Starting to work out for (basically) the first time ever. [Pics 3/1/12]


  • Nov 27, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
    So, after a few months of living in a gay ghetto and being surrounded by gorgeously muscular men, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a gym membership. I'm 24 years old, I've always been very skinny (6ft0 or 6ft1, ~155lb) and I've more or less never lifted weights before. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

    What I have done, however, is read for months on various websites and online forums that the best way to, well, start building strength is via the program outline by Mark Ripptoe's Starting Strength book (or similar programs). I decided, in particular, to go with this program (Stronglifts 5x5) instead of Mark Ripptoe (basically because of my mostly uninformed idea that a power clean would be potentially more dangerous than a barbell row; aside from this variation, they're basically the exact same thing).

    The gym I signed up with gives one free session with a trainer, and I wanted him to show me the proper form of each of the five exercises in the program. It turns out, though, that while these Starting Strength programs may call themselves beginner or novice programs, they're not REALLY, not for people like me -- you likely have to have at least a little base of muscle. The trainer in particular had me doing 15 squats with a 45lb bar, and I couldn't. (I realize in retrospect that 15 squats in a set is considerably harder than 5 reps, but after the Stronglifts' couple of sets of 5, much less five sets of 5, I would be dead.)

    In the end, I went down to a 30lb bar and did 15 squats (well, squats plus raising the bar above my ahead in one movement -- not sure what you'd call that -- overhead press?), then 15 slow pushups (after the overhead press, that was brutal, and I though I could do 15 pushups for sure), then 15 bodyweight chinups on a bench press bar (I'm not sure what you'd call that, but not a regular chipup on a bar over your head, but lying horizontal on the ground and the pulling up), then 15 burpees. Then I did another round of about 10-12 reps, and I was BEAT. (In addition, my squats in this round, and probably the earlier ones, were of such horrible form that they probably don't count.)

    Not just physically beat, though certainly that (I basically couldn't walk down the steps because of my legs), but a bit mentally beat as well (all those muscular guys in the free weight room... and me). Here are two pics of me from right after working out... it's all blurry because I literally couldn't hold the phone steady, my arm was so tired.

    IMG_20111127_130233.jpg
    IMG_20111127_130304.jpg

    What is my main goal? I guess to gain muscle mass -- except at this point, after today's failure, I basically want to just get the very simple base of fitness which would allow me to do an actual weightlifting program. Why am I working out? I'd say 75% vanity (I want to look good naked), 15% health (never having worked out is not going to be good as I get older), 10% discipline (as a self-improvement thing -- I think just putting your mind to doing something difficult and then DOING IT is good for the soul -- builds not just muscle but character... yes, I'm that pretentious).

    What do I want from here? Mainly, I'm planning on using this thread as a workout journal (if that's okay?). Doubt anyone has read down this far, but if you have, my other question is about what exercises I should do, now that Stronglights 5x5 is basically not happening. Does the following sequence make sense?

    Squat + Overhead press (if there's a name for this, let me know)
    Push ups
    Pull ups on the bench press bar (same here)
    Jumping jacks
    Burpees

    If so, how many sets of how many reps should I be doing?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated!
  • tuffguyndc

    Posts: 4437

    Nov 28, 2011 1:32 AM GMT
    This may sound very basic but I would start out working with a trainer if you can afford it. If not, here is your starting point. Pushups, pullups, weightless squats, and you can get some bands to do arm curls and/or tricep pull downs. If you want you can hit me up via email and I can show you how to put it all together
  • fitone

    Posts: 276

    Nov 28, 2011 1:48 AM GMT
    Congratulations on starting a program.

    I have never personally used a trainer. There is a lot of information available; I follow a program based on a Men's Health manual.

    I do 3 sets of 10 reps of 12 exercises of specific body parts 5 days a week (that's a lot of numbers isn't it?!):
    Monday-pecs
    Tuesday-back
    Wednesday-legs
    Thursday-Triceps
    Friday-Biceps

    I also do ab exercises on m-w-f
    and back exercises on tu-th

    Swim on the weekends...

    miss it when i don't work out
  • omatix

    Posts: 89

    Nov 28, 2011 2:06 AM GMT
    timetogetinshape said...except at this point, after today's failure, I basically want to just get the very simple base of fitness which would allow me to do an actual weightlifting program.


