T Nation

Skinny 30 Something HELP!


Hey guys,

Well I have read quite a few things here recently and just needed to get some advice and confirm a few things so I do not botch this workout thing up.

I have recently started working out (about 2 weeks now) and I am tying to gain muscle size! My stats are as follows (I am 36 years old and no longer the 6.6% body fat I was in college but still a thin guy!)

36 y.o.
147 lbs
18.6% body fat :frowning: how did that happen
LOL) :slight_smile:
chest 36.5"
shoulders 41.5"
waist 32" (not sucking it in)
arms 11.5"
thighs 20.75"

well skinny huh,, except for the waist and the raised bady fat from the last 4 years of grad school stress and inactivity!!)

I just started keeping a log and noticed I have been taking in a bit under 3000 calories and about 180 grams of protien over the last week. I know that I am supposed to raise my caloric intake to higher than that to increase mass but I am pretty worried since I am not some 20 yr old with 8% bodyfat. I woul dhate for mine to go up any higher or for my waist to look wider than my chest (not too far from each other since I am a T shaped individual) Should I really crank up the calories to 4000 or so? I take 2 or 3 protein shakes (Muscle Milk)/day, should I start using at least one or two wieght gainers instead with protein?? My gut is a bothersome site on me since I am a skinny guy other than that....pretty soon I might look like a malnurised poster child with the belly! Would just like my chest, shoulders and arms to increase in size....even if just a couple inches while the waist went down maybe two. Is that possible without the huge calories taken infor mass? Any adivce would be helpful!! Please!
Also I have just started taking Cell Mass, low doses of Nitrix, and Axis HT (testosterone booster) to see if these would also help. I do work hard in the gym (no workout buddy so I am on my own) but do NOT do any cardio (fear of losing any gains).

Thanks again guys and I really do take what you all say seriously!!



What are those supplements specifically ? I've not heard of them, they don't sound particularly good (based on their names alone). Typically the only supps you need currently are a protein powder and maybe a carb powder and some fish oils and vits/mins.

Where in England are you ?


I believe you are taking a wrong route from the begining. Having two weeks experience means you need to focus on very basics, that is :

1/ lift smart and hard - check Chad Waterbury's Big Boy Basics routine or ABBH, stick to compound lifts, lift heavy
2/ eat well - read John Berardi articles on this or his site, or get yourself his Scrawny to Brawny ebook or Precision Nutrition
3/ do not rely on supplements except pre/post workout drink and protein powder (however try to get as much as possible of protein from food instead of taking 2-3 shakes per day)

I have started to move weights at the age of 37 and I have lost two years for nothing due to following bodybuilding magazines workouts, being afraid to eat enough in order to not to add any fat and believing that supplements will miraculously add muscles to my frame.

As soon as I went to the basics, at the age of 40, I started to see progress - going from 160 to nearly 190 lbs with lower body fat than I have started with. Moreover, I now squat, deadlift and bench press 3-4 times more at 42 than I was able to at 40. Well, I still call myself a beginner but I see a constant progress and I hope to reach my goals sooner or later and then setting a new, more ambitious ones.

The key is consistency, dedication and avoiding bullshit. Lift hard, eat and rest well and you will surely succeed!


I agree with the above. I have only been lifting for about 5 years and have wasted a lot of that time through poor training and eating. My advice would be to concentrate on getting as strong as possible in the basic compound lifts for a year or two whilst eating a calorie surplus to ensure the body has the fuel to build muscle.

Don't ignore isolation movements altogether, but don't make them the primary focus until you are strong in the basics.

Vary your routine now and again, but don't stray from your targets and goals.

Above that, there is little else you can do: eat calorie surplus + increase strength significantly = increased muscle mass.



WRG and MDM,

Thanks for your helpful words of wisdom. I do not want to waste time trying workout mag stuff (that is how I got started though, it all looks good when it seems to work for the model LOL). I am bombarded by ads as I am sure many beginners are, so it is easy to fall into this trap of supps and the wrong exercises for my goals. The basics I guess just always seemed too basic for lack of a better way of putting it. I feel confident enough now to try them out. I jsut picked up the Scrawny to Brawny book but I must say the whole thing looks way complicated!! Should it be or am I just looking at the book wrong?

I took back my supps and now will only take muscle milk whey, muscle techs Mass tech for caloric boost, and possibly Surge post workout (have to order that one still). Also just added flax seed oil. Well guess I change my workout routine to basics instead of fancy stuff! :slightly_smiling:

Thanks again for all your help. I jsut hate the thought of getting a bit fatter (I like the clothes I have LOL!) before getting more muscular.


By the way I have just moved back from the UK to the USA!! I was a student in London for 13 months.


You might consider another approach as well. If you find all these things complicated and confusing, just focus on strength development. Muscle growth will follow sooner or later.

Check Dan John's articles here, especially "One lift a day" as well as articles on this and his site. There is also OLAD support thread here in the Over 35 Lifter section. Dan's DVD "From the groud up" might become your best friend too. You will learn a proper lifting technique and I'm sure you will find it not only easy to understand and to follow but also entertaining and inspiring.

Just do not jump from one routine to another every two weeks, from one coach advise to another - stick to something for long enough to get a good hang of it and to judge the program by your personal results. When you gain more experience, modify or switch to something different.

Good nutrition is a must though, you won't get good results without it no matter how hard you train.


At your weight, 3000 good calories a day should be plenty to start adding muscle while also dropping that 19%bf down. Dont worry so much about the small stuff, get your 3000 good calories each day and do a quality PostWorkOut shake 2:1 carb:protein with 5g of creatine and just stick with it. All the nice bodies out there were built by staying Consistant.

Don't be so scared of cardio, its almost essential to do 5minutes of cardio before each workout to get the blood moving around in your body, especially on leg day, or your blood is gonna pool in your legs and youll feel very feint and sick. Also I wouldnt recommend starting out with Chad Waterbury programs, they are more geared toward advanced trainee's. Just make sure these lifts are included in your workout:
Benchpress (chest)
Rows (back)
Pullups (back)
Squats (legs)
Deadlifts (lower back and glutes)
concentrate on good form and not how much weight you can move in the beginning

And remember, just stick with it. Lifting consistantly for 6 months then taking a one month break is like taking 3 steps foward then 2 steps back. Consistancy is key.


Lots of good advice here, but it may be too complicated. You don't need to overthink things.

Lift heavy. Eat more. And most important: BE CONSISTENT. Don't miss meals and don't miss workouts.


Thanks guys!

I have been working out 6 days a weeks for nearly the last 3 weeks and I can honestly say that I have started to see some stirrings LOL ! My weight really hasn't changed all but + or - a punds here or there depending onthe time of day. I HAVE gained 1/2" on my arms and 1/4" on my chest (damn that thing inflates slowly!!!!), and a bit here and there. I am trying hard to take in about just under 3000 calories right now (the post workout gainer shake, Mass Tech, really helps with that!

Well I hope just dong it evedry day and working my tail off helps the belly go down and the cest blow up LOL!

I am looking at all the the articles you have suggested, thanks again!

By the way, how do I find Dan's DVD ???



Careful there. That's how I burned myself out. It's pretty hard to recover from that.
It's OK in the beginning to lift 6 out of 7, but very few people can sustain that rhythm for a long time.

Maybe more experienced people could chime in, but I think 4/7 is pretty good overall (Mon, Tue, Thu and Fri). Just make sure you hit every muscle twice a week.

In terms of supplements:
- Protein is the mother of all supplements. Metabolic Drive can be purchased on this site and is awesome.
- A post-workout shake is also a must. Surge is very good and can be found on this site as well.

Other than that, just the usual, less important stuff:
- Essential fatty acids, see Flameout on this site
- Multivitamin/multimineral, whatever brand you prefer
- Greens+
- perhaps a ZMA (available on this site) before going to sleep

I wouldn't change, remove from or add anything to this list for quite a long while.


Agreed. Really, 3000 cal/day is enough if it's quality. You'll have to up it later as you grow of course...

Don't sweat the supps yet. Protein/postworkout, maybe a fatty acid supp. It'll be about 8 weeks to start seeing gains. Usually the first 8 weeks (at least) are gains in coordination and nervous system organization/strength. Some size too, obviously, but usually the majority of that comes after you organize your coordination/nervous system.

Agree with the comment to back off training days. You can only work as hard as you recover. If you don't LET yourself grow, you'll never realize your potential. Discipline your desire. That's the hardest part for me too.

What's your current split look like?


I started back in at 34.

I would go with a 2 day split and work out 4 times a week. This way you get at each body part twice a week with at least 2 full days of rest between each muscle group(s). Go low volume and heavy. EAT EAT EAT SLEEP SLEEP.