.

Overall, I feel like we (people who train) nuthug on other guys way too much because we have serious body image problems, like borderline body dysmorphic disorder. I think it's more becoming of a man to aspire to look like the best version of himself (whatever that may be to him) than to want to look like another man. Just my opinion, and I respect OP's right to want to look like whoever the fuck he wants, but I still think it's a bad idea. Alright, rant over. Peace.


I just took it to mean that he wants to be shredded and isn't that bothered about being huge...


Great post!


Right. I recognized that in my post. If that's the case, he has nothing to worry about. Another thing beginners don't appreciate is how amazingly difficult it is to get huge, but um... not trying to turn this into another "limits" thread or anything.


So just because you don't think Brad PItt's physique is a great goal to go for the OP shouldn't try and look the way he wants to?

Do you not think that "the best version of himself (whatever that may be to him)" is directly linked to the physiques he admires? Its the same for everyone to differing degrees.

I honestly dont think Brad Pitt's style physique is not unattainable or unrealistic for the OP. He wont look exactly like him cause thats impossible but if he wants to get as close to it as possible that's admirable.


I would have your 5/3/1 workout set up something like this

Bench 5/3/1
Bench BBB accessory
Face Pulls
Rear Delts superset with biceps

Squat 5/3/1 use front squats if they are easier on your hip/back
Squat BBB accessory
Calves superset with core

Military Press 5/3/1
Military Press BBB accessory
Face Pulls
Lateral Raises/Triceps

Deadlift 5/3/1
Step Ups BBB accessory
Leg Press
Leg curls
calves superset with core

A couple of points

-I think 5/3/1 is right for you because you need to get your strength up on the main lifts. While something like Starting Strength that has a more linear progression might initially add strength faster, I think 5/3/1 is better as it allows for longer progress, plus you can be a bit more creative with assistance work

-while 5/3/1 purists may balk at the idea of doing front squats as the main lift, there's really no reason why not

-face pulls are in there twice because most people don't have very good upper back posture. Doing plenty of that sort of thing'll help protect against shoulder issues down the line

-I recommend the step ups 5x10 instead of deads because it's hard to keep decent form doing your deads as high volume as that.

That's how I'd set it up, feel free to disregard it if you like.


heh, yeah there's like four of those going on right now already