I Want to Get Bigger and Look Good. How to Start? Beginner's Advice.
My first contribution to TRP.
My background: when I was in high school, and long before I knew there was a "red pill", I was the skinny boy who got picked on and beat up: like many guys who come here, a walking target for assholes who take out their aggression on weaker guys, and unattractive to other girls.
Fast forward to mid 2011: I began my first gym membership, really dedicated myself to it, and GREATLY improved my personal habits and became far healthier (stopped drinking every night, gave up sodas & sweets, no more fast food, and YES amazing I started cooking, too).
The result, after much effort and a struggle to figure out what to do, was worth it: now I'm much stronger, so much more confident, and get compliments from women.
Lifting has been one of the single biggest influences on the quality of my life, aside from a college degree and traveling to other countries. It feels great to have women look at you, have men avoid making eye contact (this is a sign they're passive/intimidated), feel confident and secure, and get more respect than ever before. It is something I wish more men would enjoy.
Being a beginner is tough and there is simply TOO MUCH information. But more importantly, at the gym I attend, I see men going through the motions of exercise but acheiving almost nothing. The same guys I saw years ago in another gym now attend mine, yet, I'm much bigger and stronger and they still look the same. Why is this? I'll explain below.
This post is intended to be a few bits of basic, sensible, hard-earned advice from someone who has been lifting a while and wishes he had the same REAL advice in the beginning. This is not intended to be the "end-all" and I do not claim to have all the answers.
I'll cover the following here:
Why we in the TRP constantly tell you to lift
The most common mistakes I see guys making in the gym, and why they don't get stronger
The basics of what you need to do, good habits, how to know if you're getting results
Why you should lift:
Despite what your friends or family may tell you, despite what the movies and songs about the underdog would have you believe, the simple truth is that you will receive far less negative attention and receive far more positive attention from both men and women when you are more muscular, have better posture, and appear to be physically superior to those around you. Over the years my appearance has improved gradually until where I reached a point where I look better than the men around men, and I have noticed the reactions I get from both men and women now. Unlike the old days, I have not received the "stink eye" from insecure, aggressive men and I have on many occassions received compliments, random hugs, and phone numbers from women I've met both face to face and online.
Insecure, angry men tend to take out their aggression and hate on those who least deserve it, and least can defend themselves: The smallest men nearby. Assholes often pick an easy target, as I learned when I was young. Women DO NO really care about "What's on the inside" until they're looking for a provider and are serious about an LTR. Stronger men have more sexual appeal, and are perceived as more manly. That is the truth. If you are smaller, you have a disadvantage. Be honest with yourself and accept this fundamental truth. And decide to change it!
The most common mistakes I see guys making in the gym, and why many many do not get bigger & stronger:
I have noticed many traits over time which determine who is getting stronger, bigger, and better looking, and who is not. If you're not really determined to make your gym time worthwhile, the best you'll get is "toned" and slightly stronger, but never reach your full potential.
Here's what I've found wrong with men I observe:
No plan: often guys go to the gym, with no particular plan of what to do, or are very disorganized, have no effective routine or goals, and simply "go through the motions", semi-randomly picking up weights, doing something, and then going home.
Not taking it seriously: many guys I see periodically play with their cell phones, go to the gym together in groups (and end up talking loudly rather than working out), or periodically glance at the football game on the large-screen TVs on the walls. Just how much do you think they accomplish? Take a guess.
If you are not focused, do not pay attention to the span of time passing, and do not go to workout with your mind (and actions) honed in on what you intend to accomplish that day, you are weak, and are wasting your time.
Look at the men around you who are strong and healthy, and focused. They have goals, plan how to get them, and put their energy and effort into that instead of goofing off.
- Not pushing yourself: Regardless of how great you workout plans are and how great your gym shirt looks, if you don't stress your muscles and reach fatigue, you won't force them to grow. Time after time I see so many guys pick up weights that are too light for them and go through a few reps before stopping. If practicing good form, the missing component is a weight sufficient to cause muscle fatigue in a relatively small number of repititions (say 6-12, depending on the exercise in question).
Also, simply giving up after one set is too soon. As seen in most good workout guidelines, you should be performing an exercise in at least several sets (repeat a series of repetitions several times).
Your goal should be to find a weight that you can handle safely and with good form, and give 100% effort into performing the exercise correctly and completely. Do not sell yourself short! If you want strength and want the best, you have to say "I'm going to do this."
