The Best Free Health and Fitness Guide for Beginners

  1. Introduction: Book’s purpose and disclaimer;
  2. What is bodyweight training: Explanations, definitions, benefits of sport/healthy diet & debunking fitness myths;
  3. Dietary/lifestyle recommendations: Top 3 plant-based diets;
  4. Minimum equipment: Such as pull-up bar, foam roll, water bottles etc.
  5. Mentality/approach for self-improvement: Motivational speech about taking small steps everyday for big results in the long run;
  6. Warm-up: Importance, safety first, and how to;
  7. Dynamic and static stretching: Pre-workout, Post-workout, and why is that;
  8. Foam rolling: Importance, when, and how to;
  9. Main exercises: Definition, explanation, benefits, and how to;
  10. Variations of main exercises: Definition, explanation, benefits, when, and how to;
  11. Workout plans: Templates and how to make your own;
  12. How to become a self-sufficient athlete: How to organize personalized workouts and progress

1. Introduction

                “Simplicity is the extreme degree of sophistication.”  –  Leonardo da Vinci

The following guide tries to systematically explain the science behind developing a healthy and muscular body without gym equipment. Complex concepts will be transmitted in a simple, straightforward manner, and when deemed necessary, reference links to various epidemiologic studies will be provided to validate certain pieces of advice, especially in the nutrition section. Any other editorial that fails to do so should be met with skepticism, as some lifestyle and dietary choices could have detrimental, or even fatal, consequences. If you suspect you’ve conducted an unhealthy lifestyle to this point, and haven’t engaged in physical activity for some time, you should consult your doctor before making any radical dietary changes or performing any exercises, as it can have unfavorable consequences if done improperly.
For example, if you’re severely overweight, if you ever experienced chest pain/discomfort, or any other persistent bodily pains, if you regularly take prescription drugs or engage in other harmful vices, if you eat excessive junk food, animal derivatives, sugars, and/or fats, you are strongly advised to seek medical guidance before attempting strenuous physical activity or radical dietary changes.

The guide adheres to the scientific method, does not employ any kind of logical fallacies, and sincerely seeks to inform the reader as much as possible on how to develop an aesthetic, functional, healthy body, with minimum or zero economic investment. By following the book’s training regiments, guidance, simple dietary/lifestyle approaches, you’ll learn the book’s scientific method, and you’ll be able to apply it to yourself. You’ll be able to apply the information to any other endeavor in life. The following book is relatively revolutionary for the fitness industry as it offers the precise truth about muscle, endurance, and strength building. It has no other agenda besides educating the reader on how to obtain maximum turnaround with minimum or no monetary investment. This means that the main exercises and variations do not require any kind of gear or equipment You’ll be able to develop a complete physique just with your body weight. The only necessary objects would be a sturdy, flat surface, as well as a vertical surface, and ideally, an elevated, parallel to the surface bar, where you could do tractions. Occasionally, some other common household objects will be recommended to add variety, difficulty, or to assist the newcomers. Like in any other trade, tools are necessary, but not entirely sufficient. You’ll only need dedication and will, these two attributes are truly essential.  Regardless of this, the following book will give you the necessary theoretic framework to adapt to your situation, and to achieve the realistic maximum of muscle, health, and fitness. By sticking to this guide, you’ll see and feel results: improved skin, hair, bones, musculature, neurologic pathways, meaning more strength and better coordination. The regiment proposed by the book ensures an optimal body functioning and can reverse some potentially fatal health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, elevated serum cholesterol levels, hormonal imbalances, bone and tissue inflammation, high blood pressure etc.

2. What is bodyweight training

Body-weight training aka. Calisthenics is the act of performing physical activity without the use of any added weight, for muscular, psychomotor, and aerobic improvement. All three aforementioned components are responsible for the way you look (aesthetically) and the way you function and feel (physiologically).

To achieve a strong and muscular body you’ll need to get on point a series of factors: nutrition, sleep, training, and genetics. You can control the first three, but not the last one. Genetics means the “code” your mom and dad gave you, that unique “code”, in your DNA,  serves as an “assembly manual” on how to build you: bone structure, muscle insertions, hair quantity/placement/color etc. We’re going to skip the genetics part because it poses no interest to us, as it’s independent of our will. We cannot change the way our body is made, but this book provides everything you need to know on how to reach your genetic potential, meaning the best YOU could ever be.

