T Nation

Need Advice for Fast Results

Hopefully this is a good place to come for a start. If there’s a better place, just point me in the right direction.

First off, here’s what I’m facing in the near future:

I’ve done karate since 1st grade. I’m a senior in college now, which puts my training length somewhere in the 15-year range and after being turned down three times, I have secured permission to test for 4th degree blackbelt. This entails the usual test, slightly elongated to make sure I really have my shit down to a T as well as, before the test, a 9-5 training day with this man: http://www.internationaltangsoodofederation.com/Master%20Kim%20biogrpahy.htm .

Long story short, he trained Korean Special Forces prior to coming to America and TRAINING CHUCK NORRIS! The training day/test is on November 7/8th, respectively, which gives me about 7 weeks to gain as much progress as possible.

Now I’ve pretty much always been a big guy in both senses. I’m 6’0", 247 lbs, and have been overweight most of my life. I’ve been doing fairly good with working out lately, and dropped about 10 lbs in the last 3 weeks.

The problem is in addition to the weight I could stand to lose, I need to get some fairly noticeable strength gains before the test.

As far as my gym knowledge/physical quirks go…

I’ve been going to the gym semi-regularly for a while now, and made relatively slow gains mostly because I had some serious back problems last year and so my gym life became mostly seated rows, lat pulldowns, and an ungodly amount of back extensions for the better part of last year.

Being at school, I mostly stick to machines with a limited dumbell scheme. I can’t put name to movement for most exercises, but have a basic grasp of muscle groups and the kind of things that stimulate them. I have NEVER used barbells, mostly because last year was when I really began using the gym and most of the basic barbell stuff I know aggravated my back. I couldn’t tell the difference between a squat rack, power rack, curl rack, iraq, or a towel rack. I’ve looked at a bunch of articles on T-Nation, but I feel like the high number of articles stymies me with incredible amounts of information to sift through.

Physically, I’m able to push through a lot of lifting pain and after that I recover fast. I finished at the gym today less than two hours ago, doubled my cardio (high-incline treadmill), did a bunch of extra tricep sets, and could probably go back to the gym right now and do it all over again. I have a fairly strong will, but it’s kinda like a mac truck… takes a bit to get warmed up. I have pretty decent leg strength, doing karate while packing on 70-80 extra lbs for a lifetime does wonders for that, but fairly low strength in my arms except where my back/shoulder muscles are concerned (Thank you, seated rows and lat pulldowns!).

And so here, now, I throw myself on the mercy of the great men (and women) of the boards to help me out… For the next 7 weeks I need to get into a fairly hardcore workout regiment, and I could use some advice on how to see the best gains possible. I have a lot of ideas and the resources all over the site, but don’t have the knowledge of how to put them together best to achieve my rapidly-approaching goal.

Thank you in advance for ANY help you guys can give me. Basically all I’m looking for is a program to cut body fat and build strength with as much speed as possible. I’m not looking for miracles, but I know that you guys probably know better than I do.

Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. It’s going to be very tough to see great strength gains in seven weeks while trying to improve endurance, fix imbalances and lose weight at the same time.

This thread would be more suited to the Combat Sports forum, for sure. Even there, though, don’t expect an uplifting answer. What you’re asking for is kind of, well, unreasonable.

I know what you mean, and I’m not expecting some kind of miracle program. I just know that my program that I’ve been using is highly inefficient and I’m hoping that people here have a better kind of idea.

Maybe I should refine my post a little… I didn’t realize just how over the board I was earlier…

EDIT: Updated original post… I wasn’t exactly looking for endurance training (at the very least, I know how to do that on my own) but re-reading it, it made it seem like I was trying to get everything in 2 months. Updated to reflect that I’m just looking to drop body fat and gain strength.

Do “Starting Strength”. It’s a basic BB program. Yes I know you said that BB exercises used to bother your lower back, but that was most likely because it was weak. Hopefully your year’s worth of back extensions somewhat fixed that problem (at least enough to start using free weights anyhow).

The program is simple, well rounded (should help to alleviate your imbalances) and effective.

Here is a link:

That and get your diet better. Losing fat is mostly about diet. Sure cardio and lifting helps too, but diet is what’s most important in this area.

Read the “are you a beginner” thread stickied at the top of this forum, then re-read it, then read it again.

As Sentoguy said, focus on diet for fatloss. Then just get yourself on a good newbie program for lifting. If you’re having problems with pain in your lower back, post those specific problems and people will try to help you to work around them.

IMO you should just pick a newbie program and stick with it for 7 weeks without worrying too much about it. If you’ve got injuries, then start worrying. Focus on Deadlifts, squats, benching, and pullups/rows (or pulldowns). In my opinion (others may disagree) the Total Body Workout TBW in the are you a beginner thread is probably a good place to start as it gives a lot of opportunities to practice the core lifts.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Do “Starting Strength”. It’s a basic BB program. Yes I know you said that BB exercises used to bother your lower back, but that was most likely because it was weak. Hopefully your year’s worth of back extensions somewhat fixed that problem (at least enough to start using free weights anyhow).

The program is simple, well rounded (should help to alleviate your imbalances) and effective.

