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Motivated Beginner Looking for Guidance


Hey, im about 6'4" and about 170lbs, definition of a skinny fat. I don't have much experience with weightlifting besides some dumbbell work last summer with the same weight week after week with improper form (like 30lbs so no real strength at all), so i messed that up. but now i have a bench, a bar, a leg extension for the bench, and 300 pounds, and i would like to put on some serious size (muscle) before basketball tryouts(thinking of trying out for basketball, cross country, power lifting and maybe MMA training maybe Karate) in 8 months.

im not looking for a sports related workout right now because i want to work on size first, i can worry about cardio during the summer. I've been lurking around here for awhile, reading articles, workouts and what not and i was wondering if this would be a good starting workout vs Rippetoe vs Men's Health's home grown muscle which seems to be pretty popular and what not.

The article for this workout i found is is (its a pretty big article but you can go through it and find the workout, it has one for the beginning weeks and what not)

Mens health's home grown:
and Rippetoe is on every page on this site so theres no need for me to put a link :stuck_out_tongue:

i may have a problem: i workout in the basement, and Dad put the a floor, apparently its called floating floor, and im not allowed to drop the weights on the floor..., and i don't have Squat Rack, so if there is a subsitute or subsitutes i can do to make up for not being able to squat. (zercher squats look pretty interesting)

another problem: Nutrition, i know im going to have to do a clean bulk right?,

So im going to need about 2800+ Calories
about 154g of protein
94g of fat
and about 337g of Carbs
(according to this online calculator, maybe you guys have a more accurate one)
the point im getting to is, im lucky if i can get 1800 calories a day, and i was wondering if somebody could point me to a direction of a diet plan, i know a little about pre and post workout nutrition, but what about off days?, do you eat as much, or more?

if you guys need a little bit more information on myself, just ask and i'll get back to you asap so that i can find out what i can do to acheive my goals.

Thanks alot T-Nation community!

ps: i can give you guys regular updates if your curious of my gains or how im doing.


aight, some may disagree with me, but given the situation with the floor, plus the lack of squat racks ect limits your options.

the problem with programs is you get stuck with the dirty details. honestly, as a beginner it doesnt matter. just workout.

my solution?
simplify. push pull split, then legs. what this means, is one day is pushin. this is easiest to accomplish with pushups, dips off chairs, and floor presses if you have dumbbells. do 10 pushups, then immediatly 10 pushups with your feet elevated. 5 sets of each, then see how you are. do that once or twice a day. every time, switch up your hand placement. wide, close, normal, military, hindu style (youtube will have videos for reference)

on pull days, go to a local park and do pull ups. or chins, more or less the same. chances are, they'll be reallll hard. try puttin your foot down and helping yourself out just enough so you can do em.

keg days shold involve moving heavy shit. a 20 gallon poland spring weater bottle suffices, fill it with water or sand. water is harder cause its unstagble. sandbags, sprints, jumps. ect

eat more protein than you usually do, try make hyealthy food choices WHENEVER POSSIBLE. and eat as much healthy food as you can, in my opinion. gains will come, but not fast enough. this is good, because this will hopefully give you the desire to figure this shit out yourself.

i heavily recommend bodyweightculture.com if your goin to follow a body weight routine for a while.

edit: sweet you have a bench, dont go bench crazy. do lunges with it on leg days. avoid benching more than once a week, and do pushups. the quickest way to fuck yourself up is over benching. and fuck that nutrition calculator.

how can you not eat more than 2000 a day, i bet you seriously enderestimate what your intake is. argue all you want, but your probabble wrong. either way, just eat a lotta clean food, but get a lotta meat in there


if anyone has any more recommendations and oppinions, i'd love to hear it, i soak up information like a spunge and always looking to read new stuff or here what someone else has to say


thanks man, oh, im getting a pull up bar installed in my basement very soon!


It's definitely tricky with the lack of equipment. You have to be creative to get good workouts in and that's not easy without experience. You will need to eat significantly more than 2800 calories to put on size. I would eat as much red meat as possible and drink plenty of whole milk. Is there any possibility for you to get into any type of training facility?


