T Nation

Beginner Not Sure Where to Start

Hi :slight_smile: I’ve recently reached the point where I’m rather tired of being stupidly skinny and want to gain muscle. I don’t really want to become super buff but it’d be nice for people to look at me and think “Hey that dude’s got pecs” not “Hey I can see his ribs” lol

Y’know I always think to myself that it’d be nice to have a personal trainer but of course I am just a poor college student so I’ve turned to the internet for support. I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas on what I should be eating and some workouts I should do. I’ve done some basic searches and for the most part I just see things like “Eat 5 meals a day! Go to the gym! Make sure you lift more each week!” But nothing much more specific than that. I have no idea what foods are good for this or what exercises are necessary.

Anyone have an advice? I’ll take anything at this point.

Just so you know what you’re dealing with:

Gender: Male
Age: 20
Height: 5’8"
Weight: 120lbs (54.5kg)

Any advice is helpful advice to me since I’m so absolutely new to this. The most helpful thing anyone could do is send me a potential workout/diet plan but I realize that’s quite a bit of an ask. Anything will do.

Thank you :3

Go for a run.
Start with push ups, pull ups, bw squats.
Clean up your diet. Or in other words, eliminate junk food.

Get healthier. Get your body to a point where it’s ready to tackle more obstacles. Learn something about your body, yourself. Embrace the journey.

Don’t get sucked into intellectualizing it. Good luck and enjoy.


Boy, have you come to the right website. LOL

Diet? Deep down everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t eat. Eat good food when you are hungry. If you get serious about getting bigger, eggs and meat are your friends.

If you don’t want to join a gym, I’d suggest buying Mark Lauren’s book “You are your own gym” which is filled with body weight exercises. I do them when I’m on the road.

If you do join a gym, don’t get sucked into focusing on your chest and spend too much time on your bench press. An over all look is better, and when people ask a guy for a favor that involves muscles, it usually involves the legs and lower back a lot more than the chest.

The first thing that I found ACTUALLY made a difference was MEASURING and RECORDING EVERYTHING I ate and drank. I was instantly held accountable, as the #'s don’t lie. Want a beer? That’ll be 180 cals with 15gs carbs @ 9pm. Each beer. Wine?

Its easier to make decisions that you later regret when you delude yourself. If you give yourself the knowledge, you most likely won’t make as many moves that you will later regret. I spent 15 years KNOWING that if I wanted to look better, I would need to stop drinking so much alchohol… But it wasn’t until I actually recorded the impact of the alchohol, side-by-side with the good-food, that I garnered the gusto to say no. The interesting thing for me is the question of motivation: I have ABSOLUTELY no compuction to drink anymore, simply having come to grips with the true effects and my true ambitions.

Paules is absolutely right that deep down you already “know” what you should and shouldn’t eat. That voice inside your head that whispers for you to do or not to do something?
That’s as loud as it ever gets. The sooner you listen to that little guy, the more complete you feel. At least that’s how it seems to have worked for me, YMMV.

My Favorite Carbs: Oats, white rice, sweet potato
My favorite fats: Nuts ( macadamia! 1 oz/day), Olive/avocado oil (high in monounsaturated fat), pork fat, cacao butter, coconut butter, naturally occuring fats in meats like tuna, beef, pork, chicken, salmon, etc
My Fav Proteins: Beef Sirloin ($5/lb @ costco, cook it sous vide), chicken, nonfat plain greek yogurt/skyr, tuna/salmon, pastured pork, beef jerky (watch the sodium & sugar!)

Do you have access to a costco or other discount warehouse to purchase bulk food? (foodservice suppliers are great, for example: rice half price when you buy it 25lbs at a time!)

As for an overall plan:
get the livestrong calorie tracker app; free, simple, effective.
Get your macros in order. The ratio of Protein/Fat/Carbs is very important for body composition. Eat 1g protein per lb of bodyweight (ie. 120lbs = 120g protein) MINIMUM… This is the absolute lowest you should go on Protein as an active adult. Aim for 60 g Fat and the rest Carbs. If you eat too far over your body’s daily-caloric-expenditure, you WILL gain weight. What you are doing the rest of the time you arent eating will largely dictate what kind of weight you gain. Want to get real big? Get a job as a mover, HUSTLE, and EAT like you have NEVER eaten before. You’ll put on slabs of muscle-mass. Want to make your ribs disappear into a pad of chub? Eat more and stay on the couch.

Agreed with Jarvan: use your bodyweight. Get a pullup bar and use it until it breaks.
As far as a gym goes, does your college have a gym you can use? I put together a home-gym for less than $400, and that was buying new-in-box… craigslist is waaaaay cheaper. All you need is a bench and Dumbells to start; I bought my first barbell over 14 months after I restarted lifting.

I would suggest the Arnold 6, or Christian Thibs “Best damn workout for natural lifters”. Both are full-body routines. Both will kick your ass without getting you too lost in a complex set/rep scheme. When you have stuck to a program for 6 months, reevaluate. DO NOT switch things up too much when you are starting, as there is no need. Save some tricks for when you hit plateaus.

And for god’s sake, don’t even think about AAS.

Thanks for the advice so far! I’m getting an idea of how to get started. I’ll check out some of these workout regimens and try getting the hang of tracking my intake (and of course, eat more).

I am a little curious though (and I could probably look this up online but might as well ask since you guys have given such helpful insight ^_^) if any of you have an idea of what a complete meal would look like? Like ratio of protein to fat and carbs, and maybe an example breakfast I could eat?

Bfast for me is 4-5 eggs, 5 chicken-sausage links, a 1/4 cup of sauerkraut, peppers and onions, and 40g steel cut oats with stevia and erythritol for sweetness.

If I’m in a hurry I will do a Proatmeal: 3 scoops of whey and 120g oats in the vitamix.

Macro breakdown of your day will depend on your dietary goals. If you download the live strong app, you can input your weight, activity level, and goal (lose, gain, how much/wk) and it will spit out a calorie-goal. The ratio of P/F/C is individual for everyone… Some people (usually the naturally lean) can handle a lot more carbs than others. This is where consistency and a little self-experimentation really comes into play. If you add carbs, subtract fat, and vice versa.

Read pretty much any 10 articles from the Tnation part of the website -loads of specific and proven advice.

Follow these routines below for a couple months and then move on to a 5x5 template like Texas method…