T Nation

My Brain Is Exploding!

No. Seriously.
I’ve was pointed to T-Nation by a friend and for the last week or two I’ve been crawling through the multitudinous articles, learning everything I can about nutrition and training.

Right now my brain is totally full. I’m trying not to get mired in the swamp of information, and to that end, I’ve devised a health program for myself and my girlfriend. I’ve probably gotten it ALL wrong, and I was hoping to get some help. So let’s launch into the background. If you don’t want to read my training history, feel free to skip it.

I used to be fat. I’ve been fat for my entire life and it caused me a lot of misery. I tried working out a few years ago, but with no knowledge of nutrition whatsoever. I would go to gym, engage in childish one-upmanship weightlifting with my friends (no form whatsoever), and then go home and eat pizza. Not a good plan.
I’ve included a pic of me at the height of my obesity.

A coupla years ago I moved to Japan and got onto weight watchers with my girlfriend. I dropped a heck of a lot of weight and any lean muscle I ever had.

Then I yo-yoed a bit and finally did Body-for-Life. I’ll include a pic of my results in a follow-up post because I don’t know how to post multiple pics yet.

Suffice to say BFL worked pretty well for me. I picked up some muscle and was on the verge of getting me some abs when I fell off the wagon. This was after plateauing a bit and a string of holidays and lack of self control that screwed me over.

Deciding that BFL simply required too much cardio (which I hate with a passion), I came here and read as much as I could by Mr Waterbury, Mr Berardi and their esteemed colleagues.

So…Here is my current plan. Please help me make it work. I have access to a gym and most supplements, but quality protein powders are difficult to come by, since Japan’s are crap.

My stats:

weight: 162lbs
height: 5’7"
Body-fat: maybe 14% or so. I’m not sure if I’m using the accumeasure calipers correctly.

I should mention that I’m trying to lose fat and maintain the little muscle I have. I’ll gain after I’ve attained my dream of being a guy with a good body (by Brad Pitt in Fight Club standards rather than Arninator standards.)


I’m on 2000 calories a day and I’m trying to do the macronutrient manipulation thing…kinda.
Meals on training days:

I work out at about 5:15pm after work, so I put a P+C meal after it because apparently that’s good.

I’m eating 33/33/33 protein/carb/fat and I think my energy might be down a little since I changed to that from the BFL eating plan. Fats come from olive oil, avocado, cashews and almonds. I also take fish oil and flaxseed pills.

Protein is egg whites, salmon, chicken, some beef (lots of jerky)and a little pork. Japanese people prize fatty beef over lean beef, so lean is almost impossible to find.

Carbs come from yogurt, fruit, spinach, some pasta and other vegetables.

I’ve only been eating like this for 4 days, so it’s a little difficult to make any judgements. I measured myself at the beginning and I’ll measure every two weeks for progress, so we’ll see.


Resistance training 4 days a week, resting on wednesday and the weekend. On wed and sat I do some medium intensity cardio for 20min or so.

Monday - Chest and back and abs
BB bench press - 3X8
DB military press - 3X8
Lat pulldown (just for now until I get my GF started on proper pullups) - 3X8
Cable row - 3X8
8 minutes of various ab exercises that always leave me writhing in pain.

Tuesday - Biceps, triceps, forearms
Standing BB curl - 3X8
Hammer Curls - 3X8
Overhead press - 3X8
Bench dips - 3X8
Barbell forearm curls (supinated and pronated - 3x8

wednesday - A little capoeira

Thursday - Quads and hammies
Squats - 3X8
Leg extensions - 3X8
Deadlifts - 3X8
Leg Curls - 3X8

Friday - Shoulders, calves, abs
Standing BB press - 3X8
BB side raises - 3X8
Calf raises on the leg press machine - 3X8
Single leg calf dips - 3x8

Saturday - maybe some running

Sunday - absolutely nothing

All this stuff is done at about 80% 1RM and I try to keep good form.

Yeah, so that’s about it. I’m taking creatine, flax, fish oil, multivitamin and glucosamine. I have some protein powder, but it’s about 3:1 carbs to protein so I’m hesitant to use it. Tastes fantastic, but I suspect it’s the fructose.

Save me from a stroke!

This is probably around the leanest I’ve ever been.

Don’t be afraid to go heavy and use basic compound movements male or female. Your nutrition is the key, you may not need powders and supplements as a matter of fact for beginners I wouldn’t even advise it IMO you have to earn the right to use them because the demand is there.

