T Nation

Beginner Seeking Reshaping


#1

Hey Testinators, I recently decided to "grow up" by quitting drinking and smoking, start lifting and definitely change my eating habits. I'm 21-yeard old, 170 (5'7) cm tall and weigh at about 68 kilos, which I guess is around 150 pounds, and (not quite sure about that) about 20% body fat. My goal is to reshape myself, by hiding my belly and building proper and symmetrical physique.

I have little to none lifting experience, did some working out in the past, know a thing or two, but need a general advice about workout type and nutrition. I think The 5/2 Fat-Loss Diet for Lifters will suit me nicely (if you have better suggestions, i'll appreciate it), but totally lost about workout routine. Should I first build proper strength or go directly with hypertrophy plan? Should I do cardio and, if yes, what type? Should I use supplementation?

I'm really confused right now and my country is known for the personal trainers that need personal trainers (atleast most of) and broscience, so I decided to get the info I need by myself from respected and well-grounded sources like T-Nation staff and user base. Well, I guess this is it, if you need to know something more, feel free to ask. Will wait for your response. Best regards.


#2

hey buddy!

I’m pretty new here and I can’t give a lot of advice on what to do other than focus on something like 5x5 strong lifts. I can however tell you what NOT to do.

I turned 21 18 months ago. I was 173cm tall, mid 20% bf and 69 kg, so very similar to you. I started off doing body part splits and eating everything, I also thought whey protein was a magic potion. and after 6 months I finally decided to ‘cut’ since everybody else seemed to do it.

I was stupid and cut my calories to sometime like 1500. After 4 months I had lost most of the strength I had built up and I was still fat. Since then I found a full body program that upped the weight every week.Most of my lifts have doubled. I am now weighing about 75kg but my Bf is a little lower than when I started.

You are lucky that you have found T-Nation so early.


#3

For a beginner that doesn’t have much direction, I suggest building the foundation for fitness and health. This includes:

  1. Having a decent level of general physical preparedness (doing normal activities with ease and not passing out after running a mile).
  2. Gaining practical experience with good body mechanics - learning to transfer force through the body efficiently and safely which can also help with posture. This can be learned through weight training or other load bearing activities.
  3. Developing some level of coordination by just doing more physical activities.
  4. Learning proper recovery methods such as eating mostly unprocessed foods, getting enough rest and finding ways to reduce stress.
  5. Gaining a bit of experience with weight gain and weight loss to have a general understanding of how it works.

These tools will help you transition into most other physical activities/sports that you choose to specialize in. Most of this stuff you’ll have to learn through trial and error but people are here to help.

Read through the forums where these topics have been discussed. I remember Chris Colucci linking a good article on a program to start off on. I generally advised Starting Strength in the past but I think learning basic movement patterns should be emphasized first. Do some conditioning and start eating better. Eventually you’ll need to come up with specific goals to have a better vision and plan.


#4

[quote]lift206 wrote:
For a beginner that doesn’t have much direction, I suggest building the foundation for fitness and health. This includes:[/quote]
I really like this advice. Nice of you to lay out the goals and benefits of this lifestyle up front.


#5

lift206, thank you for your advice! It is valuable not only for beginners but also for people with some experience.

Personally for me the most difficult part is “finding ways to reduce stress”.

[quote]Murraynt wrote:
I was stupid and cut my calories to sometime like 1500. After 4 months I had lost most of the strength I had built up and I was still fat. [/quote]

I was close to making this mistake, too! And I had to learn a lot about nutrition since then.


#6

[quote]bradley5 wrote:
lift206, thank you for your advice! It is valuable not only for beginners but also for people with some experience.

Personally for me the most difficult part is “finding ways to reduce stress”.

[quote]Murraynt wrote:
I was stupid and cut my calories to sometime like 1500. After 4 months I had lost most of the strength I had built up and I was still fat. [/quote]

I was close to making this mistake, too! And I had to learn a lot about nutrition since then.[/quote]

Glad to help. For me the easiest way to reduce stress is to change my mindset. I do what I can and don’t worry about things outside of my control.

