T Nation

Review Needed, Skinny Newb!

Hey guys!

I have a whole number of questions, so bear with me. All of your help is very, very much appreciated.

Primary Goal: Hypertrophy (size)
Secondary goal: Strength

Stats. 24 years old, 6’5", 195 lbs. Yes. That thin. And not from doing a ton of high-intensity cardio. I do walk a lot, however. I would say I spend a good 1-2 hours a day walking around town unless I am working (I live in downtown Toronto, Canada). I work as a server 4 days a week (meaning 8 hours of walking through a huge restaurant).

I am actually averse to doing more cardio because (although I show a tiny bit of a belly), this will better be solved by gaining muscle on my chest (and everywhere else, for that matter) before burning a ton of calories. I actually believe I probably don’t take in enough calories to be making significant gains. My metabolism runs like a rabbit.

Diet:

Breakfast:

As soon as I get up:

  • Greens+ & creatine in grape juice (high GI fruit juice)

Fifteen minutes afterwards, to let creatine and greens digest:

  • Quick Oats (plain, but quick absorbing…does this make any difference?) with honey as a sweetner.
  • 40g Low Carb Metabolic Drive
  • Omega 3 caps
  • Multiviamin
  • Vitamic C

Pre-workout

1 hour before training:
25g Whey Isolate
40g Glycocarb (8g of sugar)

Immediately before training:

  • 1-2 Spike tabs (just started these and definitely notice the difference)

Post-workout (Immediately)

  • Surge Recovery

Pre-bed

30-60 mins before bed:

  • ZMA tablets

Immediately before bed:

  • 250mg 2% milk
  • 20g Low-Carb Metabolic Drive
  • Omega 3 caps

Rest of day:

Breakfast and the pre-bed snack are the only set meals. Other than that I go for whole-grain breads, brown/wild rice, lean cuts of beef and skinless chicken breast. I don’t eat enough vegetables, in all likelihood.

I try to have a big serving of broccoli with dinner, and salads instead of fries when I’m eating out, things like that. I also take a serving of greens+ (a powdered greens product, nutrition info at www.genuinehealth.com/english/pbn/index.php?id=8§ion=43 ) once daily, which, in some ways, should help with the nutrients that I’d otherwise be lacking.

Additional comments: I make breakfast (and dinner, most nights) but otherwise, a lot of the protein (and greens) ends up coming from either protein powder or greens+, as I find it difficult to do a ton of cooking.

Questions:

  • I try to make sure that I’m eating at least something every two-three hours, but I don’t try to stuff myself, ever. Should I consciously focus on eating larger meals for my main meals of the day?

  • Is my fruit/vegetable intake completely inadequate? What are easy ways of having vegetables available for every meal? Just a bag of baby carrots, things like that? Suggestions?

Supplements:

  • Whey Isoloate (pre-workout)

  • Low Carb Metabolic Drive (with breakfast, immediately before bed)

  • Metabolic Drive bars (in emergency, between meals)

  • Greens+, once daily (with Creatine and grape juice first thing in the morning)

  • Creatine Monohydrate (taken with grape juice, as I’ve read high-GI liquids are best for creatine absorption)

  • A good multivitamin, x2

  • 4 caps fish oil (2x2 morning and night)

  • 2000 mg Vitamic C (1000 morning and evening)

  • ZMA, 1 hour before bed

Question: I know it’s not necessary, but if I were to add one supplement to this, what should it be? Should I add green tea (perferrably powdered) as an anti-oxidant? Would additional BCAA’s be worth it?

Workout:

Speed of movements: As quick as possible
Rest time between sets: 45-60 seconds

I am working off of this:

www.muscletalk.co.uk/newsletter-0307.aspx

…as it is supposed to be a good hypertrophy program for beginners. Again, I don’t claim to know anything as fact, so I’m entirely open to have all of my current opinions changed.

