Absolute beginner with no experience..

Discussion in 'Basic Training Principles and Methods' started by despair89, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. despair89

    despair89 Member

    Hello, I am a beginner to lifting overall (and definitely HST).. I've been to gym sporadically over the past 4 months, but for purposes of this topic I can be considered to have zero knowledge in lifting or any of its jargons.

    I am 19 this year and would like to start off a HST program. I have read the FAQ Book and also HST for Dummies by EctoSquat.

    I intend to use the following workouts for my first try as suggested by EctoSquat:
    Bench Press
    Stiff Legged Deadlift
    Bent Over BB Rows
    Seated Shoulder Press
    EZ Bar Curls
    Lying Tricep Extensions
    Standing Calf Raise

    With the exception of Squat and Bench Press, I don't really know what others mean. Can I substitute the upper body workouts ones I am familiar with, say Cables for triceps, and Dumbbell curls for biceps?

    From what I understand, I will have to spend the first week determining my Maxes:
    Monday: Determine 15RM
    Wed: Determine 10RM
    Fri: Determine 5RM

    After which I will take 9 days off for SD, before starting my actual first cycle?

    p/s: here's a pic of myself in current conditions.. would really want to make a change! I have no idea of the BF%.. What else would u guys suggest recording for the rest of my workout period? I am intending to cut my belly fats by starting on a cutting diet, would also need advice on that..


    Thanks everyone and Happy New Year!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  2. grunt11

    grunt11 New Member

    Welcome to the forum. I’ll try to get things kick-started but I’m sure others will also jump in and help.

    Here’s a good resource on various exercises and what body parts the work. It’s organized by muscle group so just look under what muscles you think the exercise targets and find the name of the exercise. I suggest this over just using Google since you never know who’s YouTube video you might get linked to and they might not have a clue what they are doing. I’m leaving looking up the specific exercises to you since learning about them is important when starting out.

    Second I would change a couple of your exercises to get more out of them. Switch EZ Bar Curls with Close (Supinated and/or Parallel) Grip Chin Ups or Lat Pulls until you can do enough Chin Ups. Also ditch the Lying Triceps Extensions for Triceps Dips. In both cases these exercises will hammer your upper arms while also working the rest of your upper body muscles.

    I would also consider doing regular Deadlifts once a week. Squat + Stiff Legged Deadlift is a good combination but the Regular Deadlift is the king of all muscle building exercises IMO. Something that works for most people it to alternate Squat/ Deadlift/Squat on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Keep the Stiff Legged Deadlifts in there since everyone is weak (even most people who have lifted for years) in their posterior chain of muscles so get started early correcting that.

    Yes take a week to determine your maxes and then take a 9 day SD.

    Don’t start with a cut. You’re at a point where you should build some muscle first even if that means putting on a little more fat. In line with that the most important things you can track are your body weight, body fat% and calories. Track your weight by weighing yourself the same time every day.
    Since you are just starting out your initial muscles gains (after the first few weeks of neural adaptation) will start coming quickly. Once you’ve built some muscle it will make losing fat that much easier. Plus it will give you more to look for in muscle definition to gauge your fat loss.

    Usually first thing in the morning before you eat anything. This will likely fluctuate day-to-day what you are looking for is tracking the average, is it going up (gaining) or going down (losing). Keep in mind that in a hot climate your hydration level can vary your weight several pounds day-to-day. The best measure of body fat is what you’re already doing taking pictures. I suggest you keep taking pictures as you progress. At a minimum at the end of each cycle or even monthly. The mirror doesn’t lie but our brains do and also forget something pictures won’t allow. You can get a set of calipers but I find they are not as accurate as self- assessment in the mirror.
  3. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Great post from grunt. I have to second the exrx site as recommended by him. I was going to recommend the same site.

    I also agree, you should bulk first. Since you are a total newbie, it is likely that you will gain significant muscle your first real bulk - you will gain fat too, but you will likely gain the muscle at a much faster ratio, and due to that, it would probably result in very little change in your actual bodyfat percentage.
  4. despair89

    despair89 Member

    Thank you grunt11 and totentanz for your replies.

    I have revised my workout into such:

    Bench press
    Bicep (bar curl)
    Tricep (bench dip)
    Conventional deadlift
    Stiff-legged deadlift
    Shoulder (upright row)
    Lat Pulls in cable machine

    I will finish up with these situps and forearms exercises.

