T Nation

Beginning Again

Alright, alright, alright. I’m definitely intimidated to start a thread on any other board than this one, so here goes. Guess this will probably turn into a log if all goes well. Just looking for some tips and where to start on the long road to GETTIN’ JACKED UP!

Height: 6’
Current weight: 202 lbs

So here’s my story as brief as possible. I started to get into lifting around age 16 when I joined the high school football team. Unfortunately, I dislocated my shoulder twice and opted to get surgery to fix it. Well, that kind of killed my athletic career (I had been one of the best athletes in my town growing up) as I got into drinking and smoking during recovery, and also got more into schoolwork. Anyway, I’ve gone to the gym on and off for years to come, the longest stretch of progression and consistency lasting about 6 months (but at that time I didn’t know much about nutrition or training). Since then I have read lots of books and websites and learned a lot, but have not put this knowledge into practice. I have recently quit cigarrettes for good, so I believe it is now time to step up to the plate.

I’m about 2 weeks into a clean diet and weight training, and cardio. The first two weeks my diet racked up to about 2500 calories (macronutrients being 40p/40c/20f). I’m on my third day of cutting calories to 2000 calories per day with the same macronutrient split. For food i usually stick to tuna, chicken, red meat, protein powder for protein…rice, potatoes, veggies, pasta, pita bread for carbs…and fish oil capsules, olive oil, avocado for fats. I also drink around 8 bottles of water a day.

For supplements I use protein powder (Optimum Nutritions 100% Whey Protein), creatine monohydrate from GNC, and Glutamine powder. I also take fish oil capsules to add fat to the diet when needed and a multivitamin. I recently added Chromium Picolinate and I haven’t really noticed much of a difference (it is supposed to regulate insulin release).

As for weight training I usually do one body part per day (i.e., chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs – one per day). Here is an example of my weekly breakdown.

Monday – Chest
Tuesday – Back
Wednesday – Abs and cardio
Thursday – Legs
Friday – Shoulders
Saturday – Abs and cardio
Sunday – Rest

I like to keep my workouts short, as in around 40 minutes, and usually only do cardio for 15 minutes max. I have read that at anything above an hour and testosterone production is broken down, so I try to stick to that. Also, I recently strained my lower back doing deadlifts, so I’m taking a break from those. And I never learned how to squat properly, so I’m going to look into having someone teach me that.

Also, I am going to experiment with doing opposite bodyparts consecutively. For example, doing a set of chest, then a set of back. Then rinse and repeat for another set or two. I got this from ‘The Body Sculpting Bible for Men’, as I did alot of other info that I have learned. Let me know if any of you have read it yourself.

Anyway, this turned into way too long of an intro. My goal: To be around 215 pounds and ripped up. Hope you all can give me some criticisms and advice on where to start. Basically - Should I cut first or bulk up? Unfortunately I don’t have a before pic because I just got my first digicam a few days ago.

I wanted to switch it up and go big (well, big for me at least). So I tried a Giant Set. What I was shooting for was a series that goes: 1 set DB Benchpress (8 reps), 1 set single arm DB Rows (8 reps), 1 set of DB Flies (8 reps), and 1 set of DB Pullovers (8 reps).

I aimed to do all of that 4 times, with 1 minute of rest in between each Giant set. I only ended up getting 3 sets of all of it in, and some of the individual sets with only 6 reps.

DB Benchpress - 65 x 8 x 3 (6 reps on the third set using 70 lbs)

DB Rows - 50 x 8 x 3 (got all of these)

DB Flies - 45 x 8 x 3 (got all of these)

DB Pullovers - 45 x 8 x 3 (got 6 on the 3rd set using 50 lbs)

Kind of hard to explain but I’m sure alot of people have heard of giant sets. It was the first time I’ve tried this, and I must say it left me huffing and puffing pretty hard…

although, I don’t know how much that says since I’m not in the greatest shape I’ve ever been in. I don’t think it was necessary for me being that I just got back into the gym a few weeks ago, but I wanted to try it and it was tough, which I liked.

Sounds to me like you’re over-analyzing, sweating the details and losing sight of the big picture. At your stage of the game the best advice is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

  1. Learn the big, compound, multi-joint lifts and base ALL workouts around them for the time being. Lift with perfect form and under strict control always!

  2. Do whole body workouts. Body part splits are great but better left until you have more experience. M-W-F: Whole body; T-TH Abs, Cardio, Auxiliary.

  3. 5-6 small meals a day. Make sure one of them is breakfast!

