T Nation

Where to start??

Ok my fellow respected T-folk. I have someone I am trying to get to join our fold, however, I gotta say I am a bit unsure which way to go. He is about 6’3" and 210-215, and skinfold told me about 19% bodyfat. Now he has a little gut (nothing major…just no 6-pack, and fair muscular development. Now if I start him off lifting to build size, he is gonna gain fat of course, but if I have him diet down first I think he is gonna look like shit, cause he doesnt have enough size to make it look good. So whats the general consensus here…have him start to bulk up, even tho he is gonna get fatter, and cut back later, or drop some of the fat first before building him…I gotta say I am at a loss which way to go with this dude…so help me out!

Whopper: With the people I’ve helped, I’ve generally spent the first six months to a year teaching them the basics (exercises, form, tempo, etc.) and having them read good training material (e.g., “Beyond Brawn”). As you know, because they’re newbies, they make good gains and changes in body composition during that time without any major dietary changes (however, I do point out any weaknesses in their diet and suggest appropriate changes). After that initial phase, and assuming they have the drive to continue with their training, he or she is generally informed and experienced enough to decide which “road” they want to travel down. This way, if it turns out that their desire to train was only a transient one, they’ll still have learned quite a bit and made some good changes, all with minimal effort on my part. Of course, of the people I’ve helped, I’ve never had anyone quit after the initial phase, but I think that’s largely due to the fact that they’ve spent so much time preparing for further progress and adjusting their lifestyles accordingly. (Yeah, I know, this is probably way more info than what you wanted or needed, so let me sum up my opinion: I think you should teach him the basics for a few months, get him past the beginner gains and changes, and then let him decide whether he wants to bulk or cut from that point on.)

You needn’t worry about him gaining fat in the initial stages, (provided he is a newbie). You could do almost everything wrong and he will gain muscle and if calories are kept at maintenance, he will lose fat. Weider Training Virgin Onset Recomposition Principle. Just get him started, he’ll be fine.

Whopper, check out TC’s Oscillating Wave Program it has a little bit of everything in it. Maybe you could try something along those lines so your friend doesn’t bulk up too much.

Hey Whopper, have you asked him what he wanted to do? See what he thinks first. At that bodyfat level, I’d probably work on getting that down first. JB had said that you can get lean and keep muscle mass using cardio and weight training. But it will most likely affect strength levels.

What is his thing? What are his goals in lifting. I am into the martial arts so I do not like being big (for me) It makes me slower and less agile/flexible. I am not sure why that is but it seems to be for me. I started at 250 and 30% BF I am down to 210 and about 15% and feel a million times better even though I do not look good as far as body building goes I kick and punch way harder than when I was big. So train him for his goals not yours.

Guys…thanks so much so far. Now to help you out a little more…he has lifted on and off for about 4 years, and he knows the basics…but he has never gained much cause he never stuck to it…so do the beginners gains still apply?

Double Whopper with Cheese…hey, big fella! Knowing that your guy’s been in the game, even off and on, for a couple years, I would think that pretty much negates the beginner gains which allow for shoddy nutrition and training. This being the case, it probably is important to see just where your boy wants to go with his physique. You may just want to help him clean up his diet, at maintenance level, and get him going on a training program that suits his goals. Give that some time and see what progresses, then take the next step. But seeing that he’s not been serious, you probably should just concentrate on getting him in the gym consistently and making sure he’s eating appropriately.

OK folks, keep pumping the questions, cause I am still unsure here. He told me (and don’t take this like braggin, cause it sure aint!) he wants to be built like me. I explained I have been in this game 8 years pretty steady (I aint huge here, 6’5" 245-250 and would love to be up to 265 by the end of this year…and about 10% BF…knuckledragger, as a fellow M/A, I find my stamina and power go to hell if I go below 10%) He claims he is willing to put in the work as far as diet and nutrition. I am kinda thinking to have him eat heavy and gain some size, so it makes the fat burning easier…cause he just doesnt have shit for muscular development, and he is gonna look like a damn rail if I have him drop the body fat first…but I am still looking for your advice here, cause I am still on the fence, just leaning one way a little bit…damn this sucks, why couldn’t he have just been a skinny twerp, or a fat bastard? Damn…gotta choose who I talk to more carefully!! LOL!

Whopper, my man, hold the mayo this time but double the cheese! Okay, I have the perfect solution, since this dude’s wreaking all kinds of havoc for ya, I’m your guy! I mean, I’m that skinny rail that you’d like to get huge (read: 6’, 160, 5-6%)…while I’d appreciate your help, I have a feeling that wasn’t an invitation, so let’s get back to the task.
I still think you should get his nutrition in order, not focusing on eating for mass or fat loss just yet. Also, get him started on a solid training program and make sure he’s dedicated and willing to bust some ass. If you see that he’s not got the balls or the heart, bust his chops and work with him. But if he continues to be a pain in your ass, then drop the foolio. I don’t mean to sound like a big schlong and I know you wanna help the guy, but I think you need to just get started with him and not get too involved as far as the details go. Like Big Daddy Bob said, the ultimate decision is really in their hands.

