T Nation

Where to Start?


First..let me explain my situation. My name's Peter, I'm 17 and i really wanna start lifting and building a better body and eventually get big. I have a dilema though...its not that im fat...nor skinny....i have extra body fat for sure...around the stomach...and well like everywhere else considering its body fat. Like i said, im not fat nor chubby...but i have zero definition, like my arms...im really strong and my arms are big, and solid when i flex them, yet you dont see any real bulge in them at all due to body fat. I havent even started lifting yet..but i got a routine, a place to lift, friends to lift with, and stuff like that. My question is this...should i do lots of cardio and not really weight train and lose alot of body fat first or should i lift first, eat alot of calories....get bigger and then cut. I'm afraid if i dont cut first i wont see any difference because all the body fat will hide my muscle gains...and ill just look fat after gaining muscle. What do you guys suggest?


Hey Facko,

Welcome to the site.

Here is a great place to start:


I've read that...I'm asking more detailed personally specific questions though..


The good news is that at 17 and just starting out lifting you are about to make some serious changes to your body. It sounds like you have an efficient metabolism like mine. It makes it easy to add mass and strength but we have to eat clean to avoid getting fat. You do have another choice besides bulk or cut. Yup, do both at the same time. Check out Christian Thibaudeaus' articles on caloric cycling. In essence:

Eat heavy when you train heavy, eat light when you train light.

And remember, for every pound of muscle you add you burn an extra 50 Kcals a day even if you don't move. If you add 10 pounds of lean mass and get active you will find that your bodyfat will drop off easily at your age. You will also find that when you just start lifting most of your advances come from neural adaptations, your muscles learn to work efficiently. This means rather big increases in strength occur quickly. Trust me, you will enjoy this time!

A quick list of "Where to start?":

1) Stick with the basic multi-joint compound exercises (squat, deadlift, bench, clean & press, rows, dips, chin-ups)
2) Eat smaller meals but more of them. Obviously, make healthy choices. Limit fast food, soda, candy, etc.
3) Eat protein with carbs AM; and protein and fats PM.
4) Change up your reps and sets parameters every couple weeks to force your body to keep adapting.
5) Lift with perfect form.
6) Drink lots of water.
7) Experiment and track your progress. Everyone is different and you must find out what works best for you.

Good luck and have fun. It's nice to have another T-nationer on the way.


Thanks man....so it actually is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?


I made two simple changes to my diet:

1.) Eat twice the protein I was eating before (even if it means forcing down cottage cheese before bed... ugh)

2.) Eat ALL of my high-glycemic carbs (anything with sugar, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.) within an hour of my workout. All of my other carbs throughout the day come from vegetables and oatmeal.

I noticed the difference in about 4 weeks.


It takes a while to get used to how this website works, but spend time on it and read. You'll learn a lot. At the same time however, keep working hard, even if your doing things less than perfect, it's better than doing nothing at all.


As far as your latest question:

The general consensus is that beginners and very overweight individuals will be able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Otherwise, they are two very different goals.



im not being funny but are you fat or not? I found it hard to draw a picture fromt hat article, as you'd say you wernt fat and then that you had a lot of body fat :S


thats me there...im not fat...but as you can see im thick? lack of a better word.


Here i am


It's not definition you lack, it's resolution.

But seriously, what Kruiser said. And also read the articles within the post that Mod Zilla gave you. You may have read the post, but I'm sure you haven't read the articles, as John Berardi has answered your question in one of his.

Eat clean, lift heavy, sleep loads, get a better camera, and report back in a few months.


lolol i know man sorry bout the cam...its weird actually sometimes i boot up the comp turn it on and its CLEARRRR then...the next day its real grainy i dunno. But can i ask a huge favor from you? I know there are articles and stuff...and i read one about teen bbing...but really i cant get this diet thing down.

But im 17...i got school...a job...its really hard to get the 6 meals in...and i dont even know what i should be eating in these 6 meals. Can you do me a HUGE favor...give me like a diet i can follow...

  1. What i can eat..how to keep track of it...specific things to eat (EX. Meal 1...tuna meal 2 etc etc...you get what im saying

  2. How to fit in the 6 meals with school and work

  3. how many calories and how to get all them in during the course of the day

  4. How to eat that much protein

Keep in mind i have protein shakes and stuff so its cool if you include that in the plan. I know this is ALOT to ask but please...this is really the one thing i want to get down perfect...and i cant really seem to find an article geared fully to teenagers. I weigh 175 lbs...if you need that to know how much protein i need to take in a day. THANK YOU ALOTTTTT WHOEVER DECIDES TO HELP ME OUT ON THIS ONE!


Dude... have you ever seen the sandlot? You're like smalls. You think too much.

You're 17. Youre a beginner. Anything you do will give you gains. Seriously, do anything and you will EARN gains... do compound lifts, lift big, lift with perfect form, and eat a shit load (no matter what) you will gain weight. If you want to gain muscle, eat alot. Protein is definilty important: eggs, tuna, steak, chicken, turkey, as you mentioned, shakes.

Which brings me to my next point, shakes are meant to supplement. Whole food is defintly the best way to get your calories in.
Carbs, also very important: sweet potatoes, whole wheat anything, milk (which has protein, and fat depending on what kind). Fats, you're probably thinking fats are bad. wrong.

Fats keep your T levels high enough (which you shouldnt have a problem with, since you're 17, but still.) Whole milk, eggs (again), cheese, olive oil, canola oil, fish oil...

In other words, eat anything except fast food, soda, candy, and anything blatantly high in sugar. Bulk up for the remainder of the winter (at least) then you'll realize how much easier it is to cut down only to reveal the hard earned muscle.

Dont get in a hurry, either. Grab a program from here (any one will do), follow it to a T (they all work, extremely well) and eat like a motherfucker.

Read up on massive eating by John Berardi, and the "bulking tips for newbies" thread.

P.S. Sorry for the rambling, repetition, and lack of grammar, its been a long day and I'm tired.


so i dont have to eat 6 meals a day?


you don?t have to do anything.

If you want to build as much muscle as possible it would be a good idea though.

I don?t get your problem with six meals a day either. Master the art of the sandwich young padawan and you will never have to miss a meal again