T Nation

Need to Lose 20 lbs and Get in Shape


OK, a brief summary of my situation. I am a month away from turning 36 years old. I have an amazing wife and a 2 1/2 year old boy. Since his birth I have gained about 25 lbs of fat. I am about 205 right now and was about 180 then. I am 5'11. A week after my sons birth I had wrist surgery to repair a torn tendon and was in a cast past the elbow for 6 weeks and then in physical therapy for about 4 months after (all the while eating crap that people were bringing over while visiting the baby) I was an avid tennis player about 4 days a week and after the surgery didn't play for about 2 years.

I just started playing again but very randomly. Long story short is, like most people have a job and family. Here is my current schedule. In the office between 7-7:30AM and leave about 5:30-6PM.(get home about 6:30) I get home and play with my son for about an hour and then we put him to bed and eat dinner.

So at around 8:30 we are done and I am DONE! I know that I will not wake up earlier then I already do so I need to workout during Lunch (I belong to a gym right down the street which I don't go to) or I need to workout at night which I don't want to do cause I am exhausted but probably could get myself to do it.

In conclusion, this is by far the heaviest I have ever been and I need to do something immediately, I have to be careful about lifting heavy weight because of my wrist which is still very fragile. Any advice about training programs and/or nutrition. I am open to doing most anything. Thanks in advance for your help, and please only positive energy as I know that I already have been a lazy ass!


Hey, my man, I understand where you are coming from. I am the same age, have kids, and have about the same schedule. To drop some pounds, I had to get super-tight on my diet because I have a desk job. For a workout, I do a 3-day split (upper-push, upper-pull, and legs) doing DC-style rest-pause and then finishing each bodypart with a Tabata (i.e. I finish my biceps off with a Tabata style concentration curl or I finish off my chest with a Tabata dumbbell flye). I run this split with no scheduled rest days as invariably I will have a family obligation that will cause me to miss my workout. An example is that last week, I worked out every day but on Friday, we had a family snafu which caused me to miss Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Basically, I get my workouts in on whenever the chance arises, even if it means working out on Saturday or Sunday morning. Last Friday, I had to pull two workouts in one day because I knew Saturday was shot.

The final piece of the puzzle for me is to add some cardio to the mix, which used to be my strong suit, but now it is my weakest. I have been meaning to do it at night, but that is a tough pill to swallow after a full day of work and family. I need to bite the bullet and force myself to hit the treadmill.

I am blessed, though, because I have my garage outfitted with equipment. About 10 years ago, I noticed that I could pay about $500 a year for a gym membership or $300 for a set of weights from Sam's Club. Setting up the garage was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. If I find a window of opportunity to get in a workout, I take the baby monitor in the garage and make it happen.


I too have the overweight 36 year old with work/family commitments issue. What has worked for me recently has been adherence to the following: 5/3/1 plus cardio plus a very low carb diet (<30g/day) with a decent caloric deficit. I workout at night after my kids and wife have gone to bed. I have a squat rack, lat pull and bench in my house so there is no need to make a special trip to the gym (an investment that has paid off many times over). I usually chug a large cup of coffee to motivate me to workout rather than simply go to bed. Often my workout comes at the expense of some sleep, but I can get by with ~5 hours if need be.

Also, unbeknownst to me, I have been a devotee of the Dan John concept of "timeliness" for years inasmuch as I have regularly signed up for and completed various competitions (powerifting, pump and runs, sprint triathlons) that give me a hard deadline for progress, thereby forcing me to train even if I would rather sit on the couch, drink beer and eat pizza. Dan John's recent article is right on point (http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article_issue/issue_626#sucker-punch-dan-john).

Signing yourself up for a competition or tennis tournament or whatever else piques your interest will get you motivated and get you to workout.

Good luck.


Thanks guys. It seems that a home gym of some sort would be a good investment (now I just have to clean the freakin garage! lol ) Just to let you know I haven't touched a weight in 2 1/2 years and before that was never a serious gym rat so I don't have that much muscle to begin with. That being said I can definitely eat better and start lifting some medium-light weights to get back into it. A little scared of the wrist thing.

But, my question is should I do a lot more cardio at first to burn off some of my flab? or should I do less cardio and build some muscle bade first? That's always the question it seems. I think the best bet for me would be to work-out during lunch to lift (I own my own business so I could take a longer lunch) and then do some cardio a few weeks at night.. I appreciate any and all advice. Let's get it going!


It is hard to say whether you should do weights or cardio first. I am a big proponent of the weights. Back when I used to run 50+ miles a week, my weight got up to around 220 lbs. When I laid off the running and focused on heavy weights, I dropped down to 180 lbs in about 2 months. I definitely feel better now with weights as my focus. When I ran 7 days a week, I was "skinny fat" but the resistance training really changed my composition and my sense of well-being.

