T Nation

Yet Another Start at Training

Last summer I got me a great personal trainer with some saved up credits at a fantastic gym. Lost 30 lbs over the course of 3 months throwing bags, jumping, bear crawling, cleaning, pushing and pulling the sled, doing the farmer’s walk, flipping tires, etc. This is coming out of years of sedentary lifestyle. My starting weight was 327lbs and my trainer took a promotion and moved to another gym when I was at 298. After that I tried a couple other trainers but none were as good, didn’t click and I pussied out of the gym.

Fast forward to now… I joined a Planet Fitness around the corner from my new place and was depressed to see no bar bells, no squat racks, no stair master and nothing like the stuff we had at my old gym. It actually inspired me to find a real gym and I’ve been going to the Apollon Gym in Edison, NJ for my last two workouts. Without the benefit of a trainer, I figure keeping a log here in front of God and everybody will help me garner advice and not pussy out.

I actually have a decent amount of muscle mass on my frame from lifting back in the day, but it is weak and flabby, and hidden under layers of fat lol. My goals are to increase strength and agility, lose fat and prepare my body to start doing boxing, jiu jitsu or something like that which I greatly enjoy. Since I’m so untrained, I’m following sort of a Starting Strength program, which is what I did in high school. I will log my workouts as faithfully as I can and also my diet, including the bullshit I eat when I shouldn’t.

My three lifting days will be based around one major lift: squat day, bench day, deadlift day. I’ll do lighter weight squats on bench day as well, and eventually find a way to work cleans in there.

Thursday, 4/10/14:
Checked out the new gym, have no idea what is heavy or light for me on the various lifts, so my numbers will fluctuate greatly until I dial it in. Advice would be appreciated.

Squat Day
10x45 lbs (the bar)
8x135 lbs
5x225 lbs

Leg press:
10x180 lbs
10x180 lbs
8x180 lbs

Leg curls:
10x90 lbs
10x120 lbs
8x130 lbs

Gonna find something else to put there instead of leg curls cuz I’m not sure how useful they are for my goals. After this workout, I felt feint and nauseous. Drank a protein shake with some apple juice and went home.

Was supposed to go to the gym, but blitzed on pain killers due to abscessed tooth.

Monday, 4/14/14:
Bench day

Stairmaster 52 steps per minute x 4 minutes

Bench press bar:
5x135 lbs
4x185 lbs failure (failed on the 4th rep)
4x155 lbs failure

Incline press bar:
5x95 lbs
5x115 lbs failure
3x115 lbs failure

Incline press machine:
5x75 lbs
4x75 lbs failure
1x75 lbs
3x75 lbs failure
2x75 lbs failure
2x75 lbs failure

5x135 lbs
5x135 lbs
5x135 lbs

3mph x 3 incline for 2 minutes
2.5mph x 3 incline for 1 minute
2mph x 3 incline for 1 minute

Diet 04/14/14:
2PM wake up (I’m a musician lol) 1 scoop of Isopure low carb, 1 banana
3PM 1 banana
3:30 hit the gym
4:30 1 scoop of Isopure low carb + L-glutamine and 12 BCAA caps
5:30 2 scoops of Isopure low carb, 2 handfuls of Trailmix (Penuts, Raisins, M&Ms, Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter Chips
9:30 2 handfuls of trailmix
10:30 1 handful of trailmix
12:30 .5 lb chicken breast, whole wheat wrap, black beans + cheddar on the George Foreman

Diet 04/15/14:
2PM wake up
2:30 2 scoops of Isopure, 3/4cup of oatmeal with 1.5 cup skim milk, 1 tablespoon of raisins, 1 teaspoon maple syrup
3:50 3 spoonfuls of cottage cheese, 4 fish oil capsules
6:20 1/2 lb chicken with black beans and cheddar, cup of green tea
8PM 3 handfuls of trail mix
11PM 5 handfuls of trail mix because I’m fat lol

