T Nation

Looking for Direction

Hello my name is Clint I’m 24 years old, looking for some direction in regards to training .
Couple years ago I was right around 300lbs (height is 5’11) I wasn’t happy with where I was at and didn’t really want to have diabetes at age 30 and made a change ,I had always played lots of sports as a kid and teenager (hockey, baseball, volleyball,etc ) and have always thought I was somewhat athletic but I was just a big guy, so anyways started some at home workout dvds and got the nutrition right and have been able to get down to 215 , I still carry quite a bit of body fat in the mid section but that’s here nor there. So I got tired of the same old workouts at home with the dvds so I joined a gym and tried to do some research and get a plan going but with so much information out there I couldn’t decipher what to do and what not to do.

So I have basically been going to the gym without a clear plan and it shows haven’t made much of any gains. My job is pretty active labour job lots movement but also comes with some heavy lifting in not the greatest of situations or positions so My goals are first and foremost to try and build a resilient “bulletproof” base in regards to not being in pain while training or life in general ,I have been dealing with some low back pain for quite some time I’m trying to resolve. Just being overall healthy and resilient is what I’m trying to accomplish but also like to possibly look good with a shirt off as well as I have always been a fat guy. So anyways (I feel as though I’m rambling here) anyone’s thoughts on a program that be best? Thoughts on John Rusins programs? Joe defrancos? I have just seen them speak highly about being healthy and pain free but also getting those gains, I would consider myself pretty beginner when it comes to weight lifting I have done some but not enough to make anything out of it. Thanks In advance!

Starting strength then 531. In my opinion where everyone should start. I wish I did.


I won’t speak on 5/3/1 because I haven’t ran it properly, some great looking ones that have higher volume accessory work that could be a real option.

Starting strength is okay for a weak skinny guy starting out and trying to get stronger but I don’t really think it suits your goals and it’s a pretty limited program.

What do you enjoy training wise? Does chasing big numbers on compound lifts excite you? Or getting a massive pump and a burn? Does the thought of stepping in the gym and doing the same 3 exercises over and over get you going? Or do you want every session to be different?

You have to think what you are going to enjoy most, or else you just won’t stick to the plan.

As long as your not doing anything stupid like trying to set 1 rep max curls, you are putting in the effort inside the gym with your sessions and outside of the gym with your nutrition then you will see improvement. Pick something written by someone credible, but most of all one you like the look of and gets you excited to train.

I very much like Paul Carter’s guaranteed muscle mass.

Appreciate the feedback, I would say what gets me going most about training would be that burn, the numbers of it doesn’t get me going so much, or the good old “how much you bench” doesn’t excite me I would say and as far as the amount of exercises go it doesn’t really matter to me, I agree with you gotta find what will work for ME and what I will stick with as everyone is different. But I think if I have a set plan and goal I should be able to stick with it and if I have to tweak a few things to my liking or skill that would be best from what I have read so far. I’ll look into Paul carpenters as per your suggestion. Thanks !

DeFranco’s stuff is good because he gives you a solid template to guide you and keep you moving forward, but you still get a lot of freedom to pick and choose lifts and try stuff.

Also “bullet proofing,” overall balance and becoming resilient are big parts of his program. They are built into it, so you won’t have to figure out how to add it all in yourself. Also dude is constantly putting out content about how to keep your shoulders and back healthy.

Starting Strength is really terrible. Especially if you’re concerned with being pain free and bulletproof. Ripplestilstkin doesn’t believe in those concepts.

5/3/1 is very good but it can be a little rigid for some people.

Paul Carter definitely knows what he’s talking about too.


Didn’t know you disliked SS too. Thought it was the better one between SS and SL. Which novice program do you like?

Both of those are equally worthless.

I don’t really like novice programs or the idea that beginners should use low volume, limited exercise selection or 1 single weight/intensity.

A good program for a novice would be do some work on a “big” lift, then do some work for the muscles/movements that go into that lift. Exactly the same way an “intermediate” or “advanced” person should train.

If I had to pick one “novice routine” that some stranger could just Google and run I would say 5/3/1 with Triumvirate Assistance. With some kind of First Set Last worked in there.

So a workout could be like moderately heavy main lift. Then some kind of slightly lighter back off sets to get some good volume in. Then some assistance exercises.

The workouts would be pretty good and you would learn a lot about running programs. And you could adjust, tweak and mess with it forever because that’s the way “advanced” world record dudes train too.


Good points there. Thanks Flats

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First of all, congrats on this. That is a huge accomplishment.

Since you are still a beginner, have some limitations (back pain), and are looking for some direction, you could consider hiring a coach if you didn’t mind investing in your goals.

