T Nation

Complete Review, Skinny Newbie.


#1

Hey guys!

I have a whole number of questions, so bear with me. All of your help is very, very much appreciated.

Primary Goal: Hypertrophy (size)
Secondary goal: Strength

Stats. 24 years old, 6'5", 185 lbs. Yes. That thin. And not from doing a ton of high-intensity cardio. I do walk an absolute ton, however. I would say I spend a good 2-3 hours a day walking around town (I live in downtown Toronto, Canada).

I am actually averse to doing more cardio because (although I show a tiny bit of a belly), this will better be solved by gaining muscle on my chest (and everywhere else, for that matter) before burning a ton of calories. I actually believe I probably don't take in enough calories to be making significant gains. My metabolism runs like a rabbit.

Diet:

Pre-workout

1 hour before training:
30 grams Whey Isolote

15 minutes before training:
1 apple (should this change to a banana, for instance? How high a GI-index food should this Carb be?)

Post-workout (Immediately)

PWO Shake (Anabolic Window-- www23.netrition.com/nutrabolics_anabolic_window.html )

Throughout the day:

Even though I am thin and believe I need more calories in my diet, I stick to mainly clean foods.

The only set meal is breakfast:

Quick Oats (plain, but quick absorbing...does this make any difference?) with honey as a sweetner.
30 grams of Protein Blend

Other than that I go for whole-grain breads, brown/wild rice, lean cuts of beef and skinless chicken breast. I don't eat enough vegetables, in all likelihood.

I try to have a big serving of broccoli with dinner, and salads instead of fries when I'm eating out, things like that. I also take a serving of greens+ (a powdered greens product, nutrition info at www.genuinehealth.com/english/pbn/index.php?id=8§ion=43 ) once daily, which, in some ways, should help with the nutrients that I'd otherwise be lacking.

I pretty much only drink water (no milk, either.) It seems a lot of people are polarized on the issue. I know it's an easy way to up the calories (and protein) in my diet, but given that there seems to be a lot of debate, my body doesn't process lactose so well (although I could buy lactose-free milk) and it's additional expense when I am a university student, I forego it for now.

Additional comments: I make breakfast (and dinner, most nights) but otherwise, a lot of the protein (and greens) ends up coming from either protein powder or greens+, as I find it difficult to do a ton of cooking.

Questions: Is milk strongly recommended, given that, among other things, I probably need to bulk up calories?

I try to make sure that I'm eating at least something every two hours, but I don't try to stuff myself, ever. Should I consciously focus on eating larger meals for my main meals of the day?

Is my fruit/vegetable intake completely inadequate? What are easy ways of having vegetables available for every meal? Just a bag of baby carrots, things like that? Suggestions?

I know the best way to add calories is to just eat more, but realistically, it would be a lot simpler and less stressful on my schedule (working, full-time school, training, social life) to add a weight-gainer. Is this alright, or are you, the reader/replier, going to chew me out for the suggestion? If it is, I was considering Cytogainer.

As sometimes I go from class to the gym, I'm unable to be making food/taking shakes and such. If I was looking for a Bar alternative Pre-workout, would be suggested? I am guessing I would take it about an hour beforehand.

Supplements:

  • Whey Isoloate (pre-workout, included in Anabolic Window PWO)
  • Protein blend (Isobolic, a Whey/Casein/Egg sustained blend) for between meals and bed)
  • Greens+, once daily.
  • A good multivitamin, x2
  • Fish oil
  • Creatine Monohydrate (taken with grape juice, as I've read high-GI liquids are best for creatine absorption)

Question: I know it's not necessary, but if I were to add one supplement to this, what should it be? A NO product? I've heard a great deal of conflicting information. A ton of people say it's the best supplement they've ever tried. Some people say that it just makes you look bigger while/after lifting, and doesn't actually help you.

Workout:

I am working off of this:

www.muscletalk.co.uk/newsletter-0307.aspx

...as it is supposed to be a good hypertrophy program for beginners. Again, I don't claim to know anything as fact, so I'm entirely open to have all of my current opinions changed.