    Failure? What failure? It sounds like a totally successful workout. Your first time is going to be a horrible uncoordinated, weak mess. And it sounds like your workout wasn't even nearly that bad.

    Gradually, as you stick at it, you'll start to feel competent. My advice is to keep it light, concentrate on not injuring yourself (good form) and work on going regularly. Even if you feel like you can't work out on a certain day, remind yourself that even a crappy workout is better than none at all.

    I've had good luck with P90X, a DVD series. I like it because I don't have to work out in front of other people and I know I'm getting a balanced workout in. It's hard at first, though - you could aim to do maybe the first 25% your first time through. And you can probably skip most of the cardio and abs parts to start with.
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    Nov 28, 2011 2:10 AM GMT
    Work with a trainer, even if it is for 5 sessions so that you get strong form. Without the right form, you will be working really hard and not getting the results you want. Not to mention that you risk injury!


    You will do great bud. Don't give up!
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    Nov 28, 2011 2:11 AM GMT
    On top of working out.. you need to eat eat and more eat. OP you have one of those skinny bodies that can easily be developed into a brick shithouse really. Your frame is good and your height allows you to gain great mass. Work on eating and lifting heavy weights and low reps and you will be looking hot.

  • Nov 28, 2011 2:53 AM GMT
    Unfortunately, I simply can't afford a trainer.

    omatix saidFailure? What failure? It sounds like a totally successful workout. Your first time is going to be a horrible uncoordinated, weak mess. And it sounds like your workout wasn't even nearly that bad.


    OK, touche. :-) I was all gung-ho about doing this stronglifts thing, and the fact that I couldn't was what felt like failure. But pain is just weakness leaving the body, the soreness I felt is the definition of a good thing, and so on and so forth. icon_smile.gif

    Thanks for all the encouragement! And Aggieboy, point taken about the eating. Now I need to figure out a way to more real cooking for myself and buy in bulk, etc., so I can afford it.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:50 AM GMT
    Congrads on starting , As previously stated eating properly, find a workout that's best for you, include body weight push up pull ups, and don't forget to stretch. Good luck there's tons of great advice in the fitness forums.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:52 AM GMT
    Be grateful for what you got. You really aren't in bad shape at all it seems. Like others have said, it should be pretty easy to define your body...
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:56 AM GMT
    timetogetinshape said
    What do I want from here? Mainly, I'm planning on using this thread as a workout journal (if that's okay?). Doubt anyone has read down this far, but if you have, my other question is about what exercises I should do, now that Stronglights 5x5 is basically not happening. Does the following sequence make sense?


    Honestly, it sounds like you're a perfect candidate for Starting Strength, as you're a true beginner.

    I messed around with a 5X5 program at one point but quickly found that the volume was too high for me and I stopped making any progress with it. Then I discovered Rippetoe's program and I've been on it since August.

    Starting Strength is just three sets of five reps on most exercises, and one set of five reps on the deadlift. And you only work out three days a week.

    These are all fantastic exercises to start out with because they'll give you a solid base. And they work a lot of muscles at once.

    I feel the same way as you about the Power Clean, so I just don't do it and I instead focus on the Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, and Shoulder Press. A lot of people on the program do this for the same reason.

    If the 45 lb bar is too much for you at first, stick with the 30 lb bar and make sure you rest enough between sets so you can do all three. (Rest 2 mins, 3 mins, 4... however long you need... it's okay). If you can't get all five reps on all three sets, don't worry about it. Try again during your next session until you can.

    And don't forget to eat. A lot. I made the mistake of trying not to eat too many calories at first and it really hurt my progress.

    You'll be really surprised at how fast you'll be able to add weight to the bar. In the beginning, bumping up 10 lbs each workout session is very doable. Later on, you'll back off to just 5 lb increments.

