I know close to nothing, have a lot to learn. I'd appreciate any advice so I can quickly get started while I start learning - the less the better for motivational reasons. I don't expect a quick result, I just want to get started quickly, not get overwhelmed, but learn more as I go. [Edited]

Among others, I've read the following:

My goal: I want to build bulk. I don't hope to build BIG, just want a big-ish athletic appearance.

My situation: I have very little fat, a little bit of muscle, but low strength. I have a low appetite. I'm very much out of shape and can't exercise for long.

My thoughts for how to proceed:

  • Exercises per session: push ups, pull ups, squats, sit-ups, and more as I learn about them. I will start with about 15-20 minutes per session. I suspect this is not the best way to start, as the links suggest I should aim for about an hour's worth per session.

  • Stretches: at beginning and end of session, say 10-15 minutes before and after.

  • Frequency of sessions: 3 times per week as suggested in posts. Could I multiply that by doing two or three sessions per day? Or should I stick to one?

  • Food: At the moment: I drink a lot of full-fat milk, cooked fish, and beef (jerkey and cooked), drink tons of fruit juice. I also pig out on danish pastries, from what I can tell the pastry is not a good idea, but the nuts at least are beneficial, but maybe I should stop eating those? I plan to: keep my diet besides the danish pastries, it seems I'm vaguely on the right track already? I will eat more white potatoes, and fresh fruit / veg. Given my low appetite I will look into various drinks.

Any quick-start advice and/or thoughts on the above would be hugely appreciated!

  • 1
    Hi Jodes, this question has been asked before, and is awfully popular, swing by and take a look
    – MDMoore313
    May 31, 2013 at 14:15
  • 1
    Thank you very much! Very concentrated guides. I think my question is slightly different to those in that I want a quick start (as well as / rather than) than quick result, but those questions have answers that suit my question perfectly, thanks again!
    – Jodes
    May 31, 2013 at 14:28
  • 4
    There is no such thing as a "quick start". There is only a start. There are no short cuts, no quick gimmicks, it's the day after day of solid effort that produces the best results. Anyone that tries to tell you different is selling something.
    – JohnP
    May 31, 2013 at 14:37
  • 2
    +10 to John's comment. I'll add that once you start, it takes a whole heck of a lot longer to see gains than it does to lose them. So once you start, if at all possible DON'T STOP!.
    – MDMoore313
    May 31, 2013 at 14:39
  • 1
    @Jodes - The only way to start, is just to, well, start. Even if all you do is walk into a gym and do a set of bench presses or situps, that is a start. Sit down, write down your goals for 6 months, 1 and 3 years. Outline the steps necessary. Now you have a plan. Follow that plan. Have fun. :D If you find that after a few months, you aren't seeing quite the results you want, sit down with your plan, reassess and edit. Read up on nutrition, and be aware of what fuels your body best.
    – JohnP
    May 31, 2013 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


To expand a bit on my comments:

Starting a workout routine is simple. Walk into a gym, pick up a weight and bingo, you've started. The key word in that first sentence, however, is routine. Fitness gains, whether they are muscular, cardiovascular, some combination of both, are the result of planning and consistent application of that plan day after day.

Yes, you will have days where you don't feel like working out, or scarf down a whole pizza, things like that. That won't hurt you unless that also becomes a habit. It's highly dependent on the individual and their training background, but the general rule of thumb I learned in physiology classes (And seen firsthand in many cases) is that you can take between 3-7 days completely off before "detraining" (loss of fitness) starts to take hold, and for every day after that period it will take two days of workouts to get it back. (This is probably a bit more applicable to endurance fitness rather than muscular strength).

First, decide what you want to achieve, which it sounds like you have, and you have also started doing research on it, which is also good. Sit down now and write out a plan to achieve your goals. Assess your nutrition. Realize that things won't change overnight, and if you do try to change everything at once, it is likely to fall apart. If your diet is horrible, change one thing (Such as packing a lunch instead of eating fast food, or getting a salad instead of fries). Make that a habit, and the next change will be easier. Each step should build on the one previous.

If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with exercises in the gym, take advantage of a trainer. Get instruction on how to do lifts, exercises, and machines. Get a body assessment (Although your best friends will be the scale and the mirror). If you are intimidated by something, you are less likely to do that thing.

Enjoy it, have fun! If you don't, you likely won't keep doing it. If you are jogging to get in shape and find that you hate jogging, try cycling. Swimming. Soccer. Whatever. Find something that you can enjoy and do for a long time.

One last thing, you mention stretching before exercise. Dynamic (moving) stretching is fine, but the traditional "sit and reach" type stretching should never be done on "cold" muscles (Such as before a workout, or more than 30 minutes after a workout). It's easy to stretch/strain/tear muscles that way.

I wouldn't worry about your appetite too much, as increased activity will also increase your appetite. Figure out where your "theoretical" calorie intake should be, and aim for that. It should equal your basal rate + daily activity (work, etc) + exercise. If after a month or two you find that you aren't gaining weight, add a couple hundred calories a day. If you are gaining and want to lose, subtract a couple hundred. With some allowances for types of calories and insulin effects, etc., pretty much any deficit or surplus will eventually result in loss or gain.

Welcome to a brand new world. :)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.