T Nation

Need Help Starting Out as a New Player in the Game


Hello, its been my goal for a while now to gain some muscle mass and hit the gym. my first step was losing some weight. I just came out of the atkins diet starting from may at 220 pounds and am now currently 170. Now the thing is I have zero gym experience and want to learn what to do. I know this is quite broad but any tips on where to start out? The general goal is to grow muscle mass, get toned and look great and start lifting.

  1. Find and choose a proven strength training program. There are many, but probably the most popular (and time proven) to get started would be literally any beginners 5x5 program. Learn how to perform the basic compound barbell lifts and aim to develop mastery in them. Those movements are the:
    -Barbell Squat
    -Barbell Bench Press
    -Barbell Row
    -Standing Barbell Overhead Press
    Over time, look into adding some conditioning 1-2 days per week. Some great methods are sled pushing/pulling, sprinting, hill sprinting, etcetera.

  2. Eat a balanced diet consisting of whole foods 3 times per day. Try to get away from processed foods entirely and your food choices should be: meat, vegetables, fruit, oats, rice potatoes, etcetera. I am a big fan of this diet and it is how I eat: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/simple-diet

  3. Sleep. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Check out from bullshit and stress in your life.

That is really it my friend. A great quote by author/lifter Jim Wendler that I truly think sums up what it means to really make a change in yourself is:
“Habits require discipline, not motivation. Motivation drains you and is empty. Discipline and habits always work.”

Some great resources to read and Google search are:
-Bill Starr, 5x5
-Starting Strength, by Mark Rippetoe
-5/3/1, by Jim Wendler
-Dinosaur Training, by Brooks Kubik
-Pavel Tsatsouline


I agree with the above, but I would add “carries” to the end. Find a trap bar or hold a pair of heavy dumbbells in your hands and just walk for thirty steps with good posture, shoulders rolled back. Some people prefer “overhead carries” but that depends on where you want to stress your body and they aren’t mutually exclusive.


Go through these steps then 5x5 stuff listed previously.

Reading a bunch of Dan John articles also a great start…


If you google “help a friend get stronger 2016” by Jim Wendler, he outlines a step by step process for someone new to the game. He also has an amazing record of getting average guys big, strong, in shape.