T Nation

Advice for a New Lifter?

Hi all

I’ve just started lifting and I really would appreciate some advice regarding what my initial plan should be (should I start off with a bulk?) and what workout I should be doing. I’m 6ft 2 and weigh 73kgs. My current 5 rep maxes are:
Bench 40kg
Deadlift 60kg
Overhead press 25kg
Squat 30kg
I’ve been very consistent in going to gym and have quite a bit of time over the next month, so I’d like to capitalise on it. Here’s my physique:

Also, could you give me a sense of what goals I should set over the next 1 to 6 months and in the long term? I know I want to have more strength and look good with my shirt off at a beach. And also, what changes can I expect in the next 1 to 6 months of continuous lifting?


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How old are you? If it’s under 18 (really, 25), I’d recommend you stop putting shirtless pictures on the Internet.

At this point, I don’t feel like you have to pick one. Let’s assume that, by getting stronger, you don’t mean that you want to set one rep maxes in powerlifting meets; in that case, you never really have to pick between looking better and getting stronger.

You mention that you’re new, that you’re looking for an initial plan, but also that you’ve been very consistent and know your 5RMs. What have you been doing to date and for how long?

You’ll have to pick your own goals. Do you play sports? Do you want to gain weight? Is there a lift you particularly enjoy? What does “good” look like for you and what’s the biggest obstacle you can tackle between here and there?

6 months is a drop in the bucket for this game, just be aware. It’s a timeframe most of us will use to focus on one priority (drop some bodyfat, improve a run time, increase our bench, etc.), but still be working on general qualities. That’s why I suggest picking THE priority. You can still lift weights and eat generally, but put a little extra effort into the singular variable that will make you happiest in the short term.


Run through T Nation programs and read 10 Dan John articles. Either of these programs a good start…

Diet : Eat! /hammer down protein foods and veg in week day. Until you hit say 80kgs have a cheat meal at the weekend

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I’m 21. I’ve only been lifting for about 2 weeks. I read about 5RM while doing a bit of research. Also, I don’t play many sports at the moment. Do you think a good priority to have at my stage is to focus on increasing all my lifts while bulking?

Thanks! Will give these articles a look. How much should I be eating/how long should it take for me to get to 80kg?

If bigger and stronger is what you want. Not all lifts are appropriate for weight progression, and everything won’t move together. I like to pick an exercise or two covering everything, and then other stuff can come as it may.
For instance:
Legs: progress squat (weight focus) and RDL (reps focus)
Back: progress chest-supported rows and pull-ups
Chest: progress incline bench (weight) and dips (reps)
The weight vs reps just speaks to the variable you increase first, not your only choice.

For food, you’ll have to adjust as you go. A fair starting point for you is probably 3000 kcal with 200g protein.


Make sure to keep good form & posture when doing lifts (especially compounds) before going up. Learn stabilization exercises make sure to strengthen rotator cuffs internal & external hip flexors. It’ll decrease your chance of injury and make you stronger and have better form during lifts. Also stretch and be consistent with what ever routine & plan you go with.

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Kind of how long is a piece of string type question but IF train hard, sleep well etc and use the info on this site can happen pretty fast at your age.
Shoot for about 180g protein a day is the main thing with diet.
Overall calories for your height verrry roughly 2500-3000 for now and evaluate in say a month


Thanks, regarding food - should I be supplementing with whey and creatine this early on?

When I reach 80kg, what should I do then? Obviously it’s context dependent, but what would my options be there?

Whey is there if you’re having trouble hitting your protein numbers. I’d look at it as convenience food more than a supplement.

If it were me, I’d wait to add creatine in a year when you need a little novelty to keep yourself entertained


A) I picked that number out the air we dont get too ahead of ourselves.
B) See how your body responds -some guys at your age can eat a ton and still struggle to put on appreciable mass as metabolism is raging …some get there fast but also get a bit fluffy. Easiest thing is change frequency of cheat meals or cleaner version like high carb refeed/upping good fats
C) lots of option with training to look at, try them all over the course of a year even. classics like 20 rep squats, 5x5/texas method, sensible bro-split etc etc

Biggest thing is depends on your goals?
-might just want high energy for starting out in the world of work, building a career etc
High strength or performance for a athletic pursuit. or just get plain HYuuge or whatever -thats for you to figure out


Also, do you think that as I do this bulk I’ll look fatter as I put on mass (assuming I train sufficiently)?

Nobody can predict this man. It also doesn’t happen overnight. Like you won’t wake up tomorrow and say “oh no, I’m fat but have a 315 bench”. As you get rolling and see what’s happening, you’ll adjust what you’re doing/ eating.


I’ll never understand why people ask ‘what SHOULD my goals be?’ They’re YOUR GOALS. YOU have to set them. You have to decide what you want to accomplish. Nobody can tell you what your values are/should be. Nobody can decide how hard you want to work. Etc.

I feel like this is very much a product of the social media age. People look to everyone else but themselves to try to figure out what they should be trying to do with their lives, and what is attainable.

The other thing I see way too often is ‘how long will X take’. The answer is as long as it takes YOU. There are rarely set answers to this. If you have a goal, you don’t commit X amount of days to it and then quit. You work towards your goal until you hit it. It doesn’t fucking matter how long a stranger tells you it should take. Your physiology is unique to you, and your effort will largely determine this answer as well.

More of this… choose your own adventure, my dude. Whatever will make you happy. Instead of asking us to pick your goal or what direction you go next, instead try this: ‘my goal is to achieve X. What are the best steps I can take to achieve that goal’. That is a much better idea than asking us vague, goalless questions.

Let me consult my crystal ball.

Live in the moment my man. Stop worrying about everything that hasn’t happened yet. You’ll find out when you get there.


Thanks for this advice, it’s really helpful actually. I think I sometimes don’t take time to think about what I’m actually doing before I ask questions. I’d say my goals are:
1 (long term) : be muscular and look good. I don’t want to be massive - big but not too big.
2 (short term): I want to increase my lifts - mainly focusing on growing my upper body while not neglecting my lower body cause my legs are small. Probably want to be able to do 10 chin ups in the next 1 - 3months.
3 (shor term) : don’t want to be skinny fat/ want to look like I lift at least in my clothing.

I have time now, so I started a 6day PPL and decided to eat in a calorie surplus. Is this a good idea? However, at the end of Jan I go back to college and have less time to work out (4 days per week), so I’m not sure what my program should be there?

Also, in order to achieve my chin up goal, is lat pulldowns a good exercise? I originally started with assisted chin ups but not sure if this is the right exercise? I also do dead hangs (20 seconds).

What does that look like to you?

Can you do a single chin up? If so, the best way to get better at chin ups, in my experience, is to do a lot of them. There’s all sorts of ways to go about doing that, but the bottom line is to do a lot of them every day.

I suppose something like this:

This is my first time thinking about what my goal physique looks like so the reference picture may change as I do more lifting.

Regarding chin ups, I can’t do a single one at the moment. So I’m trying to get to doing at least one chin up in the next month.

that’s exactly what happened to me

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you want to go from doing zero chin ups to 10 in… potentially a month? How did you come up with this timeframe? Is it just something you made up in your head or did you read something suggesting you should be able to do this.

What is your main source, currently, for determining how long weightlifting/bodybuilding goals ‘should’ take?

And if it wasn’t clear by my response to this point, the idea of going from 0 to 10 chin ups in 1 month is goddamn outrageous, unless you were someone with a considerable amount of muscle already who just needed to shed a ton of bodyfat…