T Nation

Frickin' New Guy


Hello TNation. I'm Dave and I've been a lurker for a couple of weeks. Absolutely love the training articles here and the forums. As the new guy I will definitely be looking for advice. I've read all the beginner threads and a lot of info from CT, Shug etc. as well.

As far as my current situation: About 6 weeks ago I was fed up with my shape and fitness level. After blowing out my left ankle for a second time in 2004 I became very lazy as far as physical activity goes. I quit playing basketball and soccer only continuing softball in the summer. I also love to drink good beer. All of this left me with the stat line of:

36 years old, 5'9", 198 lbs. and a very nice beer belly.

So I decided it was time to 1. eat right, 2. use basic supplementation and 3. Work my butt off. I started in my basement the first 4 weeks to get back to a decent level and then joined a gym 2 weeks ago. We have a heavy bag, perfect pull up bar, a stationary bike and a barbell with about 45 lbs of weights. So enough to get going at least.

Goals: Basically to feel good, look good, be good. Specifically to regain strength and power as well as a mens fitness model type physique including visible abs.

Week 1(M,W,S): Push ups, wide push ups, burpees, pull ups, Aussie pull up and standing rows(perfect pull up bar) + Abs, Boxing, jump rope and stationary bike.

Weeks 2 - 4(M,W,S): Push ups, wide push ups, pull ups, Aussie pull up, standing rows, OHP and shrugs + Abs and 30 minutes stationary bike.

Week 5(M,W,S) Mon and Wed. = Upper Body with DB Bench, Dips, Pulldowns, Stiff arm pulldown, DB OHP and DB Fly + Abs and 30 min. bike. Sat = Full Body with DB Squat, Incline Bench, Close cable pulldown, DB OHP, DB Lunge, Crossbody raise, French press and Twisting curls + Abs.

Week 6(M,W,S) M/W = DB OHP, Lateral Raise, Seated cable row, Bent over DB row, DB Bench Press, Deep push up + Abs and 30 min. bike. Sat. = Push Ups, Wide push ups, pull ups, Aussie pull ups, Standing Row, OHP + Abs.

During this 6 weeks I have been eating 4-6 times a day for about 1200-1600 calories. I haven't been perfect but have cheated very little. I get much of my calories from protein and eat carbs mostly early morning and post workout. Don't eat much sugar and I haven't been eating any dairy other than cottage cheese at night. My supplementation has been Whey Protein, Fish oil, multi-vitamin, Creatine HCL and Jack3d pwo. 2 weeks ago I also added a BCAA drink that I take during my workout.

The result so far: I weighed in yesterday at 5'9" 180 lbs. That's 18 lbs in 6 weeks plus I've definitely gained upper body definition and I feel fantastic. I've heard 3 lbs a week is about the most you can lose without losing muscle so I think I've stayed at a good pace without doing anything drastic.

Now that I'm at a point where I'm in much better shape and close to the body weight range I would like to be in I'm ready to focus on strength gains and the basic barbell exercises. I think gaining strength and muscle mass will help me to keep this change going and get closer to the body I would like to not only have but maintain.

I was thinking of going with Rippetoe's Starting Strength program to both learn/improve the basic bb exercises and take advantage of the opportunity for "novice" gains. Do you think this would be a good program for me? If so any suggestions or tips for a beginner? Diet, supplements, etc. If not SS what program would you suggest at this point?

I guess it's also important to add that during this my wife has been working out as well but she has been strictly doing 45 minutes to an hour of cardio. However thanks to some of the great women's training log's and other info here I have convinced her to start lifting with me. So hopefully this would be a good program we can do together.

Sorry for the opening novel but a big thank you to anyone who has made it to the end and can help out on my muscle building journey. Extremely glad to have found such a great site.




Do Rippetoe's stuff (health permitting), but really focus on perfecting the big movements. Treat the squat like an entire sport in itself! My squats used to be loose, sloppy, sub-par form, minimal muscle-recruitment. After many squats (and watching videos) I now feel solid, hold a tight position and feel EVERY muscle strain (to varying degrees) when I squat.

These big movements are the basis of strength training, but they have to be approached with a realisation that they must be constantly perfected. Every rep should be 100% focus. Start lighter than you think you need to and learn the motor patterns, gradually increasing weight/reps where necessary. It's a GREAT way to progress and have some structure/goals in your training.


