T Nation

Help with Direction


#1

Gentlemen!

I've literally just joined the site.Remember reading the actual magazine so many years ago; googled the name last week and i found you guys again!

I am a little confused about what direction i should be going. Like most who are just starting out/returning to weightlifting i am a bit overloaded with info, and because of all the info, I am scared about wasting my time.

I haven't lifted at all in 9 years. I'm 31 now. I have ballooned to 295lbs at 6'2.
My BF% is 41. Bad, right?

2 weeks ago a colleague of mine was complaining about how her lovely gym had been bought over and was now full of strength training equipment/strongman stuff. The old members are leaving in droves. I had been wanting to get in shape so i went to see it and ended up signing up on the spot.

I had my mandatory induction with one of the staff (he has been there since the first owners) and he took me through the basics. Pretty sure its just so they don't get sued. He didn't really know much about the 'new' equipment, so i just went through the motions. I met the owner later and he showed me all the new toys. Its awesome.

After making my little resolution to change my body, I prepped some healthy meals and got my macros where i needed them. I'm in a 500 kcal deficit from what a couple of websites have determined is my BMR. I'm hitting the correct protein numbers. My carbs are slightly higher than some of the T-Nation articles have suggested, but i figure when my weight loss stalls i can manipulate them and keep progressing. I figure having this option is best but if not, chime in. Even though I'm under maintenance, its really hard to eat this much whole food.

I had decided on big basic movements and a full body workout just to get my office-body used to moving again. Man it was hard. This is the end of my very first week in training.

Numbers just in case they are relevant, but I'm assuming fat guy strength at the mo.
Current 1 or 2 rep max such as they are.
Some were impeded by my lack of confidence/technique.

Squat - 140kg / 308lbs (yes i used full range!)
DL - 125kg / 275lbs (there is also a trap bar available)
Bench - 80kg / 176lbs
Military press (done with strongman log) 55kg / 121 lbs
Clean and press (still working on technique so I'm just using a couple of 20kg / 45lb plates on the bar)
I can lift the 50 kg 110lb and 70 kg / 154lbs atlas stones no problem. Haven't worked up the courage to try the 90 kg / 198 lbs yet though. Dont plan on lifting them every workout, just wanted to try them because they were there so i put the numbers up.

Initially i had planned on just doing this kind of workout 3 times a week for 3 months, then seeing where I'm at. I know the limitations of this kind of approach but i figured as a beginner i would progress until the winter ? I shouldn't worry about 'no direct bicep work' at this stage, right?

There are lots of options for other exercises at the gym. There are farmer's walks, Yokes, prowlers, tyres, kegs, atlas stones, battle ropes, sleds etc.

There are Olympic platforms and kettlebells. The new owner is some sort of strength champ and is available for PT.I'll hire him to show me that stuff at some point as its pretty intriguing.

OK , after all the babbling come my questions!

I should preface it by saying my goal is fatloss (duh). I doubt ill ever be a sixpack cover model. That's ok. I just don't wanna be a big fat bastard anymore. Sick of looking like a walking donut with man titties. That's the first and only goal right now. Getting stronger appeals to me, but obviously both don't work at the same time and many articles on here state that a trainee should focus on one thing etc.

1) Is it, in your collective opinion, a dumb idea to train in the big lifts (5 reps) 3 times a week (or even 1 on 1 off) for fat loss?
2)if it is ok to continue doing the full body compound movement workouts, would it be beneficial to throw in some of the farmer's walk/tyre flipping stuff after I'm done to increase fat loss? Should i do it on off days? SHOULD I DO ANYTHING ON MY CURRENT OFF DAYS?
3)The weights workouts leave me drenched in sweat under my hoodie, so it is hard work. Thibs says in a recent article that "When trying to drop a lot of fat to get super lean, you won't build much muscle, so it doesn't make sense to use a million lifting exercises." But he does emphasize the loaded carry type movements as a key to fat loss, coupled with strength training. I'm already doing 5 different lifts. He also mentions sprints, MMA etc. Those things are available to me too. If I could throw that in, when should i do it? Is that just overkill?

This is a long post already so I'll stop. But i hope I have given enough information for you guys to maybe point me in the right direction. I won't be offended if you say I'm doing everything wrong, I just want this to work.

