T Nation

Help a Discouraged Beginner!



I know that I need to MAJORLY burn fat and get into shape and build some muscle. I honestly have no clue where to begin with diet in terms of protein and calories (I'm 5'6 and weigh 140 lbs) At my disposal, I don't have much equipment @ all- a Tony Little Gazelle (on which I'm doing 90 mins/day and seeing NO results) and dumbbells with adjustable weights up to 25 lbs. Right now, my measurements are

Waistline- 32 in

Upper Arm: 11 in(left) 11 in(right)

Upper Leg/Thigh:22 in(left) 23 in(right)

Calves: 15 in(left) 15 in(right)

And here are some profile/chest/back pics so you can visually see and give me advice on what muscles or what have you that I need to work on.

I appreciate any constructive critisicm you have but please don?t simply come and insult me, because after all I'm here to get help toning up and getting into better shape.

Thanks in advance,


Images of my profile/chest/back


Burn what fat?

What results would you like to see?

What is "toning up"?

What does "better shape" mean to you?


Get off the gazelle and into the kitchen. You can't be more than 14 years old by the pictures, so it isn't like you have been trying for years. You're young, and found a great place to learn from. Eat lots of food, and lift weights (if you are really serious you can find something better than 25 lb d-bells). Like I said, EXTREME youth appears to be on your side, START SMART. Use search, select posts, type: ARE YOU A BEGINNER. This will save you hours.


Burn what fat?
-Well, like, I have fat all around my body and just would like to have much more defined muscles.

What results would you like to see?
-Less fat around my stomach area, more muscular calves/legs

What is "toning up"?
-Losing the fat on my body, building muscle, all of that.

What does "better shape" mean to you?
- To me, I'd consider better shape just having more muscle, and having that muscle well-defined and get a lower body fat %


Why are you discouraged. look your young the thing is your not fat, you don't have much fat, you just have no muscle. you have a very vague goal. please never use the word "toning" again. you should focus on adding muscle instead of losing fat. and how is your diet, if your diet sucks and you do your gazelle time it won't mean shit. and get outside and do something dont stay inside on a machine that many old women who are extremely fat can do about an hour on. go ahead and get a fire extinguisher though cuz you are def gonna get flamed. BB


Jesus Christ, this kid is retarded. What were you expecting, 90 minutes/day on a glorified treadmill to get you huge muscles?

Lift some weights, genius.


hey gino, why are you discouraged? you've already found this place. now it's up to you to get started. isnt that a little exciting?

your goals should also be emphasized differently:

  1. get in shape/build some muscle
  2. build some muscle/get in shape
  3. get in shape
  4. build some muscle
  5. majorly burn fat

but you won't even have to get to step 20. just keep repeating steps 1-4 and the fat will burn itself off. majorly.


Be happy you can make some huge gains from where you are. I am myself 14, and I used to be fat and unmuscular until I got into wrestling in 7th grade. I was actually the same height and weight as you in 7th grade. 8th grade wrestling season I was a skinny bastard, 5'8 135 but I had some pretty good definition. Now, summer after 8th grade, I found T-Nation right after wrestling season and got into training and I am 5'9 163 around 10% bf, leaps and bounds from where I was before. Just be relentless; mental attitude is very important with physical training. Learn to love lifting, working out, and eating well. I know it is nearly impossible to keep a good diet at our age with all the sociliazing, but eat well when at home and make decent choices when at restaurants. I would get all my teachers mad when I ate my protein bars during class.


Join the football and track teams and lift with them. Eat lots of meats and take a baked potato over fries.


School's starting again soon - does your school have a weight room? It's your new home away from home if it does.

If not... improvise. Your body doesn't care if you're lifting a barbell or a rock. Find a place you can do chins - tree branches will do if you're in a pinch. Do pushups with pretty girls on your back. Hug something heavy to your chest and squat - or, put something heavy in a backpack and squat. Find something heavy and throw it in the air.

You obviously won't be able to do 1 rep maxes this way, but it's a good start until you can find a good setup.

Drop the Tony Little stuff - doing a lot of cardio eats up muscle like you wouldn't believe. If you like it, 20min every couple days won't hurt, but 90min is too much.