Often times, the term “Genetics” has been perverted into a justification by some public steroid using athletes. The bro-scientists used this term till it lost all of its complex and scientific meaning, it became like a you-can’t-prove-I’m-on-steroids card, and it has been used by so many supplement-pushers when confronted with accusations. They have to maintain their steroid use hidden from the consumerist public because nobody would buy what they’re selling otherwise. While these old tricks are easily seen by some, many are fooled into believing that extraordinary physiques and performances are obtained because of some magic pills, techniques, and so forth. Such credulous people end up manipulated by these fitness gurus into buying and consuming things they don’t need. It’s legalized fraud! The only thing more important than any supplement or equipment is information. The more the merrier. But information can only be safely digested with the proper methodology: always maintaining a skeptic mindset, cross-referencing said information to multiple sources, like people that are related to the subject, specialists and professionals, other related studies, and reports.

The only thing more important than any supplement or equipment is information. The more the merrier, but information can only be safely digested with the proper scientific methodology: always maintaining a skeptic mindset, cross-referencing said information to multiple sources such as peer-reviewed papers, governmental studies, NGO reports, authority texts, and so on. An official research, study, or affirmation should contain the full name of the individual, company, or institution that publicized it. Many times, some official studies or researchers are influenced by interest-driven entities to manipulate the information for monetary gain. If you can, it’s wise to follow the money flow and see where it leads. Don’t get fooled by the smiles and glitter, some of these fitness gurus/websites/private entities (sometimes even governmental entities) are driven only by profit. They’ll lie and deceive, most of the time completely legally, just to make a quick buck at your expense. It may seem like an exaggeration, but make no mistake, our society is full of vultures preying on the vulnerable, the ill-prepared, and the uneducated. They’ll exploit the ill-informed without a second doubt, and most of the times, completely legally.

It’s not a conspiracy theory, but pure reality, the fitness industry is one of the most corrupt industries out there, so watch out!

MYTH-BUSTING

  • Machines are necessary for muscle development. FALSE!

Gyms are full of machines and other apparatus, but they are not necessary for developing a strong, muscular physique. Stick to free weights.

  • Females should have different training regiments from men even if they have the same fitness goals. FALSE!

This guide is unisex, as most training regimens and diets.  Females should just keep an eye out for their iron levels because women’s iron RDA is 50% higher than men’s (15mg vs. 10mg) and iron deficiency anemia is very common among young females. Make sure you are getting enough iron. Women should also pay more attention to calcium and vitamin D, make sure you have enough because women are more prone to osteoporosis than men because of the way their bodies use these vitamins. It’s also very important to have a surplus of Folic acid when child-bearing because a lack of folic acid is the number one cause of birth tube defects (spinal bifida). 

  • Females that train will eventually get “bulky, manly, huge.” FALSE!

Some people have the preconceived notion that females that start training will end up like some pro-IFBB women bodybuilders. A common image distortion of what’s natural, and naturally achievable. The reality is that you are not going to get that big, especially as a woman who doesn’t take male hormones and other steroids to hack their endocrine system. You will get just a few pounds of lean muscle in a year if you train hard. The muscle building rate declines with time, so no worries here.

  • Some training regiments can reduce fat on a specific part of the body. FALSE!

This is something known as “spot reduction” and it is a lie. No training regiment, diet, equipment, or exercise can reduce fat in a specific spot. Many frauds claim their program or product can spot-reduce body fat but such individuals are straight-up frauds! Preying on people’s misinformation and insecurity to make a quick buck. The body has its inner mechanics that regulate how many fat cells go in a certain area, it’s beyond our control. Train hard and you’ll shed fat everywhere.

Eat a minimum of 3 meals a day, space them out through the day, and track your macros for optimal results. Don’t hesitate to eat when you’re hungry, just eat plant-based diets and you can eat as much as you want! Lay off sugars and animal fat, especially before bed as it can inhibit growth hormone production.

If you want to lose fat just eat in a maximum 500 cal. deficit (TDEE minus 500 calories) every day, and do your cardio and weight lifting normally. If you feel like eating first, do it. For muscular mass gain, just eat in a max. 500 cal surplus (TDEE plus 500 cal.), and do your cardio and weight lifting normally.

  • Muscle definition comes from lifting light weights for many reps. FALSE!

