T Nation

Needing Help As A Beginner

Hey guys,

I was wondering if I could get some help from you all. I am a beginner. First off I am trying to lose weight ( mainly my stomach, looking for killer ab workout ) and am also wanting to gain muscle. Go figure right? lol I am looking for . . .

  • A workout routine to follow 3 to 4 days a week

  • Supplements to take ( what has worked for you to gain mass? )

  • Should I take protein while trying to lose weight?

  • I currently have a clean diet that consists of chicken breast, talapia, cottage cheese, greens, nuts, yogurt, egg whites, turkey bacon, fruits

Any and all help would be appreciated guys, really looking forward to your replies

Tim
24 6’0 235

I had really good results starting out on stronglifts 5x5. Look it up. 5/3/1 is also good. Starting strength also comes up but I haven’t done it.

As far as supplements:

–Protein (it’s even more important when you’re trying to lose fat and gain muscle)
–Fish Oil
–Creatine

Also, I recommend you think of your goal as gaining muscle while losing fat, rather than weight. Focus more on getting stronger, eating right, and dropping inches off your waist/ seeing some abs. Focusing too much on weight loss will contradict your goal of gaining muscle without necessarily giving you good long term results.

If you still weigh the same (or more) a year from now but you’re lean and strong with a good looking six pack, would you consider that a failure because you didn’t lose weight? That’s not to say you can’t lose weight; just don’t worry too much about the number on the scale.

I really appreciate that advice. And yeah I am wanting to gain muscle and become lean like you said, I am not worried about a scale, just my body.

Know anything that will really slim down the waist?

Workout A
Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5
Barbell Row 5x5
Barbell Shrug 3x8
Skullcrusher 3x8
Chins 3x5-8
or Striaght Bar/Incline Curl 3x8
Hyperextention 2x10
Kneeling Cable Crunch 3x10-20

Workout B
Squat 5x5
Deadlift 1x5
Standing Press 5x5
Barbell Row 5x5 -10%
CGBP 3x8
Straight Bar or Incline Curl 3x8
Kneeling Cable Crunch 3x10-20

Would this be the 5x5 workout you are talking about? Anything to add to it or replace?

read the stickies

Stronglifts 5x5 is just the first three exercises of those two workouts (except that deadlift and OHP are in reverse order in workout B). You work out three days a week and just switch workouts every time. You start light on all the exercises and increase the weight by 5 lbs every workout you do a certain exercise (10lbs for deadlift so it will keep up). It will seem easy at first and you’ll feel like you can do the other exercises that you listed as well. Eventually, it gets much harder and doing just those three exercises is a good workout. If you want to add something while it’s easy, I recommend pull-ups, push-ups, inverted rows, and/or ab work.

To strengthen abs, I really like ab-wheel rollouts. However, I suspect your main concern is cutting the fat off. That just means you need to build muscle everywhere to increase your metabolism and eat right. If you’ve got extra fat around your midsection, direct ab work is not going to have much of an immediate effect to make it look better (in my opinion, the implication that it will is one of the biggest frauds in the fitness industry today).

-Starting Strength without the whole “RAWR I’M BULKING!!” eating (though someone might argue that pushing 10lb/lifting day will be difficult if you’re not intentionally overeating and sleeping a lot)


-Stronglift 5x5 program.

In terms of programming, the two are basically the same. Both of them have you squatting 3x a week and everything else basically 2x/week by using an A/B split. The biggest difference would be that Stronglift has more volume, and as such I’d recommend that.

But virtually every beginner’s lifting plan will include the following-
-High bar (maybe low bar, but most say high bar) squat
-Conventional deadlift. Sumo can be substituted if you can’t get the conventional for some reason.
-Overhead Press.
-Bench Press.
-Barbell/Dumbell row.
-Pullup/Chinup.

All of those have to figure in a MAJOR way into your programming. If those aren’t the mainstay, then you’re doing something wrong. Squat/overhead press should take precedence.

The most important thing for losing weight/building mass though is intensity. Your workouts must be difficult on your body. You can’t just be panting a bit or complaining of minor muscle aches. Be prepared for lots of pain at the start; otherwise you won’t break through your body’s weakness.

