T Nation

Getting Started

Anyways, looking for some help to get me started.

Firstly, stats:

Age - 18
Weight - 180
Height - 6’1

I’m looking to build some strength, bulk up, and lose some fat. Right now I’m pretty skinny for my frame but it seems like everything on me is fat. I am athletic but my body is not. I’m aiming for a mix of strength and size; I’m a competitive golfer so I don’t want size to impede my swing.

I’ve looked everywhere, I know of all the start-up routines, I just don’t know what the hell to do. I’ve looked into Rippetoe, 5x5 stronglifts, Ross Enamait bodyweight and DB workouts, split routines, etc. From what I’ve gathered, it would be beneficial to start with Rippetoe or 5x5. Only problem I have is that the gym at my school is very limited and all my exercises are restricted to DB’s - for the next month until I graduate.

I’ve tried a few days of Rippetoe and 5x5 and I just don’t feel like I’m getting a good workout with the dumbbells. I’m lifting “heavy” (I’m exerting myself fully) but I feel pretty lame after the workout and the rest of the day.

Any thoughts on a starting routine? Should I go with the split routine?

Regarding the more important part: diet.
I know how to eat clean, I’ve been logging, I’ve been eating my bodyweight in protein, healthy fats, etc. It’s not perfect but I think it is sufficient for my goals.

I simply don’t know how much to eat. I can eat 2000 calories, I can eat 4000 clean calories, I just don’t know what will be beneficial. I do hope to bulk but I want to cut out this fat after so I don’t know what would be a better option.

Input is appreciated, thanks.

Rippetoe is great, but if all you have is dumbbells then Ross is the man.

Not sure what you mean by feeling “lame.” That may simply be the result of exertion.

Aren’t there a bunch of stickies at the top of the forum? They contain links to articles on beginner’s programs that are well worth reading.

Start with 2400 calories a day, and if you haven’t gained weight after 2 weeks, increase your intake by 250 cals. Repeat as needed until you start seeing gains.

I know there are stickies, I’ve read a majority of the articles. Can I do Rippetoe with dumbbells or should I stick with the Stronglift 5x5 DB workout or with Ross. I like the idea of Rippetoe and 5x5, I just don’t know if it’s feasible with DBs and no barbells.

It really depends on how heavy your DBs go. You most likely won’t be able to get a heavy enough load for your squats and deads with them if they only go to 50 lbs.

If the weight is challenging, it doesn’t matter if it’s from a barbell or dumbbell.

If you can’t do a challenging weight on rippetoes, do Enamait’s work.

I’d stick to eating 2500 kcal. Chances are, you’re in a position to both gain muscle and lose fat at the same time if, instead of doing a ‘cut’ or ‘bulk’, you just make your food choices healthy. This’ll last for a good six months, and then you’ll be in a better position to set intelligent goals.

Oh, and define feeling ‘lame’.

And it’s good to hear you’ve done your homework on the diet.

Thanks for the input guys. I’ll stick with the Rippetoe for the next month and then I’ll be back home with a normal gym. The weight is challenging right now using 40 or 45 DBs – I know, I know – so hopefully I’ll be able to manage with 50’s until June.

In terms of feeling “lame” – I just don’t really feel like I’ve had a great workout after the Rippetoe. Maybe I’m just not lifting enough weight but I’m just barely sore the next day and I feel like I could easily do more sets. After the first set of deadlifts I did 2 more just because I didn’t feel one is enough.

I’m in the gym tomorrow morning so I’ll really push the weight and see how I feel after that.

A couple of quick questions after having continued with Rippetoe:

I’ve had knee problems in the past and it’s affecting my squat form. When I squat all the way down, my left leg doesn’t bend as much as the right creating an imbalance. It doesn’t really bother me but is it bad to continue lifting with this form if it’s incorrect?

Also, on the bench press (DB’s) I’m not really feeling anything in the chest. Unlike the squats and deads where I get a really good burn after, I hardly feel anything after the bench press. Any ideas?

Yes, it’s bad to squat with bad form, since once you go heavy the weight can shift if the bar tips, which is a really good way to hurt yourself. Do you do any mobility work or warm up your legs in any way?
For the bench presses, try upping the weight some.

No, I don’t really do much warming up for my legs other than jogging for a minute or so. On Wednesday I’ll work some stretching into my morning routine.

It’s tough to increase the weight on the DB bench press because it is difficult to bring the weight into bench press position. Should I have someone hand them to me?

Instead of static stretching, do some dynamic work on your legs. Static stretching pre-workout is actually counterproductive, and decreases muscle strength. Try some of the exercises in this link http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=495189

For the bench, either get someone to hand the weight to you, or sit on the bench with the dbs resting on your legs and lay back instead of trying to pick them up from the ground.

Everything is feeling good, weights are increasing, squat form feels right.

Today I was in a rush and was in and out of the gym in 20 minutes. Granted, I know less than an hour is optimal but 20 minutes? Am I doing something wrong?

Today was:
Squat, Overhead Press, and Bent Over Rows

Work on developing the mobility to squat with correct form. This is invaluable. Without knowing the exact nature of your injury it’s difficult to prescribe a specific warm-up to counter it, but a dynamic warm-up should be the panacea you’re looking for.

As for benching… use a barbell. Or get someone to hand the weights to you. Or learn a more efficient way to kick them up into position. Getting the weight into position shouldn’t be holding you back.

I feel like my squat form has really progressed, I’m happy with it and I’m going past parallel easily without pain.

For the bench I had my workout partner help me with the weights. I maxed out at 50 lb DB’s on Friday (I know, I know…) so I’ll work with those until June when I can get in a normal gym again.