Muscle definition is achieved by having muscle mass and low body fat. Muscle mass comes from strength training. By continuously training your muscles, you’ll increase their size because they’ll adapt to the progressive loads and progressive workout volume. Train hard, make your muscles adapt so they can grow, eat clean, and track your macros (macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, protein) to achieve that low body fat to showcase your muscles. If you’re going to train your muscles with high reps and light weights, your body will adapt by increasing its endurance capabilities, shrinking your muscle mass. Lightweight lifting acts almost like cardio training, making you slim. If you increase the weights, intensity, and volume your muscles will grow in mass and strength.

  • Calcium comes from dairy. FALSE!

Dairy is actually pretty harmful. Diary Causes osteoporosis and inhibits calcium absorption. Contrary to popular belief, calcium is abundant in vegan foods, such as broccoli, sesame seeds etc., and are easily absorbed by the body. Even if dairy contains more calcium pound-for-pound, it makes it hard for the body to use it and causes other health problems. Calcium is absorbed by the body in a smaller proportion than what is found in a certain food. A diverse, vegan or plant-based diet provides the minimum requirements.

  • You can’t gain muscle after 40. FALSE!

After a certain age, your body produces less and less testosterone and other muscle building hormones, so you’ll inherently build less muscle mass after 40, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak your diet to compensate the natural decreasing testosterone. By eating a vegan diet or a plant-based diet, you’ll have more available testosterone which will allow you to build pounds and pounds of lean muscle tissue. If you are over 40, you should seek medical advice to determine your hormone levels to see if hormone replacement therapy might be for you.

  • The more you sweat the more muscle you lose. FALSE!

The sweat quantity has little information to offer; it’s mostly decided by genetic factors. Sweating is a natural response of the body to regulate heat, it’s not necessarily an indication of one’s progress.

  • Doing cardio before weights will help you get shredded faster. FALSE!

Cardio sessions should have days of their own because it’s pretty stressful for the body. Cardio exhausts the muscles, making you more prone to injury. You’ll be depleted of energy and will underperform at the strength training. A light cardio session is OK before a workout, just keep in mind that your body is more prone to injuries after pre-exhausting it with cardio.

  • Cleansing products will only enhance your results. FALSE!

There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Your body has its own ways to detoxify itself. Most cleansing products are a waste of money. The whole cleansing principle is wrong, suggesting that you can abuse your body just to “repair” it by doing a lousy one-week detox with some overpriced green tea pills or similar. You should constantly take care of your body with a good diet, sleep, and exercise.

  • Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is indicative of a good workout. FALSE!

You should always track your progress in writing. Set goals and try to reach them. Muscle soreness is not a good workout indicator. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is felt at the beginning of a fitness journey, but with experience, the soreness will be felt less and less, regardless of training intensity.

FAQ

Q: I’ve been exercising for some time but I have yet to see my abs, what should I do?

A: Remember this, abs are made in the kitchen. To have muscle definition in your abdominal area, training hard isn’t enough, because even if you have big abdominal muscles the fat on your belly will cover them. So, to achieve ab definition you need to have complete control of your diet, aim for an 80%-10%-10% (Carbs, Protein, Fats) as close to a vegan diet as you can, do cardio sessions at least two times a week and stay away from processed food, simple sugars, fats, and alcohol.

Q: I have some kind of an injury/disability/chronic health problem, should I follow the book’s pieces of advice?

A: The information in this guide are safe, rational, and in line with official medical recommendations. Check with your doctor first, run this book by him, and seek his advice. Keep in mind that not all General Practitioners are experts in health and fitness, in fact, most of them are clueless, so seek a nutritionist or sports scientist.

Q: I’d like to try a training program I’ve come in contact with, is it any good?

A: If it’s similar to this book’s guidelines, then yes. A good training program focuses on free weights, compound exercises, doesn’t skip cardio, doesn’t skip any body part, and has at least one rest day a week.

In general, by paying attention to some of the words/phrases used in a training program or sports article, you can easily determine if it’s genuine or just a scam:

Be weary of extravagant claims of massive improvement in a very short period of time with little effort. Building muscle and losing weight are very slow processes, it requires blood, sweat, tears, and a considerable amount of time. So, keep in mind, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Be careful around those who claim to have the knowledge of a secret or suppressed information by the mainstream diet/fitness/medical establishment. It’s usually quite the opposite, they try to scam people into believing that they are trustworthy because they are anti-establishment, but that is rarely the case Usually, they just want to trick the reader. Observe the writer’s intentions, what does he seek from you, can he monetize his deceptions? Claims against plant-based diets or well-established forms of exercises like running or free weight lifting are wrong and should be immediately discarded.