    I'm not sure if there is any discrepancies with these exercises, as I'm totally new to this. I will be starting a journal log once I determine my maxes this week :)
  5. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    So HST is a good choice for complete beginners? Are there better choices (All Pros as an example I've seen mentioned a lot over at bodybuilding dot com)?
  6. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    If you are a beginner, stay away from bodybuilding.com. It is full of bro-telligence, there are much better sites to go to than that one for a beginner who wants to learn. This site for example. Just for a point of reference, not sure where you are starting out from, but when I came to this site back in 2004, I was like 140 lbs. This site is where I gained a knowledge base to build from. I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions after coming here, kept reading, discussing and learning. If I had started out at bodybuilding.com or t-nation, who knows if I would have ever made it as far as I have. I doubt it. I am just giving you an example, I know there are others with similar stories here.

    I tried googling this All Pros thingie you keep mentioning and the only result I could find that had anything to do with lifting was one lone thread on bodybuilding.com. It looks like an ok routine, but it's nothing ground breaking. I don't think there is any reason for a newbie to do heavy/medium/light workouts like that. You'd make faster progress using HST, Starting Strength or even something like Lyle's Bulking Routine, which is basically a variant of an HST routine anyway. Seriously, my first routines were dumb crap from muscle magazines, and I made zero progress until HST. My first HST cycle where I was lifting properly (oh and actually eating enough, cannot stress this enough) was the first time that I actually put on any significant muscle mass at all. I think I gained like 20-30 lbs my first year of HST.

    If you need help setting up your routine, I or anyone here can help with that.
  7. grunt11

    grunt11 New Member

    I second what Tote said. I went through two bulking periods over the period of about 20 years using the routines out of magazines or books written by bodybuilders and made modesty gains. At age 50 after 15 years off from lifting I found this site and followed HST putting on 30 lbs. of mostly muscle in the first 30 weeks with no chemical assistance and finding out later I actually had horribly low testosterone levels. HST not only works but it works especially well for beginners if your primary goal is hypertrophy. As a beginner it will also allow you to gain plenty of strength.

    Other than that like Tote says something like Starting Strength and Lyle’s Bulking Routine (which I’d forgotten about) will also work.
  8. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    I am really impressed by both of your results with it Grunt and Tote. Also thanks for the replies.
    Apologies in advance for this long post.

    I think I will go with HST. I do think I will need help setting up a routine/program.
    I'll give some background info; I've also been going to the gym sporadically for about 3 months, I'm 24 years old (late to this?), 177cm, 70kg (which is approx. 5feet 9inches and 154lbs), my body fat % is in the vicinity of 15% (using one of those electrical impedance scales multiple times over several days); looking at my body I have a flabby belly, love handles and heaps of fat (can grab handfuls) on my legs and butt, much less so in my upper body. Although legs aren't in the photo attached. Some have said to bulk first, some have said if I cut first it will be easier to bulk later. Using Lyle's rapid fat loss approach I got my weight from 176lb to 154lbs over the period May & June.
    View attachment 2149

    Given all this, would someone be able to help devise a routine/program with me? Oh and my goal is muscle mass with least or reduced fat.

    Bonus questions:
    (1) I was reading Blade's Optimizing HST sticky but can't see how twice a day training of the same muscle groups adheres to the frequency principle. Could someone explain why this is more optimum than the basic layout on Bryan's site? (Reason I ask is I have Dec, Jan, Feb university holidays, so I will be able to fit that kind of thing in if it would be better). Similarly using Blade's schema and the notion that mRNA/Ribosomes are up for about 36 hours, wouldn't a scheme with workouts 1 and 2 be even better like this... Mon Am-1, Pm-2, Tue Am-rest Pm-1, Wed Am-2, Pm-rest, etc

    (2) As a beginner I am told my strength and therefore RM will go up and up rather quickly. Given this, how can my program be improved? More sets? Quicker progression? Slower progression? As you can tell I really want to make the most of the coming 3 months break.
  9. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    This will be the best for you to just keep it simple:
  10. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Grunt and/or Tote could I get your thoughts re my last post above?
  11. grunt11

    grunt11 New Member

    First if you are just starting out not only with HST but with serious lifting then the thread you should focus on is this one:


    You shouldn’t even be thinking about Blade’s Optimizing HST right now.

    Second if you have love handles and a belly then you are more than 15% body fat. You’re probably somewhere between 20-25%, closer to 25%, I can’t view you’re attached picture but here is a guide to go by others may be better so just do a search of the internet for something like “body fat percentage pictures.”


    While those scales seem cool they are notoriously inaccurate. The best thing you can do in the long run is take reference pictures to refer back to so you can see how your body composition changes.

    Next as a general rule bulking is best done between 10-15% body fat because the more fat you are carrying the more likely you will store excess calories as fat rather than muscle, however since you are just starting you may have an advantage in gaining muscle so it’s probably a coin toss whether you should bulk or cut. Keep in mind that both growing your muscles and lowering your body fat make your muscles look bigger. So by losing fat you could still end up looking more muscular.

