I have a pretty long background in sports and lifting weights. I started out with playing soccer when I was 7 years old and played for 5 years. I was both a field player and goalie.Later on I started playing tennis when I was in high school and played for about 3 years. I was also an tennis instructor for kids, something I loved doing.
I have also played badminton, squash, table tennis etc. Basically I love sweating and challenging myself. When I was in high school I also started to lift some weights at home, nothing fancy but I followed this weight lifting program my dad had lying around and did alot of biceps curls and sit-ups (lol). Since then I have been lifting weights pretty much the whole time and I've also been
running alot. I have never been that big but I know quite alot about weight lifting and so does many people in the TL fitness thread. I've done 10 k running at 44:21 and 5 k at 20:31 if anyone is interested. That's enough about me, let's get started!
Why Work out?
Basically people work out for four different reasons:
* Looking good naked
* General health (often links to looking good too)
I will not be covering workouts specifically designed for athletes, and I won't go into rehab either since my knowledge lacks in that area. This blog entry will be rewarding for people who want to look good naked AND want to be healthy. So why work out for these reasons? Well some things are obvious. You're a guy, you want to attract girls (or guys) and want to have an physical "edge". Although women say that they don't care that much about a guys body, it's still a big turn on for many women to have a boyfriend who takes care of himself. Also, having a good looking body conveys that you're a disciplined and ambitious person more than just being sexy.
Another extremely important reason to work out is obviously to be healthy. Alot of you guys aren't that old yet, but we will all get older and realize the importance of having a body that helps you lead a good life. Also, you will be much better off in daily life in general if you have a strong body. Weigh lifting and cardio does alot for your body. It gives you a strong heart, "burns off" stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine and makes you calmer and less stressed.
How to work out?
Basically I will present you with three different ways of lifting weights that are very commonly used. If you're a beginner you should start at the first one and use it a couple of months to get a better understanding of the exercises mentioned and prevent injury. The second and third schemes are for more experienced weight lifters and can be swithched every couple months for the best effect. I will also go into running specifically later on. First of I need to say that it's essential to have good form when lifting weights. This prevents injury and makes you stronger. Leave your ego at the door to the gym. Seriously.
Here comes the first workout:
FULL BODY WORKOUT:
Monday: Full body weights workout
Tuesday: Cardio here OR...
Wednesday: Full body weights workout
Thursday: ...cardio here
Friday: Full body weights workout
You will need alot of rest at the beginning and you will be quite sore from the workouts. Remember that you gain muscle when you rest and eat, not when you actually work out. This workout routine consists of a workout for your entire body 3 times a week. The idea behind this is that it's beneficial to stimulate (use) your muscles several times a week with a lower set-load each time, instead of doing one muscle group only once a week and blasting out 12-15 sets.
Someone who would only want to put on muscle would usually lift weights 3 times/week and rest the days in between (ie no cardio). This maximizes muscle gain but obviously at the expense of general health. Cardio is so important for many reasons; it lowers stress hormones in your brain and releases endorphins, which will make you feel very good. Also, running or doing some other kind of normal/intense cardio will burn more fat from your abdominal area and make the composure of your body better, more "athletic looking" because of the reduced belly fat. This is of course if you have a negative calorie balance.
One very basic thing you must understand is that you gain weight if you eat more calories than you use during a day and loose weight if you use up more calories than you eat.
This is so basic stuff, and yet extremely important, because many people don't seem to understand this connection. So if you want to add some muscle, eat more calories and also account for the cardio, thus making your calorie count higher. ie eat more. If you wanna cut, eat less calories but not that much less.
The routines I described above is for putting on muscle slowly while keeping a fit body. I'm not one of those people who want to bulk up and become fat and then cut for months. I'd rather stay pretty fit all the time and do slow bodily changes.
How many sets/reps?
