I am an absolute beginner to the world of fitness and nutrition. I'm a classical geek that spends most of the time in front of the computer writing code, fixing stuff.

I've purchased a set of 15KG hand dumbbells and a Z bar 120 cm in size. This looked like the ideal beginner set to weight lifting.

I'm paying attention to what I eat, but in form of "let's don't eat that much, eat only 3/4 of it" so there is really no calorie or carb. measurement.

I want to improve my overall shape, build some muscles on my arms and my chest.
They should definitely build up a little bit and I have to get rid of my belly fat.


  • Now for the very very beginner, which exact exercises should I do?
  • What practical technique for food can I apply?
  • Should I avoid some food in general, like mayonnaise and eggs?

3 Answers 3


As an absolute beginner, I highly recommend reading Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book. It outlines 5 basic lifts that will exercise just about every muscle in your body. Those exercises will make you very strong. The book itself breaks down the lift step by step, and also provides some troubleshooting to help you get it right. I've written an intro to strength training a couple months ago that will at least help you decide what you want to do.

Essentially as a beginner, your are at an ideal position.

  • You will be able to gain strength every time you work out for the next few months
  • You will be able to burn fat and get strong at the same time (assuming you are careful with what you eat)

Of course as a beginner you also have some challenges:

  • You may not know how to do the exercises
  • You will have to be OK with not having a large number of plates on the bar (most people I see in the gym don't)
  • You may not be able to discern when advice someone is giving applies to you and your goals or not.
  • You don't know the importance of recovery yet (what you do outside the gym)

Check out the "Intro" I wrote, which will help you decide how to get started. The first step is finding a program that works with your goals. Since you are brand new, following someone else's beginner program is going to be more beneficial than randomly picking up weights and doing stuff. The beginners programs will usually have the big three: squats, bench press, and deadlifts. Also very common is the overhead press. A little more devided would be the opinions on whether beginners should start with power cleans (a very good, but very technical lift) or simply do barbell rows.

The basics of nutrition for a weightlifter is this: 1g protein per pound body weight, and the rest of the Calories as you see fit. Your muscles don't know or care whether the energy from the food comes from carbs or fat. Some things are clear, such as if you eat more Calories than you burn regularly you will gain weight. Some things are less clear, such as what impact carbs has on your body, and when you should have them. In some ways the more active you become, the less critical it becomes.

  • 1
    I've read your introduction, it's really could, the approach of the text is very very cool. I've printed it and will take a look now and then. I'm going to investigate the gym and ask questions if they have these and that and based on that, will do some workout. I'll get the book ASAP.
    – Herr
    Nov 6, 2011 at 9:22
  • 3
    Working everyday and getting better and better :) THANK YOU
    – Herr
    Nov 26, 2011 at 22:10

Some advice:

  • You can do a lot with your dumbbells and zbar, but by far not everything. Some muscle groups will be difficult to work on with only that equipment, which is why most people join a gym. This has nothing to do with beginner vs. advanced; even as a beginner you'll want to work out all major muscles, not just some of them. I strongly recommend joining a gym. As for the exercises you can do, here's a good directory: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html

  • Nutrition for strength training is a complex topic, so I can't get into the details. You should know, however, that generally you have to eat more than usual to gain muscle, not less, so your approach is flawed. Also keep in mind that most people choose to gain muscle and cut fat in separate cycles, meaning you first gain weight (both muscle and fat) and then cut some of the fat, then repeat. People with high testosterone can easily do both at the same time, but most people find that difficult.

  • There is nothing wrong with eggs; especially egg whites are a great source of protein. There's nothing wrong per se with mayonnaise either, but in general you have to watch how many calories, carbs, protein, etc. you consume.

Note that you're basically asking questions here which each have entire fields of study as an answer. Your first question is what every strength training book is concerned with, and the second is basically what the entire field of nutrition deals with. Asking what you should eat for muscle gain and fat loss is like asking "So how do I make a website?" or "Can somebody tell me how to write code?". These questions are simply not specific enough; what you need is to get into the topic and study.

  • Hmm i perfectly understood what you mean by this answer. How do I make a website is enough :) I think i'll study a little bit more on this topic :) THANK YOU VERY MUCH
    – Herr
    Nov 5, 2011 at 19:16
  • @HerrKaleun Look around at some of the other questions on this site. There's a lot of information available, and some of the best books on the subject are referenced again and again.
    – G__
    Nov 5, 2011 at 22:03
  • Well actually i was looking but if you don't know anything, it's very hard to sort the topics you see. That's why I opened this absolute beginner topic :)
    – Herr
    Nov 5, 2011 at 22:07

You seem to believe that if you just want bigger arms and a bigger chest, you just need to work those groups. This is a common misconception.

If you want to grow muscles you have to do big complex moves like the power-lifts to change your bodies hormonal environment. This is the most efficient way to put on muscle.

  • So i need to change the general behavior of my body first, say, for a time, then train the specific set of muscles? I also want to get rid of belly fat and be trained rather then being geeky :)
    – Herr
    Nov 8, 2011 at 19:46
  • What I say about big complex moves is good for belly fat, since that is specifically caused by non-activity. I would say just focus on big moves like squats and other big moves for the muscles you want to train (like bench press or military press). You can eventually add lifts that focus on specific muscles if you want, but that will always be an after-thought if you don't take performance enhancing drugs. About the only non-complex lift that is worth doing is the curl.
    – Joe
    Nov 8, 2011 at 21:00

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