Claims of programs that can spot reduce fat or converting fat into muscles should also be quickly discarded.  Also, be skeptical of people using the vague words like “toning” or “sculpting” instead of detailed, quantifiable changes to strength, endurance, and body composition. Words like “energy fields”, “internal cleansing”, unnamed “toxins” should always raise eyebrows.

Remain skeptical even in front of scientific-sounding language that is never defined. Some fitness gurus will use complex words to confuse and persuade. Many times, people that over-use scientific terms are ill-intended and try to scam you. Many respectful programs have some technical jargon in it, just like this one, but the terms are usually explained in detail. Always search unknown terms and judge if they’re coherent with the general information. Many con-artists just flood the text with complex words in hope that you’ll abandon subsequent research and just assume they’re smarter than you and blindly trust them, this is called the “auctoritas” principle and it’s a logical fallacy.

Lastly, follow the money trail to get the full picture.

Q: I’ve changed my diet drastically, but I see no big changes after a week or two.

A: Like previously stated, body changes are not linear, they fluctuate. There is no need to track your body fat percentage, weight, and other parameters too often, remain constant and you will see long term results. Sometimes you’ll weigh yourself at night and wake up fatter, but that doesn’t mean anything, maybe you just retained some water, or have eaten something different. Progress has minor hiccups but that’s normal.

Q: I’ve stopped building muscles after a short period of muscle growth.

A: This is often time referred as a “plateau”, which refers to a leveled flat surface raised above adjoining land on at least one side. Reaching a plateau means you’ve progressed to a point and cannot advance further. There are multiple reasons to why you’ve reached a stalling point: diet, sleep, genetic potential, training. Check your diet, make sure you eat in a surplus if you want to build muscle, drink a lot of water during the day, at least 2-3 liters, get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, always change the exercises you perform, their order, the rep ranges etc. You have to keep your body guessing because the body always adapts, so you have to force him to adapt continuously to new stimuli. Train hard and you’ll progress proportionally. You may reach a final plateau, after years of training, called the genetic potential, in which you reach the maximum strength/size for your body, this final plateau can be broken only by using steroids and such, but you don’t have to worry about this right now.

Q: I’m really sore after exercising and I hate it, what do?

A: Not much you can do. This muscle soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness, and you usually experience it after the first times you train, but gradually fades away with experience and constant exercising. If it’s really bothering, and you want a temporary relief, you can pop some Ibuprofen, but only do it if you have something important to do the next day, otherwise, perform deep tissue massage (with and without foam roll) and apply some ice.  Muscle soreness is OK, but any other kind of pain is unacceptable. If you experience severe pain and/or loss of range of motion, then you should definitely seek medical attention.

Q: I’m feeling a sharp pain in my side when I’m doing cardio, what’s up?

or

Q: I’m feeling a sharp pain in my shins when running, what’s up?

A: The first kind of pain is commonly called “side stitch” and it’s a normal pain, especially for new runners that are just getting into shape. There is no concrete scientific explanation for this pain, but it’s benign, and usually goes away on its own as your fitness level improves. The shin pain is often referred to as “shin splits” and it’s normal muscle pain for the new-comers. It’s mostly caused by overstressing the muscles to the side of the shins upon receiving the impact from the steps. The muscles adapt and you’ll never experience the pain anymore. If the problem persists, you should seek advice from a physiotherapist. In some cases, the problem could be caused by flat feet (fallen arches). Just experiment with different insoles that help with overpronation.

Q: Can minors train in lifting weights?

A: Yes, it’s safe. It does not stunt growth.

Q: Are ketogenic diets (Atkins) safe/effective?