- Poor form: If you can't perform an exercise properly, you won't put the muscle group you're working on under much stress at all. Too heavy a weight causes you to "sling" it up, and out of habit to use other muscles that aren't related to move the weight.
Leave your ego at home. If you must, use less weight, and do it properly. Too heavy a weight because you really want to lift more will cause you to risk having an accident in the gym or at the least you're risking hurting joints and tendons. Go down, keeping pushing yourself, and one day you'll be able to move the same weight you wanted safely. Poor form = ineffective exercise & an accident waiting to happen especially with heavy weights.
Ever seen a guy attempt to deadlift heavy weight with a rounded back instead of proper form? That's a guy who is going to hurt himself soon. Don't risk it.
- Poor diet: yes, sometimes you can fudge a lot on what you eat, but if your eating food lacking in nutritional content, and you're working hard, you will not be consuming the building blocks of what you need to grow larger. Also, lots of sugar is counteractive to a healthy body and will decrease your feeling of wellness and your motivation to work out.
Plan to eat better and enjoy "cheat" meals a few times a week. Read about basic nutrition and start from there.
The basics of what you need to do, good habits, how to know if you're getting results:
The bare minimum of weightlifting consists of good practices, along with a few fundamental ideas: perform basic exercises properly, with moderate weight, eat properly, and rely mainly on free weights. Use machine sparingly.
What exercises should I do? You should focus (at least starting) on basic exercises involving your chest, arms (biceps & triceps), shoulders, legs, and back. A good starting point is performing 2-3 exercises for each body group, rotating or changing up the exercises a few days a week.
Basic fundamental exercises: these are those such as deadlifts, the bench press/dumbbell press, shoulder press, back row, squats, curls, and triceps push-downs that affect a variety of muscles and supporting muscles.
Squats and deadlifts are very exhausting when done properly, and rely on a large portion of your body because of having to support and move the weight.
- Use mainly free weights: don't be the guy who uses a few machines then goes home. Free weights call in to play secondary muscle groups and not just the main muscle you are targeting, unlike single-motion machines. This means you'll be requiring additional strength from those and gaining strength in other areas as required for holding weight stable for the particular exercise.
Use machines for focusing on particular exercises (like the leg press, leg extensions, hamstrings, etc) but only as a supplement to a good routine.
Also, the Smith machine can never require as much of your body as a barbell squat. The difference is huge, and if you think you can lift a lot of weight with the Smith machine, a squat rack will humble you.
- Don't use a trainer unless they're very good. So many worthless trainers are everywhere!
One major thing I see is gyms attempting to sell training packages to beginners and new gym members. In almost all cases, the trainers were weak, skinny men with no real experience in weightlifting. VERY few men I've met who were "trainers" could really compete with the basic knowledge I've learned. Don't waster your time and money. You can do much better on your own, and for little to no additional money, with a reputable workout program done correctly.
There are great trainers out there, but you won't usually find them in the cookie-cutter gyms for a reason. I see so many people frequently going through the motions from their "professional" trainer, and I see the mistakes and lack of progress.
- Don't be afraid to ask guys who look like they're serious about working out. Despite what some (especially bitchy, weak men) peopel would have you believe, in my experience most stronger guys in the gym are actually very down to earth and friendly, and would be happy to give advice to someone serious about doing better.
Insecure men ridicule successful men. Better men learn from them!
Just ask. I always give my 100% honest opinion when a guy asks me questions, and give positive encouragement too. So little of that exists, so I always make sure to give some where it's appreciated.
- If your workout was effective, you should be feeling delayed-onset muscle soreness the next day and it may last a few days depending on how much you stressed your muscles. Soreness is typically a great indicator of how good of a job you're doing in the gym. I know that when I have little to no soreness, my body is not rebuilding muscle and thus I must make changes to my routine, my form, and my workout routine.
Unfortunately I spent far too much time without significant progress until undertaking a workout program which stressed my body much more and gave me far better gains in a shorter time, recently.
- Find a good workout routine and observe how to do it properly first: there are many of resources on the internet, but it's frustrating to see the information overload you'll feel when getting started. Places like bodybuilding.com have exercise descriptions, routines, and videos demonstrating proper form.
Also, there are many great videos on YouTube from professionals and extremely fit men (who obviously know what they're doing) to help show you the basics and excercises you may have never heard of.
