T Nation

Helping a Newbie

a friend wants to start lifting weights and asked for my help. he’s very active but has never lifted before. he wants strength and is indifferent to size.

is a program with parameters similar to abbh appropriate or should he begin with a more typical, higher rep program first? any recommendations on a program that may be more suited to him than abbh (or one that could be modified to include only compound lifts)? i’m going to teach him proper form and walk him through the workout.


Not too long ago, I would have recommended that he start out with three sets of 8-12 reps. But I no longer recommend or use this method. As Charles Poliquin once stated, training information changes every 18 months. From what I’ve seen, sticking to lower reps (even for a beginner) is a better choice (as stated in numerous articles by CW).

Since he is new to weight training, he may want to start out with a simple full-body routine three times a week. I would highly suggest Total Triple Training or the Strength Focused Mesocycle. Use those programs as written for 4-6 weeks to establish a good base of strength. From there, he will make wonderful progress with ABBH or many other programs written on T-nation regarding strength.

My dad recently started training with me (wants to lose weight and get in shape after decades of inactivity). I started him out on three full-body workouts each week with low reps (usually 3x5 or 5x5). Once he builds up a good base of strength, I’ll begin making changes similar to TTT, SFM and ABBH. Right now, I want him to learn perfect form with the basic exercises and establish a decent base of strength.

Yeah, I would definitely stay away from high reps. Practice lower reps with some heavy weight. But, make sure he keeps good form. Don’t go too heavy on him and screw him up. Depending on what type of activity he has been doing, he’ll see large jumps in strength right away from CNS adaptation. Don’t let him get too excited and start packing on way too much weight. Keep good form and progress slowly with low reps.

Good luck to both of you.

thanks for the replies, i appreciate it.

If he is totally new to strength training I would recommend higher reps at least for the first six weeks. This will allow him to gain the motor skills to perform a heavier weight and lower reps more efficiently.

In chronological order:

  1. The 6 weeks training suggested by ZEB
  2. CW’s “Big boy basics”
  3. CW’s ABBH
    Have a good time !