Ok, I'm 6' 4" and figure I might have some advice to share with you.

1.) diet, Diet, DIET! As a tall motherfucker you will have to put on a lot more mass that some one who is shorter to look as big. Good news is that's just plain awesome.

First off, stop thinking of yourself as "skinny-fat." That will sabotage you. You are skinny. If you gain muscle, you will be less skinny and less fat.

Second off, make protein your most important macronutrient. Don't eat any meal without some meat, or at least a shake to wash it down.

Next off, you don't stop growing on off days. Keep you food intake up even if it's a nonlifting day.

2.) Lifting. Lift heavy.

Honestly? That program sucks balls. Take a look at this instead.


Do it. Also my advice for dropping weights is . . . don't do it. Make your squats and DL's. You don't HAVE to drop anything.

You described yourself as a motivated beginner. Believe me, there are a ton of people who will be more than willing to help you out if you really are motivated, so keep those updates coming.


i have a feeling the shitty program comment was directed at me, so i feel like defending it. but i wont becasue its not a great program. the reason i gave it too him is because it will at least gbe something. anything as a beginer is good. plus, after he gets sick of bodyweight exercises, he will hopefully be inspired to continue experimenting with other lifting protocols. plus, body weight is a great base to jave, and can be really fun if you incorporate gymnast stuff


If I could pick 3 things to give some advice:

  1. Get in the gym. The home weights are at best good for when you might be rushed. It will come in handy when taking on new programs and not being limited with lack of equipment. The gym also offers way more in the realm of motivation.

  2. Start learning about how the human body responds to both diet and regenerative increases to achieve hypertrophy and strength. Don't copy and paste a diet... tweak it to your personal needs. This will help you understand why the amount of protein you listed is low, while the carb intake imight be high.

  3. Rethink that program. My vote is Starting Strength.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. Nothing could be further from the real truth of the matter.


Brant Drake FTW. Great post. Everything in here is gold. diet--protein is the #1 concern. You'll need at least 1g per lb of bodyweight.


It wasn't. It was directed at the 2 programs linked in the OP's first post. Goes without saying--The first one was a Casey Butt program, if you remember the train wreck of a thread he had going here a while back (please don't resurrect it if you check it out :wink:. In fact, don't even bother checking it out, it's not as funny as the DieselWiesel thread or the Shoe thread, just frustrating ).


Dissonance has some good points too, but I don't like Starting Strength--it's far too low in volume. Too minimalistic.

The gym is a plus, but if money is tight and you already have the equipment at home, make use of it! Nothing wrong with training at home, even though it does make it harder to improvise alternatives sometimes.

His 2nd point is good--just make sure you start with the diet as written first for a while, and THEN modify it. People have a tendency to modify things so much that it doesn't even resemble the original diet in the first place. That's not modifying, that's completely ignoring.

Honestly if your goal is mass, then there's no specific diet needed other than LOTS of food all day, every day. And making that food healthy, whole food instead of prepackaged, refined, processed and/or sugary crap.

Diet is key, but where a lot of people sabotage themselves when trying to get bigger is getting bogged down with numbers and macro breakdowns and carbs need to be this, fats that. THEY forget, or maybe never even learn in the first place, HOW TO EAT BIG to get big.

Diet is in some sense self regulating--if you stick to whole healthy foods instead of prepackaged crap, you'll rarely get really fat when gaining mass. You might put a bit more pudge on than necessary, but then, at least you'll have made the gains in the first place. And in any case, if you find yourself getting a bit too pudgy it's easy to look at your diet and see if you're eating too much fried food/junk food/pizza/shit, or if you're eating too many carbs/pasta/noodle/crap, or whatever.

In other words, with diet it helps to have a template to work from, but that's no reason to get bogged down in details. Focus on the big stuff, the small stuff figures itself out for the most part.


Regarding training--the link Brant posted is great, but you should make sure you're not maxing out. Just take the ideas of the article. There's no need to go below 5 reps on a heavy set for you at this time. At all.

