In the last article I briefly touched on the science of steroid use and explained why it’s important to seriously consider doing things naturally. However, whether you’ve been training for a while or are just getting into it, you may be having trouble seeing the results you so desperately desire. This write up will touch on the basics you need to reach your goals.
The most important lesson anyone can teach you about personal fitness is to be consistent. This applies to everything. And at the risk of adding too many clichés in this article, you really do need to consider fitness as a way of life rather than just a goal. Sure, it’s important to set micro goals to feel a sense of achievement. However, you need to be consistent in your diet, your type of training, and of course the frequency with which you train in order to see results. Failing to do so means you won’t progress, or will do so at a very slow rate.
It All Starts in the Kitchen
Another cliché that holds true is that 90% of your gains start in the kitchen. In the same vein, this also applies to those looking to cut weight, boost strength, or just be healthier overall. You are what you eat of course, and you won’t be setting any records if you don’t fuel your body with what it needs to perform in the manner you seek. As a starting point you can use a macronutrient calculator which can tell you how many proteins, carbs and healthy fats to consume per day based on your activity level, age, weight, height and goals.
Proteins are usually fairly set in stone at around 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight regardless of your goals; with the variants being the number of carbs and fats you consume. Added to this are the micro nutrients. This means the vitamins and minerals, types of fat you consume and so on. Consider lean meats for protein (i.e. chicken), complex carbs (i.e. brown rice, whole wheat, oats etc.), and healthy fats (i.e. salmon, avocado, nuts, seeds etc.).
Choosing the Right Workout Routine
Many people just starting out don’t really have a program and just start using equipment at their gym in a seemingly random order. It’s important you consider your goal. If you are going to cut fat, then cardio needs to play a more important role in your routine. Cardio is vital regardless as heart health should always be a priority, but when it comes to burning calories you have the choice of steady state cardio or high intensity interval type training. Both work well, you can use a mixture of the two or choose the type that you enjoy the most (remember ‘consistency’). Weight training also burns calories and it’s important you don’t forsake this either to ensure you don’t lose muscle, or at least begin to tone up as you lose weight.
If you goal is to bulk up, then in addition to light cardio your goal is to use hypertrophy training. This means using higher reps. For instance, Dwayne Johnson is known to often use a 4 set x 15 rep routine for many of his exercises. For the most part though, it’s recommended to use sets of 3 or 4 x sets of 8-12 reps to see optimal muscle growth. Many people use lower reps with compound exercises and then higher reps with finishers or isolation exercises. For instance, perhaps 4 x 8 for a barbell chest press, followed by 3 x 15 for chest flyes.
When it comes to building strength, then your goal isn’t necessarily to use as many reps as possible but to improve how much weight you can lift. The most popular routine for those looking to build strength is 5 sets x 5 reps. Those who use this program often stick to compound exercises (which should ideally be used by everyone regardless of your goal) such as the bench press, squat, deadlift and shoulder press.
Supplements that can Help
While this article is about how to get fit naturally, sometimes it is necessary to get a little help. The most popular supplements include:
Protein – In order to reach your high protein consumption goals you will likely need to add a protein supplement to your diet. The most popular and cheapest is whey protein which is fast acting, though you get casein (slow acting which is good before bed), isolate (a more pure form of whey protein), blends (which are a mixture), and of course countless others.
BCAAs – Known as branched chain amino acids, there are some amino acids that your body can’t make and are necessary to consume through diet or supplementation. Amino acids are important for protein synthesis and can also help you avoid catabolism while training (breaking down muscle).
Creatine – The other most common supplement is creatine which can help improve performance by helping improve the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate ) you have in your body. Without going into too much detail, ATP is necessary in order for the body to provide energy to muscle cells. By using creatine it’s possible to add an extra one or two reps to your sets which can lead to greater muscle growth.
Of course, everything here can be broken down into a science of its own. In addition to that fact, everyone is different so what might work for someone else may not work for you. Do you research and experiment to see what your body responds best to. However, just remember to give yourself time before changing things up as it’s a long road and can take many years before you really begin to understand yourself.