I know there's plenty of similar questions, but none that answered what I have to ask exactly.

Here's my situation. I'm a 23 year old male, about 6'0 ft. tall, and about 180 lbs. I have a gut, and I'm not really in that great of shape.

I want a workout routine that's not going to own my life so to speak. I attempted P90X about 6 months ago, and made it about half way through. I didn't stop because of the work outs, I stopped because of the meal plan. I was spending so much money to try and eat according to their specifications, and it just ended up being the same food day after day, I couldn't continue. Problem is, doing P90X without this yields little to no results, and I need results to stay motivated, I get de-motivated very easily without seeing things actually happen.

I don't mind working out a lot, I just mind when it takes over my life. P90X was everyday for a minimum of 1.25 hours, eating at specified intervals, etc. and it basically makes every day of your life a P90X day, you can't even make plans anymore or go out, because even if you did, you can't eat restaurant food anyway.

I'm looking for a workout that is going to provide me with the following things:

  • RESULTS. Results that I can clearly see progress with and keep me motivated.
  • A workout that is going to make me lose my fat (so I can finally see my abs!), and build some muscle. Yes, I want to LOOK good just as much as I want to FEEL strong and healthy. Shallow - but important to me.
  • I have a gym at my apartment building. I'd prefer to use this and to not buy extra equipment since I pay for it already and it's right down the street. They have free weights, and some machines for like chest presses and shoulder presses, and they also have a bench for that type of stuff - meaning they also have a straight bar as well. They don't have things like a pull up bar or whatever. They also have cardio equipment (treadmills, etc.)
  • Something where I can eat what I normally eat. I don't over eat like a huge fatso - but I like to eat. I usually skip breakfast and have like coffee or something, or a small snack if they have some for free at work, and I usually eat a decent size lunch (yes I'll go to five guys if I feel like it!), and then I'll have a good dinner that my girlfriend makes along with maybe dessert if we have some. Tack on some snackies throughout the day (not all the time), because a lot of times at work they'll have free snacks or whatever. Honestly, I don't think I eat that badly because if I did, I would be much heavier than 180 lbs. right now.

Is there anything I can do that would satisfy all these bullet points? I've looked at things like SL5x5, and it just seems like the workouts are way too severe. Plus, I don't have a squat machine at the gym or anything, and honestly, they say you can work your way up to like dead lifting so much weight, I'm not trying to be a bodybuilder, I just want to look good!

  • It would seem that I'm not trying to be a bodybuilder, I just want to look good! and A workout that is going to make me lose my fat (so I can finally see my abs!), and build some muscle. are at odds with one another. If you want to be lean enough to see your abs and have muscle tone, body building is exactly what you want to do. – Christopher Bibbs Aug 8 '11 at 13:23
  • I just meant not to the extreme. I think there should be something out there where I can achieve a lean muscular body without looking like the governator. – slandau Aug 8 '11 at 13:47
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    @Slandau, part of that has to do with the rep volume you do per set (higher volume=more bulk), and part of that has to do with what and how much you eat. Looking at your overview of your diet, it appears you are heavy on carbs and not enough on protein. That can be a recipe for pudginess. You'll have to skew it more towards protein consumption to help reduce the impact on your gut. – Berin Loritsch Aug 9 '11 at 15:58

The bullet point list of items you are asking for are at odds with one another and you need to recognize this and adjust either your goals or what you're willing to take on in order to achieve them.


You want to continue your current diet AND lose enough body fat to be able to see your abdominals AND work out less than 90 minutes/day. If you are currently 180lbs with a gut, you are most likely genetically predispositioned to carry fat around your abdomin so you'll need to hit single digits in body fat percentage. That doesn't come without serious dieting, extreme amounts of time working out, or both.

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  • And if this is the ONLY solution, that's fine - I just want to know that right now. Is something like P90X the ONLY thing that is going to work for me then? Or something as strenuous as it? – slandau Aug 8 '11 at 16:04

You will likely have to make adjustments to your diet to see the types of results you want to see. Higher protein, lower carb, and moderate fat. In essence if you split your calories in a day evenly between those macro nutrients you'll probably be doing much better in that department.

