T Nation

Will This Plan Suffice?


Hello all, I'm just here because I want to make a change once and for all. I'm 23 years old, a skinny/fat person with no definition, no muscle mass, a protruding little gut, a soft body , and terribly out of shape. I'm more of a cerebral, intellectual type but I understand like any one else that if I don't make a change I'll be dead at 45 with my inactive lifestyle. I'm a college student and I don't have an exercise or diet plan.

Age: 23
Height: 5'7
Weight: 175-180lbs

My main issue is that I don't want to put in the effort without any kind of guide or plan, it'll just end up with my not making any progress, getting pissed off and quiting (again).

I'm a vegetarian so 99% of all workout/exercise nutrition and diet guides don't apply to me. I'm fine with eating seafood, tuna, shrimp etc.. just no meat.

Sorry if this is getting boring but I just need some real guidance from someone who knows the deal. I'm 100% willing to just DO what needs to be done, I'll eat disgusting veggies if I have to, I'll bust my ass first thing in the morning on an empty stomach etc.. I just want to do it the right way so that I just have some steps to read and follow.

The guides I read are pretty overwhelming and confusing, I just want a nice body. I want big shoulders, a nice strong chest with cut abs and a nice back. I want to get a bit bigger because right now I'm pretty small.

My plan now was to just eat low fat stuff, lots of fruit and veggies, pastas and breads for my diet. In terms of exercising I was going to wake up every morning and get on my exercise bike for about 20min before school and do some HIIT (like I even know how) by apparently warming up 2 min then biking really hard and fast for 2 min then slowly for 1 and then hard for 2 etc.. I read this burns more fat quicker?

I want to get all this useless fat off my body as fast as possible so I can actually see my muscles, as small as they are right now.

As for weights I have a home gym machine but it's pretty low end and I don't even know if I should use it. Other than that I have a couple dumbbells. I was planning on doing that cardio in the morning every day for 20 min and when I come home around 4-5pm I'd lift weights until my muscles got tired. I found a website that lets you click on any muscle and it shows you a vid of what exercise to do for it so I was planning on doing a handful of those for about 30 min and saving the muscles I didn't get to for the following day and then starting all over again the day after that...

I want to know, do I have everything I need to get a nice, broad, lean, chiseled body or am I missing something other than a real plan?

Will this even work or am I missing something major? I really need a meal plan but I'm a shitty cook and I don't know where to begin... can anyone help me out?


get a squat rack.
Get a bench
Get a barbell
get plates
get 200 grams of protein a day

look for a 3 day A-B layout 3 day (rippetoes is good)

or a upper/lower/upper/lower split (personal favorite)

Honest I'd do somethnig like this

-Squats 3x8
-Straight leg deadlift 3x8
-Bench Press 3x8
-chin ups 3x failure then eventually add weight

-Deallifts 3x8
-Powercleans 3x8
-standing Military press 3x8
-either barbell curls or bent over barbell rows if you feel like you can handle the extra back work.

Workout Monday, Wednesday, Friday
basically week 1. ABA
Week 2 BAB
week 3 ABA
and it goes on.

good luck.


I have attached a picture of the home gym that I have. How far could I get with something like this? I also have two dumbbells and a stationary bike.


I have a similar piece of equipment that a neighbor gave me, but mine is one of those body weight resistance machines. I finally got sick of it and got a gym membership 5 months ago.

You will be extremely limited in what you can do with your lower body, and things like bench press will be limited in range of motion (not good). Does your school have a gym open to students? Mine had two and it was great.

Check the beginner's thread for options on a lifting program and diet/nutrition advice. Protein is king, so being a vegetarian you might have to learn to like Metabolic Drive (which isn't hard cuz it's tasty). Do you eat eggs?


That won't really work. You need to get to a gym - somewhere with a squat rack and plates. Your school probably has one.

Deadlift, bench and squat are going to be your three main exercises to start (and really forever going forward). These exercises work many different muscles at the same time and are great for overall muscle development. Same with overhead press and bent-over rows. Check out the "Are you a beginner?" thread - it has a bunch of good workouts halfway down.

Also, rest is equally important to the amount of time you spend lifting, so make sure you take an approach that allows you to get 48 hrs at least rest per muscle (not just "I'll work out each muscle, then start over again the next day"). Try a split like zephead suggsted and do chest/back on one day, then legs the next, the chest/back, etc. Work each muscle group 2x per week.

Also, just my personal preference when starting out, try using dumbbells instead of the bar for your bench. They're better to work with when you don't have a spotter and I feel you can push yourself harder. You can also really focus on your form, which is very important for all of your lifts starting out.

Also, start making protein shakes - it's going to be really hard to get the amount of protein you need (1-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight) on just seafood and veggies. You'll probably have at least 2-3 shakes a day.


I do eat eggs yes, does that change things, would I have to have less protein shakes? Why is protein so important to muscle growth, does protein specifically turn in to muscle or feed muscle easier/better?

I am hesitant to join a gym because of the intimidation and since I'm an overall private guy. I'd rather do this kind of thing in the privacy of my own basement. The price is also a concern but if it is what needs to be done so be it.

