T Nation

Absolute Beginner - General Help

I am 17, and have pretty much finished growing. During the teen/pre-teen years, I have been lazy and didnt do many sports. I wasnt the atheletic kid, and nor is my family - my genes arent inclined that way I guess.

I am 6’ and weigh 155lb (11 stone). My BF, by basic inspection is ~15%, if not a bit more. Basically, I am chubby and weak. I have less muscle mass than your average 12 year old…

Anyway, I bought some weights because gyms around here have an over18 policy. I decided to start off with the Rippetoe program (althought modified - basically, I have noone to watch over me, dont have a lot of proper equipment like a squat rack, and am at home). It looks like:

Routine A:
4x8 Squat
4x8 Bench Press
1x8 Deadlift

Routine B:
4x8 Squat
4x8 Military Press
4x8 Rows

Week 1, Day 1 = A
Week 1, Day 4 = B
Week 1, Day 6 = A
Week 2, Day 1 = B
Week 2, Day 4 = A
Week 2, Day 6 = B
And repeat.

I have been doing this for 6 weeks now, and plan to continue till end of week 12 - then I have to go on holiday for 6 weeks. At the end of week 2 I added some Bicep curls for both Session A and B - basically, 3x8 - as my upper body seems to have no strength and most exercises require the biceps as stabilisers and whatnot.

I began with absolutely horrible stats, and even though my progress has been ok, I still suck bad. My genetic make is my scapegoat. Anyway, the beginning stats were…

15lb (7kg) bar,
Squats: 35kg (77lb)
Military Press: 12.5kg (27.5lb)
Bench Press: 22.5kg (49.5lb)
Rows: 25kg (55lb)
Deadlift: 35kg (77lb)
Bicep Curls (start of week 3): 7.5kg (16.5lb)

Pathetic, I know. Anyway, end of week 6, and the update is as follows:

15lb (7kg) bar,
Squats: 60kg (132lb)
Military Press: 15.0kg (33lb)
Bench Press: 25kg (55lb)
Rows: 30kg (66lb)
Deadlift: 60kg (132lb)
Bicep Curls (start of week 3): 15.0kg (33lb)

Still really shit, but I have improved significantly in my Squats and Bicep Curls. But my upper body exercises - the Military Press, Bench Press and Rows have shown very little/no improvement.

This is where I need help. In the last 3 weeks there has been very little improvement in either of the three. I think this is because these are compound exercises, and the other muscles are too weak/not growing.

Thanks for reading. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

if you can drop the weights then there is no reason to go for 8 reps

also since you only bench press 25kg… you can just let it come to your chest and then roll it to your waist and get up.

[quote]lordstorm88 wrote:
if you can drop the weights then there is no reason to go for 8 reps

also since you only bench press 25kg… you can just let it come to your chest and then roll it to your waist and get up.[/quote]

I can certainly do that with everything apart from the squat - it requires me to lift the barbell off the bench hooks… and liftinh the 8REP weight is rather difficult to begin with.

As a rough estimate, how much weight difference would there be between the 8MAX and 5MAX?

[quote]Maxxx wrote:
lordstorm88 wrote:
if you can drop the weights then there is no reason to go for 8 reps

also since you only bench press 25kg… you can just let it come to your chest and then roll it to your waist and get up.

I can certainly do that with everything apart from the squat - it requires me to lift the barbell off the bench hooks… and liftinh the 8REP weight is rather difficult to begin with.

As a rough estimate, how much weight difference would there be between the 8MAX and 5MAX?
[/quote]

about 10%-15%

Very hard to give a general statement because its different for everyone

[quote]Maxxx wrote:
[…]

Still really shit, but I have improved significantly in my Squats and Bicep Curls. But my upper body exercises - the Military Press, Bench Press and Rows have shown very little/no improvement.

This is where I need help. In the last 3 weeks there has been very little improvement in either of the three. I think this is because these are compound exercises, and the other muscles are too weak/not growing.

Thanks for reading. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
[/quote]

Did your bodyweight change ? What does our diet look like (on an average training day) ?

My bodyweight hasnt changed, but I have noticed that I have lost some body fat (veins stick out in my arms), so it has just been a trade off I suspect.

I cant fully control my diet (when it comes to carbs and such), because parents dont ‘buy’ into the whole thing, and claim that at this age, I shouldnt be too worried about carefully tinkering my diet. However, on training days, I try to have above 125g of protein and have around 2500 calories, while on non-training days, its nearer 2000 with 100g of protein.

Am I undereating?

[quote]Maxxx wrote:

Did your bodyweight change ? What does our diet look like (on an average training day) ?

My bodyweight hasnt changed, but I have noticed that I have lost some body fat (veins stick out in my arms), so it has just been a trade off I suspect.

I cant fully control my diet (when it comes to carbs and such), because parents dont ‘buy’ into the whole thing, and claim that at this age, I shouldnt be too worried about carefully tinkering my diet. However, on training days, I try to have above 125g of protein and have around 2500 calories, while on non-training days, its nearer 2000 with 100g of protein.

Am I undereating?
[/quote]

Yes.

Your parents are correct to the extend that at this level, you do not need to be 100% scientifically accurate about it, but you need to get your macro nutrient ratios right.

2000-2500 calories per day is way too low, of course if your body composition changes for the better its always a good thing, but it also is a sure sign of you not even being close to a super caloric state, which means you are gaining at a much slower pace than you could and your gains will stop completely once you reach a lower bodyfat %

Try to get 3000-3500 cal per day and 0.7-1g protein per lbs of bodyweight, spread through the day in 6-8 small meals (big breakfast)

Should I watch the carbs/fat? Say, I eat 3000 cals on a training day and 3000 on a non-training day, with 1g protein/lb (around 150g), proteins will only make 600cals - 20% of my diet…

Can you give me a rough ratio of the three food types on training and non-training days?

Also, my body fat is around the 14-15% mark, and I would prefer to keep it there, hopefully reduce it. Should I add 45 mins of light/moderate cardio to non-training days?

Thanks

Chin-ups and pull-ups.

TNT

You don’t have to limit your protein to 1g/lb, you can up it to make it more of a 40/30/30 split, which many people find makes for a nice gaining breakdown.

Some thoughts:

First, it’s great that you’re making the best of a sub-optimal situation (not being able to control foodstuffs and not being able to get to the gym).

Second, your calories are lacking, but that’s an easy fix. Eat what you currently eat, and then throw in some calorie dense food. A half-pound of peanuts, or a half-gallon of milk is usually recommended. If your parents notice (and they probably won’t), let them know that you’re eating more to grow. Parents love the thought of you growing.