    Whichever you choose starting out with either HST or on something like starting strength while likely serve you well for the first few months. Since your pretty new I would lean more to HST because it will give you more reps early on to help your muscles adapt to the lifts neurologically. Another general rule is that neural adaptation takes about 6-7 weeks though sometimes hypertrophy is noted as early as 2 weeks but only when heavy weights are used. Personally I think you should do your first 8 week HST cycle while cutting body fat since you’re going to be in the neural adaptation phase of your training and won’t IMO benefit as much from bulking as you will cutting. After your first cycle you can reassess your body composition and if you decide to bulk you will be in a better position to put on muscle with less fat gain.

    As for your routine I would look to build it around compound exercises like Deadlift, Squat, chin-ups, Shoulder Press, Dips, Rows (I prefer Dumbbells), Shrugs and Bench Press. Since your fairly new to lifting you could probably do all these exercises each day, however, if both Deadlifting and Squating starts wearing on you, you can always start alternating between them each workout.

    To specifically answer question (1) I would first say don’t worry about optimizing HST just get started with something simple. Once you’ve completed your first cycle are adapted to the exercises you can start thinking about optimizing in which case I would actually recommend working out every 24 hours but that discussion is for later.

    As for question (2) I would set up a normal cycle of 2 week micro cycles, but rather than arbitrarily end each micro-cycle 15s, 10s, 5s, etc. . . at 2 weeks I would just keep progressing with the same increments until you get to your new rep max for each rep range. Then just start off the next rep range by adding your normal increment to what you just did for a rep max. If you do this your entire cycle will likely last more than 8 weeks but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the weights are progressing. If it does last longer then you might consider switching from cutting to bulking around week 6-8 if you did decide to start out by cutting.
  12. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Should be able to see it now. current.JPG
  13. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Okay I think you lost me.
    So I spend a week working out my RMs, lets say (hypothetically) for a certain exercise my 15RM=100lb and 10RM=75lb and 5RM=50lb.
    My first mini cycle (15s) would look this this: 1st workout 15reps x1set x75lb, 2nd workout 15reps x1set x80lb, .... 6th workout 15reps x1set x100lb

    Then what? (I'm not stupid, it's just I can see at least three ways to interpret what you said and I'm not sure which is right).
  14. grunt11

    grunt11 New Member

    You don’t stop at workout #6 but in this case keep adding 5 lbs. until you fail at 15 or 16 reps, or in other words your new “stronger” 15 rep max.

    There is no rule in HST that requires micro cycles 15s, 10s, 5s to be only 2 weeks or 6 workouts, it just a convenience for scheduling and I think was mentioned also more psychologically appealing. To get the most out of progressive loading in each micro cycle it’s best to go until you hit your new rep max assuming your strength has increased.
  15. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Cheers grunt. I've learned quite a bit from this thread.

    And once I get my new 15 rep max (i.e. I fail) I then move onto the 10s and do the same thing again (i.e. using the 10 rep max I worked out at the start, use weight increments that would get to the 10RM in 2 weeks, but continue after that until I get to my new 10 rep max)?

    I just re-read the FAQ e-book, said something about 15/10/5 isn't set in stone either. Do you reckon 12 would be any more advantageous to start at?O

    Oh and one last question before I put together my routine... Looking at my photo above do you reckon I should be cutting or bulking to start?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  16. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Definitely bulk.

    Calories = minimum of 18 x bodyweight (in lbs) each day
    Protein = 1 to 1.5 grams per lb of bodyweight each day
    Plenty of carbs
    Approx 25% of calories from fat to keep test levels up
  17. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Thanks for the reply Totez. Do you think the approach grunt has suggested is good and (re my last post) is my interpretation correct?
  18. grunt11

    grunt11 New Member

    Yes that’s exactly how I would do it to get the most out of your progressive loading.

    I think the standard 15s, 10s, 5s and negatives will work just fine and in your case for now starting with 12s instead won’t gain you any advantage.
  19. OzWoden

    OzWoden New Member

    Happy new year everyone.
    Unfortunately I never did get started on my HST due to surgery (all good now).

    Totez et al, could get a bit of help to set up a routine?
    I'll be following the general schema described above, but as for how many exercises and exercise choices I'm not quite sure what to do.
    How does this look:
    Not sure about how to order the exercises either, like putting antagonists after one another to make better use of time and such. Or how many sets?
    I know I left calves out (they're already chunky enough).
    Cheers guys.
  20. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    I would probably do your exercise selection in this order:

    Bench Press
    Lat pulldown
    Shoulder Press
    Dumbbell shrugs
    Triceps dips

    Pressing will work your traps so don't shrug just beforehand. Use decently heavy db's for db shrugs as your traps are big strong muscles. I have seen lots of people using tiny loads for these and trying to rotate their shoulders around at the top. Don't do that!

    I'd probably add in a set of toes-to-bar to finish up too.

    All the best. :)

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