I also own my own business, but instead of taking more time off, it seems like I work even more. If I have a short-fuse deadline, I tend to skip my workout until the project is done and then try to make up for lost time. That is the life of a businessman, I suppose.

Kickernine's idea of signing up for a competition sounds like a good idea, but with my schedule the way it is, it would be hard for someone like me to dedicate even more time to yet another obligation. Once the recession gets wrapped up, I am going to simplify my life so that I can do more competitive events. The recession has taught me that true living isn't reflected in your paycheck but instead is reflected in the memories that you make.


1 You should not be doing DC training, so don't even consider that. DC is for advanced lifters and is very strenuous. I would also worry that with this method of training you would risk injuring your wrist right off of the bat.

2 I would go against getting a home gym for most people. The reason I say this is because for most people, their homes are their places of rest and relaxation. I personally need to get out of that space and get into "beast mode". I would not be able to do that with my son and loving wife in the area.

If you're an exception and have a lump of money to invest, you are going to need at minimum some kind of safety cage, a bench that can go from decline to incline, either a large set of DB's or something like bowflex's selec-tech, an olympic barbell as well as plates for it.

3 Diet - Before you even address training, if you're serious about losing 20 lbs and relatively quickly, you need to do some research and establish a diet for yourself. If you do this right, you could drop 20 pounds of fat in 6 weeks. Notice I said fat, because there's a good chance you won't actually lose 20 lbs, it's more likely you will lose 20 lbs of fat and gain 5-10 pounds of muscle, so forget the scale and focus either on calipers or the mirror.

I would start by first tracking everything you eat for a week and determine approximately how many calories on average per day you consume. If you haven't gained any weight, it's pretty safe to say that number is your maintenance level. Drop that number by 500 calories per day. Time all of your carbs around breakfast and peri-workout and the rest of the day only go meat and green vegetables.

4 Cardio - Do either some kind of lower intensity steady state cardio in the morning before breakfast or moderate intensity steady state cardio after you're done lifting. On your "off" lifting days, I would schedule some kind of interval training. I personally like metabolic complexes (refer to Cosgrove's Evil 8) on my off days and then I throw in some sprints of intervals on the treadmill after.

5 Lifting - This is going to be something you're going to have to determine for yourself and the reason is because only you know what your wrist feels like and what it can handle. If I were you since you've had such a long lay-off, I would start with something simple like Bill Starr's 5x5 (you can download an excel template here: http://www.wackyhq.com/madcow5x5/geocities/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm). Start lighter than you normally would and determine the impact on your wrist. To play it safe, each time after I was done lifting I would ice it and before I lifted I would put some heat on it.

It won't be easy, but your body's adaptation will always be proportionate to the intensity of your investment.

Let me know if you have any questions.


do 5/3/1 at lunch, or we will kill and eat you



I'm a fan of 5 x 5 programs for gaining (or re-gaining) strength.

You might want to look into getting some therapeutic weightlifting gloves that will support your wrist and keep it in proper position when you grip the bar.


The eating will be the easy part for me. I can be very disciplined with that. So the consensus is to do light cardio and more weights? I will check out the 5X5 (FYI your link didn't work but I'll google it) I'm with ya in the 20 lbs of fat vs scale weight. I just want to look good with my shirt off and fit into all my clothes!

The eating has started today and the gym will have to start on Tuesday as I am going away for memorial weekend unless the place has a gym, but I am mentally ready to go! What do you all think about the Velocity Diet? I've been hearing a lot about that lately. Is that something for me? I will also look into the gloves as I haven't bought a pair of gloves in years! Thanks again for all your advice, and don't worry mjnewland there will be no killing and eating :slight_smile:


Diet- KISS protocol to start. Meat, eggs, fish, veggies for the bulk of your meals. Throw in a little fruit and nuts. Don't be afraid of fat. Starches are the enemy.

Training - Tabata's of somekind, first thing, 3-4 mornings a week. I'm sure you can find an extra 4min. a few mornings a week. EPOC is your friend! Boulder Bear Hug Squat Tabata's would probably be convenient.

Weights - re. wrist - I would stick to low (3) rep, high (5-8 sets) volume deadlifts and squats until the strength in your wrist is up to pressure in extension for pressing. 2-3 days per week.

Good Luck!


That would take care of the weight problem! :wink:


Some sound advice being given. Pick one and run with it. Too much information isn't always a good thing.


Yep, at this point just get into the gym 3 days a week and clean up your eating. Your goals will change as you start to learn more and become more motivated. Consistancy is the key now!

Oh welcome to the old farts section!


Yeah that is very true. Something is better than nothing and it doesn't have to be complicated to work. For me to be consistent, I have to hit it every day or else I let the distractions take over.