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  1. #1
    Registered User SporkFrog's Avatar
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    ADVICE NEEDED — Ready to get serious

    BACKGROUND:

    5'7", 144 lbs., male in his early 30s. I've had to work overseas for the last several years, frequently changing location, so it's been hard to get into a routine. Every time I started to feel like I was making progress and getting a good physique, I'd have to move, end up missing time in the gym, eating poorly, and lose my rhythm and gains. Then, when COVID hit, I completely fell off. Looking in the mirror right now does not feel good. I wouldn't say I'm starting off from zero... but it's not good.

    But I'm ready to hit the gym again, and now I have a stable location back in the States, not planning to leave anytime soon, with good income, finally in a position to REALLY dedicate my time and focus on getting in shape and looking good.

    So I don't want to half-ass it. I've been lifting on and off for over ten years and feel like I have little to show for it. It's time to take this more seriously. So I wouldn't say I'm an absolute beginner, I have a fair amount of knowledge when it comes to the various exercises, what a plan looks like, and some basic dietary knowledge. I just need to finally put it into a more coherent, rigorous plan.

    So, I'm looking for some advice here. How do I keep myself FOCUSED on a plan? Any advice you guys have for making sure my diet, workout routine, supplements, etc. are ideal? I've usually followed just... rules of thumb, rather than really calculating and planning things out. Eat as much as I can when trying to gain, eat a little more carefully when cutting, trying to vary up my splits and routines etc. But there's been a clear lack of definite planning and focus.

    As you can see in the attached photo, I'm out of shape. To be honest, I don't feel that I look too bad when I have a pump going at the gym and when my shirt's on. But when it's off... you can really tell how out of shape I am. I started going to the gym again a couple weeks ago just to warm my body back up, going three times a week, hitting a full body workout each time. I can post some stats on what my lifts are at tomorrow, if that's helpful.

    FOCUS:

    1. Cut or gain? -- Should I start off with a plan for cutting? I don't really weigh very much, but I'm clearly pretty flabby. Would it be better to cut the weight, get to a low body fat % so I can feel and look good, and then focus on gaining after that? Or, should I just focus on gaining? Will I be able to convert some fat to muscle? (I've heard that's a myth, but that it CAN work in beginner scenarios)

    2. Workout plan -- I have a 24/7 membership, so I can do whatever you guys recommend. I understand five-day splits aren't really optimal for beginner scenarios. I often hear of three-day plans, with full-body each day, as a good beginner plan, but I know part of that's to help keep beginners from getting de-motivated with going everyday. I absolutely CAN go everyday, so whatever you think is optimal I can do here. I assume that even if I'm cutting, some time in the gym to lift will help to retain muscle (right?).

    3. Dietary plan -- I've always been terrible at this. Just HOW do you guys manage to measure everything? Seriously, tell me what I need to do. Buy a scale? Follow some pre-planned diets to get started? Advice here would be much appreciated. Of course I realize any dietary advice will depend on the answer to no. 1 of cut/gain.

    4. Supplements -- I've always done weigh, done creatine a few times, but I feel like I want a fully optimized, holistic plan here as well. What else do you guys recommend? Even general health stuff. Fish oil? Something else?

    5. Other resources -- Any other links, websites, resources, etc. which you can recommend me would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for any help you guys can throw my way. Also, first time on the forum here, so let me know if there are any other sub-boards here I might want to check, or if I'm posting this in the wrong place or violating any kind of etiquette or whatever. Thanks!
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  2. #2
    oderint dum metuant irmocool's Avatar
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    if you can't see abs...cut. then lean bulk ...key word is "lean" from that point
    Why lift when it's all about the jawline ©
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  3. #3
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Routine - don't try to roll your own. Do an expert designed one and benefit from their years of experience and knowledge. Look at the sticky threads at the top of the page. Fierce 5 is a good choice.

    Count calories and grams of protein at the very least. Use myfitnesspal, weigh, measure, don't guess.

    Aim to maintain your weight at first - or very slowly drift upwards. No you won't get rid of any small amount of flab - yet. You have to be patient, muscle gain is slow but it's what takes the longest and will ultimately have the biggest impact.
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  4. #4
    Registered User SporkFrog's Avatar
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    So I think I'm seeing two different thoughts here: first, to cut until at least I get some abs showing, second, to maintain weight while lifting and then try to drift up slowly.

    Should I do Fierce 5 while trying to cut? Or should I just focus on cardio and cut cut cut until I get somewhere lean enough to justify returning to weight lifting?

    A calorie counter I found online suggests 2141 calories to maintain weight, 1891 to lose half a pound per week, 1641 to lose one pound per week, and 1141 to lose two pounds per week. I've heard that one pound per week is reasonable. Should I aim for the one pound per week goal?

    Also, any advice on where to find easy meal plans? At least for getting started, it would help to have something simple to cook and follow.
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  5. #5
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You might never see abs despite getting very scrawny. The reason this happens is that your muscles shrink at the same rate the rest of you does - and despite losing fat, they never really show through the skin.

    You might get to a stage where you sort of see them in the right light - and if you are feeling dry that day. But one meal later and they disappear (due to increased water retention).

    It's not worth it. Like I said, you need to prioritise muscle gain. We always see the same thing on here - skinny guys want to cut and fat guys want to bulk. You have to fight your natural inclination if you want to make a change...
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