| Article Summary:
It's almost the New Year. For those of us gym rats, that means an annoying influx of newbies to our comfortable gym setting. We call them "The Resolutioners." But why are they annoying? Could it be that they just don't know any better? Many times that is the case.
What if you are a newbie? What should you do? How do you choose a gym? Create a workout? Fix your diet? Where do you start? This article is not for people who are just going to clean up their diet and maybe walk a night or two a week.
I am targeting people who have decided to make a significant difference in their health and fitness for the long term. Hopefully, this article will give you some direction and tips, and be of some help.
Here are some of the points I will cover in this article.
- Basic Fitness Equations
- Defining Your Goals
- Selecting A Gym
- Deciding If You Need A Trainer
- Gym Etiquette
- Changing The Bad Habits
- Sticking With It
- Helpful Supplementation
I will be basing my recommendations on the following assumptions:
- You have consulted with your physician and you are healthy enough to start a diet and exercise program.
- You have access to a gym.
- You will, after reading this, take the time to actually learn the proper way to perform exercises.
- You are actually committed to improving your health and fitness levels.
Trying to gain muscle? Trying to lose body fat? There are some basic parameters that you must follow to achieve these goals.
- Gain weight = Calories in > calories out
- Lose weight = Calories in < calories out
Seems easy right? The problem lies in the fact that we are not trying to lose or gain just weight. Most people are trying to lose fat or gain muscle. To do that, the equations are still the same, but it's how you balance them that changes.
One pound of body fat equals approximately 3500 calories. So a negative balance of 500 calories per day will allow most people to drop 1 pound of body fat per week. This is a safe, healthy, and maintainable pace. If weight loss is too fast, a person will lose too much muscle along with the fat.
Many of you are trying to "get back in shape." Preferably some great body shape you had years ago, sometimes many years ago. Don't rush it! You did not "get out of shape" in a month. You cannot get back in shape in a month. If you can maintain a consistent pace of losing one pound of fat each week, by July 4th, you'll be down 26 lbs.
By next New Year, you'll have lost 52 lbs. I am pretty sure you did not put on 26 lbs in 6 months or 52 lbs in one year. So pace yourself, be consistent, don't rush, and don't get discouraged. However, you cannot just 'diet off' body fat. If you try this, you will lose muscle and, with it, lower your metabolism permanently. This will restrict your future caloric intake or you will just put the fat right back on.
Some of you are trying to add some muscle. Muscle goes on the body at a much slower rate than fat comes off or goes on. You will not be able to continuously add 1 lb of muscle on a weekly basis. If you try, you will eventually wind up fat. Adding muscle needs to be a slow and meticulous process.
Do not believe the "bulking up" hype. "Bulking up" is another phrase for "I'm gonna get fat and hope I add some muscle in the process." As you add muscle, you will add some body fat along the way, so you need to be very vigilant to not add too much. It is very possible to still see your abs while adding muscle.
It just takes more discipline to do this. If you bulk up, then have to rip down, chances are you'll wind up the same size you would have been if you never got fat in the first place. If you get off track, don't give up, just get back on track!
Before you create a plan, you need to know what you want to achieve.
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?|
Losing Body Fat:
If you want to lose body fat, you need to adjust the
caloric balance. If you are a stable state, meaning you are currently maintaining your present weight, this should be achieved by increasing the amount of calories burned along with a slight decrease in calories taken in.
To achieve long term fat loss, you need to maintain the muscle mass you currently have and use it to your advantage. Muscle is the primary driver of your metabolism. Aside from organ functions, muscle is the only thing that burns calories. With this in mind, you need to increase the percentage of calories you get from protein sources as you drop total calories.
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You will need to transition your carbohydrate intake from starches to more complex fibrous carbohydrates. This will keep your blood sugar levels more stable, decreasing cravings, and force the body to work harder to digest the food. I would recommend seeking the assistance of a licensed nutritionist if you need serious help or have dietary restrictions or food allergies.
You will also need to incorporate strength training along with cardiovascular exercise. Why? Your body has a built in survival mechanism. As you decrease calories, your body thinks it is starving. It will try to drop your metabolism to balance the calories it is taking in.
Since muscle is the driver of your metabolism, it wants to eat muscle tissue so it won't starve. The only way to try and force your body to keep the muscle is to convince it that the muscle is needed. This is accomplished by taxing the muscle with strength training
Not so much that it breaks itself down, but enough so it thinks the muscle is needed. You may need some help designing the right program to balance your cardio and strength training with your new caloric intake.
|RELATED VIDEO: EXERCISE & YOUR METABOLISM|
If you want to add muscle, you need to start slowly increasing your caloric intake to bring the necessary
calories into your system to trigger some growth. You cannot simply start "eating more." If it were that easy, you would have a huge percentage of the population that was incredibly muscular.
