T Nation

Looking for Advice


Hi all,
My first post here and I’d appreciate some help and advice.
I’ve had some life issues to deal with which I’ll share for a better understanding.
I’m a 37 year old male & I want to gain weight, muscle and strength. I’m looking to gain anything from 25lbs to 45lbs.
I’m 6’2 and have always been skinny. As I’ve aged I’ve added belly fat which isn’t a good look.
My whole body looks a state but my main concern is my legs. I have very small thighs and my legs are lacking on my already skinny build.
The issues I’ve been dealing with have made me depressed but I’m motivated to change and do something about it.
I’ve had health issues for the past 2 years…I had 3 operations last year. I was worried it was bowel cancer or crohns.
Biopsy results were benign which was a massive relief. I had to have a seton stitch…This happened after an abscess burst internally.
Long story short I ended up with a stitch up the bum that folows the tract made by abscess and emerges on surface of skin where abscess was. It’s not pleasant and has been very painful but I’m getting to a point where I can do more physically.

I tried to go to the gym 3 weeks after surgery and my immune system crashed…I was weak, ended up very sick and back in hospital but I’m feeling better now.

The other issue going on was the breakdown of my marriage /relationship…I’m now a full time single parent. I experienced emotions that many do…ups and downs etc.

The advice post break up is to throw yourself into getting fit…work hobbies etc
I wasn’t able to do this asap due to surgery, pain and awaiting more surgery. I will require further surgery.

I’ve read some routines and I’m unsure what’s best for me?
I’ve read about 3 day full body workouts…5x5 compound lifts…Mon wed fri

My concern is that my legs are then being worked at the same frequency as other body parts. I’m concerned that this wouldn’t allow them time to catch up.

I’d thought of training 5 days a week…mon-Fri
Mon Wed Fri -Legs
Tue Chest shoulders
Thurs Back
I’d also work my triceps twice in that routine and biceps once

I’m looking to make the gains asap… I’m not looking for shortcuts and I understand it will take work but I’d like advice on what’s the best approach going forward.
Apparently I’ll make more gains at the start as a beginner?
I like the ideal of the 5 day work out as it gets me in the gym more often…gets me comfortable with the environment.
It allows 3 days of leg training which I’m hoping will add the needed inches & added mass to my thighs. It also limits me from going too often on my other muscles and would hopefully get me in proportion sooner.

I’m looking at 6 months before I see any results and I understand it won’t happen over night

What’s the best approach for a 37 year old skinny guy ( with skinnier legs)looking to gain mass asap

Any exercises, routines, nutritional advice would be greatly appreciated.
It would also be good to hear feedback from members who have gone through similar I.E seton stitch and how you managed with it and gym…also members that have gone through breakdown of marriage and turned to the gym

Sorry for the long post but thanks for reading
Best wishes


Get better physically and mentally.

Get measurable goals and don’t be wishy washy.

Change your lifestyle to follow your goals.

Walk everyday. Get a dog if you have to.

Waterbury has a lot of full body.

One day at a time.


Thanks for your post JFG
I wasn’t sure if it had shown on the forum or not

I’m attempting to get better physically and mentally. I’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place. My marriage ended just before my first surgery. At that point all the advice is concentrate on getting healthy…get to the gym etc
That wasn’t possible for me at the time but I don’t feel as run down now

My goals are to increase my weight on the scale. I’d like to add 40lbs but 25lbs would be a start in the right direction. Im looking to add a lot of inches to my thighs and bulk up other body parts too but I feel I should concentrate on my legs as they are so under developed

I understand it’s a complete lifestyle change…it’ll require meal prepping, hard work in the gym and plenty of rest. I’d still appreciate any pointers for starting out

My mood’s improved with time and with the pain from surgery lessening. I make an effort to see friends and family. A dog is a no go as I can’t have pets at my property. I’m in as better place than I was a few months back and I believe the lifestyle change and getting fitter will improve my mental outlook further

I’m not sure about Waterbury but I’ll have a search once I’ve replied here

Thanks for posting


Vocabulary change would also help.

I’m not sure
I make an effort
I’d like to
I’m attempting.

Wishy washy and self defeating.

I am sure
I will do it right now
I will
I will

Everyone has a sob story, including me. Just glad I had family and friends that didn’t let me sit on my ass.

First step, get busy and walk. Get physically and mentally better. Your road.


Well I gave you the benefit of the doubt first time

Are there any other members that can offer advice?

I’d think the fact that I’m walking about with a seton stitch in place, facing more surgery but looking to train says a bit about my determination and mindset

Foolishly I thought I’d get some assistance, advice and support rather than a twat with a keyboard practicing his passive aggression . I’m not looking for anyone to hold my hand not blow smoke up my backside
Surely there’s more helpful members than this guy?

…For the record…I wasn’t looking for sympathy nor empathy…which is just as well by that guys replies

I included about my health and marriage as theyre relevant and motivating factors for me to change my lifestyle…not a sob story
I’d also add that if members are posting personal health issues about crohns, suspected bowel cancer etc they’re relevant to their training also their potential goals

Good start eh


I think he was simply attacking it from the mental side, words are powerful.

These suggestions are all based on being at the beginning of your recovery stage with no knowledge of your level of physical ability at the moment.

  • Focus on one thing at a time. Things are more manageable in chunks. Start with whatever you feel is your highest priority (more movement, flexibility, strength, nutrition) and throw yourself at that. If you are struggling with pain and recovery then I would suggest nutrition be your top priority, it is something that you can be mentally engaged in and have a very positive impact on your body despite physical limitations.
  • Walking/movement: Whether it is 10 minutes of stretching in the morning, 20 minute walks 5 days a week, set a goal, write it down, put it where you can see it. You are more likely to complete a goal simply by writing it down (psychology is a mysterious animal) and it once again ups your chances if make yourself see it every day.
  • Have a plan: When I hit 20 minute walks 5 days a week for 2 weeks, I’ll add 10 minutes of stretching 3 days a week, or body weight exercises (push ups, squats, lunges).

Those are my suggestions, hope they give you a direction!

Lift heavy, lift hard, lift often.


You seem desperate. That’s not determined.

Start doing some walking or brisk exercise and work up to doing it daily.

Your diet sounds like more of the problem than anything.


Thanks for the replies

I can see that JFG was attempting to change how I expressed myself…A positive mindset leading the way. That’s fair enough but some other input would have been nice

My diet is an issue at the minute…post surgery I was having ibs symptoms that complicated things. I’ve since cut down on a lot of crap eating.

I’ve been in the gym for 1 week so I’m able to lift now…albeit light weights but that’s what I expect as a beginner and recovering still.

Other issues aside, which program would be best suited to me and my goals.
I’m desperate to change and I’m determined to do it.

Would I suit a 3 day full body work out using 5x5 compounds?

Or am I better training 5 x week?
Training legs on Mon Wed Fri

My first focus is getting mass on my legs…I understand diet and nutrition will play a massive role in either workout

I’m 6’2,skinny all over with a bit of belly fat. At this build my legs still look too small compared to other body parts.

Would the 5 day workout suit my needs and goals better?

My concern with the 3 day full body workout is that my legs are being trained at the same frequency as other body parts that need less work.

My whole body needs work but I’m concerned about not addressing the imbalance in my body first.
Id rather a bigger chunk of any weight I gain went to my legs as they’re lacking and need extra work

I hope that makes sense and I do appreciate the replies


Worrying about the legs being imbalanced with your upper body, while admirable, is probably unneccessary at this point. I’m guessing that at the moment lengthy gym sessions aren’t in your wheel house, keep em short, focused, and full body, people have trained imbalanced for seemingly years at a time (think every bro that skips leg day) but when you do train them with purpose they will catch up. If you want to increase frequency (5 days) then decrease volume (how many exercises/reps your doing each session) if 3 days works better for your life style, increase your volume as your frequency has been decreased.

As far as a specific program, I personally am really enjoying 5/3/1 and there are various beginner templates on this site. CT has multiple programs on this site as well, or skim through some of the training logs to get ideas as well for splits, sets/reps, and exercise selections that you find appealing. Ultimately the best program (in my opinion) is the one you like and that you’re gonna be consistent with.



Thanks for that post D
Plenty to think about and some very good advice
I appreciate it!


Get an athletic measurable goal. People that decide to run a ____ mile or lift _____ pounds or jump/throw _____ feet etc… are almost always in better shape both in performance and aesthetically than people that want a certain look.


Thank you, that makes sense

Instead of setting a target e.g to bench 100kg. . am I better setting my goals lower, achieving them and moving on to the next goal?

I want to bulk up, instead of looking at the end result, should I break it into smaller targets of 5-10lbs?

My concern with bulking is if I set myself weekly goals(not 5-10 lbs) I’ll focus on the scale too often.

Should I take the same approach to my bulk if I’m setting lower targets? Is it better to set these targets lower and achieve them sooner?..And would that require a different approach to my bulk and a stricter diet?

I’m new to this so I appreciate all and any advice. I understand it’s a mindset as well as a lifestyle. I’m guessing other members had to change or adapt as well so I’m keen to hear what works


Set both long-term and short-term goals and frequently evolve. If you want to bench 100kg, and currently bench 50kg, your goal should be 51 or 52 or 55 kg. Real progress takes time.

As you reach those more attainable goals, you build confidence, motivation, and knowledge that you need to keep pushing. Who knows, you might get to that 100kg goal and decide you want to go even higher.


Some great advice here already especially around mindset and setting short and long term goals. You may find that people are reluctant to give specific program advice as it isn’t entirely clear from you posts as to your current level of physical ability or capacity post surgery. If you have literally been back in the gym 1 week as per your comment above then I am going to assume you are in a very under trained state. I would suggest the focus for the first 2-3 months is around creating good habits and discipline.

