T Nation

Need Help Starting a Program

I’m finishing up my first year of college, and I’ve gotten in really bad shape. I started the year at 6’4 ~185 (I know, pretty skinny, but I was happy since I hadn’t been lifting much at the time.) Now I’m a flabby 210, and I’m trying to plan a program for this summer.

As far as goals, my main one is just to get back in shape and get strong. I like the idea of the 10x3 set/rep scheme, but wasn’t sure about frequency and exercise selection. Exercises I’d like to include : bench, deadlift, chins, rows, overhead pressing, core work (not positive if the gym has a squat rack). I’d also like to do some HIIT to get my overall fitness level up too

My old PR’s (over a year ago)

Strength goals (deadline: mid August)
Bench: 225
Deadlift: 375
Squat: 300

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Graham

edit, sorry, meant 10 sets of 3 reps, not the other way around.

First, you’ve got some mixed goals, you may want to look really hard at what you want. Are you more interested in buffness or in strength?

First, you may want to check out the article about manipulating reps for gains, I think it’s till on the T-Nation homepage.

Strength: Read everything by Dave Tate that is on this site. If you use his guidance you can blow your strength goals out of the water. Beyond that write a workout around the major lifts you want to max out in. Use compund movements and variations on your maxed lifts.

Buff: Well, hit the weights with high reps and do some cardio to lose the fat.

I suspect you know everything you need to to get the job done. There aren’t many secrets to weight training. You have to go hard and often. The greatest key is discipline.

I know it’s not a huge help, but I think you can get it done.


I was reviewing my response and saw that I didn’t really get to your actual questions

reps: 3X10 is okay but I still recommend looking at the article about manipulating reps, I think it will give you bigger gains, faster.

Tempo: learn the concept of tempo. If you want strength then hit the reps fast (couple seconds per rep) if you want size then go slow.

Rest: Strength, take long breaks between sets (1-3 min) you want size, go for short breaks (15 sec - 1 min)

Keep your entire workout under 1.5 hours. You’ll find this site is a fan of multi joint movements and that does make it easier to get your exercises in.

Bench - Decline, close gip, dips, tricep pushdown

Deadlift - Straight leg dead, rows (t-bar, dumbell, barbell) Shrugs

Squat- Front squat, lunges (this includes about 20 different variations), all the other kinds of squats you can imagine (sub hip sled or legg press if neccessary but you won’t gain as much).

If you want to be buff then work in some bi and should specifics, but not too much they get hit with a lot of the others.

Training frequency: without knowing more about your schedule, I personally like to train on a six day schedule. If I miss one then I pick up where I left off the next week. I personally do an upper v. lower body split. So in and ideal week I hit each 3 times. Ths is probably the one are you will see the most personal variation. I would say in less often than twice a week and you won’t see the gains you want. Any more that three times and your gonna hurt yourself.

Okay, I think this addresses your questions more specifically. Good luck


[quote]GT_KSig wrote:

As far as goals, my main one is just to get back in shape and get strong. I like the idea of the 10x3 set/rep scheme, but wasn’t sure about frequency and exercise selection.

For 10x3 frequency and exercise selection, check out ABBH 1 here:

Or try the Watebury Method, here:

Good choice. Plenty on this site about that.
As for losing the “flab”: nutrition! nutrition! nutrition! Get that food log going.
Read all of it you can written by Dr. John M. Berardi. Check out T-dawg 2.0.

Finally, as I just mentioned to our new Spanish speaking friend, look here: http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=550116
That’s one of the best posts for one-stop-shopping.


I think the old tried and true 5x5 is the best workout program for beginners. Also try breaking down your routine into a bench press day, a squat day and a deadlift day

Day one-
Squat 5x5
Goodmornings 3x10
Leg press 5x5
Calf raises 3x10

Day two-
Bench press 5x5
Incline DB 3x10
Military press 5x5
Skullcrushers 3x10

Day three-
Deadlifts 5x5
Bent-over rows 3x10
Stiff legged DLs 5x5
Hammer curls 3x10

Something like that along with cardio will increase your lean mass and help you lose fat.