Day 1

10-15 mins HIIT cardio (Elliptical, 4-5 min warmup)
Barbell deadlifts 3 x 8
Weighted chins 3 x 8
Bent over barbell row or Pendley row 3 x 8
Barbell/EZ bar bicep curl 3 x 8

Day 3

10-15 mins HIIT cardio (Elliptical, 4-5 min warmup)
Incline barbell bench press 3 x 8
Flat dumbbell bench press 3 x 8
Standing military barbell shoulder press 3 x 8
Weighted dips 3 x 8

Day 5

10-15 mins HIIT cardio (Elliptical, 4-5 min warmup)
Barbell squat 3 x 8
45 degree leg press 3 x 8
Stiff-legged deadlift 3 x 8
Seated or standing calf raises 3 x 15

Abs: I've read that they can be reliably worked every other day, so I tend to work in 15x3x3 Incline Crunches on every workout day. If the bench isn't available I do bicycle crunches instead.

Questions: The obvious...should I change this, or is it good for now?

I am definitely open to putting in another day in the gym, but concerned that overall, given my metabolism, working out more days might not mean all that much.

Oh! On abs-- weighted, lower reps, or body-weighted reps as I am doing? There's debate over this.


In summary:

Any and all time that you've spent looking this over is very much appreciated, guys. I've been as thin as a rail my entire life and I'm committed to getting in shape and putting in the work. I just feel that I need more direction in order to better direct my efforts.

Any and all advice, in direct answer to my questions or just other things that you believe are important otherwise, is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.


#2

You have made some significant steps in the right direction, and it's probably a matter of tinkering a bit with both diet and exercise.

On milk, it's cheaper than more protein supplement and gets you things the supplement doesn't. You'll save some money by having some milk and cutting some of your protein powder. Organic, lactose-reduced (given your stated lactose issues) would be a clean addition. There have also been some studies that it actually aids in fat reduction.

For breakfast, you could add some nuts and dried fruit to that oatmeal to add some calories and good fats. A lot of people go with some egg for breakfast for a good whole food source of protein as well.

On fruit and vegetables, you can hardly ever get too much. If you were trying to lose fat, you'd have to watch overdoing some fruit, but all I'd say is the best fruit-vegetable regime gives you a diversity of colors for the full anti-oxidant potential.

Your pre-workout meal is fairly good, although fruit can sometimes cause people some digestion problems right before a hard workout. If that isn't a problem, fine. A bit higher GI index fruit probably won't make too much difference one way or the other if you're just having one and no other carbs. High isn't bad at that time, but you want to avoid a blood sugar crash during your workout. Fruit should give you a sustainable boost, but it won't spike your insulin if that is what you want to do.

You don't mention a pre-bedtime snack. If you are trying to gain, this is a must. Some quality slow-digesting protein, low-glycemic fruit (e.g., apples & pears), some fiber, and fish oil gives you what you need to make sure you have the building blocks for muscle growth and repair overnight.

On exercise, I wouldn't totally poo-poo more cardio. High-intensity sprinting can stimulate some other muscle growing pathways that weight training doesn't do as well. It can be a nice complement to weight training.

For your lifting program, I'd say more squats. I'd not worry about the bicep curls, calf raises, and abs if you are just beginning, as you'll get plenty with dips, chins, presses, and the deads & squats. Stick with the complex exercises and large muscle group-focused exercises to start. Leave the curls, calves, and abs for a secondary stage of your training.

I looked back over my early logs, and despite doing only squats, deads, seated row, military, bench, chins, and dips, I saw my upper arms and calves grow about 0.5" (forearms were about +0.25") in the first month to about 1.25" growth in my thigh, and 3.25" in my chest. It definitely didn't look out of proportion.

By doing big-muscle group focused complexes, you stimulate your central nervous system to get your body to respond generally with muscle and strength growth.

It took some convincing to go that route, as I'm a long-limbed SOB whose always wanted to get my scrawny calves to grow. I'm glad I went this route. I've incorporated some of the targeted exercises once I had several months of basics in as foundation.

There is no substitute for squats and deads for adding bulk and strength. You'll have to be careful on the number of deadlift sets you do if you add more squats, as you'll find that quality form deads when you are doing lots of squats will be tough.

