When I was growing up I was skinny and tall (with a big head and a big smile). Sporting 6’3” and 172 lbs I was really cut running down the soccer-field, but when I look at pictures from back then the word “giant shrimp” often comes to my mind.
Today I’m not 16 anymore. I’m still 6’3” but I weigh in at 210 lbs of muscle. After over 20 years of continuous work-out and working in the gym industry, I’ll share a few tips with you that can change your life and send you on your way to a rock hard body and mind. But you have to be ready to work for it!
Genetics. We have all been dealt a different set of genes. We come in all shapes and sizes. Work with what you’ve got and if you have a heavy body constitution don’t expect to look slim as a lizard after two weeks. Find your strengths and work on them. Envision your goal and set milestones along the way.
Time management. Think about how many workout days you REALISTICALLY can handle per week. It’s better to start with two days of workout per week and get the feeling that you are succeeding instead of cramming five days of workout into your schedule and feeling bad if you only do four. Practice winning! And then, expand your goals. (I do two gym-sets a day, five days a week. I wouldn’t advise anybody to go in that strong from the beginning, but it is possible to motivate yourself further down the line!)
Lifelong commitment. Establish a long-term relationship with yourself. To be honest, if you’re going to put in hours every week (maybe as many hours you effectively spend on friends or dates?) you don’t want to see all that go down the drain. My goal is to build up my body and to keep the pounds of muscle I build. I’m guessing it’s the same for you. What you may be trying to do requires lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes don’t come easy, so really try to see the value in the hours you put in. Then, remember that lifestyle changes are difficult. You will reach a setback. Be prepared and think of how to get back on the wagon if you start slipping.
How to get started. If you are new to working out, the easiest way to start is to find a gym close to either your work or to your home. Choose a gym where you feel at ease. If you’re not a huge, muscular person avoid those types of gyms. If you enjoy other types of training, for example swimming or cross country running, try to find a gym that offers those other activities. But ultimately, find a gym and get an instructor to help you design a workout plan tailored to your lifestyle.
Goals and motivation. Why do you want to do this? There are a few obvious reasons: better health and mobility. But there are also a few other reasons you may want to train. Don’t neglect vanity. When people ask me why I train I sometimes say “because I want to look good when I’m naked” and I laugh. But it’s partly true. I like to feel good about how I look. Any reason for training is as good as the next one.
Discipline. When going to the gym, work hard. I used to practice martial arts (karate) and I see my strikes in the Dojo as my sets in the gym. All of them need to be done correctly and in good form. If you are not doing the correct form while doing squats and curls, you are cheating yourself and exposing yourself to injury.
Pillar of training 1: Rest. This may seem contradictory. Never underestimate this challenge. If you don’t get enough sleep and rest you cannot excel in you training. Tests have shown that lack of sleep also links to stress. Stress sends a message to the body to store energy (fat). So, depending on who you are, you will need at least eight hours of sleep per night.
Pillar of training 2: Food. There are a million different diets and nutritional supplements on the market. If you are new to training here are a few cheap and efficient tricks. Most diets focus on gaining muscle and losing fat. Start like this:
1) Drink at least four pints of water a day, first thing you do in the morning – drink a pint of water. This will give your metabolism a kick early.
2) Eat regularly, every three hours is good.
3) Eat foods that give you long sensation of satisfaction: beans and fiber are great (and don’t forget the greens!)
4) Protein: get it. Chicken and fish are great. Avoid deep fried foods. Remember that you can cook food with little grease and add water to the skillet instead of oil. Works! The French call it “braise,” I call it cooking in water.
5) If you’re into losing body fat, there are a few natural substances that are your friends. Those that will make your body use more energy when you are resting are: caffeine, chili, cinnamon and ginger. Example: add ginger to your tea and drink it throughout the day.
6) Only eat sugar if you’re planning to burn it the same day. Otherwise it will be stored as fat. Simple.
Combining exercises. Let’s say that you want to build muscle and lose fat. Work your muscles twice a week and run at least once a week. When running go for LSD (no, it’s not what you think). LSD is Long Slow Distance. Most people start burning fat after 90 minutes. So go slow and go for a long time. 90 minutes may sound staggering, but when going at a slow pace it’s ok.
Ok guys, I could go on about training, exercise, recipes, and running programs forever, but this is enough to get you started. I love to stay fit, and I believe that we all owe it to ourselves to care for our bodies. And to look hot for our partners! If you’re not working out at the moment, remember that it’s never too late to start. Think about why you want to do it and get your partner or family to buy into your project, so that your training doesn’t become something negative.
Good luck! I’d love to get feedback if this inspires you to start training or to start lifting more pounds. So, if this was valuable to you drop me a line, or if you have any questions don’t hesitate to e-mail them firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you at the gym!
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