Diet 04/16/14
Wake up 2PM
2:30 2 scoops of Isopure, 1 handful of trail mix
4PM 2 handfuls of trail mix
5PM 1 handful of trail mix
7PM Whole wheat roast beef/provolone wrap w/ lettuce, tomato, little mayo, oil and vinegar
8:45 gym
9:30 whey protein shake w/ apple juice and a banana
11:30 3 handfuls of trail mix

Work out 04/16/14
On the advice of my brother who is very knowledgeable about this stuff, I’m taking a step back from the big lifts for a couple weeks. He said to work 2 muscles per work out for the first couple weeks to get my body used to the trauma, then get into a program based around the 3 lifts I want to get really strong, (squats, deads and bench) varying intensity with each workout and filling in with more targeted exercises on opposing muscle groups. I’ll get into that a week from this coming Monday, but until then, I’ll be working on 2 muscle groups per work out and focusing on conditioning.

I still don’t know what my weights should be, so they’re gonna be kind of all over the place until I get a good idea of the right weights to use for a given number of reps. My goal going into the pulldown/rows was to do 3 sets of 10 on each exercise, with no breaks, just hopping from one bench to the next. I managed to not take breaks, but although the initial weights felt doable (pulldowns) or plain easy (rows), muscle fatigue set in and I couldn’t keep up with my goals. I’ll know better for next time. I wanted to finish with 5 minutes on the stair master like I started, but was not able to keep it together that long. More room for improvement.

5 minutes stair master at 52 steps/min

10x 100lb seated rows
10x 120lb lat pull downs, back grip

5x 140lb seated rows
5x 110lb lat pull downs

2x 110lb seated rows
6x 100lb seated rows
3x 110lb lat pull downs
3x 100lb lat pull downs

5x 100lb seated rows
4x 100lb lat pull downs
2x 100lb lat pull downs

2 minutes stair master at 52 steps/min
3 minutes treadmill 3 incline 3mph

4/17/14 Diet:
1PM wake up
1:45 Isopure purple drink
4:15 Qdoba taco salad: brown rice, chicken, pico, cheese, guacamole, black beans, green peppers
9:30 4 slices of pizza :frowning: Good quality ingredients, at least… with pepperoni, beef, peppers, onions, olives
12AM 3 more slices

Diet 04/18/14
1:30PM Wake up
1:45 2 scoops of Isopure w/ banana, 1 cup of applejuice
3:30 half cup of apple juice
3:45 gym
4:30 2 scoops myoplex protein w/ banana
5:40 2 handfuls of trail mix
7:30 2 handfuls of trail mix, 4 spoonfuls of cottage cheese
12AM salad with pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, onions and lettuce, chicken sandwich with avocado

Workout 04/18/14
5 min Stairmaster 52 steps/min
10x70lb tricep pulldowns
8x70lb (each side) flies
20 sec rest

5x70lb tricep pulldowns
2x70lb flies
8x 60lb flies
20 sec rest

5x70lb tricep pulldowns
3x60lb flies
7x50lb flies
20 sec rest

5x70lb tricep pulldowns
10x50lb flies

1 minute stairmaster 46 steps/min, 3 min 52 steps/min
5 minutes treadmill 3 incline, 2.5mph
2 minutes 4 incline 3mph

Diet 04/19/14

2PM wake up
low intensity cardio - 30 minutes, aka walk to the store
3:15 3 handfuls of strawberries, whole wheat chicken wrap with red peppers, brown rice on the side
6PM finished that brown rice
7:30 two handfuls of trail mix
Don’t remember the rest

Diet 4/20/14

12PM wake up
12:10PM 2 scoops of protein and a banana with a cup of apple juice
2:30 3 handfuls of trail mix
5:30 2 handfuls of trail mix
Easter dinner at my parents’ Spanish household
6:30 3 shrimp, some sliced chorizo and jamon serrano
7:00 paella w/ saffron rice, clamari, mussels, red peppers, shrimp
8:00 strawberries and some little chocolate thing
11:30-3AM 6 handfuls of trail mix