Day 1

Barbell deadlifts 3 x 10
Weighted chins 3 x 10
Bent over barbell row or Pendley row 3 x 10
Barbell/EZ bar bicep curl 3 x 10

Day 3

Incline barbell bench press 3 x 10
Flat dumbbell bench press 3 x 10
Standing military barbell shoulder press 3 x 10
Weighted dips 3 x 10

Day 5

Barbell squat 3 x 10
45 degree leg press 3 x 10
Stiff-legged deadlift 3 x 10
Seated or standing calf raises 3 x 15

Abs: I’ve read that they can be reliably worked every other day, so I tend to work in 15x3x3 Incline Crunches on every workout day. If the bench isn’t available I do bicycle crunches instead.

Questions: The obvious…should I change this, or is it good for now?

I am definitely open to putting in another day in the gym, but concerned that overall, given my metabolism, working out more days might not mean all that much.

Oh! On abs-- weighted, lower reps, or body-weighted reps as I am doing? There’s debate over this.


In summary:

Any and all time that you’ve spent looking this over is very much appreciated, guys. I’ve been as thin as a rail my entire life and I’m committed to getting in shape and putting in the work. I just feel that I need more direction in order to better direct my efforts.

Any and all advice, in direct answer to my questions or just other things that you believe are important otherwise, is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

[quote]speedafk wrote:

  • I try to make sure that I’m eating at least something every two-three hours, but I don’t try to stuff myself, ever. Should I consciously focus on eating larger meals for my main meals of the day?
    [/quote]
    “Stuffing” is a very subjective term. You need to be in a caloric surplus to gain mass.

Until you get a good feeling for the amount of food that is actually necessary for your body to build muscle at a decent rate, you should increase your caloric intake by ~500 every week or so until you actually gain weight, even if it means to ‘stuff’ yourself.

Its always better to eat several (8+) small meals than few big. Only real big meal should be your breakfast. Eat every 2 hours if 1 meal per 3 hours isnt enough.

[quote]speedafk wrote:

  • Is my fruit/vegetable intake completely inadequate? What are easy ways of having vegetables available for every meal? Just a bag of baby carrots, things like that? Suggestions?
    [/quote]

1 fruit/vegetable is more or less a guideline, not a dogma of some sort. You should try to eat lots, but if you cannot get something every meal, it wont really make a difference.

[quote]speedafk wrote:
Supplements:

  • Whey Isoloate (pre-workout)

  • Low Carb Metabolic Drive (with breakfast, immediately before bed)

  • Metabolic Drive bars (in emergency, between meals)

  • Greens+, once daily (with Creatine and grape juice first thing in the morning)

  • Creatine Monohydrate (taken with grape juice, as I’ve read high-GI liquids are best for creatine absorption)

  • A good multivitamin, x2

  • 4 caps fish oil (2x2 morning and night)

  • 2000 mg Vitamic C (1000 morning and evening)

  • ZMA, 1 hour before bed

Question: I know it’s not necessary, but if I were to add one supplement to this, what should it be? Should I add green tea (perferrably powdered) as an anti-oxidant? Would additional BCAA’s be worth it?
[/quote]
BCAA’s

After that there is a long list of stuff you might take, each has very little benefit (if any at all) as long as you diet is good.

Others (in the supplement and nutrition forum) can give you more info.

[quote]speedafk wrote:
Day 1

Barbell deadlifts 3 x 10
Weighted chins 3 x 10
Bent over barbell row or Pendley row 3 x 10
Barbell/EZ bar bicep curl 3 x 10

Day 3

Incline barbell bench press 3 x 10
Flat dumbbell bench press 3 x 10
Standing military barbell shoulder press 3 x 10
Weighted dips 3 x 10

Day 5

Barbell squat 3 x 10
45 degree leg press 3 x 10
Stiff-legged deadlift 3 x 10
Seated or standing calf raises 3 x 15

Abs: I’ve read that they can be reliably worked every other day, so I tend to work in 15x3x3 Incline Crunches on every workout day. If the bench isn’t available I do bicycle crunches instead.

