The Complete Beginners Guide on How To Get in Shape.
Is there an event coming up and you want to be in the best shape of your life? Or maybe you have looked in the mirror lately and just don’t like what you see, many of us have done that at sometime or other. Many people get to a certain age and decide it’s time to get fit and lose some weight. Whatever your reason is I’m here to tell you that you can get in the best shape ever but it’s not going to be easy, it takes dedication, perseverance and even some lifestyle changes. Have I put you off? No, great then read on how to get in shape faster than ever.
Before we go any further, I need you to do some soul searching and set yourself some goals. I know what you’re thinking, “I can’t be bothered to set goals, I just want to get in shape and fast”. Without goals you have no direction in your life which means that you are wandering about aimlessly. A great quote I once read “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”.
Setting goals and sticking to them will make the difference between success and failure.
If you don’t set any goals then you will fail after a few weeks or months, I guarantee it.
I have set out a plan below to help you set your goals, and if you follow the advice then you will have a 100% better chance of achieving your goals then those who don’t set any.
Napoleon Hill said “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”.
1. Have a Desire: What Do You Really Want?
Do you want to lose weight, tone up, or build muscle? Before you go any further you must decide what it is you really want to achieve. This step is so important because if you don’t know exactly what it is you want then you will fail. You must want this goal more than anything else and have a real passion and desire to achieve it.
2. Believe That Your Goal is Achievable.
You must believe deep in your heart that you can achieve this goal, and that you deserve this goal. This is so important because if you can’t see yourself reaching your goal then you will never succeed.
3. Write Your Goal Down.
To achieve any goal you need to write it down. If you want to lose 6lbs or have a smaller waist etc write it down, be specific. I then recommend that you rewrite your goal at least every week.
4. Determine Your Starting Point.
Analyse your starting point. What you want to know is where are you now. So the first thing you need to do is weigh yourself or measure your waist if you want to lose weight. If you want a bigger chest and biceps then measure those. Then take some pictures of yourself in your underwear. When you do this you can see just how you look this moment in time, and this will force you to be honest with yourself. It’s also a great way to look back at yourself in 3 or 6 months and see just how much you have changed (for the better). I also recommend that you take more pictures and measure or weigh yourself every 2-4 weeks as this is a great motivation booster.
5. Determine Why You Want It.
Make a list of all the ways that you will personally benefit by achieving that goal.
The bigger the list the more you will want that goal.
Look great in my clothes.
Show off my new body.
Attract the opposite sex.
Fit in that wedding dress.
Get in to those jeans.
Look fab on holiday
6. Set a Deadline.
Setting a deadline will help you best guess when you think you will achieve your goal. Remember if you don’t get to the weight you wanted or the size you would have liked on a particular date you can always move the date.
7. Identify the Obstacles in your Way.
Determine the obstacles that are standing between you and your goal. Why aren’t you at your goal already? What is blocking you? If you have tried in the past to lose weight ask yourself why did you fail.
8. Determine the additional knowledge and Skills you Need.
What do you need to know to get to your goal? If you are wanting to lose weight then you will need to learn about the foods you should be eating and how often you should be consuming them etc. If you are wanting to tone up then you will need to know about nutrition and which exercises are best to do.
9. Determine the People Whose Help you Will Need.
Start with your family, your boss, and your co-workers. Having help and support from your close friends can make the difference between success and failure.
10. Make a Plan: Put it all together.
This is an organized list of tasks that you will have to complete to get from where your are to where you want to go. Once you have wrote down what you need to do put them in order of priority and then get on and do them.
For example if you are wanting to lose weight then your list could be :
Read about nutrition
buy ingredients for this week
Build a meal plan.
11. Visualize Your Goal Continually.
Everyday visualize yourself as if you had already achieved your goal. I recommend doing this in the morning and last thing at night. What I find helps me with my goals is to watch videos and look at images of people that I would love to look like. This makes is easier for me to visualize how I want to be and gives me great influence.
12. Never Give up.
If you have completed the steps above, wrote your goals down, set a deadline, etc, then believe me you won’t give up as you will be so determined to succeed.
I believe that proper nutrition is more important to getting in shape than anything else. Sure you can exercise 7 days a week to try to lose weight. But, if you are still eating the same old junk food then you won’t lose weight or at least very little. You will still have that fat around your waist that you have been trying to remove with exercising. Again if you want to build muscle or tone up, your gains will be compromised if you stick to the same old junk food diet.
I truly believe the saying “You are what you eat”.