Good luck!


#3

First of all, thank you for the reply!

Noted. I definitely will start drinking milk.

Do I really want the nuts, though? As a general rule, it's protein/carbs in the morning, protein/fat at night, correct? I know it doesn't matter as much for me since I'm thin and perhaps just want calories period. Perhaps I'm missing something.

I agree, the issue is trying to actually get those. I love broccoli and asparagus, and I eat apples (and will switch apples to bedtime and use bananas as my pre-workout carb), but other than that (and stuff like salads, which I get occasionally, it's pretty much just the greens+ that I reply on to help out in this category. Are there any simpler (ie., probably uncooked) solutions to this?

I've never had a problem with digestion for my workout, so that's fine. I've heard many people love bananas pre-WO, but also heard that you should stay away from them. I just want something that's going to be providing energy through the workout.

It was easy to miss, but actually, I take the mixed, sustained-release protein immediately before bed, along with a fish cap. That's it. I can definitely add an apple if it would be a good idea.

On exercise, I wouldn't totally poo-poo more cardio. High-intensity sprinting can stimulate some other muscle growing pathways that weight training doesn't do as well. It can be a nice complement to weight training.

I can't lift a ton on anything, but deadlifts especially kill me. I know, I know, they kill everyone. I dread them, but I do them (Sumo-style deads) once a week.

I don't mind doing squats as much. I suppose working in another 3x set of squats on day 1 might be an idea? How does doing this not circumvent the "don't train an exercise more than once a week" rule? I don't mind dropping the calf-raises, as honestly, I just do it to follow the program, but my legs are toned (if not huge), on account of how much I walk. A suggestion as something else to work in on leg day?

If I am told that without question, I should do another set of deads a week, I will. I'm wondering how what day I'd put it into. I want to separate them from the squats, but I can't do both twice a week then. Or at least, I don't want to be doing both on days 1 and 5.

Noted. I feel dead tired after I do deads/squats, but I understand that the reason for that is that they are awesome exercises.

Thanks, brother!


#4

your program needs an overhaul. Seems you like a 3 day approach. I'll give you a link to rippetoe's starting strngth guide on bodybuilding.com when I get on th other computer tomarow. I personally think while you would progress on that one, rippetoe's is the ULTIMATE starting program.


#5

Zephead: thanks for the advice. Do you have the link?

In general, do people like the program listed above, or agree that it should change?

Also, it's been suggested that I do more than one grouping of both deads and squats a week. Is this a good idea, in light of the general rule that you shouldn't work out a muscle group more than once a week? Is doing both exercises twice something that I definitely should be doing?

  1. Weight gainers: I know the general solution should be to simply eat more. Are weight gainers (such as Cytosport) alright to use, or are the carbs such junk that I should stay away at all costs?

  2. Pre-workout: What type of foods should I be eating, at what time? I've gone by the rule of fact-acting protein (isolate) an hour before, and a piece of fruit (for faster acting carbs) about 15 minutes before. Should this be a banana instead of an apple? Should this entire regime change?


#6

I think working deads once a week is enough. They hit your lower back quite hard, and it needs plenty of time to recover, because so many other exercises and daily activities put stress on it.

Working squats twice a week is a good idea though. Make one day heavy, and the other one light, and keep the volume down a bit, otherwise your legs won't recover enough by the time you hit them again.

Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and good fats, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals, and high in calories which will help build mass. Cottage cheese can be a great substitute for milk. It's got plenty of whey and casein protein, and tends to not upset the stomach as much as milk.

It might be a good idea to work out what your basal metabolic rate is, how many calories a day you are burning, and then how many you need to eat to gain weight. You can gain quality mass while minimizing fat gain by eating 500 calories above maintenance. Make sure you get 6 decent meals a day, not including pre and post workout shakes.

You could add another day, alternating between upper and lower body, placing a greater emphasis on your weaknesses by putting them first. Use predominately big compound movements first, them add in assistance exercises after that. Just make sure that if you add another day of training, that you adjust your diet accordingly, otherwise you won't make the gains you should be from it.

