T Nation

A Confused Beginner's Journal


I have been lifting on and off for a couple of years and have managed to increase my strength as well as gain a bit of mass. Recently I had made a couple of threads but really haven't resolved my issue. So I guess here is where I'm going to start now and I will also start a journal too.

I currently stand at 6 ft 2, 180 lbs and have 15-18% Bodyfat. This bodyfat seems too high and it's a stumbling block for me. I want to lose the fat around my waist and love handles primarily and increase my upper body mass to have a more asthetic shape.These as I have read are conflicting goals. I currently do a 3 day a week split, based on heavy compound lifts. I think the thing that bothers me is that due to the high bodyfat I don't look like I lift at all.

My strength is what I consider poor.

1 rep maxes from a couple of months ago, I'm working back upto these now.

*Bench - 80 kg
*Squat - 100 kg
*Deadlift - 120 kg

My ultimate goal for a year is to be 190 lbs and have approximately 10% bodyfat, which seems like a sensible goal to aim for.

I am in two minds, whether to go on a mini cut to get rid of some of the softness, or to just carefully keep bulking.

I have 4 months of summer where I can make sure all my meals are up to scratch and that I get them in all on time. I'm currently reading around a lot and will continue to do so. I would like to hear from people who have been in the same "skinnyfat" situation,or from the older trainers.

I've never really followed a strict diet, although I do eat fairly clean.I think nutrition is my main downfall and the aspect that needs most work.

I will post up a picture very soon, and hope to end this confusion and get on with busting my ass in the gym.


Hey Ace. You do have conflicting goals: 1) To drop a significant amount of body fat, and 2) to get bigger and heavier. Based on your 1RMs I would suggest that you focus on getting stronger, while eating enough clean foods to build muscle mass, and worry about losing body fat once you’ve put on enough lean mass to achieve your goal of 190lbs at 10% body fat. Speaking of which, at 6’2 you will probably not look as big as you think at 190lbs. I’m 5’11, 202lbs at about 15% body fat, and I’m not by any means big–but to each their own! Just make sure that from here on out you’re eating cleanly: shitty food will only lead to a shitty physique! Good luck.


I know my height requires me to add much more mass, but I think at 190 lbs and 10% bodyfat I’ll look a hell of a lot better than I do now. I will actually look like I lift, so it’s a stepping stone I guess.

The problem is I have been eating clean relatively. I’m reading up on the 7 habits as we speak. Can they be used to gain lean mass? It seems like a cutting diet.

I’m going to incorporate steady state cardio whichever route I decide to go down. My current plan is to bulk for the next 12 or so weeks and then do a mini cut before to check my bodyfat levels.

Most people are telling me to clean bulk.

I’m still open to suggestion, this is a major learning experience…


There seems to be something wrong with this thread, I keep getting update notifications, but only the first two posts appear :S


Here is my picture and measurements…

Arm - 13.7 inches

Neck - 16 inches

Forearms - 11 inches

Chest - 40.5 inches

Thighs - 23 inches

and the ones I’m keeping a close eye on

Waist (Navel) - 35.5 inches

Waist (Trousers)- 35 inches


Well here’s my thoughts, I haven’t had time to read any updates you’ve made, so these are my thoughts of this morning:

  1. It sounds like you’re on the fence as to which way to go, and may want to try doing both at once. That inevitably leads to failure. From your statistics you don’t sound like you’re overweight at all.

  2. What does your diet look like? You say you’re eating clean, and you most likely are, but get a program like fitday to help you track what you’re eating. At one point in my training I thought I was eating 3000 calories per day and was actually barely scraping 2000. Post some sample days for what you eat and we’ll be able to help you MUCH more.

  3. What does your split look like? Only training 3 days a week as a relative beginner isn’t doing you any favors. (Unless you’re doing full body 3x per week, I couldn’t tell from your post).

  4. If I were you, I’d do a clean bulk. Eating a lot, but not just ANY food that comes across your plate. Try to get in say, 4000 calories per day, CLEANLY. I’d work my ass off in the gym, and I’d keep steady state cardio to a minimum. I’m not saying abandone it completely, just keep it to a minimum.


Accipiter gave you great advice. I second everything he said. Learn to squat deadlift, overhead press, bench press and row with good form{Number one priority for a beginner}…Remember nothing will put more mass on you than squats and deads assuming your diet is dialed in well. Best of luck. I hope you keep at it.


I suggest either Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe or Big Beyond Belief by Leo Costa. The first will help you put on some serious strength in your 5 big lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, power clean, overhead press), and it only takes 3 workouts a week. The 2nd option helps with building strength and size and can take 4, 6, or 12 workouts a week.

You feel/look soft not because you’re carrying a lot of fat, but it’s because you don’t have much muscle. 180 lbs at 6’2" is very thin. I weigh the same but am 7 inches shorter.

Like the ones above me have suggested, I recommend that you focus on putting on mass. Eat surplus calories, but keep it clean. Also, lift heavy, making sure you beat your log book every workout.

Doing those two things will guarantee results.


Good luck with your goals! Looks like we are both after the same thing so i’ll definitely be keeping my eye on your log!