Oh, and walk a shit-ton at a good, challenging pace. Like, 4-6x a day for 45min-1hr a day.

If you want abs, do lots of flutter kicks. Lots of them.

And focus on mobility. For the first 3-4 months, I daresay you’ll lack mobility to do squats or any lifts that go beyond just using your arms to do some random crap. Strength and fitness is a lot more than just moving a bunch of weight around.

OP:

In the end, no matter what workout you choose, what supplements you take and what your goals are, consistency is the way to go.

The supplements and chosen workouts will just speed up the process, however, you have to be consistent in order to see results. Just like you have goals of “losing weight”, I have goals of “gaining weight”. In the end, the advice I wish I had been given as a beginner, is to be consistent.

Set a small goal of making it through the first 2 months of no-bullshitting and you will be faqin’ proud of yourself. From there on out, its just a matter of how you structure your training and always being hungry for more…more reps and more knowledge.

Train, eat, sleep. It’s that simple.

[quote]tnowell31 wrote:
Know anything that will really slim down the waist?[/quote]
Get your eating in line. The saying “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym” is pretty accurate. Any well-designed training program that has you lifting a few days a week (as has been discussed) is a good start, but specific ab work (that “killer ab workout” you’re looking for) has very little to do with actually seeing your abs.

As far as cardio, I disagree with magick’s advice of starting with so much. Two or three days of about 20 minutes is a good enough start. It’ll not only build a conditioning base, but it gives you someplace to go if/when you need to amp it up. If you start out with 6 hours of cardio per week, it’s going to be tough to kick it up a notch in duration or intensity without seriously impacting your lifting.

The diet you listed earlier is pretty low fat, which is not the way to go. These articles discuss the importance of dietary fat:



Overall, I like this as a day-to-day guide for setting up a fat loss nutrition plan:

OP, magick and Chris just gave you all you need to know. In fact, you would have a kickass program just by focusing on the exercises magick listed. To repeat what others have said, Starting Strength and Stronglifts are great, as are Bill Starr’s 5x5. Do a search and you’ll find articles on all of them. Don’t worry about isolation stuff - as a beginner, your muscles will get plenty stimulated from these big boss man exercises.

Chris nailed it on diet. You seem eager and have an idea of what you need to do in the kitchen, and that’s an awesome starting point. Follow those links posted and keep learning.

As far as cardio goes, I tend to favor Chris’ advice here. If you’re going balls to the wall in the gym with your lifts, at this point, quite frankly, you probably don’t even need cardio. If anything, just go light, but really focus on getting most of your exercise in the gym, and getting plenty of rest out of it. You’ll lose fat as long as your diet’s in order, don’t worry!

I don’t actually consider walking cardio or conditioning; though that obviously depends on the individual’s physical conditioning as is. Rather, walking for a minimum of 30 minute a day at a good pace is, imo, just a life requirement, much like how you should also stand for a minimum of 4+ hours a day. Every anecdotal story on long-life I’ve heard always had the fellow walking for long stretches of time throughout the week. I want to live long, and walking is fun and relaxing.

Furthermore, I’ve always had the best results regarding muscle grow/fat loss when I walked/did some sort of low-level physical activity for an hour or so everyday. In fact, I’ve noticed my fat loss slowing down or outright stopping if I tried jogging or some form of HIIT and didn’t walk. These walks were never intentional. They always occurred when I was at college and either had to walk or bike 3-4 miles from campus to home, or right now when I walk about two miles everyday from the library to home. Imo, walking should just be a fact of life for people. If it can’t be, then they should at least leave an hour out of their day walking on a treadmill or outside. I enjoy walking at the apartment treadmill after I lift for about an hour while I just read on my kindle 3-4x a week. It’s relaxing.

If you walk on treadmill, it’s always easy to just up the incline. No need to increase the speed.

That’s a really good point, magick. I walk a lot during the day as well; I suppose I take it for granted that some people have office jobs and don’t.

Guys,

I really appreciate all the advice. Glad to have found a site that people actually help you out as a beginner rather than tell you to do research, i was looking for answers and have gotten them.