Try working out a while on your own, then I would recommend a high-intensity or heavy/volume training program such as the one I used (although I don't recommend the HVT Reloaded for beginners, it's VERY tough)
- Believe it or not, some people may discourage you! Yes, I actually dated a woman who once asked me, on several occassions, "you're not going to get any bigger are you?" I said, yes, definitely, I have goals I think are worthwhile. I'm by no means "huge" like some guys, but I found it fascinating to see a woman make such an issue. And that was when I was smaller, lol.
Get comfortable gym attire, but don't blow too much money. Get shoes that fit well, give good support, and will be stable for squats, deadlifts, and using weights on the cable machine. Get decently-fitting clothes that are comfortable and will help keep you cool
Gloves look cool, but in my experience you don't really need them until you're using much heavier weights, in order to save your palms. Knurled metal dumbell and barbells do quite a number on my hands when using very heavy weight
Wrist straps: deadlifts are tough, and as you get stronger there will come a point where it will become difficult and distracting to attempt to hold the bar. Wrist straps (brand name!) that are padded work great and feel much more comfortable. I speak from experience. They can make a SIGNIFICANT difference
Shoulder cushion: squats with more weight are hard on your neck & back, and often gyms have pathetic shoulder cushions available. I recommend one like this: here Works great! Much better and lets me focus on the exercise especially when squatting 380lbs on the barbell.
Supplements: supplements are just that-something to help in addition to what you should already be doing, and yes, some can be helpful. But in my experience you should not blow a lot of money on supplements.
Some that I've used successfully:
- pre-workout powders
- Branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
- Creatine (decent quality, to dissolve better)
I think you'll find that too may products exist, and they cost too much, yet don't pay the return on your investment. The most important things are to have your exercises in order, workout hard, eat well, and rest. The supplements will just be icing on the cake.
- Plan visiting the gym, just as a starting point, around 3 days a week, and always be consistent, but be flexible. For example, expect that events will come up, and you may need to switch workout days, but make up for it ASAP.
A great starting plan would be Monday/Wednesday/Friday or similar. These leave sufficient time for rest in between, and you can move days around as needed.
- Consistency: This is SO important. You must continue to push yourself forward, and don't simply give up. Keep working out. On days you don't feel so much like it, take a little while to get refocused, then get yourself together and GO DO IT!
Some days will be great. Some days you simply will NOT feel like working out. However, to grow and make progress you must keep pushing forward.
If you're ill or simply feel so bad that you cannot workout productively, then take the time off as needed, but be committed to making it up ASAP, particularly that same week.
I am dedicated to this and that why I have gotten ahead of other guys in my gym: the others don't care enough to put in the effort; they're simply not dedicated!
When we are not consistent, we tend to slip back into lazy, comfortable habits. It's true!
- Keep notes: One of the best things I've ever done was recording my workout agenda, reptitions performed, and if necessary, special notes like if it was particularly hard or if I need to go up or down in weight.
Recently it was extremely motivating to see my progress and I did not have to rely on memory in order to know my starting point next time (as well as if I needed to make changes to anything). Additionally I tracked my weight as time went on.
There you have it: a simplified, get-started-and-do-something group of suggestions.
You now know a little bit more about the following:
- Why you should lift; reasons to be motivated to do so, and what it feels like to get results
- What commonly guys do wrong in the gym--don't do this!
- What types of exercises to start working on, that you must do them properly, and you must give 100% effort
- Don't cheat yourself: if you don't follow through, you can't grow and get bigger
- That you should plan on finding information about what to do, how to do it, and nutrition
- The importance of putting in the effort
Thanks for reading. I'm sure I'm leaving many things out, and I'm not bragging in any regards about anything. Just simply I saw in another TRP post how there might be a need for bits of info, and I remember how it felt to struggle to get to where I am now.
Edit: formatting, first time posting
1) Since I'm getting some hate, let me be clear: I am NOT putting down others, nor am I bragging or am I the biggest guy. That should be clear by now by my post but apparently not.
2) The most recent (and most productive) workout program I used was HVT Reloaded by Craig Capurso which is a heavy weight and high-volume cycling routine. This is an e-book but he appears to have taken down his Fire and Ice website where I purchased it some months ago. PM me if you want to know more.
Pics: So I am being prompted (rather rudely) after my post, to post some pics, as if I'm not legitimate. I'm not wild about posting pics on pretty much one of the most hated places on the internet, but here you go:
After: link1 link2 link3
(let me know if links don't work)