I can’t tell you the amount of times people come to me frantic about some big event they have coming up that they need to “look their best for”. They say things like “oh my wedding is three weeks away” or “I need to look the best I’ve ever looked for this college reunion I have in three months”. These same people come to me with other crazy statements like “I already stopped eating” or “I’ve lost six pounds since yesterday”. Can you lose thirty pounds in three weeks? Yes absolutely. Can you squeeze into those jeans from high school by next week? Probably. But, you’re probably going to have to starve yourself to death. And as your starving your muscles shrivel up like raisins while you end up losing the same amount of lean mass as you do fat. All the while thinking you’re making progress losing all this weight. But, what happens? After you starve yourself you stare into the mirror wondering why does my body still not look the way I want it to? Or, why are my arms still flappy? Maybe even, where did my butt go? Unfortunately in fitness and in life there are no shortcuts to doing something right. So, I hate to break it to you, but you’re in it for the long haul.
Let me start by asking you this: why are you trying to get into shape? Is it for vanity or is it for your health? Are you trying to impress a bunch of people who don’t really matter or are you trying to take care of the one and only body that you have? And another thing, once you get fit, do you plan to stay that way? Or are you going to let all that hard work you just put in go to waste? If you read all those questions and still decided that you really want to be fit and be healthy then allow me to break some hard truths down for you. Whether you are looking to build muscle or lose fat there are certain things you can’t change. For example, the average person can not lose more than 1-3lbs a week of fat, unless you are extremely overweight or obese. And for those of you looking to build those huge arms here’s another one for you. The average person can put on about twelve pounds of muscle a YEAR. Still think you’re going to build that perfect beach body by next week? Think again.
I’m sure at this point a lot of you reading this are either discouraged or shocked. However, let me give you some peace of mind. You have TIME to make yourself fit, but you have to reframe your perception. If you try and rush the process you may see quick results, but you wont see long lasting results. Instead of focusing on trying to drop ten pounds this month for your wedding just to gain it back on your honeymoon. Try focusing on losing a pound a week and KEEP IT OFF. Because in the grand scheme of things being four pounds lighter for even a year is better than being ten pounds lighter for a week. Let’s look at it from an even bigger point of view. What happens when you starve your body to try and lose weight is your metabolism comes to a halt. Your metabolism is basically your body’s MPG (miles per gallon) or in other words how much energy you use every day to perform tasks. Now, your body is smart and it will adapt to what you put it through to a certain degree. As you begin to starve yourself your body will tap into your fat stores and your muscle mass for energy because it will try to get energy wherever it can since it is starving. This is what causes that initial big drop in weight at the beginning of an improper diet. However, once your body sees that it isn’t getting any more fuel any time soon (food) it will begin to hold on to everything. This causes a two fold disaster. On the one hand you have a loss of muscle mass which will equate to less total calories being burned every day. On the other hand you have your body in a state of starvation pushing any excess calories into your fat stores. So you may drop a few pounds, but if you take closer look at your body fat percentage you will likely see it hasn’t changed or it has even gone up.
What I’m trying to say here is, if you’re looking to get fit you have to take a progressive lasting approach. Instead of going at it all or nothing and jumping into a program that will burn your out. Try progressively adding activity into your life. You have to look at what you’re doing and ask “can I sustain this”, or “is this something I would be ok with doing for the rest of my life”. Some of the healthiest and happiest people I know spend no more than two to three hours a week in the gym. They simply live their life in a healthy way. Did they get that way overnight? Absolutely not. They slowly changed their habits and over time those changes led to them being a healthier, happier, better looking, and better feeling person. I promise you if you take this approach to fitness it won’t seem so overwhelming. Those looming deadlines and diet fad’s can really create a lot of stress in your life. So, take it slow. Enjoy the process. Once you change one thing it becomes easier to implement more changes, Then, before you know it you ended up looking and feeling exactly how you wanted to. All because you looked at fitness as a lifelong marathon and not a sprint.
What’s your opinion on keto? Have you tried Hebalife? What about Isagenix? I heard that stuff makes you ripped! Currently I’m intermittent fasting and I gotta tell you I’m already down 6 pounds in a day!
Any of this sound familiar to you? Seems like these days everyone is on some crazy fad diet they read about in a famous magazine. The thing is, all of these diets work to a degree. However, they are usually unsustainable. Keto makes you cut carbs completely out of your diet. Isagenix stuffs you so full of supplements and protein shakes you forget what real food actually tastes like. Herbalife can make you eat as low as 500 calories per day. Have people lost weight on these plans? Absolutely. So, in retrospect they work. But what percentage of people actually sticks to them? Also what happens if you fall off the wagon on one of these plans? I had a girl this week telling me she ate too many carbs after being in ketosis for a decent period of time and got so sick she had to call out of work. This happened to her multiple times. I used to date a girl who did Isagenix. She would lose fifteen to twenty pounds on it and the gain ten to fifteen back when she started eating real food again. All while spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements. Herbalife is currently under lawsuit for some of the products they offer because they have caused serious health complications. Does any of this sound fun? Didn’t think so. Now don’t get me wrong results can be achieved through any diet as long as its done properly. But, what if there were an easier way? A way where you could eat normal food and shed the unwanted fat you’ve been carrying around trying so desperately to get rid of. Or maybe you want to add a couple inches to those arms so your shirts fit better. Well such a way exists. Let me teach you how.
