T Nation

Please Help A Beginner

First, I’d like to say this site is awesome especially for free. I’ve been searching for a site like this for quite some time, but it seemed most were subscription based. Now on to my questions…

A brief (acutally not to brief) background of where I stand. I am 27 years old and am in average shape (by my standards). I’m naturally a slim, slender build with a small physique. Also, I played soccer quite competitively for the first 21 years of my life and now just play rec leagues twice a week for some exercise.

Last year I vowed to start weight training and committed to it three times a week. Unfortunately, I don’t have much money so my workouts are done in a very primitive gym that is in my office building.

It has the basics: bench press, curl bar, and then one of those machines that has like four stations where you can attach different pieces do different exercises. So for about a year now I’ve done the EXACT same workout including in the same order which I just read was VERY ineffective. I felt like I plateaued in my weight training and now see why. My workout consisted of (in this order exactly):

Bench Press (flat): 3 reps of ten then 1 rep of real light weight until I burned out.

Standing Bicep Curl: 3 reps of ten

Tricep press (on the machine with a V-Shaped handle and I just extend my triceps): 3 reps of ten

Lat pull down (I think - the long bar that you pull down behind your head): 3 reps of ten

Butterfly: 3 reps of ten

Abs: 30 crunches on the big ball then 30 more crunches while rotating to the left at the top of each crunch.

I rest probably about 45-60 seconds in between each rep and probably about 50 seconds in between different exercises.

And, sometimes if I’m pressed for time I do a pushup intensive workout. I probably do this workout once a week. I try to do sets of 25:

1st set: 25 normal push-ups
2nd set: 20-25 with my feet on the second step
3rd set: 25 with my feet on the ground and my hands on the second step
4th set: 25 V-grip pushups
5th set: 25 normal pushups

I also include curls in this program.

I never do weight training with my legs as I figure my soccer and cardio training is enough, but am now starting to doubt that.

I am not trying to win any weight lifting competitions and am not embarrassed about not being a large, muscular guy. Actually, I would prefer to stay slim. I don’t really want to put on a whole bunch of muscle mass. I’d just like to look defined and somewhat cut while in my swimming trunks this summer. I’ve been doing the afore mentioned workout for a year now and look great right after a workout, but that seems to disappear about two hours later.

I eat quite healthy, a few bad snacks here and there. I probably consume about 2,000 calories a day and 40g of fat. Not sure of my carbohydrates intake…probably quite high if I’m being honest.

Anyway I’m just looking for someone with some experience to recommend a good training program, with descriptions of the exercises. I’m quite dedicated and willing to learn. But please remember my limited gym and right now I can’t afford to join a gym. I just don’t have the disposable income.

Sorry for the novel, but I thought it may be necessary information. Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

[quote]alexeve10 wrote:
First, I’d like to say this site is awesome especially for free. I’ve been searching for a site like this for quite some time, but it seemed most were subscription based. Now on to my questions…

A brief (acutally not to brief) background of where I stand. I am 27 years old and am in average shape (by my standards). I’m naturally a slim, slender build with a small physique. Also, I played soccer quite competitively for the first 21 years of my life and now just play rec leagues twice a week for some exercise.

Last year I vowed to start weight training and committed to it three times a week. Unfortunately, I don’t have much money so my workouts are done in a very primitive gym that is in my office building.

It has the basics: bench press, curl bar, and then one of those machines that has like four stations where you can attach different pieces do different exercises. So for about a year now I’ve done the EXACT same workout including in the same order which I just read was VERY ineffective. I felt like I plateaued in my weight training and now see why. My workout consisted of (in this order exactly):

Bench Press (flat): 3 reps of ten then 1 rep of real light weight until I burned out.

Standing Bicep Curl: 3 reps of ten

Tricep press (on the machine with a V-Shaped handle and I just extend my triceps): 3 reps of ten

Lat pull down (I think - the long bar that you pull down behind your head): 3 reps of ten

Butterfly: 3 reps of ten

Abs: 30 crunches on the big ball then 30 more crunches while rotating to the left at the top of each crunch.

I rest probably about 45-60 seconds in between each rep and probably about 50 seconds in between different exercises.

And, sometimes if I’m pressed for time I do a pushup intensive workout. I probably do this workout once a week. I try to do sets of 25:

1st set: 25 normal push-ups
2nd set: 20-25 with my feet on the second step
3rd set: 25 with my feet on the ground and my hands on the second step
4th set: 25 V-grip pushups
5th set: 25 normal pushups

I also include curls in this program.

I never do weight training with my legs as I figure my soccer and cardio training is enough, but am now starting to doubt that.

I am not trying to win any weight lifting competitions and am not embarrassed about not being a large, muscular guy. Actually, I would prefer to stay slim. I don’t really want to put on a whole bunch of muscle mass. I’d just like to look defined and somewhat cut while in my swimming trunks this summer. I’ve been doing the afore mentioned workout for a year now and look great right after a workout, but that seems to disappear about two hours later.

I eat quite healthy, a few bad snacks here and there. I probably consume about 2,000 calories a day and 40g of fat. Not sure of my carbohydrates intake…probably quite high if I’m being honest.

Anyway I’m just looking for someone with some experience to recommend a good training program, with descriptions of the exercises. I’m quite dedicated and willing to learn. But please remember my limited gym and right now I can’t afford to join a gym. I just don’t have the disposable income.

Sorry for the novel, but I thought it may be necessary information. Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you.
[/quote]

First off when you say 3 reps of 10 or whatever you mean 3 sets of 10. Terminology is important if you want people to be able to understand you. Also, 2,000 calories is piss in the snow .

You didn’t give height or weight, but I’m eating a considerable amount more on NON lifting days(30-40%) and I weigh 120. On lifting days that goes up even more.

Basically at this point you need to go to the thread entitled Are You A Beginner and read it through, whatever you don’t know which I would think is a lot, and then come back with specific questions and more information about your diet and yourself.

[quote]Skrussian wrote:
Basically at this point you need to go to the thread entitled Are You A Beginner and read it through, whatever you don’t know which I would think is a lot, and then come back with specific questions and more information about your diet and yourself.[/quote]

Yep, otherwise you might get flamed for not trying to get bigger (This IS a bodybuilding site remember).

Pick a goal, read the articles and find a training program to get you going. If you want a cut look, so you don’t end up looking like a skeleton, you must add some muscle first.

Also, the search feature works quite well if you are looking for something, if you can’t find it only THEN ask questions.

Good Luck.

um im one handed here so excuse the brevity and lack of punctuation etc

Your not eating to support your body, goals, etc. your eating 2000, k/cals a day. that is the minimum average by the FDA. thats for the average coach/deshj jockey. with soccer etc cardio the carb well you need them hows the rest of your diet??

read the beginners threads above and all the linked articles

training your selling your self short by not training the other 3/4’s of your body. start training legs etc. in a way to progress your goals of soccer etc.

again the beginners thread, id also look at west side for skinny bastards. it has one leg day and then you do sport specific work for the lower body

hope that helps
phill

[quote]Phill wrote:
um im one handed here so excuse the brevity and lack of punctuation etc

Your not eating to support your body, goals, etc. your eating 2000, k/cals a day. that is the minimum average by the FDA. thats for the average coach/deshj jockey. with soccer etc cardio the carb well you need them hows the rest of your diet??

read the beginners threads above and all the linked articles

training your selling your self short by not training the other 3/4’s of your body. start training legs etc. in a way to progress your goals of soccer etc.

again the beginners thread, id also look at west side for skinny bastards. it has one leg day and then you do sport specific work for the lower body

hope that helps
phill [/quote]

When it comes to eating more than 2,000 calories a day…I could do it, but I feel like I would have to incorporate crappy foods into my diet (sugary, starchy foods, etc.)? Is that frowned upon? What are some high calorie foods that aren’t going to kill me?

I’m going to read through the beginner thread as I’m sure I’m not the first one to ask that. Anyway, I’ll take a look at that Westside program…my initial reaction to the beginner message was to try Chad Waterbury’s “Total Body Training” program. But I’ll compare that to the Westside…where do I find the description of the Westside?

Thanks for your help.

You can get a big London Broil steak that is good for like 3 meals for about 6 bucks, a pack of about 7 chicken breasts for about the same amount, potatoes and rice are good carbs. I wait tables on the weekends and have enough money to pay for clean food and basic living. If you want to do it you can.

Whatever you do, just focus on progressive resistance (doing more over time). Switch things up by changing up the order, rest time, rep ranges, grip widths, etc. Add in some new exercises.

Do you have access to a chin up and dip bar? If so, start doing those. Throw your back foot up on a bench and do bulgarian squats. Do weighted step ups. I’m convinced that I could keep my physique looking pretty much the same if I could only perform bodyweight exercises (chin ups, dips, push ups, handstand push ups, bulgarian squats, step ups, lunges, single leg 45 degree back extensions, glute ham raises, etc.). Get some dumbbells and start adding in lateral raises, hammer curls, rear delt raises, reverse curls, upright rows, pullovers, etc.

Working out doesn’t have to be expensive.

Make sure that you are pushing yourself hard. For example, if you stick with the universal machine for the next couple years, over time you should be using the entire stack on your sets of bench press, pulldowns, etc.

[quote]alexeve10 wrote:

When it comes to eating more than 2,000 calories a day…I could do it, but I feel like I would have to incorporate crappy foods into my diet (sugary, starchy foods, etc.)? Is that frowned upon? What are some high calorie foods that aren’t going to kill me?

[/quote]

Yes, lots of sugar/starch is a bad idea. Get a big can of extra virgin olive oil. Start drinking it. It tastes, umm, “different”, but you get used to it.

[quote]bretc wrote:
Whatever you do, just focus on progressive resistance (doing more over time). Switch things up by changing up the order, rest time, rep ranges, grip widths, etc. Add in some new exercises.

Do you have access to a chin up and dip bar? If so, start doing those. Throw your back foot up on a bench and do bulgarian squats. Do weighted step ups. I’m convinced that I could keep my physique looking pretty much the same if I could only perform bodyweight exercises (chin ups, dips, push ups, handstand push ups, bulgarian squats, step ups, lunges, single leg 45 degree back extensions, glute ham raises, etc.). Get some dumbbells and start adding in lateral raises, hammer curls, rear delt raises, reverse curls, upright rows, pullovers, etc.

Working out doesn’t have to be expensive.

Make sure that you are pushing yourself hard. For example, if you stick with the universal machine for the next couple years, over time you should be using the entire stack on your sets of bench press, pulldowns, etc. [/quote]

That’s good stuff. I’m not sure what a lot of those exercises are, but I’ll check that link out in the beginner thread that has a lot of exercises listed with video footage of how to do them.

I’ve heard that body weight resistence training works just as well. In fact, isn’t that all the Navy Seals and Marine training is?

I do have access to a dip bar and chin ups, but I can’t do very many of them. I can do about 8 chin ups and 12 dips and I’m physically done after that. Anyway, to make these easier so i can do sets of them?

And as for squats…I would love to incorporate them into my workout, but two problems.

A) I workout alone (depressing I know) so i’m not sure how to do them alone.

and

B) my little “gym” doesn’t have anything that resembles a squat machine.

Lastly, if my bench press doesn’t have a decline option are there any other exercises that produce the same effects? I assume that’s the lower chest muscles?

Sorry for the length of the note…is there anyway to send messages directly to someone? So I don’t take up all the space?

I appreciate your help already.

OK, let’s set this straight, one of the primary reasons that SEALs and Marines use body weight training is to improve endurance. They actually train with weights off duty. At least that is what my firends and I did while I was in the Marines.

If you want to improve your overall endurance but don’t want to do complexes(something we did in boot camp) or use weights at all, then use body weight exercises. Other wise, keep reading up on programs that will help meet your goals.

I can’t stand hand stand pushups. The only kids I’ve ever seen doing them have no semblance of strength. They’re just so damn skinny they have barely anything to pushup. It’s no coincidence that you don’t see 250 lb guys, no matter how strong they are, going around bragging about how many hand stand pushups they can do.

[quote]alexeve10 wrote:
bretc wrote:
Whatever you do, just focus on progressive resistance (doing more over time). Switch things up by changing up the order, rest time, rep ranges, grip widths, etc. Add in some new exercises.

