Beginner, Recommendations?

Hello T Nation,

Gonna go put my introduction here.

About me, I turn 18 years old today, been training for 2.5 years now. Due to some life circumstances I lost a lot of weight and strength, and long story short I am basically a beginner again but I am looking to build it back up, today is a new beginning.

current physique at 5’8 120lbs

Current Stats

  • Squat: 85 x 8
  • Bench: 80 x 7
  • Deadlift: 135 x 8

So yeah as I mentioned I’m really weak, but looking to build back the strength this year! ;

Program recommendations are appreciated, my goals are not purely BB or PL based, just trying to get bigger and stronger

Welcome back to the game.

Train like this:

And eat like this:


What were you at before things went south

Happy Birthday!

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Happy birthday!

What @TX_iron posted looks great for your training. @Chris_Colucci has a couple articles on here as well that would be ideal for you.

Nothing wrong with eating wholesome foods, as in the diet he posted, but I would tell you not to purposefully limit things right now - get in plenty of protein, and then get your calories on top of that. Say 150g of protein and shooting for 2200 calories daily; going up if that doesn’t move the scale.

Anyway, that’s just a route. There’s plenty. So long as you eat, lift, and get outside, you’re going to have a great time.

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Yep lots of good advice already, run through the programs listed above and you’ll be well on your way

@120lbs! …do you have issues with food?(no judgement here we just need to know what working with)
…I would actually recommend eating like a dumb teenager for a couple months until you get your weight up to say 150. Every few days get in some half-junk like pizza or burgers & once a week have full blown cheat meal/day with cake candy etc.

Drink carb drinkgatorade/watered down juice with every training session.
Basic supps like whey isolate, vitd3 and creatine won’t hurt either

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thanks for the well wishes guys. @TX_Iron @TrainForPain (new user so I can’t tag all of you)

So I’d like to clarify one thing, training is something I enjoy, especially S/B/D, so you might say I’m more geared towards PL based routines, such as 5/3/1 that was an option that I looked at yesterday doing some research I guess I forgot to make that clear… in addition, I’d prefer to be in the gym at least 4 days a week. So the main thing im looking for in a routine is a focus on S/B/D that hits everything twice a week, which is kind of why I was looking at a 5/3/1 based routine.

To give you more of an idea, when I wake up every morning, the gym is something I look forward to. Squatting, Benching, and Deadlifting, as sad as it sounds (don’t worry I have friends too) are one of my more favorite things to do. I mean ive always been an active kid

HOWEVER, I did read those articles you posted just now. Here are my takeaways

Strength Training: College Edition by Ben Bruno

What I like:

  • 4 days a week
  • Gives an OPTION for everything to be hit twice a week depending on how you structured it. So he said Push, Pull, Legs, Optional…I guess one could do Push/Legs/Pull/Fullbody and structure rest days around that

Again I don’t want to come off as THAT guy that thinks he knows everything, but I was thinking maybe the template could be more aligned with how I prefer to train…again not doubting the template just putting multiple options out there

typing this response it seems like I have my own answer in that maybe I should just do 531 because its really customizable and seems to fit my goals…

however, I would like to thank @TX_iron for the article he provided because the principles talked about in the article can be utilized

also I read the article @TrainForPain posted, thanks for that as well!

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5/3/1 is usually the first thing everyone tells beginners to do, so there’s nothing wrong there if you enjoy it! Pick a template and run, man. You’re all good.

Just eat!


Have you considered a therapist? I’m joking, I’m joking.

If 531 looks fun to you, buy the relevant books and go for it man.

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531 is the way, the truth and the light. No-one comes to swoleness except by 531.


@RampantBadger as a former fat kid, I started my "lifting “career” " with a weight loss journey. Once I lost the chub, I was always afraid of gaining it back, which, to no one’s surprise, ended up being the factor of me not making any progress.

Now, the funny part is, I LOVEE to eat…like my dinners will be like 900g chicken breast 600g sweet potato and a ton of green veggies…its just that I keep my CALORIES lower than they should have. However, I have been better with that in the past year or so and not been flat out starving myself.

I am also logging my nutrition, I weigh my food and log it with MyFitnessPal. Will start out with BW x 20, monitor weight progress. I do have a training log set up in here, should I put my nutrition stuff there as well?

I guess you could say my issues with food would be orthorexia, like I eat like a “bodybuilder” cause I don’t wanna get fat (again)

was looking at 5/3/1 for beginners. It seems to have everything I like:

  • frequency/volume on lifts
  • ability to customize accessories (push/pull/core)

ever seen that one before? I could post my idea of it here, or maybe make a new topic over at 531. My only concern is why can’t it be done 4x a week? Again not to be that guy but wouldn’t hitting everything twice be better for a beginner since you build technique?

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My favorite that I’ve seen is what @ChickenLittle posted, but I’m not an expert.

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I like it because it a complete program. No guessing about, 5s, FSL, leader, anchor, blah, blah, blah. Plenty of frequency, volume and choices for assistance.


Just curios op… Before issues arose what was your body weight and lifts before the drop off? At your age and if you don’t have any health issues . Rebounding to that previous state should be done in a short amount of time. Could you clarify what you mean by previous fat kid?

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I’ll be fair - hard gainers is not what I’d suggest. The guy is 120lb and can’t squat his own body weight. Widow maker sets are goning kill him. 50 to 100 push / pulls reps 4 time’s a week on top the bench and press work. That’s a huge amount of volume. I’m not sure he’s gonna need all that to grow.

I’m not saying it won’t work. But I’d ease into that sort of volume with a simple version. Like this one.

OP- if it feels that there are loads of opinions, there are. But all of them work. Do a programme, come back and let people know how it’s working for you. If there are any problems like “finding recover hard” or “not able to keep up with the progression” someone here will help out.
Good luck.


In the same grain of what @bulldog9899 is getting at, I think we need more info as to where the OP was before these issues, and maybe a bit more about what is keeping him at such a low bodyweight. Orthorexia isn’t going to be fixed by doing 5/3/1. And you don’t eat like a bodybuilder if you weigh 120lbs.

These are probably the most valuable words on this thread OP, if you want my opinion.

I honestly feel that their might be some unhealthy body image issues going on here based on what little information given.