1 hour is not a stone time limit either for you, ok? just don't waste time.

Here's how I would modify the original elitefts program:

Upper body assistance day*

  1. Bench/bench variation (barbell only), 3 X 10
  2. Pull-ups, 30 total reps
  3. Military press/MP variation (barbell only), 3 X 10
  4. Bent rows, 3 X 10
  5. Barbell triceps extensions, 3 X 10
  6. Barbell curls, 3 X 10

*Perform all of this in one hour.

Lower body assistance day*

  1. Squat, 3 X 10 ---- do a zercher squats instead of regular squats if all you have is a bench
  2. Deadlift, 3 X 10
  3. Lunges, 3 X 10 each leg
  4. Back raises, 3 X 10 ---- do "waiter bows" w/a plate instead of back raises, OR step ups
  5. Sit-ups, 4 X 10

Max effort bench day

  1. ME bench --- work up to a 5 rep max with either a narrow, medium, or wide grip
  2. Rows, 5 X 5?10
  3. Upper back/rear delts, 5 X 10?15 ---- do shrugs here for now.
  4. Biceps, 3-4 X 10
  5. Triceps, 3-4 X 12-15 --- could do skullcrushers or French presses, or just really narrow grip benches

Max effort squat/deadlift day

  1. Deadlift work up to a 5 rep max with perfect form.
  2. Squat ---- can do zercher squats here, either work up to 5 rep max w/ perfect form, OR do lunges OR step ups for sets of 8
  3. Weighted back raises 4 X 10 ----- "waiter bows", OR lunges, OR step ups instead
  4. abdominal work, 4 X 10

Upper body days should be no problem to do with the equipment you have on hand. Lower body days will require some ingenuity, assuming you don't want to lift at a gym and can't find or build a squat rack...

Deadlifts---dropping weight is a no no? Then find some heavy duty pads to put under the plates. Lower under control. Keep perfect form at all times, no matter what you want to do weight wise.

Squats---- If you have a bench for the bench press, you can do zercher squats. Unrack the weight from the bench and walk it back to the open area to squat. Get some towels or pads for your elbows :). Keep your back straight at all times here too, no matter what your ego wants to do to get the weight up. Don't get greedy.

Back raises----look up waiter bows on the site search engine. basically what you do is hold a plate to your chest then bow over like you're a servant :). You make sure to keep the back straight and keep your lower back from slumping over. Go as far as you can without losing balance or allowing your lower back to round over--keep it straight!

Lunges--you can put the bar on your back to do these, or you can hold the plates in your hands to simulate dumbbells (through the big center hole, insert joke here). Holding the plates also works for rear delt work too.

Step ups-- recommend you hold the plates in your hands, at your sides. Use your bench and step up onto that and back down, alternating which foot you step up with.

Working up to a 5 rep max--you don't want to fail on the bench, especially because you don't have a spotter. zercher squats if worse comes to worse you can drop the weight onto the pads. Use 5-6 warm up sets before attempting your heaviest set. Gradually increase the weight in evenly spaced jumps. Don't pyramid (eg-- 12, 10, 8, 6, 5). Do sets of 5 from the start, except when warming up with only the empty bar. This conserves energy for the heavier sets.


OH NOEZ!!!1!!1!! IT'S the dreaded 3x10 !!!!1111!!1!

Allow me to defend myself here--It has become en vogue to crap all over the 3x10 set/rep scheme. While much of this is doubtless deserved for people who started that way and then never changed things up, or for intermediate lifters looking for better ways to grow, the tried and true 3-4x10 is a great way for beginners to train. If used judiciously for the first few months of training it can pack on muscle and confidence.

The trick is simply knowing that you can change schemes later. No one said you have to keep the same rep scheme forever! In fact, that's precisely how 3-4x10 got a bad reputation. It worked for years for many people, but a lot of people just never changed with their body's adaptation.

