T Nation

Critique My Diet & Workout?

Hey, all,

New member here hoping to get some advice on my current regimen. The good, bad, and ugly.

A little backhistory: I’m 26, 175 lbs. @ 5’8" with a fair amount of flub around my midsection. My goals are to decrease fat and increase muscle mass. I’d be happy to be a fairly ripped, fit, and strong 160 or so.

My situation is a little complicated by the fact that I have an (as yet undiagnosed) sleep disorder that prevents me from getting restorative sleep. Obviously, this hinders my energy output and muscle recovery to a large degree, but at the same time, I’m not just willing to sit and decompose. And at some point, I hope things will improve on that front.

I started lifting ten weeks ago and am sticking with a 2x/week program of extremely basic exercises. I plan on expanding my effort once the sleep situation is under control.

Diet is still confounding to me, although I’m trying to follow some basic principles: eat lots of protein and drink lots of water.

Here’s what I’m eating…

3 Slices Whole Wheat Toast W/Peanut Butter (470 calories, 20g protein)
One Banana (100 cals)

Pasta, Pizza, Sandwich, Etc…my “Cheat” meal
(500 cals, 20-30g protein)

Met-Rx Shake
(500 cals, 60g protein)

Chicken Breast or Tuna on Lettice Bed W/Oil and Vinegar
(400 cals, 35g protein)

Late Night
Protein Bar/Peanut Butter Sandwich on Whole Wheat/Cereal
(200-400 cals, 20-30g protein)

As you can see, on one of my five meals, I don’t adhere to a strict policy…I’ve eaten like a pig for most of my life, and it would be too radical at this point to eat five perfect meals out of the day, so I settle for four. I also supplement with Creatine (2.5 g/day) and drink about 2.5 liters of water. No soda, but usually a decaf coffee with breakfast.

I’m getting an average of 2,200 calories or so a day and a good amount of protein: 150g or so.

For my workouts, I perform three sets of 12/10/8. When I do this comfortably, I add weight.

Bench Press
Tricep Pulldown
Dumbell Curls
Military Press

Weightless Squats
Leg Extensions
Calf Raises

Repeat Mon.

Repeat Mon.

Abs are done with weighted crunches and an ab roller: 4 sets at 20 reps three time a week.

My cardio is in truly bad shape due to the sleep problem, and I’ve been very, very sedentary over the past two years. Right now, I’m getting on a treadmill on Mon/Wed/Fri and walking at a brisk pace on an incline and am up to .7 of a mile. Pathetic, I know, but bad shape is bad shape. My hoped-for goal is to work up to 2 miles or so before I attempt a jogging pace. I also don’t want to go too hard and drop body weight.

I’m just curious for thoughts on what I’m doing, my diet and regimen…but please, no “You’re a sissy, this program is too bare bones” kind of stuff. I basically feel like I have a hangover every day, so producing even this much effort is something.

I’m curious how people respond to working each body part more strenuously, but only once per week. To me, it seems like the muscle gets too big a break, but maybe I need more recovery time due to my condition?

Thanks for any advice.

as far as the workout goes… personally I agree with you in that I like to hit my muscles more then once a week. Also I do 2 upper body workouts and 2 lower body workouts much like you’re doing.

One thing that stands out in your program is the lack of back and posterior chain work.

My current program is split so one upper body day is verticle push/pull and the other is horizontal push/pull. I also sort of seperate my leg days, one day I focus on squats and the other good mornings. Currently I’m not doing alot of deadlifting as it is by far my strongest lift and I do alot of posterior chain work (romanian deadlifts, GM’s, back extensions, pull throughs)

Focus on the key lifts: Bench press, pull ups, bent over rows, squats, deadlifts… and you will have a good start.

maybe something more like this will be better for you:

Bench Press
Bent Over Row


Incline DB Bench
Lat pull down

DB Romanian Deadlift
Leg Curl

This is kinda based on my own training and some experiance I’ve had with newbies to the gym, and I understand you have a less then great recovery ability so you really don’t want to spend too much time in the gym.

Also of course read the 100’s of training articles on here, even if you don’t pick a specific program to use you will get some great ideas on making your own program.

“My situation is a little complicated by the fact that I have an (as yet undiagnosed) sleep disorder that prevents me from getting restorative sleep.”

I see I am not the only suffering from perpetual insomnia. I know its a bitch, but I have found that a little fruit pick-me-up throughout the day helps me from crashing. Im sorry that i cant really give you any advice on treating the actual disorder; i would, if i had mine under wraps.

Chronic insomnia is shit, and I would know. If you can’t find a sleeping pill that works, I suggest you go for Remeron. It’s actually an anti-depressant, but it knocks you the hell out, just don’t take too much or you’ll sleep through the entire next day.

Just a warning though, if you start taking it, you may never be able to stop…

The first thing you should do about diet is read and follow the points of John Berardi. He is a good place to start.

For someone looking to lose fat, you are eating alot of carbs.

Also, watch out for bad combinations. All nutrients have there place but not necessarily in your quantities and combinations. Carb+Fat=Bad, Protein+either(when timed correctly)= good

Get down a schedule and learn about protein fat meals and protein carb meals.

This in itself can help you lose fat.

and EAT PROTEIN- not many people can get too much

Your workout looks decent for someone getting started - as has already been suggested, a posterior chain (i.e hamstrings, glutes, lower back) exercise like deadlifts would round out the lowerbody days a little more.

For your cardio - don’t worry about not being able to much now, everybody has to start somewhere - when I started training I was dealing with a 6 year, pack a day smoking habit and just looking at a treadmill had me out of breath. :slight_smile: (it took me a while, but I worked up to 3 miles at an 8 minute/mile pace before I stopped focusing on cardio so much)

I noticed your diet didn’t really include any fruits or veggies. I’d add more of those and take out the daily cheat meal. No one eats 100% clean 100% of the time, but a daily cheatmeal will have a marked affect on the rate you make progress. There’s plenty of middle ground between boiled chicken with steamed brocoli and fettucine alfredo so try and find a compromise your tastebuds and your body can live with.

If you haven’t already, check out John Beradi’s articles on nutrition.

Wish I could help with the sleep problem - Power Drive, Spike might help with energy levels and ZMA with sleep quality, but that’s just based on info I’ve read on this site - I haven’t tried any of them myself.

Good luck,

Thanks for the notes, guys.

Re: my sleep disorder…it’s not really insomnia. I can fall asleep and stay asleep with no problem, but there’s next to no stage III/IV sleep, which is when your body recharges its batteries and replenishes drained muscle tissue. The lack of that quality sleep makes everything harder.

I know my carb intake isn’t light, but I do need to find alternative sources of energy when possible.

I think my progress is ok - all things considered -but I’m wondering if I should knock down the reps and add on the weight. Am I going to see bigger gains if I switch to a 10x8x6 set with heavier weights? Any advantage to this? Should I be upping sets if I drop reps?