Read all you can on nutrition. You will starve with this calories.


do rippetoe program, although I would skip the power cleans. Do some lighter deadlifts and rows instead of them.

You can also do 5 sets of 5 instead of 3 sets of 5. Or 4 sets. Doesn't matter too much. If you start with just the barbell you might as well do 10 sets if you have the patience. The important thing at first is to learn the technique as much as possible. Once you get to decent weight(roughly 75% of bw) you should drop 3-5 sets.

I'd also recommend 2000cals at least. 1800-2200 would be good if you want to keep losing. Better yet IMO just maintain bodyweight and keep working out. I don't know how many calories that will be. Start at 2400-2800 and work from there.
As far as nutrition goes, try to have something like 40% protein 40% carbs 20% fat.
good protein sources:
whey protein
any kind of meat. The more lean and biologically raised and all that good stuff, the better.
low fat milk/ cottage cheese/ low fat yogurt

I personally rely for at least 50% of the protein on meat and fish. If you can, prefer fish over meat.

good slow carbs
whole wheat rice, spaghetti, bread
beans (and other foods that fall in the same category as beans but I forget their name in english)

good fast carbs
fruits, mainly bananas, apples, oranges and berries

just about anything. Especially green ones. I focus most on onions, tomatoes, spinach, peas, brocolli, peppers. And probably more I can't remember now.

good fats
nuts - I use mostly almonds. I hear cashews are good too.
olive oil, fish oil, flax oil.
fat from meats but not a whole lot.

There is definitely more that one can add to this list, but those are the ones I use mostly. Eat vegetables and protein in EVERY meal. Eat fat mostly in the afternoon/night. Eat fast and slow carbs mostly in the morning and before and after workout.

I also think you are overdoing it in the supplements. I don't think you need that much right now but if you have the money for it then go ahead. If you don't just stick to protein, fish oil(especially if your joints start to hurt.. although I think anyone's joints will hurt at first no matter what) and multivitamin. Plus some vitamin C if you start feeling sick. Make no mistake, training hard will tend to get you sick!

Look into some other forms of recovery. Definitely stretch and foam roll(soft tissue work) because I think you will need it anyways. It also helps with recovery. Some light swimming is also great if you can do. Massages, sleeping 8-10 hours(and even more if you can!), ice baths, contrast showers. That's all I can think of.

Just make sure you don't get caught up in supplements cause you seem to be taking alot and I doubt your diet is good enough. Diet comes first, supplementation comes second. Get your diet right and make sure it has all it can.


WAT? No, no, no... do your power cleans. Light DL's or rows can't give you the same effect. There is a 'confidence' you have to have before you can seriously pull with everything you've got. It also helps to train explosiveness as a habit, not just something to use on one or two lifts.

The only catch is that you should have some way of dropping the bar. Bumper plates, tires, two training partners to take the bar from you... something. The power clean should be concentric only.


I think the point is that the op is just looking an overall better body shape. Deadlifts and rows will probably do more to create a muscular look than power cleans (because of the eccentric portion of the lift), and they're relatively easy to perform safely, and to be pushed hard.

Power cleans, on the other hand, are difficult to learn. I mean, yes, almost all lifters will be able to pick the weight up and somehow rack it (probably on the wrists and elbows - knees pointing out frog style) but doing it with tight form (i.e SAFELY) takes lots of practice. Also, it could be argued that it's better to learn the full clean before doing power cleans.

Unless someone wants to specifically work on explosive strength (power), and/or has the will to learn olympic-style lifts, I say leave them alone. They take commitment and time, and just throwing in a few sets of crudely performed (see above description) power cleans just for the sake of doing so, might not be worth it.


So what you guys are saying is... "power cleans are hard, so don't do them"... ???

No need to learn the full clean first. As a matter of fact, power cleans use less weight and are much less technical than the full clean. Adding more weight and learning to drop farther under the bar can come later. Just about anybody can learn to power clean with minimal instruction and videoing yourself to check your form. If you're having trouble, you can always post the vids here and get help.

Do your power cleans if at all possible. I'm not saying not to do rows (any good program will include rows), just not to substitute rows for power cleans.


