T Nation

Another Beginner Program

OK, I know you guys get a ton of these, hopefully you will be kind enough to answer one more…

I am a 24yo male, about 6’0" 210 pounds. I’m getting “somewhat out of shape” and want to reverse it before I am “really out of shape.” My goals are simple:

  1. Lose my gut and my man-boobs (I hate the man-boobs more than the gut!!)
  2. Put on some muscle while I’m at it

But here’s my thing: I want to keep this as brain-dead simple as possible. I want to learn the least number of things to get the most benefit, without getting into elaborate programs, supplements, 80 different variations on one move, (ahem) reading Internet forums all day… I am looking for the greatest output with the lowest learning curve. I accept that this won’t be ideal, maybe later I’ll get more into it, but for now this is where I’m at. Note that I’m not talking about physical exertion during my workouts–I like to push myself hard–just the learning curve.

Here’s what I do now:

–cardio 3x/week (30min interval training; I am definitely sweating, no lazy strolls while reading the paper)
–pushups, situps (almost) every morning
–sporadic pull-ups, benches, deadlifts, curls (I bench and lift at home, the weight is definitely on the low side)

Here’s what I know:

–benches, deadlifts, squats, right? Right?!?

Here’s my first go at a real program:

–3x/week cardio as before
–2x/week benches, squats, deadlifts, at the gym with real weights. Maybe 3x6 for each, or thereabouts?
–3x/week pullups, 3 sets to failure
–5x/week pushups, situps (probably does more to wake me up than any actual fitness gains)

Is this plausible? Close but missing one or two key exercises? Totally off base?

I know diet is integral here, I’m working on eating better but it will be a lot easier for me to start working out than to stop eating wrong. Something’s better than nothing, right?

Any help is greatly appreciated – I’m asking you experts because I cannot commit to becoming one myself. Thanks.


Welcome to the site.

Here is a good thread to get you started on the right track.


Do I have to do the little airplane thing when I spoon feed it to you?

Work on the attitude. You’re looking for great results with little-to-no effort on your part.

Sorry you think we all want to do excess work to achieve the same results.


OK, that’s fine, I expected some of this. Let me restate though: I am not looking for great results with no work. I am looking to maximize the ratio of output/input. I accept that this won’t give me huge gains.

I think this is a totally reasonable attitude. We can’t all be experts at everything. If you disagree though that’s fine. The last thing I want in life is another pointless forum argument.

Okay I understand now. Keeping it simple.

One of the more “simple” - and I use that term only to describe the complexity of the program on paper - programs I like is Dan John’s One Lift a Day.


If you give this a shot you will make some incredible strength grains. Even though it is not specifically targeted for aesthetic gains, you will make gains in that too.

I would give this a shot, I think it is a must try once for everyone who lifts.

Hi Buddy, I was a fat kid around your age, 6’ over 200 pounds and none of it was muscle, hehehe, but I got in really lean shape when I started following a real workout plan, like the guys here are suggesting you try

sit ups and push ups won’t make much difference, and I think cardio is a waste of time for losing weight if you don’t have the muscle underneath the fat… build your quads, back and chest, and you will burn off calories like there’s no tomorrow, and the fat will melt away.

I have a friend who does spinning 6 days a week and he still has a huge gut, but he won’t go lift with me because he’s trying to lose weight, and tired from the bike…

I lift heavy 4 days a week for about an hour and a half, and I have to eat like a horse to keep from losing mass…

check out some of the links here on beginners training programs and scrap the cardo until you’re preparing for your first show, it will be a much more effective use of your time.