If you want to get in shape then you should be eating a well balanced diet. Eating smaller and more frequent meals is best. Not only does this help burn fat but it keeps your energy levels up.
To start with you should keep your diet simple, yes men should consume more calories than women but to start with if you have to measure out your meals then sooner or later you will get sick of doing that, you can however measure your meals at a later date.
My advice is to eat around 5-7 meals a day, that may sound a lot but if you follow how I do it then you will see great results. The best way to do this is to start with breakfast which we will class as a main meal. After around 3 hours have a snack, then 2 hours later eat a main meal, then after another 3 hours eat a snack, 2 hours later have a main meal and so on.
For example if you have your breakfast at 7am then at 10am you would have a snack. You would then have lunch at 12pm and after that you would have a snack at around 3pm. You would then have dinner at 5pm and at 8pm or 9pm have a snack. It takes a bit of getting used to and you will need to prepare your meals and snacks for the day preferably the night before. If you keep things simple then you can have your food prepared for the next day in around 20 minutes.
There are five aspects of nutrition that are most important when trying to get in shape:
Fats and water.
Simply put if you consume more calories than you use up then you put on weight. Eating 5-7 smaller meals will help you burn more calories and give you more energy than eating 3 big meals a day. A gram of protein has about 4 calories, so does a gram of carbohydrates. A gram of fat has about 9 calories therefore you want to be eating more protein and carbs.
Ever heard of the Atkins diet? Dr Atkins thought that eating carbs made you fat and his diet consisted of eating protein only. Eating only protein is not good for your health, and what Dr Atkins never took in to consideration was that there are two types of carbs simple and complex. Read this post and then move on to Protein.
Protein is important as your body uses it to build and repair cells and to produce hormones and enzymes. If you are going to exercise 3 times or more a week then it is even more important to eat protein. If you plan on building muscle to get in shape then you should be eating it with every meal. If you plan losing weight then two or three times a day is enough.
So what are the best types of protein foods to eat?
Lean Red Meat. Beef and pork are some of the best lean red meats to eat as they are full of protein, vitamin B12, zinc, and creatine, which can help increase muscle size, strength, power and stamina.
Fish. Mackerel, Tuna and Salmon are the best fish to eat. High in protein which is great for muscle growth, and these fish are also high in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is very good for decreasing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. I often buy tinned fish as it’s easy to eat on the go.
White Meat. Chicken and Turkey are low in fat and high in protein and quite reasonable to buy.
Eggs. Cheap and easy to consume whole eggs are a great food to add to your diet. The yolk contains most of the nutrients but not recommended to eat too many a day because of the saturated fat.
Low Fat Cottage Cheese. This is also high in protein, low in fat and tastes great with a chopped up apple, yummy in porridge, mixed with a shake or just on it’s own.
Low Fat Greek Yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt is thick and creamy and virtually fat free. You can eat it on its own, with a bit of honey or add it to a multitude of foods like fruit, in porridge or added in a recipe.
Did you know that not all fats are bad for you?
Your body needs healthy fats because they help it absorb nutrients that you give it. Healthy fats can also regulate your hormone levels, boost the immune system, give you more energy and stamina and many other benefits too. Eating the right fats will also help you maintain your ideal weight as they keep you fuller for longer.
Fats to eat or add to your food are:
Nuts, but not too many as these will make you put weight on, a handful with or between meals.
As well as good fats there are bad fats which should be avoided, and tests have shown that bad fats can cause compromised immune functions and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, diabetes auto-immune conditions, allergic conditions and inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Bad fats are full of saturated fat and negatively affect your cholesterol levels, foods to avoid are:
If you add the above foods (excluding the bad fats) in to your diet not only will you start to feel healthier and look better, but you will have more energy and be able lose weight too. Remember all the above foods should be in your diet for life not just for a few weeks or months.
You can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water. The human body is made up of around 67% water, and needs to be replenished on a continuous basis in order to function properly. Drinking plenty of water aids in the digestion of nutrients, how efficiently those nutrients are transported to the cells, and how the cells absorb them. Water helps prevent injuries when exercising by cushioning the joints and other soft tissue areas. When you are dehydrated your whole body is negatively affected and you can start to feel unwell.
So the big question is how much water should we drink a day? Most experts agree that you should be drinking at least 8 glasses (1 glass is around 8oz’s or 1 cup) per day. Some people who workout drink up to 1 gallon that’s 16 glasses a day. Never drink when you are thirsty, keep yourself hydrated all day, and if you can, drink filtered water as it is unpolluted and better for your body.