I look forward to your replies.


#2

[quote]Cinephile wrote:
I haven’t lifted at all in 9 years. I’m 31 now. I have ballooned to 295lbs at 6’2.
My BF% is 41. Bad, right?[/quote]
If by “bad”, you mean legitimately morbidly obese, then yeah, kinda bad. The best thing you could do for your health, nevermind your strength and physique, is drop fat like your talking about. It does sounds like your attitude is right on track. That’s a huge plus.

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

And what’s your target daily calorie goal?

Building well-peaked biceps aren’t really a priority right now, no. But there is room in a well-designed, goal-appropriate program for some direct arm work, for sure.

Twojarslave is a dude who, I think, was pretty chubby and dropped some fat with Starting Strength (doing his 5s, 3 days a week). But I think he even said the fat loss wasn’t what it could’ve been with a different approach. I might be making that up or leaving out some parts though. He has a log around here. 1-Man Island is, if I remember, another guy who was big and used Starting Strength to get into better shape. So it’s possible, sure. But I still wouldn’t say it’s ideal and the most efficient way there.

Depending on your current conditioning/endurance level, you might not be able to go hard enough, long enough on higher intensity work (like tire flips, farmers, and other strongman-y conditioning work).

Plain old boring-ass walking 20-30 minutes at a time or longer, done most days of the week if not everyday, would be a better start to get your base-level endurance up a bit.


After you see and feel some progress from there, then you could bump up the cardio intensity and switch to doing some of the harder stuff.

Thing is, you’re not trying to get “super lean” right now. You’re trying to get not-super-fat. (Sorry man, no offense meant). Understand that your current state is outside the “normal” bell curve, so most advice either won’t totally apply or isn’t necessary just yet.

I think walking at least four or five days a week, plus some basic lifting three or four days a week, plus nailing your nutrition, is the best way to build momentum with some results.

There are tons of lifting plans on the site here. This is one example of a straight-forward plan that would be a solid choice:


#3

It sounds like your attitude is very much in the right place, so assuming it stays there you will be successful. If you want to lift 3 days per week, then I think your plan sounds fine. An upper/ lower split 4x per week may be slightly better due to more overall activity and a greater frequency of doing something physical, but if 3x per week is all you can do, that is plenty. In both cases be mindful of your total volume and intensity… Remember that you have a very long road ahead of you and the last thing you want is to get injured. I would utilize the sled every day you’re in the gym at this point. It is a great tool for doing extra work that won’t cut into your recovery, assuming you’re not running sprints with it.

Just pushing it around for 15-20 minutes after you lift can be a very powerful tool. On off days, go for walks. They don’t have to be particularly long or brisk right now, but they should eventually get there. At this stage you should think of any time you’re doing something physical as a plus and any time you’re not doing something physical, preparing/ eating healthy meals, or sleeping a minus. Best of luck to you on your journey.


#4

Thank you for your reply.

“If by “bad”, you mean legitimately morbidly obese, then yeah, kinda bad.”

  • Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. My waist is 55".

"What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

And what’s your target daily calorie goal? "

According to myfitnesspal (first search result in google) my BMR is 2338kcal.
My goal has been 500 kcal under that.

Yesterday my total was 1712kcal. Like I mentioned, getting the whole foods in is more difficult. I guess years of sugar-laden fast digested nonsense has skewed my view of ‘hungry’.

Carbs: 151 Protein: 177 Fat: 45

I know my carbs are higher than optimum.

I also know that my fat should be higher.If 30% of my kcals are to come from fat then yesterday I was about 100 kcals short.

If this is waaaay off, and if you feel so inclined, please let me know what I should change to make my numbers more satisfactory.

I avoided the very low carb diet on purpose. I obviously have an unhealthy relationship with food, and I don’t think that diet plan would teach me the benefits of healthier eating. Another reason is that I am probably nutritionally deficient, so avoiding fruit because of the carbs doesn’t seem to make sense to me when my body could use the boost.

