Yo my dudes! As promised, here's my in-depth post for anyone seeking help on their journey to physical fitness. Some of you may remember when I made a similar journal entry a few years back. This post will address all of those same topics and some additional subjects that may help you in the gym! If you read the old post (you don't have to, it's outdated) you may notice my regimen and diet have slightly changed.That's totally normal. As you become more in-tune with your body, it's good to mix-up your routine to avoid boredom in the weight room (more on that later). Keep in mind: I am by no means a professional. This is just stuff that works for me, and may not necessarily work for you. As Mr. Rogers would say, "You are special and there's no one else like you" (or some shit). Your body is unique and it's up to YOU to find the best routine that works for your bod. SO, let us begin my iron-pumping padawans.
Gaining Muscle: Like many losers who didn't lose their virginity until their twenties, I remember watching Dragon Ball Z and wanting to be as jacked as Goku (in fact, I'm listening to the DBZ soundtrack as I write this). Unfortunately for us, we're not fucking ripped cartoons and we have to deal with this corporeal form that we were born with. Personally, I find the best results with the Hypertrophy approach to weightlifting. Hypertrophy is commonly used by bodybuilders, it gives you a good mix of mass and tone. It consists of 3 or 4 sets of about 10-12 repetitions. In a typical workout session, I do 8 to 10 lifts that cover a variety of body parts. I break my workout days into 3 muscle groups.
- Day 1: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders
- Day 2: Biceps, Backs, and Traps
- Day 3: Legs
In addition to lifts that cover the above muscle groups, I also do 2 abdominal workouts as a warmup and a calf exercise at the end. Your abs and legs need less recovery time than the rest of your muscle groups, so feel free to hit those bad boys a little more often.
The alternative to Hypertrophy is Strength Training. I dabble from time-to-time, but Hypertrophy makes me look and feel the best. Now, gaining muscle requires a healthy diet and adequate rest. I'll get to those topics in a few paragraphs, until then let's move onto the next subject-
Choosing Your Weight Lifting Exercise: Stepping into a gym for the first time can be awfully intimidating. There are a metric fuck-ton of machines, lots of heavy things that you probably won't be able to lift for a while, and for some reason it smells like a sweaty asshole. But hey, no worries, I'm here to help (with the first two things, the sweaty asshole smell is unavoidable).
First things first: It's important to go to the gym with a plan. Know what muscle groups you want to work that day before even stepping into the building. Once inside, look around at the equipment and assess what machines will help you achieve the day's lifting goal. It's totally fine to walk around and stare at the weight equipment, I do it literally every time I enter a new gym. Don't just jump on a machine to look busy, take time to figure out what you want to do that day. Strategize. You might get the sensation that people are watching you or judging you. Do not let that deter you. Chances are they're too focussed on their own lifts OR they're checking you out (I'll get into gym psychology later. Seriously). Anyways, most machines have cute lil pictures that show you what muscle groups that specific machine works as well as directions on how to use it.
Need help on choosing what lifts to do or how to do a certain lift? I have a resource! THIS PAGE is a goddamn life saver. I use it constantly. Just click a muscle group you're working and it'll show you a bunch of lifts AND how to do them. Bodybuilding.com is filled with tons of free workout programs if you're starting from scratch. Bookmark these pages on your phone, they're perfect for people trying to figure out what exercises to do. I rotate lifts out regularly. It's important for me to keep my body guessing. That way I'm working my muscles in a variety of ways AND I'm preventing myself from getting bored. Sometimes I may also reduce weight and increase repetitions. Have fun and confuse the shit out of your muscles. Also, most importantly, have good form. Good form gets results, bad form gets you injured. Use the above resources or ask a gym employee if you need help.
Diet: Diet is arguably the most important component to losing weight. You can do all the lifting and running you want, but if you eat like shit, you're not gonna do your body any good. For keeping my weight down and insuring my body is properly nourished for muscle gain, I track my macronutrient ratios and calories. It's fairly simple and can be done with the help of a free app called "MyFitnessPal". I use this app pretty much every day. Basically you type in whatever you're eating (or scan the barcode for the food item), it'll search it's database of foods, and it'll log your calories and macros. You can also set goals for weight loss, weight gain, and your daily caloric intake. Personally I like to eat around 2400-2800 calories a day. 40% Carbohydrates, 35% Proteins, and 25% Fats. Typically you'll want to take in a lot of carbs earlier in the day for energy, and then fats and proteins later in the day for recovery.
Next: drop the sodas and take up water instead. Soda has a fuck-load of sugar that you don't need. Water will keep you hydrated (which will help stave off injuries) and it won't make your teeth all gross. (Also, pro-tip, if you DO drink coffee or soda, swish water around in your mouth afterward to clean that shit off your teeth, it's how I keep my teeth white and healthy). Moving on!
When eating, know when to stop. I used to be in the habit of eating until I was uncomfortably full. You don't have to finish your plate every time, if you feel satisfied, put the fork down! You can also drink water in between mouthfuls of food to help quell your hunger. In regards to supplements: I take a protein shake after workouts (Whey Tech Pro 24 from Vitamin Shoppe or Optimum Nutrition: 100% Whey- chocolate is the best flavor). Post workout supplements are great for recovery, but don't overdo it. Too many protein shakes can actually fuck with your kidneys. There are tons of other supplements, but this ain't the journal post for those. You'll have to do your own research if you're interested in pre-workouts, creatine, BCAA's, glutamine, etc.
Cardio: Back in senior year of high school I got a really hot Prom date; she was totally out of my league. I felt kinda gross and pudgy, so I started running a mile every day to lose some weight before the dance. In two months the weight was practically falling off. My date ended up ditching me at Prom, but I felt really good about my body so I didn't really give a shit in the end. Anyways, cardio is fantastic for losing weight! Combined with dieting, this is probably the quickest and healthiest way to lose pounds. I tend to recommend starting with cardio before taking up weightlifting. The results from weight lifting take time to notice, and you may burn yourself out if you're just now starting to workout and you're juggling a new diet, weightlifting, and cardio all at once.
