T Nation

Let's Get This Right...


warning: wall of text below


Where should I start this? I suppose by introducing myself. My name's Thomas and I'm a 21 year old med student from Belgium. I live together with my girlfriend in an apartment in the beautiful city of Ghent ( Pretty sure no one has heard of it here ). I suppose that's enough of nontraining related introduction so on to why I make this topic.

I've read a ton of information, ranging from scientific literature to articles, books and forums. Yet the more I learn, the less I seem to know. So I wondered, who knows best in the end? The ones who've done it, and there are an abundancy of those around here. So that is why I'm writing this, so when I look back in 10 years time I remember making this topic and it being a turning point.

Like most people I have training-add, this is another reason why I'm making this. Through the help in this thread I'll work on my nutrition, training and general attitude.

Training 'history'
After getting fat over the last few years I decided to do something about it. I went from 180 to 160 in about 8 weeks by just eating healthy. This dropped further to about 150 ( mind you this is all without any training, just nutrition). I still didn't look lean since I had nigh on no muscle to my frame.
I first picked up weights around late-september last year, I wasn't weak, I was pathetic.
To give you an idea of starting strength (let's say 2 weeks in): 66lbs bench/20kg lat pulldown etc. After dicking around for a month or 2 I got myself a nutrition program and basic program( typical magazine program ). From then till now I've been trying a ton of different programs with varying success.

Current 'stats' (values from last week):
Bench: 3x145lbs
Deadl: 3x200lbs
Squat: 3x200lbs

After reading around I figured out that it's important to have one goal, and just one. I was always trying to combine size and strength but decided that the one thing I'm after first and foremost is [B]SIZE[/b]

//// Nutrition ////
I've been eating relatively clean, but not enough.

My current diet:

Morning: cottage cheese + oatmeal
10am snack: whey + banana
lunch: Bread + Sliced chicken breast + spoon of oil
4pm snack: cottage cheese + fruit + almonds
dinner: depends on the day but I make sure to have 150g meat, good fist sized portion of carbs and around a 100g of vege's
Latenight snack: cottage cheese + almonds + oatmeal

Totals in macro nutrients: protein 223,2 carbs 320,4 fats 88,1 kcal 2967,3

I seem to lose weight quickly and still get fairly hungry at times on the abovementioned diet.

As I said, I've decided on my goal: size. I feel my recent choice of programs have not reflected this. Started WS4SB last week and liked it, but I feel it gravitates more towards strength.

I really have a hard time sticking to program so this is another reason to make this topic. If 20 guys who've done what I want to do tell me to do X, I'm pretty sure I'll do X; I'm not that stupid.

One of the most confusing things is that most articles, in one way or another seem to promote pretty high frequency training ( as body parts 2-3/week ). I've stuck to those programs most of the time since the idea (science?) behind it seems solid.
Yet most people who are actually big seem to have gained their mass through doing a bodypart 1 time per week.

No real medical conditions.
My main limitations are gym related:
-I can train monday to friday, saturday and sunday I go see my parents on most weekends.
-I train in a commercial gym for now ( can't switch till the end of october ), where the only place to squat is in a smith machine and people look odd at you when you deadlift. Yea, that kind of gym.
-Did I mention there's no real squat rack? yeah...
-minimum of 5lbs plates so minimal increment is 10lbs

If you made it this far, I thank you, I really do. Please help someone who's very passionate about this and should go study some obscure diseases instead of typing this.

English is not my first language so I hope I've made myself understandable.

I will update my starting post below with the information I gather from this topic in the hopes it can help people in a similar position to mine.


-Will have to up my kcal intake. I'll try adding about 300 first and see how that goes.

-For now, people seemed to agree that using split training seems to be the best way for mass. Not fullbody.


A brilliant program isn't what you need, you need to stick to something

The difference between someone successful and not, is that the successful person keeps at something, even if it's not "exciting" like some breakthrough scientific discovery

Big, boring, basics

Is your bodyweight going in the general direction of up over the months?