If you're doing plenty of squats and deadlifts, you could probably get away with only training abs twice a week. Use both body weight, and free weights, high and low reps, and a variety of exercises.


#7

forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224\

not saying it's the end all program for everyone but I would for sure stick to it ffor 3-4 months starting out then decide if you want to stick too it. It's great too because it focuses on the big compunds you need to learn.


#8

If your wanting to gain weight and dont care about being cut and what not, I would drop the cardio, even as a warm up do the actual exercise your going to do for a warm up. I used to do a fair bit of cardio work when I played basketball and I was thin and was always trying to bulk up and it was hard! and you have a good 5 if not 6 inches in height on me. I stopped playing basketball because of a knee inj. and you know what happened? I got bigger, I got alot thicker and wider.

Just my thought on my own OP.
If you were going to use a weight gainer, I would look for something low in sugars and cholesterol, UP YOUR MASS seems to be good from what people say.

anyway let us all know how ya go champ.

Bud


#9

Attention OP: you are 6 feet 5 , 185 lbs and worried about eating clean. Why? Afraid of losing your abs? At your height you should weigh 100lbs more unless you've got the basketball player body (not shaq).

Your everything is overcomplicated for no good reason. This is a common problem for people starting out- they try to micromanage down to the last gram of protein. It's a lot easier than you are making it. Make sure your weight gainer isn't just a big bucket of sugar and sodium designed to bloat you and have you think you're making progress. There's this stuff called 'gainer matrix', vanilla, it's the best tasting stuff ever and it's like 100 grams of carbs with 3 sugars or something similar.


#10

Milk is mandatory because everytime you lift you lose calcium and potassium so drink milk and eat bananas. Definietly add a preworkout supplement nitrogen based. If you wanna gain weight, stop the cardio, intake something every 2 to 3 hours and add peanut butter.

Deads should be done once every 5 to 7 days because you use your lower back in just about everything, especially people with weak abs. One thing about cardio is that you create an catibolic effect because your breaking down the body through prolonged boughts of exercise which is the total opposite of what your goal is.


#11

NO-boosters are not needed, he should spend his money on food... not NO explode, or VASO whatever the hell it is.

You dont have to separate the fruit and whey before you workout...save yourself the trouble and just eat it before..
And you asked apple or banana...you could have both..or just alternate. Either one is healthy and gets in more calories which you need.

Tip- cook meals ahead of time. At night when you make dinner. Make dinner, and then lunch and snacks for the next day (no they dont have to be the same thing). If you have the oven on.. throw in an extra couple chicken breasts. OR if you on the stove just cook more and throw it in the fridge for the next day. And if you really need a weight gainer..search this site for some of the much healthier recipes.


#12

SpeedAFK, I can relate. I am 6'4 and was about 170 when I first started, now I'm just over 200. It's tough for tall thin guys to fill out and look like they work out, a lot tougher than a short fat guy leaning out and looking muscular because of it.

The most important thing I can pass on to you as a beginner myself, who has a very similar build to yours, and who has made some solid gains. KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Train heavy, train often, rest even more, and most importantly EAT ALL DAY LONG.

A lot of people don't understand what it is like to be this large. They don't comprehend how many calories it takes for us to keep any mass at all, let alone gain it. When you grow up surrounded by people that need half hte amount of calories you do, it is easy to pick up that sort of eating habit, and then you wind up very tall, big boned, big framed, but thin as a rail. Which, in my opinion, has got to be amongst the hardest places to be as a beginner with strength training.

Fortunately, there is the infinitely motivating aspect of knowing that, once you do manage to put on some bulk, it will generally look a lot more impressive than a much smaller person bulked up, and you ultimately probably have hte potential to put on more muscular weight than most people are even capable of(without controlled substances of course)

Anyway, just keep it simple, don't get caught up trying new things all the time, eat all day long.

Nuts, Peanut Butter, Raw Milk, Bananas, Chicken and Steak, Oatmeal, frozen berries, cottage cheese, yogurt, olive oil(in your smoothies).

And the lanky bastards bulking best friend: The double bacon cheese burger with a fried egg!