Don’t worry about little things either. For example if someone cuts you off on the freeway, don’t worry about it because the guy who cut you off could care less. For finance, set a realistic plan and add a safety net - when you stick to the plan and see it work, you worry less about it. Use sticky notes, planners and/or a notebook to write down thoughts or tasks so you don’t keep having to remind yourself of what to do. Staying organized and having a plan helps. If plans don’t work, learn and make adjustments in the future.

In the past 4 days I got 5,5,5, and 1.5 hours of sleep which is far from ideal. I still had good training sessions (only had to back off on 1 set in two training sessions) because I believe I was able to get in the right mindset for training despite everything going on. Commuting to work and spending time on my final project for school are things I can’t change so I don’t stress about it - I just get it done. The things I can control are making sure I get in enough calories (and a bit more to compensate for lack of sleep) and staying hydrated. Tonight I’ll finally catch up on sleep. I can’t control life stresses but I don’t let it bring me down.


#7

Very good info so far.

[quote]l.boteff wrote:
I think The 5/2 Fat-Loss Diet for Lifters will suit me nicely (if you have better suggestions, i’ll appreciate it)[/quote]
That’s fine if you want to try it, but you still need to know how to eat on those five days. This is a good start: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/simple-diet-for-athletes

I think the plan Lift was mentioning was my often-suggested bodyweight routine. It’s a way to build a base level of strength, coordination, and simple muscular conditioning. You could jump right into a well-designed weight training routine, but it wouldn’t hurt to try this for a week or three, if only to see where you are.
Mon, Wed, and Fri
A) Squat 2x12-15
B) Push-Up 2x12-15
C) Alternating Lunge 2x12-15 per leg
D) Neutral-Grip Pull-Up or Horizontal Row 2x12-15
E) Plank 2x15-count
F) Burpee 2x15

Sure, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially if you’re “20% bodyfat” which means you’re definitely carrying some extra weight around. The burpees in the above routine are a very brief sample of “cardio”. Simply walking is a straight-forward way to get your cardio in, but it can take a while. https://www.t-nation.com/training/get-ripped-get-walking
Jump rope and treadmill work (especially incline treadmill walking) are other good options.

After you build a base, complexes are another great way to go (basically doing 4, 5, or 6 free weight exercises in a row, almost like a circuit.) There have been a ton of articles about them, but I wouldn’t say they’re the best bet for beginners.

Other than a protein and carb drink when you lift, supplements can pretty much wait. Get your training and nutrition in order first.


#8

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

I think the plan Lift was mentioning was my often-suggested bodyweight routine. It’s a way to build a base level of strength, coordination, and simple muscular conditioning. You could jump right into a well-designed weight training routine, but it wouldn’t hurt to try this for a week or three, if only to see where you are.
Mon, Wed, and Fri
A) Squat 2x12-15
B) Push-Up 2x12-15
C) Alternating Lunge 2x12-15 per leg
D) Neutral-Grip Pull-Up or Horizontal Row 2x12-15
E) Plank 2x15-count
F) Burpee 2x15
[/quote]

A template like this is a good place to start but it is not about doing the movement just to do the movement. It is about doing it with purpose to actively engage muscle groups for a specific movement pattern. Good body mechanics go beyond just the leverages that people see and what people often try to mimic from an elite powerlifter, olympic lifter, strongman or other strength athlete. What’s in common in those high levels of performance? Effective stabilization of the joints with the greatest ranges of motion under heavy load: the scapulae, spine and hips. People can’t learn what this means only by seeing and reading about it, it’s something they have to feel.

IMO, stabilization and maximum global muscle fiber recruitment should be learned alongside using optimal leverages for the individual. The current definition of good body mechanics that is thrown around is just using optimal leverages without emphasis on what’s going on inside the body. Learning these things provide practical application for everyday activities like picking up odd shaped heavy items with reduced risk for injury. Effective load transfer through the body sets a foundation for safety and/or performance.


#9

All good advice here. My two cents: do Starting Strength for as long as it lets you progress and pick almost any diet related article off this site and follow it. I use the 5/2 but I’ve been training and eating to train since 2010. The 5/2 is good, but I’m not sure how well it’d work when you’re just starting out. Nothing wrong with trying it, just be aware of the potential drawbacks.


#10

Thanks alot!