T Nation

I'm a 138lb Noob ...

Hello T-Nation,

I want to get big(ger). I’m 22, and 138lbs. Yes, I know. A long, long way to go. The reasons why I’m at this weight are numerous and I’m sure you’ve heard all the excuses.

I have a few questions to ask, since I’ve joined a “gym” If anyone could help I’d be grateful. I might add that I’ve done 100s of hours more reading than working out, which was just a way of avoiding the work.

I’ve hit a sea of motivation however, and at least I’ve started. The fact that I’ve put on 10lbs in the last 18 months has … well its kind of showed me that I can do something about my weight.

My questions:

a) Its a scary feeling walking into the weights room, with at least 10 guys there, most of them very big. Even the ones that aren’t, pack a good 20-30lbs on me and don’t look to big.

Its a bit gutting to realise that I’m a long, long way off this. I imagine not many of you are at my weight, but if any of you have goals which are very far from where you currently are, how do you motivate yourself?

b) I feel like a bit of a dick using some of the weights and the benches whilst these big, lean, in shape dudes stand there and look decidedly displeased at the fact that some scrawny fucker is wasting their valuable time.

To all the big guys out there, what are your experiences with this? If you see a very skinny guy doing weights, trying to get bigger, do you chuckle to yourself, do you pity him, or are you happy that they’re also striving for goals?

Its kind of gutting that I’m not at a proper gym but rather a fitness center. They don’t have a barbell, but merely a smith machine. I want to get stronger also, but I know I’m missing out on the deadlift, and I’m reticent about beginning squatting on a smith machine as I’ve heard from time to time that its not ideal, especially for a beginner. Any alternatives? Any truth in this?

Finally hitting the weights after long, dirty long knee injuries is a nice feeling. In the past month I seemed to have made “big” gains, by my standards anyway - however, I think that the honeymoon period is coming to an end. Anyhow, if anyone could help me out with those questions I’d be grateful!

I am 22 and 160. By no means huge.

“The fact that I’ve put on 10lbs in the last 18 months has …”

That is not much of a gain. That is less than .25 lbs a week. You can gain 1 lb/week if you read some of the eating articles here.

“a) Its a scary feeling walking into the weights room …”

Fuck them. If you need to come on the Internet to get motivation, then you need a new hobby. If you don’t REALLY WANT to get big, don’t worry because it won’t happen. I used to be your size, and it wasn’t until I motivated myself that I started making gains.

“b) I feel like a bit of a dick using some of the weights and the benches whilst these big”

Fuck them. See above. If I see someone weaker than I am doing squats, bench presses, or deadlifts (or similar), I have no problem waiting. If they have a problem, tell them to get lost.

What are they going to do about it? If you are seriously training, no one has the right to be angry. Curling in the squat rack, hanging your jacket on racked barbells, or resting on a bench press is not acceptable.

“Its kind of gutting that I’m not at a proper gym but rather a fitness center.”

Fuck the smith machine. It has uses but 99% of people on this forum are going to tell you to squat raw, and for good reason. Find a real gym, not a globo-fitness-center.

“I think that the honeymoon period is coming to an end.”

Bullshit. It ends when you tell it to end.

The reason I did not give you a lot of concrete answers is because most of them exists in articles on this site.

Regarding eating, look up Massive Eating. I also like the Hepburn and Shotgun methods for gaining size and strength. Focus on compound lifts, and lift heavy. Eat big, and sleep.

[quote]njrusmc wrote:
I am 22 and 160. By no means huge.

“The fact that I’ve put on 10lbs in the last 18 months has …”

That is not much of a gain. That is less than .25 lbs a week. You can gain 1 lb/week if you read some of the eating articles here.

“a) Its a scary feeling walking into the weights room …”

Fuck them. If you need to come on the Internet to get motivation, then you need a new hobby. If you don’t REALLY WANT to get big, don’t worry because it won’t happen. I used to be your size, and it wasn’t until I motivated myself that I started making gains.

“b) I feel like a bit of a dick using some of the weights and the benches whilst these big”

Fuck them. See above. If I see someone weaker than I am doing squats, bench presses, or deadlifts (or similar), I have no problem waiting. If they have a problem, tell them to get lost. What are they going to do about it? If you are seriously training, no one has the right to be angry. Curling in the squat rack, hanging your jacket on racked barbells, or resting on a bench press is not acceptable.

“Its kind of gutting that I’m not at a proper gym but rather a fitness center.”

Fuck the smith machine. It has uses but 99% of people on this forum are going to tell you to squat raw, and for good reason. Find a real gym, not a globo-fitness-center.

“I think that the honeymoon period is coming to an end.”

Bullshit. It ends when you tell it to end.

The reason I did not give you a lot of concrete answers is because most of them exists in articles on this site.

Regarding eating, look up Massive Eating. I also like the Hepburn and Shotgun methods for gaining size and strength. Focus on compound lifts, and lift heavy. Eat big, and sleep.[/quote]

Thanks for your reply. It wasn’t so much that I’m looking for motivation, I was just wondering what drove other smaller people.