"Twojarslave is a dude who, I think, was pretty chubby and dropped some fat with Starting Strength (doing his 5s, 3 days a week). But I think he even said the fat loss wasn’t what it could’ve been with a different approach. I might be making that up or leaving out some parts though. He has a log around here. 1-Man Island is, if I remember, another guy who was big and used Starting Strength to get into better shape. So it’s possible, sure. But I still wouldn’t say it’s ideal and the most efficient way there. "

Ok, that’s fair enough. The second poster, TrevorLPT suggested maybe doing a split that resulted in more frequent gym visits. That makes sense. Maybe an Upper/Lower or Push/Pull/Legs split then. If I do that I can at least try different rep ranges.

I read the articles you linked to. Maybe 10-12 weeks of tacked on lower intensity cardio on the treadmill/xtrainer/rowing machine is a more gentle start. I live less than 2 miles from the gym so I can go whenever. Walking to the shops etc is all do-able.Looks like I need more stuff on my iPod!

(I know what your thinking - why not just walk to the gym? I cant because I go before work and that’s 12 miles from the gym and need the car. Could maybe walk on days off though, weather permitting)

I’m very aware of my inexperience. I have no problem with being a novice. Just doesn’t bother me. Im egotistical about many things but my body cant be one of them because its in such bad shape. I wont be offended with criticism or advice, so please, if you see anything dumb in my posts, give me a shout.

Next training day is Sunday, so Ill spend Saturday looking for a new routine.

Maybe I should just copy Kai Greene’s Olympia routine that he printed in last month’s Muscular Development? ( Joke!)

Thanks again.


#5

Thank you for replying.

I’ve kind of replied to both you guys in one comment.


#6

You’re eating way too few calories. MyFitnessPal can’t be saying your maintenance level is 2300 because that’s what it says my maintenance level is, and I weigh over 100 lbs less than you.

Start at 12 kcal x bodyweight = 3540. Eat as clean as you can and try to walk a lot (can you do 30 minute morning walks on an empty stomach?) and lift weights 3-4 times / week. Weigh yourself once a week before breakfast and if you don’t lose weight after a couple weeks gradually decrease calories.


#7

[quote]Cinephile wrote:

[quote] CC wrote:
"What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

And what’s your target daily calorie goal? "
[/quote]
According to myfitnesspal (first search result in google) my BMR is 2338kcal.
My goal has been 500 kcal under that.
[/quote]
Myfitnesspal is very good for some things, and I recommend you make a habit of using it later in this process. However, its very bad at figuring out your targets and goals for you

I think the important thing is to get the quality of your food sorted first. A doughnut and a sweet potato might have the same amount of carbs and hit your macros in exactly the same way, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which you should be eating. This applies even more so if you’re used to eating sugary rubbish.

That’s all very well, but as I’ve said above, macros don’t show the whole picture so what exactly did you eat yesterday? As in, in real food, not numbers on paper.

I feel precisely the opposite. I feel that a lower carb plan on non-lifting days will steer you away from the breads and pastas and towards using lots of veg and some fruit as your main carb sources.

I would say that eating loads of carbs because of the tiny amounts of other nutrients in them doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Especially when those nutrients could come from veg. I also find it hard to believe all those carbs came from fruit. That’s about 8 apples, which would be getting on for a third of your total calories for the day.

Ok, that’s fair enough. The second poster, TrevorLPT suggested maybe doing a split that resulted in more frequent gym visits. That makes sense. Maybe an Upper/Lower or Push/Pull/Legs split then. If I do that I can at least try different rep ranges.
[/quote]
I personally think heavy lifting should be an important part of your plan, and that the specific program probably isn’t that important or something to focus on. However I certainly don’t think it should be the only part of your plan, you should be trying to move pretty much as much as your body allows. I don’t know your fitness levels so take some of my recommendations with a pinch of common sense, but things like walking a lot more, some of it with a weighted vest, a few sessions of bike intervals a week, swim a few miles, join a local team and play once a week, etc. etc. etc. Get your activity levels up. I lost about 5 stone (70lbs) by making a rule that every day I was going to do some form of exercise. During motivated periods, I’d often do 2 or 3.

Your attitude seems to be spot on, and will serve you very well. Just remember fat loss doesn’t need brains or talent or skill, just hard work.

Can I recommend spending Saturday as a meal-pep day instead? I know looking for routines is fun and chopping veggies isn’t but one or two days a week planning and buying the food you will need will make all the difference.

EDIT: Also, your gym sounds immense, I am very jealous.


#8

Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.


