T Nation

HIIT Works


I'm a newb. I'm 21, 6' 165lbs ish. I've been meaning to start training for like a year, and finally started around two weeks ago. Before that (and I posted about this a while ago) I had been doing some hiit over xmas. Now I've started visiting the campus gym at my university.

Anyway, I'm shocked. First of all, the hiit started working right away. Not so much with fat loss, but just how I FEEL. I have tons more energy, I sleep better, it's crazy..

And then when I got back I started going to the gym and bam! I was really scrawny (and I still am pretty scrawny) but it's unbelievable how visible the results are already. I'm not sure if my muscles are just more 'pumped' because I've started using them or if they're actually growing this fast, but either way I'm addicted.

I just have a few questions.

1) At this stage, would you recommend total body training everytime I go to the gym, or a split of some kind.

2) I've been reading some articles, and apparently nutrition is huge. I have a pretty rockin cafeteria here on campus and an unlimited meal plan, but I have no way to measure portions. Since I'm pretty much focused on growing right now, I just eat as much chicken, beef, etc. as possible.

I've started avoiding bread and the dessert area (which is huge and amazing but I'll be strong), and I've started swinging by the veggie area for the first time. Spinach leaves aren't nearly so bad as I thought. Any other advice?

3) How much actual ab work do you have to do to have awesome abs? I keep reading that really all you have to do is lower your body fat %

4) How many months (years) before I'm a beast?

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this, and I feel like it's going to be a huge life-changing thing, but I could use some pointers.


Answers to 1, and 4 is something you actually have to try and then you will know the answer, everyone responds differently.

2, gauge a protein portion by the fact the size of your palm is going to be roughly 30grams worth. Don't steer too clear of the carbs, you will need them to add weight. Yeah steer clear of the desert trolley, but nothing wrong with oats, sweet potato, brown rice etc.

3, I have have never had awesome abs so I couldn't make comment from experience, but from what I read you will need to obviously make the muscle bigger and get leaner, which makes sense.



Then when you are positive you have progressed as far as you can (resetted 3-4 times) you will want to start splitting your body up as per Prof.X etc.

Yeah thats cool. Read Nutrition stickies like Are you a Beginner? for the basic 7 habits/rules.

Do as much ab work as you do lower-back work.
Yes you are right, it is just about having low body fat %.

Set yourself micro-goals. Your first one might be to get a 1.5x body-weight squat?
Then you might want to get an inch increase in your arm circumference?

Keep the big picture small. You will see improvements if you stick to it. Read the stickies in Beginners, read the occasional article of interest using the search function, and remember to stick to what ever program you are doing for a minimum 8 weeks!


1) I'd suggest either upper/lower split or Total body at this point. I'm very partial to the upper/lower split personally. As Addiction said, it's something you have to try yourself and see--thing about this iron game is that there's NO WAY to get around trial and error and experimentation. NONE. PERIOD.

You can ask big dudes how they got that way, you can ask authors, you can read studies, but ultimately it comes down to doing it yourself. Those people can help give you ideas to try, but ultimately it comes down to trying it out yourself. the most important point is: [b] FIND SOMETHING AND STICK WITH IT![/b]. Don't flit from program to program every 2 weeks. Give a program at least 6-8 weeks of hard-ass effort (and lots of food) to assess whether it works.

2) Not really. Spinach is really good. Well, fresh baby spinach anyway. You may get to like it more than lettuce. It's more packed with vitamins anyway. Eat BIG, eat OFTEN, eat PROTEIN. I started out just about where you are now. (6 ft, 160). Eating is the hardest thing to keep up with, but it pays off.

Thing is, it can't be "eat really well for 3 days, then forget your meals for 3 more". It's got to be consistent. Aim for 5-6 meals a day. Keep it simple--protein, healthy veggies/carbs/fats, frequent meals. Don't sweat details!!! Guys like you and me, who've been skinny and tall most of their lives, gotta eat the farm. DON'T be too worried about carbs, or whatever, just eat lots of dead animal. First and foremost, if the scale is not moving up, you're not eating enough. Period.

In a way, it's a blessing you don't have a way to portion your meals--it will force you to simply eat w/o being anal about specific #'s in mind. Aim for 1-2 lb gain a week (always measure in the morning on an empty stomach/bowel). Eating big isn't about getting hung up on specific #s--"Oh I ate 4000 calories but I'm not growing". The answer is eat more!

3) Actually, there's two requirements--lower your bf% and have muscle to show. It won't matter if you're at 3% bf if you're 130 lbs. Frankly, if you really want to make the quickest progress, toss the notion of a 6 pack out the window for the next year. I'm serious---it doesn't mean get fat!... it just means you won't get a 6 pack. Exercises aren't a matter so much of "ab exercises" as much as overall muscularity.

4) Years. Measure in years. I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times--this game is a LONG-TERM game, measured in years or decades. It took me 7 years to go from 160-240, at roughly the same body fat. Do the math. If I hadn't made a number of retarded mistakes when I was early into training, it could have been sooner. But the big thing is, plan for the long term. This is a life style, not a hobby.

Doesn't mean you can't go out, have fun, have a life, eat pizza, and stay up all night, go to parties. I did plenty of that. Enjoy your life! However, it just means you can't half-ass it for 6 months and expect to be hyooge. Don't miss meals, don't miss training sessions, don't half ass your training sessions, don't binge drink 4 nights a week. Get good sleep most of the time. Or if you can't, eat extra to make up for lost sleep :). I figure if I'd have applied myself a bit better to eating I could have made it in say...6. Maybe 5. Training hard wasn't an issue for me personally. Gains come quicker early on and less quickly later.

Hope this helps. This is what I've personally found through my experience. Good luck, I'll be waiting to see your progress in a year. Keep grinding on through the plateaus and the hard times, they come to everyone, both new and veteran. The key is how you handle them.


Thanks for the input everyone. I'll post again after I've made some more progress.