I would have found a gym but as lady luck would have it my budget meant that this super-cheap fitness center was the only remotely affordable option. Anyhow, this state of affairs will only persist for around another month or so - when I come into some money I’ll be able to afford a gym AND proper nutrition (yes, I realised that eating healthy is costing me a lot more than eating junk. Do others find this?)

Since I’m stuck at this place for the next month, I want to make the most of it - would people generally advise me to stay away from smithy squats? I don’t want to end up with some crappy injury due to bad form thanks to the machine (if it does indeed do this).

Anyways, thanks for your reply. My weight gain has been extremely limited because my goals weren’t so much about gaining back then. I was focussing on sprint and sport specific training but the side effect made me realise that I was able to put weight on. Before this period I had somehow resigned myself to the fact that I’d never get bigger. Reading a lot of the articles here suggests otherwise.

One final question, it might sound stupid. 22 is not too late to get big I hope?

“eating healthy is costing me a lot more than eating junk”

Of course.

“too late”

Remove those two words form your vocabulary forever. I was 152-154 exactly one month ago. I am ~160 now, having increased my squat by 50 and my deadlift by 80 lbs. I am your age. I add 10lbs to the bar every week just about. Those are gains to me!

Regarding the smith machine, its better than nothing. If that is all you have, use it. Also focus on heavy lunges, dumbbell squats, or any other similar motion you can come up with that is hard.

Nah, never too late. im 21 and i weighed 138 exactly in september 07. Now I weigh ~170(not as lean) and working my way up to 180. Just start with the empty bar and learn correct form and dont worry about what other people think. I give more respect to the little guy who squats 135lb ATG than the big guy who quarter squats 315.

If you do a manly exercise every time you go to gym i think you will earn some respect

[quote]Magicpunch wrote:
My questions:

a) Its a scary feeling walking into the weights room, with at least 10 guys there, most of them very big. Even the ones that aren’t, pack a good 20-30lbs on me and don’t look to big. Its a bit gutting to realise that I’m a long, long way off this. I imagine not many of you are at my weight, but if any of you have goals which are very far from where you currently are, how do you motivate yourself?[/quote]

So? You’ll get big. Don’t worry about it.

[quote]b) I feel like a bit of a dick using some of the weights and the benches whilst these big, lean, in shape dudes stand there and look decidedly displeased at the fact that some scrawny fucker is wasting their valuable time.

To all the big guys out there, what are your experiences with this? If you see a very skinny guy doing weights, trying to get bigger, do you chuckle to yourself, do you pity him, or are you happy that they’re also striving for goals?[/quote]

They’re just dickheads then. If you’re doing the right exercises, then you have every right to use the equipment. If you curl in the squat rack though, they are justified in making you eat your own head.

I recommend finding a way to deadlift and squat with free weights. If you can, put together a home gym or find another gym. Just my thought on that.

I’ve been the skinny guy too. Two things helped me with the insecurity:

  1. Realize that people aren’t watching you. It might feel like all eyes are on you, but most people are too busy checking themselves out in the mirrors to notice the skinny guy.

  2. You have to create your own world when you train. Having thoughts of insecurity is a major distraction - how can you perform your best if you’re focused on the fear of everyone watching you?

For me, this meant (and still means) wearing headphones, pulling a hat down low over my eyes to block out my surroundings, and getting in the zone mentally.

Well man I started from 140lbs at 5’10", pretty close to you. I’m now 187lbs and i still have a LONG way to go for my personal goal, I’d like to be a solid 230ish pounds. How do I stay motivated? I keep telling myself that I WILL reach my goal and nothing can stop me.

I tell myself that if I don’t keep working hard and shoveling the food down my throat that I wont ever be where I want to be.

There was an article around here somewhere recently that said to make your goal known to people you know in real life, don’t be specific but tell them you want to gain 50 pounds. This way you always have that knowledge in the back of your mind, people will know that you FAILED if you don’t reach your goal.

[quote]Magicpunch wrote:

b) I feel like a bit of a dick using some of the weights and the benches whilst these big, lean, in shape dudes stand there and look decidedly displeased at the fact that some scrawny fucker is wasting their valuable time. To all the big guys out there, what are your experiences with this?

If you see a very skinny guy doing weights, trying to get bigger, do you chuckle to yourself, do you pity him, or are you happy that they’re also striving for goals?
[/quote]

Honestly, when I see someone that is super skawny lifting I don’t get irritated at all. I think thank God they are lifting and trying to put on some muscle. Now if they were to be curling in the squat rack while I’m waiting to do squats or some overhead lifting I’d be fuckin annoyed. I know I’m not huge, but figured I’d just give you my perspective on it anyway.

Great replies guys. Thanks very much for your advice. I particularly liked the “I WILL get big” one. Quite simple, yet it seems it could work.

And to all of you who have packed on those pounds from a similar weight to mine, great stuff. Knowing that there are people out there who are managing it quite easily just gives me that extra confidence knowning that I may be able to do it too.

Also, thanks for the advice on getting into that “own zone” mentality in the gym. Hey if anything, I NEED those weights more than those big guys :smiley: I don’t want to get blown away in the wind!