#9

Hey, Thanks for replying.

MFP does give me the 2347 number. I wouldn’t just pull it out of thin air. It asks for my age/sex/height/weight. I put in my details and that’s what it gave me.If you have a reliable source for the BMR measurment please share it with me, and thanks for the ‘12cals x bodyweight’ suggestion.


#10

My protein sources : chicken breasts. Lean ground beef. Fish (salmon/cod). Eggs.
My Carb sources: Oatmeal. Brown rice. Sweet Potato.(i still have some meals that were made with white potato and will finish them first.) frozen mixed veg. Broccoli (fresh). Apples.
I use low cal spray to cook with. I also have olive oil. I bought a bunch of hot sauces and spices to season the food i eat. I sometimes use zero calorie flavor enhancer and put it in fizzy spring water if i miss soda. I bought measuring cups to estimate how much is going in to each meal.

" I feel that a lower carb plan on non-lifting days will steer you away from the breads and pastas and towards using lots of veg and some fruit as your main carb sources. "

Gotcha. If you imagine a typical meal with sweet potato/chicken/broccoli , should i just dump the sweet potato on non lifting days then ? Up my fat intake for that day etc?

“I would say that eating loads of carbs because of the tiny amounts of other nutrients in them doesn’t make a lot of sense either.”

That’s not entirely what I meant, but I totally get what your saying. Fair enough, point taken.

“Can I recommend spending Saturday as a meal-pep day instead?”

You can. I took your advice and that’s what i did yesterday, with the foods mentioned above.

A couple of you guys have mentioned that other than exercise in the gym, moving around as much outside of that is a vital part of this for me. I get it and I will make an effort to do so.
I figure I can make use of my time off by being more active by doing some cardio/walking. This would probs help with the soreness I have been getting after the weights sessions.

I will have a basic weights routine, but one that incorporates varied rep ranges. I’m still learning after all so I have to learn form, but I also like lifting heavy, so I will mix it up.

Congrats for losing 5 stone. Also for keeping it off. Thats what I want to do!


#11

Thank you for this.

My TDEE with no activity is 2820cals
3x exercise per week bumps it up to 3231cals.


#12

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.[/quote]

Or just eat a consistent amount and adjust based on results.


#13

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.[/quote]

Or just eat a consistent amount and adjust based on results.
[/quote]

Yep, both approaches work. I was specifically replying to his post above about calculating a calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from his estimated BMR and ending up with a very small number. I personally think it can be very useful for someone to get a handle on their calorie needs and actual calorie intake early on, even if they go with a different approach later on, but that’s neither here nor there.


#14

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.[/quote]

Or just eat a consistent amount and adjust based on results.
[/quote]

Yep, both approaches work. I was specifically replying to his post above about calculating a calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from his estimated BMR and ending up with a very small number. I personally think it can be very useful for someone to get a handle on their calorie needs and actual calorie intake early on, even if they go with a different approach later on, but that’s neither here nor there. [/quote]

I agree up to a point. I think it’s really important for people to know where specific numbers come from, so that they have a good understanding of what they actually mean. When you realise how many assumptions and “for an average person”'s are built in to even the most advanced calculation, I think most people will realise how meaningless it is to work this stuff out on paper without any real world data points to go on.

Just using your example above, your TDEE is based on your BMR, your daily activity and the thermic effect of your food, along with other things. Lets assume you can work out your BMR precisely (which is unlikely). How do you work out your daily activity? Could you list all the times you’ve moved in a day? I couldn’t, I certainly couldn’t calculate the amount of calories I burnt doing it. What about the thermic effect of your food? I find most people have a hard time even getting an accurate list of what they ate in a day, working out the thermic effect of it all seems like a bit too much of an ask.

As an ex-scientist, as much as I see the draw of formula’s and calculations in this, I feel the system is too complicated for any kind of accurate results based purely on theory.


#15

[quote]Cinephile wrote:
Thank you for this.

My TDEE with no activity is 2820cals
3x exercise per week bumps it up to 3231cals.
[/quote]

Then I would use this number as your starting point, but remember it is not 100% accurate. If you are not getting your required weight loss, or you’re losing weight too quickly, it’s time to reassess.


