T Nation

New Guy Advice


Greetings Everyone!

After numerous visits to T-Nation I have finally decided to become a registered member. I have been weight lifting on and off over the past 3 years with not much gain to show for it. I weigh in at 140lbs, I'm 5'8, and have a high metabolism. Any advice or articles to read where a great starting point to begin at would be greatly appreciated! I am trying to come up with a program and diet to stick to.

Thanks for the help.



The best advice I can give for someone who struggles with putting on mass is:





What this means is do just enough volume for growth, but not so much that it negates the "building" (keep catabolism low and energy burning low, and anabolism will be high).

When I say eat, I mean EAT (lol)...this probably involves making up a high calorie shake every day so that you don't have an excuse not to get the calories in :slight_smile:

Will be back with some links/articles


The backbone of your training should be multi-joint compound movements, with any extra as needed. When I say extra as needed, I mean the basic movements do do a lot of muscle, but can leave gaps (e.g. squats may develop larger glutes/stronger lower back than thighs). You need to discover that as you grow.

Make fat the predominant source of calories in your diet, but don't neglect carbs (get somewhere between 1.5g-2g of carbs/lb in bodyweight). So things like dairy, beef, eggs, peanut butter...and so on are your friends.

Bring your weight up by 2-4lbs per month. Do this without fail and strength gains (thus muscle mass) will come easily/smoothly.

Train bodyparts up to twice a week - e.g. a 3 way split done 4-5x/week (like the push/pull/legs style).

Will post more later...(once I find a good article or something).


Thank you for the advice!!! :slightly_smiling: I will start researching good 3 day split training programs.


You're welcome.

Here's some of my favourite articles (in fact, most would agree that they're some of the best this site has ever had!)

Check them out, read them thoroughly;





A few notes for yourself (diet and bodyfat):

One of the main things to be concerned about with mass gains (other than strength gains in the gym), is diet. No weight gain = no muscle gains. With that in mind, keep weight goals in focus.

For a fast metabolism, and/or really active people, realistically you're looking at eating AT LEAST 20 cals per lb in bodyweight (very roughly...would need adjusting according to how your body responds - too much weight gained then reduce, not enough then increase). So for a 150lbs person, that would be 3000cals/day (150x20).

Most bodybuilders stay in the range of 10-15% bodyfat in the off-season. This is because usually when you go much lower than 10% you risk loosing a little muscle (just generally, not always; depends on your genetics).

When you go far past 15%, you may start to look like a chubby man who doesn't lift weights :slight_smile: if you are not carrying much muscle (this again depends on genetics). Obviously, the more muscle you have while bulked (i.e. carrying more fat), the better (looks leaner). Someone at 250lbs and 20% bodyfat would look better than someone 200lbs and 15% bodyfat. This is good to keep in mind when bulking (that even though fat is gained during a bulk, it "spreads" better at a heavier/more muscular weight)

It's reasonable to expect at least half your weight gains each month to be muscle. So say you gained 30lbs over 6 months (bringing you to 170lbs), at least half of that should be muscle.

You would then HOLD the weight for AT LEAST 3 months before dieting the excess fat off. If you diet straight away, your body will not hold the muscle (instead of seeing muscle as a useful and permanent thing, it gets rid of what it sees as surplus to needs). Keeping your weight the same (maintaining muscle) for a certain period makes your body realise that it's "normal". The longer the better, the more muscle your gain, the longer you need to hold it (i.e. eat enough to hold it).

So as an example, to gain 10-15lbs of solid muscle, this would take around 12 months (more advanced lifters would aim for much less/year); in 6 months you'd gain say 20lbs, you hold it for 3 months, you then spend the remaining 2-3 months gently dieting off <10lbs of fat (very easy).

Will post guidelines for your routine, and some good example routines next...


As for training, here's some really solid principles (treat them like "The 10 Commandments" lol):

4-8 sets (hard sets) per bodypart each week (more for bodyparts like back, less for arms)

6-12 reps/set

2-3 exercises per bodypart

Every 4-6 weeks, take an "easier" week (e.g. high rep training) where you only train 3x/week. Most argue that this doesn't need to be set in stone (only do when/as required) but 4-6 weeks is a VERY good start and won't do harm even if slightly out of phase.

Don't train more than 2 days in a row. Along the same lines; have 2-3 rest days per week. People who struggle with mass gains have, shall I say, "fragile" nervous systems (their ability/capacity to push hard is diminished when pushed for long periods)

Example 3 way split, done 4-5 times per week (e.g. Mon/Tue/Thu/Sat):

Workout 1 - Push
Flat Barbell Bench press 6-8 reps, 2 sets
Incline bench press 8-10 reps, 2 sets
Overhead shoulder press 8-10 reps, 2 sets
Side laterals 10-12 reps, 2 sets
Triceps exercise (e.g. skull crushers) 8-10 reps, 2 sets

Workout 2 - Pull
Pulldowns/Pullups (pronated grip) 8-10 reps, 2 sets
Chinups/narrow pulldowns (supinated grip) 10-12 reps, 2 sets
T-bar row 10-12 reps, 2 sets
Biceps exercise (e.g. inclined seated alternated dumbbell curls) 10-12 reps, 2 sets

Workout 3 - Legs
Squat 6-8 reps, 2-4 sets
Leg press 10-12 reps, 2-4 sets
Standing Calf raises 8-10 reps, 3-4 sets
Seated calf raises 10-12 reps, 3-4 sets

(optional extra exercises depending on what needs worked more)

Every time you complete a phase (4-6 weeks), on leg day, switch out the squats for deadlifts. In my experience, and many others, you get 10x the gains from focussing on one of the two moves (compared to the mediocre results of trying to progress on 2 at the same time). I believe this is because of the excessive recovery demand for both exercises done 1-2x/week, including the large loading on lower back. Alternatively, you may do both lifts but keep one on maintenance (low volume, nowhere near maximal effort).