Diet 4/21/14

2PM wake up
upset stomach
3:15 chicken sandwich
5:30 banana, two scoops of protein w/ 1 cup of apple juice, handful of trail mix
11:30 two scoops of protein
1:30 3 handfuls of shredded cheddar lol

Diet 4/22/14
2PM wake up… little dehydrated but feeling better
3:30PM 2 scoops of protein with banana and apple juice
4:30 1 cup of apple juice
4:45 gym
6PM banana

Workout 4/22/14
Took yesterday off because I wasn’t feeling well. Muscle recovery is at 100% from last week. :slight_smile: Continuing more isolated lifts on my bro’s advice, but targeting muscle groups with bigger compound movements. Legs today.

6 minutes stair master, 52 steps/min

5x45lb Romanian Dead Lift
5x135lb RDL
5x205lb RDL
5x245lb RDL

5x135 Zercher Squats
5x135 Zercher Squats
6x135 Zercher Squats

3 min stair master, 52 steps/min
1:30 stair master, 52 steps/min

Still learning what are good weights for me. I feel like I hit the sweet spot with the RDLs… probably could not do 3 sets at 245lb because my left wrist was struggling. Last set, I used a reverse grip with my left hand and it was better. Still, I think next time I could go for 5x205, 5x245, 5x265 and as long as my wrist can hold it I think I can pull it. The zercher squats hammered my breathing more than anything. The weight wasn’t too much, but I felt completely drained after every set and was gasping for air. I feel like my muscles can lift much more, but my conditioning is holding me back.

Sorry to tell you this… Your diet is atrocious, absolutely terrible. You’re not doing yourself any favors by eating this way. You need to formulate a normal, healthy diet which you can sustain indefinitely. That’s not what you are doing (diet log for 4/20, 4/21 and 4/22).

Figure out how many calories you need to eat daily, based on your activity level, but with a slight deficit (I would imagine at least 2000 but that’s for you to decide). You want to lose weight slow and steady. Radical diets are unsustainable and lead to feeling like crap, backsliding and rebound weight gain. Learn how many calories are in your typical food choices, so you can meet your calorie goals. There are websites which have all this info. The body thrives on regularity. You want to lose weight slowly, so that your body doesn’t think it’s in starvation mode, which results in cravings and slower metabolism.

I don’t see any vegetables in your diet (maybe I missed them). Fibrous vegetables are almost calorie-free and can be eaten in unlimited quantities (broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, string beans, brussel sprouts, leafy greens, etc). No butter or cheese sauce though. They will keep you full. Your heavy reliance on “trail mix” is not smart (it’s loaded with calories, and not that filling). Fruit juice also has lousy bang-for-the-buck (lots of calories with little nutritional payload, and not filling at all). If you plan correctly, you can eat 2000 calories and feel full almost all the time, and not have cravings, and have energy for your workouts. Don’t “diet” – make lifestyle changes. Figure out a realistic diet that you can sustain indefinitely, and still be happy. If you follow your plan most of the time, you can have the occasional pizza (but not a whole pizza) or go out for dinner with friends and not feel too guilty, and still be on track.

Tracking your “macros” (macro-nutrients: calories, carbs, proteins, fats) is not that hard, and it’s important. You don’t have to be super-anal about everything (condiments like mustard and catsup don’t need to be counted, but salad dressing and other calorie-dense foods do). Personally, in the past I just ate “whatever” and even though I train a lot, I looked terrible. I started tracking my calories and planning my meals more, and the difference is already noticeable. Don’t leave your diet to chance, know what your macros are supposed to be, and that will also clue you in to portion sizes and food choices.

PS - nothing wrong with leg curls. And if Planet Fitness is so close, it makes sense to go there to do supplemental training. You should be doing something every day, not necessarily weight training but some type of exercise or NEPA (non-exercise physical activity). Your idea of doing heavy basics (bench, squat) is smart, but at this early stage you can benefit from doing any training at all. Try to walk a lot every day (one mile burns 100 calories, and it doesn’t tax your nervous system so weight training isn’t affected).

