Now that you have the diet down, here are our recommendations for your workouts. These recommendations will differ depending on your current weight and level of general fitness.
If you are severely overweight and deconditioned:
- Most people can reach a natural, healthy bodyweight with proper nutrition and walking alone; no gym or formal exercise sessions are necessary. You may move to the structured when you reach a healthier weight
- Focus on cleaning up your diet and walking more. Walking can be done anywhere! Being a member of a gym or having a home treadmill may come in handy during inclement weather, but it is not necessary.
- Avoid high intensity aerobic activity or heavy weights
- Exercise 4-5 days per week. Give yourself 2-3 days per week off per week to optimize recovery and prevent burnout.
If you are a healthy individual who wants to change his/her body composition:
- Your goal is to increase lean muscle mass through weight training. Having more muscle mass increases your body’s resting metabolic rate. Fat loss will be the result of (1) your clean diet and appropriate caloric intake; and (2) increased metabolic “burn” from muscle mass
- Emphasize strength training; To a lesser extent, interval-based cardio and outdoor recreational walking is okay. Avoid low-intensity, long distance endurance training (e.g., jogging and cardio machines)
- Training options: 2 days per week for full body routines (also known as “splits”), 3 days per week for push/legs/pull splits, or 4-5 days per week for individual body part splits. Give yourself 2-3 days off per week to optimize recovery and prevent burnout
- It’s ideal to work out at a gym facility, since they will have all the weights you need for your workouts. However, you can achieve excellent results at home too, using your body weight, resistance bands, or dumbells.
Training Principles for All:
- Ideally, you will want to exercise at a regularly scheduled time during specific days of the week. This will help to make it part of your routine and automatic, instead of something that is a chore or can be pushed aside. When strength training, it is also ideal to eat at least one meal at least one hour before working out.
- Use mostly free weights; supplement with machines only if necessary.
- Train from a stable base. DON’T use unstable surfaces (balls, wobble boards, standing on one foot, etc.).
- Focus on basic exercises – lunge and squat movements, dumbbell and barbell rowing and pressing motions, pull-up/dip movements, etc. The human body is a simple lever system and does not need “complicated” or “innovative” exercises to produce results.
- During each session, train 1-3 muscle groups (body splits). Perform 3-5 exercises for large muscle groups, 2-3 exercises for small muscle groups.
- Perform 2-4 sets of 5-15 repetitions (reps).
- Rest 30-120 seconds in between each set.
- Keep the rep tempos (speed at which you lift/move the weights) around 2-0-2-0 (2 seconds up, 2 seconds down).
- Lift and lower weights under control, and keep CONSTANT TENSION on the muscle. Don’t pause or lockout to rest in between reps, and don’t cheat by swinging or using rebound/momentum; this puts you at risk for injury.
- It’s not just about how much weight you lift. Focus on stimulating and overloading the muscle. This is better for the muscles, better for the joints, and better for overall safety.
- Focus on feeling the muscle work during the set, not just on moving a weight from point A to point B. Think of this as bodybuilding or body shaping as opposed to power lifting. Check your macho (or diva) ego at the door.
- Switch training variables — within the confines of the overall parameters — regularly (exercises, order of exercises, reps, interest rest, etc.) in order to vary the training stimulus and prevent boredom/training plateaus.
- Don’t get sucked into fitness trends, and cool-looking “innovative” stuff you see in the gym or TV. The basics are the basics for a reason — THEY WORK.