The secret way to looking and feeling how you want is to slowly, and progressively change your lifelong eating habits. Why would you ever start a diet you didn’t plan to continuously follow for the rest of your life? If you do this you are setting yourself up for failure ninety percent of the time. It makes zero sense to start a diet to lose weight, to then discontinue the diet once you achieve your goal weight, to again gain the weight back in the first place because you never learned to control your daily habits and start all over. Or, to start a diet you absolutely hate that is unsustainable to any normal human fall off the wagon and gain more weight than you originally started with. Again, sound familiar? The best way to control your weight at all times is learning to have a good relationship with food. Food is a very simple thing. It’s fuel for your body just like gasoline is fuel for your car. We need food to fuel our bodies to do things everyday like go to work, or take a walk, or sit on the couch. Our bodies always require energy. However, unlike a car we can overfill our gas tanks. Which is something most of us do on a regular basis because we deserve that burger after a hard work week right? Well only if we want to regret putting on our pants in 5 months. Do we deserve that? No we have enough stress in our lives as it is. All food is fuel. Some fuel is better than others in cars as it is in food. Regardless we all need a certain amount of food to function every day. That being said, the more you do every day, the more fuel you will need. I’m sure it makes sense that the 200 pound weight lifter is going to need more energy than the 130 pound homebody. So if you’re trying to change your body you need to figure out what steps you need to take to achieve your goal. This means getting educated. Now, I’m not saying you have to take a thousand hour course in nutrition, but you will have to put some thought into it.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking well how do I figure out how much fuel I actually need? Well there’s a few ways. The first and probably simplest way is trial and error. Thousands, maybe even millions of people have lost weight without ever weighing a single piece of chicken breast. How did they do it? Well they tracked their progress and made smart decisions. Let’s say you want to lose fat. Get a scale, a body fat monitor (handheld can be bought on Amazon for $20) or use your gym’s, and get a tape measure. My best advice weigh, measure, and test your body fat every two weeks. If it’s not moving in the direction you want figure out what is going wrong. If your weight isn’t moving or is going up then you’re eating too much. If your weight is going down or staying the same but your body fat is going up you’re eating too little. Say you want to build muscle. The same three things are needed. If your weight is going up steadily and you are gaining inches in the areas you want you’re doing the right thing. However, if your weight is dramatically increasing or you’re gaining inches in areas you don’t want it’s time to back the portion sizing down a notch. Another way to do it is to use an app like MyFitnessPal. Apps like these have helped thousands of people achieve their weight loss goals and can definitely help people be more educated on their food decisions and nutrition label reading. MyFitnessPal will calculate how many calories you need every day and help you stay consistent with tracking your food. This process can get tedious, but I believe it’s a helpful tool for anyone looking to lose weight.
Now, this is the best part to both options I just mentioned. YOU GET TO EAT WHAT YOU WANT AND AVOID WHAT YOU DON’T, within reason. Obviously binge eating cakes will not really help you get anywhere. The most important part of this process is that you learn how to control the food in your life. A lot of people use crash diets as a crutch, and yes sometimes they work. But, all too often I have seen someone fluctuate in weight regularly getting on and off crash diets. So please, remove the word diet from your vocabulary,. Learn how your body works. And even enlist the help of someone more knowledgeable along the way. If you want continuous sustainable results, learn your body. Pay attention and be mindful of your food. If you indulge a bit here and there that’s perfectly fine. Being healthy is about enjoying your food and looking good. As a professional in the business I promise you that if you follow these guidelines you can look and feel the way you want without ever dramatically changing what you are used to eating and enjoy eating (again within reason). Stay strong guys and girls.
This is a very special post for me because for YEARS I worked out improperly. After years of doing it wrong I hired a personal trainer who helped me finally figure out how to get myself results. That being said I think anyone from seasoned athletes to brand new lifters who still use gloves can benefit from this post.
The first thing you need to do when building a workout program is set some goals. No, I’m not talking about “getting healthier”. I’m talking about clear goals. What does “getting healthier mean to you? Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to lose fat? Do you want to build muscle? Maybe you want all three. To be safe i would say set at least two goals. So, just to put some knowledge out there I’m going to cover all three goals.