LOL don’t be sorry, I was coming to that conclusion myself. I logged in to post that I can’t hang with this diet anymore… thanks for your advice. Keep watching and feel free to comment if the changes are no good.

I have been going for walks a lot lately on off days… it feels good to do so I’ve been doing it randomly. I never drive to the store anymore and sometimes walk just to walk. I can add that in on a regular basis.

I already cancelled at Planet Fitness. More than anything the vibe was demotivational, it didn’t feel like a gym should and didn’t make me want to work out. The new gym isn’t around the block but it’s like an 8 minute drive so it’s really not a hassle in the least. I’ll look up more on macronutrients and figure out a better diet tonight. My energy levels have been significantly better lately but I have been feeling unwell a lot since I started this routine and I think the diet is to blame. I stopped with the trail mix, too. It was my filler food and I think I was eating too much.

The whole key to everything is to keep going, and don’t stop. The best training program in the world and the best eating plan won’t do anything, if you don’t maintain it. So it’s vitally important to have plans that you can stick with, while still having a “normal” life — whatever “normal” means to you. I can tell you to eat canned tuna 3 times a day, but if you hate tuna, you’re not going to last very long.

Think about your favorite ‘healthy’ foods, ones that you would be happy to eat more than once a week. In my opinion, it’s probably smart to not attempt to eat a different supper, every single day. It seems to help if you have a pool of favorite meals you can fall back on, with occasional variety thrown in. Eating a huge variety of food is more about pleasing your taste buds, you wanna have tasty food but with the priority on healthy foods and meeting your macros.

Watch out for calorie-dense foods like cheese, nuts, butter, pasta, salad dressing etc. You can still eat them in small amounts, “if they meet your Macros” (key concept). One ounce cube of cheese has 100 calories, the same as like two cups of steamed broccoli. Which one will be more filling? Cheese can be in your diet, but pick your spots.

Which foods:
Would you enjoy eating more than once per week
Can you afford it
Is it available at your stores
It’s practical - You have time to prepare it, and you can carry it with you if needed, etc
Fits into your Macros

When you can line those things up, you’re primed for success.

I try to eat about 2200 calories a day, so about 700 calories over 3 meals and a snack. Here’s what I will eat today, just to give you some examples:

Egg sandwich has 2 pieces Ezekiel bread, toasted (80 calories per slice)
1 slice of cheese, Trader Joes cheddar (110 calories)
1/3 container of TJ “egg beaters” (80 calories) microwaved for 2-3 minutes

coffee with half & half splash (80 calories)
banana (100 calories)
Trader Joes high fiber cereal, 2/3 cup (80 calories) with 1 cup TJ unsweetened Almond Milk (30 calories)

That’s about 600 calories, and I am extremely happy with my food. I even have a little extra leeway for lunch/dinner.

work out, 20 grams whey protein isolate during workout (about 100 calories)

8 oz boneless/skinless chicken breast, grilled with spices or a little BBQ sauce (about 450 calories)
1 cup frozen peas & carrots (80 calories)
1 cup white rice (about 200 calories)
1 cup or one piece fruit (fresh pineapple, an orange, whatever is available) 100 calories

canned TJ smoked sardines (180 calories) on two pieces Ezekiel bread (80 calories) with dijon mustard (I don’t count that)
Another banana (100 calories)
Trader Joes “Just a Handful” raw almonds (100 calories)

Light snack - small serving of yogurt, more fruit, etc.

I can eat like this long-term and be happy, no problem. I might go slightly over my macros by a hundred, but I’m still in a slight calorie deficit. I have other meals I rotate in… for example, a simple Ground Turkey Breast Chili for dinner is a fave, and Huevos Rancheros for breakfast. Lots of my staples come from Trader Joes. Occasionally I’ll have a splurge but try not to go overboard… you can blow your entire week if you get too crazy. Plus, the more often you say yes to cheating, the easier it becomes to keep cheating.