I had another question as to supplements. I have done some research and ended up buying

  • GNC Amp Whey Protein
  • Flax Seed
  • L Arginine
  • Fish Oil
  • Multivitamin
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract

Should I be stacking anything else with those? Also in your opinions when is optimum time periods of taking these > I have been taking fish oil, arginine, multiviatin, and GCBE when I wake up and the protein shake with skim milk 30 minutes after work-out

I eat the following-
-Fish Oil. 4 Capsules/day. I forget how big they are, but I think they’re standard.
-Children’s multivitamin 2xday (a doctor friend said that those are designed to be easier to digest. Plus, everything is in smaller amounts so they’re just supplements and not meant to entirely replace your daily vitamin requirements. You should obviously get the vast majority of your required nutrients from actual food)
-2x thousand mg Vitamin D3.
-Costco Whey protein. It’s cheap and it fits my needs.

Keep in mind that supplements shouldn’t really be your focus while you’re a beginner though. Absolutely eat the ones that just are good for general health (the fish oil/vitamin D/multivitamins and minerals if you’re obviously not getting enough of a given vitamin or essential nutrient/mineral on a daily basis).

Beyond that, it’s just more useful to get a solid lifting/exercise plan that you can stick to. All those supplements and whey protein and creatine and shit really don’t do anything if you’re not busting your ass daily.

As for when to take them- Just follow the instructions as they’re written on the containers.

[quote]tnowell31 wrote:
Guys,

I really appreciate all the advice. Glad to have found a site that people actually help you out as a beginner rather than tell you to do research, i was looking for answers and have gotten them.

I had another question as to supplements. I have done some research and ended up buying

  • GNC Amp Whey Protein
  • Flax Seed
  • L Arginine
  • Fish Oil
  • Multivitamin
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract

Should I be stacking anything else with those? Also in your opinions when is optimum time periods of taking these > I have been taking fish oil, arginine, multiviatin, and GCBE when I wake up and the protein shake with skim milk 30 minutes after work-out[/quote]

I would not use arginine, kind of a waste of money, as is any “pump” product like NOXplode or whatever. Creatine is all you need for “pump” plus it will aid recovery more

[quote]tnowell31 wrote:

  • GNC Amp Whey Protein
  • Flax Seed
  • L Arginine
  • Fish Oil
  • Multivitamin
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract

Should I be stacking anything else with those? Also in your opinions when is optimum time periods of taking these > I have been taking fish oil, arginine, multiviatin, and GCBE when I wake up and the protein shake with skim milk 30 minutes after work-out[/quote]
I agree that the arginine is minimally effective, at best. The GCBE is also a waste for now, since you’ll get much more “bang for your buck” dialing your training and nutrition. A fat burner supp like that is inappropriate for now.

The whey is fine post-workout, you could consider having it pre-workout instead. A lot of people see solid results tweaking their workout nutrition like that. And you could obviously have a shake or two during the day depending on your needs, but I’d make them all with water, not milk. Since your primary goal is to drop fat, it would be best to avoid drinking calories (other than striaght protein shakes, or protein-carb shakes around lifting).

Last thing, flax seeds aren’t a “supplement” just because they’re sold on the same shelf as some vitamins.

If youre trying to become muscular and lose wieght at the same time you may find it hard to put on bulk muscle mass. Me personally, my favorite workouts are grass and gorrillas and push or pull max outs. Shreds you up very quickly

Also, in reality unless you are already near the top tier of your physical potential, most of those things are going to be good for your health but wont necessarily help with performance. Make sure to get a good protien (i like 100% whey), a multivitamin, fish or flaxseed oul for your heart, and gluosamine chondroiten for your joints.

Back to workouts try this
Workout 1
With a 45 pound bar lunge 1/4mile, do 5 military presses every 5 steps (lunges)
Then run 2 miles at casual pace and stretch

Workout 2
Run 4 miles, run 1 minute then burpees 1 minute for the entire distance

Workout 3
Do max push ups you can, rest 45 seconds do this ten times
Then row on an ergometer or swim 30 minutes

Workout 4
Do 4 pull ups every 30 seconds till you cant lift yourself even when you kip
Then run 2 miles alternating between running 1 minute and bear crawling 30 seconds