T Nation

Being a Newb


I remember being self conscious walking into a real gym for the first time. Seeing people who dwarf you in all aspects is humbling to say the least...but one thing I did learn was really making progress isn't something you do in your spare time.

It is something you mold into your life, making it a part of who you are...that guy who pushes his own limits daily to see what he is made of.

This thread is for the newbs....the guys who really believe deep down that other people can't tell them what they can do before they do it..and the ones willing to work hard enough to change who they are inside and out.

I will add more as I think of it...but to start, I wanted to discuss the most important aspect....COMMITMENT. It doesn't matter if you have a diet plan put together by God himself, you won't be making people say "damn" if you hit the gym one day....let personal or job issues take you away for the next 3 days and hit the gym again.

Your gym attendance should be like brushing your teeth...assuming people don't duck for cover if you use any "H" words.

I think most newbs need to be in the gym at least 4-5 days a week....with a "hardly ever" on the "4".


Good idea for a thread.
Any thoughts on my newb workout hypothetical question?
I agree with what you said about commitment.
Consistency is key.


I know it was asked and discussed a bit in other threads but I figured it was applicable to this topic.

What should a noobies split look like?
I know there isn't an ideal perfect split for everyone but what would you reccomend as a starting point for a completely untrained brand new lifter?

What would be the ProfX beginners workout plan?
Body part split?
Upper lower?
Push pull?
Or perhaps GASP full body?

4-5 days a week sounds right.


See, I approach it kind of from the flip side, usually recommending a beginner aim for hitting the gym 3 or 4 times a week. The idea being, going from zero days of exercise to training every single weekday emphasizes an all or nothing approach to it. "Eh, I trained Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but worked late Thursday and missed the gym so I'll take a long weekend and start fresh Monday."

There's obviously going to be some stumbling along the way as the newbie learns how to adapt to their new schedule, but I believe a beginner can see very good progress on a well-designed 3 or 4 day plan, and once a foundation (of strength, endurance/conditioning, muscle, and attitude) is laid, they can increase the training if needed. In the short-term, though, I've seen better initial momentum built by "starting small" and working up from there.

I totally agree about the commitment/consistency part of it though. The sooner fitness/training/diet/whatever becomes part of a beginner's new lifestyle, the better. Part of that will come from sticking to a routine (lifting and training), part will come from enveloping themselves into the activity (by reading, learning, etc.), and part will come from finding people with a similar interest whether they're also a beginner or if they're more experienced.


Cool thread idea, but what does this part mean? Sorry if I'm missing something, just don't get the "H" words reference haha


Agreed 100%. I don't think a progress will be slowed by going 4-5 days a week, but it's easier to start at 3-4 days a week and increase from there when progress begins to stall.

But that really almost amounts to semantics, the key is consistency and I think we all agree on that.

I also completely agree that it's daunting to walk into a gym as a skinny newb where everyone seems to be so much more advanced. I remember doing certain exercises, not even completely sure if I was doing them right and being self conscious that the more advanced guys were judging me. That being said, even doing movements a bit weird or not optimally is not all that important as a newb, just keep at it and learn as you go.


Things I wish I did from the start as a noob:

track my macros/cals so you KNOW what you are eating, not guessing(especially with protein!)
followed a pre made routine instead of making it up as i went along
-on that line of thought trained full body 3-4x a week focusing on the big lifts with 5x5s(finally doing this years after my 'noob' period was my personal tipping point)
didnt buy any supplements outside of whey, fish oil, bcaa and creatine
commit to long term plans instead of 'get ripped/jacked in 4 weeks'

So that being said, those are the things I would reccomend for a noob.


In my experience in college with teaching several of my roommates/friends how to train, I've found that many are very enthusiastic and committed with the lifting aspect and are very teachable. However, getting them to put an equal emphasis on nutrition and simply getting in enough food to grow is the hard part. This past year for example, I had a roommate who was 5'9, 135 soaking wet.

He lifted with me almost every night and worked his ass off in the gym, but I just couldn't get him to eat for the longest time. He'd sleep in til noon most days, snack throughout the day, and his real "meals" consisted mainly of fast food. I finally decided to start just cooking extra food and having him eat with me whenever I did, as I love cooking and preparing food isn't a chore for me.

I just had him pay me for the food he ate, and he made pretty good progress from that point on. Gained about 15 lbs and his bf didn't appear to increase, so a good first 8 months of training. Sorry if this posted twice..my browser froze up


Great post and great thread idea. Luckily for me the ONLY 2 things I got right when I started training was consistency and training 5 times a week. I did everything else wrong, but still made great progress thanks to those principles.


I never believed there was any real special split beginner, intermediates, or even advanced trainees should follow. I think any split will work well provided:

1-You are consistent and it fits within the rest of your life's schedule
2-You diet allows for gains to be made
3-You recovery fits with your chosen degree of volume

Now obviously going to the gym twice a week isn't exactly going to yield much (if any) in the way of gains IMO, but I think most will see where I'm going with my thinking. Too little won't work, just as for most, too much either.



This might hit you hard, but I do agree that it IS an "all or nothing" thing in the beginning unless your personal goals are on par with the average New Years Resolutioner.

This is really about how a newb becomes one of those guys that made you feel insecure when you first walked in the gym.

Accepting a "see what you can do" attitude seems to keep most people looking rather..."average".


I agree with this. Some noobs are teenage kids with no jobs while some are adults with a lot of responsibility and strict time schedules. You have to tailor the training and recovery to fit the lifestyle.