And check out Vroom's "Are you a beginner?" threads, they're a great resource.



Some of the guys here don't mind carrying around quite a bit of fat, so I'd take their "what fat?" comments with a grain of salt.

That said, a really young guy shouldn't be going on many diets. You should address any perceived shortcomings in your bodyfat ratio by working out smarter and/or better, and by changing what you eat more than cutting it back. If you eat right, you can even improve your bodyfat ratio while eating substantially more. That's part of what some of the "What fat?" guys are getting at. Some of them. Some may simply want mass at all costs, maybe even including steroid usage, so it's right for you to modify your own goals according to what you learn and experience rather than just adopting the goals or fanatacism of somebody else.

By doing less endurance exercise, you may experience a temporary setback in working toward being lean, but you will probably also make it much easier to gain muscle. That muscle itself burns calories and will help lean you out. Paradoxically, you have to eat more to gain that muscle, though. And if at all possible, it shouldn't be crap or part of a fanatical diet plan.

You may also gain a little fat. If you're gaining muscle, though, that doesn't mean your lean mass to bodyfat ratio is necessarily plunging, though. When I was a teenager and very skinny, I found it took a certain amount of muscle just to more easily get more muscle. It's hard to get in a good work-out doing push-ups, for instance, if you can only do 15, know what I mean?

You don't have the musculature yet to need to lean down, because it's more in the stage of "lean down from what?" You should establish some general fitness goals before getting into specific ones. For instance, "I really want a split in my biceps" would be inappropriate for a kid who finds it hard to run a mile or two or rattle off some pull-ups and push-ups and knee bends right after each other, and touch his toes, without much straining or being too winded.

So get some general physical preparedness going. The aerobics are fine, but if your heart is set on getting some mass on you, it can be counter-productive if done in the same muscles you want to build up. You can get admirably aerobically fit with a jumprope in 15 minutes a day, and that will take the strain off virtually everything but your calves, making it easier for you to build muscle over your whole body. And jumping rope is plenty tough calf work for many, so you don't lose out on that score either.

Stretch -- more than you usually see people doing. Keep in mind that most people you see will get injuries, and some will get many. Lack of flexibility is either the direct cause or the indirect cause of an awful lot of that. You want to keep the suppleness of a young body and improve it while it's easy, not get it too stiff. Flexibility is much, much harder to get than to keep.

Concenrate on exercises that emphasize the full body, or as much of it as possible. Not many things do, besides swimming, but if we're talking weights, there are favorites that work large numbers of muscles in concert, like deadlifts and squats for the lower body, and side presses, benchpresses, and others for the upper body. Keep the body working together so you learn to coordinate power throughout your body instead of getting a disconnected chain of uncoordinated powerful parts. If you want to work your triceps, in other words, do some parallel bar dips if possible before concentrating on tricep push-downs. Don't waste time and energy on leg extensions when you could be doing squats, a much more full-body movement.

After you build up a certain base level of athleticism in your body, it will be much easier to get rid of any fat you have simply by keeping on doing what you're already doing. If you go to work on aerobic endurance activities and dieting to get rid of your fat now, you will make it very hard to put on muscle, and that will make it harder for you to get enough muscle up to the levels of intensity in work-outs that really burn fat. Even a brutal aerobic work-out needs some muscle mass to actually be worked out, or the body just burns out early and shuts down before enough work is done.

And even at a peak of aerobic fitness you will still be relatively small and weak, if you got there through doing aerobics and light work. And believe it or not, the worst slap in the face is that you may still have trouble getting rid of that last bit of bodyfat that's bugging you, because you don't have much in the way of muscles constantly consuming calories while your body is at rest.

So build up the body first. Gain some strength and flexibility and aerobic capacity to get a more generally fit body, so you can take on the workload of an athlete. Don't expect to gain much size in the muscles you work aerobically; that's where my suggestion on the jumprope came in. Ten minutes of jumping rope is the aerobic equal to half an hour of jogging. And, well, a hell of a lot faster, eh? Try it.

Gradually work your way into weights more and more, keeping to the ones that use many muscles at once. They will be good for you for a long time. Add in isolation exercises only to the extent that they don't take away the energy you need to do your other exercises.

