I need to start working out.

Since a teenager I've been slightly overweight (10-15lbs, nothing crazy) but quite active usually doing Wrestling, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, multiple times a week and always biking to work. For a few years I also did caloric restriction which got me trim and generally feeling awesome.

Over the last few years career, personal life, and other hobbies have overwhelmed me and I've dropped all my good habits and am now overweight by a good 25lbs. Now I'm about to turn 30 and I want health to be my next project.

I've heard lots of good things about the p90x system. Because of my background I'm not afraid of sweating and soreness and of course it would be nice to see quick results. I also know that a structureless workout would not work for me, every time I go to the gym I just drift between machines aimlessly.

I AM however concerned that launching into p90x might not be a good move as I'm not in shape and having to take a break every 10 minutes would be stupid, discouraging, and counter-productive.

Is there a system you would recommend for people like me who are not afraid of exertion but might not be in the physical shape where something like p90x is optimum? I'm not afraid of expending effort or even a little money, my biggest limitation is time-per-week.

Any other recommendations are welcome.

  • This could be an easier question for us to answer if it was a bit more focussed. Right now you're asking for an easier p90x, but also for any system that we could recommend for somebody who wants to work hard, or any recommendations at all. I gave an answer about strength training, but I was assuming a lot about what you were really asking.
    – user3085
    May 29, 2012 at 6:59

2 Answers 2


I would recommend a general barbell strength training program such as Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength (an alternative is Stronglifts 5x5, but its workouts are slightly longer, and you've expressed a desire for short workouts).

Starting Strength is built around 5 basic barbell lifts: the squat, bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and power clean.

I recommend it for three reasons:

  • It is a very simple program, with clear structure. Your time is important, and a program like Starting Strength is probably the most efficient use of your time in the gym.
  • You will see strength gains between every workout.
  • Full body strength training using barbells is one of the best ways to change your body composition, lower your body fat, and add muscle that matters.

Every time you go to the gym, you will know exactly what exercises you will be doing, how much weight to put on the barbell, and how many reps you'll be doing. No more aimless drifting. No more wasted time.

Here are the resources that will help you start this program. I really encourage you to take the time to understand the program before jumping into it. You can't just take bits and pieces from it and expect results.

  • As someone who has done all three programs (Starting Strength, StrongLifts, P90X), I 100% agree with Sancho that you would be better with one of the barbell workouts and not P90X.
    – Moses
    May 29, 2012 at 17:02
  • This sounds great. That structure is exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks so much I'll definitely look at it. To clarify. I've got a natural Russian wrestler build and so am stout and fairly strong. I am therefore primarily interested in trimming down and losing the fat. It sounds like you're saying that strength training will address that incidentally. Is this correct. May 31, 2012 at 21:44
  • Yes, that's correct!
    – user3085
    May 31, 2012 at 21:57

Get your diet inline, cut out the crap, and start with walking and body weight exercises (air squats, pushups, etc.) Make sure you are doing full range of motion movements and getting some stretching time in too. Just get your body use to moving then start the program. If you need to stop during the routine, do so, no need to kill yourself during a workout.

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