Where's the Best Place to Start for a Beginner?

Since having a heart transplant in 2020, I’ve been training and chasing dreams. Last year I completed my first Spartan race, DEKA mile and Strongman comp. I keep getting drawn towards bodybuilding, so that is my next goal.
I have spent the last 3 years gaining strength back and some muscle.
As a beginner in that sport, for getting ready where should I start, ie; keep gaining or start cutting then gain slowly?

If I’m around 25-30% bodyfat, should I stay in a surplus?
Or should I cut, until I get under %20 (or whatever is recommended) then gradually put on lean mass?
Should I train at maintenance?
What are the thresholds?

Is your goal to get on stage or just develop at body builder type physique?

Definitely not. IMO for bodybuilding purposes you could be 15-20% BF for bulking only and then you goal would be to maintain a good weight of <15% for most of the year.

Absolutely. Time to cut if you’re carrying that much BF.

No. Whatever your steady state regimen is you should probably drop 300-500 cals for awhile. Some further stats would help such as age, height, weight, BF %, training history, current training methods, and even a photo would help to assess your needs. I understand you may not want to put up a photo, but the other info is a necessity for any accuracy in the response.


Congratulations on being so active following your heart transplant!
@blshaw nailed it, but I’ve got to be that guy that points out your health. Weight is a cardiac stressor no matter how you put it, so I certainly wouldn’t gain on top of 25+% body fat even without the aesthetic concern.


I hate to be even more “that guy”, but I’m not sure any advice here should be taken without medical clearance. It is fantastic you got a new heart, and just as fantastic you have already achieved so many things since. You guys that are given a second chance at life are so damn inspiring!

My best friend got a heart transplant in 2009. He was heavily involved in bringing forward the opt-out organ donation scheme in Wales, which has saved countless lives since. Before this, it was horrible for people on the waiting list. He would get calls that there was a heart ready, travel 100-300 miles with excitement to then get told it had already been taken. This happened more times than you can count on both hands… So, so awful for him. By the time he finally did get his heart his body had already grown quite weak so within a couple of years, his body started rejecting it and died. The wait and how the system was before led to his death.

I meet and hear of so many guys who are still going strong many, many years since having the operation so it is always saddening to feel or know that things could have been different for my buddy had there been different things in place back then. I keep up with a little with the science of this stuff and it’s amazing how many people go back to living close to normal lives. Immunosuppression therapies have moved so fast too.

I say all this because I don’t feel comfortable giving you advice when your situation is so nuanced. Weight training, resistance training, it’s all likely very good for you. Would carrying around an extra 20-30lbs of muscle be good for you though? How far can you push yourself? How well does everything work now? I doubt any of us here are qualified to answer that without constant communication with your doctors. If they give the necessary stipulations then maybe we can help a little bit.

I’d love it if you were to start a training log here. Keep us updated with your training and how things are going. The more we get to know you, the more we might be able to help.


Thank you! I really appreciate those guidelines. I feel pretty comfortable with nutrition & training, & I have a coach that helps also. But neither of us have experience prepping for this sport.

Sorry to hear your friend had such a rough time, lot of people do. I was originally too sick to get a transplant, so I had to get a L-Vad device installed for about 3 years before making it on the list. I was working closely with the medical team for a while but they’ve since told me to continue & cleared for basically anything. In my personal experience, though medical advice should definitely be considered, never let them completely limit you. Everything is working great now. I probably won’t be uploading complete logs lol but currently doing a 6 day ppl split. First 3 days I go heavy, working compound sets in the 5-8 rm, accessories 8-10 rm. Last 3 days I get more pump with 8-10 rm working sets & 12-15 rm accessories. Program Inspired by Samson Dauda.

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