I have found that performing the full clean is really not more technical. It is simply a case of pulling on the bar and QUICKLY whipping the elbows round to get into the low position of the front squat. (I am assuming here that anyone who is trying any kind of clean can already front squat, that should be a given, no exceptions.) - simply said, the full clean is already partially a familiar movement. The power clean not so familiar (unless you are very strong squatting to quarter depth - I won't go into why that's a bad thing). And this is the problem. Watch the NFL players power clean on you tube training videos. These men are very strong but most do not have pretty form, they don't catch the clean in a solid position, not a healthy way to train regularly.

No I'm saying 'power cleans are hard, so make sure you really fucking want to do them' :slight_smile:
I once saw a power clean tutorial in a mens health magazine. It was just a photo sequence showing a deadlift/uprightrow/shoulderpress combo, not even worthy of the description 'clean' being so detached from the explosive character of a proper one. But I realised that in some cases, perhaps it just is better for the lifter to do the deadlifts, rows, and shoulder presses separately if they'll gonna make such a mess of trying to combine them together


Nothing against this Dave guy, but I see nothing's changed in the time I've been away in the PWI forums. If you were paying me vast sums of money for the latest cutting edge sooper zooty training info designed just for your situation? I'd tell you to pick any solid beginners routine consisting mainly of large basic exercises with a few smaller movements thrown in where needed. M-W-S is fine as your not being exactly a spring chicken and being outta shape will require more recovery than work at least for a while, assuming you actually know what "work" means.

Some cardio (or whatever they're calling it now) of some kind on off days wouldn't hurt either. I would tell you to instantly add 1000 smart calories a day, which does NOT mean looooow fat, but would require a separate post. I would further advise you in the strongest possible terms to lock your scale somewhere and give somebody else the key unless you are disciplined enough to weigh yourself no more than once a week. Mirror good, scale unreliable distraction if used all the time.

Once we got this settled, which would take exactly one decent conversation, I would then give you the most valuable piece of advice of all. DO NOT go near this or any other related web site at all for an absolute bare minimum of 3 months with 6 probably being better. Why? Because you will wind up reading all manner of neato n nifty new information which you will be quite certain is the missing key to making you an underwear model by Christmas and you will thereby be training in 16 different directions at once and going nowhere in particular with astonishing efficiency.

If you wanna look like a man, eat like a man. Pick something hard and basic and work it CONSISTENTLY and with the unleashed ferocity of a starving lion.(very few will do that) Do it for many months without changing very much and watch what happens. Yes that's boring, but it will serve just about everybody's first year better tan 99% of what people do. You're welcome and that will be 1000 dollars please =]


I agree with this. I spent my first 6 months trying all the new fancy training things that came out. I have really progressed in the past 6 months doing squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and pulldowns. Simple works better.


Just because most people do them wrong is no reason to not do them. Almost every lift is unhealthy if performed improperly (read http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_new_rules_of_strength_training ). And I can't fathom a real reason you'd have to be well-versed in the front squat to do power cleans.

And if you'd ever done both cleans and power cleans, you'd know for certain that a real clean is much more difficult to pull off. Higher weight + lower catch = much harder to keep your balance, therefore you have to do everything more precisely.


Would you suggest a beginner just pull the bar off the ground and (in the 0.000001 sec window) attempt to rack it as best as possible? Is that a 'safe' way to learn: a trial by fire approach? And moreover, knowing how to front squat properly (deep and not using hands) gives a lifter the necessary flexibility to properly rack the bar (elbows up) at any depth. Is this a case of over-preparedness? I think not.

Not in my experience. Why do you automatically prescribe a heavier weight? The full clean can be performed at a lighter weight. One thing I find difficult in power cleans is pulling the bar to the correct height to catch it in a good strong position. This is very technical. To catch the bar in a solid power clean position (a position which would vary from person to person - but nonetheless each person has their own specific strong position) requires accuracy: the bar must stop moving at a particular height, not much higher, not much lower. With the full clean, such accuracy is not necessary as the movement is more like just pulling yourself under the bar. More speed of body movement is needed, and in my opinion, it is easier to learn to get under the bar quickly than it is to learn how to clean the bar to a specific height

Anyway each to their own, these are my experiences. I love both lifts


Trib is right, one of the hardest lessons to learn is to not program hop. It takes a bit of experience to know how to absorb information, and to add small amount of beneficial information rather than constantly switching up your program. Theres a million ways to get in shape, but you can only use one at a time. Keep it simple, keep it old school, and have faith in your program no matter what


What most new people do and call a power clean really has almost no benefit to their training. If they were to do them PROPERLY then yes I would tell the OP to do them. He won't. Almost noone will and by the time they learn to do them efficiently enough so that it has a decent effect on their training they'll have probably moved on from starting strength.