How long has his latest lay off been? I am going with that he has been out for at least a month or more. Generally with my clients, I start the with corrective stretching and working on some stability work. This will provide you with a better base to then start from. From there I move onto some core development - as a base to start from. Then once they have some core function move on to the weights, working bi-laterally - balancing the body (which the corrective stretching should have helped with). Just start with what Paul Chek refers to as the “Primal Movement Patterns”. You will usually find that beginners can build muscle while dropping bodyfat if the diet is in check. However have him do a little cardio to begin with as the stretching and stability work doesn’t create a huge energy deficit.

At this stage in his training I’d say he doesn’t need to be put on either a bulking or cutting diet. Clean his diet up a little bit but don’t skimp or go overboard on the calories. The majority of people that start out lifting usually gain some muscle and lose some fat even if they’re not dieting to do either. On a maintenance diet or slightly below maintenance the hormonal changes and extra calorie burning that come about through undergoing an intense weight training program are enough in themselves to lead to a better body composition. The calories that come from the burning of bodyfat are enough to build muscle…for a while anyway. I’d say your friend can probably keep his weight the same and drop down to 15% bodyfat without doing anything other then working out. Once he hits a sticking point then it’s time to decide what to do next…hope this helps

Timbo my man, appreciate the help, and would be happy to help ya out, cause whopper started at 6’5" and 160…with GREAT abs…lol! Can you say I could hide behind a friggin flagpole except for my ears sticking out? Now Timbo, my first question is WHY are you using your damn fingers to be typing on this forum, when you should be using them to shove more food in your mouth?? Dammit bro…get that BF up to 8 to 10% in the next 4 to 6 months…in other words, stop typing, and EAT…or I will hunt you down bro!!!

If someone new to fold has any credibility, here goes:

If this fellow has no goals to direct you, just train him to gain as much strength and size as possible to start. I trained a little as a teenager and started up again about nine months ago at age 35. I had gained about, oh, eighty pounds of lard since my metabolism dropped off at age 21. However, the difference in appearance I saw that first month of lifting astonished me and encouraged me to continue. I would think seeing the immediate contour changes in chest and arms (and legs for that matter) would be more encouraging than the weight loss. (That said, I lost around 15 pounds from a weeklong fast and an hour of cardio a day for about three weeks before I started lifting; still, I found the muscle gain was probably more surprising and encouraging to me than the weightloss.) Although this guy is not a real newbie, I suspect that if he is detrained, he’ll still lose fat and put on muscle with just training for gains. I took off a few weeks at Christmas and when I resumed, I didn’t worry about weight but I can see in the mirror I’m still putting on muscle while losing fat! My weight has, if anything, gone down a couple of pounds since January, but I see new mass and cuts everywhere. Granted the improvements are more gradual and subtle now than nine months ago, but I was not expecting to still be gaining muscle and strength while losing weight after the first six months. After your friend’s metabolism and mass have shifted away from the easy improvements (i.e. fat loss during muscle gain), then capitalize on the higher basal metabolism his muscle gains afford. Furthermore, at that point he’ll be a whole lot more motivated to make the sacrifices necessary to lose fat once he realizes how much of his hard work is being obscured by fat.

Whoppah! Make that a Western wit bacon, extra cheese, mayo and a Diet Soda…alright, big guy, this post is all about you and giving you the helping hand, but…you’re right, bro, it’s all about the abs, they’re just so precious, ya know? My problem isn’t getting my grub on, whopper, no, I’m all about that! Of course I only eat clean, but I keep pushing the envelope and upping the calories. Thing isn’t my fingers–they like to bring the fork to the mouth–it’s my ass! When I’m not eating, it simply does not like to be parked! No sir, I really cannot stand sitting still. I pretty much have to be on the move or doing something all the time. Only time I’m really on the forum or sitting down is when I’m eating or in class! Seriously, it’s really starting to register with me though, big guy, that I’m just busting my ass way too hard in every aspect of this game to be short-changing myself by eating just enough…or not enough! Anyway, whopper, rest assured that since you’re a guy that’s been in my shoes–and behind the same flagpole–I’ll be pecking away at you for some help from time to time…so do you think you’ve got a plan figured out for your guy yet? If there’s any more questions, throw 'em on the table, baby.

Whopper - to my mind this is a no brainer, trained or untrained - get him down to 12% or so using a massive eating style diet (with much less cals - it works a treat and will get him ready for bulking) and functional strength (swiss ball) and some max strength (5x5) strength training on core lifts. You should be able to do this in about 2 months (flax and other oils will help) and he’ll look and function the way he really should (and hell be happier for it). Then get him to bulk at least 1 pound per week (which should be easy with his new strength) but regularly controlling fat gain (eg diet during a week of active rest every 4-6 weeks). This way has the added advantage of making him more comfortable about eating the way he will have to for mass gains (instead of spinning wheels when he gets down about his gut). If you get him to bulk up then diet, by the time he gets down to reasonable bodyfat he will be a rail again anyway. I dont think any other way is an efficient use of time or a good idea from a fitness, functionality or asthetic point of view. TIMBO - I have had my eye on this issue of yours for a few weeks and like whopper says, if you know whats good for you, you will EAT. One way or another you and Nate are going to have to acheive some short term fitness goals this year :).