How to Start?


I´m new to T-Nation. My name is Ricardo and I´m from Portugal.
I lived in the states one year in 1997 (I was 18) and did some exercise (please pardon the mistakes) while in school. I got some muscle, but I have always been on the fatty side.

I am now 30 and want to change my life and invert my body. I am 5´6 and 210 pounds. I have some muscle left in my legs and chest. I have absolutely no shoulders/arms and i have a huge gut and ass.

I am now very motivated to turn this around and I have started one and a half months ago.
I am going to the gym 4 times per week.

There they recomend me to do 45 min of cardio in bike/walk fast/eliptic (I think thats the translation, then I do 8 wheight exercises. 3 times a week 2 diferent muscular groups (back/shoulders, etc…)

Please HELP ME, as I am in need of good advice.

As said I am motivated, but I want to see results on the long run.

I am eating:

Breakfast 9am - 1 turkey/chicken hamburger, one egg, one banana, 1 yougurt

11.30 - one yogurt and a energy bar

12/13.30- workout

14.30 - Fish our chicken with white rice and vegetables

17h - yougurt (two)

19 - energy bar

21h- dinner - chicken/turkey and vegetables

So, please help me ! I really thought all this for my self, but I am very confused since I have read all kinds of ideas on nutrition and training.

My goal is to get big fast and to loose fat along the way, whenever I think that I am at 30% of the gains I want to achieve I will want to get ripped and then keep on growing.

Some say 45 min of cardio plus 30 min of wheights is too much
Some say everyday is too much
At the gym they say it is correct since I first must loose all the fat and then start to gain real muscle

What should I eat ?

What must I eat before and after the gym ?

How much cardio and when ?

should I try to get bigger right now ? What type of training ?

Please Help and sorry for these long, long words and the mistakes…

Thanks !

Welcome to T-Nation, there is more than enough information available on this site, and from its members, to answer all of your questions.

Here’s the best thing I can say to you, and I know it’s an important piece of advice, because I never followed it myself, and while I’ve made progress, it hasn’t been as much as it could have been: FIND SOMETHING AND STICK WITH IT. Don’t think too much, just find something, and work hard at it, and you’ll see results.

Now, that being said, check out some of the stickies on this forum and you’ll be able to find some good diet/nutrition articles that will have you on the right track. If I were you, and I were trying to focus on losing weight, I would remove a lot of the carbs from my diet, especially if they don’t come right around training. And probably cut the energy bars out as well. But if you thoroughly read some of the articles on this site, you will gain a better understanding for yourself.

As far as weight training goes, it sounds like the plan your gym has given you is significantly lacking. Again, check out the stickies at the top of this forum and find a program that will have you in the gym 3-4 days a week. After your weight training, then you can add in some cardio, or do the cardio on your off days. Read some of the articles and decide if HIIT is right for you or if you’d feel more comfortable with steady-state.

If your primary goal is to lose weight, then don’t worry about trying to get big. As a beginner, your workouts will allow you to gain strength and some size even while you are trying to lose weight. But, for the best success, pick ONE GOAL and work towards it. This will bring better results faster, and motivate you to keep working harder.

I’m sure there are plenty of guys on here who could tell you exactly what’s missing from your diet, or what you should take out, but it really will be more beneficial for you to read some of the articles and threads, absorb some of the valuable information on this site, and then come back with more specific questions once you have a little better understanding of the big picture, and how you want to attack your personal goals.

Here is a solid nutrition article to get you started:

4 days a week is ok but it sounds like you are doing weights for 3 days and cardio for 1? This is ok, but generally do weight before cardio. Everyday is too much for a beginner, it takes time to build up your training capacity.

The diet is ok. What sort of yougurt are you eating? Anything other then natural generally has sugar in it. I don’t think the energy bars would be helping much either and I don’t see the need to have one before dinner…

Can you post your workout. 8 exercises seems alot, especially in a 30min period.

Before working out, people generally have a meal/shake with carbs and protein. What you eat after your workout is good. You can eat something like this beforehand to.

Your probably carrying a bit of fat around, so you’d probably be best to focus on losing some weight before you focus on getting big. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Ok, I’m going to say it, I like your general diet. Nothing super fancy, can be tweaked, but for the most part I don’t think it needs to be changed. Your carbs are in the morning, and right after you work out, so they go to good use and shouldn’t be much of a concern.

