T Nation

Beginner Looking for a Program

I am a beginner. I have worked out in the past but never with any real knowledge of what I was doing. I have read many many articles here on T-Nation and can’t say enough about how good this site is and the info that can be found here.

I would like to achieve all of the following; decrease body fat, rectify some strength imbalances, and then of course gain size and strength.

I am fairly strong, but I currently have imbalances because my strength is only gained from the work I do as a welder/fabricator. I lift and handle a lot of steel and I get into a lot of uncomfortable positions sometimes prolonged. As of late I have notice my lower back feels loose, or weak. The “Third World Squat” article made a lot of sense to me.

I know there are some beginner programs here and I have also read many of the tips from veterans to newbies, but there is also so much info here that it is sometimes too much to take in when you are trying to find a starting point.

My question is : Is there a program on here that would be good for equalizing my strength throughout my body and at the same time provide some results in fat loss and or strength and size gains?

I am thinking that the Metabolism Repair Article which recommends more compound exercises over isolation exercises would work well for me. My logic being that if I focus on strict form in those exercises and increase weight gradually, then the nature of the compound exercises incorporating more muscle groups, should allow them to balance out as the weaker muscles get stronger, until they can keep up with the stronger muscles. Also the same logic and purpose of that article being that more muscles recruited in the exercise means more potential gains as well as more muscle there to burn calories.

I am not sure if I thinking correctly here or if I should learn where all my weakest points are and then do isolation exercises on them until they are strong enough to then partake in the compound movements.

Opinions and Insight please or a slap in the face if I am way off track, let me know

You have the same goals every person on the site does. Fortunately, there are many reoutines and diets that can generate towards results in all three of them (drop fat, add muscle, increase strength) simultaneously, because you’re relatively new at this.

Honestly, with a manual labor job, you probably have less imbalances than your average frat-curler. What specific imbalances do you think you have?

As far as routines, there are many to choose from. Rippetoes Starting Strength is what I’d start if I were you. It’s developed many on this forum to new personal records. I would add corrective work to the program, at the end of the session, but it depends on what imbalance you wanna work on.


Diet is also important. For those trying to lose weight, I’d recommend the T-dawg 2.0 diet, because it’s simple and effective.

T-dawg 2.0

Not sure if you have, but read the stickies at the top of the beginner forum. They contain a bunch of great information, and have indexed the best articles on T-Nation for newbies.

Good luck, and get back to us on that strength imbalance question.

I think if you follow any of the basic 5x5 programs (whether it’s Riptoes or a different one) and concentrate on compound lifts like you mentioned, that should nearly even out any imbalances you have. If there are truly any imbalances that you may have, they’ll become a little move obvious after a period of time after only doing core lifts, and then you can more easily address them if they are really a problem or hinderance for you.

Thanks guys, I appreciate your time.

I am not sure of the names of all the muscles involved but I have shoulder issues due to a loose sternoclavicular joint. It allows my my right shoulder mostly to move, pitch and/or roll inward too much which in turn aggravates my rotator. I can do bench press lying flat but when I incline it or try to do any weighted motion with inclination the joint pops violently, not audibly but with a rapid and relatively large amount of movement to a different location. Hard to explain, but its like when people who are double jointed in a thumb or elbow can make the joint quickly jump from one position to another

The muscles that I work on to counter this are right on either side of my spine, the 2-3 inch vertical section right between my shoulder blades. I hold a can of soup straight out and contract that muscle pulling my shoulder back like a little back row/shrug.

Also I am told, however I don’t know how to tell, that my traps are too big for the opposing pec muscles, but again I don’t know about that. The physical therapist said that when I raise my arms from my sides straight out to the side and upwards like you would in a jumping jack my traps are the main muscle at work right when my hands are only about 3 inches away from my hips. She told me that most peoples shoulder muscle take the majority of the work until your arms are almost level and then the traps kick in more to help get you arms up higher. This is supposedly because my shoulder wants to fall(due to that loose joint allowing it to) and it changes the angle at my shoulder causing the traps to be recruited(sounds plausible)

The other thing I have been noticing is my weak abs and lower back, it feels like adult pelvic tilt early stages perhaps, and maybe I was mistaking that for an imbalance because I am strong for some things and then my back feels week for seemingly simple tasks. I have been doing squats with no weight or very little weight and can now go as low as I want and back up without my heels moving and without loosing my balance.

I think you are right Otep I probably don’t have too bad of an imbalance, it is just that I was once so extremely fit that now I am noticing every time my body fails me when it would have had no problem in the past. I realize that now because I can easily go on a 4 or 5 hour walk with my dogs or recently I have gone roller-blading and I haven’t even hit my limit there because my dogs get tired out first.

So I may not be in as bad of shape as I was thinking, but I am definitely no where near where I want to be. I feel like I am at a turning point where I need to start actively doing something to keep fit, or in the next 2 years I will become the typical north american male, who eats mostly fast food and gets a work out by carrying empty beer cases to the garage.

I’m not a shoulder-expert. Eric Cressey is. He may have some answers to how to re-hab your shoulder in his locker room.


If not, hell, you can ask him.

I have difficulty believing your trap overpowers your deltoid in raising your arm… mostly because the trap muscles, to my knowledge, have no way of contracting to affect the arm (shoulder, yes. Arm, no).

It sounds like your shoulder needs added stability and help decreasing it’s level of inward rotation. I would be ahead of myself if I diagnosed you over the internet and prescribed to you face-pulls and scap work (pushups, pullups, and overhead shrugs). But I’ll do it anyway.

(for the record, I don’t have any certification, and just like to read cressey’s work- and there’s a lot of it on this site. I have no doubt you can find a clever way to rehab your arm if you go through his locker room or articles).

Thanks for the site, there is a ton of info there wow.

Your correct my traps don’t lift my arm but they engage right away to hold my shoulder at the right place so that the motion can be performed. They basically get recruited all the time unless my arms are just hanging loose, so I am told they are over developed.

I like the Rippetoes routine but I am not sure if I am miss interpreting it. It looks like you would be doing squats each and every work out