A: Such a diet is not recommended, especially if the protein is animal derivative, if this is the case, the ketogenic diet is very dangerous. It consists in restricting carbs to force the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body enters a kind of starvation mode and breaks fat to survive, but it also breaks down muscle.  It increases all-cause mortality, can lead to diabetes (as meat is highly insulinogenic), can provoke potency problems, anemia, hormonal imbalances and many other health problems. The diet also causes metabolic damage, meaning that you’ll gain all the fat back as soon as you quit the diet. The diet is unnatural and you should stir away from it.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?t…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11…
http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S0002-…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/75…
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14…

HOW DOES IT WORK:

MUSCLE SIZE: Getting more muscular means increasing the density and volume of muscle fibers around your body. This means that the cells that form the muscle fibers have to get bigger, and by increasing the volume of the non-contractile fluid (made out of water, glycogen, collagen etc.) inside of the cells, the muscle becomes bigger in overall size. But this process produces very few contractile proteins that are vital for a better muscle fiber activation, and thus a more efficient “commanding” of the muscle, enabling more strength and power. This process is known as Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (hypertrophy means enlargement, growth, development).

STRENGHT: Increasing strength consists exactly in multiplying the globular protein contractile parts of the cellular muscles, and thus increasing the force load capabilities of the muscle.  The globular proteins or spheroproteins multiply themselves to better contract the muscle, and by doing so, they also enlarge the muscle. This process is called Myofibrillar hypertrophy.

Both Myofibrillar hypertrophy and Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy happen at the same time, indifferent of the training regiment, but in different proportions. Some training regiments will focus more on muscle building, others on strength building.

sarcoplasmic-reticulum-myofibril-sarcomere-actin-myosin-muscle-fiber

But for general guidance, remember the phrase: BREAK AND IRRIGATE. This is the main principle for muscle growth, exercise the muscle thoroughly, and then eat and sleep well to irrigate the muscles with nutrients to help them repair and improve.

COORDINATION: Having a good body coordination is very important for muscle and strength building. A good hand-to-eye coordination and spatiality awareness comes from dynamic sports and activities. Improving the neuronal pathways that connect the brain to the muscle, enables a better and more efficient communication between the two, improving fiber recruitment, and thus, increasing coordination, dexterity, and spatial awareness. This type of pathway improvement between the cognitive functions and physical movement is called Psychomotor learning.

image002 image003

The basic principle to muscle hypertrophy (the thickening of the muscle fibers) is a relatively simple concept: it consists in creating micro fractures in the muscle fibers by repeated contractions and relaxations, and then helping your body repair the microfractures in the most efficient way possible by sleeping and eating well. When you’re in timeout, your body reconstructs the micro tears by rebuilding the muscle cells, and till a certain point, in a larger quantity than the previous reconstruction of that particular area. This process has to be repeated, with adequate resting time and alimentation in-between, to systematically increase the muscle mass. It’s like that saying: “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Well, it pretty much sums up the principle of continuous improvement and adaptation of life forms to an ever-changing environment.

image004

The rate of growth is not linear, it’s more like a square root graph, its initial steep gradually fades into a subhorizontal line, that means you won’t grow forever, you’ll eventually reach a final plateau, commonly called “genetic plateau.” Upon initiating whatever training regiment, more so for a hypertrophic regiment, an initial, rapid growth spurt can be observed in sedentary or untrained bodies, but maintaining a constant muscle growth requires scientific eating, training, and even sleeping, all of which are very important to muscle development and overall health.

Hypertrophy is strictly dependent on nutrition. The quality of the food you regularly eat will eventually determine your health and appearance. What, when, and how you eat greatly influences the way your body performs.
3. Dietary/lifestyle recommendations

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are] – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

This 19th-century intellectual was the first to observe that the food we eat determines our health and well-being, that food is not the same, that it differs in proprieties, and that those proprieties, good or bad, translate physiologically. In other words, the way you look and feel directly correlates to the way you eat. The majority of people aren’t even aware of what they eat, the vast majority of the population eats the way they do without properly thinking through the process because generally, they lack the critical thinking skills and nutritional education (which is very rare even in the most developed countries, even most General Practitioners have none). Few are those who can rationally argument even the bad choices they’re making, some of them want to improve some aspects in their life’s but can’t because of the way they conduct themselves. There wouldn’t be a problem if people were informed even if they kept on engaging in harmful habits, at least they would act in full awareness of the consequences. It would be a rational decision, a calculated risk, but it’s not the case for most people. The masses usually follow a certain type of gastronomic tradition, passed by parents, relatives, friends, mainstream media, and rarely put in doubt anything. Because of the readiness of food in our modern, consumerist society, eating has become a passive act, in which no thought is put into it, most individuals just buy ‘n’ eat, and that’s it! Things get worst when some interest groups start distorting the scientific truth just to sell something or get a profit at the expense of the buyers’ health. The modern consumerist principle is that of keeping people in the dark to sell them matches. The book provides a new insight to eating, you’ll rediscover food, and you’ll get in touch with your inner nature. The culinary ideas might contradict some traditional ways of eating, but the recommendations are backed up by serious scientific studies.