Instead, take a look, there is a disproportionate percentage of the population that is just obese. You need to clean up the diet. "You are what you eat" is never truer than when trying to build quality muscle.
If you are reading this article, you are probably what we trainers call "de-conditioned." This means that you have been out of the gym seriously for more than several months in a row. Many of you have been out of the gym for many years in a row and many have never lifted 'seriously.'
When you are in this state, I need to warn you, do not jump into "lifting weights." For the first couple of months you will be actually preparing your body to lift weights.
This means that you need to start off slow, let the connective tissue and
recovery systems of the body catch up to the new stresses that they are seeing, and find out if you have some serious "weak links" before they smack you in the face.
Nothing is more disheartening than just getting started and suffering a serious or nagging injury that takes you back out of the gym, sometimes for good. While you may 'think' you remember what to do, you may be better off to enlist the help of a trainer in getting started again.
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Most people do not have the knowledge or the financial means to immediately put in a good home gym. In addition to that, if you are starting out, it can be more motivational to go to a gym with others who have similar goals.
If you live in a relatively populated area, there are usually a lot of gyms to choose from, but what fits you the best? Well, the only way to know if you will like one is to go check it out.
If you are just trying to lose some body fat and gain a little muscle along the way, there are many gyms for you. Many of the big chains offer a variety of classes and have a large selection of machines and cardio equipment to choose from.
If, however, you are serious about gaining muscle, your options have, unfortunately, shrunk recently. Any place with a "lunk alarm", "donut Friday", or someone at the front desk who does not know what a squat rack is or where to locate it, is not the place for you.
These places cater to mediocrity. But a good gym for you does not have to be a stinking sweat-hole either, with dumbbells and plates all over the floor. These places are populated by wannabe, self-centered lifters who think it is someone else's job to pick up after them.
You may need to make some compromises, but a clean gym, with the right group of people, can make all the difference in how good your workouts are.
Click Image To Enlarge.
A Clean Gym With The Right Group Of People Can Make
All The Difference In How Good Your Workouts Are.
When choosing your gym, get a free pass for a few days, show up at the time you would most like to workout, and see how you like it. If you like it, join for a few months or a year. Sometimes it is worth the extra monthly fee to get a short term membership if you are not totally committed to that gym.
If you cannot answer these questions, seek the help of a trainer. I know that many people cannot afford a full-time trainer. However, there are some people that will need a full-time trainer to force them to be accountable.
I personally do not think that most people need a full-time, hand-holding, long-term trainer. I think a lot of people just need someone to get them on track, keep them on track for a while, and teach them how to motivate themselves.
I would prefer to work with someone, help them make changes, set them on the right path, and turn them loose for a while. When they need more help, they will return.
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What is the proper time frame to work with a trainer? This depends mainly on the level of the trainee. For some it is 3 months, others 6, others a year or more. But face it, if you are not seeing results, and you are doing your best, after 3 or 4 months, you need to find another trainer.
Many gyms have a training staff. I will not disrespect these people but will say that I have found few staff trainers I would use, but I am a different level of trainee.
Dr. David Ryan
Most staff trainers can move you in the right direction. The trainers that have consistent repeat business and referrals are the ones who show their clients results. So if you find a good one, tell your friends.
If, after the first session, the trainer makes you so sore that you cannot move the next day, request another trainer. A good trainer will not do this.
I am not going to beat this one to death. There are dozens of articles about how to not be a "gym idiot." All of the articles come down to a few points:
- The Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Clean up after yourself.
- Put the dumbbells back in the right spot, unload the plates from the bars and machines (I don't care how many were on there when you started, that person is an idiot), and if you take a bench and move it to the other side of the gym for some strange reason, take it back!
- Wipe down benches and equipment after you use them. You don't want to lie down in someone's sweat, and neither does anyone else.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Wipe Down The Benches &
Equipment After You Use Them.
View More Hilarious Brawn's Gym Comics Here.
- Learn how to use the machines. If you have decided not to use a trainer, at least learn how to properly set up and use each machine. Many gyms offer one free session with a personal trainer. Use this session to learn how to set up and use every piece of equipment you think you may need. This will do two things for you - keep you from injuring yourself and keep you from looking like a total gym idiot.
- Learn and practice proper form with free weights. If you have to cheat to lift it, you cannot lift it, and everyone knows it. Use the proper weight, the proper form, and make each rep count. I tell trainees to warm up and then do each rep like you mean it. Again - no injuries and you don't immediately get the idiot tag. Guys, this point particularly applies to you. Just because you are male does not give you some genetic predisposition to know how to lift correctly. 90% of all bad lifting in the gym is done by guys. So lift properly or stay out of my way.
- Nobody cares what you do for a living, what you want for dinner, if your buddy hooked up last night, etc. So keep your cell phone out of the gym unless you are a doctor on call or have small children at home. If you must take a phone call, get off the bench or machine and move away from others. You are no longer working out, so let others.
