My first 8 Months of Lifting

In this article and video I want to share the story of how I got into lifting, what I did in the beginning and what I’d do differently if I could go back in time. I believe you’ll pick up some good lessons on consistency, noobie gains, and weight training programming for beginners.

Let’s begin!

Alright, so I first stepped inside of a gym when I was 17, at the beginning of the 11th grade in high school. My friend Rareș, who you’ve seen many times in my vlogs was actually the one that dragged me to the gym because initially I didn’t want to go.

I remember I used every excuse to skip workouts, even stuff like homework or the weather. That changed soon after though. I became very dedicated as soon I started to see progress.

Fitness Magazine style workouts

Our training routine in the beginning was obviously bad. I was completely clueless about nutrition and training but Rareș just started reading fitness magazines. So he was in charge of our training. I followed everything he said and did. Like the story of the blind man following another blind man…

I remember our first routine very well, it was like this:

Monday – Arms (oh yeah, we had a day dedicated to arms)

  • Dumbbell Curls – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Rope push-downs – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Barbell Curls – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Skull crushers – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Machine curls – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Dumbbell Triceps extensions – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6

Wednesday – Back and Shoulders

  • Lat pull-downs – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Barbell rows – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Cable rows – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Dumbbell rows – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Behind the neck standing overhead press – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • A sort of lateral raises – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6

Friday – Chest

  • Flat Bench Press – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Incline Bench Press – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
  • Machine Chest Flyes – 12, 10, 8, 6, 6

Clearly there are a lot of wrong things about this routine. The frequency is low, the volume is ridiculously high, I was missing entire muscle groups, I was using ascending pyramid sets, etc. It was bad in general.

But did it work?

Actually, yeah! We both made very good gains on it.

Check out the photos in the video. Pretty decent results for 8 months of lifting, right? Except for legs. We didn’t train them at all.

The power of noobie gains

Everything works in the beginning, no matter how bad it is. That’s a problem because you tend to think you’re doing things right.

In addition to following this bad routine my nutrition was also bad.

I was not getting enough protein and I drank alcohol almost every weekend during that time. In Romania when you get to 18 years old you have a big party to celebrate reaching the adult age. So if you have about 50 friends in your generation that means you had at least one of those epic parties each weekend. We drank a lot.

But with all that bad training and bad nutrition I still made gains. Noobie gains For The Win!

The problems started after those first 7-8 months when we maxed out our noob gains and our training program was no longer working. I hit a wall, I was no longer progressing on anything. And that’s when I went online to find some answers.

The problem with online information

When I started reading articles and watching videos I picked up a lot of bad advice like eating every 2-3 hours, going low carb dieting, doing tons of cardio, and so on.

For my first months of lifting I was eating 3 meals a day and it worked great. I was eating tons of carbs and did not get fat. But now suddenly because I read some random article all my personal experiences no longer mattered. I thought I’ve been doing everything wrong.

All this conflicting information only made things worse because now I was putting even more time into my training and diet and I still was not getting any results.

So after a while I got really frustrated and stopped going to the gym completely. I was really busy with school during that time because it was my final year and I also started working so I just didn’t want to go to the gym anymore.

I stopped working out and I resumed lifting only about 1.5 years later, in the summer of 2013.

What I would have done differently

If I could go back in time here’s what I’d do:

First of all I’d study the overall philosophy of building a great physique. I now wrote an entire ebook about that “The Path to your Goal Physique” which you can download for free. You’d be extremely fortunate to read that ebook at the beginning of your fitness journey.

Second of all I would follow a different routine. I would cut volume at least in half and I would use a higher frequency routine focusing on gaining strength on a few key movements. Beginners should train body parts and exercises very often because they can make progress every workout. You can read all about that in this article about training splits and in this article about training frequency.

And lastly I would learn about macros and energy balance. The basics of nutrition. I wrote an entire ebook about that as well Master of Macros which you can get for free.

What I was trying to do in the beginning was losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. And it worked for a while but then it became wasted effort. You need to learn about nutrition to know how to set up your cut and bulk cycles to improve your body composition.

 

So that’s pretty much it. My story of how I started lifting and the mistakes I did. If you have any question leave them below, I’ll gladly answer!


The Program that built my physique

When I restarted lifting in the summer of 2013 I learned how to get lean but I still had a hard time gaining muscle and strength. I struggled for 5-6 months before I picked up the Greek God Program.