The best diet is the diet which comes close the most to a Vegan diet. If you can substitute meat and dairy from your life, you’ll reap incredible benefits. I know this might seem unconventional, but just try it for a month and you’ll see for yourself that the benefits are not placebo-type, but real, palpable improvements, inside and out. Here are some studies to legitimize such claims:

  • More Testosterone, less cancer risk

“Mean serum insulin-like growth factor-I was 9% lower in 233 vegan men than in 226 meat-eaters and 237 vegetarians (P = 0.002). Vegans had higher testosterone levels than vegetarians and meat-eaters, but this was offset by higher sex hormone binding globulin, and there were no differences between diet groups in free testosterone, androstanediol glucuronide or luteinizing hormone.”US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

So, this means that Vegans had lower IGF-1 levels (lower cancer risk) and higher testosterone levels.

  • Lower cholesterol, better blood flow

The following studies testify the destructive effects of dairy and meat consumption, both high in cholesterol which can affect the circulatory system and increase coronary artery disease risk.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674303

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/circulationaha/108/22/2757.full.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17518696

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9036757

http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S0002-8223(09)00452-0/abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2125600/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664580/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16387561

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19693019

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12932937

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15093875

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin-like_growth_factor

  • Japanese and Chinese population study for longevity and overall health

okinawa-diet[1]

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Observe the MACRONUTRIENT proportions (Carbohydrates/Carbs, Protein, Fat). The Centenarians eat an average of 80% Carbs, 10% Protein, and 10% Fat. This is truly the optimal macronutrient intake for the human body. For fitness purposes, these proportions can be slightly modified, but they have to remain in these ranges. The myth that you have to eat a ton of fat and protein to get big is nonsense. It’s just a straight up lie propagated by interest groups such as the meat/dairy industry, supplement industry etc. Remember, watch the money flow and cross-reference information until you reach the scientific/objective truth. In this case, the true protein valor for athletes is between 1.3 grams of protein per kilo of body weight (1.3g/kg) and 1.8 grams for every kilogram of body weight (1.8g/kg). If you’re eating diversified and healthy, you shouldn’t have any problems with protein, ever.  If the protein comes from mostly meat and dairy, you’re actually damaging your health and will set your training and life expectancy way behind.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4081456/

Counting calories (tracking your food)

Diet really boils down to eating the right amount of calories from the carbohydrate/carbs, proteins, and fat intake, alongside the recommended amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). As far as calories go, eat more of them if you want to gain muscle (max. surplus of 500 cal., to not accumulate more fat than necessary) and eat less of them if you want to lose fat (max. deficiency of 500 cal. to not risk malnourishment) [1][2][3][4][5].

First, you have to calculate your TDEE, that’s your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, how much calories (energy) your body needs to function properly without fluctuations in weight. You’ll subtract or add a max. of 500 cal. to respectively, lose fat or gain weight. So, for a man that has a TDEE of 3000 calories, he should eat 2700-2500 cal. to lose weight and 3300-3500 cal. to gain weight. No matter your objective (lose fat or gain weight) you should always stimulate your muscles (lifting and cardio). If you eat in a deficit while sticking to a good training routine, you’ll lose more fat than muscles, because your body will realize it needs them. If you eat in a surplus while on a good training regiment, you’ll gain more muscles than fat.

To determine the caloric requirements to maintain current weight (TDEE), follow step 1. and then step 2.

1. Calculate BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)

Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in yrs)

Note: Multiply the number in brackets first, then you can add and subtract.

For example:

  1. Female
  2. Age: 27 years
  3. Height: 178 cm (5’10’’)
  4. Weight: 69kg  (151lbs.)

Therefore,

BMR   = 665 + (9.6 X 69) + (1.8 x 178) – (4.7 x 27)
            = 1520.9 calories/ day

2. Calculate Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

TDEE = BMR x Activity Factor

Determine your activity factor from the table below and multiply this number by the BMR you just calculated above to determine your TDEE.