    Feel free to message me if you want more details on how the program works. I'm not a total expert, but I have been doing it for a few months now and I've read tons about it.

    Good luck man!
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    Nov 28, 2011 5:00 AM GMT
    Aggieboy saidOn top of working out.. you need to eat eat and more eat. OP you have one of those skinny bodies that can easily be developed into a brick shithouse really. Your frame is good and your height allows you to gain great mass. Work on eating and lifting heavy weights and low reps and you will be looking hot.


    Totally agreed - you have an EXCELLENT starting point!!!

    And for the record - yer already HOT!!!!!

    icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif
  • Gymbear45

    Posts: 11

    Nov 28, 2011 5:09 AM GMT
    CONGRATULATIONS!!

    You've taken the rose colored glasses off..

    I'm also using this site as an accountability of my progress. You will find there is lots of practical information about workouts and nutrition on here.

    And the most important thing, you will find LOTS of men who will support you, be your cheering squad, and be a sounding board for you.

    Recently, I posted my 1 month stats and got bummed out, but the guys on here corrected me and gave me reason to take the long view of things.

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    Nov 28, 2011 5:28 AM GMT
    Congrats.. I hope you do decide to stick with it and follow up on your progress here.
    Don't get discouraged or get impatient and give up because it will happen if you really want it to. I can only speak from my own experiences which was being very self conscious skinny rack of bones that I had to find a small gym, almost a small closet in a community center that was seldom used because I was too afraid to be seen , seriously. No trainer, nothing, so I just force fed myself (hate eating) and concentrated on building up my shoulders/chest/biceps and legs.. it took like 6 months before I noticed for the first time in the mirror that ya.. I actually had put a little bit of muscle on, and I was hooked.
    Honestly,, the eating part for me is the hardest part. I wish I was like most people who like eating but I don't and that's never going to happen but I do it because you have to.
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    Nov 28, 2011 6:09 AM GMT
    Hey that's awsome you're serious about getting in shape.
    I've found Scott Herman's youtube videos to be really helpful. He's great at introducing different workouts that aren't typical in a gymclass, plus he has good nutritions tips.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ScottHermanFitness

  • Nov 28, 2011 6:53 AM GMT
    I think I have seen a couple of that guy's videos before. *drools* He is straight, though, right? lol
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    Nov 28, 2011 7:38 AM GMT
    Yes he's straight, but very very gay friendly, and has really great workout routines and tips
  • tautomer

    Posts: 1010

    Nov 28, 2011 8:14 AM GMT
    You'll be fine. You seem to have your head in the game and will make progress pretty fast. You look similarly built to me, and I started pretty much where you're at now (if not skinner) and I made some pretty decent progress after a few months. If that's anything to go by, you'll be going up in no time. Just make sure you eat enough!!! That is by far the most important thing if you're trying to gain muscle mass. You can't gain if you don't have the fuel.
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    Nov 28, 2011 10:23 AM GMT
    Just to elaborate on the suggestions to eat enough, make sure you are also eating the right kinds of foods and have specific goals in terms of daily calories, pct carbs, protein, and fat. A free website with a smartphone app is www.sparkpeople.com. You set your goals and with a large database of foods, plus adding your own, you can track everything. You can turn off their meal suggestions too. Doing this might take more time and focus than you want to spend, but one way to use it is just in the beginning to ensure you are on the right track.

    Also, agree with the positive comments on Rippetoe. One thing to keep in mind, especially if you won't be with a trainer, is the large compound lifts, especially the squat are excellent, but as you start to go heavy, they require perfect form or else you are asking for problems. The exercises are also described in detail in books by Stuart McRobert, among my favorites. Rippetoe in Starting Strength also goes into great detail describing the form, but I still think McRobert's books are worth looking at.
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    Nov 28, 2011 10:51 AM GMT
    Starting out, I wouldn't do the 5x5 routines.

    I started recently, but for the opposite reason.

    I think you should hire a trainer if you can afford it. That's what I did.

