T Nation

Noob Needs Program Advice


Hey guys, was wondering if I was doing too much or too little as a beginner. I came up with my own program that seemed simple enough for a beginner but enough variety to really hit every piece. My ultimate goal is to gain muscle, but I throw in some more strength time schemes to keep things fresh for the muscles and to gain strength. So:

Mon+thurs: a.m. bench, incline bench, decline/dips, arnold press, bb overhead press.

Mon+thurs: p.m. wide grip pulldown, reverse grip pulldown, t-bar rows, wide grip cable pulls, face pulls.

Tues+fri: a.m. back squat, front squat, Romanian DL, calf raises, lunges

Tues+fri: p.m. all supersets. Wide grip curls x skullcrushers, close grip curls x tri pushdowns, hammer curls x tri kickbacks, reverse curls x reverse tri pushdowns.

Weds: stretching, mobility and cardio.

Sat+sun rest

Number schemes are as follows: 2 weeks 4x12 45 sec rest
2 weeks 4x6 1.5 min rest
2 weeks 4x10 1 min rest
2 weeks 4x4 2.5 min rest
2 weeks 4x8 75 sec rest

I eat a lot and I’m seeing growth but I’m wondering if I’m optimized, doing too much or doing too little. Any advice is much appreciated.


Find an established program. Do not run this


Probably too much.

As a beginner it’s hard to know what you are doing because there’s a lot to account for in a program. That’s why its often better to get on an established beginners’ program to build a solid base while you grow and learn.

When you have a bit more knowledge and experience you’ll be able to put together effective programs for yourself.

With all that time to dedicate to training you should use much of it to diet properly and do some research.


Well ive done a lot of research, a lot comes from the set rep bible, it says for hyp. The best reps are 36-50 per muscle 2 times per week. But it doesn’t really say if bench and incline count as the same muscle or not. I’ve put a lot of time into researching nutrition and I’m not too worried about that. I know I’m getting stronger because by the last workout for that rep range I’m doing more than I started that rep range with, and that’s only after 2 weeks. I see size gains but I feel like as a beginner and the amount I eat size progression should be faster. Where would you recommend I pull back? I like the overall set up I have where I focus on push compounds and pull compounds and leg compounds. I also haven’t noticed any burning out yet.


Just do this, jim is a big strong accomplished dude so why not do his program?



I’m looking more for bodybuilding than powerlifting


I suppose I should also say I’m 6’4 270 right now


Yes, letting us know you’re a literal giant sort of changes things. At that size, I’m guessing you’re carrying a fair amount of fat. Or at least, you’re not lean. Meaning, a focus on gaining even more size right now means you’ll gain even more fat.

What’s your long-term goal? I know you said your “ultimate goal is to gain muscle”, but
that’s super-vague. What does it actually mean? Is there a particular look you’re shooting for? Competitive strongmen your height are like 350+ pounds with a lot of muscle (and fat). A more natural bodybuilder-looking physique at your height would be closer to a lean 240ish.

Lifts 8 times per week… wonders if that’s doing too little. Dude.

Is there a reason you jumped right into two-a-day sessions? That’s a relatively advanced training method and not something most beginners can handle, especially programmed the way you have it laid out.

It does because it’s the same movement pattern/bodypart. The set/rep bible does specify that it’s referring to using the suggested volume in sessions “per Week per Muscle Group.”

Waterbury laid out a plan to train twice a day with his Total Body Split routine, but I do still think that’s overkill for you now. You’d do fine with just 3-4 lifting sessions and 2-3 cardio sessions per week.


This made me lol

5/3/1 isn’t a powerlifting program (though it can be used as such) it’s an all around performance program. You can absolutely use that progression model to on the big lifts and cater your assistance around bodybuilding.

If that’s not your jam there’s a lot of really good programs on this site that offer enough flexibility for the user to mess around with without diminishing the spirit of the program.


