T Nation

Beginner Needing Some Clarification


Hey everyone!

I've been lifting for the past 3 years but have not taken it as serious as I should have this whole time. But now life has caused me to take everything seriously. My goals are to be strong, lean, and athletic.

Stats - 27, 5'7, 166lbs, I have a higher bf%. I have love handles and a small belly. I also have skinny legs and arms.

Weights I can do for the lifts (5RM) - Back Squat 135, Front Squat 115, OHP 110, Bench Press 155, Rows 140, Deadlift 235, Power Clean 105, Snatch 65, C&J 95, Pull Ups 7

I know my weights are all over the place. Instead of going to the gym I decided to buy a squat stand and a barbell with about 300 pounds worth of weights. I can't afford to buy a bench or a dip station for quite a while. I have noticed that most of the programs include benching.

I can devote 3 days a week to purely lifting. Is there a workout I can do 3x a week just using the setup I have? I like the idea of squatting 3x a week because my legs are twigs and I want to change that. Since I won't be benching, could I do overhead pressing 2 or 3 times a week instead?

In terms of diet I know I can consistently eat 3 meals a day. Since I have love handles and a small belly should I try to cut while lifting heavy or should I eat just really good big meals? So for breakfast/lunch/dinner make sure I have some protein, carbs, and tons of veggies? So I HATE eating chicken breasts. Could I make chicken thighs more of my staple for proteins? How many calories should I be shooting for? Since I have a higher bf% eating fattier meats scares me a bit even though I know it is good for me.

Any information or advice would really help me out. I plan on starting whatever program/meal plan template that would be suitable for my situation Monday (do groceries on Sunday).

Thank you very much in advance!


If you’re not a powerlifter, no need to worry about benching. I watched a strongman do 315 for 16, he hadn’t done a bench press for years.

As for diet, just eat good food, enough to allow you to progress session to session.


I’m no expert and you definitely don’t need to take my advice as a beginner myself, but I also don’t have a bench and instead have been doing weighted push-ups. Placing a 10kg+ plate on my back while doing push-ups works for me! Then I just go heavy on the Over Head Pressing to get some good strength gains. Hope that helps, good luck!


Chad Waterbury Full body WO.

Chicken thighs are fine.


You can do anything you like two to three times a week. Like others have said, unless you’re a powerlifter you don’t ever need to bench.

I’d recommend 5/3/1, to be honest, just based on how good a program it is. It doesn’t have you squatting as much as you’d like but if you did the Boring But Big version you’d still squat a lot. You’d just have to replace bench with press, but that wouldn’t be an issue I don’t think.