Thanks for the input everyone…

I have made up my mind, I will clean bulk for at least these 4 months and then evaluate my progress. I will post a picture and measurements every two weeks.

Steady state cardio 2x a week fasted. Just to improve metabolism and hunger.

I also do around 20 minutes of cardio after a workout (except legs).

Down to business…

This was a workout recommended to me by a powerlifter who I know.

Squat- 3 x 5
Pullthroughs - 3 x (8-10)
Leg Curls - 3 x (8-10)
Decline Sit Ups - 3 x 10
Hanging Knee Raises

*Bench - 3 x 5 and then one dropset with a lower weight aiming for 8-10 reps, but concentrating on speed and form
*Dips - 3 x 8 (Staring to add weight now)
*Wide Grip Pull Ups - I aim for 15 reps in as less sets as possible - currently very weak
*Barbell Curls - 3 x 5

*Deadlift - 3 x 5
*Db Rows - 5 x 5
*Shrugs - 3 x 10-12
*Reverse Deltoids - 3 x 10-12

I aim for an hour each workout. But as the weights get heavier longer rests are needed.

Since I’m free for 4 months, I want to add in a shoulders day since I really enjoy training them and I seemed to progress on them well.

I’m stocking up on the groceries and will post a sample diet soon. Just getting it all together now.

I will initially aim for 3200 Calories and see what happens.


Any updates?? Diet?


Sorry about the delay fellas, I’ve been moving house amongst other things so have not really got started. I’ve spent the past week finding what weight range I’m at in the gym on my lifts. I’ve gone weaker but I recon I’ll be pushing it hard again by the next couple of weeks. I have also worked out a diet and will follow this and monitor myself every two weeks.

My question is what weight gain shall I look for a lb a week? 2lbs? or just go by looking in the mirror and measurements?

This is my first ever structured diet plan and clean bulk so hopefully I still have some beginner gains left in me.

My ultimate goal is to bench press 100 kg at least once before I even attempt to cut down.

My current 1 rep max is probably 75 kg. Achievable in 4 months? Who knows? :smiley:

Calories - 3200

Nutrient Split - 40% Protein/30% Carbohydrates/30% Fats

I’m following berardis 7 principles also.

Here is my diet below…

Meal 1 -

4 eggs (28 g protein and 24 g fat) + 1 .5 cups oatmeal (40 g carbs) + banana (28 g carbs)

Meal 2 -

Brown Rice 140 g (61 g carbs) + Chicken 200g (46 g protein) + Veggies

Meal 3 -

Double shake of Whey in pint of milk + egg ( 50 g protein + 10 g of carbs + 10 g of fat)
Couple of apples

Meal 4 -

Tuna Sandwich (35 g protein + 30 g carbs)
2 slices of brown toast (30 g of carbs)

Meal 5 -

Double shake of Whey in pint of full fat milk + egg (50 g protein + 10 g of carbs + 10 g of fat)
Banana - (26 g of carbs)

Meal 6 -

Tuna/Chicken (35 g protein)
Peanut Butter ( 1 or 2 teaspoons to make up the totals)

This adds upto roughly - still getting the hang of this and I will probably develop other foods and such as time goes on.

320 g of Protein
240 g of Carbs
106 g of Fat

I will snack on 100 g of Almonds throughout the day this will give me an extra

610 Calories/ 25 g Protein and 53.5 of Fat

3200 Calories I will see what happens in 2 weeks :smiley:

PWO i will have an extra Protein shake and some high G.I carbs.

My first real workout begins today I’ve chosen to do the following 4 day split…

Sunday - Shoulders
Monday - Morning Cardio
Tuesday - Legs
Wednesday - Chest and Bis
Thursday - Day off - review progress
Friday - Back
Saturday - Morning Cardio

I will supplement with ZMA/ Multivitamin and Creatine.


I seemed to have posted a lengthy update but it has now shown up, ill check back after my workout.


Ok the posts seems to have sorted themselves out…

Finally added in my shoulder day so I did less weight and more reps just to get a feel. To concentrate on form also. I tried both sitting and standing and I think I will stick with sitting as I could really target my shoulders without having to focus on keeping my body in check.

*Barbell Military Press - 20 kg x 12 - 4 Sets

These were really easy so I’m just going to jump upto 40 ish and work with sets of 5.

*Front Dumbell Raises - 5 kg x 8 - 4 sets

*Side Dumbell Raises - 5 kg x 8 - 4 sets

*Hammer Strength Reverse Deltoid Machine - Level 19 x 12 - 3 sets

All in all a good workout. Going to be pushing my military press way up next week, aim is 40 - 45 kg 5 sets of 5 should be easily achievable.

Also I’m going to be working and I will probably find it harder to eat solid meals, I’m going to experiment with possibly 4 solid meals and two shakes as I’m doing now, or in extreme cases 3 solid meals and 3 shakes, or getting some quality protein bars in the ones that aren’t full of sugar.

As mentioned elsewhere on this site I will keep a track of my waist size just by the pants that I wear. Currently I fit into (UK standards) size 34, I aim to stay this way until I add a good 10/15 lbs of muscle.