For us recreational enthusiasts, there are few things that provide more inspiration than the audible feats of strength that take place in our own gyms every day. The clanging of non-collared plates on a big set of squats. The seismic thud of a stacked set of dumbbells hitting the floor. The primitive, rep-beating grunt of fellow strength-seeking men. It’s this cacophony of iron that pushes us to push ourselves. We want to move more weight - lots more - and we’re ready to put in the work.
Unfortunately, many people haven't gotten the message that strong is in. Indeed, statistics on strength training are grim: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 30 percent of American adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups at least twice a week—the recommendations set out by the government.
Notice in the workouts below that your first set calls for eight reps, your second set 10 reps and your third set 12. This is referred to in bodybuilding circles as a “reverse pyramid” (a standard pyramid goes from higher to lower reps), where you decrease the weight each set to complete the higher rep count. For example, if on your first set of lat pulldowns you used 140 pounds for eight reps, try using 120 or 130 pounds on set two and 100–120 pounds on set three.
Cardio makes you fat, tired and stressed. Don’t believe me, then have a look at all the recreational marathon runner with their little cortisol bellies. The occasional long walk is good, but jogging great distances is a total no-no for optimal body composition. If you want to blast your body quickly over a two week period then hit the gym twice a day, training your entire body in a three way split over five days. In the morning lift heavy weights for low reps (3-5), and in the evening train the same body parts but with repetition in the 9-15 range. The increased protein synthesis and elevated metabolism from the frequent training sessions will see your physique change at a rapid rate. One word of caution however, only follow such an intense programme for 2 weeks and then cut the frequency back down to once daily sessions in the 3rd week.
If you’re constantly depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy most, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll simply become discouraged and quit. Figure out what you need in terms of overall daily calories and macronutrients (the level of detail that you apply here is dependent on your individual goals and situation), and then allocate a small percentage of that to allow for the foods you crave most.
This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.
One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.
Nothing good comes from crash diets. Keep in mind, anytime you restrict calories for more than a day or two, whether through diet, exercise, or both, your metabolism actually slows down to some extent. The effect is more noticeable with long-term diets or drastic calorie reduction. This explains why so many people who follow crash diets end up gaining every ounce—or more—back.
Don't worry, we're still talking snail's pace weight gain. Aim for one pound per week of lean muscle mass gains, though you may initially gain faster if you started out extremely lean or glycogen depleted. Start by adding 500 calories to your current daily intake, and maintain that intake until you plateau. If or when this happens, add another 250-500 calories and repeat.
If you can't remember the last time you saw your doctor for a complete physical and blood work-up, now is definitely the time. Why? Well, first of all there's all the disclaimer-sounding stuff concerning any outstanding health issues you might not know about. Your doctor could have specific diet or training recommendations that you're better off hearing about now than later. But that's not the only reason.
Reverse crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides—whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate, and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract, and inhale as you return to the starting position.