Lift Vault Forum

Looking for a beginner program

Hello all,

I’m 40 years old at 6’1”, 186 lbs, and over 40” waist. I always beer myself as skinny fat from too much beer, bar foods, restaurants and late night eating. Mostly, happened during my 20s.

I have no upper nor lower body strength.

My fitness goal is not to be a strong man competition. I rather lift weights and look good being on the beach with my shirt off.

Example Abercrombie and Fitch models, Zac Efron , and Chris Pratt.

Will bodybuilding/ muscle building the way to go?

Currently, I’m running Gray Skull for about Off and on 20 weeks. I may missed weeks because injury getting use to lifting. Some weeks were missed because of the past holidays.

I’m lifting the 5 main compound lifts; overhead press, bench press, bent over barbell rows, Squats, and deadlifts.

I also added push ups, tricep dips, barbell curls and lat pull downs with underhand grips.

I exercise 3 days a week. M,W,F

Light cardio 2 days a week. Tues, Thu

The only thing I have a problem with this routine I use resistance bands attach to barbell, and a door, so I can get as close to the free weight moves. I’m able to add weights over 300 lbs.

One thing I like Gray Skull because of their app. Easy to keep track and know which weights I need to use.

When will I know I stall out or switch out programs? I still fill I can make more gains.

I’ve been thinking about doing nSuns 531 afterwards. I really like the AMRAP.

Any suggestions is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time,


If your goal is to look good, then change to a physique focused routine, I recommend this
The purpose of Greyskull is to be used as a short term “training wheels” program for learning the fundamental barbell lifts, as said in the Adding Physical Activity of The Fitness Wiki:

This is a straightforward, bare-bones routine to help you get comfortable with fundamental barbell lifts which are a core component of most lifting routines and includes guidelines for cardio and conditioning work. Follow this plan for a maximum of 3 months. If you are already comfortable with the fundamental barbell lifts, you should probably skip this step.

Great! Thanks for your reply. I for sure to look into it.

One thing I like about Gray Skull they have an app. Are there any good apps to keep track of routines?

One question I like about the routine is how can I get spreadsheets? I’m an expat living in China and don’t have access to Google.

Is it possible to get them emailed to me or another place I can gain access?

Thank you,


Also, I would like to add. After 3 months what other programs I should look into to get the physique or asthenic body, like Frank Zane.



I use the Strong app, you can create your own routines.

Do you have access to a File Hosting Service? Something like Dropbox/MediaFire/MEGA/WeTransfer/Zippyshare? If yes, I can upload and send it to you.

There’s no such thing, any decent program that focus on physique and has moderate intensity and volume will work. I recommended the one by Ripped Body because it takes care of the things you’re not able to assess when you’re a beginner (volume, intensity, reps, failure, recovery state etc), so it’s easier to follow.

I’m currently using the Grey Skull LP app last 6 moths. I currently stalled out on many of my exercises at my body weight which is around 86 kg. All my routines are under 200 lbs besides dead lifts. I’m thinking of deloading about 50% and add a 4th set. 3 sets of 5 last set AMRAP or RPE. I use the Phraks routine w/ arms accessories. I like the app. One thing I like about the app it shows a graph of my gains in volume after each workout. I looked into Strong app. I like how you can add and custom your workouts. There’s no line graph to track your improvements.

My question is after 3 months, do I continue the same workout or there are others that I can switch? I looking at Ripped Body website and they have a Intermediated Bodybuilding program. Should I try that out?

I’m going to continue reading Ripped Body website and the book. Looks like more valuable information for what I’m trying to achieve.

Before I was thinking to do power lift programs because I’m weak with no muscles. Read many articles and forums should start here with Grey Skull, Strong Lifts, Ivysaur, Nsuns, etc…

Bodybuilding I’ve always think of the Mr. Olympia and didn’t want to pack that much of muscles. Than I realized I will not achieve that look. People achieve that if they live in the gym and have a strict diet. Now I know I can use bodybuilding routines to help shape my body and add accessories.

Many thanks,


If you’re already stalled on many exercises and can’t progress, then it’s time to change to a routine that has more volume and better fits your goal (in this case, physique), if you keep trying to increase load>stall>deload>increase load>stall>deload and not change the other fundamentals (intensity, volume, variety of exercises etc) you will just keep spinning your wheels.

As I said, Greyskull is for complete beginners that wants to start strength training using barbells. If you already have experience and are comfortable with the staple barbell lifts (Bench Press, Overhead Press, Row, Squat, Deadlift), a more comprehensive routine is better for you. The primary goal of Greyskull is to be a simple, easy to follow routine that will help beginners get into the gym, start training with the standard barbell lifts, and build a habit of going to the gym consistently.

The way of the Strong app to show volume increases is after you done a workout and in the Dashboard screen, if you click in the “+” button, you can track exercises of your choice. There’s a million workout trackers out there, just try them.

After you done a beginner program and changed to a more comprehensive routine that fits your goal, there’s no need to change your routine every 3 months, this is broscience, just continue doing it until you feel you can no longer progress, assuming that diet and sleep aren’t an issue. Try the Novice Bodybuilding Program first.

You did nothing wrong starting with a simple routine, but as I said, Greyskull and similar routines are just a “training wheels” to get you comfortable with the barbell lifts and make it a habit of going to the gym.

And yes, I highly recommend you to continue reading the Ripped Body website, Andy Morgan (founder of the site), is one of the three authors of the Muscle & Strength Pyramid book which has an amazing reputation among bodybuilding circles. Morgan excels at simplifying complex topics without butchering the accuracy of the information given.
I recommend you read How to Choose the Right Training Program and the articles in the TRAINING THEORY AND HOW TO PROGRESS category of this link:

Great !!!:+1:

I will for sure to try this out. Seems more suitable for me and yeah I do need more volume.

I can’t for sure say I feel comfortable doing the lifts. Unfortunately, I don’t use free weights. I’ve been using bands and was able to stack them up to 200 lbs of resistance. I use barbell for the bands

I also received the spreadsheet.

Thank you.

Last thing, what about abs? Is there a ab routine that goes with the bodybuilding?

Thank you

You can do any abdominal exercise if you want, but I will paste a passage from The Muscle & Strength Pyramid book so you can draw your own conclusion:

Why There Are No Shrugs or Direct Abdominal Work in the Bodybuilding Programs

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve never actually seen a bodybuilder improve their abs or their upper traps by adding in these exercises to an already well-balanced routine that includes deadlift and squat variants, overhead pressing, rowing, other compound free weight exercises.

This is not just about beginners, but advanced trainees and even professionals too.

I’ve seen bodybuilders who don’t have a well-balanced routine that includes these compounds exercises benefit from performing shrugs and direct ab work, but that is already starting with would be a suboptimal approach in the first place in my opinion.

I’ve also met many bodybuilders who claim that these exercises are critical to the development of their traps and abs, but invariably these bodybuilders are already performing forty-odd exercises, so how would they know what was doing what?

Most convincingly, I’ve seen bodybuilders remove shrugs and direct abdominal work from well-balanced plans that include a lot of compound exercises without any detriment to their traps or abs.

Now, all that said, when I work with bodybuilders who specifically have weak traps or abs, I do prescribe direct ab work and shrugs. That’s just common sense and even if it’s not successful, it’s worth the attempt. So, if you do happen to be someone with weak abdominal muscles (and not just someone who holds fat in their midsection) or upper- trap development, feel free to add a few sets of these exercises per week.