This would include;

  • Walking minimum 20 mins everyday (that sounds easy right but it means every day not just when you aren’t busy)

  • Sorting out the diet, I am not talking tracking macro’s or anything complicated, just removed sugary crap and eat 3 to 4 healthy meals a day, Simple rules to follow: 1. eat protein with every meal, 2. eat vegetables with every meal, 3 don’t eat anything processed (this is not easy, drink minimum 2 litres of water a day

  • Going to the gym 3 days a week, It doesn’t really matter too much at this stage what you do when you are there, its about creating the discipline to go every single week 3 days a week. I personally would do a full body beginner workout 3 days a week, starting very light (empty bar) and focus in learning the movements. Example workout might look like (there are probably some better examples on here if you search). Squat 3 sets of 10 reps, Bench press 3 sets of 8, bent over row 3 sets of 8, Military press 3 sets of 8, Stiff leg deadlift 3 sets of 8, curls 3 sets of 8). Week 1 i would do just 1 set of everything, week 2 do 2 sets and week 3 onwards do 3 sets. Start with an empty bar and add 5lbs to each side each week, keep progressing until you cant hit all the reps.

  • sleeping minimum 7 hours every night, that means go to bed at a similar time and get up at a similar time every day

  • Get a training diary and write these goals in there, give yourself a tick every day when you actually do what said you would, and feel bloody good about it every time you tick that book.

When you have done this for 2-3 months consistently and that book is full of ticks, then give us an update on your progress and what your next goals are, and then you will get some much more detailed advice on here around programs and diet.


Mental twat? That’s a new one. Hope you feel better.

And, I answered all your questions. The fact that you didn’t like the delivery, is on you. Waterbury has a program for coming back from surgery, so does Jim Wendler.

You don’t like my mental angle? That is too bad, because it is the truth. You cannot go anywhere until you change your mind set, and using self defeating words is part of it.

And seriously? No full body because of your legs? And I’m the twat? Yes, do what doesn’t hurt, but do not impose limits. See self defeating.

Good luck to you. And I stand by my original statement. Walking every day, Full body 3x a week and set concrete goals. S.M.A.R.T. Look it up


I didn’t call you a mental twat. I said you were acting like a twat and seemed passive aggressive.

I searched for Waterbury yesterday…Chad Waterbury? Mixed reviews on this site but I’ve still more reading to do. I’ll check out Jim Wendler too.

I don’t mind your mental angle regarding training. You were the first to mention measurable goals and you addressed it being a lifestyle and a mindset. I didn’t appreciate the sob story or sitting on your ass line.

Everything you said was good advice. .It’s slightly shorter and more direct than I’d like but it’s solid advice…and I don’t know how many times you’ve answered the same questions before.

I’m not against full body work outs…everyone swears by them. I’m not trying to redesign the wheel although that might be how it seems.

I’m thinking of 10 skinny guys…skinny but in proportion to their frame.
I’d be the 1 out of 10 that had the smallest legs…my legs would be inches behind other skinny guys. My shoulders and arms might be bigger than the others.

I would expect full body workouts to add mass to the full body. I do need that overall mass but I’m concerned I’d look further out of balance…not good for confidence or results in the mirror.

I was thinking of concentrating more on lower body for the first few months…not neglecting other body parts but focusing on my legs and lower half more…I guess the opposite of what many beginners do when they neglected their bottom half or under trained them.
Another reason is I’ve read of beginner gains…I’d love the majority of those gains to go to my legs. I’m worried with a full body that the gain would be split and I’d get less of that mass on my legs and more on my shoulders and back

I know an imbalance can be addressed in the future but would that not be more difficult and take longer for results/change as my gains slow?

I’ll keep my long term goals but set short term targets. It makes sense, is good advice and is another motivator

Thank you

Telford & Simo…great posts and I appreciate it.
I’ll keep logs, be consistent at the gym and fix my diet. Ill post back when there’s something to update on my results and targets

Thanks again


It’s been mentioned already but will bring it up again as it’s gonna be the most important factor in your success, diet.

you are gonna have to put more effort into what you’re eating than what your doing in the gym. If you post up what your current days eating looks like and any dietary issues, I’m sure there will be some nice simple additions to get that scale moving

in terms of training a push pull legs split would be ideal or upper lower. 3 days a week will be enough, your not gonna be able to force this by training more often, it may actually be counter productive. Not sure about all the walking suggestions when trying to gain weight, maybe a little for active recovery but wouldn’t go overboard personally.


Do this proven 5x5 template to build a base first and then further down the line can move to 5 day program…


Step 1: Do 20rep squats
Step 2: Eat mad food
Step 3:???
Step 4: Profit!!!


Don’t worry about your legs lack in relation to the rest of the body if you start a proven program, like Starting Strength, Texas method, Push Pull Legs… There are a lot of them in the workouts section.
To be honest, if you do 3x10 squats 3 times / day with an bar and weights you probably will have some big legs to show of in a few months.
There is no need to do a lot of exercises if you are begging. The secret is start doing it and never stop =)