Questions: The obvious…should I change this, or is it good for now?
[/quote]
Anything with DLs and Squats in it is good, but I dont think this a particularly good ‘beginner’ program.

If you train 3x per week, try to to a TBW each time. Starting with a split is not optimal.

IMHO the best program to begin weightlifting with :

[quote]speedafk wrote:
Oh! On abs-- weighted, lower reps, or body-weighted reps as I am doing? There’s debate over this.
[/quote]
I don’t know of any debate. Weighted is vastly superior to high BW-only reps.

Athletes who do high rep BW Ab work (e.g. any kind of MA) aim for strength endurance and do not have a ‘bodybuilding’ goal in mind.

But remember that the shape of your abdominals cannot be altered through training, the visibility is more a question of your body composition rather than anything else and your core gets a really good workout with the big compounds and any kind of standing overhead work.

I know people who dont do any kind of direct Ab work and people who do direct Ab work after every workout, its no noticeable difference -UNLESS- you core strength is limiting you in other exercises, which is pretty common among beginners, then you should do direct Ab work.

I agree with whats been said so far but I want to point out that if you have been focusing on 3x10 for a while, you need to change to heavier weight and fewer reps. I may have missed it but I can’t tell how long you have been doing this program. In any rate the link given above will fit the bill.

A lot of tall guys do have trouble putting on weight so patience is definitely a virtue here.

You haven’t spoken about a recovery plan. You need lots of sleep in order to build muscle.

Stu

Thanks for the advice, gentlemen! I will definitely take a look over that bb.com article–it’s huge (for good reason, there’s a lot to go over, from nutrition to workout to rest).

On the 8 vs. 10 rep question, I started doing 3/8 on the “25” principle, but read somewhere that even if the goal is hypertrophy, for the novice (training less than 2 years), a more ideal rep count is 10. I am not especially partial to either (and again, the whole “you can’t believe everything you read” thing) so if it’s suggested to go back to 3/8 at a slightly higher weight I will.

Please keep the comments coming! I appreciate all of it and am really looking to get the ship in order.

The 10-12 reps for novices (10-15 for over 65) is based on ACSM recommendations and they are mainly there because they don’t want people to hurt themselves with too heavy a weight. This might be a factor for people with brittle bones for the first month or 2. Mark Rippetoe, the auther of the program Petrichor gave you the link to, recommendes lower reps for free weights because as you get fatiqued you form breaks down and you risk soft tissue injuries.

As well you get a better strength training response from lower reps. Therefore 5 reps is recommended as a good rep range to start notwithstanding the ACSM recommendation. This new strength will allow you to use progressively heavier weight which will have a direct impact on several other fitness attributes including hypertrophy which is particularily relevant to you. 3x8 works very well as well. It’s actually best to work in a variety of rep ranges over the long cycle.

I try to make sure that I’m eating at least something every two-three hours, but I don’t try to stuff myself, ever. Should I consciously focus on eating larger meals for my main meals of the day?

You want to maximize nutrient absorption, try to make all meals equal sizes.

[quote]stuward wrote:
The 10-12 reps for novices (10-15 for over 65) is based on ACSM recommendations and they are mainly there because they don’t want people to hurt themselves with too heavy a weight. This might be a factor for people with brittle bones for the first month or 2. Mark Rippetoe, the auther of the program Petrichor gave you the link to, recommendes lower reps for free weights because as you get fatiqued you form breaks down and you risk soft tissue injuries.

As well you get a better strength training response from lower reps. Therefore 5 reps is recommended as a good rep range to start notwithstanding the ACSM recommendation. This new strength will allow you to use progressively heavier weight which will have a direct impact on several other fitness attributes including hypertrophy which is particularily relevant to you. 3x8 works very well as well. It’s actually best to work in a variety of rep ranges over the long cycle.[/quote]

I’ll definitely move back to a 3x8 rep range, thanks!

[quote]tw0scoops2 wrote:
You want to maximize nutrient absorption, try to make all meals equal sizes.[/quote]

Noted. It’s just a matter of better planning, which I will get on.