Height: 5'11 Weight: 160 lbs (fluctuates anywhere from 156 - 160) Body fat percentage: According to the internet, I'm at about 13%

Hi, I'd like to know how I can "start" working out. I'll be 16 in two weeks and throughout high school, I've done a lot of cardio for basketball. I've never consistently lifted because I don't have enough money for a gym membership and I've never invested in weights. I'm looking to transform and gain muscle for sports. Is it possible to transform without weights and only body weight? I've tried home exercises, but I never know what parts of my body to work and when. There are so many different websites and places to get advice, but each sound so contradicting and suggest different things. Is there a plan or specific beginner workout I can try that only uses body weight? If i absolutely have to invest in some workout equipment, what are the most essential items? If anyone can please give me a CLEAR sort of instruction or guidance on what workout outs to do, when, and what days. I will follow the plan, i just need some guidance. I feel like I have the kitchen part down, because I already eat healthy anyways. I never really gain weight, but I feel like i can't get rid of my stomach fat (i can feel muscle under after flexing). In the past two years, I've lost a ton of weight, but sadly, I've lost a lot of arm muscle as well, which I hope to get back. If anyone can help, I'd really appreciate it.

  • There isn't enough information to offer any sound advice -only general. How would you describe your general activity level in detail? Do you easily become winded in activities such as running up a flight of stairs? How is your blood pressure? Do you have any disabilities? Have you had any surgeries or injuries that we should know about? You can't go to the gym yet, but can you get your hands on some dumbbells with adjustable weights? How much time do you have to devote to your fitness a day? Could you describe your general diet in greater detail? Revise the question with these details please.
    – JaredW82
    Mar 7, 2016 at 7:00
  • Also, include your resting heart rate in Beats Per Minute (BPM). Rest with very little activity for 30+ minutes (i.e. sitting, laying down -best), then, without changing position, take your pulse either on your left wrist or throat and count for exactly 90 seconds or two minutes. Do the appropriate math for BPM. See: topendsports.com/testing/heart-rate-resting-chart.htm Tell me how many push-ups you can do to exhaustion See: sportsmedicine.about.com/od/fitnessevalandassessment/a/….
    – JaredW82
    Mar 7, 2016 at 7:02
  • Last thing, do you have any idea what your body fat % is? If not then see: healthstatus.com/calculate/body-fat-percentage-calculator It is not the most accurate method but it will get us close. I know I asking a lot but I'm very limited on what I can do without this info. If you're not able to do everything then just do the best you can. Also tell us your fitness goals. I know you want to gain muscle mass but what else is important to you? For example, do you want to play basketball competitively or something?
    – JaredW82
    Mar 7, 2016 at 7:03

1 Answer 1



My advice is to actually just do it and start right away. Searching for the perfect scheme in the beginning is a waste of time.

Reality check

I will go straight to the point and have to disappoint you: there's no bullet proof magical formula. That's why you find different routines, plans, diets and sometimes even contradictory advice.

The reason behind this is variable:

  • Marketing & sale purposes
  • Different ideologies & backgrounds
  • Different body types
  • Different goals
  • Etc ...

Personal experience

I started from 0 to 20+ pull-ups, 0 to 30+ dips, 30 to 80+ push-ups. Two years ago I just turned on a switch and went to a nearby park and started working out (bodyweight).

In the beginning I had not much of a structured routine. I went once a week and trained my whole body. Mainly because my reps were really low so I couldn't do proper sets. After a few weeks I could do more and started training twice a week. Separating some exercises on two different days. After a while I started training three times, four, five until I got so accustomed to it I would even go six times a week (I'm not per se saying you should go 5+ times a week).

After I got some basic strength, I started searching for ideas and new exercises. Since doing only normal push-ups, pull-ups and dips is boring. Trying out a few routines was also fun. In the end, you need to challenge those muscles. After some time, you will learn to listen to your body and might even change/mix routines & exercises you found.

Structured approach

  1. Turn that mental switch and start working out.
  2. Set some goals: short and long term. Make them SMART. "I want to get ripped" isn't specific enough. "I want to gain N lbs in a year" is better. Note: keep it realistic.
  3. Find a spot where you can workout by preference nearby. Whether it be a calisthenics park, your backyard, gym or a child's playground*. Basic requirements: somewhere you can do pull ups, dips and push-ups. The nearby requirement is essential: you want to make the mental challenge as low as possible. A spot that's far away might demotivate you to not go train on bad days.
  4. Assess your current level. Are you a beginner? Then don't think too much about routines. Working out once or twice a week isn't uncommon for beginners. Not having a fixed routine doesn't mean you should do nothing at all: keep it challenging. Are you starting to become an intermediate? Search for routines, try them out and see what feels best for you. Changing routines can actually benefit your growth by stimulating your muscles.


  • Food and rest is important. Make sure you got it covered.
  • Training with friends can be both motivating and demotivating. Make sure to pair up with the right friends.
  • Have your own plans, if your friend can't train and suggested to go another day. Stick to your plan. It happened to me several times that I agreed to not train that day and something came up the day we did agree on: sick, bad weather, school etc... In the end I missed a training day and in some cases several days. So again, stick to your plan.
  • If the training gets boring, try to look up for some advanced exercises: muscle ups, russian/korean dips, explosive push ups, maybe even human flag. Important note: you can mess up quickly and get injured with some moves. Make sure to not overestimate yourself, always warm up (especially in the beginning) and look for proper progressions.
  • Do not drop out. "Oh skip it, I will go next week" is in most of the cases equal to "I will never go again". Trust me, it's hard to start over.
  • Find a source of motivation. Whether it be a goal you've set, admiration or religion.
  • Stay focused. You wouldn't know how many times I was approached by strangers (and even friends) to change my form, routine or plan. Stay open minded and research their claims before blindly applying it. In a sense, you should discard all I have just said and review it yourself :)

* Be careful if you train in some children playground, someone once got stopped by the police for "inappropriate usage".

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