  4. Don’t neglect your peri/post workout nutrition (Whey, creatine, sugars)

As far as bulking or cutting question, the answer is always the same. Do YOU want to lose fat or build muscle? As a beginner you can do both. Train with consistency and intensity, keep your diet dialed in and your body composition will change for the better. Newbie muscle gains (and fat loss) can be very encouraging. Enjoy!

Thanks for the advice Kruiser. I definitely want to concentrate more on the compound lifts. Problem is I strained my lower back doing deadlifts when I recently got back into the gym, I think it was like my second day back. Bummer. Waiting for it to feel better but its been about a month. The pain is a little less each day, but I try to work through it. Should I stay away from squats while I still have pain in my lower back as well?

Also, I’m not sure I understand exactly what you mean by basing my workouts around the compound lifts. Do you mean doing squats one day, then supplementing that by concentrating on legs also that day? Chest and tris on days I benchpress?

Also, for a post-workout mean, I usually stick to 2 scoops of whey protein (equals about 50g of protein), 5g creatine, 5g glutamine, and a banana to kick up the sugar and carb spike. Does this sound about right?

My main goal right now is to build muscle and lose fat (surprise, surprise). I don’t know if doing this will make me weigh more or less though. Hopefully since I just started again I can do both. I guess we’ll see. I guess the real question is to do with my diet. I am trying a 2000 calorie diet right now. Is this good for me starting out? Or could I go higher as a beginner and still lose fat?

You base a workout on the compound moves simply by doing them first. They’re more challenging technically (esp. olympic lifts) and neurologically so do them when you’re fresh. Afterward, switch over to dumbbells, uni-lateral work, cables, and machines to “finish off” those last muscle fibers and pump some blood into the area.

Big lifts: Squat, Deadlift, Military Press, Bench, Chin/Pull-ups, Dips, Rows.

You will have no problem doing a few sets of all of these during a workout. Have fun with the parameters. Vary the bench angle, try front squats, deadlift variations, etc. Focus on Squats Monday, Bench Tuesday, whatever keeps you interested but still do the other lifts every workout. Stick to 8-12 reps for the most part until your Central Nervous System (CNS) has come up to speed, then you can start adding some weight to the bar and do fewer reps.

Your back pain lasting a month is a real concern. I’m not a doctor and even if I was I wouldn’t diagnose you over the internet. As a beginner you have to be very careful that your quickly increasing muscle strength (due to CNS adaptation) does not cause damage to the slower developing tendons and ligaments. Working through pain is generally a bad idea unless your doctor has OK’d it. I suggest you see yours or a good physical therapist. In the meantime: If it hurts, don’t do it.

Edit: Almost forgot - I sincerely doubt that 2000 kcal/day is sufficient for a weight trainer at your size. Your best bet is to eat a lot more but keep it extra clean. It’s hard to get fat from too much grilled chicken breast, steamed veggies and brown rice. Up your calories, see how you respond and then adjust accordingly.

Cool, thanks for the advice again Kruiser. I really appreciate it. I have definitely been neglecting the big lifts for too long and will make them the staple of my workout and see how it goes.

As for the back, I feel like I should get it checked out. All of my friends tell me that its just a strain and resting it will just make it weaker. But I don’t think they are taking into consideration that I am weighttraining as well. I get a free session with a personal trainer at my gym on Wednesday, so I’ll see what he says about it and maybe hit up the doc’s office.

Question about my nutrition. I have always stuck to 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For me that 200-250 grams of protein per day.

If I’m eating, say, around 3200 calories a day now, should my carbs be pushed up, or fat, or both? Or should I not worry about that at this point?

I eat all clean foods but I am just curious as to what people think my macro breakdown should be with a higher calorie diet.

[quote]MGreezy wrote:
Question about my nutrition. I have always stuck to 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For me that 200-250 grams of protein per day.

If I’m eating, say, around 3200 calories a day now, should my carbs be pushed up, or fat, or both? Or should I not worry about that at this point?

I eat all clean foods but I am just curious as to what people think my macro breakdown should be with a higher calorie diet.[/quote]

Keep the protein up On the others experiment find what works best for you. some ppl thats more carbs some more fast. heck many take in more carbs training days and less none.

Your eating clean get your calories in above all.


OK, so I’ve decided on a main goal. Instead of cutting I’m going to bulk up to at least 215 pounds, hopefully by the end of June 2007. The 2000 calorie diet was leaving me with no energy and in a permanent bad mood. It is crazy how much diet can affect your energy level and mood. After reading yesterday’s posts by you guys I kicked up my diet and ended the day with about 3400 clean calories. I felt SO much better.