Here is a link:

That and get your diet better. Losing fat is mostly about diet. Sure cardio and lifting helps too, but diet is what’s most important in this area.[/quote]

Here’s a link to the Starting Strength plan here on T-Nation, in case you want to ask questions and get tips from the guys here:

Alright, thanks a lot guys. Will definitely start that Rippetoe routine tomorrow morning at the gym.

Quick question though, would it be bad to throw in cardio/light weights on the off days? Would it be bad to throw in 10-ish minutes of HIIT on the workout days?

Also, being that I’ve never done any of these workouts really, is there anything I could easily mess up which would have the experienced guys just looking and thinking “awe hell…”? Luckily at my gym the BB area is on the second floor away from the machines and cardio machines so I won’t have to worry about holding up peoples’ workouts very much

[quote]samdan wrote:
Alright, thanks a lot guys. Will definitely start that Rippetoe routine tomorrow morning at the gym.

Quick question though, would it be bad to throw in cardio/light weights on the off days? Would it be bad to throw in 10-ish minutes of HIIT on the workout days?
[/quote]

No, it wouldn’t be bad to throw in some cardio on the off days at all. As far as light weights, well it depends on how light. If you are talking about really light weights just to get the blood pumping (as in active recovery style) then yeah that most likely wouldn’t hurt either.

I’d be careful with the HIIT though. It’s somewhat of an individual matter how much your body can and cannot handle, so I’m not going to say that it’ll definitely hinder your progress. But, you don’t want to do anything that is going to hinder your ability to progress with your lifting progression and HIIT can be quite intense and taxing (to the lower body especially).

I really wouldn’t suggest doing it until you’ve got the hang of the routine and are certain that you’ve got enough extra energy to handle it. And even then, why not just put that extra energy into lifting harder?

The problem is, as someone said above, that you are trying to do too many things at once in a very short period of time. You can’t gain tons of strength, lose tons of fat and gain tons of endurance all at the same time (although being a relative beginner you’d have the best chance of improving in all three areas at once).

Honestly, you’ll probably benefit the most from the increased strength, and the fat loss should come fairly quickly as well if you get your diet in order.

[quote]
Also, being that I’ve never done any of these workouts really, is there anything I could easily mess up which would have the experienced guys just looking and thinking “awe hell…”? Luckily at my gym the BB area is on the second floor away from the machines and cardio machines so I won’t have to worry about holding up peoples’ workouts very much[/quote]

Really read through the descriptions of the exercises, also watch the videos that are linked to in the program write up. These are definitely potentially dangerous exercises (all exercise is potentially dangerous) if done incorrectly. So you need to focus on your form first and foremost. See if you can find some experienced lifters to check your form and make sure that you’re doing things right.

Whew, first day of Rippetoe down, many many more to go…

Definitely surprised myself a little bit, got 185 squat, 115 bench, 225 deadlift. Few questions arise, though…

  1. The bar on the back squat KILLED! I put a small towel on my back and went a-squatting, but the bar cutting in was easily as bad as the general lifting pain. Does this just go away with time and it only hurts because I’ve just started putting a 200-ish lb bar on my back for the first time?

  2. When coming back down on the deadlift, I could feel myself rounding my back. Not completely, but some. Any tips for keeping my back arched on the way down?

Thanks for all the advice so far guys, I can FEEL the power!

[quote]samdan wrote:
Does this just go away with time and it only hurts because I’ve just started putting a 200-ish lb bar on my back for the first time?
[/quote]

Bingo. Ditch the towel and you’ll get used to it, make sure you’re getting the low-bar position correct, the SquatRX series on youtube is pretty good, I also highly recommend Starting Strength, the book, it has an in-depth analysis of form on the big three.

You could also drop the weight, unless 185 is already an easy 3x5.

Break at the hips, then break at the knees only once the bar passes the kneecaps. Don’t try to lower the weight slowly, just drop it. Bumper plates are good here.

[quote]tom8658 wrote:
samdan wrote:
Does this just go away with time and it only hurts because I’ve just started putting a 200-ish lb bar on my back for the first time?

Bingo. Ditch the towel and you’ll get used to it, make sure you’re getting the low-bar position correct, the SquatRX series on youtube is pretty good, I also highly recommend Starting Strength, the book, it has an in-depth analysis of form on the big three.

You could also drop the weight, unless 185 is already an easy 3x5.
[/quote]

Yeah, if you don’t have much upper back muscle, then squatting without some sort of pad can be a little uncomfortable (either high or low bar position), but you’ll get used to it. Also, as your upper back musculature develops from the deads and rows it’ll become more comfortable.

As far as which bar positioning to use, I personally prefer the high bar position (as it allows the torso to stay more upright, allowing for more depth), but if you find the low bar position to be more comfortable, then go with that.

[quote]
2) When coming back down on the deadlift, I could feel myself rounding my back. Not completely, but some. Any tips for keeping my back arched on the way down?

Break at the hips, then break at the knees only once the bar passes the kneecaps. Don’t try to lower the weight slowly, just drop it. Bumper plates are good here.[/quote]

Well, I wouldn’t suggest just dropping it (unless you do have bumper plates and are on a platform, which isn’t likely), but it should be somewhat of a controlled crash. You do not want to try to lower a deadlift under complete control. It should be a fairly fast negative and you should just try to guide it back to the ground (hope that makes sense).

This is a fairly good instructional video on the deadlift:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfgqfmjZBC0