T Nation

Questions on First Time Lifting/Diet


I'm gonna begin lifting for the first time ever, so I'm starting my own personal thread here to track my progress and hopefully receive feedback from you guys on things that I might be doing wrong or for any questions I may have. My goals are to be able to bench press 300 lbs. and deadlift 400 within 6 months to a year (hopefully, lol).

My reasons for doing all of this is that I'm tired of being so damn weak and feeling like crap/tired all day long; I'm not in this to become more aesthetically appealing (though I'm sure that will occur anyways as I plan to eat clean), I just want to be healthy and feel good. I do have some questions before I get started out regarding diet and other topics, so first I need to help you in helping me by giving you some relevant information about myself.

To begin, I'm a 5'10 tall 20 year old male and I weigh approximately 177 lbs. (this has been my weight more or less for years by now). I guess my general body composition would fall under mesomorph, and I've obviously had 0 years training (I once had a stint doing P90X for about 4 months, but I don't consider that to be anything).

I recently tried 1RM testing with the stuff I had available to me in my house and managed to eek out 136 lbs. for my bench press, 166 for dead lifting (might have been able to add 20-40 lbs. more, but there was no room left on the barbell), and 120 for my squat (in this case I might have been able to add 20-40 more lbs., but I didn't have a proper setup and thus didn't feel safe doing any more).

As for my caloric needs, I averaged my caloric intake over a 2 week period over a month ago and got 2726 calories for my daily intake, but then I calculated my daily calorie needs using the BMR formula and it came to 2299 cals. per day (I'm guessing my daily needs probably fall somewhere in between those 2 numbers). Going further, my activity levels are pretty atrocious; I haven't really been active since I was 13, having played WoW and various other games whether by myself or with friends during most of my free time and always eating junk food.

The only breaks from this inactivity were either when I was attending school or during the few periods where I had a job; more or less I've been an unhealthy slob for several years now. It's pretty bad now that I'm actually reading this to myself, but there it is. Currently I do some chores/occasional heavy lifting of objects, and am in search of a job since I'm unemployed (hoping to have one within the next week or two). That's about it, so I guess the last thing to do is post some pictures: (My options for editing my post are completely barren, so I went ahead and posted the pictures in my profile)

Now with that out of the way, it's time to get unto my questions:

  1. What should my macronutrient ratios be? According to one site 40% should be from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat - I know I also read somewhere that you need 0.70 to 1 gram of protein per pound. I'm just wondering if this is sound advice or not.

  2. I was considering picking up some equipment from craigslist when I get some income so I don't need to use a gym and can save some money, but I'm not sure if I'd actually save money picking up my own equipment or just paying for a gym membership. I have a workout I made after taking into consideration the equipment I have to work with currently, but if you guys believe it would be better just to use a gym, could you recommend a premade, well balanced workout that coincides with my goals?

  3. I remember seeing an article on here a while back that showed the different types of bodybuilding goals and the intensity zones for each different goal. Could anyone link me to that? Also, are you supposed to 1RM test on a regular basis to see how much weight you should be lifting?

  4. My next question is about warming up/cooling down. I've seen arguments for and against this, but my intuition seems to tell me it's a good idea. I haven't really seen it brought up on the forums here a lot, though, so if it's a good idea what's a good way to do it?

  5. Cheap foods. Despite the fact I don't have a job currently, I know that food prices are rising. I'd like some good staples for my protein/carbs/fat that are good bang for the buck.

  6. Last but not least, safety. I'm not really too keen on the risks posed by weight lifting other than obvious things like dropping weights on yourself or hurting your back with improper lifting techniques. I've been inactive for so long, I'm not sure if this is actually a good idea for me. I realize I have a slight case of carpal tunnel from constant computer use, and I'm not sure if weight lifting would be bad on my joints (I might visit the doctor even though I'm convinced they are 99% bullshit and prescribe pills for far too many things). Thoughts?

(Also, I'd like to thank whichever mod edited my wall of text. I was gonna go back and do that when I woke up this morning, but thanks anywho. If you could possibly help me get pictures up, we'd be in business.)


I'll probably be told I have no business giving advice so take what I say with a grain of salt. I would definately pick a proven strength program instead of making your own. And if you can a gym is probably better.

Anyway if you don't care about appearance and just want to get strong check out starting strength. People criticize it for not working certain muscles, but its meant to get untrained individuals a good base strength. It focuses on 5 lifts squat, deadlift, bench, military press, and power clean(many people do barbell rows instead). You squat 3x a week adding 10 lbs per workout. Get yourself some more weights because deadlift and squats will go up quickly. Check this out for more detail on the program. http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Starting_Strength_Wiki

Start getting 3000+ cals a day and track your weight to see see if you need to adjust cals at all. Get at least 1g protien/lb of bodyweight. Don't wory too much about your macro breakdown. Chicken, eggs, rice/pasta are all pretty cheap, but can get boring. Also get as much uninterrupted sleep as you can, 8+ hours per night if possible.

As far as warming up, definately do warm up sets. For a 135lb squat do something like bar 2x5, 65 2x5, 95 1x5 and then hit your main sets. Do something similar for all your lifts. May not be perfect but is better than nothing, hopefully more experienced guys can help more.

Starting strength isn't the only program but it could definately help you reach your goals. 5/3/1 is good too but I feel like you might as well progress linearly as long as you can so your weight on the bar goes up quicker. Also think about stronglifts 5x5. But main thing is to pick a program you have faith in and stick to it while eating and sleeping enough to recover and grow. I'll be keeping an eye on your progress as I just started going back to the gym too and we are the same heigh and close in weight, I'm 171 right now. Good luck and hopefully some more experienced guys will have some good advice for you.


well, hate to break it to you, but you probably arent going to get to a 400lb dead within a year - but dont lose heart! you seem to have a great attitude towards your goals.

1) there are many different diets - im currently on the anabolic diet, which has me eating 300g protein, 330g fat and 30g carbs - very different to what you have read huh? http://swole.me/ is a great site (made by someone on here i believe) to get you going with a fully personalised diet

2) if you can find a good gym with lots of free weights and racks, its well worth joining. but if you have the space, money and personal drive to train at home - brilliant. buy an olympic bar, 400lb of plates, an adjustable bench and a power rack.
2.2) at your current experience - i would recomend Starting strength (this is great for practising the basic lifts and getting your compound stength up, getting to a bodyweight bench and BBrow, and 1.5xBW Squat and Deadlift. Then either move on to something like 5/3/1 (buy the Ebook), or one of the first few programs in the 'Do this program not that dumb one' in the BB thread here

3) your goal right now should be to gain a decent level of base strength, then any body building goals will be a lot more attainable - whats going to illicit more growth, a 100lb bench or a 300lb bench?
Also, regular testing 1rm can give an untrue picture of your progress. Just strive to add a little weight to the bar or do more reps every workout

4) yes warm up, do foam rolling etc - who the fuck is against this?

5) rice, potatoes, pork, chicken, EGGS, lamb

6) lifting will make your joint stronger. and crossing the road is dangerous - life is dangerous!


You joined in march? Fuck.

  1. As was mentioned, there are many different approaches to diet. But in general, to build strength and muscle you will need to eat more calories on a regular basis. I think caveman's recommendation of 3k is a good starting point. Modify from there depending on your progress (ie: putting on too much fat vs. not making strength gains). I'd say for a newbie try to get as much protein as possible from whole food sources, and let the rest of the nutrients sort themselves out. I like a 40/40/20 approach, but that doesn't mean it's superior, I just like carbs.

  2. Join a gym, you will constantly be increasing the weight and potentially needing access to some more equipment. Also, it's good to have other people around in case you need to grab a spot, or ask for some advice.

  3. Regardless of whether or not you want to be a bodybuilder or powerlifter, the first thing is to get a basic level of strength. You don't need to test your 1RM on a regular basis as long as you are tracking your progress and the weight is going up (ie 5RM).

  4. Warm-ups are good. I always warm up the movement I'm about to do with some light weight reps. However, I don't think you need to go overboard with a warm-up jogging on the treadmill for 15 minutes or some nonsense like that.

  5. Eggs, oats, rice, milk, ground meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.)

  6. Being weak is dangerous. Getting stronger makes you awesome. As long as you have a spotter when doing the bench press, and use safety bars when squatting, I think you're going to be okay.

I would recommend looking into Starting Strength as a good basic program to run for 6 months to a year depending on your progress. By the end of that program, most people have put on a considerable amount of strength and muscle (and fat, if you eat like Rippetoe suggests).


he waited 8 months to be able to get his IF consulting by only 1500US$ before start training =)