Training A Novice: The Beginning!

I am presenting this information as a possible guide to beginner bodybuilders; those who have yet to lift a weighted barbell or dumbbell. I intend this to be the first of several articles which will track my friend's progress over a three-month period.
Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
click here for part three!


The day is March 23, a Sunday. My good friend Andre comes to me and says "Joel, can you make me big?" Now, I couldn't resist such a chance to put my knowledge to the test and here in my friend was a willing lab rat. He said he was willing to do anything and everything I told him to do. Eventually I found that he was not as often as in other cases with people who don't know how hard bodybuilding can be.

Before I continue on with the story, I want whoever is reading this to realize that I am presenting this information as a possible guide to beginner bodybuilders; those who have yet to lift a weighted barbell or dumbbell. I intend this to be the first of several articles, which will track my friend's progress over a three-month period. If you are a beginner, you may train with him and use his routines.

Immediately I began to drill Andre with the basics of nutrition and not wanting to waste any time, I planned to begin an actual lifting regimen on March 31st, a Monday. The prior week was spent testing how much weight he could lift for various exercises at twelve repetitions. Since I have all the equipment needed to perform just about every exercise, good amounts of time were swallowed up experimenting and improving on form. Not surprisingly, he couldn't lift much.

The Diet

As the days grew closer to March 31st, I realized the hard part with training him was his nutrition. Andre is the kind of guy who eats a lot of food and doesn't gain a pound. The problem is he eats a lot of bad food. Things high in hydrogenated oils and sugar, not enough high quality proteins, and not enough water are his main nutritional shortcomings. And on top of all that, he absolutely hated milk and was very picky about the flavor of his foods!

I knew that the only way for him to get what the body needs to grow would be through supplements. Normally I would never call any supplement necessary, but for him, many supplements were necessary. So, Andre allotted some money and I advised him. This is what he bought:


    Syntrax Nectar (Caribbean Cooler) - More Info
    Universal Uni-Liver - More Info
    Eclipse Complex 24
    Higher Power ZMA (Daytime) - More Info

The Nectar was chosen because of its great flavor as a protein powder, the Uni-Liver because it provides a natural source of concentrated amino acids and B-vitamins, the Complex 24 simply because it is a cheap multi-vitamin/mineral, and the ZMA because of its ability to raise endogenous testosterone production. I instructed him to take four Uni-Liver tabs every day and one Complex 24 with breakfast.

The Nectar and ZMA were kept at my house so he could have a post-workout protein shake and I could make sure he took the ZMA on an empty stomach pre-workout. For the post-workout shake I had him mix one scoop of Nectar with two scoops of powdered PowerAde. This mixture provided the important insulin spike since PowerAde is mostly dextrose. I wanted to mix other forms of protein into the shake, slower proteins like egg and casein, but Andre's picky taste buds wouldn't allow it... for now.

The Test

To get Andre into the groove of eating like a bodybuilder while he was at home, I instructed him to devour anything in sight. He vowed to eat as soon as waking and right before bed as well as five times in-between; as he should to keep a continuous flow of nutrients to his muscles. My concerns were him getting enough complete proteins (meat, eggs, dairy) and getting enough complex carbs (oats, rice, bread, pasta). My answer to the problem was ice cream, it being the only form of milk that he likes. So, I created a juiced up protein ice cream dubbed "Bulking Cream" which he will keep in his freezer and eat on a regular basis.

Andre's Stats As Of March 28:

    Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
    Weight: approx. 155 pounds
    Biceps: R. 13 in. L. 12-¼ in.
    Thighs: R. 19-¾in. L. 19-½in.

Andre's Weight He Can Do For 12 Reps:

    Flat Bench Press: 75 lbs
    Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 17½ lbs each
    Bent-Over Cambered Bar Row: 61 lbs
    Cambered Bar Bicep Curl: 35 lbs
    Barbell Deadlift: 60 lbs
    Leg Extension: 50 lbs

The Workout Plan

Since my friend was quite weak, I decided it would be wise to start off with lesser weight at higher repetitions in order to build some stabilizing muscle before going on to the bigger lifts. I tried to keep the lifts compound as often as possible to produce overall strength and coordination.

The last thing I wanted to see was an injury. I went over the proper execution of about twenty different exercises and stressed that if he was going to lift weights under my roof, it was going to be with perfect form. On Saturday, March 29, I developed a workout plan that was to be followed for the next four weeks. Here is the plan:

Monday. Chest/Triceps/Shoulders

Wednesday. Upper Back/Biceps/Traps

Friday. Legs/Lower Back

I admit, it is a very simple workout plan but for a beginner simplicity is usually the best route to take for the first four weeks. I have implemented the use of a cambered bar in many of the exercises because a cambered bar is easier to handle than a barbell. I really don't expect any serious gains in size with this plan. Strength, however, should increase which will allow Andre to do more complex and ultimately more challenging routines.

I expect to follow this workout plan for the first four weeks and on week five, change into something more intense. Each week I intend to secretly raise the weight slightly for every lift to ensure that my friend will constantly improve. I'm using this covert method to forego the feelings of being unable to lift more weight since such feelings are usually misjudged in beginners who have yet to develop their "instinct".

An Interview With Andre

Joel: Why did you decide to start lifting?

Andre: Well, I have been skinny for all of my life and decided it was time to put on some meat. Also, I've wanted to increase my strength to enhance my combat skills for quite a while.

J: So you practice a martial art?

A: Yes, Ninjitsu. Technique is obviously important, but strength comes in handy too.

J: Have you tried lifting weights before?

A: Yes, I have been involved in several weight training classes in the past, some of them lasting up to six months, and yet saw no results out of them. I think the class fell short because it didn't address issues on nutrition and had to accommodate for many other people who were also in the class. The so-called professional instructor also seemed to lack real-life knowledge. All he could do was spout text book information.

J: What do you expect to get out of training with me? Why?

A: I know I won't get less than what I got from the weight training classes ;). I think you will be able to help me increase mass when the classes failed because you have the ability to put together a personalized program for me. I also hope to actually learn what to do and how things work instead of simply following someone's instructions.

J: What are some of your favorite "muscle building" foods?

A: First would be a bacon-cheese omelet. It is very high in multiple types of protein and tastes great.

Although it is also high in fat, well, fat has never bothered me. In second place is smoked salmon, which is high in protein and EFA's. Blueberry oatmeal comes in third and is high in complex carbohydrates and fiber as well as strong antioxidants from the blueberries. Finally in fourth I would have to say Promax bars and Genisoy Extreme bars. To me these bars taste the best and they're full of vitamins, protein, and carbs.

J: It's a good thing I didn't ask for your general list of favorite foods. I have a feeling that most of them end in "-itos" and "-oughnut". Anyways, how hard are you willing to work?

A: As hard as it takes… and more! Ninjitsu takes intensity and I'm ready to apply that to bodybuilding. I'm going to go all out on this and intend to do whatever is required of me even if it means drinking milk (*yuck*). I can already tell that I won't be allowed to goof off and training with you is going to be painful. Actually, I'm looking forward to it.

That is the end of the first part of this series. Once the first four weeks is up I shall compose an update article with a new workout plan. I will also be tracking all aspects of progress and nutrition. So, if you are a beginner in need of a plan, feel free to use this one. Until next time...

Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
click here for part three!