Eat plenty, sleep plenty, cool out if you can on the booze or drugs or playing with yourself or whatever your bad habits are. Your workouts will be substantially a waste of time if you don't eat enough and get enough rest. Don't compare yourself to anyone else or expect instant results. Don't jump in and out of programs every two weeks; find one or two you like and stick with them, maybe alternating them to keep your body guessing and growing. Don't fall for every new super-theory or mega-supplement of the week that comes down the block.

Read lots. Make excuses infrequently. Let things take the time they take.

You'll gain some fat, and you'll lose it too. As long as you're maintaining good habits, don't sweat it. Remember, building an athlete, or even just a good looking body, is a very long-term project. Pretty short compared to living a life, but if you've got no patience, either grow up or come back when you're ready to make a commitment to what's basically a healthy lifestyle, not a fad or temporary ego boost.


Dude, he's a kid. Even adults don't know this. Turn on t.v. and that Tony Little infommercial crap is on all the time. Every goofy exercise and "diet" or "nutrition" miracle imaginable is being pounded into our heads every day. Go to an aerobics site and you learn that aerobics is complete fitness and the answer to everything. Go to a weightlifting site and you hear the same about weightlifting.

It's hard not to be misled. And when you're a kid, everyone's always telling you everything supposedly from the voice of experience and or greater knowledge, even if they don't know jack shit or are just trying to sell you stuff or play a stupid ego trip on you.

It's way better for a kid to have the guts to ask a question, no matter how stupid somebody might think it is, than to just follow along like sheep whoever's screaming the loudest in his face at the time.

Anyway, kid, ask questions, as much as you can, as long as there's some thought behind them. Especially about what's taken for granted or what people are saying who want you to shut up the most. Asking too many questions is almost always better than just remaining ignorant, and when you're young is definitely the time to do it. People's knowledge doesn't do them any good if it just stays with them anyway.


If you are 14, you are still growing, which means that your body is carrying whatever fat you see/feel to promote future growth spurts.

When you hit the age of 18-19, your hormones will kick in big-time, and you will look "harder" and more lean due to this.

You are a kid. Forget about MAJORLY doing anything. Lift moderate weights for reps and concentrate on form. DON'T, I repeat, DON'T go on any severe/strict/crash diet. Your body needs all the nutrients it can get hold of.

Just do everything in moderation, eventhough you might feel like you aren't achieving anything, this is the right way to proceed at your age.

There is no need to be discouraged. Hell, you found out about this great website at the age of 14! I wish I had..

Read, learn, apply the basics, be PATIENT (yes, this is the toughest part of bodybuilding) and CONSISTENT.
You will thank me 5 years from now.

Good Luck.


Asshole, not every 14 year-old kid knows about exercise and nutrition the way you do.


Ginox, here's a great article by John Berardi, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutrition:


I suggest you eat along these lines for hunger. Don't gorge but satisfy yourself. Lift hard. With a good liftting program, you should gain some muscle and strip some fat at the same time. Once you are leaner, you can do a full bulk (eat at a caloric surplus) and gain muscle the most effective way. There's plenty of info on this site about that. Now you need to work on a training program. Check out vroom's beginner thread:


There's a wealth of info there. As a complete beginner, you will want to make some modifications to any program you choose and work in higher rep ranges. But the thread's great in terms of exercise choice, and the programs themselves are actually very solid. Good luck!


You also could just get your nutrition in line a la Berardi (first link I gave) and join a sport of your choice to take care of the exercise side. Do whatever weight training and sport-specific training the coach has you on. I don't regret a minute of sports in high school and college. Really something I think everyone should do. If there's something you think you'd like, check it out.


Take that comment with a grain of salt? Who would look at this kid and think he had tons of fat to lose instead of tons of muscle to gain? What does anyone else's methods have to do with stating the obvious? By this comment it shows that you may not add much weight, but all it does is confuse any newbie reading it.


He doesn't have tons of fat by any means. But he's quite smooth for someone that age, particularly for being so skinny. A serious bulk from the getgo is not necessarily the best option. Because he could gain some serious muscle and strip fat and see some good definition by training hard and eating the right foods to satiety. Then, a bulk in earnest is in order by all means.


The kid just needs to hit the gym, and eat everything in his house and friends house.