Do you have access to a chin up and dip bar? If so, start doing those. Throw your back foot up on a bench and do bulgarian squats. Do weighted step ups. I’m convinced that I could keep my physique looking pretty much the same if I could only perform bodyweight exercises (chin ups, dips, push ups, handstand push ups, bulgarian squats, step ups, lunges, single leg 45 degree back extensions, glute ham raises, etc.). Get some dumbbells and start adding in lateral raises, hammer curls, rear delt raises, reverse curls, upright rows, pullovers, etc.

Working out doesn’t have to be expensive.

Make sure that you are pushing yourself hard. For example, if you stick with the universal machine for the next couple years, over time you should be using the entire stack on your sets of bench press, pulldowns, etc.

That’s good stuff. I’m not sure what a lot of those exercises are, but I’ll check that link out in the beginner thread that has a lot of exercises listed with video footage of how to do them.

I’ve heard that body weight resistence training works just as well. In fact, isn’t that all the Navy Seals and Marine training is?

I do have access to a dip bar and chin ups, but I can’t do very many of them. I can do about 8 chin ups and 12 dips and I’m physically done after that. Anyway, to make these easier so i can do sets of them?[/quote]

Yes. With the chins, start doing sets of 4. You should be able to get 5-6 sets. If you can, spread them out over the day and try to get in 10-15 sets, a couple of sets at a time. With dips I personally wouldn’t try to do as much volume, but you might find it OK. Just use the same principles. You should find that you improve rapidly.

[quote]And as for squats…I would love to incorporate them into my workout, but two problems.

A) I workout alone (depressing I know) so i’m not sure how to do them alone.

and

B) my little “gym” doesn’t have anything that resembles a squat machine.[/quote]

Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to do barbell back squats. If you have a barbell, do power clean and front squat complexes. You can add a push press in there for a real workout. For posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings etc) do deadlifts.

If you don’t have a barbell, do bulgarian split squats or lunges with dumbbells. Even bodyweight split squats will give you a decent workout.

[quote]Lastly, if my bench press doesn’t have a decline option are there any other exercises that produce the same effects? I assume that’s the lower chest muscles?
[/quote]

Pushups are a good substitute. Add weight if you can to make them harder. Alternatively, make them harder by having all your weight on one leg and swinging the other leg to a position over the far side of the supporting leg. This will put most of your bodyweight on one arm. A good way to build up to one arm pushups.

[quote]
Sorry for the length of the note…is there anyway to send messages directly to someone? So I don’t take up all the space? [/quote]

Don’t worry about the space. Better to reply on the thread, so you can get advice from as many people as possible. If you need to PM someone (eg if you want to have a private conversation) go to Private Messages at the top right of your screen. Anything else you need to know about how to operate this site can be found in top couple of posts on the T-Nation Tech Support Forum.[quote]

I appreciate your help already. [/quote]

[quote]Skrussian wrote:
I can’t stand hand stand pushups. The only kids I’ve ever seen doing them have no semblance of strength. They’re just so damn skinny they have barely anything to pushup. It’s no coincidence that you don’t see 250 lb guys, no matter how strong they are, going around bragging about how many hand stand pushups they can do.[/quote]

They may not brag, but there are big guys that can do them. Matt Furey?

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
Skrussian wrote:
I can’t stand hand stand pushups. The only kids I’ve ever seen doing them have no semblance of strength. They’re just so damn skinny they have barely anything to pushup. It’s no coincidence that you don’t see 250 lb guys, no matter how strong they are, going around bragging about how many hand stand pushups they can do.

They may not brag, but there are big guys that can do them. Matt Furey?[/quote]

A rather less contentious example is Bert Assirati. Guy’s a monster - 3 one-armed chins at 240lbs, still able to one-armed handstands, iron crosses (!) and standing backflips at his heaviest of 266lbs. He’s an accomplished wrestler and LONG DISTANCE cyclist to boot. Obviously a non-functional big guy.

Handstand pic of him here:
http://www.americanpowerliftevolution.net/Assiratiprofile.html

[quote]alexeve10 wrote:
And as for squats…I would love to incorporate them into my workout, but two problems.

A) I workout alone (depressing I know) so i’m not sure how to do them alone.

and

B) my little “gym” doesn’t have anything that resembles a squat machine.
[/quote]
A couple more options in addition to what’s already been mentioned. Here’s how to do squats with just a barbell - a staple of my workouts:

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBHackSquat.html

Or you could get something like a pair of sawhorses, load the bar up on them and do front squats.