I didn’t start out small, I started out way overweight. I lost a lot of fat while gaining muscle, and the whole time my motivation was to get myself into a decent shape so I wouldn’t be embrassesed about my weight.

After getting myself into “decent” shape (not good, but not obese), my motivation now is to prove to myself and other people that I can have an athletic body. Nobody really thinks im athletic, but I know I would be if I had a decent body.

Everyone has their own reasons for lifting. You have to ask yourself why you want to lift. If you can’t convince yourself you really want to lift, spending time in the weight room will give you very little benefits.

I started lifting @ 15 and was 120 lbs. Only in the last couple years (I’m 23 now) I gained about 40 lbs (not all muscle) and am a hell of a lot stronger. You have to put the time in.

I do not think of myself as big. 190 @ 5’9" is not exactly a monster. I don’t even think of myself as looking big or muscular (I’m a powerlifter, not a body builder). Its all about what you want to achieve and more so, finding the best way to do it.

Once you get out, you may want to consider buying a rack, bench, and a 300 lbs olympic set. That should really put you in the right position. Get some olympic DB bars and some GOOD collars.

It makes me happy to see guys trying to lift. I can’t stand people that half-ass it, but that’s different. If you are trying, GOOD FOR YOU! Anyone trying to better themselves is fine in my book. Just work on form, getting stronger and whatever your exact goals are (BBing, strength, or what have you).

Maybe I didn’t see it, but what are your goals specifically? I think this is just as important if not more important than finding proper routines to utilize.

You have to know why you’re doing it before you figure out how.

I would not worry how much you lift at first or really at any time, at least compared to others. You will eventually feel like ANY amount of weight you lift is not enough; at least that’s how I feel. That is the right attitude. Don’t worry about joe smoe over there, just worry about yourself.

Bottom line, if you can, buy your own set, rack, bench, etc. You can use it and abuse it as you like. Gyms can be great, but personally, I hate them as most people there joke around and are not serious. If you can find a serious gym, then go there, that’s different. The environment matters, including the people.

Magicpunch,

if you can’t find another gym, I’m sure you can find a way to mimic the squat and deadlift movements with dumbbells, rather than the smith machine.

I would liek to second what synthetickiller said. Eat till you’re sick, and put everything you’ve got into every lift.

Fisch, one of my goals IS to prove to myself and others that I can be athletic. I play cricket, hockey, and am doing a bit of kickboxing. I want to start on some MMA in a few months so I have quite a few different goals. Strength, speed, agility. I have been injured a lot in the past and I believe this is due to a lot of weaknesses and the very, very little muscle I have.

Synthetickiller, I also want to get bigger for aesthetic purposes. The difficulty has been wavering goals; one day I just wanted to be purely strong, the next day I wanted to be able to run around on a football pitch without feeling any fatigue, and the next I wanted to be very big.

Right now my first priorities are to get bigger. I believe this will bring some strength with it. Once I’m at a certain weight (where I feel comfortable with my body) then I want to get strong at that weight. Does this look like an ok strategy?? Also, I’ll look for a better gym in the future, or perhaps consider a rack. That said, my small size and incredible weakness means that so far the gym seems to be serving my purposes quite well. I can’t even pick half of the dumbells up without feeling like it’ll rip my arms out.

Sammy, I’ll look into dumbell squatting exercises. So far I’ve been having some trouble being able to handle enough weight with my arms which could have an effect on my legs. Know what I mean?

Zephead, I like the “eat eat eat” philosophy. Ironically, for someone my size I can eat 10 full horses.

Lift big, eat big, think big = become big.

Hey ive been there too. When i first started lifting I was prob only around 110 pounds maybe. 3 Years ago I was 130 at best. I worked hard in the gym, I at right and I did everything in my power to get bigger. My problem was the everything I ate was burned off immediately I didnt have an ounce of fat on me. So i realized i needed to eat more. Protein Protein Protein. Im now 196 but I dieted down from 205.

Heres some tips. Dont burn more then you eat. If your taking in calories and running alot your burning them off and you’ll never gain weight. Remember eat big and train big and you will get big. Heres a look at what a sample diet should look like. Protein is what your muscles need to grow.

Breakfast:
4-6 Eggs
Cup of Yogurt
Serving of Fruit

Snack:
40 Gram Whey Protein shake

Lunch:
12 oz Chicken Breast
Serving of Rice

Pre-Workout Snack:
30g Protein Bar
Serving of Fruit

Post-Workout:
40 Gram Whey Protein Shake

Dinner:
12 oz Steak
Side Salad

Before Bed:
Casein Protein Shake (This is a slow digesting protein that will feed your muscles while you sleep and prevent them from breaking down)

when I first started lifting , I too felt like the bigger/stronger guys were “didpleased at my presence” . but now I’m pretty sure I was wrong . they may look at you , but thats just because you’re a new face .

give 'er Hell and make some progress…thats all that matters

[quote]eremesu wrote:
If you do a manly exercise every time you go to gym i think you will earn some respect
[/quote]
Absolutely. Deadlifts and squats will quickly earn you respect and good will. If not immediately, then in a few weeks as you keep adding weight to them.