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So you’re spending the majority of your time at the gym spinning your wheels like a poor little hamster. Walking on the treadmill for hours on end with no results to show for it.
- You’re afraid to pick up a dumbbell because you are not sure what to do with it.
- You’re scared to do a push-up because you don’t think you can do one.
- Maybe you are to shy to ask anyone for help.
Hopefully, this little guide helps you go into beast mode either at home or in the gym.
First Things First
Before you step foot in another gym or start running around your block at home I want you to establish a game-plan. I’m super stoked that you want to get your sexy on but it’s not going to do you any good to just try and wing it. Think about when you learned to drive stick shift. Chances are if you just got right in and gave it a go you sucked at it! So lets map this out.
When can you workout/how much time do you have/how often
Think about your schedule now. When are the best days for you to workout? The days you know you don’t have commitments that might lead you to skip one. You might want to factor in if you are able to get a good nights sleep the day before. Try and pick 4 days a week that are best for you.
NOW THINK about how much time you have to get that workout in. Do you have only 20-30 minutes? 45-60 minutes?
Put those days and times into your schedule. These are appointments with yourself. Nothing comes between them – nothing.
What are your goals
Are you interested in adding some muscle, loosing body fat, improving endurance, increasing strength, or just trying to be more active? This will get you thinking about what types of exercise you will need to include. I’m going to assume that most people want to see body composition changes (about 80-90% of the population and my clients do). A combination of strength training, cardiovascular interval work, and nutritional changes should do the trick.
Here are some free resources to help you along with that
Familiarize Yourself With The Basics
I don’t want to see or hear about anyone using a machine to workout, OK? Your training program should be designed to mimic every day life movement patterns, feature full range of motion, utilize small stabilizing muscles, and promote balance and coordination. It’s a common assumption that machines are better for beginners because they’re safer.
MYTH! I say, MYTH! By utilizing your bodies own natural movement patterns whether it is with weights or your own body weight you are promoting strength not only in major muscle groups but those small underlying muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones that help to support. You are actually improving your body’s ability to prevent injuries. Who knew right!? Here are the basics:
- Push (horizontal) think bench press, #2
- Push (vertical) think over your head, #2
- Pull (horizontal) think rowing
- Pull (vertical) think pull-ups
- Hip/waste bending
All of these movement patterns can be performed with dumbbells, barbells, or with your own bodyweight.
Take a good look at the videos attached. Take your phone with you to the gym and watch them while you’re there if you’re still unsure of the proper form.
Just go for it! You can do it.
Focus On The Most Bang For Your Buck
I understand guys that having big arms is awesome and ladies I know that you think running for days and never touching a weight makes you “not bulky.” But seriously, if you want to lose body fat at an alarming rate please, please, please focusing on lifting challenging weights that place emphasis on large muscle groups. Run fast for short periods of time. Build your workouts around movements that hit your largest muscle groups and thus burn the most calories.
- Front and back squats
- Walking lunges (body weight or dumbbells)
- Chin-ups (palms facing you)
- Overhead presses
- Sprinting (see the right kind of cardio article)
Build your routine around these movements and you will be just fine.
Challenge Yourself…Don’t let kryptonite kick your butt.
You’re working out for Pete’s-sake! Keyword WORK. It should be challenging and difficult. You should feel good when you are done but you should be glad that you’re done as well. What ever repetition range you decide to work in ( 6-8. 8-10, 12-15, etc…mix it up) make sure that the last 2-3 reps are extremely difficult. You don’t need to go until you fail but a good rule of thumb is stop when you think you can only do 1 more. You should feel that burn and in your head you should be thinking that on a scale of 1-10 (10 being most difficult) this feels like an 8 or a 9.
Try and keep your rest short. If you are walking around the gym or your house with a phone on you, or talking to people about the latest episode of the “Biggest Loser” you are probably bull-shitting. Depending on your goals rest should be anywhere from 10 seconds-4 minutes between exercises. For most people looking for body composition changes keeping the rest around 30-60 seconds is ideal. Combine multiple exercises in a row so that you are keeping up the intensity.
Maybe you don’t like the advice or the videos that I am providing or maybe you just want some clarification on some things. Go out there and do your homework. Find the best and most knowledgeable people out there that you TRUST and ask them questions or ask them to show you something. Most people are more than willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask. Research exercise technique, nutrition advice, read the shit on this blog (I’m biased but we’ve got good shit here). Check out the resources and links I have provided. I think we are pretty smart here but there are dudes and dudettes out there that know way more.
Focus on form
I see way to much half way bench pressing. You know, the dude that only brings the bar down a few inches and is not even close to the chest. Use a full range of motion. Let those joints do some work. They will thank you for it later for the extra strength you are giving them. This will also keep you injury free.
Drink Hot Cocoa and Become a Yogi
Ok, don’t actually drink hot cocoa but make sure your body is warmed up before you get started. A nice 5-10 minute jog, jump rope, or row will do the trick along with some movement patterns that mimic what you will be doing for the day. For example, if you are performing dumbbell walking lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups. You may want to perform a warm-up that features those exercises a bit. You can either do them with less weight and slowly add it until you are close to the weight you plan on starting with or you can just perform a few less repetitions then you plan on doing for a few sets. This wakes up your nervous system and basically yells at your body, “HEY MAN! Wake the heck up! We are about to do something here!”
There is no real need to stretch before you workout. Your warm up will do just a fine and dandy job of loosening everything up and preparing you to get a workout in. Stretching post workout however, is important. All of those muscles that you just broke down will be tight and ready to recover. Stretching will help loosen them back up and get you ready for the recovery process. Spending a good 20-30 seconds with each stretch and performing 3-4 sets of each stretch should do the trick.
Don’t Go Overboard
A lot of people tend to jump ALL IN and get to aggressive with their workouts. They’ve been sitting on the couch for the last year and decide in order to get in shape they need to run a 5K, squat a house, and bench press a tree. Relax, ease into it. Challenge yourself but know your limits.
Make your workouts an enjoyable experience. Do activities that you like., if you hate the gym workout at home or in the park. If you like having a partner grab a friend and challenge each other (don’t just sit and gossip). If you hate what you are doing chances are you will not stick with it.
Lastly… And Some Tips
I apologize for getting a little carried away with this post and going all Bill Shakespeare on you here. Just want to finish it up with some solid tips
- Try and shoot for 3-6 workouts a week. Alternating full body routines with sprint/interval sessions is a great way.
- Focus on your diet more than exercise, nutrition is vital. You may have just burned 500 calories killing yourself with a crazy workout. Does not make much sense to put it right back in with some cheesecake…. Yummmmm, cheesecake.
- Go for 30-60 minutes tops anything longer and you will experience diminishing returns. Plus, you are probably bull-shitting if it takes you any longer.
- Hydrate make sure you have taken in enough water over the course of the day or if you workout in the morning grab a cup. Dehydration can severely limit your strength, make you grumpy, and cause fatigue.
- Move Slow or the weight at least. Keep your muscles under tension for a decent amount of time. When you lower a weight try counting 3-4 seconds in your head.
- Mix it up don’t do the same routine for to long. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 weeks before switching it up. Sooner if you’d like. You’re body is smart. It will get use to it. So is your brain. It will get bored.
- Sweat leave the gym, your house, or the park sweating. People should almost have to ask you if you are ok. Or they just won’t come near you because you stink.
Now go get fit!