Are your lifts going up consistently over the weeks (not up/down/up/down)?


I enjoy training. I like the basics, lifting heavy is fun, looking good is fun, getting a killer pump is fun.....I enjoy everything about it, otherwise I would not be doing it. I enjoy every time I go to the gym...Even if it isn't the best workout of my life, it's a good release and knowing that I am making myself better is motivating.

I know you know this, but just wanted to clarify the basics are not boring.


Bodyweight went up to around 167 around early march ( around 1.5lbs/week ), fat levels stayed pretty constant. Someone convinced me to cut and get rid of my gut, I did, lost around 4% BF in 5 weeks. Got ill for 2 weeks, have started bulking again since last week. Goal is to keep bulking till 175/180ish.

Lifts are harder to judge, bench has stagnated a bit and he hasn't gone up alot, DL and squat have.



I honestly don't mind doing the 'big/boring'-excercises, and really enjoy lifting something heavy ( well.. heavy for me )

So excercises first:
Focus on big 3: DL/bench/squat
With some compound assistance work.

How many days of training per week:


To be honest with you, I don't have a split and I don't have a program.

I train when I feel like training. If I feel good I'd train every day of the week, if I am feeling a bit run down I take a day off.

I go in with a basic idea of exercises I want to do, do them and then just kinda go by feel.


Yeh I do too.

Guess I should clarify that "boring" in this context means not boring to do, but rather boring to talk about (on an intellectual level).

Lift big, eat big, rest etc sounds boring compared to "Eastern block periodization and super-compensation methods to sky rocket gains!!!" lol


I can understand that, but I feel that I need some sort of program to make sure I don't mess up when training.


Natuurlijk kent iemand hier Gent wel.

Kom je weleens in de buurt van Rotterdam? =)


When I first started out, the best progress I made was simply experimenting a little. For example, I'd do a bodypart, then train it 2 days later. If not stronger, I'd train it 3 days later instead. Kept doing that until I found a good frequency. Upper body responded well twice a week (roughly twice every 5 days...example - MON/FRI/WED). Lower body responded well to once a week or slightly more frequently (roughly twice every 7 days...example - MON/SUN/SAT). You'll never get the perfect routine doing this (because of over-lap and daily schedule etc), but it gives you a good start.

If you aren't getting stronger, you won't get bigger either (strength and size aren't mutually exclusive)


3 Maand geleden geweest :smiley:

Thanks for all the help so far


How about you give me some tips on how to get into med school and i'l give you some tips on how to get hyooge


Als je dan nog eens in de buurt bent, stuur een PM'tje om een keertje mee te trainen als je zin hebt. =)


Ha, I'm pretty sure there are many more qualified people than me to help you with that. The only tip when it comes to studying that I can give is that studying like all other things is process. You can't remember stuff in one go. Go over it in multiple steps like this:

1) Read everything and understand everything, mark some stuff ( do this when you've recieved the class)
2) Structure your text by adding titles and sub-titles & try to underline the core of each paragraph
3) Now it's time to try to memorize it all, do this by trying to understand everything, every detail. Write some stuff down but make sure you don't waste your time by writing an entire summary of your course. Make schematics etc.
4) Repeat again, by this time you should know most of it. I try to quiz myself at this point and work on flaws and memorize details.

For example if you have a week to prep for a test. Assuming you did 1 during the year, do 2 & 3 on the first 5 days ( divide the stuff you're going to learn in 5 and do 2&3 for that piece ) do 4 during the last 2 days.

Ha I wasn't planning on writing so much :smiley: You probably weren't even serious. Ah well, maybe someone gets something from it.


Good stuff! My two tips that have helped me more than anything in the gym. Number one, which everyone will tell you, is to make sure you are eating enough. I think you said you are 165 lbs? You prObably have a decently fast metabolism. That means you have got to be eating everything in sight. Remember if you Aretha eating enough, your body can't possibly build muscle. You as a med student know this! Muscle can't be produced from thin air. Make sure you are gaining weight. If you aren't, then obviously you need more calories. I weigh myself once a week at night and look for about a 1 to 2 lb iincrease. Obviously if you haven't put on any weight over a months period you are doing something wrong. So keep track of your weight!

