“Ask yourself: What do you want to be doing three months from now? Is that realistic? How much time are you willing to commit to strength training? What obstacles do you see getting in the way? What structures and supports will help you stay on track? How will you respond if you’re not making the progress you want? Answer these questions first before getting into the nitty-gritty of setting specific movement or weight goals,” he says.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
Where you go from here is up to you. With 25% more strength, you’re no doubt carrying more muscle. Maybe it’s time to step into a cutting cycle after a week or two off. Or, if you feel like this methodology set you on the path to even greater gains, you can always start the program over, perhaps aiming to add even more strength and size to your new physique.
Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
This no-holds-barred quest for growth is based on the principle of four: performing four exercises and adding four extra reps to each exercise after the first. Because each lift changes the area of the muscle that receives the most stimuli, the ever-increasing reps shift the demands of the muscle from strength to hypertrophy to endurance to a skin-stretching crescendo that flushes the muscle and celebrates the pump.
Including a small amount of higher sugar and/or higher fat food here and there (I usually try to refrain from using the term “cheat meals” as it wrongly implies that you’re doing something outside the rules) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress, and it will make your overall eating plan much more enjoyable while still delivering the same results.
Muscle soreness is a common side effect to working out. It subsides as part of the recovery process. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is the most common type of soreness and occurs 24-72 hours after training. This is why rest days are important, to allow soreness to disappear before training again. In fact, if you are scheduled to train and are still sore, take an extra day off.
Overload Management. The basis of strength and conditioning is progressive overload. It takes some skill to judge the point at which overload—increasingly heavier weight—is building capacity yet not making you too sore, ill or fatigued to continue. That’s why it’s very important to start slowly and build. When in doubt, take a rest, miss a session but don’t alter the program detail, the reps, and sets, if you can help it. The squat and deadlift can be very taxing, so be careful not to lift too heavy for a start.
You can train long, or you can train intensely, but you can’t do both. For every set completed, more, and more of the body’s limited reserve of biochemical resources are used up in an attempt to merely recover from, or compensate for the exhaustive effects of the workout, leaving that much less left over for over-compensation in the form of more muscle mass. Long, drawn out training sessions decrease growth hormone, and testosterone levels, while increasing cortisol levels. This hormonal shift creates a very catabolic environment in the body that will result in muscle loss and a reduced basal metabolic rate. If it’s taking you several hours to get through a workout then you’re wasting your time. I suggest never allowing any lifting session to exceed 45 minutes in duration.
How you eat to recover from exercise is one of the most important principles in exercise nutrition. Glucose, or glycogen, is the athlete’s and exerciser’s main fuel. You get it from carbohydrate foods and drinks. If you don’t refuel sufficiently after each session, glucose stores in muscle can get depleted. This can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and even immune system suppression and infection. What's more, inadequate refueling after your session won't take advantage of that hard muscle work by giving those muscles an anabolic boost that repairs and builds.
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.
It’s worth reading the introductory weight training information before starting this program, or any program for that matter. The exercises use the standard free weights and equipment found in most gyms. All exercises can be done at home if you have the appropriate home gym equipment. A medical examination and clearance is wise if you've been sedentary for a lengthy period. Take care with injured or dysfunctional joints. Get medical advice before starting weight training if this applies to you.
As a starting point for calorie composition, Pulido recommends dividing up your macro split by taking in close to 1.5 grams of protein and at least 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. The rest of your daily allowance, which should account for 15-35 percent of your total calorie intake, should go toward dietary fat. "Fats are important for hormone balance, including testosterone production, which is critical for building muscle mass," Pulido says.
Most of the exercises that should make up your initial training are called compound, or basic, exercises. These are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, such as the squat, deadlift and bench press. This is in contrast to isolation exercises which only work one muscle at a time, such as dumbbell flyes (chest), concentration curls (biceps) and side laterals (side deltoid head).