Fitness Basics

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."

-Hippocrates

These days, fitness is as controversial as politics.

Take a moment to forget about all the "latest and greatest" techniques you've heard to build muscle or burn fat.

Forget about the rare exceptions at your job and gym who look great regardless of the way they eat or train.

Whatever your fitness goals are, you have to focus on the fundamentals.

Allow me to break things down simply with five basic rules:

1. Diet Matters

To gain muscle, you need to be eating a caloric surplus. This provides your body with the extra energy needed to build muscle.

To lose fat, you need to be eating a caloric deficit. This deprives your body of the energy it normally needs and forces it to burn off fat to compensate.

In your first two or three months of training, both of these rules could be ignored; your body will be able to do both at the same time. Once you've been training  your strength gains plateau, however, you'll need to follow these basic principles.

Beyond this, you need to make sure you're taking in the proper macronutrients. Your diet should be a healthy balance of fats, proteins, and carbs. You also need important micronutrients, so make sure you're supplementing with an effective multivitamin (general rule: 100% DV usually isn't enough for most vitamins).

2. Lift the Right Way

It doesn't matter if you're trying to be a bodybuilder or just strong enough to move things around your house; weightlifting is essential for your lifestyle. It increases your strength, prevents sarcopenia, and aids your metabolism in losing weight.

To build muscle, you need to build strength. However, "strength" can mean a number of things; for maximizing your muscle size, your 15-rep-max can be as important as your 5-rep-max. Train anywhere in the range of 65-85% of your 1-rep-max for effective muscle gains. If you have no clue what your max is, this calculator will provide a rough idea.

Emphasize a variety of compound movements, both bodyweight and free weight, to build a balanced and functional physique. Key exercises are as follows:

  • Pull-Ups
  • Dips
  • Military Presses
  • Bench Presses
  • Rows
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts

If you perform these movements and their variations, you might not even NEED any other exercises.

Isolation work has its place, but if you're just starting out, stick to the big movements.

Finally, your lifting routine should be the same regardless of whether you're bulking or cutting. Don't get caught up in the myth of "higher reps will get me cut"; you'll end up LOSING muscle if you try that. Just stick to the same lifting plan when you switch over.

3. Sleep Is Essential

This one is probably the toughest. People have their hands full of obligations these days with schooling, families, work, and everything in between.

The better you sleep, the better you recover. More importantly, the better you sleep, the higher your resting testosterone and HGH levels are, which will enable you to build more muscle and lose more fat.

All of you should be sleeping somewhere from 7-9 hours. I mean ACTUALLY sleeping by the way; laying in bed for 7 hours while tossing and turning throughout the night won't cut it.

If you struggle with sleep like I do, I have a handy article for you to look at.

4. Don't Second Guess Yourself

A common problem in this industry is lack of commitment. People are constantly looking for a quick fix: a pill that will vanquish belly fat, a supplement that will pack on 10 lbs of muscle in a few weeks, etc.

Stick to a routine and track your progress. Now, if you're following a routine, and nothing's changed in a month, it's time to analyze and determine what could be the culprit. Regularly switching your approach, however, will just make things harder.

5. It Takes Time

Ever notice how some of the most fit guys and gals you see are usually over 30? Natural muscle building, and even fat loss, takes time.

If you stick to my blog and E-Books, you'll make significant progress over the next few years.

Wrap Up

You can all achieve the body of your dreams.

All of you can adapt a healthy lifestyle that will minimize your physical pain and transform your body.

Keep up with this blog and we'll make that journey together.