Think about your favorite foods, read the labels on the packaging, and/or search Google for calorie counts to figure out your plan. You are probably taller than me and more active, so you can probably start with more daily calories on your plan (Step one: figure out how many calories you will eat, based on your size and activity level). Fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories and have huge bang for the buck, so if you like them, that helps a lot. But you can actually eat anything (I eat dark chocolate and/or have a beer, when I can make it fit my macros).

If you are clever, you can come up with a plan that fits your macros, but you’re happy with everything you’re eating, and it seems like a totally normal lifestyle which you can sustain over long stretches. I am not super anal about counting calories, I know that a piece of fruit is about 100 calories, and 8 ounces of meat is about 450. I never look at my plate and think “My food sucks!” because I figured out how to make it work with some of my favorite foods.

Sorry to write so much… Hope it helps!

Thanks for taking the time to write all that! I’m definitely looking into the if you meet your macros philosophy and incorporating that. The reason I rely so heavily on protein shakes is I’m lazy and a terrible cook. Also my schedule is nuts. I’ll be picking up a lot of raw broccoli, raw carrots, making spinach salad, etc. Chicken and tuna are good, too.

Today I started with a 20 minute walk to Muscle Maker Grill and got a whole wheat wrap with chicken, spinach and red peppers… side of steamed broccoli. Had green tea from the place next door, then walked home.

I guess I should post my general stats: 6’1" 311 lbs as of yesterday at the gym. I lift 3x a week and am now doing low intensity cardio on all off days.

Got up, 1:30
2PM had whole weat wrap with chicken and spinach, steamed broccoli.
6PM Chicken sandwich with onions, tomatoes and spices. Salad w/ lettuce/tomato/carrots/onions, balsamic vinaigrette.
7:45 Gym
8:45 protein shake w/ apple juice/banana
10PM housemate had some mutual friends over for BBQ… Had a burger and sausage on a bun.

04/24/14 workout

Dunno what to do for isolation exercises, so fuck it I’m going back to big lifts lol. Actually, I figure if zercher squats are enough of an isolation drill to count for my bro, then dumbbell bench must be, too. Since I started squats a week before the rest of everything, I figure I’m good to do regular squats by now. By next week, I’ll be into my “regular” routine.

6min, 30 sec stairmaster at 52 steps per min. Last minute at 60-something. This type of conditioning is definitely improving noticeably.

Dumbbell bench press
6x 50lb (total)
2x 130lb (too much)
5x 100lb
5x 100lb
2x 120lb (too much)
3x 100lb
3x 100lb

I went into that set wanting to do 3 sets of 5 at the same weight… after finding that 50lb dumb bells were a decent weight, the second set actually felt easier than the first. After that, I tried to move up and couldn’t finish any more sets of 5, so I did 2 sets of 3 with the 50s.


I stupidly only used a weight belt for the last set. Wasn’t going low enough most of the time. The guy spotting me said I should use a wider stance, feet out (I was shoulder width, feet forward). The last couple reps were the best ones. This is not too much weight for me to do properly, I just need to get used to the feeling of the load. I can tell my muscles will do it if I keep my form together.

Diet 4/25/14

As expected, I feel little soreness from yesterday’s workout. Seems my body’s becoming much more comfortable with working out in general. Back muscles and pecs are more sore than my legs, so I think the thing with the squat is to clean up my form and then add substantially more weight. I will do light squats with every workout until it’s “squat day” again, to try and clean up the technique. On squat day, I’m gonna start off with 20lbs more than this week and see how it goes.

1:30PM wake up
30 min round trip walk to the cleaners
3PM 1 scoop of protein w/ l-glutamine and a bunch of BCAA pills, three handfuls of baby spinach
3:45PM grilled chicken breast filet with baby spinach, pickle slices, mustard and ketchup on a tiny potato roll