T Nation

Rookies 20 Questions...

Ok not exactly 20, but these are some that splintering in my brain (my apologies if theyre lamo but i need answers guys):

  1. After i got on massive eating and started hitting the gym like its my mission a month ago, Ive been drinking Loads more water. I drink about a litre a day, and Im not forcing it down or anything, my body craves it, im alot more thirsty these days and I always have mineral water near. Is something wrong?

  2. Ok so I read up about why Soy is total crap on here, and I scoop the tofu out of my veg soups now. What about soy sauce? I liked to fry my meats in just a dash of the stuff for flavour. I dont eat any other sauces. none.

  3. The day after I’ve hit the gym, do i HAVE to feel sore to know that I hit it good? Somedays I do a little more than others, but I know I must have thrashed it a little cos the face was red, and I was tensed like a freak, and i hit failure after my 8 reps in my sets.

  4. Is the smith machine really that crap? Am i wasting my time? Im a total beginner, and my arms are pencils (I only bench 88) so the smith is workin for me cos i dont have a spotter either.

  5. How long do you guys warm up for before hitting the weights? I do about 10mins of high reps on a smaller weight and then stretch.

I truely had more Q’s but im blank. Im gonna shoot some omre up here if thats ok.

Thanks all.

  1. The only thing wrong is that you’re not drinking enough water. A liter a day is nothing. Four liters (roughly a gallon) should be your MINIMUM if you’re training hard.

  2. Soy sauce is fine. It’s tofu and soy protein isolate that you want to watch out for.

  3. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is no indicator of the quality of a workout. In general terms, high volume and unfamiliar exercises will cause more DOMS than lower volume and more familiar exercises. In addition, most lifters find that they have at least one or two parts that never seem to get sore.

  4. The Smith machine is better than nothing, but most people in the gym are perfectly willing to give you a spot if you ask. Forget about the Smith entirely for squatting, though. It’s a safety device that will damage your knees and a form corrector that will teach you terrible form.

  5. I’ll do a couple of sets of my first exercise with progressively higher weights and call that a warm-up. If I’m doing something like a Westside max effort day, in which you work up from the bar to your max, my warmup typically consists of walking from my car to the bench or squat rack.

Sheeeit. 4 litres? I dont know if im training hard enough? As a beginner the stigma of inadaquacy looms constantly.
My gosh, ok, well then I wont worry nuthin bout my water intake.

Nor about the dash of soy sauce.

No dude, Koreas an English desert, communicating is…yeah. smith machine might be a better option. im not strong and i have long limbs and therefore a leverage issue. i have tried benching slightly less without the smith, but i wouldnt wanna do it w.out a spotter.

Thanks alot for input. Any more takes.

  1. Not enough water. Drink at least a gallon of day. John Berardi recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces each day as a starting point. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day to start. If you exercise, you have to add a few quarts to that. So you should easily consume a gallon of water or more.

  2. Soy sauce is fine.

  3. What Chris said.

  4. Smith machine is crap most of the time. If you are having problems benching and don’t have a spotter, either use a little less weight on the bench or use dumbbells.

  5. It depends. My Renegade Powerlifting warmups are short (several sets of kbell work). Then I do a few low-rep warm-up sets on my focus lifts. My Renegade Conditioning warmups were more intensive and consisted of kbell work and jump rope. Warm-ups range from 5-18 minutes. Stretching is done after my workout.

I recommend mulitiple low-rep warm-up sets if lifting heavier weights and lower reps and one or two higher rep warm-up sets when lifting lighter weights and more reps.

yeah what chris said. Kudos Chris!
as for no training partner. use dumbells. drop the on the ground when you hit failure (provided either the dumbells or the floor is rubber!)
or ofcourse use a power rack, that what they are ther for! again assuming you gym has one…

Soy sauce is all salt. I think like 1 tbsp has almost a gram of salt.

1 gallon = 3.76 litres. Get that much.

Smith machine is fine for beginners, but in a few months, you’re gonna need to switch to real weights.

I usually do a few functional warm up sets before getting into the weights. i.e. doing deads, I stretch with the bar, and do a few slow, hard hard squeeze sets to get the blood flowing.

Ok thanks alot. Well heres another that conflicting about reaching failure.

Person A advised:"…dumbells. drop them on the ground when you hit failure"

Person B advised:"…Don’t lift to failure. Always leave a rep or two in reserve"

Im in no way showin contmpt for the above advice as u guys Defs no better than me, im trying to get a unanomous on the conflicting info.

I go for failure in my rep range of 6-9 when i lift like i thought i was sposed to.


Q 7: Deadlifts. Is it ok for me to do dealifts with heavy dumbells? This is my only option at my gym. No one does sqauts/dealifts and the heavy bars stay racked. So Im gonna do em with heavy dumbells. is this good/ok?

haha yea this really gettin to 20 Q’s now.

Q 8: Sqauts. “front sqauts” / “back sqauts”. Whats the diff for a total ignoramus like me?

A lot of the exercises you can find by typing in a search in T-mag, including front and back squat.

DB deadlift is better than nothing, I guess.

You’re gonna have a lot of disagreements even among smart veteran bodybuilders about how to train. Sometimes it’s good to just try both ways, take excellent notes of your progress, and figure out for yourself which way works best for you. Usually, it is recommended you don’t go to failure unless you’re on a program that calls for it.

For bench, use dumbbells if you have trouble getting a spotter. When I was 16 and started working out I used 10 lb dumbbells for bench. . .now I use much bigger ones. Everyone starts somewhere. Pushups are also great.

If you reach failure on DB bench press, don’t just drop them. You could hurt your shoulders. Let the DB’s drop to your chest, and sit up (you can swing your feet for momentum), and put the DB’s back normally.


The whole failure/no failure thing is a pretty big can of worms, and there’s no single right answer. By and large, I don’t advocate going to failure if you’re training for hypertrophy because it dramatically increases recovery time without providing much more stimulus for growth. If you’re training for strength, though, testing your limits becomes important, and you will indeed fail on a lift from time to time.

Dumbbells are always a good idea if you don’t have a spotter because they reduce your risk if something catastrophic happens (pec tear, shoulder dislocation, etc.). The odds of something truly bad happening are low, but if it does happen, being pinned under the bar makes things worse.

As to your question about dumbbell deadlifts, the only real problem with them is that dumbbell deadlifts become dumbbell squats on the second rep. You’re not going to be able to keep heavy dumbbells properly aligned in front of you.

Front squats are done with the bar in front of you, either resting on your front delts or “racked” in the catch position of a power clean. They’re a quad-dominant movement, and the line of motion is largely straight up and down. Back squats are done with the bar resting on the traps. The movement for these involves sitting back and down, making them far more hip-dominant. You’ll be able to use more weight and force more total-body growth with the back squats. If, once you’ve been lifting a while, you decide that your quads are lagging, then you may want to add front squats into the mix.