My ultimate goal is to be big thick and string hopefully looking good too.
I didn’t start out that way no. I actually started a year ago to lose weight and focused on 5x5, I went from 330 lbs to 215 lbs. But started to feel really fucking scrawny, (been big my whole life) lost focus and fucked around and missed the gym for the next 2 months and got back up to about 245. I restarted doing random full body kettle bell stuff. Then found a program that did one muscle per day, typical chest day, leg day, shoulder day, back day. Then I read that this type of split is completely inefficient. I wanted to do upper/lower but worried about leaving too much upper out. Then I thought about a push/pull/ leg split. But didn’t want to be in the gym 6 days a week. So I created this with arms on leg day because I read how arms can benefit from the extra amount of t released after a leg workout. But lie I said I don’t feel burnt out or like my body isn’t recovering so I thought maybe I wasn’t doing enough. Since lifting this way over the past couple months I’ve gained close to 20 lbs eating 6 to 7 times a day.


Well tbh that’s not a bad approach to take.

Hmm that actually seems a bit on the low end for a large muscle group e.g. Chest or legs.

Also it should be noted that smaller muscles groups can handle more direct work than their larger stronger counterparts e.g. Biceps

Bench and incline do count towards the same muscle group: chest. The emphasis on certain muscles may change slightly but they are both still very much chest exercises. Same with decline

Well progress is good. It means you’re going in the right direction and it’s only a matter of time. You can only make muscle gains so fast anyways. Any weight gain in excess of this weight will be fat gain leading to overall unfavourable changes in your body composition.

I’d recommend that you narrow your exercise selection/variation as opposed to pulling back on total weekly volume per body part. With less exercise variation you can focus more effort both physical and mental on the movement and make faster more consistent gains on it.

It’s broscience that for optimal gains you need to train a muscle from multiple angles or use multiple/all it’s functions and movements. Often times one exercise is plenty. At most two is all you need.

The gains are in the progression. You’ve probably heard of progressive overload. Over time if you’re doing more work than before (weight, reps, sets, weekly etc.) on an exercise the involved muscle groups will adapt and grow.

Maybe chill a bit on the pressing: get rid of Arnold press and decline bench


So do like 3 compounds per workout as opposed to 5? I mostly do what I do because I’m afaid of a push/pull imbalance you know, don’t want my rear delts and back playing second fiddle to my front delts and chest. More into havING a thick back than giant pecks. And of course strong thick legs


That type of split has put muscle on guys for decades. How long did you do it and what results did you see?

The article referred to a study that trained arms and legs in the same workout. Training them later in the same day almost definitely wouldn’t have a similar impact because the hormone boost from training itself is fairly short-lived.

To be blunt, how fat are you? Muffin top and jiggly moobs? Any muscle definition anywhere without flexing? If you’re “looking more for bodybuilding than powerlifting”, then there’s it’s probably counterproductive to be gaining even more bodyweight right now.

I totally get the idea of wanting to be “the big guy”, but being “the big fat guy” isn’t worth it because you’ll be on track to end up where you were, 300+ pounds and wanting to lose fat. Or maybe you’re cool with just getting generically big and that’s fine. Your goals are your own thing. At the end of the day, the question is: “Is your current plan going to get you closer to where you want to be?” And that requires knowing exactly where you want to end up.


I used that split for a couple months, there were results, nothing to brag about. This new one has had more results, the artice I read, which here on t-nation, said that training a muscle once every 7 days just wasn’t the most efficient.

And most of the time I’m not getting up in the morning so I’m doing the am and pm routines as supersets and stuff, so I do the arms directly after legs.

Umm, a little definition, I hold fat around my core like crazy, so my arms and shoulders and upper back look like I obviously workout, chest isn’t terrible but soft. Right now I just wanna pack on muscle, I’m great at dieting and can lose the fat later. I mean I want to look good, but I don’t wanna be like a fitness model, the numbers in my head say around 230 to 250 at around 12 to 15% body fat. But again right now I’m looking to put on muscle


Good luck lol, arnold was 260 in his off season…


So most of the time, you’re not actually doing two-a-days like you said and like we’ve all been talking about this entire time. Neat. I’m waiting to hear “Oh and by the way guys, I’m vegan. Also, I only have one arm. Plan still look good though?”

Best course of action at this point: Take some progress pics. You don’t necessarily have to post them here, but take them so you have them. Do whatever plan you feel like for 6-8 weeks, then take more pics. Check to see what happened and then assess.


How are you this good at roasting people :joy: