T Nation

Whats the best way to start out

I’ve heard mentioned before (I think it was Poliquin who might have mentioned it), that until you’ve put on a bit of solid mass, and gotten to a fair level of strentgth, you should stick with core lifts? What are everyones thoughts on this? The info is for me, i’m 6’ around a buck sixty (the most I’ve ever weighed was 170Lbs) and my heaviest lifts for the bench, squat, and deadlift are 185lbs, 190lbs, and 225lbs, respectively. (these are however not 1RM’s, they’re 2-4RM’s. Now I’ve tried a variety of programs (Ian Kings, limping and super strength, etc.) but I’ve never spent a long (3-6 mnth period) spent doing strictly the big lifts. Shit this is getting long winded. Does anybody know where I’m going with this? What do you think of spending a good portion of say a year, doing mainly just those big lifts, until I’ve reached an appreciable level of strength, and mass. Phew. Is that what poliquin was/is trying to say. What do you all think?

Thanks in advance.


By expending your energy toward the big lifts rather than smaller isolation movements, you will likely gain significant strength over a short period of time. It may not take a year or it could take longer, but I would focus all of your energy of squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, overhead presses, chins, and dips. A program based on these movements and their variations (wide grip, close grip, narrow stance, wide stance, etc.) will give you incredible gains in a short period of time. Another exercise I might add to the list is the Turkish Get-up. I’m really enjoying the benefits of this lift and my lower torso is getting an incredible amount of work from this lift.

I think that the core lifts are unquestionably the foundation of any effective program. However, whether you use them exclusively or supplement them with isolation movements is largely dependent upon your goals. Are you a powerlifter, a bodybuilder, or someone looking to improve performance in a specific sport? A good place to start to get your feet wet a bit is to do a search in the previous issues section for “The Creation of a T-Man.” It offers some suggestions of how to integrate the core lifts into a periodization program while still incorporating some isolation moves.

I kind of have to grin here (no offense). The programs you refer to are specialized programs for upper body and legs. Not that they don’t work, I just find the thought funny to specialize before you build a solid foundation.
It’s kind of like saying I will first build my arms and when I have 20’ guns I will work on pecs to match my arms and then… The beautiful thing about the big compound movements is that they will do all ‘thinking’ for you. Just do them and your arms, delts, pecs, back, legs, hams, glutes… whats missing… will grow. The other extreme is using machines and an anatomy chart and training every single muscle seperatly. This has advantages too, since if done correctly you will not only get big but also become a great anatomist. :))) Personally I think the big lifts should be the main part of your program even after you reach an ‘appreciable level of strength and mass’ (whatever that may be now :)) but if your sport is bodybuilding the only thing that counts is to get big, and no matter what ‘experts’ say - you could get big only using machines.

Re: GymJim

Thats exactly what I was getting at, how it seemed pointless to use specialization programs before building a solid frame with the core lifts. I just wanted everyone elses imput on the matter. Another question along the same lines, whats a good program to start with? Focusing primarily on the core lifts and building a solid foundation. I don’t need a map, just basic directions (I CAN use the search function :slight_smile:
I’m sure I could come up with a basic program myself, but it’s always good to see what everyone else would throw in the mix. Makes for a smarter program I think.


160 pounds is quite light for a six-footer, practically skinny (no offense). Right off the bat, given that information, I’d say your biggest problem is probably not eating enough. Once you start taking in enough calories to gain weight, you’ll start seeing the results you want. On the subject, multi-joint lifts are the best use of your time in training.

Just make sure you feel bloated all the time from all the carbs and protein you’re eating. When that bloated feeling starts to go away, picture yourself shrinking…and then eat some more. And make sure you squat heavy and get lots of sleep. Follow the three S’s of getting huge- steak, squats and sleep.