Getting Started

First I want to talk about something that everyone needs in order to have the drive to actually follow through with getting into shape, motivation. If you have no motivation then it isn’t going to happen. It could be that you are simply tired of being fat and out of shape, you have developed health problems, you want to live longer for your kids, you went through a bad break up and want to get in shape in preparation for being single again but there has to be something. For me it was the latter, I was going through the beginning stages of a seperation and divorce.

Drop the Bad Habits

I was depressed and was feeling sorry for myself and laying around the house all day smoking cigarettes.  I made the decision to quit the cigarettes and start getting into shape. I was going to get in shape to show my ex up and that was my primary motivation at the time, anger and revenge. Little did I know I would soon not give a shit about what she thought and begin doing it just for myself.

So as I mentioned I quit smoking first, then I signed up for a gym membership and just started going and walking on the treadmill because it was all I was comfortable doing. I was already on the divorce diet so I wasn’t eating much and was already losing weight on that alone. I probably dropped about 8-10 lbs those first 2 weeks alone going from maybe 190 lbs to 180 lbs. At 5’10” I wasn’t that overweight but I had almost no muscles at all. I had just come off of the cigarettes so I had no endurance either. During these 2 weeks, I kept to myself and watched people. Not in a creepy way, but to learn how the exercises were done and how the machines were used. A gym can be very intimidating for someone who is out of shape and has no damn clue what they are doing. Everyone seems to be in great shape and know each other.. and they all know exactly what to do.

Where to Start

Now there are tons of resources available on the internet today about how to get started with fitness, tons! Really too many, and everyone has different opinions. So I did what I normally do, I went to Reddit. Reddit is a social network of sorts with tons of information and discussions on every topic imaginable. I first came across r/Fitness/ and started reading. There is tons of great information there, enough for anyone to get started, but again many differing opinions. At this point I had decided my long term goal was to not only get fit and lost some fat, but I wanted to get strong and build a lot of muscle. So I found a weightlifting program that looked good for what I wanted to do. It had the 3 main lifts in it which are squats, deadlifts, and bench press. It is recommended that these are all a beginner needs starting out. The program I chose also had a few extras which I felt were important such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and face pulls. I plan to write another post on face pulls in the near future as I have a bad shoulder and I feel these have really helped.


You don’t have to cut out all of the things you love to lose weight and get into shape, but you need to cut out the junk food, sodas, and fast food. I highly recommend downloading MyFitnessPal for your phone and religiously recording everything you put into your mouth. It has changed the way I eat for the better. I still am able to cheat and have a beer and pizza every now and then but because I know how many calories I’ve had or can have I am able to save up for the bad calories. It will also help you lose the weight by telling you exactly how much you should be eating. It will help you learn about macro and micronutrients and there is also a great community forum and challenges you can participate in.

Find a Program

The name of the program I chose was Ice Cream Fitness. It has you doing 5 sets of 5 reps for the major lifts around twice a week. For a beginner like I was, it was fine and I made a lot of progress. Beyond that, I would suggest moving on to something else after the prescribed 3 months. I was very weak when I started. Now I started using the smith machine, which I would strongly advise against to anyone starting out, but I was new and it was all I had access to. Having said that, I was able to take my bench press from 5×5 (5 sets of 5 reps) at just 75 lbs to 150 in 3 months. So I doubled it there by following the laid out progression scheme in the program. Squat was about 90 lbs to 200 and Deadlift was around 110 to 240. Now, these numbers do not translate to a barbell as I discovered but I was still proud of myself at the time. I was feeling better than ever and even looking a little stronger after those 3 months were up.

Find Another, But Don’t Hop Around Too Much

So after 3 months I was ready to start working out more. Motivation was still strong and I had more free time than ever only having my kids half the time. So I switched to a new workout program I found on Reddit and started going to the gym 4 days a week. I stuck to that for another 3 months then switched to one that was 6 days a week. I was already going 6 days a week, so I figured I might as well go on that 7th day as well. So that’s where I am now, exactly 10 months to the day from when I started. At this point I am on a combination of a couple of different programs. I have taken what works well for me and added in things that focus on my weak areas. I also do cardio 7 days a week after each workout. I hit each muscle group twice a week to maximize hypertrophy. I currently do a PP: (Pull, Push, Legs) routine. I will add my current routine at the bottom of the page.

A Barbell Can’t be Replaced

Eventually when I become a home owner again, I plan on having a home gym. So I bit the bullet and placed an order from Rogue Fitness. I bought a barbell and some bumper plates. I got a cheap squat stand that could also be used for bench press and over head press. I basically had to re-learn all of the main lifts. I also had to drop the weight I though I was lifting way back down. On the smith machine I got up to bench pressing 185 for 2 reps. I had to drop back down to 140 for 5 reps with a barbell. It was a whole new ball game for bench press especially. It took almost a couple of months to get back to where I left off. The smith machine takes all of your stabilizer muscles out of the equation and makes it too easy. You go from just pushing a bar up a fixed path to balancing a loaded bar that can injure or kill you if dropped in the wrong place over your body.

My Current Routine

Sunday/Thursday – Pull

  • Deadlift 3×5
  • Bent Over Row 5×5-8 (I have lowered the weight here recently in hopes of stimulating some more back growth at higher reps while focusing on form and doing sets of 12)
  • Barbell Shrugs 5×12-15 if I go light and controlled or 5×3 if I go heavy
  • Pull Ups – 2-3 sets of however many I’m able to do (working on increasing my pull ups)
  • Lat Pulldowns 4×12
  • Cable Low Row 4×12
  • Hammer Curls 4×12 dumbbell or rope
  • Curls 4×12 – I switch this up, sometimes barbell, dumbbell, cable with bar, preacher, etc
  • Facepulls 5×20-25
  • Finish it off with 30 minutes on the treadmill

Monday/Wednesday/Friday – Push

Nsuns – Mon/Wed/Fri – I use the nsuns iphone app for this

  • nsuns 5 day template T1 progression Mon is BP, Wednesday is Over Head Press, Fri is Bench
  • nsuns 5 day template T2 progression Mon is Over Head Press, Wednesday is Incline Bench, Fri is Close Grip Bench Press
  • Finish Wednesday off with 30 minutes on the treadmill, and leg raises, crunches, or other core work

Nsuns is a user on Reddit who wrote his own program that has a lot of chest volume which I feel is a lacking area for me. See here.

PPL – Monday and Friday only

  • Dumbbell incline press 4×12
  • Dips 4×12
  • Lateral Raises 3×12
  • Tricep Push Downs (or another tricep exercise) – 4×12
  • Lateral Raises 3×12
  • Cable Flys or Pec Deck 4×12
  • Finish it off with 30 minutes on the treadmill

Tuesday/Saturday – Legs

  • Squats 3-4×8-12 – My knees began hurting as I was squatting heavier and heavier, I dropped the weight down and am doing higher reps with lower weight while concentrating on my form.. pain is gone.
  • Leg Curls 3×12
  • Leg Extension – 3×12 (this one isn’t every leg day)
  • Calf raises and Machine Leg Press – I superset these on the Leg Press Machine 4×20 for calf raises and 3×12 for leg presses
  • Finish it off with 30 minutes on the treadmill

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