    However, before I started with a trainer, I did a basic full body routine 3 times a week with cardio the other 3 to burn fat. (Which you likely don't need to do).

    I did one simple exercise for each muscle group and I did 12 to 15 reps of each except abs which was 50 reps.

    You need to start slow and work your way up.

    I am working with a trainer now, and I get frustrated that I am not farther along than I am, but he seems to be happy with the amount of weight I am lifting and I can already see results after 3 weeks.

  • Nov 30, 2011 6:07 AM GMT
    After the first (free) session with the trainer on Sunday, my body was aching all over, in particular my thighs -- I could barely walk *down* the stairs out of the gym. I certainly couldn't do a proper form squat (without holding any weight). Over the past two days, they've pretty much continued to ache with every step.

    I went in to the gym tonight and tried to do some squats but basically couldn't (I've read that if your form is terrible, it's basically useless anyway?) Aside from that I did:

    5 sets of 45 lb overhead press to exhaustion (this was about 2-3 reps generally)
    5 sets of 55 lb bench press to exhaustion (about 10-12 reps)
    Plus a few situps/crunches and a few reps on an abs machine, but I think they added up to almost nothing.

    -------

    I came into working out thinking "I'm going to do Stronglifts!" What I like about what I'm doing is I'm figuring out what I'm capable of and then can go from there -- since I'm at the beginning, it doesn't matter as much what I'm doing as long as I'm doing something.

    My general plan from now will probably be:

    5 sets of 45 lb overhead press until I can get >6 reps, at which point I'll go up in weight
    5 sets of bench press, going up in weight until I hit ~6 reps at exhaustion
    [Something to do with squats]
    [Something to do with abs/core]

    ------

    Please help me figure out those last two.

    1) Presumably my legs will take a few days to recover and then I'll be able to do squats again -- but I'm slightly afraid I will have terrible form without really knowing it and therefore be doing useless (and possibly harmful) squats. Are there any other exercises that work the same muscles that I can substitute for squats until feel more confident that I can do them with any significant amount of weight?

    2) What should I do for abs/core? Sit ups/crunches don't seem to work me much. Does an abs machine do much of anything worthwhile?

    3) Is there anything else that I'm missing? (I figure arms aren't too important, because they'll get worked in bench press and overhead press. I don't know about back -- does that get worked in squats?)

    --------

    What I ate today:

    Breakfast: Cup of coffee and blueberry muffin
    Lunch: Turkey sandwich with yellow cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, some sort of mayo-like sauce (not sure, I didn't prepare it)
    Dinner: Two pieces of pan-fried fish with a red sauce, two fairly large servings of brown rice, one serving of collared greens, one serving of broccoli
    Now: Microwaved pasta in pesto sauce (a frozen meal)

    ------
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Nov 30, 2011 7:20 AM GMT
    timetogetinshape saidSo, after a few months of living in a gay ghetto and being surrounded by gorgeously muscular men, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a gym membership. I'm 24 years old, I've always been very skinny (6ft0 or 6ft1, ~155lb) and I've more or less never lifted weights before. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

    What I have done, however, is read for months on various websites and online forums that the best way to, well, start building strength is via the program outline by Mark Ripptoe's Starting Strength book (or similar programs). I decided, in particular, to go with this program (Stronglifts 5x5) instead of Mark Ripptoe (basically because of my mostly uninformed idea that a power clean would be potentially more dangerous than a barbell row; aside from this variation, they're basically the exact same thing).

    The gym I signed up with gives one free session with a trainer, and I wanted him to show me the proper form of each of the five exercises in the program. It turns out, though, that while these Starting Strength programs may call themselves beginner or novice programs, they're not REALLY, not for people like me -- you likely have to have at least a little base of muscle. The trainer in particular had me doing 15 squats with a 45lb bar, and I couldn't. (I realize in retrospect that 15 squats in a set is considerably harder than 5 reps, but after the Stronglifts' couple of sets of 5, much less five sets of 5, I would be dead.)