I was a little confused at some of the beginner exercises that are telling you to do one legs monday, back / chest wed, arms etc friday because it seems that way you'd only be doing each muscle group ONCE a week, that doesn't seem like enough for growth and development, not like I'd know but instinct tells me it doesn't seem like enough. But what you mentioned about the fact that I'd be working the groups twice a week sounds perfect.

Would it help if I uploaded/attached a photo of my front, side profile and back? Would you be able to give me any further specific direction?


Eggs are a great source of protein - you'll want to eat lots of them since you only eat seafood for meat. Check out some articles here regarding nutrition - you may want to try one of the diets listed on this site. Most recommend 1g protein per pound bodyweight minimum. You weigh 180, eggs are 10-12g protein. That's a lot of eggs.

In terms of lifting, compound movements are going to give you the most bang for your buck, and you'll want to do either an upper/lower split or a total body training regimen to start. Body part splits are not great for beginners. Plenty of good ones to try on the site - Waterbury's TBT, Westside for skinny bastards, etc.

Lifts that will be great to start:
bench press (barbell and dumbell, all variations)
Rows - bent over row, single arm row, cable row, pullups, chinups. For every pushing exercise, you must do at least 1 pull.
Military or shoulder press - standing/sitting, barbell & dumbell
squats - wide stance, close stance, front squats, doesn't matter what you want to start with, get squatting
deadlift - conventional might be easiest to learn, and Romanians are good to work on firing your glutes and glute/ham strength

You really can't do much of any of these with the machine you've got, that's why I recommended hitting the gym. Don't be intimidated or embarrassed - everyone had to start somewhere. Just work hard and you'll get big. If any bastards give you shit, just ignore them and rejoice in the fact that you'll probably move more weight than a lot of them in a year or two (assuming that the assholes are the typical chest/biceps only types).

You've made the right decision my man. Pick a program, start yourself on a good dieting plan with plenty of protein, and most importantly work your ass off and don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't succeed.


Thanks for the vote of confidence, I think I'll go with the gym, there are quite a few in my neighborhood. I'm not sure how to do the exercises you've described but I'll learn that in due time, I'm sure a trainer at the gym could help me and I'll supplement that with viewing some tutorials and videos of proper form online... speaking of supplements...

Do you recommend I begin taking protein supplement powder right away? Before my very first workout and everyday from then on, or do I wait a little while or do I take it only on days I plan on lifting?


I would try to plan out a nutrition plan and then see where/when and how much protein you need to feed yourself. Think of protein powder as just another kind of food instead of a supplement. It's an easy way to get protein. But, I am by far no expert on nutrition! Check out this thread:


Several links to diet/nutrition articles as well as many different lifting programs. There are also many posts from people who have posted their meal plans with comments from others which might give you some help.

As far as learning lifts, you've got lots of options:

1) Articles on this site. Many good ones on how to safely deadlift, squat, and bench press

2) Find someone who knows what they're doing and ask them to show you. Most people will be willing to help - just don't bother someone in the middle of a lift.

3) Exercise Index at elitefts:
(scroll down)

Be wary of the advice you get from a trainer at a commercial gym. Some are good, many are bad in my experience.

Make sure to warmup before and stretch after lifting every session.


I remember just starting out a little less than a year ago - it is intimidating. It goes away though after about a month though as you see the same people each day. Plus, by then you'll have seen another beginner come in and be thinking to yourself "man, I'm already a lot stronger than that guy, and his form is totally wrong" and you'll feel great. The great thing about being a beginner is you'll see rapid gains almost immediately in all of your lifts.

For squats and deadlifts, form is really important. It's easy to hurt yourself doing these and to trick yourself into handling too much weight. Check out videos on YouTube (just search "squat" or "deadlift", they'll pop up along with a lot of power lifting videos), there are tons that show both good and bad form. I find watching a video is easier to learn from than a sequence of pictures, although the articles on here are very good too. Then, practice with just the bar and watch yourself in the mirror until you got it just right. Then and only then put the weight on.

Another very important thing a lot of people don't mention for beginners: when you do each exercise, really concentrate on the muscle that's being worked. If you're benching, focus on contracting your chest. If you're rowing, focus on pushing your shoulder blades together. Some muscles are easy to feel: do a curl, and it's clear it's the bicep that's contracting. Others are harder, like pull-downs and decline bench. If you focus on the muscle, in a couple weeks you'll just start doing it automatically and your form will be good.


Thanks for the tips guys, I'll take some photos of myself now and keep them on my computer. In about a month or so I'll take a look at them and see how much I've changed. I've never been lean or strong before so this is going to be a pretty dramatic change for me.

I hope to make a habit of working out to get where I want to be and just maintain. I bet when it becomes part of your life routine it is much easier. And really when I think about it, it doesn't take up that much time, three times a week for about an hour... I should have started this years ago.


You'll see changes pretty quickly at first. One of the benefits of not have much strength is you have lots of room for improvement. I highly recommend keeping a training log for every session. Record your exercises, weights, reps and sets. Not only does this help remind you what weights to use from day to day, but it also records all your progress. Do this for a month and flip back to day 1 and see how far you've already gotten.