1. Get stronger
Getting stronger is all about PROGRESSION. What does that mean? Well in basic terms it means overloading your body in small increments until the weight or exercises that you choose become easier. Now, let me break this down so you can understand it. Let’s say you want to get stronger on your bench press. There are a few ways you can overload your body progressively. One way is to add weight every two weeks. Once you can complete three sets of ten with a certain weight then you can increase the weight by five or ten pounds and drop the rep range to six or eight. Another way is to get stronger in complimenting exercises. The bench press uses the chest, shoulders, and triceps to press the bar off the chest. This means if you train all three body parts with different exercises the body will progressively get stronger. For your shoulders you could use military press and for the triceps you could use rope extensions. Another way to get stronger is to work out based on a rate of perceived exertion. For example; week one let’s say you lift 100lbs ten times at a rate of six (Assuming the scale of exertion is 1-10, one being the easiest, 10 being the hardest). Then week two you lift 120lbs eight times at a rate of eight. The following week you would lift 140lbs six times at a rate of ten. After this you would repeat the process adding five to ten pounds to each week (Week 1 105lbs x 10, Week 2 125lbs x 8, week 3 145lbs x 6). The last tip i have for this is to drop your rep ranges. Most people in the gym never venture out of the eight to fifteen range. Strength is best built in the one to five rep range. If you use one or all of these three methods you should see immediate results with your strength.
2. Build Muscle
So, this goes hand in hand with getting stronger. In order to build muscle you have to progressively lift more weight. But, there’s more to it than that. Building muscle also comes down to training volume. You can increase the volume of your training by adding sets and reps to your exercises. If you currently do three sets of ten you could change to doing four sets of twelve. Another way to increase the volume would be to use multiple exercises for the same muscle group. Going back to the previous example; if you currently use bench press for your chest you could add dips and incline dumbbell press to increase the volume. This brings me to my next point, hit the muscle from multiple angles. For the chest you could use a flat movement, a decline movement, and a fly movement. Last but not least, adding to the concept of volume is training whatever muscle group you want to focus on multiple times per week. For me personally arms was my hardest area to grow, which sucks because all guys want a nice set of guns. There was a time in my training that I was working them three times a week just to make them grow. Now, don’t misunderstand me. If you are a new lifter training arms three days a week is going to do more harm than good, but is a useful tip after you have some training experience under your belt.
3. Lose Fat
This is the big one. It is probably the reason most of you are reading this article. Everyone these days wants to “tone up” When it comes to fat loss you have to look at it two ways. One, how can I burn the most amount of calories in the shortest time. Two, how can I increase my metabolism so that my body will accelerate fat loss without having to insanely restrict my food intake. In my experience the answer to both of these questions is circuit training. Obviously circuit training is not the be all end all of fat loss. But, for the average person, it works the best in the shortest period of time. Circuit training has a two fold benefit. One, you are lifting weight so you are building muscle which will increase your metabolism. For every pound of muscle that you add your body will burn an extra 50 calories per day at rest. Two, circuit training keeps your body moving so you are burning extra calories by keeping your heart rate elevated. The higher your heart rate the more calories you burn. Yes, you can spend an hour on the treadmill, but you will only be burning calories not building muscle. So, for the average person circuit training allows you to burn a ton of calories while building muscle, and its fun. Let me be clear about this, fat loss comes from a total calorie deficit. You will never outwork an excessive calorie intake. Also as I said losing fat comes down to total activity and intake so it can be done without using circuits. But, in my opinion circuits will always reign superior for the average person. Another thing you can do to expedite the fat loss process is use compound exercises. Think about it squats burn moire calories than bicep curls because they are working several muscles instead of just one. Fat loss can also be achieved by simply doing more activity. If you are currently working out three times a week and your fat loss results have stalled try adding in another day of exercise. The most important thing to remember with fat loss is not to get stuck on the treadmill. A lot of people will run until their legs fall off only to realize that they aren’t getting the results that they want. Don’t get me wrong distance running burns a lot of calories, but once the workout is done your body returns to its normal state. Whereas lifting weights burns calories while you’re doing it and can even keep your metabolism elevated for two to three hours after a workout. Running also in the long term starts to slow the rate at which you burn calories during exercise. The reasons why this happens is when you run for long periods of time your body tries to become more efficient at using calories so it will hold on to them rather than use them. When you run for a long time your body becomes unsure how long the activity will continue so it adapts and burns less calories. This is why to any client that I have I always recommend weights first and then a small amount of cardio post workout.
So, now that you have all this useful information floating around in your head it’s time to put it all together. First, what are your goals? Once you have figured those out you can start building a program. Want to burn fat and build certain areas? Cool, use circuits that focus on total body movements but use more volume with the areas of your body that you want to target. Want to get stronger and lose fat? Cool, use circuit training with lower rep ranges and progression. Want to get stronger and build muscle? Awesome, use progression and volume. Train some days with low reps on the exercises you want to get stronger. Then train other days with more reps and sets for the body parts you want to build. Want to do all three? Split your training between circuits with low reps, and circuits with higher reps and more volume. Also add in some singular exercises for the areas you want to get stronger, and the areas you want to build muscle.
Well guys, i hope this helps at least a little bit. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to training, If anyone has anyone questions or wants to know more feel free to contact me. Stay strong guys.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.