T Nation

Beginner Needing Advice


#1

A friend of mine told me about this site and said it would help me out but after reading some things I'm still completely lost.

A bit about my status now... I'm 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 160lbs and haven't done a workout since last summer. I have done the P90X thing, the Insanity thing and then combined the two to make a program I thought would work. None of them gave me the results I thought I should have. My friend tells me I've got to go to a gym to get more positive results. My problem is I have never stepped foot in a gym and wouldn't know what to do when I got there or what kind of program I should be following or even how do I put one together in that respect. Any and all advice is welcome.

Thanks in advance


#2

What are your goals? Be as specific as you can be? “Getting in shape” is very vague. “Being able to run a 6-minute mile” is specific. “Weighing 170 with less bodyfat” is specific.


#3

Okay. Well to start after jumping on the scale this morning I weighed 155lbs with 10.5 % bodyfat. What I’m looking to do is join a gym and develop some size. Muscle mass and strength.


#4

You’re in a good spot to get started. The blanket advice here will be to run starting strength. It is a very good program but you do not have to do it. However, here’s my recommendation:

Do Starting Strength for a few months, up to 9. make sure you get really proficient at the few main exercises.
Do Mass Made Simple, if you find the time to eat and sleep really well for six weeks
Transition to something intermediate, like Westside for Skinny Bastards or 5/3/1

(all of these programs can be googled; starting strength is very, very simple)

Whatever you do, there are a few things to consider:

Don’t do too much. Each session, do a small number of exercises (3-5 I’d say) and really hammer them.
Focus on the most basic exercises - squats, deadlifts, bench presses or parallel bar dips, overhead presses, pull ups, and barbell or dumbbell rows.
Focus on getting strong on these. Nothing drives gains for a beginner like getting strong.
If you really have to, do sone stuff for arms. However, you get to do ONE isolation exercise per workout. One. Maximum. Don’t add spice if there’s no meat on the plate.
Speaking of meat - eat. Start by eating 2,500 calories a day and 155g of protein, every day of the week. If the scale doesn’t show an increase after two weeks, add more calories. Also, get enough sleep. To make progress, your body needs fuel and recovery, otherwise you’ll get nowhere.


#5

Agree mostly with nighthawkz. Keep it simple. Use compound movements for 80%-100% of your exercise choices. There’s no reason to isolate at this point. You need to build a base to work off of and you should concentrate on developing good form.

Pick a program and stick with it for a while (6+ months). Personally, the first program I ever seriously used was Westside for Skinny Bastards. I’m not sure why Hawkz thinks it’s an intermediate program. It would work fine and you can get it for free off Defranco’s website and probably here. I’ve never tried starting strength or mass made simple so I wont comment on those.

What does your diet look like?


#6

I agree with the above posters 100%, but to summarise:

  1. Follow a proven, basic program (for now) with passion and intensity.
  2. Eat cleaner and bigger (I know you think you do, but, well, you don’t)
  3. Recover well. Sleep, relax, stretch, let your body grow.

#7

I agree with the contributors above as well.

You can also just scroll down through the “Beginners” section and read a lot of the last week or two of posting. You’ll find a lot of people asking the same question and in the same boat (so to speak) as you. Do some reading and Googling on what members have recommended for you, but keep it simple, don’t let all the frills and fads start to get you off track.


#8

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Personally, the first program I ever seriously used was Westside for Skinny Bastards. I’m not sure why Hawkz thinks it’s an intermediate program. It would work fine and you can get it for free off Defranco’s website and probably here.[/quote]

I agree with you, but it’s a tad more complex than SS - which is why I recommended that as his first program.


#9

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Personally, the first program I ever seriously used was Westside for Skinny Bastards. I’m not sure why Hawkz thinks it’s an intermediate program. It would work fine and you can get it for free off Defranco’s website and probably here.[/quote]

I agree with you, but it’s a tad more complex than SS - which is why I recommended that as his first program.
[/quote]

Gotcha.


#10

I think the Starting Strength book is a useful read. It introduces a useful approach to understand the lifts, how you do them, and why you do them that way. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with his conclusions or do things his way, but that analysis process is useful.

Now, programming-wise, the Starting Strength program is fairly simple but it’s also very mechanical. Greyskull LP is an extension of those ideas but provides a gentle introduction to understanding how to regulate the lifts and workload to your own goals. Something to look at for a bit down the road.

I see the ultimate goal is to learn how to customize your training to your own needs. However, I think the best way to do that is to run a few pre-existing, well-balanced, programs for a few (or several) months each and understand how you respond to them. What the guys suggested above is a good way to start doing that.


#11

Wow, a great bunch of knowledge and advice here. Thanks so much for everyone’s thoughts and opinions. I will research the programs suggested then begin.

To answer usmccds423’s question. My current diet I know is terrible however when I was doing the P90X/Insanity hybrid workout (and will go back to when starting the new program) I was consuming 3000 cal a day and 120 grams of protein. A protein shake in the morning, chicken for a mid morning snack, lunch was usually pasta with chicken a veg, iced tea and 2 cups of yogurt, a cup full of nuts for the afternoon snack, then a after workout smoothie with yogurt, strawberries, banana, V8 fusion and mass builder powder in it, dinner was usually a chicken or tuna salad then to finish off the night more nuts.

With all that and after the 3 month program I went from 155lbs to 167lbs. My target was and is 175lbs