Back to Basics: How to Exceed Your Fitness Goals in 2015
By Johnathan Givens, M.S., CSCS
Fitness is one of the most important aspects of life. If you want to live longer and feel better physically, then it’s imperative that you get into good shape. You need to eat right, exercise regularly, and avoid excesses in all these areas.
You may have heard about the importance of dieting before, but if you’re like many others, you’ve probably been doing it wrong. For years I was overweight and suffered from numerous health problems due to my unhealthy lifestyle. When I started working out again six months ago, I wanted to do something different than what I had done previously.
So I decided to start a new exercise routine.
I knew that I needed to make changes in order to improve my overall health and fitness level. However, I didn’t really know where or how to begin. My previous experience with exercising consisted of going for long walks around the neighborhood, which were usually uneventful except for the occasional dog barking at me when I walked past.
That was about it!
If you’re looking for a place to start, then this is it! The purpose of this program is to get you comfortable with the basics of physical fitness and also provide a resource that you can come back to when you need to. You’ll learn how to go from being a beginner with no knowledge of exercise or proper nutrition to an intermediate user who can safely perform more difficult routines and has some basic understanding of how the body works.
Rest and Recovery
Just as it’s important to know how to exercise properly, it’s also essential that you learn how to rest and recover. Your muscles don’t grow during workouts; they grow when you’re resting. It is very easy to overtrain if you’re not careful, so always remember to listen to your body.
If something hurts, then stop. If you don’t feel like working out one day, then take a rest day. The bottom line is that results will come a lot faster if you learn how to listen to your body.
The Basics of Nutrition
You probably won’t find a single person out there who got in shape and maintained their physique without first getting on good nutrition. If you don’t eat right, then it doesn’t matter how much you exercise because you’re not going to achieve the results that you desire.
What I want you to keep in mind is that you don’t need to go on a diet. All you really have to do is make better food choices.
Instead of eating a large pizza, why not eat a personal size pizza and grab some fruit for dessert? Instead of getting that big mac combo, why not just get the McDouble and either skip the fries or get the small fries?
It’s really not that hard.
This is what I like to call “The 80/20 Rule of Nutrition.” It states that you should be eating healthy and making good food choices 80% of the time and the other 20% you can indulge yourself. The key is to stay consistent and eventually, it will become a habit.
Strength Training vs. Cardio
A lot of people tend to either neglect one or focus more on the other. Ideally, you want to do a combination of both in order to achieve your fitness goals. Having said that, your primary goal should be to build lean muscle tissue which can be done with strength training.
By lifting weights and doing various exercises, you’ll increase the size and density of the muscles in your body. This is what will ultimately raise your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), which is the amount of calories that you burn at rest.
That’s not to say that cardio is useless. In fact, it can be very useful for helping you lose those last few pounds of fat and defining your muscles a bit better. The trick is to not over do it.
If you’re doing too much cardio, then you won’t have sufficient energy left to strength train.
The Basics of Weight Training
The main goal of weight training, just as the name implies, is to build strength by exerting force on external objects such as dumbbells, barbells, and other forms of resistance. When most people think of weight training, they usually think of huge bodybuilders in a gym grunting and lifting massive weights. While this is true to some extent, weight training can be tailored to your specific goals.
If your goal is to increase your BMR and burn more calories, then you’ll want to focus more on lighter weights with more repetitions. If you’re looking to add more muscle mass and size, then you’ll need to focus more on heavier weights with less repetition. This may sound confusing as most people think that in order to gain muscle size you need to lift massive amounts of weight.
While this is sometimes true, especially for those of you who have been weight training for years, most beginners will make better progress by using a wider range of motion and lifting less weight.
The only equipment that I require of my students is a set of adjustable dumbbells and a gym membership. The adjustable dumbbells will allow you to do a wider variety of exercises as opposed to fixed weights, which are limited. Below are some examples of these types of dumbbells.
If you don’t have access to adjustable dumbbells, then fixed weight dumbbells are adequate as well. I just feel that adjustable dumbbells offer a wider range of exercises. Here’s an example:
At the time of writing, this set of weights is less than $200, which is very affordable and will last you for many years.
If you don’t have access to a gym that has free weights, don’t worry. You can still follow my program and achieve the same results. Just substitute the exercises that call for free weights with machines.
If you really don’t have any access to any type of gym or equipment, then you can still follow my program by doing bodyweight exercises. This article will explain how to do these types of exercises:
Gentlemen, Get Ready To Get Ripped!
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is get a notebook and write down the program. It’s VERY important that you keep track of what exercises you do and what weights you use. This will not only help you keep on track, but will also allow you to measure your progress as you go.
You’ll be able to see improvements in not only your strength gains, but also how your clothes fit and how you look.
Note: If you’ve never trained with weights before, I recommend that you see a physician first and get his permission to start a weight training program as well as advise you on what would be a good starting point.
The first phase of the program is going to focus on increasing your strength. We’re going to use three-week cycles based on the Bigger Leaner Stronger program (Which I highly recommend you read) with a few changes to account for our special needs. We’re going to begin each workout with a strength focus.
After each three week cycle you’ll get a week off from weights to allow for muscular recovery and expansion.
On your first training day you’re going to have what’s called an “active rest” day. This is simply a light cardio day to keep your body used to being active since we’ll be focusing on heavier strength training days throughout the week. I would still keep this day exactly that, light.
You shouldn’t be going all out on these days, just simply get your heart rate up a bit to get blood flowing through your body. I recommend either going for a light jog, riding a bike outdoors or treadmill, using a elliptical machine, or swimming some laps in a pool. No matter what you choose, don’t push it too hard, just get your heart rate up for around 20-30 minutes and you’ll be fine.
For your heavy weight training days you’ll be focusing on three main movements as well as a few other supplementary ones that will help your body out in the long run. We’ll take a closer look at each one in a second, for now here’s the entire list:
While we’re on the topic of time, let’s talk about rest pause training. This is going to be your main isolation movements where we’ll really be focusing on density and burning out a muscle.
Sources & references used in this article:
Gain Lean Muscle–The Best Way To Grow Fast by BT Basics, YGTAS Back – rudymawer.com
8 Research Proven Ways to Lose Belly Fat by BT Basics, YGTAS Back – rudymawer.com
Weight Training is Superior to Cardio For Physique Transformation–Here’s Why by BT Basics, YGTAS Back – rudymawer.com