I am 18 years old, 174 cm tall, 60 kg weight male.

I am very skinny, and haven't trained for ages. Last few years I've been living very unhealthy way of life - spending way too much time in front of books and laptop. Now I want to change this, before it's too late. I have a strong will to start training, eat healthy food, strengthen my immune system, gain some muscles and in the end, look good.

So I'm not trying to achieve anything overnight because I know it's not possible. I just want to make sure that I do things RIGHT.

As I said I am new to all of this so I hope that someone will be so nice to explain in details how should I start training, what exercises (and how often) should I do, how to eat healthy and get in shape.

EDIT: Ok let me try to be more specific. I don't want to grow huge muscles in short period of time and look like Hulk. That's not my goal at all. I want to strengthen my body in natural way and just like you said - look muscular (no exaggeration). I also want to be fit and athletic in the sense that I can run long and fast. Let's say that those are my main goals.

If anyone can make suggestion on a book, or some web-tutorial, or training programme for my situation I would be really grateful.

Thank you in advance!

  • 2
    This question is quite vague and hard to answer. Its probably best you do some research (on this site even) and determine what your goals are and then ask in relation to those.
    – user2861
    Jun 19, 2013 at 1:06
  • possible duplicate of Starting morning routine for unfit person
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 19, 2013 at 5:15
  • 1
    What do you want to achieve? Do you want to be fit, athletic, in the sense you can run long and fast and lift heavy things? Maybe you want to gain some muscle and look muscular, sculpted and toned? You have to define your goal. Right now it seems your goal seems to be "change my lifestyle to a healthier one" but thats too broad. To really help you, we need to know what do you want to achieve by the lifestyle change. Im guessing you want to get some muscles - please see this: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/6828/…
    – K.L.
    Jun 19, 2013 at 10:13
  • @K.L. Hmm let me try to be more specific. I don't want to grow huge muscles in short period of time and look like Hulk. That's not my goal at all. I want to strengthen my body in natural way and just like you said - look muscular (no exaggeration). I also want to be fit and athletic in the sense that I can run long and fast. Let's say that those are my main goals.
    – James
    Jun 19, 2013 at 10:41
  • 1
    Great. The qeustion I linked will probably help you a lot with your goals. Dont think youll turn into a Hulk incidentally. It is VERY hard work, very specialised trainign and eating regimen, and it takes years of strictly bodybuilding effort to look like that. Strength thraining alone does not make you a Hulk. Also, please use the option to edit your question, and clarify there - this site works a lot better that way. Please see our faq to see why we are different than disscussion groups and how to properly use the site for full benefits :)
    – K.L.
    Jun 19, 2013 at 11:10

3 Answers 3


Congratulations on opting for a healthy lifestyle. It is way too easy to get into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle. The younger you start getting back in shape, the easier it is with more lifetime benefits.

  1. If you have any medical problems check with your doctor first. (Standard disclaimer, but worthwhile. Even at your age you may have signs of a sedentary life. So, if you feel the need, get a check-up.)

  2. Take inventory so that you have a way to track your progress. Photos, waist measurements, body fat percentage, weight, food journals etc. will give you some idea of your starting point. See What is a good metric for defining an ideal weight?

  3. Cardio - When you are sedentary, beginning to get back in shape should be done gradually to avoid injuries. Basic, moderately brisk walking, a minimum of 30 minutes per day, working up to 60 minutes, most days of the week will prepare your systems (musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardio etc.) for more vigorous workouts. Progressing to a program like Couch to 5k will take you from walking to running in a well thought out, controlled manner.

  4. For strengthening, basic body weight exercises can help to stabilize your core and prepare your muscles for heavier resistance training. Core exercises like plank, side plank, bird dog, etc will help give you a solid basis to begin a strengthening program. (See Optimal exercises for an abdominal workout)

  5. Posture - Having admitted to spending too much time at the laptop, your postural muscles are likely to be weak, tight and/or stretched out of their optimal length. The core exercises above will help. Additionally, here are some exercises to improve your posture if you need them - I have extremely bad posture, what can I do?

  6. Flexibility - Check to see if you have any areas lacking full range. If so, make sure that you have a short daily flexibility program - yoga exercises like a cobra and child’s pose address multiple joints and muscles. Daily stretch routine to increase flexibilty and overall fitness?

  7. Once you have the basics down, you can begin some intervals for your cardio workouts. They are more intense, but can be done in a shorter period of time. When you are ready for intervals, look up questions about HIIT, (high intensity interval training) for more information.

  8. For strength training, after you have your core stability and postural muscle control, adding weights, resistance bands or suspension bands can give you additional strength. There is lots of info on the site about strength training. Starting Strength is a popular program. (Starting Strength: a practical program?) Just make sure that you have good form, either by working with someone who knows, or taking video and evaluating your form.

  9. Fitness includes eating healthy, nutritious food in appropriate amounts. After keeping a food journal, look to see where your weak spots are and address those: ie to much sugar, fast food, excess empty calories (food without any nutritional values). Even though you are skinny, make the food you eat give you nutrition, not just calories. Also as you increase your activity, you will need to increase your intake.

  10. Finally, I recommend finding a sport or activity that you enjoy for the fun of it. This keeps you active, around active healthy people, and motivates you to keep up your exercises so that you become better at your sport.

Good luck and have fun!

  • Just one more question, should I do these steps in strict order or could I do steps 3,4,5,6 in parallel?
    – James
    Jun 20, 2013 at 10:37
  • James, you are very welcome. With all the fitness info out there just getting started can be daunting. I'm happy I could help. As for 3,4,5,6 - they can all be done in parallel. 7,8 would come after you feel comfortable that you have a good basis. Best of luck and enjoy. Jun 21, 2013 at 18:47
  • I love this concise, yet comprehensive answer. I'd love to ask one question though. For step 3, any alternative to walk -> run plan? I am fine walking, I can't run (for various reasons).
    – pzaj
    Aug 25, 2017 at 18:32
  • 2
    You can get a good workout walking without progressing to running. You want to walk fast enough to increase your heart rate. Adding the use of Nordic walking poles can increase your workout by ~20% and they help take some weight off of the knees, so that may be helpful. Aug 25, 2017 at 19:51

In your case I think it may be a good idea to gain 5-10 kg of evenly distributed muscle. You would look and be stronger, and be more resilient agains injuries and accidents, particularly later in life.

That could take 1-2 years of hard training. Compund exercises and in particular barbell exercises are the most effective. It is important to train the whole body and not merely focus on those muscles you see in the mirror.

I would recommend you read the book "The New Rules of Lifting" by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. It explains the principles behind getting more muscular and stronger in an easily accessible manner.

Lifting heavy weights poses a certain risk (particularly to the back) and it is important to do with correct form. It is best to learn from someone in person. Another option may be to pick up a copy of the book "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training" and join the Starting Strength forums. There you can post videos of yourself performing the lifts and get feedback on your form.

There is a saying "don't add strength to dysfunction" (Gray Cook). If you have poor posture it is better to adress this before starting lifting weights.


For the specific goals in your question there can be no doubt about it that the starting strength condition model is your best bet for building overall strength.

  • 2
    Are there any studies to support your assertion?
    – Chris
    Dec 1, 2019 at 2:34
  • I think you are right Dude. Physical fitness is not exactly a hard science. There are few studies and those that exist are often of poor quality with few subjects. Your best bet is to listen to experienced and intelligent coaches like Mark Rippetoe.
    – Andy
    Dec 4, 2019 at 10:30

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