@robstein comes to mind, as he followed a similar starting path as yourself. He started out overweight, began training with some at home DVDs, was able to lose weight and then started hitting the gym and ended up with his Pro card for bodybuilding.

Otherwise, you will absolutely be able to make progress with many of the programs that you can find on this site with enough effort, but I know, as a beginner you can get pretty caught up in the idea of “what is the best way?”. A coach takes the thinking and confusion out of it.


@littlesleeper, thanks for the tag!

@bing16, congratulations on your initial weight loss from 300-215, that is HUGE! Well done! As @littlesleeper mentioned, I was on a similar path, although I was never athletic or good at sports as a kid, with the exception of tennis which I was moderately good at, and one season on the swim team. I am 5’4", so pretty short for a male, and hovered around 155-160lbs. By the time I was 24, due to a sedentary job and poor nutrition, I was 205lbs, sweating after climbing stairs and had to hold my breath to tie my shoe. Over 200lbs at 5’4" (none of it muscle) is not good. Eventually hit a rock bottom point, and took control, starting with P90X, which got me down to 135lbs after about a year. Then I kept going with home-workout routines, and eventually, got into the gym, which was the best decision I could have made.

My first question would be, what is your goal? Seems like you answered that here:

One thing that sticks out to me is “also like to possibly look good with a shirt off.” As a FFB (former fat boy) I can relate and understand how the prospect of having a 6 pack can seem like a fantasy. However, I would strongly encourage you to define your goals and write them down, and don’t short change yourself. Let’s be serious. You don’t want to “possibly, hopefully look good without a shirt, maybe, one day.” What you really want is an incredible physique, a defined mid section and look like you workout, shirt or no shirt. And there is nothing wrong with wanting that. You are hesitant to commit to your goal because you’ve never been that lean, and are afraid of failing. Don’t be afraid. If you believe in yourself and your drive, and deep, burning desire to achieve your goal, then you will achieve it, it is just a matter of time, and effort.

Realize that your training, and nutrition are going to be equally 100% responsible for your progress. People often ask me what the “percentage” split is between nutrition and training? 50/50? 80/20? NO! It is 100%/100%! Once I learned that, results came quickly.

Here’s the basics:

Pick a training program that will get you big and strong. You want a great looking physique, so you need to train for one. IMO programs like 5/3/1 will get you strong, but it won’t build a head turning physique at the beach. Use a bodybuilding style template, which will also include foundational lifts, as well as isolation exercises, and a variety of rep ranges to keep you getting bigger and stronger. Anyone who’s followed my forum posts knows I’m a huge fan of Clay Hyght and these programs.

Make sure to read the two preceding articles first:

This program by CT is also fantastic, and was the first program I ever did in the gym. Builds a great foundation, and also has bodybuilding aspects, the Indigo programs, do the “hypertrophy” one.

There’s your training.

Nutrition - Abs are made in the kitchen, no way around it. You should be eating at a 15-20% deficit daily, sprinkling in combination of LISS and HIIT during your week. If you don’t have a food scale, that should be a staple in your kitchen.

Yes, it certainly does! For your first journey to a 6 pack, having a coach would be a great help, @dchris will attest to that! We’ve been working together for about 4 months and he’s lost a lot of weight, and is the leanest he’s ever been, abs starting to come through. 15 more pounds to go, and he’ll have that 6 pack!

Please be sure to post with any additional questions and keep us updated on your progress. Don’t be shy with your goals. Dream lofty dreams. Stay focused on your goals, you can do it!


yeah anything by ‘name’ guys named already …Paul Carter, Defranco etc will work -run through them all over course of next year!

Look around this guys youtube channel, lots of great tips for the back…

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Thanks for all the feedback everyone I really appreciate it!! @kd13 and @FlatsFarmer thanks for the review on some of the starting programs, I will go through all the info given and start defining some more set in stone goals to work towards and put my head down and get to work! Thanks for the recommendation of hiring a coach @littlesleeper For now I will see what I can get going with the info provided but if I still feel stuck I will definitely look into @robstein , he’s already seemed to give me a good base with his reply!
Nutrition shouldn’t be too much of an issue but I think I can step it up for sure I have the tools and good habits and I enjoy the weekly meal prep to make sure good choices are made.

@RampantBadger yes! I’ve been through Trevor’s YouTube page for quite a while now and have been implementing his routines and they seem to be having an effect!

I’ll get my ass to work and give a 12 week update or something along those lines

Pretty fired up to get going!! I have a whole new motivation now thanks again!!


Great work so far!
Everyone that has posted so far knows what they’re talking about, so I just wanted to say that