Focus your diet around whole foods, a shake perhaps as an in between meal thing may be OK, not necessary though if you eat right it is good in an emergency though. Now for the training, I’m a little confused here and it may be your terminology however on chest back day you have DB military press (that is a shoulder exercise).

Anyway, I’d scrap the routine and think about this, if we could lose fat and keep muscle in the beginning don’t you think we would be able to do that all the time?

It’s difficult for pros to click with this so something usually gets sacrificed like muscles when trying to lose fat. I would go with an attitude to build mucles and limit the fat by diet intake and if need be add cardio as required, both for you and the GF.

Full body workouts produce great results for beginners and since you don’t want to “bulk” up I’d suggest the following:


Monday Wednesday and Friday:

Bent over row
Bench press
Standing Shoulder press
Lying tricep extension
BB curl
Abs (2 sets of 25 of your choice)

Every two weeks don’t add weight rather add a set so you will be doing the same thing but 4x8, two weeks later add another set 5x8 and if you feel things are OK and you are not bored with it you can decide to go for 6x8, after that I would change things up.

This will give you a chance to concentrate on diet and make changes in the diet as required. Keep the weight in the 80-85% 1RM and you’ll do fine, keep the rest between sets around 30-45 secs and between exercises no more than 60-90 secs, eventually only 30-45 secs as well.

You can add weight any time however the last set of all the exercises you should feel like you could get 2 more reps, adding a set will be taxing for beginners you should keep things simple and apply one or two principles instead of trying to add multiple IMO.

This is where I am now. Sorry for the bad pic

Buy yourself the book Practical Programming and use it as a core reference to understand all aspects of training, growth, adaption.

Otherwise you are on the right track as far as researching and reading and learning something new.

You are not by the way, fat. You do however lack a lot of muscle. But you are on your way and I have no doubt you will get there. Probably people will yell at you for being both thin and wanting to lose fat. I’m sure that will sort itself out.

Don’t make your approach too complex, it really does not need to be.

Get the book, I mean it. You look like a smart guy, you will love it. There are a million great articles out there but few things put all the concepts together in one tome that makes sense and is readable.

You look to be on the right track. Other than making sure you are working hard at the gym, and not overeating the wrong types of food, there isn’t much to it.

As suggested, pick a decent program involving a lot of compound work.

While you are sticking to that, read all you want, and decide on the NEXT thing you want to do… instead of always changing up what you are doing right now.

Later, as your goals progress, you can worry about more sophisticated issues and start fine tuning things more. For now, it’s all about consistency.

Decrease your volume and go with a 2 day split to get each muscle group 2x a week. Heavy and hard. 3x8 is good. 80% iRM is good. Too many excersices, decrease them and make sure the compound lifts come before the dumbells, curls, extensions etc. Dump leg extensions.

Thanks so much for the advice so far.

The Savage - Thanks so much for the ideas. I’ve been trying to include more compound lifts in the routine. This is the first time I’ve done deadlifts and I’m trying squats out again. My knee used to twinge when I did them, so I’m only going down to a 95 degree knee bend.

Oh, and I must have gotten terminology confused. What I did for “DB military press” was DB bench press with the weights parallel to my body instead of perpendicular. Not sure if if it did anything. Thanks very much for the routine. I’m still a little confused as to whether I should go for full body workouts or a twice a week split, like Rockscar recommends.

Megarhe - Thanks for the suggestion. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get a copy of Practical Programming until July when I visit the USA, but I do have access to a friend’s copy of Mr Waterbury’s ‘Muscle Revolution’. Are you familiar with it? Maybe someone can recommend a good routine from there?

Also, thanks for the ‘not fat’ comment. I realise I’m not too big, but I am in Japan :slight_smile: 5’7" is average height here, and everyone is as skinny as a rake.

vroom - I’ll keep doing the nutrition thing properly. Only 1 cheat meal a week. is a 33/33/33 split for P/F/C alright or should I consider 30/30/40 or maybe even 20/40/40?

Rockscar - I’m sure there’s an article pitching full body workouts against splits on T-Nation. I’ll dig it up and report back.

Beginners do well on Full body work for starting out. Once you master the big moves then you can think about splits etc. Keep things simple. You need to squat low at parallel or just below ideally when the hams touch the calves.

Your problem is likely form and so use no weight or just the bar and find your groove, foot placement etc. Add a little weight and repeat. The routine I gave you will pack on the muscle, especially for a beginner IMO.