#16

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.[/quote]

Or just eat a consistent amount and adjust based on results.
[/quote]

Yep, both approaches work. I was specifically replying to his post above about calculating a calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from his estimated BMR and ending up with a very small number. I personally think it can be very useful for someone to get a handle on their calorie needs and actual calorie intake early on, even if they go with a different approach later on, but that’s neither here nor there. [/quote]

I agree up to a point. I think it’s really important for people to know where specific numbers come from, so that they have a good understanding of what they actually mean. When you realise how many assumptions and “for an average person”'s are built in to even the most advanced calculation, I think most people will realise how meaningless it is to work this stuff out on paper without any real world data points to go on.

Just using your example above, your TDEE is based on your BMR, your daily activity and the thermic effect of your food, along with other things. Lets assume you can work out your BMR precisely (which is unlikely). How do you work out your daily activity? Could you list all the times you’ve moved in a day? I couldn’t, I certainly couldn’t calculate the amount of calories I burnt doing it. What about the thermic effect of your food? I find most people have a hard time even getting an accurate list of what they ate in a day, working out the thermic effect of it all seems like a bit too much of an ask.

As an ex-scientist, as much as I see the draw of formula’s and calculations in this, I feel the system is too complicated for any kind of accurate results based purely on theory.[/quote]

It’s a starting point. When they’re first starting out, most people don’t have ANY idea how many calories they need to eat to lose weight consistently. Calculating your TDEE and subtracting 500 or %10-%20 gets you in the ballpark. That’s it.


#17

Dagill and Trevor both make good points. I just think it’s better to start conservatively and gradually lower calories than the opposite. Given your bodyweight, it won’t be hard to drop fat just by increasing your activity level and slightly modifying your diet, for the first few weeks.

If you’ve calculated 3231 calories and plan to go 500 below that, I still think it’s far too low. I am losing weight at 2300 kcal / day and I weigh 188 and my BMR according to a DEXA scan (very accurate) is 1721 kcal / day.

A nutritionist who focuses on weight training recommends 11.43 kcal / BW as a starting point for fat loss. I can’t post the link here but if you google “Feigenbaum to be a beast” you’ll find a great article by him on this stuff.


#18

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but your BMR is a measure (or estimation) of the number of calories you burn through normal metabolic processes necessary to sustain life, completely excluding digestion and any activity. If you laid in bed all day, in a state of partial wakefulness, with the room temperature set to your body temperature, after fasting for 12 hours, the number of calories you burn would be a measure of your BMR.

Hopefully this helps you realize why eating less than your BMR is a bad idea for someone who lives a life that includes more activity than that or even occasionally goes to the gym. The number you’re interested is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which includes things like activity and the thermic effect of food. You should calculate your calorie deficit off of your TDEE, not your BMR.[/quote]

Or just eat a consistent amount and adjust based on results.
[/quote]

Yep, both approaches work. I was specifically replying to his post above about calculating a calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from his estimated BMR and ending up with a very small number. I personally think it can be very useful for someone to get a handle on their calorie needs and actual calorie intake early on, even if they go with a different approach later on, but that’s neither here nor there. [/quote]

I agree up to a point. I think it’s really important for people to know where specific numbers come from, so that they have a good understanding of what they actually mean. When you realise how many assumptions and “for an average person”'s are built in to even the most advanced calculation, I think most people will realise how meaningless it is to work this stuff out on paper without any real world data points to go on.

Just using your example above, your TDEE is based on your BMR, your daily activity and the thermic effect of your food, along with other things. Lets assume you can work out your BMR precisely (which is unlikely). How do you work out your daily activity? Could you list all the times you’ve moved in a day? I couldn’t, I certainly couldn’t calculate the amount of calories I burnt doing it. What about the thermic effect of your food? I find most people have a hard time even getting an accurate list of what they ate in a day, working out the thermic effect of it all seems like a bit too much of an ask.

As an ex-scientist, as much as I see the draw of formula’s and calculations in this, I feel the system is too complicated for any kind of accurate results based purely on theory.[/quote]

It’s a starting point. When they’re first starting out, most people don’t have ANY idea how many calories they need to eat to lose weight consistently. Calculating your TDEE and subtracting 500 or %10-%20 gets you in the ballpark. That’s it. [/quote]

I definitely agree with this.