T Nation

Teen's Road to Physique Competition

Alright guys, so after a little bit of debate in a thread I posted in the bodybuilding subforum, I have decided to start a thread to track my progress, and for others to offer advice.

For background, I have been wrestling my entire life, so my lifting has been focused on purely adding strength and not size. I have head to cut weight and stay small and always train for purely strength gains. To date, I have a 195 bench, 315 squats, and 365 deadlifts. I am 5’6", 150 pounds and 19 years old, with around 14-15% bf (that’s a guess).

For training I have basically run linear progression programs up to this point, getting my lifts to where they are.

It has been advised to me to start split training, and I have decided to design my program based on the Clay Hyght article on T-nation, about a bodybuilding program template.

For my nutrition, @BrickHead suggested I read CT’s nutrition for newbs articles which I did, he then recommended I eat at maintenance cals and see what happens, so that is what I will do. For me, it breaks down to 2315 calories, 191g of protein, 264g of carbs and 55g of fat (based on CT’s macro recommendations.)

I will upload pictures in a separate post.

Any other info/critiques/input or questions are greatly welcomed!!

Edit: link to program https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/tried-and-true-bodybuilding-program-template

Also created a youtube channel to post lifting vids on there- zachjonesfitness, and my Instagram is zachjoneslifestyle

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I have no idea how to pose so please excuse that in the following photos.

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Amazing what a little lighting can do, I couldn’t resist!

Will be following along, good luck and please make sure to post with any questions. That program you’re following is awesome, that was my very first bodybuilding program and I followed it for about a year, made really good progress with it.

Thank you! The only question I have since this is a template, is how long do I stick with the exercises once I choose them? Like say for 1 Degree chest movement I choose flat bench press, do I stay with that movement for x amount of weeks, or does every workout vary the movement? @robstein

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There’s not really a set amount of time. Some exercises in my chest workout for example are staple, I always start with incline DB presses. Other exercises I’ll rotate sometimes, like maybe trade pec deck for cable flies or something. But, for you starting out, I’d recommend maybe 8-12 weeks to give yourself a chance to get used to the movements and improve strength on those movements, and then rotate. Also keep in mind you don’t need to rotate the entire workout, you can keep some exercises and switch out others.

One thing that cannot be stressed enough is the importance of solid MMC (mind muscle connection) and really using the weight as a tool to maximize muscle tension while still executing with good form. There’s a recent thread on this here: The MMC Thread (Mind Muscle Connection) .

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Wow, I will definitely have to look more into that mind muscle connection thread. I was reading a Clay Hyght article about moving vs. feeling the weight, and that was eye-opening as well, how now that my training goals are very different (training more for physique than performance), that I need to mentally focus more on feeling the muscle I want to stimulate vs. just moving as much weight as possible. It will be a transition, hopefully smooth, to this mindset as for wrestling all my lifting was geared towards performance, moving as much weight as possible, as explosively as possible. Thank you for your insight! I will keep set movements for the first 2 months or so, and adjust from there. @robstein

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Damn, man…thanks for linking your thread to your first one (I kept trying to find this kind of thread in the BB forum!).

As to your first question that Rob answered:

I think keeping the template for three months or so if fine. But don’t get so set on the exact template that your gym time sucks. What I mean by that is if your template is:
Flat Bench
Incline DB Press
Flat DB Flyes

Think of it more in terms of a:
Flat Press
Incline Press
Flat Flye
Decline Movement

That way, if people are using the machines or benches you need, you can easily do this:
Flat DB Press
Incline Barbell Press
Cable Flyes
Decline Barbell Press

Obviously, you’ll want to try to stick to the template as closely as possible, but remaining consistent on the movements with good intensity is more important than waiting 15 minutes for somebody to be done using a bench.


That is actually really helpful, don’t get so caught up in the exact exercise, but think more of hitting the movement! Thanks, man! @IronAndMetal

I know this may seem completely arbitrary at this point, but after examing pictures of competitors and even others on this website, I was wondering if there was any way to somehow get my waist not so…bulky. I know this is almost undoubtedly from my strength training that made my waist thicker. Anyway to start combating this early, or is it solely a matter of diet? Just some thoughts I’m having.

There are many schools of thought surrounding this…so, I’ll touch on a few, and I’m sure others will chime in with their own thoughts. I’ll state these as absolutes (which doesn’t mean they are), and then give a possible avenue to combat it:

  1. You simply have a thicker/wider waist area. This means that the way your bone structure is (from genetics) is simply wider. There’s nothing you can do about that, BUT bodybuilding and physique is all about illusion, right? So, to get around this, the easiest thing to do is to work on your shoulder width, upper back width, and the width of your chest. Making your delts wider will give the illusion of a slimmer waist.

  2. You hold fat around your midsection/love handles. It’s amazing how small most peoples’ waists are once the fat (that isn’t even all that noticeable) comes off. This is the case for myself. I just make sure to hit my core directly twice a week, and then when the extra fat comes off with diet, it usually looks pretty good.

  3. You have over-developed core muscles from powerlifting. I don’t put TOO much stock into this theory (others will vehemently disagree with me). But, if you do, a couple things you can do to help combat this “over-development” would be to a) do bodyweight core exercises only (no weighted crunches, etc), b) make sure to wear a belt when deadlifting/squating (so that your core muscles don’t have to work AS hard), or c) stop doing the heavy squats and deadlifts (do leg press variations and stiff-legs instead).

Looking at your pictures, I wouldn’t say that you have a thicker waist. I think developing your delts will help a lot with the illusion. Judging by your last photo, the physique twisting pose already gives a pretty good illusion of a smaller waist.

But I’m only one dude…I’ll let the REAL bodybuilders take over from here :slight_smile:

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Thank you very much! That was all really helpful. I guess we will see with time.

So I just finished my first workout of my new split and a new mindset on training.

Today was chest and biceps and it was quite the experience. I went in with the mentality to make sure I felt the appropriate muscles working, as this is something I’ve never really thought about before as I trained.

My workout was a follows:

Flat BB Bench press
135x5, 145x5, 155x5, 165x5, 165x5
started to feel it more in triceps on the final set, struggled to feel it in the chest, need to work on it.

Incline BB bench press
95x10, 105x8, 115x5
I went to heavy on the last set and couldn’t hit the minimum of 6 reps, I just misjudged my strength with less rest. However, these felt awesome, I took the negative portion really slow and felt a great stretch, and then lifted explosively up, definitely keeping these in.

Pec Dec Machine fly
30x20, 40x12, 35x14, 35x12
With the super short rest, my strength fell off on these really quickly. the fist two sets I felt it more in my front delts and biceps even, but the last two sets I really focused on squeezing my chest at the top and felt the rush of blood into my chest, I continued to flex my chest between sets to keep the blood in there and allow me to feel my chest more in the following sets.

Barbell curl
Pretty standard here, contracted my bicep really hard at the top, controlled the negative portion. Felt the blood in there right away

DB Hammer curl
25’sx8, 25’sx9, 20’sx10
My biceps were pretty pumped from the curls, and it allowed me to really feel the peak of my bicep when I contracted the muscle at the top of the curl. As always, controlled the negative.

Concentration curl
10x15, 15x15, 20x10
These were amazing to finish with. I flexed the bicep as hard as I could at the top of the curl and truly controlled the negative. I was using really light weights for all my bicep exercises, and my biceps feel like jello.

Overall the workout was great, I need to focus more on the MMC with my chest, I struggled to feel it in the flat press, compared to the other movements. However, with my biceps it was amazing. Looking forward to tomorrow’s workout!

I agree here, I don’t think you look blocky, I think you just need to lift like a bodybuilder for a long time to develop delts, lats, back, and LEGS. Nothing makes a nice “X” frame like huge upper body and massive legs. Just a note, whether or not you plan on doing a bodybuilding show or a physique show, the training will be pretty much the same. The main difference is the physique guys typically focus on pure aesthetics and not as much on mass/thickness, and also usually have lagging legs since they wear board shorts. Don’t neglect the legs!

Try not to get caught up in these details quite yet. I would highly recommend you focus on training and eating with consistency, developing a very good MMC and just learning how to train properly for a long time, your physique will develop nicely but it’s important to think long term with your goals. Doing a comp in the future is a great idea, honestly I think you should just focus on training for now and maybe in a year or so examine where you are.