Now keep in mind: cardio doesn't necessarily have to be running. A lot of people have bad knees or aren't ready for that level of exercise yet. No worries! Just do activities that make you sweat and raise your heart rate safely. Biking, stair climbing, ellipticals, anything. The key is to keep pushing your body harder and harder. If you're knocking out a mile with no problem, run for a longer distance OR run at a faster speed. Keep challenging yourself, otherwise your body might get used to the exercise and it won't be as effective. Over time your stamina will improve resulting in better sleep, more energy throughout the day, and improved performance during SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. That's right, cardio leads to BETTER FUCKING. So run.
Rest and Recovery: I'm going to sound like a mom, but I don't care, moms are cool and sometimes hot: Make sure you get enough sleep. 7-8 hours is perfectly adequate for me. Your body will absolutely need to rest if you want it to improve. If you don't give yourself enough time to recover, you WILL injure yourself. Then you won't be able to lift. Then you'll lose motivation to get back into the gym. Then bam, back to square one. Rest days are also extremely important. For my routine I do my 3 lift days (the ones I mentioned above) and then a day of rest. Rinse and repeat. 3 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off, etc.
If you find that the diet is kicking your ass, consider a cheat day. Mine is on Sunday. It's a way of rewarding yourself for a hard week of work. It's a motivator. Something to look forward to. It also prevents you from going crazy from eating chicken breast and broccoli all week.
Stretching is also crazy useful. I only recently started to stretch before workouts and I've noticed a huge improvement in the weight room. It helps eliminate cramps and the risk of pulled muscles. Stretch every day if you can. And if you're a fancy fuck, try yoga. Also, again, drink lots of water. Keep yourself hydrated. Carry a big 'ol water bottle around like me. It's what all the cool kids are doing and they're not pooping kidney stones out of their dongers or pulling muscles.
Motivation/ Gym Psychology: A very, very, very frequently asked question I get is "what do you do to stay motivated". That's some arbitrary bullshit, yo. Personally, I don't view fitness as something I need motivation for. I view it as part of my normal routine. A non-negotiable. James Willems once said that he treats exercise like brushing his teeth or shampooing his hair. It's not something you talk yourself into, it's just something you DO. Now if you need something to drive you forward, set goals for yourself. I'll set a personal goal if I want that extra push at the gym, they keep me focussed and give me something to work toward. Example: "I want to look like this with my shirt off" or "I want to lift this much on bench press". Goals can be a great motivating force, but don't be hampered by a "lack of motivation". That's an excuse.
Speaking of excuses: stop making them. It's really easy to get into your own head about working out. "People at the gym will judge me", "I'm not strong or fit and I'll embarrass myself", "It's too hard", "I don't know how to exercise", "I'm afraid I'll injure myself". I hear these excuses constantly. They are all problems I encountered when I was going through my weight loss. I vividly remember one night when I was still having a hard time with my body image. I was exhausted at the end of a workout and struggling to get like 50 pounds on push press. Some meathead walked up with his girlfriend and literally said, "Dude, you can't lift that? You're fucking weak." They walked off laughing. I was fucking humiliated. I didn't want to show my face at that gym any more. But instead of letting that asshole get me down, I kept pushing myself in the weight room. I wouldn't let his shitty remark get the best of me. I don't know where that guy is now, but he's probably dead. Or he's alive and super fucking jacked. Either way, who gives a fuck? Don't let shitty people win, rise above. Also, side note, don't become dependent on a gym partner. Gym partners are great if you need a spotter, some friendly competition, or want to have someone supporting you while you learn about fitness. However, it's super easy for that person to control your routine. If they decide to get lazy and skip a day, it's easier for you to skip as well. When it gets to the point where you absolutely NEED someone to hold you accountable to go to the gym, you may not be in the right headspace. Moving on.
Another common excuse for not working out is claiming ignorance. I get it, you're not going to suddenly learn about every exercise, body part, or piece of fitness equipment overnight. But you have the internet. You're using the internet RIGHT. NOW. It's filled with limitless information on how to exercise. Also, homey, weightlifting is not fucking rocket science. You're lifting and lowering heavy things. You think those meatheads at the gym are smart? Nah brah. Just take a little time to learn about fitness. Over time you'll become more and more familiar with the weight room. You'll never master the gym either, and that's okay! Hell, I'm still learning and discovering new exercises. But that's fun and it keeps me interested! Also, you're going to make mistakes. Some day you'll do a lift wrong or goof up on some arbitrary gym etiquette thing. But like Yoda said, "The greatest teacher, failure is". Learn from your mistakes. Moral of the story: you live in the age of information. Don't say that you can't figure this out. You're a Rooster Teeth community member. You're so gosh dang smart.
Last thing: Exercise requires dedication, patience, and time. Your six pack abs will not appear overnight. You won't be participating in the next Olympics. But be patient and hold strong. The results WILL come if you put in the effort. Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. Fitness requires a self starter attitude. Toughen up and face your fears, otherwise you won't make progress. Not happy with how you look or feel? That's on you, no one else, to make that change.
So to recap: Don't let fear govern your health. Don't let laziness govern your health. Don't make excuses. Go exercise.
ALRIGHT. That's all I've got for now. Feel free to post questions in the comment section below. If I don't answer them, I'm sure some lovely community members will be eager to help. I wish you the best of luck on your fitness journey. Just remember: don't give up. My decision to start exercising was one of the best choices I've made in my life and I will never regret it. I believe in you, you can do this.