- Working out rigorously requires adequate oxygen intake. Oxygen intake requires breathing. Keep up your personal hygiene so people around you can breathe. Don't be that "stinky one" in the gym.
- Keep it covered. Girls, tank tops are fine, tight clothes ok, even a sports bra if you can pull it off, but nobody needs to see your T & A. This goes for guys too, wear your underwear or wear sweatpants. Save the display for private. People don't think it's sexy, they think it's creepy, and it is. If you look like a yeti, shave or wear a full t-shirt.
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- If you are not using a piece of equipment, move away from it. This goes for having conversations in front of machines, water fountains, etc.
This is a must. You got where you are today from setting and following bad habits. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, processed sugar, lack of water, lack of sleep, overwhelming stress, and poor nutrition will all contribute to poor health and an unfit body.
You cannot change long term because you think you need to change. You must want to change. Sometimes it's just a look in the mirror one day, getting mad as hell, and saying "I'm not going to look like this any more!"
Sometimes it's a look around you and realizing that you have people who depend on you and you want to get healthy to see them grow up.
For me, it's seeing the picture of me launching the little one across the pool and realizing that I want to be able to do the same thing with her kids. I want to be the big strong grandpa someday. I don't want to be the grandpa who takes insulin shots and can't get up off the floor by himself.
Whatever it is that got you to this point, stop it now! It's never too late to get in shape. Inspiration: Every morning that I hit the gym at 5:00 a.m., I walk in the door and think, "Maybe I can go home and get another hour of sleep."
Then I see Helen, who is 84 and there everyday, so she can keep doing the things she likes to do. Like driving and shopping and not needing assistance to do so. If she can do it, so can I, and so can you.
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The general consensus is that it takes approximately 90 days to change bad habits and develop a consistent healthy lifestyle pattern. So, chances are, if you can get past March, you're on your way. A good idea is to not weigh on a daily basis, but only every 5-10 days.
Weigh at the same time of the day, wearing the same thing, every time. Also, don't always believe the scale. When you start a strength training regimen, and get your body properly hydrated, you will notice an initial "weight gain." If you are weighing yourself daily, it will freak you out.
Use the mirror as a judge. Use the feeling of your clothes. I can fluctuate up 5 or more lbs and never feel any tightening of the waistband.
This is a long term journey on which you are about to embark. Short term frustrations are part of it. If you weigh yourself and take pictures at the beginning and every 6-8 weeks, you will see the differences that you cannot see every day.
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If you stick with a consistent program for 90 days, you will see a difference. That should be enough to keep you going. Will you have setbacks? Yes! But learning to work through the setbacks is what defines your character, or your lack thereof. Have some character for God's sake. Make this a healthy long term lifestyle, not a short term "fix."
Embarking on a new journey into health and fitness induces new stresses on your body. Increased protein intake must be achieved. Healthy snack alternatives must be found. Your body must be properly nourished to enable it to work hard, repair, and rebuild itself into a "lean mean machine."
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Losing Body Fat:
You may need the help of
appetite suppressants and
thermogenics to help with the lower food intake. You will also need some supplemental
protein to get what you need without having to eat solid meals all the time.
Glutamine is a good way to allow for muscle repair in a calorie deficient state. You will need a good multivitamin. If you are getting a bit older some joint support products and fiber can also be helpful.
snacks containing protein can help to satiate hunger and keep blood sugar levels stable so cravings do not set in.
Your main concern is muscle repair. For this you will need additional
amino acids. As you progress, I would recommend additional
nitric oxide enhancing supplement, and a good quality
carb source to assist with glycogen replenishment.
Glycogen is a polysaccharide of glucose (Glc) which functions as the secondary short term energy storage in animal cells. It is made primarily by the liver and the muscles, but can also be made by the brain and stomach.
Joint support products,
fiber, and other dietary supplements may be very beneficial to you down the road. If you are an early morning lifter, like me, you may need a pre-workout stimulant to give you a little more explosive
energy than you would need if just doing circuit weight and
Supplements That You Will Find Helpful:
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- SciVation Dialene 4x
- PharmaGenX Ventilean Cubed
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- SciVation VasoCharge
- Trionix TRX-7
- SciVation Whey
- SportPharma Just Whey
- Magnum Quattro
- IDS Whey
- Syntrax Nectar
- Optimum 100% Whey
- Optimum Oats & Whey
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Thermogenics & Pre-Workout Stimulants:
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Nitric Oxide Enhancing Supplements:
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Whey Protein Or Blends:
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Aminos And BCAA's:
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General Dietary Stuff:
I hope this has helped some. It is not meant to be the 'know all be all' of exercise science, but more of a helpful guide to get you started on, hopefully, a lifelong path to better fitness.
As Always, Good luck. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. I attempt to respond to everyone if possible.
Until next time, Lift Big 2 Get Big.
PS: Let me know if there's a certain topic YOU would like to see me address.