Not to mention some people's technique is so horrible they'll get injured.


AGAIN... most people don't squat, DL, or bench properly at first either. THAT'S NO REASON TO LEAVE THOSE LIFTS OUT OF YOUR PROGRAM!!

You don't have to pull the bar to a specific height in the power clean. The difference between the two is that the PC is caught above parallel. So that means I can catch the bar anywhere from parallel to standing straight up.

And no, I'm not advocating using the lift without learning it first. I just hate the whole "I do that lift but you shouldn't because you'll never get it right because you're not me" mentality.


Yes, but those lifts are much, much easier than the power clean!!! They present far less risks to the lifter. Therefore they can be safely introduced, learnt, and used effectively without coaching. This is often not true of the power clean.

Your comments are a prime example of why some people shouldnt do this lift. The idea of the power clean is to get under the bar and catch it in a strong quarter-squat position (or thereabouts). If you catch it stood up, or squatting down close to parallel, you aren't executing the lift with proper (effective) form. Just pulling the bar and catching it wherever it lands between parallel and standing up is not an effective way to train the lift, and 90% of the time will result in POOR FORM. You're telling people to introduce power cleans and how they aren't so tough, but it seems from your comments that not even you are performing them correctly. This is my whole point, people become complacent, assuming their form is good enough, and once you've learnt the lift incorrectly, it is very difficult to undo the mistakes.

Weight-training, from a technical point of view is really quite easy, weightlifting is NOT. It is clear from your comments that you do not see this as you're comparing the power clean to the bench press! You're really missing something here


Damn, dude. You're really grasping at straws, here.

Tell you what. Just for the sake of gleaning some divine lifting wisdom from your years of meticulous study and practice, why don't you explain in detail exactly what proper power clean form should be. Videos would be helpful (bonus points for using videos of YOURSELF).

Matter of fact, start a new thread about it, if you don't mind. Just to end yet another threadjacking.

BTW - I was not comparing the power clean to the bench press in terms of technicality. I was pointing out that both lifts can result in injury if done incorrectly.


i find full cleans harder because i think you need to pull the bar to a specific height, whereas powercleans are more tolerant of your taking a step forwards or backwards, bending your ankles and knees more or less in order to rack it. Once you hit your tight bottom position in the full clean the bar better land on you in the right place or its all over.


on the one hand... i think most people would be better off spending their time doing easier things to learn that train the same thing. e.g., do weighted glute bridges if you want to train hip drive. much less of a learning curve.

on the other hand... the lifts are fun to do and most people really do enjoy them. they also do train more than other things (e.g., glute bridges) would train.

but there aren't very many people who actually use hip drive on powercleans, tis true.

still... there aren't very many people who use hip drive on full cleans either...


Look at any video of an experienced lifter. That is what a power clean should look like. For example:

Ok, for bonus points, here's one of me (below) As you can see, not pretty. And maybe this is a good illustration of how difficult the oly-lifts are. I've studied videos of others and myself, read many articles, etc, but without coaching, progress has been slow; however I now feel I can perform the lifts in a safe manner, and every time I touch the bar I focus on improvement.

Maybe you can post a better video of yourself?



Your power clean doesn't look bad at all, really. It would look a lot better if you were using a challenging weight (some lifts are funny like that). But that was definitely not a detailed description of how to do it properly.

I haven't done them in a while, and I don't have a vid handy, but I'll try to fit them in with tomorrow's session and get a vid. The weight will be pretty low, though, because I don't like lowering that much weight under control. The reason I stopped doing them is because I don't have bumper plates and I've been too lazy to get my wheels done up. Strained my brachioradialis and it took me two months to get it right again.

And LOL @ you posting youtube vids when you yourself said that even experienced lifters (football players) do it wrong.