FITNESS

      This guide’s main purpose is to help people get started on their fitness, health, and aesthetic journey. To build a foundation of knowledge that allows you to be successful on your own terms, and not having to rely on other people’s help to keep you on track. Here you will learn how to eat right, what to avoid, how to build muscle, gain strength, lose fat, and clear your skin! You will learn the necessary supplements to use, and learn about how to save money by avoiding the marketing tricks the fitness industry uses to manipulate unsuspecting consumers.

      You will learn how to take a hold of your health, skin, and fitness on your terms, and at your own pace, without feeling the pressure of other people’s judgement.

Nutrition

Low carbing- The guaranteed fat loss regimen without exercise

Life is full of empty promises, and hearing something like “guaranteed fat loss” sure sounds like one of them, but this is not. Carbohydrates encompass the majority of popular foods that are available, and are easily the most calorie dense per serving, despite having less calories per gram than fat. Pastas, breads, baked goods, most desserts, rice. These are all delicious foods that we eat regularly, and because they taste so good, it’s easy to lose count of how much we are really eating.

*Some of the most popular and statistically effective diets prescribed by doctors are revolved around low carbohydrate dieting.

Going on a low carbohydrate diet is the most effective diet around simply because it’s almost impossible to over eat when you do not have many carbohydrates in your diet, and it forces you into a caloric deficit which causes weight/fat loss. Although every reputable study on low carb diets vs non low carb diets say that they both produce equal results for fat loss, the fact remains that a majority of people who are attempting to diet aren’t well versed in nutrition, calorie counting, or macro nutrient counting. Going on a low carb diet requires minimal effort, and eliminates most of the difficulties that come with dieting.

For someone who struggles to control their cravings (which have probably been the reason for their weight gain), a low carb diet helps to ensure their caloric deficit, fat loss, as well as their cravings. Some might ask how a diet that restricts carbs will help carbohydrate cravings. It helps in a couple different ways. The first is psychological. If after 5 days of successful healthy eating with low carbs someone with cravings has a cheat day, the cheat day foods will simply taste much better than usual because you aren’t eating them every day, and you get a sense of being rewarded for your hard work.

The second way a low carb diet helps fight cravings is more of a biological function. To keep it simple, the more sugar you eat, the more cravings for sugar you have. So by eliminating most sugars from the diet, the body stops getting the normal sugary cravings that happen due to overeating.

There is an estimated 45 million Americans who are attempting to diet each year, but studies show that obesity has only RISEN since 2012, this shows that people are either seriously misinformed, lack self-control, or both. A low carbohydrate is both simple to understand, and allows people to control their cravings so long as the stick to the guidelines of the diet.

The issue with eating carbohydrates while dieting is that it is so easy to over indulge, or underestimate how much you really are eating. “One more piece of bread won’t hurt.” “This pasta is so good, I’ll have just a little more.” There are hundreds of different scenarios that you will be in when eating carbs that will push your self-control beyond the breaking point, and even the most disciplined and seasoned nutrition and fitness experts are all guilty of it, why would we expect someone who is new to dieting to follow that diet to perfection?

Ketosis explained

When utilizing a low carb diet, people who continue to maintain a diet of less than 50 grams of carbs per day will enter a state of “ketosis”. This biological function is a result of your body switching its primary source of energy from dietary carbohydrates to fat.

When you eat any type of carbs, your body uses that macronutrient for energy. When you deplete your body of carbs, your body then switches to using the fat on your body as its energy source. So every action you do throughout the day is burning fat right off of your body.

Ketosis is especially recommended for anyone who has too much weight to effectively workout to help burn calories, because your body will literally be burning fat 24/7. You can lose plenty of fat without even exercising on this diet.

Ketosis benefits

  • Extra energy throughout the day
  • Requires less sleep to feel energized
  • Helps with endurance based exercises
  • Preserves muscle mass despite a caloric deficit

With all of these benefits, the only drawback will be less explosiveness in the gym, or with whatever sport you happen to be playing. Although ketosis has shown to provide an INCREASE in performance for endurance based activities, there is no increase in performance for explosive based exercises, and may hinder an extended explosive based workout compared to carbohydrate diets.

CHEAT DAYS

    * Note

      Starting a diet isn’t a temporary thing that you start and stop when you reach your goal. It’s the start of a new lifestyle. You are doing this to improve yourself, permanently.

A typical low carbohydrate diet consists of a number of days with very little carbs, followed by a day or two of “carbing up”. The carb up day (or two), is there for two reasons; to curb any cravings that might be creeping up on you, and to allow people engaging in exercise to have that explosiveness during their workout that can really only be attained through the energy given by carbohydrates. During this time, the dieter can look back on their hard work throughout the week and truly enjoy their food, as well as enjoy a cheat meal. Now just because it is a cheat meal/day doesn’t mean you splurge on bad foods, and completely stuff your face. You still hold on to your healthy food values, you just allow yourself a treat.

Before you start on the diet, you need to set the day you want to be your carb up day/cheat day, and make sure this is the day you are willing to commit to. Under no circumstances should you be having more than one cheat day per week until you reach your goals. It may feel like you are missing out, but it is only temporary. When you get to the place you want to be, you can experiment and have more freedom with your diet. But for now, you must give 100% to correct the mistakes YOU made. No excuses or complaints. It is, however, fine to occasionally change the cheat day to another day in the week due to life circumstances or special occasions, so long as it doesn’t cause two cheat days to occur in the same week.

Give yourself a 24 hour window for the cheat day, starting from the time you first start eating your carbohydrates. 24 hours from that first bite of food is the closing window. You can eat as much food as you want during this period, but you MUST limit your sugar intake to 100 grams. This is to avoid insulin spikes that can prevent maximum fat loss, as well as helping you ensure that you are eating wholesome foods. Many people take a cheat day to eat a majority of their diet in sugars and low nutrient dense foods that do nothing to improve your health, and eating a bunch of terrible for the entirety of a day can almost completely reverse all the progress you made during the week. We are eating for results, even on cheat days.

**Sugary foods are a luxury, and should be treated as such. Food is meant to provide nutrients and energy, it is not meant to be eaten as a comfort or a thing to make you happy. Our bodies are not designed to cope with the mass consumption of food that the typical North American eats on a daily basis. Of course, intermittent food enjoyment is fine and actually encouraged, and everyone should enjoy the foods that they love.

Carb up days.

Carb up days are a semi essential addition to the low-carb diet. Don’t confuse carb up days with cheat days! Eating healthy carbs for energy, and eating sweets on a cheat day are two different things, although you can do a carb up day and cheat day at the same time.

Carb up days allow people who are doing resistance training to receive an anabolic (muscle growing) period of time that not only helps with muscle growth and repair but helps boost strength as well. This also helps people who are dieting for fat loss. The same way that muscles can adapt to a work out, your body can adapt to a diet. The low-carb diet is extremely calorie restrictive, so individuals may notice significant fat loss over the course of 3 to 5 weeks but may experience a plateau (point where no fat is lost). If this happens and you know your diet has been done correctly during the period of no fat loss or little fat loss, it is time to “confuse” The body’s adoptive process, by re-introducing carbohydrates over a short period of time (1-3 days). This will take you out of ketosis, and you will have to re-enter Ketosis, but it will again be as effective as when you initially started. This also allows you to enjoy the food you were eating before you started dieting, however make sure that these foods are eaten in moderation even though this is essentially a cheat period.

Best foods for fat loss

The best way to start off a low carbohydrate diet is to ease in to it. What you will do is eat like you normally would for a day, count the carbohydrates consumed, and begin the diet by reducing the total by half. So if you eat 300 grams of carbohydrates in a day, you will start the diet at 150 grams of carbohydrates, and continue to reduce the amount you eat by 25 grams of carbohydrates until you are eating no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. When you get to that point, the real diet begins. The most convenient way to approach this diet for the average person is to go Monday-Friday consuming no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates, and leaving your cheat day for Saturday or Sunday (popular relaxation days).

For the more hard core, going two weeks (or indefinitely), on a low carbohydrate diet will yield far better results, although this can prove difficult for some people.

Foods to eat:

  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Your favorite sauces
  • Healthy fats
  • Dairy

Top picks for MEAT

Beef: Steak

Chicken: Chicken breast

Fish: Salmon

Pork: Tenderloin

Top picks for VEGETABLES

Broccoli, Kale, Lettuce (Romaine), Carrots, Spinach

Top picks for FRUITS

Blueberries, Blackberries, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Lemons, Limes

Top picks for nuts

Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts

Sauces

Having a good variety of sauces to choose from on a low carbohydrate is key to enjoying your foods, and making sure the taste doesn’t get stale. You want to keep your sauces free from sugar, low in carbs, and free from preservatives. Outside of those restrictions, you are free to pick any that you want.

Top picks for healthy fats

Olive oil, Coconut oil, Nut butter

Top picks for dairy

Butter, Cheese, low carb Milk, plain Yogurt

*Note

      Fruits are a special case here because some of them contain quite a large amount of carbohydrates in a serving, so my top picks reflect the healthiest ones with the fewest amount of carbs in a serving.

With your choice of combinations using the foods listed, along with their variants, you can make delicious and healthy meals that will make your fat loss journey a lot easier. Now that you have an understanding of how the diet works, and which foods to eat, you need to know how much of these foods you are supposed to eat.

What are macronutrients 

Protein: Contains 4 calories per gram

It is recommended that you eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. I find this overkill for most people. I regularly consume far less than that amount and still see strength gains, and overall progression during my workouts. I believe that the rule of “1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight” should only be taken seriously by bodybuilders. If you are looking to pack on as much muscle as possible, following that rule is essential because the workouts done by bodybuilders are specifically designed to break down the muscle tissue as much as possible. This causes the muscle to come back bigger and stronger than before in order to cope with the stress of the previous workout. This requires more protein than a workout that is not designed to break down muscle tissue.

But for the rest of us, we can save ourselves some money AND make our gains. In my personal experience, and training regularly for 2 hours 4-6 days a week, it is possible to recover and make progression with 40-60 grams LESS than the recommended protein intake. However, this may vary from person to person, so make sure you experiment and see what works best for you.

Fat: Contains 9 calories per gram

Despite containing the highest amount of calories per gram, fat is actually not the biggest factor in gaining fat. Many people believe that fat, the macronutrient, causes fat gain simply because they share the same name, when in fact fat and protein are the only two macronutrients that are needed for survival, the ingestion of carbohydrates is not. This is because your body is capable of converting fat in to sugars that your body utilizes for all of its processes.

Fat is important on a low carb diet because it becomes the energy source of choice by a body that can’t convert carbohydrates to glucose for energy. The understanding of energy expenditure in the body says that the human body prefers macronutrients in the following order; Carbohydrates>Fat>Protein. What we are trying to avoid is using protein as an energy source. This is very important because if the body does not have enough fat OR carbohydrates to use as energy, it will actually start to cannibalize its own muscle tissue to use for energy. What this means is that you will start to lose the muscle you currently have on your body, it will make you lethargic, weak, and it comes with a myriad of other side effects that will make you feel terrible. To combat this, it is important to make sure you are ingesting some healthy fats (like I listed above) on a daily basis. Although that sounds a little scary, it is an unlikely situation to occur as long as there is even a slight amount of effort going in to this diet. And on the contrary, if you are doing the diet successfully, there is plenty of evidence that shows a low carb diet actually PRESERVES muscle mass more so than a carbohydrate diet. From an evolutionary standpoint, that makes plenty of sense because keeping muscle mass in times of food droughts would be essential for hunting and gathering.

Carbohydrates> Contains 4 calories per gram

Despite being tied for protein in the lowest amount of calories per gram, carbohydrates are BY FAR the leading cause of fat gain. This is due to the fact that a majority of common foods in the North American diet are not only carbohydrates, but they are refined and processed carbohydrates. This is bad because processed carbs are removed of all their vitamins, minerals, and nutrition, and are essentially {empty calories}. What that means is that they are calories that provide no nutritional benefit, and can even cause health problems over time. These empty calories make you eat more because they don’t make you lose your hunger, they can cause vitamin deficiencies, weight gain, and are linked to a myriad of more serious problems. It is highly recommended to eat whole wheat or whole grain whenever possible. This is discussed more in {good foods vs bad foods}.

Carbs are UNESSENTIAL in the human diet, and the main reason we eat them is simply because they taste good. They can provide a good source of energy for an athlete, or someone who utilizes explosive energy movements like a body builder or powerlifter, but shouldn’t be consumed in high amounts by someone who isn’t very active as it will lead to fat gain.

Eat to grow

The ONLY way you will actually gain muscle is if you are eating more calories than your body uses for energy during the day. Without getting in to specifics, if the average male needs 2,500 calories to maintain his current weight, he will need to eat around 2,700 calories to gain weight. If he is exercising, he may need 3,000 or more per day. Typically bodybuilders and powerlifters will eat far more calories than needed because the extra calories ensures maximum strength and size growth, however this might not apply to the average weightlifter or calisthenics enthusiast. It is possible to eat a very healthy and low calorie diet and still gain strength, but not much size. It is up to you to choose whether you wish to be big and strong, smaller and lean with less strength and size, or even go more towards endurance training. But when it is all said and done, and you have chosen the path you wish to take, nutrition is the most important thing. If you are not eating right, you will not see results. There are plenty of online calorie calculators to help you on your journey. It is all trial and error, and it will take time to see how your body is responding to what you are eating.

To get a little more scientific, when you exercise, you are actually making small tears in your muscle tissues. The only way to repair this tissue and make it stronger through your nutrition. With adequate protein consumption, you can repair the tissues and make the muscles a little stronger. With larger amounts of protein combined with high amounts of additional calories (carbohydrates and fats) you can increase your strength and size of the muscles more so than with just protein, (you are feeding the muscles more). However, there is a cut-off point, and attempting to overfeed your muscles will NOT result in extra growth, you will just end up wasting food and gaining unnecessary fat. It is assumed that a dedicated and knowledgeable body builder can gain anywhere between 1.5-2 pounds of muscle per month in his early years (much less for women as they lack the testosterone for muscle growth, so no, ladies, you will not get huge from hitting the weights), and those gains will taper off as he reaches his physiological limit of muscle gain. This is the upper limit of gains, and will only be seen if a huge amount of calories are ingested every day, and proper training is utilized. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make these muscle gains without gaining a significant amount of fat, so if you see people “transforming” in a short period of time while staying lean, don’t attempt to achieve similar results unless you plan on taking steroids. Natural athletes have a much longer and difficult process ahead of them.

Good vs bad foods

The difficult part about achieving your dream body or getting in shape isn’t the training aspect of things, it’s the nutritional aspect. What you put in to your body will show on your physique, and seemingly insignificant things can have a large impact on your body and health in general.

If you are trying to gain muscle, you want to stick to high carbohydrate intake and protein intake. If you are trying to lose fat, stick to high protein and low carbohydrate foods. Stay away from anything processed, and look for whole grain carbs. Whole grain pastas, breads and snacks. Brown rice, lentils and oats. These are all great options for aiding your muscle growth, and provide nutritional benefits as well. Processed foods are stripped of their nutritional value, and even digest differently in the body which can negatively impact your goals. For example, brown rice provides natural vitamins and fibre, it also digests slowly which provides sustained energy throughout the day. Compared to the white rice counterpart which has no nutritional value, little to no vitamins or minerals, and it digests faster. Because it digests faster, it will leave you more hungry and with less energy. This is bad because frequent consumption of processed food will lead to additional and unnecessary fat gain, lower energy levels, and could even cause you to lose the motivation to get out and exercise. It causes a chain reaction of negativity, and each stage is more severe than the last. There is a world of difference between the two foods even though they both have the same amount of calories in a serving.

This logic applies to all food as well. Simply sticking to whole grain foods will start to change your body, health, and image by itself. Throw in some regular servings of vegetables, increase water intake, lower your sugar intake and exercise will completely change your health. The best part about this is that foods still taste amazing in their whole grain form!

There are also certain ingredients that you should be avoiding at all costs. Hydrogenated oils (and to a lesser extent, modified oils), ANY artificial colors or flavors, artificial preservatives, and azodicarbonamide. These are all ingredients that have plenty of scientific evidence showing a huge negative impact on the body. What a lot of people don’t understand is that these effects are not immediate, but they compound over time. You may not notice it now, or next year, but the negative health effects will catch up to you. It is not a matter of if, but when. People assume that companies wouldn’t put such harmful ingredients in their food for people to ingest, but for companies, it isn’t about the people, it is about the money. If they can extend shelf life, or shave off some costs of production to increase profit, they will. If you truly wish to better your health, you should start avoiding bad ingredients, and focusing on the stuff the benefits you, not just the stuff that tastes great.

Supplements

The fitness industry is LOADED with supplements, and they do everything they can to push them on to unsuspecting consumers. There are only three supplements worth investing in, and even they aren’t necessary to see great results.

  • Protein Powder
  • Creatine Powder
  • Weight gainer

      Protein powder helps in delivering a quick source of easily digestible protein, usually taken after a workout. There are many brands and companies, but at the end of the day, protein powder is pretty much all the same. The main differences will be in the taste and ingredients. Some come with artificial flavors, sweetened with sugar, have preservatives, while others are more natural and health friendly. If you are simply looking for a protein source, feel free to choose the cheapest brand you can find, however if you are looking for more natural and organic protein powders, these can get very expensive but still provide the same protein value. If you have money to spare, go ahead and buy the more expensive brands. It’s all personal preference.

There are also two main types of protein powders available; Whey, and Casein.

Whey is a fast digesting protein used to deliver a quick burst of protein in to the body, typically post workout, but can be taken throughout the day.

Casein is a slow digesting protein that is meant to provide a slow and steady stream of protein to your muscles over time. This is good because your muscles will always be “fed” for the duration of the digestion. Casein is typically taken before bed time to allow your body during those hours of sleep to receive nutrition over time.

      Creatine Powder is a supplement that helps with strength increase. Creatine is found naturally in food and in your body, however, it is found in relatively small doses and does not provide the same benefits that the creatine supplement provides. Saturating your body with a creatine supplement will help provide a small strength and performance boost in your training sessions, and this will allow a slightly faster progression towards your goals. Creatine is one of the very few supplements that is backed by concrete science, and is proven to be highly effective at its job. The only drawback is that it may be harmful to the liver if you are not drinking plenty of water during the duration of its use. Adhering to a loading phase will help speed up the process of seeing results from the supplement. The most prominent and recognized creatine powder is creatine monohydrate. Always take your creatine in powder form, as it is the most effective.

      Weight gainer supplements are similar to protein powders, except they are loaded with calories. If you have trouble eating enough food to gain weight, grab a weight gainer and load up on the calories. It is much easier to drink your calories than eat them. The most important thing with weight gainers, however, is that you must look for quality ingredients used in the product if you plan on using it regularly. This will essentially be a meal supplement, and there will be a high volume of calories being ingested. Quality is important here.

With all of that said, it is important to note that the ONLY supplement listed here that cannot be achieved from home nutrition is creatine. There is little evidence suggesting that taking specialized protein powders provides a significant enough of a result to warrant buying them out of necessity. They should only be used as a way to add in a little extra protein if you cannot achieve proper protein intake without supplements. The same can be said for any weight gainers. You can make a very delicious and calorie dense drink from the comfort of your own home, although this requires a good blender. The weight gainers come in powder form and are easily blended into milk or juice. Any other supplement recommended by the fitness industry, or promoted by fitness models is probably ineffective, or not effective enough to warrant its purchase.

Nutrition plays a huge part in not just how your body looks, but also how you feel emotionally and physically. What you put in to your body affects all of the processes your body goes through each day. Helping your body maintain a healthy hormonal balance, as well as boosting your immune system will help you lose fat, gain muscle, and improve your skin all at the same time. Don’t let your in the moment cravings dictate how negatively you will feel later on.

Conclusion: Ensuring your success in nutrition

  • Drink plenty of water every day
  • Eat a good amount of fruits and veggies per week, vitamins and minerals are very important
  • Low carbohydrate (ketosis) diet is simple, and has the benefit of increased energy and muscle preservation, but more restrictive on what you can eat before cheat/carb up days. While a diet that allows hundreds of grams of carbs per day is far less restrictive, but is much more complex, has a higher margin for error, and involves consistent nutrient tracking. Both diets provide similar fat loss on average if done correctly.
  • Avoid processed foods, and be aware of what the particularly bad ingredients are that are lurking in a lot of foods
  • Try to stick to eating whole grain/wheat food
  • Reduce your sugar intake from everything that isn’t a fruit or vegetable

Nutrition plays a huge part in not just how your body looks, but also how you feel emotionally and physically. What you put in to your body affects all of the processes your body goes through each day. Helping your body maintain a healthy hormonal balance, as well as boosting your immune system will help you lose fat, gain muscle, and improve your skin all at the same time. Don’t let your in the moment cravings dictate how negatively you will feel later on.

Beginning your fitness journey

Introduction to fitness

This part of the guide is dedicated to getting yourself fit at home. Increase muscle mass, lose fat, and get stronger.  It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with some common terms used in the fitness industry, as well as learning their purpose. Below, I have listed the most important aspects of creating your foundation for fat loss, strength, and muscle gain.

Gaining muscle explained

Muscle gain is a very misunderstood concept to most people, even people that have already started their fitness journey. A lot of the supplement and fitness industry show us these ripped and muscular models that have amazing physiques. We see many “transformations” on social media; a skinny nerd gets huge and ripped after a year of “natural” training. Then they offer us tips, and links to supplements and training regimes. A very high majority of that is fake, and quite honestly, bullshit.

Big companies, and “fitness models’ use the general public’s ignorance of true health and fitness to sell products. It’s that simple. Many of the fitness models that are used to push these products and apparel are using, or have used steroids. Yes, even the “natural” ones. It takes years upon years of dedicated training and nutrition to end up with an amazing physique, but yet we see many people “transforming” in months, or a year. Unrealistic physiques are pushed to people who don’t know a thing about the body, nutrition, or building muscle and strength, and when people actually start trying to get in shape, they are met with huge road blocks and obstacles. Things that were supposed to be easy, and results that were supposed to be attainable in a short period of time do not occur. This pushes people to buy supplements, personal training regimes, books etc. All of this is unnecessary to the average person just trying to get in to better shape.

The key to gaining muscle comes down to two things:

  • What you eat
  • How you train.

The way you train determines the size and strength of the muscles you will gain:

  • Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is a type of training focused primarily on attaining an attractive physique, and building your muscles. Primary mode of training is with weights. You can expect to gain the largest muscles doing bodybuilding. And due to the nature of bodybuilding’s training, you can expect to become quite strong as well. Requires very high amount of protein and calories a day to achieve optimal results. Bodybuilders utilize rep ranges usually between 6-12, with 8-12 being “the sweet spot” for achieving the most amount of muscle gain. Bodybuilders often go through phases as well, known as “bulking” and “cutting”. Bulking is done for a majority of the year, focused on high calories to gain as much muscle as possible, and then go through a “cutting” phase that restricts calories in order to shed fat, and show off the physique they have been working on.

  • Powerlifting

Powerlifting is a type of training focused primarily on strength gain, and increasing the amount of weight you can move. It’s similar to bodybuilding in the sense that it utilizes primarily weights as a form of training, and it also requires a very high amount of protein and calories a day to achieve optimal results. The key difference is in the repetitions performed during the exercise. Powerlifters stick to a low rep range with the most amount of weight they can handle. This increases their strength much more than a bodybuilders, at the cost of larger and more defined muscles. Powerlifters also tend to have more body fat.

  • Bodyweight (calisthenics)

This type of training involves primarily utilizing your own bodyweight to achieve strength and muscle gain. Because exercises combine a high volume of muscular endurance in addition to the strength required to do the movements, more calories are burned, and a leaner (less body fat) type of physique is achieved. So in general, calisthenics provides more functional strength, a leaner physique, but less muscle size.

Conclusion to gaining muscle

  • Gaining muscle requires a surplus of calories, along with consistent training and lots of protein
  • Natural progression to an awesome physique takes many years of dedication
  • You do not need weights to gain muscle, but the most amount of muscle gained is through weight training
  • There is no “best” way to gain muscle and strength, its personal preference, and all forms of training have benefits

On your journey to muscle gains and strength gains, there are many different paths to choose, and all paths provide unique benefits specific to that style of training. It’s up to you how you want to train, and which type of physique and strength you wish to have. Don’t let others pressure you in to a specific style of training.

Fat loss explained

      In principle, losing fat is a very simple and easy process for men who are over 14% body fat, and women who are over 20%. If you are at one of those respective levels, it is much harder to lose fat because you are already pushing a very athletic level of body fat, and your body tries to retain some body fat for survival purposes. If a person needs 2500 calories to maintain their current weight, and they wanted to lose fat, all they would have to do is lower the calories they eat per day to 2300 and they would lose fat over time. As that person loses weight, they would have to lower the amount of calories they eat every day to be in line with their new weight to ensure they continue to lose fat.

There is a difference between losing fat, and losing weight. Losing weight refers to your overall weight lost, and losing fat refers to the total amount of fat lost. So if someone starts a diet and loses 10 pounds in a week, not all of that weight would be fat. Some of it would be water weight, and some of it would be muscle as well. Usually a person only loses water weight after a reduction in carbohydrates that are holding water to the cells in the body, so it’s not typical to lose 10 pounds of weight a week for anyone, and that weight loss will be dramatically lowered the longer the diet is continued.

It is reasonable to lose anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds of fat per week depending on the person’s body fat percent, their activity level, and their nutrition. The more body fat you have, the more fat you will lose per week. The less body fat you have, the harder it is to lose it. So if an obese person is losing 5 pounds of fat a week on a great diet, and is working hard on their exercises, as they lose fat over time, those numbers will start dropping per week, even if your diet and exercise is just as good as before, so there is no reason to get discouraged. The only time you should be worried is if your weight is staying the same, or has increased. This means you need to take a hard look and your nutrition plan and exercise regime, and make it more effective.

It is important not to snack too much on a diet, and reserve your sweets until cheat day. Just because you have a little here and there, and it doesn’t seem like its doing any harm, those calories add up, and it is very easy to turn a few days of hard work in to nothing. A person with good self-control and experience in dieting and exercising can include sweets in to their regular lifestyle using a method known as “iifym”. If it fits your macros is a term used to describe a form of dieting that allows sweets almost every day, as long as it still allows you to meet your macronutrient goals. So if someone needs 100 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs, and 50 grams of fat, they might have a few cookies that day, even if it isn’t cheat day, as long as they don’t go over their allotted goals. This should be reserved for people who have already achieved their initial fat loss goals and are experienced enough in calorie and macronutrient counting, as it is very easy to over eat and lose progress.

The most important thing for any person trying to lose fat, is making sure that MOST of the weight you lose is fat. You do not want to be undereating and losing muscle mass as well. It is easy to assume that the less you eat, the more you will lose, and this is true, but if you are losing muscle mass along with fat, you are also losing strength, endurance, energy, and a multitude of other problems can arise from not getting the proper nutrition. Get your vitamins in, get your protein in, and eat enough carbs to give you energy. If you choose to do ketosis as a diet, make sure your fat ingestion is higher than usual as well.

How supplement companies trick you:

There are generally two ways in which a supplement company will try to trick an unaware consumer. They will use: suggestive imagery, and suggestive wording.

Suggestive imagery:

This involves showing a famous person, or someone with a really amazing physique with their product. This makes the consumer think “wow, this famous person uses the product, it must work!”. Or “wow, that person looks amazing, it must be because of that product!”.

Suggestive wording:

This is where the real trickery comes in, because it is illegal to lie to consumers about what the product does, or how effective it is. Companies will phrase things in a very specific way which doesn’t technically lie, but is highly suggestive towards a certain result that probably is not due to the product itself.

An example of this which is used a lot in the fat loss market is phrasing their products effectiveness along the lines of “will help you lose up to 4 pounds of fat per week with a proper diet!”.

Wow! That sounds awesome, right? Well, the thing is that a proper diet ALONE will help you lose up to 4 pounds of fat, and the product itself does very little influencing the final result.

But it does SOMETHING, right?

Yes. These products will usually contain some form of caffeine, or ingredient that has some science behind it which says it boosts the metabolism. Both of which do not directly cause fat lose. Caffeine will help you be more alert, and give some extra energy, which will allow you to exercise a little more. So by multiple extensions, the caffeine in the product helps you lose up to 4 lbs of fat per week. But instead of spending 30$ on the product, your daily coffee would give the same effect, or even drinking a green tea for 10 cents a packet. Same goes for the metabolism booster, it could be a spice, or plant that has a few studies that suggest it helps you burn a few more calories per day, but the end result is insignificant compared to the value it provides for your money.

Another big part in the phrasing comes from the “up to” part of the example sentence. “Up to 4 lbs” suggests that with this product, you’ll lose 4 lbs of fat per week. But what it REALLY means is that if you only lose half a pound of fat in a week, the product is still working as intended because half a pound is still “up to”.

Conclusion to marketing tricks:

The examples provided apply to muscle building as well. There are no supplements that will make you look like a fitness model. There are no supplements that will make you gain muscle faster than is naturally possible. And there are no supplements that will let you lose fat without a proper diet.

Do not fall in to the trap that is fitness and health marketing. Everything is phrased and imaged in a suggestive way to influence unaware people in to buying products that do very little in helping them. These products are not worth the money or time spent shopping/taking them. There are a few good supplements out there, and they are covered in the “supplements” section of this guide. The only way to achieve your goals is through knowledge, and dedication. Do not let suggestive marketing, and the fitness/health industry hinder your progress.

Definitions and exercises

Exercises

The following exercises are the foundation of a functionally strong body.

Push-ups 

Push-ups are a staple of any fitness routine. They are the foundation of a strong upper body, as they work every area above the waist to some degree. Mastering the standard push up is the first step to achieving strength.

Push up starting position, and also the hold position for people who cannot hold lower than this.

Bottom of push up movement, also the advanced hold. Do this hold if the above can be held longer than 30 seconds. Notice the shoulder almost perpendicular to the elbow.

Body squat

Squatting using only your body weight is surprisingly effective at giving a tough workout, especially when you throw in some super sets, or harder variations on the standard squat. These, combined with push-ups will provide a pretty solid full body workout, however, adding in sit-ups will truly give the full body workout necessary for strength progression at home.

Starting squat position. Feet shoulder width apart and pointed slightly outward, knees slightly bent, and arms pointed straight out.

Bottom of squat movement, and also the squat hold position. Notice how the butt is the same level as the knees, this is the minimum required range of motion for a proper squat, the closer your butt can get to the ground, the more rewarding the squat.

If the above is too hard to hold, go as low as possible over a couch or chair without letting your butt touch it, this will allow you to gain strength without falling over.

Sit-ups and crunches

Sit ups focus primarily on the abs. And although people generally want to work abs to look good, having a strong core is “the core” of being stronger. The only way to progress to more difficult exercises (if you wish to do so), is to attain a strong set of abdominals. Sit ups will provide the foundation.

It’s good to do sit-ups primarily because they simply require more stabilizer muscles, and exert more energy than crunches. Studies do show, however, that both exercises work your abdominals equally as well. It’s up to you which you choose to do, but remember; if you’re choosing to do either one because it’s easier for you-do the harder one.

Sit up and crunch starting position. Head slightly off ground, arms extended and static (stiff) to prevent swinging.

 

The top of the crunch movement, and also the hold position for sit up progression. Lift your upper back off of the ground and squeeze your abs tight. When it feels like you’ve hit some resistance, this is where you hold. If you are doing crunches, this is the top of the movement.

Top of sit up movement

After the sit up is completed, slowly lower yourself back in to starting position, do not drop yourself to the ground. Not only could this hurt, but it also releases the tension from the abs, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.

Pull ups

If possible, getting a pull-up bar for home use would provide a huge boost to your workouts. Even though push ups will hit your back muscles, pull ups provide some serious strength benefits in not only your back, but your biceps as well. This exercise is not necessary to get in shape, but is recommended for people looking for a more hard core workout.

With a basic understanding of which exercises you need to become fit from home, we can start with a basic routine to start people off.

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*note

      Remember that the proper form during the movement ALWAYS takes priority over simply doing the movement. Using proper form is hard, but provides the most results.  Using “loose” form to finish off sets. A “loose” repetition of an exercise is ONLY done at the end of the set when your muscles are fatigued, and proper form isn’t possible. At this point, it is okay, even encouraged, to try and push out as many extra reps as possible with form that may be sub optimal. The reps that you will be able to get from this is usually between 1-4. Any more than that, and you probably had energy to do proper form but gave up. Don’t give up!

Definitions:

Muscle soreness

Muscle soreness is extremely common for new people entering the fitness world. If you have never physically trained before you can expect to be sore regularly within the first month of starting training. As your muscles get stronger, it will take much more strenuous activities because the same type of muscle soreness initially experienced. Although it is very important to get sufficient sleep and nutrition in general, it is even more so important to do so when your muscles are sore. When your muscles are sore, it means that they have been injured (this is a good injury that allows your muscles to come back stronger, and depending on how much you eat, come back larger), and they require extra nutrition and rest to assure proper recovery.

Rep

A “rep” is short for “repetition”. These are the individual movements of the exercise you are doing. So 1 push-up= 1 rep. 5 push-ups is 5 reps etc.

Set

A set is the total number of repetitions done at once per exercise. So doing 5 push-ups in a row is 1 set of 5 push-up repetitions. 2 sets would be doing 5 push-ups in a row, and then doing it again after a short   rest.

Typically, each exercise will contain 2-5 sets per exercises, containing various amounts of reps based on your fitness level. 

Superset

A superset is a combination of sets, stringed together without rest to make a much more difficult workout. These are reserved for people who have mastered the basics, and are ready for a bigger challenge.

So a superset could be 5 push-ups, followed by 5 sit-ups, followed by 5 squats without resting. The higher your fitness level, the more repetitions and exercises you can put together.

Until failure

Doing a set or hold until failure means that you continue holding, or doing your reps, until you are unable to do any more. This is used to build some endurance in the muscles. And although it seems optimal to do this every set, it is actually better to only do this on the final set. This is because exhausting yourself early in the workout will actually slow down progression, because you will get more reps and set in overall because you have the energy to do so.

Hold exercise

Also known as “static” exercise, this is where the person gets in to a position and holds for as long as possible. This is used to either; gain necessary strength to attempt a more difficult exercise, or to add a new dynamic to your workout to make it more difficult. Hold exercises are THE MOST important exercises in terms of progression. Nothing will get you closer to your goals in fitness than having the strength to hold the weight of your movement.

Muscle confusion

This is a principle that involves changing your work out in order to prevent muscles from adapting to said workouts. If a muscle is starting to adapt to a routine that workouts effectiveness diminishes and eventually becomes obsolete, meaning that any efforts after a certain point will stop producing results. The change doesn’t have to be drastic it just needs to be enough to make you work differently.

This can be done in multiple ways, some of these involve creating supersets, increasing the speed of the repetitions performed, increasing the total repetitions performed, or adding resistance (weights, bands etc.)

Rest days

Taking a rest day is just as important as doing an actual workout. Without proper rest, your body will not recover, and you will actually LOSE progress. It is even recommended to take 1 full week off of any physical exercise every 3-4 months to allow a full body rejuvenation.

Do not allow the notion of rest days to be lazy, though. It’s easy to take a rest day or two, and lose the energy and motivation to work out for a much longer period of time than necessary. STAY FOCUSED!

*note

       Many people will not be able to complete the proper movements for each exercise. If you are one of these people, it’s fine to do the “easier” version of each exercise until you build up the strength to do them properly. Just make sure you are always trying to do the proper movement at least once each workout. This way you don’t get stuck doing the easy version longer than necessary. 

Getting started: Testing your strength

The key to starting your workout regime, is first gauging how much you are capable of. The way to do this is to test your current limits.

With each exercise listed, you are to do each one, the maximum number of times until failure. Do not use “loose” movements, only the proper form. Whether it be the “easier” way, or the proper way. Whichever you are capable of.

*If you are not able to do any form of repetition that is fine as well. You will work on “hold” exercises which will allow your muscles to adapt and prepare for the proper movements. This will come over time, and may take a few weeks before repetitions are possible. Don’t let this deter you!

Your goal for now is to hold yourself in the necessary position for as long as possible. Time yourself and track your progress.

Now that you have established the repetitions (or holds) you are capable of, it’s time to get down to setting up a workout plan.

For the people who did holding exercises, you need to continue holding that position until failure. Over time, your new strength will allow you to progress to the “easier” version of movements, and eventually the proper form. Once you can effectively perform the proper form movements, simply follow the rest of the guide.

For the people who were able to do repetitions of either version (easier, proper), take your maximum and reduce by 3 repetitions. This is your starting number of reps. You will work with this until you are able to do more reps.

If your reduced number of repetitions is 1 or less, you will be doing holds until you can effectively do 2 or more repetitions.

The number of sets you will be doing will be based upon how many sets it takes you to not achieve your regular amount of repetitions. For example, if your maximum amount of repetitions is 12 you will be doing nine repetitions per set. If you can do three sets of nine repetitions, and on the fourth set you can only do 8 repetitions or less, that will be your last set. The next time you work out, your goal will be to achieve more sets with the same amount of repetitions, and eventually more repetitions.

It’s very important to include some form of muscle confusion into your workouts at least once every two weeks, and also make sure that you don’t revert to an old exercise regime, always try to do more every workout, even if it seems insignificant!

Application: Your fitness routine

For the first week you should aim to do one day on one day off. Each day your workout should only include sit ups, push-ups, and squats. You will do three sets of each exercise and each set will be held as long as possible. You are allowed a two minute rest between each set and a five minute rest between each exercise.

 

Sit up hold until failure

2 minute rest

Sit up hold until failure

2 minute rest

Sit up hold until failure

 

5 minute rest

 

Push up hold until failure

2 minute rest

Push up hold until failure

2 minute rest

Push up hold until failure

 

5 minute rest

 

Squat hold until failure

2 minute rest

Squat hold until failure

2 minute rest

Squat hold until failure

 

DONE.

*Note that these rest times are maximums and you should not be resting any longer than the maximum rest time. Workouts are much more effective with shorter rest periods, resting too long between sets or exercises could diminish the effectiveness of the work out.

REPETITIONS

For the first two weeks you should aim for one day on one day off. This is longer than the holds because repetitions require more muscular strength and stability to accomplish the movements.

Sit ups/push ups/squats.

Remember the maximum number of reps you can do, and subtract 3.  You should be able to do at least two full sets. If not, it is recommended that you do the “hold” strength training before progressing to the repetition phase.  Do as many sets as possible while maintaining your current amount of repetitions, when you can no longer achieve this amount of repetitions move onto the next exercise.

Conclusion: ensuring your success for your fitness goals.

  • Eat plenty of clean whole foods in a surplus of calories to gain muscle
  • Strength can be gained without over eating
  • Eat clean foods at a caloric deficit to lose fat
  • If you are not bodybuilding or powerlifting, you probably don’t need 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
  • Proper form of movement is more important than completing a movement with poor form
  • Consistency is key, don’t give up because results don’t happen right away
  • You don’t need a personal trainer or nutritionist to succeed in getting in to shape, but they do help if you wish to take your fitness and health to the highest level. But this is years down the road.

Although the sample fitness routine is the most basic entry in to strength and muscle gain, if performed consistently over a long period of time with increasing intensity and difficulty, it can transform your physique and strength levels vastly. Combining this, with healthier eating, and you will notice a significant change in as little as a month.

It is also easy to get pressured in to thinking that one form of fitness is the best, or better than others. The fact of the matter is that there is no “best” form of exercise, it all comes down to preference and personal goals. Some people want to have big muscles, others want to be strong, some want to be thin and have high endurance, and some want to be well rounded. Experiment with what you enjoy, and stick with that. Don’t let other people sway you from what you want to achieve.

Conclusion

If you read through the entirety of the guide, you are now armed with the necessary knowledge to take control of your fitness, health, and image. With all of the misinformation out there that is used to trick unaware people in to buying a bunch of products they don’t need, and hindering their progress towards their goals, this guide will have saved money, time, and progression. Everything written in here is backed by science, and experience, and will work for everyone who doesn’t have a medical condition which prevents the effectiveness of what is written.

It is important to remember that everything you eat, and every activity that you do are all connected. Your health and image rely on a clean diet and moderate exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your favourite foods, or exercise every day. But it is necessary to have everything in moderation to see progress.

Results will NOT happen quickly, it is a long and slow battle that requires dedication. There are no magical supplements or foods that will speed up the process, or guarantee results. The ONLY factors that influence fat loss and muscle gain in most people are WHAT THEY EAT, AND HOW THEY EXERCISE.

Stay dedicated, and enjoy the journey.

 

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