For gaining strength: 1-7 reps
Muscle gains: 8-11/12 reps
Endurance training: 12-15 reps
A good idea is to vary the amout of reps you do for different exercises. Also do more sets when you do a low amout of reps, ie 4-5x6. When you do many reps, 2x15 is enough. For medium range, go with 3-4x8-10 reps. Experiment with it. Remember, variation is the key to success. Some people like to do heavy low-rep workouts (5x5 etc) for a couple of weeks and then switch to like 4x8 for a couple of weeks and then doing 2x15 for a week and then starting over from the top again.
Now onto exercises. They are also explained very well in the link with gif:s included. Search for the exercises i've written down there.
Dumbbell bench press
Dumbbell shoulder press
Dumbbell lateral raise
Triceps pulldown with cable
Barbell bent-over standing row
Sitting row with cable
Any abs machine.
There are lots of exercises for abs. Search around the exercise bank on the site.
So many leg exercises as well, look on the site.
When you do a full body workout, choose one basic exercise for each mucle group; chest, shoulders, back, abs, maybe 2 for legs. And if you have time/energy do arms too. Thing is that your arms get quite alot of exercise from only doing these basic exercises for your bigger muscle groups, so you don't really need to train them separately every workout.
So an example of a full body workout would be:
Dumbbell/barbell benchpress 3x8
Deadlift/bent-over barbell row 5x5/3x8
Military press/dumbbell shoulder press 3x8
Abs exercise of choice 3x8
Squats 3x8/5x5 and mix it up between workouts with different
The point is that you could go dumbbell benchpress in the monday workout, barbell benchpress at the wednesday workout and dumbbells again Friday. That's why I put some different exercises above. Yeah you get the picture, ask me if you don't understand something I wrote above.
Now do this full body workout 3 times a week for starters and mix in cardio on off days, one day a week in the beginning. Try to keep the weekend off for rest, you will need it. If you wanna gain weight, eat more calories. If you wanna loose weight, eat less calories. Lifting weights is beneficial for both things.
HALF BODY WORKOUT:
The next kind of workout you can do is the half body workout, where you work you upper body 2 days a week and your lower body 2 days a week. You do exercises for your abs and deadlifts on the lower day workout. This is the workout routine I'm currently doing and it's working very well. The idea behind this form of workout is that you get to up the set load each time you work out but aren't limited to working out your muscle groups one time per week. So where the full body workout has you make 3-5 sets 3 times a week, this will have you do more sets but 2 days/week instead. Remember, it's all about mixing it up. So start by doing the first workout routine for a couple of months, even up to 6 months or longer if you're a total newb at weight lifting and then consider switching to this workout routine instead.
The workout routine looks like this:
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body + cardio
Thursday: Upper body
Friday: Lower body
Saturday - Sunday: Rest
Now, onto the exercises. You will use the same exercises I mentioned above but instead use 2 exercises for the bigger muscle groups like your back, chest, legs. Also you will have more room to prioritize the muscle groups that you feel are lagging behind the others. It will look something like this for an upper body workout:
Bench press 4x4-6/dips/dumbbell press + optional other exercise
Chin-up/lats + Sitting row with a cable/optional exercise 3x10
Military press 3x10
Biceps curl 3x10
Triceps pulldown with cable
Now, like I said earlier go look at the exercise list for additional exercises that don't look too hard to do and read the description carefully. There's also ALOT of workout vids on youtube where you can see how an exercise should be done. If you want to work less chest and more shoulders, take away one optional exercise for chest (but stick with the basic bench press/dumbbell press) and add one more exercise for your shoulders, like dumbbell lateral raise. The same goes for back, arms and triceps. But remember to prioritize your bigger muscle groups.
An example of a lower body workout would be:
Abs (sit-ups, machine, core-work)
All these exercises can be found in the exercise list. I don't exercise legs as much as my upper body, mainly because I find big bulky legs kind of fugly tbh If you're an athlete who uses his/her legs alot, by all means work out your legs alot! With the added cardio on leg days the legs get quite the good workout anyways.
The third workout routine is:
Now, this is a workout routine for more experienced weight lifters since it requires quite alot of knowledge about how to maximize the results of the exercises performed, since you'll only work out one muscle group once per week. Many people start doing splits right away which is kind of silly if you're a beginner because you won't get strong very fast doing this. Besides the injury rate is probably higher because you are busting out exercises for one or a couple muscle groups each time you work out. So, the difference between this workout routine and the other ones is that the set load is the biggest in this one BUT you only workout each muscle group once per week. It's probably the workout routine most people are familiar with.
A classic split looks something like this:
Monday: Chest, shoulders, triceps
Wednesday: Back, biceps
Friday: Legs, abs.
You can work out abs more than once per week but mix it up with core exercises like the planche. (Google for core exercises)
Here you will be doing somewhere from 7 to 15 sets per muscle group (depending on how big the muscle group is) each week and it's a good idea to mix up the sets/reps for different exercises for each muscle group.
So for Monday you could do:
Bench press 5x5/4x6
Incline dumbbell press 3x10
Military press 5x8
Dumbbell lateral raise 3x10
Triceps cable pulldown 4x8
Triceps with barbell over your head 3x10
You can do as many exercises as you want for the different muscle groups but arms don't really need more than 10 sets, IMO. You will find all the exercises you can possibly do in the link I posted above. Stick to the basic ones, that looks easy to do. Most aren't that hard to pull off but some can be tricky to master.
That's it for the workout routines. So, start with the full body workout routine if you're a total beginner and do it for at least 3 months before you move on to the other ones. If you have lifted weights before, by all means choose whichever you like and experiment with them.
I will keep this one quite short, and will mainly talk about running for the purpose of this blog. Also, I've recently had problems with my back so instead of running I've been using a crosstrainer with pretty damn good results. I will talk more about that.
In the beginning, run easily for 15-30 minutes if you can. Preferrably get a pair of decent running shoes and google for proper ways of running. If you can run longer, run 3-5 k when you do cardio. This is beginners advice only. If you have been running before or are in good shape, do preferrably sprints or HIIT. HIIT (High intensity interval training) is an awesome way to get in shape fast and loose body fat. What you do is warm up first with some light jogging and then run like 30 seconds very fast, then go slow/walk for 1-2 minutes and then run fast for 30
Do this as fast and as many times that feels comfortable, never try to do something you feel you can't. Try to run faster and longer each time but never go over like 40 seconds, because in that case you aren't running fast enough. HIIT is all about the difference in pace and the fast sprints make it more of an anaerobic (weight lifting) exercise than actual cardio. Shorts bouts of action, and rest, just like doing a strenous weight lifting exercise.
Because I've had back problems recently and haven't been able to run well I've started doing HIIT on a crosstrainer just to experiment and it works great (provided the crosstrainer can be set to high enough resistance). I basically warm up for 5 minutes then go to almost the higest resistance setting on the crosstrainer and kick ass for 30-60 seconds, then go very slowly on low resistance for a minute, and then fast again. I do this 10 times, and I'm friggin exhausted tbh.
Another way to do cardio is "fartlek", which is a fun (and tough) thing to incorporate into your running routine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fartlek
Right then. Above you have three different, great workout routines and instructions on cardio. In my upcoming blog (that I'm currently writing I will go more into nutrition).
Looking good naked part 2: NUTRITION
Alright! Previously I talked about weight lifting and cardio conditioning and explained three different workout routines and the exercises involved. Here I will talk more about the things that are as important as working out is, if you want to look good. This will mainly be about nutrition, ie what to eat in order to maximize muscle growth and minimize body fat basically. All health plans should have similar goals. No one needs to be too bulky, unless you're a powerlifter or compete in bodybuilding or something, but a strong, healthy body with a decent amount of muscle will make you look friggin awesome naked.
Symmetry is way more important than how much you can bench, when it comes to your looks. When you see those ripped hollywood actors on the movie screen, more often than not they basically have very good definition, which with good lighting, makes your body look super awesome. Some put on alot of weight for roles too of course, but symmetry and definition makes for a hotter body in general than a big, bulky one with uneven muscle development. IMO.
I will divide this article into four different main areas. First off I will talk about general nutrition guidelines, then vitamins, minerals and fish oil. Third I will talk about weight lifting/conditioning supplements, and finally I will talk about rest and sleep. What I write here doesn't apply for people who work out solely, but will boost anyones general health and well-being. This is especially true for vitamins/minerals/omega-3. Proper nutrition is again very important in order to build a healthy body and lead a healthy life. Proper nutrition makes your brain work better, improves memory, makes you able to relax naturally etc. Alot of people today have a pretty damn shitty daily intake of food. In Sweden anyways, kids drink more coca-cola and eat more candy than eat real food. Energy drinks like red bull and the likes are also insanely popular. This kind of diet won't do you ANY good if you want to get stronger and healthier, whatsoever. Without further ado, I'll jump right into the first part:
All the food we eat consists of three main organic compounds; carbohydrates, fat and protein. I won't get into the biochemical side of it too much since honestly I lack knowledge about those things. But then again it's not important at all for the goal we are trying to attain here. Also, the point of this blog entry is to make working out and nutrition easy to understand for anyone.
So, basically carbohydrates (from here on known as "carbs") is sugar that affects our blood sugar and insulin response with different speed. I need to mention something called GI or glycemic index here, which is a very fast and easy to to describe how "fast" a form of carbs is. The higher the GI value (somewhere from about 10-130) the higher your insulin levels and blood sugar will be but the faster your blood sugar will drop as well. So if you chug a energy drink containing lots of sugar with a very high GI value, you will first get very energized when the blood sugar rushes into your bloodstream and brain but after a short while your blood sugar will sink like a stone in water and it will take quite a long time to get it back up to normal levels. Also carbs with high GI value in combination with the hormone insulin, readily store energy as body fat. This is why the combination of high GI carbs with fat, makes for obesity pretty quickly unless you're working out alot.
The drop of blood sugar that occurs after the initial raise after consuming fast carbs, also makes us cranky, annoyed and we get the munchies because the body wants to raise the blood sugar to it's normal levels. There is especially much to write about carbs because of the different trends in regards to weight loss. There is LCHF (Low carb high fat), and the people who argue for a high carb intake. To keep it short, for this purpose keep your carb intake relatively low, because this promotes a slimmer body in general in conjunction with a higher fat & protein intake. So look to eat around 100-200 grams of carbs/day. Preferrably eat fast carbs after your workouts. Eat alot of veggies (broccoli, tomato, cucumber, salad etc) which are a good source of slow carbs. Other good sources of carbs are quinoa and nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew etc). Eat pasta and rice mainly after your workout, within 0-2 hours in order to store the energy as muscle glycogen.
The daily sources of carb I use are: Porridge, quinoa, occasionally fast carbs straight after your workout, almonds and veggies.
I won't go as much into fat as I did with carbs, because there isn't that much to say in regards to this article. Fat is needed for hormones, and for alot of bodily functions in general. There has been alot of discussion regarding fat and basically the conclusion is that fat does NOT make you fat. This is something scientists uses to believe but this isn't the case anymore. Fat contains alot of energy and if you consume more energy than you burn you will gain body weight. However fat doesn't make you fat otherwise. Some diets like LCHF promote a big fat intake. I think it's very interesting and beneficial for weight lifters. Personally I eat something like 100-200 g fat/day. It's not THAT imporant, unless you're on a strict diet. As long as you cut down on carbs, fat isn't an issue unless you eat horrible amounts.
Good sources of fat: Avocados, nuts, fat milk, cheese, mayonnaise. Basically any fat is good unless you eat too much of it. Like I mentioned, the health issues with fat have been largely exaggerated.
Now this is the big one for weight lifters especially. Protein is the building block of muscle and a decent daily intake of protein will make your body grow pretty fast. There is ALOT of discussion about how much protein daily that is the optimal amount to eat lol. Let me just say that my guidelines aren't a universal truth, BUT they are supported by science and less by the bulky guy at your local gym who SWEARS that you need at least 500 grams of protein daily. Science says that somewhere from 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per KILOGRAM of bodyweight (about 1 gr/protein per lbs of body weight) is beneficial for weight lifters. I would say around 2 grams/per kg is optimal. The weight lifting used in science isn't always as intense as IRL and there are many parameters that can affect the need for protein. Without thinking about it too much 2 grams/kg protein daily is considered the optimal amount in many weight lifting communities. Some bodybuilders tend to exaggerate the need for protein, and like I said there is no scientific basis for eating huge amounts of protein. Really, there isn't.
Good sources of protein: Meat, chicken, fish (salmon etc), seafood (shrimps, crab etc), milk, tuna. There are others but these are the main ones I use and most people use daily.
VITAMINS, MINERALS AND FISH OIL
These small substances that our body requires aren't always on peoples agenda. Alot of people just pick up whatever when they are shopping groceries and end up with a few boxes of micro-wave food and hot dogs or whatever. The nutritional value in these kinds of products that are processed usually sucks big time. Besides the microwave heating lowers the nutritional value of any food being heated. Many people aren't even remotely interested in the nutritional aspects of food and maybe don't even know what they put in their mouths or what a carbohydrate is.
Anyways here I will list a couple of important things about vitamins & minerals:
1. Get a multivitamin
Yeah, maybe you eat perfectly each and every day but most people don't, and especially people who work out alot need more vitamins than people who don't. It's a cheap and foolproof way to cover up your basic nutritional needs and the v&m will help your body make the most of your workouts. Multivitamins differ ALOT but most known ones are good, so I won't make any specific suggestions.
2. Try to eat dark leafed veggies daily (broccoli, spinache etc) and fruits every now and then
3. Get an omega-3 supplement unless you eat alot of salmon and mackerel etc.
The stuff above is highly recommended. Below I will mention some optional vitamin/mineral supplements that you can get.
Magnesium/Zink/B6 (ZMA): Helps your nervous system repair itself, promotes sleep (magnesium) and rest and mental well-being. These three compounds are synergists and boost each others effect. A rise in testosterone has been theorized but no good evidence is available. Either get the v&m separately and combine them yourself, or get the ZMA supplement.
B-vitamins/B-complex. Very important group of vitamins that helps your body convert food into energy, takes care of your skin, neurologic functioning, affects mood and stress levels positively etc. These vitamins are water soluble and therefore you need to replenish them often. I usually take a b-complex in the morning and anecdotally I feel calm, composed and focused. This supplement especially I feel more people would definately benefit from.
Vitamin D: Unless you live in a very warm and sunny place (in Sweden it's dark for like 6 months/year...) vitamin D is essential because you mainly get it from the sun. After recent research, vitamin D's importance has been highlighted. Many people have way too low levels of Vitamin D, with alot of bad effects such as depression etc. We need sufficient levels of vitamin D if we aren't exposed to the sun daily, and I recommend a supplement for this.
WEIGHT LIFTING SUPPLEMENTS
First of all, you really don't *need* any supplements when weight lifting, if your food covers it. But it's pretty handy to have a protein drink with you to the gym instead of opening a can of tuna and eat it after your training session. There are ALOT (!) of different supplements, and that's an understatement. It's a huge market and I neither have time nor the energy to talk about all the supplements. Also I don't even know 90% of them from first hand experience. I will discuss the supplements I have used myself and that I recommend. I won't talk you into getting any expensive, and rather useless "performance boosters". Heck, I'm a student myself and want to be able to afford the supplements on my student loan.
Protein powder (whey): Very convenient. 20-30 grams of protein per serving, take whenever you like to add to your daily protein intake. You can get it very cheap too (cheaper than protein sources in food). This is the most common supplement anyone that works out uses, by FAR. It's no magic drink though, just cheap and very good protein in the shape of powder.
Gainers: (Optional). I would say: Don't bother. A gainer is a mix of protein and carbs, designed especially to drink right after a workout session. Recent studies have indicated though that just protein after a workout is as effective as protein + carbs. I only get a gainer supplement when I find one dirt cheap in an internet store.
Creatine: Very popular supplement as well. One of the best supplements there is actually. Our muscle contains creatine, and this supplement merely adds more creatine into your muscle usually by binding water. This supplement will make you do a couple more reps, add on some weight on that barbell bar and generally feel stronger. There is alot of scientific studies to back up the effect of creatine as well. You can search Pubmed if you like to see.
Besides these supplements there are, like I mentioned, a million different supplements. There are separate amino acids, amino acid compounds; BCAA, EAA, carb drinks etc. But the ones I mentioned above are the most important ones. Fact is, most people I know only use protein powder or protein + creatine. They are both cheap and effective supplements with no known dangers.
Disclaimer: IF YOU HAVE BAD KIDNEYS, DON'T TAKE CREATINE OR EAT EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF PROTEIN. Just to get that out there, don't worry.
REST & SLEEP
Sleep and rest is essential when you work out. Lifting weights doesn't make your muscles bigger, it breaks them down so that they can be built up even stronger when you eat and rest. A small nap during the daytime also boosts your anabolic hormones btw *hint*. Don't compromise your sleep too much as it's super important in order to get good effects from your workouts. Try to get the 8 hours of sleep if possible, otherwise 7 is ok too. Not less preferrably. Of course you can sleep 6,5 hours during the night and nap for an hour during daytime. But a good nights sleep is really underrated for bodily and mental well-being. Your body needs the rest in order to promote muscle gains from your weight lifting sessions.
If you have trouble sleeping, try this advice:
1. Limit caffeine intake. Preferrably stop it completely
2. Try to have your bedroom silent, cool and dark. Don't watch TV or do homework in bed.
3. Try ZMA for sleep. Many people get very good results. (or magnesium only)
4. Cut down on sugar, fructose syrup, candy, soda etc. Stimulants don't make you sleepy
WHAT I EAT DURING A TYPICAL DAY:
You don't need to calculate calories excessively, just watch what I eat and try to eat the same amount of different stuff. I could go more into the calorie aspect of nutrition but I feel that it would be too hard to explain and people would get discouraged to calculate that stuff, so do this: If you want to gain weight, eat more. If you want to loose weight, eat less. BUT try to calculate your daily protein intake at least and have it be around 1 gr/lbs bodyweight or 2 gr/kg bodyweight.
Breakfast: 100 gr oat meal as porridge. A sandwich with shrimp + avokado + mayo
After workout: Protein shake
Meal 3: 50-200 (in this example it's after workout so 200 gr, otherwise 50-100) gr pasta/rice/quinoa (carbs) with any source of protein (fish, meat etc) + veggies (broccoli, spinache etc). This the basic composition of any larger meal; some form of animal/bird/fish meat, carbs + veggies
Meal 4: Protein shake (or a can of tuna or chicken or fish etc)
Meal 5: Can of tuna mixed in mayo (awesome protein + fat and no carbs meal). You could mix any source of protein in mayo ;D It doesn't really matter other than your taste preferences.
Meal 6: Almonds (or cashews, or walnuts etc)
Something like this. If I'm very active during the day and work out hard I add more carbs, ie more porridge or more pasta/quinoa/rice OR more fat in the form of mayo, a fat sauce, or more nuts. These three are all high in calories and a good way to eat more calories. You can eat these meals whenever you like and in any order you like. It's not THAT important how many times you eat or when you eat, your daily calorie intake will still be the same. For the sake of your blood sugar levels eating many times during the day is good though.
Finally, do yourself a favor and start educating yourself about the food you eat. Look how many calories it contains, how much protein/carb/fat. Soon you will be able to calculate in your head how many calories there is in the food you eat and thus know how many calories you will need to eat during the day, depending on your goals; weight gain or weight loss.
Good luck! And ask if you have any questions.
Btw, this is probably full of typing errors and stuff and I will correct it when I find them.