I don't like the 3x10 scheme--anyone who's read my posts can attest to that. I don't do much over 6 reps any more unless it's assistance work or ab work. And I'm a huge fan of giant sets to crank up the intensity for certain isolation movements. But as a beginner there is simply no need to ever go below 5 reps because the CNS and muscular coordination isn't there, and there is a definite need to get used to working hard and doing lots of volume.

It is generally my experience that people who build a foundation with lots of volume are better prepared and conditioned to handle heavier weights down the road--because they are not afraid of "overtraining". The wider the base of the pyramid, the higher you can build it. Of course, this assumes the trainee is working hard for those 10-12 reps, not "mailing it in" or operating below his/her potential

To the original poster--- the goal is not to fail on the first set. Rather, the goal is to come close to failure on later sets. You should get all your first set in without breaking form (well, you should never break form at all, but you know what I mean). It shouldn't be a "gut busting" first set. If you can complete all the sets easily, however, it's time to increase the weight a bit. OR change your grip width, or do SOMEthing different. Tweak something.

PS---my sincere apologies for chain posting in this thread! Sorry everyone.


Aragorn is correct. Sorry about the confusion, Kanada. I use the push/pull/legs scheme and am a big fan of it!

Also for Motification - Aragorn knows his stuff. I like the changes he made to the link I posted. Listen to him.


heres what some guy said to me about my current situation, what on your thoughts on these comments?

"IMO if you are skinnyfat, eating more will make you fatter even if you work out. You could, in theory, keep your same caloric intake, work out, and gain more muscle, thus reducing the amount of fat on you. Your weight might not change, but your bodyfat ratio will, and you will gain more lean mass.

Let's say you have 140lbs of lean bodyweight, and 30lbs of fat. You exercise for some time and get up to 155lbs of lean bodyweight and lose 15lbs of fat. You will definitely notice a change in your physique, even if you are on the skinny side.

Keep in mind I am not saying "don't gain weight" but I think that you should focus on lean bodyweight, and try to reduce the amount of fat on you over time. But regardless you should keep working out, as weight training is great for building muscle. Heck, building muscle makes losing fat that much easier. Good luck!"


This is retarded. Oi.

Ok, what about this. We'll use the numbers you posted. With 140 lbs of non-fat mass and 30 lbs of fat that would make that person 17.5% bodyfat. If they gained 15 lbs of muscle and lost 15 lbs of fat they are now at 8%. And yes, that's skinny, especially on someone your height.

Ok, now say that guy just decided to gain muscle. If he gained the 15 lbs without the fat loss, he's now 185 lbs at 16% bf. Then gain another 15 lbs. Now he's 200 lbs at 15%. Still skinny for 6 foot plus. Gain another 15. Now he's 215 at 13%. So he lost almost 5% BF just by gaining 35 lbs of muscle - which will make a much more dramatic change in his physique than 15lbs of fat lost.

The point is that if you gain muscle your BF% will go down even if you have the same amount of fat. Get to 200 and then start thinking about fat loss, if you think it's necessary at that point.


ahhh, i see, thanks for clearing that up!, i know it sounded a little off but i just wanted to clairify, thanks again to you and to everyone who has posted here!


hello Motification. I am about your height and I started off weak and with very little muscle too. For guys like us it takes a lot of time to gain muscle. Since I have put on about 30 pounds of muscle I feel I am qualified to give you a few tips: high volume training is not ideal for us tall guys you want to focus all of your energy on working with the heaviest weight you can handle with strict proper form and do your work sets in the 6-8 rep range.

second you want to train a given muscle group about twice a week and make sure you rest at least 2 days a week.since you have a barbell learn to deadlift it is a very important core workout and will put size on you like no other.Third, based on what you said about your body type I am assuming you have thin arms so you will need to do lots of arm isolation exercises (hit your triceps hard it will pay off). Lastly don't get workout plan A.D.D. find a good plan and stick with it a few months it will pay off in the end.


sorry i haven't been around lately guys, computer has been down so i havent been able to copy the routine and get it started but i am going to start it next week :), one questions though, same weight for all sets or increase each time?