Now you said you didn't like Strong Lifts 5x5, but did you look at Starting Strength? Here's the benefits of a strength based program (either SL5x5 or SS) as far as your goals are concerned:

  • It is three times per week, up to an hour per session. It won't rule your life. In fact, rest is a very important part of the program.
  • You will build muscle which in turn burns more calories at rest.
  • You start small and build from there.
  • Results are measurable, and continued for a long time. This builds confidence and enjoyment of the program.
  • You don't have to be quite as concerned about what you eat, as long as you get the protein you need, and enough energy (fat and carbs) to recover your body will do the rest.

Now, if you don't have a squat rack (not a machine), you can always use the Steinborn lift to get the bar on your back. It's a great core workout in its own right.

Now, here's the thing. You have some trade-offs to consider. Weight training is probably the only way to get your conflicting goals close to satisfied. Anything else that will allow you to eat the way you want will take over your life. In short you will have to generate a lot of work to burn a lot of Calories. If you can be good with 3x a week and spending between 30 minutes to 1 hour on your exercise (it will progressively get longer as you rest longer between sets), weight training is the answer. Otherwise you will have to make major changes to your diet or do lots of work.

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  • Steinborn lift is a good tip; I hadn't heard of it before. Nice way to go old school without a rack. – G__ Aug 9 '11 at 20:34
  • +1 for starting strength. An important point to remember is that you have to eat as if you want to grow. The coach literally recommends a gallon of milk a day. If you are following the lifting plan, eating like this will support muscle growth, and for most folks will also lead to some increase in body fat. It’s easier to lose fat after you get big muscles than it is to grow big muscles while staying lean. – J. Win. Feb 13 '12 at 20:21

monday and friday

  • deadlift 3x5 two warm up sets 25% and 45% of 1rm
  • benchpress 3x5 two warm up sets 25% and 45% of 1rm
  • dumbbell bentover row or barbell bentover row. 3x5
  • barbell curl 1x15 go all out on one set
  • ab wheel or sit ups 2x20


  • goodmorning or RDL 3x8

  • shoulder press 3x5 two warm up sets 25% and 45% of 1rm

  • dumbbell lateral raise 3x8

  • hip thrust 3x8 (girl friend will thank you ;) two warm up sets 25% and 45% of 1rm

  • barbell curl 1x15 go all out on one set

    Do 15-25 minutes of cardio on tuesday, thursday and saturday if you want to, dont be a buster and walk for cardio. Also try to skip on potatoes, breads, candy, pasta, soft drinks, fried foods and to much alcohol they will spike your insulin and be stored as fat. Dont be afraid to pack down every thing else its ok to eat up to 3400 calories a day.

  • A little about myself i'am 23 yrs old 6'3" and 230 lbs it sounds heavy but iam pretty lean, i eat atleast 4500 calories a day and lift something like the template above more squats though. This template should work for you if you dont like it you should try HST which basically is periodization of sets and reps two weeks 1x15, two weeks 2x10, two weeks 3x5, one week break. You apply that set and rep scheme to your 6 chosen exercises and keep cycling through that. I have trained a few ppl and they have had great results with there goals.

  • remember to progressively load with all your exercises add five pounds to all exercises every work out and 10 pounds to deadlift monday and friday.

One more thing go to youtube and look up the correct way to do deadlifts, they are perfectly fine for your back if done correctly!! mark rippetoe has a good video on youtube about deadlifting correctly.

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I have the same reservations as you about working out. I can only share what's been working for me (switched the past month or so). I don't pay too much mind to the specifics just try to workout when I can and based on how I feel (don't force it when tired).

Hight intensity means shorter workouts (less than 20mins). I sprint as fast as I can then walk and do it over and over. If there is bad weather I use an exercise bike 10 secs fast as possible 20 secs rest for about 15mins. It can be hard and difficult but it's over quickly.

Started lifting for first time in my life. Bench press or deadlift, clean and jerk & squats. 3 reps 5 sets usually no more than 5-8 a set or I try to add weight. Don't focus on the amount of weight focus on form and being consistent in doing it.

Started being aware about limiting carbs. I try my best to limit it to 1 beer a day and anytime i have a sandwich it's one piece of bread for me. Heavy cream,lots of butter ,tons of salad and veggies with some meat mixed in. You'd be surprised how easy it is to switch out mashed potatoes for greens or regular fries for sweet potato fries. I go to reddit.com/r/paleo or /r/keto to get ideas.

I went from 33-34 pants to consistently fitting in 32's now and even my ex-gf commented on my arms so something is working.

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