Activity Factor Table
Amount of Exercise/Activity Description TDEE/ Maintenance
Sedentary Little or no Exercise/ desk job TDEE = 1.2 x BMR
Lightly active Light exercise/ sports 1 – 3 days/ week TDEE = 1.375 x BMR
Moderately active Moderate Exercise, sports 3 – 5 days/ week TDEE = 1.55 x BMR
Very active Heavy Exercise/ sports 6 – 7 days/ week TDEE = 1.725 x BMR
Extremely active Very heavy exercise/ physical job/ training 2 x/ day TDEE = 1.9 x BMR

Therefore, our 27 year old female has to multiply her previously calculated BMR by her Activity Factor from the table:

TDEE = BMR x Activity Factor
TDEE = 1520.9 x 1.375
            = 2091

This 27-year-old woman needs 2091 calories per day to maintain her current weight (TDEE). She should subtract no more than 500 calories of her TDEE to lose weight and she should add no more than 500 calories to add weight. So, almost 3000 calories to maintain, 2500 to lose weight, 3500 to bulk up. Remember, 80% Carbs + 10% Protein + 10 Fat.

RECOMMENDED MICRONUTRIENT INTAKE: https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/sites/fnic.nal.usda.gov/files/uploads/recommended_intakes_individuals.pdf

TDEE CALCULATOR: http://www.superskinnyme.com/calorie-calculator.html, http://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/, http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/

FOOD JOURNAL: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/, http://www.wolframalpha.com/

 

THERE ARE 3 BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS:

1) Carbohydrates aka. Carbs: they have 4 calories per gram and it’s the main fuel for your body. 80% of your total calories should come from complex carbs, meaning high-quality forms of carbohydrates, because of their superior molecular complexity,  from whole foods like:

Whole Grain Breads and Pastas

  • Pieces of bread and different kinds of pasta made with the whole grains listed below provide more fiber resulting in feeling full sooner, and longer.

Whole Grains

  • Buckwheat
  • Brown rice
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Sorghum
  • Quinoa

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Okra
  • Dill pickles
  • Carrots
  • Yams
  • Strawberries
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Cucumbers
  • Asparagus
  • Grapefruit
  • Prunes etc.

2) Proteins: they have 4 calories per gram. Protein is formed by a linked chain of amino acids which form a big molecule, which is necessary for your body to maintain and repair damage to its muscles. Most people get enough protein, though an intense exercise program may call for eating more for optimal results. I do not recommend buying protein powder because it’s low quality and there is really no need for it. Just eat well and you’ll get more than enough protein.

3) Fats: they are 9 calories per gram and fats are not evil, either. Eating dietary fat does not mean that you’ll get instantly fat. Fats perform a variety of necessary functions. The problem is that people over-consume saturated fats and trans fats (meats, dairy, processed food etc.), which raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol and under-consume healthy fats like monounsaturated fats (found in high concentrations in olive oil and canola oil) and Omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seed oil and other sources). Fats also have more calories ounce-for-ounce than carbohydrates and proteins, making very high-fat foods very calorie-dense, which is why it is so effective at creating fat cells.

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Split peas
  • Soybeans
  • Pinto beans
  • Soymilk
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds etc.

TOP 4 DIETS

  1. VEGAN diet/lifestyle

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While provocative to some, this is the objective truth towards health, and muscles. The most anabolic foods (foods that help with the creation, construction, development of organic tissue) available for humans are vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, beans, and nuts. So, if you manage to follow a Vegan diet, your body will function at peak efficiency. The large quantities of antioxidants, high-quality amino acids, unsaturated fat, minerals and vitamins from Vegan diet will completely improve your body and mind.

Make sure you’re getting enough B12 (aka. COBALAMIN

B12 deficiency can happen to anyone, even non-vegans. B12 is a vitamin produced by micro-organisms found mostly in soil, it’s a bacterial product that is not very prevalent in vegetable matter. Because of the thorough processing of the foods we eat, even the vegan ones, the micro-organisms, and the B12 are destroyed by washing or other processing methods. B12 is very important for the nervous system and can cause anemia, pregnancy problems if in deficiency. So to avoid deficiency, on a vegan diet you should do one of the following if you do not wish to closely track your B12 intake:

A) Eat B12 fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least 3 micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day.

B) Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 microgramsC) Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

C) Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

The package should indicate the B12 quantity per a certain portion, and you just add up through the day.

This link provides an explanation of food nutrition labels for those in North America.