The second thing that has been most beneficial to me is writing down goals I have for myself every single workout. Every time I go into the gym I intend on beating a record. I succeed about 80% of the time. You will find this to be extremely motivating. Specifically, what I do is up the weight on whatever lift I am doing by 5 lbs a week and then try to match the previous weeks reps. Give it a try. Write down your weight and reps for each lift each week and then beat the previous weeks marks. The progress I have made following these principles has been astounding. Over the past two months, my bench press has increased by about 40lbs, because every week I fight to match last weeks number of reps with heavier weight, and i have succeeded all but one week.


Thanks for those tips aswell. For food, I recently found out I wasn't eating the quantities I had written down in my meal plan. I've weighed everything since the start of this week and will see if I added some weight.

For the second tip, I've started doing something similar since a few weeks and have been noticing some good increases in strength. I really wasn't taking care of my 'progressive overload' before. Your post made me want to make a log. So I'll probably start one in the log section of these forums.

On to training now, I know most ( all? ) programs work and that I only need a simple one, but even a simple one should be made correctly right?

I know everyone is as different as a snowflake, and responds differently to certain types of training, but I'm pretty sure that I should be following certain principles.

My main questions:
-Volume? Some people swear by high volume while other seem to say that the way for mass for a pretty novice weightlifter is low volume.
-There are alot of articles claiming that someone of my level would benefit most from just 3days/week. Is this mainly for strength purposes or do you just completely disagree with this?

I'm not looking for next major breakthrough, I'm just looking for a program which is optimal for me, taking in account my level and my goal.


Don't know whether those were general questions for everyone, but I'll chip in:

Stick to a volume of around 6-12 sets per bodypart in total per week to start with (more sets for larger bodyparts), and adjust from there (if you really feel the need). Do about 2-3 exercises/bodypart (more exercises for larger body parts).

Most people get great over-all results from training 5x/week or close. It doesn't have to be set in stone either, you may need a day off here or there. A beginner will benefit from training bodyparts as frequently as they can since their recovery is pretty fast (newbie gains). Same goes for food intake; shoot for 2-4lbs of extra bodyweight a month. It's reasonable to expect strength improvements to be 1-2% extra load each week on exercises.

Example exercises for bodyparts (just the minimums):

Chest - 2 movements, flat and incline pressing
Back - 2 movements, rowing and vertical pull
Shoulders - 2 movements, overhead press and side laterals
Legs - 3 movements, squat and deadlift (also hits back), calf raises
Arms - 2 movements, extensions and curls

Something like that^ (Basically, good "money makers"...not a workout based on just single joint movements). Add other exercises as you notice the need

Example volume = 3-4 sets (hard sets) per exercise, exercises done 2x/week (except deadlifts which may benefit from training once a week and with fewer sets/reps)


I made some of my best ever gains in Grad school on a 4 days/week program. It was basically really heavy basics, trying to constantly improve my numbers (but not risking injury, maxing out, or getting sloppy mind you, I did understand the difference between lifting and working a muscle), and focusing on eating 90% clean, large volume, and frequently.

I wouldn't get too caught up in frequency, because everyone will respond differently, and at different times in their lifting careers. Diet-wise, if you're not making gains at the ~2900 cals you're eating, then obviously it needs re-evaluating. If this helps, my old routine was:


BB Rows
BB Curls
Hammer Curls

Military Presses
DB Laterals
DB Shrugs
V-Bar Pressdowns
Skull Crushers

Leg Curls

Nothing complicated, 4-6 rep range, as many sets as I felt I could do 'productively' and within the time I had (I was in Grad school again), and then get outta the gym and make sure I was eating.



Thank you both for the amazing posts


cheers, just wondering how you'd split that up?