I fully disagree. A noob consitantly hitting the gym 3x a week and getting their nutrition on track will see results. Even 2x a week if they are building that foundation. You are talking about taking a stock car with zero miliage and going into 5th gear from parked.

I doubt anybody will start at full steam from the get go and stick with it. They should try to build towards that but a pure noob going in there and benching 3x10 squatting 3x10 and Deadlifting 3x10 on day one regardless of the load is going to be sidelined with DOMS for a few days.


...as far as what to actually do when you get to the gym.

Look, the world has changed. It used to be that you actually had to walk into a gym to start training to learn how to do it.

Now, every newb with an internet connection or wi-fi device is able to get completely turned around by Googling 15 different viewpoints only to confuse themselves right into stagnation.

I don't follow every trend or every author with a website. In general, doing that will not do me more good at this point than doing what I know works for me from experience, so excuse this advice if it does not fall in line with what you may believe to be the current trend or "En Vogue" training advice.

I liked the idea of thinking of most of these things in terms of "The Rule of 3's". For instance, the general outline or skeleton of a workout was to first plan what you are training and to then find at least 3 exercises that help you hit it from the best angles.

If my goal is to train biceps, I am at least doing 3 movements. Exceptions may be back (which can often take up to 4 different movements just to make sure you hit it from all angles) or even legs.

The idea is to find a place to start....with the full understanding that this is not some die-hard template but a place to find what works and what doesn't for yourself.

I believe in BODY PART SPLITS often pairing a big body part like back with a smaller body part like biceps.

If I will be in the gym 5 days a week, the goal is not to come up with some specific list of body parts to hit for each day.

it is t understand that if you train biceps on Monday, you may want to avoid doing back the very next day when it uses the same muscles for many of the movements.

...or don't train chest on Tuesday...and then train shoulders the next day unless for short periods of time.

Doing this long term could sometimes lead to injury or poor recovery.

Also. my goal is not to fuss about what someone else thinks is right. In the end, the results are all that matters.


I said nothing about a "see what you can do" attitude. That makes it sounds a little too "golly gee, just try your best, you're still a winner in my book no matter what."

I'm talking about what I've seen to be as a more effective way to establish a consistent gym habit. I'd rather see someone focus on being in the gym for the next 8 weeks every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:30-7:00, regardless of snow, sniffles, or breaking up with a girl, compared to them shooting for five days a week, which increases the opportunities for obstacles to appear, which increases the chances for their willpower and dedication to be tested right off the bat.

I've seen more people build that consistency and momentum by starting with slightly fewer training days and increasing if/when appropriate, compared to people who start hard, fast, and full of fire, and then fizzle. Their goals of wanting to be the biggest, baddest beast in the gym isn't always enough to overcome some of those hurdles.

But really, I think we're focusing on smaller points. plenty, plenty of people have gotten solid results beginning with all sorts of plans - 3, 4, or 5 days a week - the common factors is that consistency, week after week, month after month, and eventually year after year.


Amen to this. The (over)abundance of information is the best and the worst thing to happen to lifters in a long time. It takes a while to develop the filter of what's worth listening to/trying out and what isn't.

Interesting approach. I can definitely see it as a good rule of thumb to start with, eventually with the person figuring out what might need a little more work or a little less.

But don't you think beginners need a little more structure than this? Wouldn't it be more effective to tell them, "A and B on this day, C and D on that day, E and F on this day, G on that day, rest, repeat."? I'd think too much freedom to experiment could also slow a beginner down.


I can understand that something is better than nothing.

However, for instance, I am training my cousin right now. His biggest issue...is focusing on making it to the gym instead of only on getting laid. He has great genetics but he will never see anything close to his own potential because he can't make it a priority.

Yes, something is always better than nothing.

But "something" isn't what makes people say, "holy shit, what the fuck have you been doing.".

There is a difference.


I would want a newb with a goal of being anywhere near his absolute best eventually to understand the WHY as well....and in general, it is a simple concept.

Yes, I used to give a "split" with days listed. However, what usually happened was me then getting hit with more questions about why they can't train something else on a Wednesday.

Understanding that the goal is RECOVERY and growth will help them understand why "biceps and back" can be on monday and then chest on tuesdays......instead of chest...then shoulders....then biceps...then back.


Noobs, look at their arguments and see what they agree on:

1) Consistency is EXTREMELY important (perhaps the most important)
2) Diet is EXTREMELY important, and many/most noobs ignore it
3) You should train 3-5 days/week.


Consistency and commitment with patience and solid regular eating and good sleep

The prof has mentioned how info overload confuses many new trainers (and plenty of others) before and that's why you get noobs doing over complex or weird unbalanced routines

Exercise selection and guidance on execution is important to the total newb imo

Sometimes I think someone new would do better to follow a John Grimek routine and eat 1940s style than get lost in info overload and making things complicated

Motivation has to come from within hence I can see the 5 day approach making training 'what you do' not something to fit in

Finally for those days you don't feel it have CT Fletcher yell "get that shit!" as a gentle reminder


Hey now you guys are confusing me, lol. What ever happened to the "less is more", "3 day/week fullbody/compound lift only, no isolation" crowd? Now you're saying more volume in the beginning as well? If the "less is more" doesn't work, why is it written about so much? Has this worked for anyone? Seems most of the people that made great progress here are talking about 5 days/wk.