    In the end, I went down to a 30lb bar and did 15 squats (well, squats plus raising the bar above my ahead in one movement -- not sure what you'd call that -- overhead press?), then 15 slow pushups (after the overhead press, that was brutal, and I though I could do 15 pushups for sure), then 15 bodyweight chinups on a bench press bar (I'm not sure what you'd call that, but not a regular chipup on a bar over your head, but lying horizontal on the ground and the pulling up), then 15 burpees. Then I did another round of about 10-12 reps, and I was BEAT. (In addition, my squats in this round, and probably the earlier ones, were of such horrible form that they probably don't count.)

    Not just physically beat, though certainly that (I basically couldn't walk down the steps because of my legs), but a bit mentally beat as well (all those muscular guys in the free weight room... and me). Here are two pics of me from right after working out... it's all blurry because I literally couldn't hold the phone steady, my arm was so tired.

    IMG_20111127_130233.jpg
    IMG_20111127_130304.jpg

    What is my main goal? I guess to gain muscle mass -- except at this point, after today's failure, I basically want to just get the very simple base of fitness which would allow me to do an actual weightlifting program. Why am I working out? I'd say 75% vanity (I want to look good naked), 15% health (never having worked out is not going to be good as I get older), 10% discipline (as a self-improvement thing -- I think just putting your mind to doing something difficult and then DOING IT is good for the soul -- builds not just muscle but character... yes, I'm that pretentious).

    What do I want from here? Mainly, I'm planning on using this thread as a workout journal (if that's okay?). Doubt anyone has read down this far, but if you have, my other question is about what exercises I should do, now that Stronglights 5x5 is basically not happening. Does the following sequence make sense?

    Squat + Overhead press (if there's a name for this, let me know)
    Push ups
    Pull ups on the bench press bar (same here)
    Jumping jacks
    Burpees

    If so, how many sets of how many reps should I be doing?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated!


    Congrats on starting a workout program. You have a good frame and by looking at your chest you can have large pec development if you want. I started lifting around age 24 and I was shorter than you but about the same weight. There are good workout plans on this site. I started karate at age 13 so I was strong for my build. I was able to bench press my own weight pretty soon. I moved up each month by 2.5 pounds till I could. I did a ton of push ups, sit ups and pull ups. I remember a friend gave me an old book called Body for Life and I took basic exercises from there and I was hooked. I went on to get my personal traing certification because I felt why pay a trainer when if I learn what to do I would never need one.

    Eventually the soreness will feel good and lesson. I took calcium magnesium and malic acid for the soreness it worked well.

    Good Luck and keep it up!!

  • Dec 04, 2011 1:40 AM GMT
    Thurs:

    Abs 5 sets (145lb I think?)
    Lunges instead of squats, holding 10lb in each hand (could do more than this for sure), 5 sets of 5 reps
    Overhead press 5 sets (45 lb, can't do more than a couple reps each set)
    Bench press 5 sets (can do up to 85 lb or so, maybe more, if I'm doing 5 reps)

    Going in tomorrow.

  • Dec 04, 2011 9:27 PM GMT
    Abs 5x5 145lb
    Legs 5x5 (I did two sets of lunges with 20 lbs and then three sets of bodyweight squats. I think I like the squats better, I'll do more of those and then work up in weight)
    Bench Press 5x5 (2 at 95lb and then 3 at 85 lb)
    Overhead press 5xexhaustion (45 lb, getting up to 5x5)

  • Dec 05, 2011 5:01 AM GMT
    So when I do bench presses and overhead presses, it's clear my left arm is weaker than than my right. In addition, while I see people around me doing presses very smoothly up and down, I am wobbling a fair bit, particularly on later reps.

    How big a problem is this wobble? And how can I make my left arm as strong as my right?

  • Dec 07, 2011 6:55 AM GMT
    Abs 5x5 145lb
    Lat Pulldowns 5xexhaustion 100
    Bench 5x5 95 lb (for the first two), 85 (next three)
    Overhead press 5x5 45-50lb
    Squat 5x8-10 40lb