If you have a big gut as you say you do, you should definitely drop weight before looking to gain muscle. Chances are you’ll gain some muscle even as you drop fat because you’re new at this whole thing.

But get into healthy shape before you start building up–this DOESN’T mean you need to be shredded with a six pack before building muscle, just healthy and relatively trim. This does a few things for you, but most importantly it helps your body use carbs better than it does now–meaning more muscle gained and less fat gained as you bulk up.

The big thing right now is I would make sure you have some sort of protein source with every snack, in addition to your meals. Protein helps further reduce insulin spikes in your meal, which is a good thing as far as becoming OR staying lean. And obviously protein is good for building muscle.

So, I’d look into a cheap source of protein powder at a local supplement shop. Take 1 scoop (usually about = 20-25g) with both your 17h and 19h snacks.

I’d also look at your energy bars–are they carb laden with no protein, or are they “protein bars” that have 25-30+ grams of protein? If they don’t have much protein in them, ditch them in favor of something else–in this case the bars most likely rely on sugar and crappy carbs for energy.


Oh, and as far training goes–I’m not sure what you are doing in terms of your specific weight exercises, but I would suggest the following:

  1. I would weight train longer than you do cardio. So, maybe do 20-30 minutes cardio, and 45 minutes weights.

  2. I prefer doing weights before cardio for several reasons–it’s easier to work hard at weights when you’re fresh and not tired from cardio.

You’ll get a much better response to doing your weights and will be able to handle more kg on the exercises. Also, cardio will probably work better afterwards–depleting your glycogen with weights means you release fatty acids more readily for your cardio fuel, which is your goal. You want to burn fat.

  1. it’d be good for you to make sure you are pushing hard on your weights, while keeping good form of course.

  2. Finally, you said it yourself–this is a LONG-TERM thing. You’ll go through periods where you get discouraged, or want to quit, or aren’t seeing results fast enough. Don’t quit. This is a game that is won or lost over years, not months or weeks.

Consistancy is key. Remember that and stick with it. We all go through it, even vets.

A Sincere Thanks to all of you guys !

You helped me a lot.

I read some of the articles, as you mentioned, but the problem is that sometimes they do not recomend the same thing and I get a bit lost.

Just to make right what “hardgnr” said, I am training 5 days a week:

Monday - 45 min cardio + 30 min wheights + abs
(as said by some of you, I will start to do 45 min wheights and then after 20 to 30 min cardio)

T - 45 min cardio and some flexibility exercises + abs

W - 45 min cardio + 30 min wheights + abs

T - 45 min cardio and some flexibility exercises + abs

Friday - 5 min cardio + 30 min wheights + abs

Thanks again

I wouldn’t do abs 5 times a week. I would take the time you use to do abs on monday, wednesday, and friday, and use it to do weight training instead.

Good luck.

I think that schedule is ok. The flexibility exercises will probably help you out and also help you recover a bit from the workout days.

That’s the joy of training, and also the biggest pet peeve of a lot of people—no two articles or authors recommend exactly the same thing. It drives many people nuts when they first start, but ultimately it comes down to YOU–pick something and stick with it, give it 100% effort. In order for you to make progress in the Long-term, you will have to experiment with different ideas by different authors and find out what you like best and what works for you.

The first year or so, probably much more, you’ll be just fine following programs as written by the authors. The important thing is that whatever you try you:

  1. give it 100% effort and stick with it til it’s done.

  2. assess your results HONESTLY. If it didn’t work, why? was it because you didn’t work hard enough? didn’t eat enough? or was it because the program was too advanced for you? OR, was it because it was a stupid program? Only way to find out for sure is to be able to look at it honestly.

  3. Look at what each program has in COMMON with other authors’ programs. This will help you start to think about things on your own a bit.

All authors worth their paycheck will have quite a bit of common ground. The programs they write might not have the same rest periods, or days off, or whatever, but they all have at least a couple common core concepts. Or core principles. Looking at what successful authors, trainers, and regular guys have in common will help you avoid a lot of the gimmicks and pitfalls as you start out. They’ll be very general, but they’ll help direct your thinking.

Example–Generally, all of them recommend compound movements over isolation movements for most of your workout. This doesn’t mean you CAN’T throw in isolation stuff if you want. It means isolation exercises are meant to assist the results from your compound movements, not replace them.

It just means if the majority of your workouts consist of machine leg curls, tricep kickbacks, or concentration curls you are missing the big picture and you won’t make progress.