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New to T-Nation, Looking for Weightlifting Advice


Hello, I'm new to T-Nation, and i found this site on google, and checked it out and i really liked all the good information on here.

First off, i'd like to introduce myself.
im 17, about 5"11, and 180 lbs, and about 6~7% body fat.
I play wide receiver in football, and small forward in basketball.

This year after basketball season, i gained about 20 lbs, but now i've kinda hit a plateau where no matter how much i lift/eat, i dont seem to be able to gain anymore weight.

Before I tell you my goals, i ask that you keep in mind that im a novice weightlifter, and have not had much experience besides the basics. im not gonna lie, at first, around freshmen year, i was the kinda douche that went into a gym and just did bench and curls. Now i have actually a back and chest day, an arm day (which is biceps triceps and shoulders). and a leg day. But i call these "basics" because ive been looking through some of the posts in the forum, and many people talk about how compound movements are better than isolation lifts. so i was wondering could anyone give me some good compound lifts to do?

As for my goals, im not sure if i have conflicting goals, but on one side, i want to get a defined 6 pack. i currently have a semi defined 4 pack, but just cant get the definition, such as the line down the middle. i do many ab exercises, and decent cardio, but just cant get the definiton! on the other side, i want to gain weight, increase weight on my squats and bench press, and make my biceps bigger. although i work my arms alot, i have not gained alot of mass around my bicep. i have not gained much in weight either, and im not really sure what the problem is!

As for my diet, its pretty clean, and i consume a good amount of protein, but i am not sure about the specific amount. another question of mine: is creatine bad for you? i was taking it, but someone told me it was bad for my liver, and all it does is inflat your muscles with water, so its "pretty muscle" and not really strength, so i stopped and just stuck to protein shakes.

so if anybody could help me out, any help would be appreciated!


Creatine is not dangerous. It's found naturally in meat. Stay hydrated when taking it. And do take it. It's one of the few proven supplements to boost strength and mass.
Also for mass building, heavy parallel and below squats and heavy deadlifting build mass and boost testosterone.
At 6-7% BF you should have some pretty defined abs, so I suspect you're not as lean as you think. From what you described it seems like you're around 9-10%.
As far as protein goes, everything I've heard says to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Most protein powders you find will already include creatine. Most likely you won't need any extra creatine than your protein powder gives you. Supplements, especially at your age and progression, aren't really that important. A good protein shake immediately after lifting is a good idea, but a proper diet and hard work is what you really need.
Proper form is important, too. Get on youtube and find So You Think You Can Bench and So You Think You Can Squat. Find a good deadlifting instructional video, too. Practice good form. If this means you need to lower the weight, do it.

I suggest buying Wendler's 5/3/1 book (available in electronic form via a link here or in paper form on amazon) and do it exactly as written. You probably want the 5/3/1 with bodybuilding assistance. That's probably the best program for you. It'll get you stronger and bigger and gives you options for conditioning exercises as well.
Some more advice, don't listen to your friends. No offense, but they don't know anything. Find the info you want on this site. You'll get some dickheads, but most of the people on here are highly knowledgeable, experienced, and willing to help. You should get some good advice. You will also be able to find great articles. I'm just a beginner, too. I'm sure more people will post on here with better advice than I just gave. I hope this helps.


As a former b-ball player, I suggest an emphasis on explosive movements. Definitely do plyometrics - they're great for off days, help in recovery, and build explosiveness (read - you might get enough vert to be able to dunk).

Plyos 2 or 3x a week - here's a sample program:

Day 1, lower body emphasis:
Depth jump - 5x6
step-up - 5x6
Lateral jumps
medball lateral throw with partner/wall - 5x6 both sides
superman with medball throw - 5x6

Day 2, upper body emphasis:
Overhead throw against wall - 5x6
chest pass - 5x6
Speed box jumps (jump up to box, down, and up again as fast as possible) - 5x6
underhand throw upward - 5x6 (squat down with ball between legs, throw as high as possible)
Ball smashes - 5x6 (smash the ball into the ground as hard as you can)

There's literally TONS of other exercises you can put in here, this is just an example of what you can do. The most important thing with plyos is to have MAXIMUM explosiveness for each movement. If you feel fatigued, stop. It's not going to do anything for you at that point. It's about training your CNS for max force production.


For lower body work, you definitely want to do unilateral (1 leg at a time) exercises since b-ball is all about strength and explosiveness off of one leg (think about a cut, layup, defensive slide etc.). Split squats and lunges (side, reverse, regular) should be a staple of your program. There's a lot of variations on these as well.

If you have someone who can coach you on olympic lifts, they're a great supplement to heavy compound lifts.

Also, read this about the perfect rep: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_program/sports_body_training_muscle_anaconda/anaconda_protocol#3-8211-perfect-rep


hey thanks for the advice! im not really sure about my bf percentage, but i got the pinch test at a local YMCA and that was what they told me so i was just going with that.
as far as gaining mass goes, im not seeing any visible changes in my biceps, but i am seeing changes in other areas, such as shoulders, chest, and back. for biceps, ill usually superset 2 different curls, and always rep til failure. so in a typical arm day for biceps, ill do around 4-6 exercises for it, supersetting 2 at a time. by the time im done, i usually have a pretty good pump. but my bicep size has been the same for a while. am i doing something wrong?


also, is the perfect rep only for bench? or can that be applied to everything from curls to military presses etc?


I don't know a whole lot about bodybuidling because I am a lot more interested in powerlifting, but it sounds to me like you're doing way too much for your arms. It could be this reason as to why you're not seeing the results you want. In the words of Jim Wendler, "sometimes it's what you don't do." On the other hand, maybe the fullness you're not seeing is due to a lack of tricep development. Triceps are roughly 2/3 of your upper arm. Maybe just do 1 or 2 biceps exercises and 1 or 2 triceps exercises on arm days. Close grip bench and body weight or weighted dips should be a great start. I hear skull crushers are pretty good, too, but they always hurt my elbows and they don't seem to help with my bench at all, so I avoid them. Anyway, try this for a month and see what results you're getting.