If you eat the right food at the right times as above, drink plenty of water then I guarantee you will lose weight.
If you want faster results, or you want to tone up then you are going to need to exercise. For many people exercising can seem like hard work, however if you go back to your goals and you really want to reach them then you should have no problem exercising. What I recommended is to find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time. Experiment, try swimming, cycling, or squash. Maybe you will like yoga, dodge ball, Ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing, or whatever! If you tell me that “I don’t like to exercise,” then you just haven’t found the activity that makes you happy yet. Once you find the activity you enjoy then go out and do it regularly, then the fitter you will become and the healthier you will look, it’s a win, win situation.
If you are wanting to build muscle and strength then the best way to achieve this is with weight training, this will give you the fastest results.
If you are new to weight training (or even if you have trained before) then the simple routines below will give you some great results. The two routines below are for training 3 or 4 days a week. For best results do the 4 day routine. If you are not sure how to do some of the exercises then I highly recommended investing in the “The Big Book of Exercises”. There is a version for men and a version for women. I also recommend you get some advice from someone qualified down your local gym to get you started.
3 day routine.
Day One (legs / lower body)
Leg extensions – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg curls – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Lunges – 2 sets of as many repetitions a side as you can! If you can perform 20 reps then increase the resistance by holding dumbbells. Start with 10 pounds in each hand and add more as the exercise becomes easier.
Leg press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Try different foot positions of this to target different areas – toes pointed in, pointed out and straight forward.)
Glute / Butt kickbacks – 2 sets of 15-20 reps – Really concentrate on getting a good squeeze at peak contraction by maintaining a moderate speed through the whole range of motion and holding at the top for a second or two.
Day Two (back, biceps and abdominals)
Seated row – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Lat pulldown – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Back extensions – 2 sets of as many as you can do – extend through the whole range of motion and squeeze the glutes and hams together to kill two birds with one stone!
Seated biceps curls – 2 set of 8-10reps
Hammer curls – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Crunches – 2 sets of 10 reps
Decline reverse crunches – 2 sets of 10 reps.
Day Three (shoulders, chest and triceps)
Flat bench barbell press. 2 sets of 8-10 reps.
Push ups – 2 sets of as many as you can do – and not the knee-on-floor style!
Shoulder press (Dumbbells or machine) – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Lateral raises – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Front raises – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Single bench dips – 3 sets of as many as you can do!
Rope pulldowns (or with a straight bar) – 2 sets of 8-10 reps.
The above routine is a great beginners workout and is performed over 3 days with a rest in between each workout. You can do each routine on any day. Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
If you can train 4 days a week all the better as you will see faster results, here is a great workout routine to follow:
Monday Legs (Quadriceps and Hamstrings) and Calves
Squats – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Curls – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Wednesday Back and Biceps
Cable Pull Downs (In front) – 3 sets for 8-10 reps
Seated Cable Rows (There are many different shaped attachments you can use. The most effective – the straight bar.) -2 sets of 8-10 reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Straight Bar Curls – 3 sets or 8-10 reps
Alternate Dumbbell Curls – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 1 set of 8-10 reps.
Thurdsay Rest Day.
Friday Shoulders and Triceps.
Straight Bar Military Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Side Laterals – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Rear Laterals – 1 set of 8-10 reps
Lying Triceps Presses – 1 set or 8-10 reps
Triceps Cable Press Downs – 2 sets or 8-10 reps
Overhead Triceps Extensions – 2 sets of 8-10 reps.
Sunday Chest and Abdominals
Flat Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press(Incline should be about 25 to 30 degrees) – 2 sets or 8-10 reps
Crunches – 2 sets of 10 reps
Decline reverse crunches – 2 sets of 10.
It’s up to you on which days you do this routine, you don’t have to have a rest in between each workout. But I wouldn’t recommend doing each workout one day after another. You could train Monday, Tuesday, rest Wednesday and train Thursday and Friday. Do the routines to work around you.
Ok pick a goal, use the advice above, work your butt off and learn how to get in shape faster than ever before. Please don’t get sucked in by all the advertisements that you see on TV that try to sell you products to build 6 pack abs faster then ever. Or that gismo that will help you lose a stone in a week or that exercise machine that will give you 20 inch arms in a month. Keep it simple, stick to your goals, remember they are not set in stone and you can change them as you go. If you need any help or advice then please leave a comment or contact me. If you have any advice you would like to share with others then also leave a comment below.