Today is an off day, so I’m going to try to eat around 3000 calories. I’m hoping people will give me feedback as to if this is sufficient for an off day diet.

Also, is 3400 good for a training day if I’m 200 lbs, or should I go even higher if I want to bulk at this weight (hopefully not adding too much fat, as I already have a nice rubber tire around the waist)?

Also, I watched Arnold’s “Pumping Iron” last night before bed, which was a bad idea the night before an off day. I’m so motivated to lift my ass off right now, but know I have to rest. No cardio today as I have work later (I’m a waiter on the weekends) and should burn a good amount of cals doing that. I’ll be posting today’s diet later tonight before bed.

why not slowly raise the intake and get to a point your maintaining and making body comp changes at a Higher intake fix your metabolism thats shut the heck down from eating like a bird first.

Up your intake 250-500 every day stay there for a few weeks see what it does. then once gaining halts for any two week period up it a touch again 250 or so. get back to a pint where your body is working right you have energy etc instead up jumping from 200 to over 3000 and gaining a ton of fat real fast on a screwed up metabolism

Hope that helps

Good call Phill. I didn’t take into account that my metabolism was slowed from eating such a low cal diet. I’m going to level back to 2500 where I was making gains when I started a few weeks ago, then increase slowly.

Anyway, I’m definitely over-analyzing when I think I should concentrate on just getting stronger and getting my form down. Thanks for the advice.

Work HARD eat right and reap the rewards bro keep it simple


Sunday, March 25, 2007

I hit the gym today with the most intensity and anticipation that I’ve had in probably years. I was so pumped, and in turn, I feel nice and pumped afterwards.

Reading some articles on T-Nation for the first time and listening to some of your advice this is what my workout consisted of. I started a little notebook journal to take with me to the gym to record what I did:

Standing BB Shoulder Press (using the shorter barbell - anyone know how much this weighs?)
@50 + bar x 10 x 1
@70 + bar x 1 x 9
@70 + bar x 1 x 5 (stalled out)

Smith Machine Pullups (forget what these are called - saw them in Brenden’s Training log - your an inspiration by the way bro)
BW x 12 x 1
BW x 10 x 2

One-Arm DB Rows
@45 x 10 x 2
@55 x 10 x 1

BW x 12 x 1
BW x 10 x 2
BW + 10 x 9 x 1

Incline DB Flies
@30 x 10 x 1
@35 x 10 x 1
@40 x 10 x 1

Tricep Rope Pulldown
@45 x 10 x 1
@60 x 10 x 1
@65 x 10 x 1
@75 x 10 x 1


Best workout I’ve had in a while. I feel like I’m finally hitting the core muscle systems and making my whole body stronger. I can’t wait until my back feels better so I can start deadlifts and squats. Seeing the trainer on Wednesday, hopefully he’ll let me know if I should see the doc or not. It feels real good today though, little to no pain.

Almost forgot. For a pre-workout meal I had scrambled eggs (5 egg whites, 1 whole egg) and 3/4 cup (dry) oatmeal with a sliced banana in it. Post-workout immediately after the gym was 2 scoops of Whey Protein (~50g protein) mixed with 5g creatine and 5g glutamine, a banana, and an orange. My order of Surge is on the way. Let me know if these sound OK for pre/post meals.

Looks good but that pre w/o meal looks a bit low on protein maybe 25 or so grams

Keep it up


Werd. I usually throw a scoop of protein in the oatmeal but forgot for some reason.

Do you have a piercing in your armpit???

[quote]Miserere wrote:
Do you have a piercing in your armpit???[/quote]

LOL, I wish…that would be gangsta.

No, just a dirty mirror that I’m taking the picture in. Toothpaste?

Think you’re on the right track, and yeah you are overanalyzing your shit a lil. just make sure you get a lot stronger, you aren’t that strong.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yea, I know man. It sucks being a relatively “bigger” guy at my gym and being out-benched by some smaller guys. But I’m on my way at least.

Anyway, I want to start a Monday/Wednesday/Friday lifting schedule for the week, but I lifted yesterday so I’m going to adjust by lifting again on Wednesday. So today I did 17 minutes on the elliptical machine. I couldn’t resist the weights though, so I just randomly did some DB hammer curls @ 30lbs for 3 sets. No reason really, just couldn’t resist going to the gym and not lifting SOMETHING. Anyway, I finished up with a few static core exercises (in pushup position, but on elbows, I raised one arm at a time forward, trying to keep my body straight). I also practiced rack squat form with just the bar.