That program solved my problems and radically transformed my physique in the next year. See my one year transformation with it.

10 Comments

  1. Ari on November 11, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Hey, Radu! (The comment is long, hopefully you’ll have some much appreciated time to answer it in the near future)
    I don’t know if you remember, but you helped me get started with fitness a few months ago which I’m really thankful for!
    Now that I’ve been going to the gym for 4 months I’d like to do some powerlifting, but I also want to train other muscle groups that aren’t trained by the 3 exercises in powerlifting. I know that you aren’t doing powerlifting, but perhaps you could still help me, because you’re very knowledgeable and aesthetic.
    When I started following what you had recommended I could only squat, deadlift and bench 30kg for 1 rep max. After 2 months of what you had recommended I started a powerlifting program and now my 1 rep max for squat is 90kg, deadlift 110kg, bench 55kg without any belts, straps, gloves or other gear. I progress really fast on deadlifts and squats, but the bench is really, really slow…
    Here’s the program I’ve been following:
    Monday:
    Squat 4(sets)x5(reps)
    Deadlift 4×4
    Bench 4×5
    Wednesday:
    Squat 5×3
    Deadlift 3×3
    Bench 5×3
    Friday:
    Squat 6×2
    Deadlift 4×2
    Sunday:
    Gradually pyramid up to 1 rep max with rest for each exercise and then back without rest.
    I also pyramid up everyday with the exercise I’m about to do to warm up and get my body ready for the weight.
    Here’s the program I think on doing, so I can train other muscle groups:
    Monday:
    Flat bench – pyramid up with rest to a weight that I can do 3 reps with and then back without rest
    Incline bench 3×10
    Close-grip bench 3×10
    Scull crushers 4×10
    Triceps pulldown 4×10
    Tuesday:
    Deadlift – pyramid up to 3 and down
    Barbell row 3×10
    Lat pulldown 3×10
    Pulley machine 3×10
    Barbell curl 4×10
    Preacher curl 4×10
    Dumbbell curl 4×10
    Thursday:
    Military press – pyramid
    Side raises 4×10
    Rear delt raises 4×10
    And I also plan on adding some forearm exercise on this day
    Friday:
    Squat – pyramid
    Stiff-legged deadlift 4×10
    Standing calve raises 3×20
    Which one would you recommend for someone who’s been training for only 4 months and wants do to powerlifting, but also wants to train some other muscle groups to look bigger.
    Thank you again for all the help and motivation 🙂

    • Radu Antoniu on November 17, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Wow Ari!

      You’re making some killer gains. Glad to hear that !

      I haven’t studied powerlifting much and I really don’t want to give advice on something I’m not sure about. Do you follow any powerlifters online? You could ask them for an opinion 🙂

  2. Ari on November 18, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Thank you, Radu! 🙂
    I have and they all say different things.. Some say that I should continue with the 3 exercises and progress on them for as long as I can, while others say that I should have exercise variations, so that I don’t plateau and also develop other muscle groups.
    Oh, and thanks for the weighted pull-ups and chin-ups video! It came out exactly when I needed it. 🙂 Adding them every after workout now.

    • Radu Antoniu on November 28, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Oh man I know what that’s like. Sorry that I can’t help you this.

      Sure, glad it helped!

  3. Alex on February 22, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Hi Radu!
    I fi

    • Radu Antoniu on February 28, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Alex!

  4. Radu on May 25, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Hello,

    Can you offer some advice on how to properly work out as a beginner? I know it’s a complex topic, but I’ve been reading through your articles and e-books, and there are examples of compound movement exercises which you recommend for beginners. More specifically, do I need to warm up before training, and if yes, in which manner? eg, should I perform the intended exercise type but with less weight and for a longer number or reps?

    Thank you,
    Radu

    • Radu Antoniu on May 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Hey!

      You can do 3 warm up sets of 5, 3,1 reps with 50%, 70% and 90% of the weight you’re going to use in your work sets.

      • Radu on May 26, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        Thank you, Radu.
        Btw, you are doing an excellent job, no related articles got me this interested before.
        I wish you all the best.

  5. Leon on March 26, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Hey Radu I think you’re full of shit, everyone should just hop on the test 400 and see some real gains. Pussys

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