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Help an Aspiring Beginner


I'm newer to posting on the Forums at T-Nation, but I love the articles and was hoping for some added help from the community. I'm 20, 172lbs, 6'0, started about six months ago at 150lbs. Last month I worked up to a max on my lifts (Row, Flat bench, Squat, deadlift) I squated 225 for 3 reps, deadlifted 305 for 3, and close grip benched 185.

I recently moved and have found a local "hardcore" gym, and the owner (Bob Woodward, local bodybuilder who has won several masters meets for the state of North Carolina) came up offering some tips. Besides "Feeling" the weight, and recommending a little more isolation work, he discouraged keeping a workout log.

While I feel his years of experience could help me greatly, I was hoping for some pointers from the T-Nation crew on what are "Must Have's" and what are things that could fall by the wayside, IE A training log. I was always of the opinion that this is a must have. Also, when you use a lat pulldown for Glute/Ham raise, is there something more effective(they don't have a glute/ham raise in the gym) Thanks in advance for your help, I look forward to reaching 185 so I can post some pics :wink:


If the goal is to continually progress by either adding weight or reps to your lifts each week, then why would anyone discourage a workout log? Some may not need the log to remember what they need to do each week to progress, but how could it be anything other than an aid? Lets say Monday rolls around and you're benching for the day. You look back on your log and see you worked up to a top set of 225x5 the week before.

That means today you must either add weight (i.e. shoot for 235x4-5 or more) or add reps (i.e. shoot for 225x8 or more). It sure is nice to have that log book from the week before to ensure you are beating the right weight / reps.

On the other hand, lets say you're the guy who doesn't use a log, you're not an experienced bodybuilder, and you just go by feel week-to-week. Monday rolls around and you're going to do the best you can that day, but you didn't get much sleep the night before so you're a little sluggish. You only end up benching 225x5 (the same as the week before), because you didn't have it ingrained in your mind and in front of your eyes to beat the logbook.

Now imagine you KNEW you had to beat 225x5 that day, despite feeling sluggish, you would in theory do everything in your power to make sure you progressed from the week before to shoot for the 225x8 or 235x5. Granted some may not need the log to follow through with this plan, yet again I ask how could keeping a log hurt?


Well the biggest things to me have been:

-desire to train like an animal
-the understanding and knowledge that as much work as the gym takes, there is always more time spent in the kitchen
-have fun with it, and make it part of an enjoyable lifestyle.

However these may help also:

-good training partner, or at least good source for information (aka talk to the biggest/strongest dudes at your gym)
-a log book
-short and long term goals
-try to understand how your body feels and reacts to certain things (lifting styles, macronutrients, amount of rest needed, etc.)

Lastly, there's no secret to this. Hard work and dedication will get you what you want. Good luck man, now get to it.


Thanks guys. I had a lifting partner before I moved. and it certainly helped both workout intensity and consistency. I'm still looking for one here in North Carolina, but I'll certainly be keeping my logbook. I'm also getting serious about one for diet, so I can continue to add mass without stagnating/plataues. I look forward to being more involved on the T-Nation forums, thanks again for the help.