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image014 6a0c281272f04de8180ea9854e555341[1]

  1. Vegetarian Diet

Veg-VeganDietPyramid[1]

The Vegetarian diet consists of eating meals without any kind of meat. This diet is the second in the list because it’s the second healthiest. Although this diet is generally healthy, you should keep dairy intake to a minimum.

  1. Mediterranean Diet

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The Mediterranean diet comes in third place because it contains meats and dairy. Although this diet contains animal derivatives, it stresses moderation, so it makes it suitable for a healthy life. Just keep the meat and dairy to a minimum and you won’t be sabotaging yourself.

  1. Other Omnivorous diets

Other omnivorous diets should keep dairy and meat to a minimum and focus on whole foods. The general guideline for eating a healthy diet is KEEPING PROCESSED FOODS TO A MINIMUM. This includes meat and dairy, which are heavily processed foods even if they’re “bio and organic.” Meat cannot be eaten raw and dairy has to be made from milk, so they’re processed food.

Other important vitamins/minerals aka. Micronutrients:

RECOMMENDED MICRONUTRIENT INTAKE: https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/sites/fnic.nal.usda.gov/files/uploads/recommended_intakes_individuals.pdf

Micronutrients are substances your body needs to function optimally: vitamins and minerals. You can get everything you need from a good diet, so don’t just jump on popping pills and powders, because if you don’t eat well, supplements won’t benefit you in any way. Don’t substitute food for powders because they are nowhere near the rich nutrients in real, fresh, whole foods. Maybe it would be wise to supplement at the beginning of your fitness journey, till you get the handle of stuff, till you understand how to track your food to meet your micro/macro ranges as close as possible, but remember, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) indicates the daily minimum necessary to prevent nutrient deficiency, so keep this in mind, the minimum is not the optimal quantity. A successful nutrient tracking requires patience and basic mathematics. Just use the websites provided in this ebook and see if you reach the optimal ranges just with food, if you do, then good, no need for further supplementation, but if you don’t, then consider buying a multivitamin.

Men should search for a multivitamin without a lot of iron, while women should search for one with more iron. In fact, 11% of women between the ages of 20 to 49 have an iron deficiency. Iron can be found in plant products such as whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, so make sure you eat plenty of this, don’t be afraid to use spices and oils. More information can be found at the Vegetarian Resource Group.

Sodium is generally something you shouldn’t be concerned with, it is plenty in our foods and our bodies need just a very small quantity to properly function. Vegetarians and Vegans should keep an eye on their sodium levels to check if they aren’t deficient, and omnivores should pay attention to their sodium levels as to not exceed the limit. A surplus of sodium is way more plausible than a deficiency, so watch out to not exaggerate because sodium excess can cause major heart and kidney problems. Aim for no more than 2300mg a day of sodium (see this article for more information).

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important, so it’s crucial you get enough of them. Eat abundantly the following: Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Hemp seeds, Mustard oil, Seaweed, Beans, Winter squash, Leafy greens, Cabbage family, Berries, Wild rice, Herbs and spices, Mangoes, Honeydew melon. The RDAs for Omega 3 are 1.6 grams/day for adult males and 1.1 grams/day for adult females. The Omega 3 is transformed in EPA and DHA, so you’ll need to have approximately 720mg of EPA and 480mg of DHA a day.

Another important micronutrient is Vitamin D[1][2][3][4][5]. Vitamin D is created naturally by the body when exposed to sunlight, so if you don’t live in an area with a lot of sun or you just don’t go out as often, chances are you’re deficient in it. You need at least 1h of direct sunlight a day. If you just cannot get enough sun, consider supplementing with Vitamin D which strengthens bones, prevents cancer, and raises testosterone levels.

Calcium is very important, leafy green vegetables (not iceberg lettuce, I mean the dark green stuff), soy, almonds, oats, most beans and sesame seeds can be good sources of calcium.

Creatine is a safe, effective supplement which will help with strength[1][2][3]., although supplementation is not crucial for the body. If you decide to use it, get it in monohydrate form, only – it is just as effective (or more) as the other forms, and a lot cheaper[1][2]. Take 5g (1 teaspoon) every day at any time. No need to load or cycle[1][2][3][4].

4. Minimum equipment  

  • Pull-up/Chin-up bar

image018

Some kind of an elevated, sturdy traction bar is highly important for developing a harmonious upper body. If you don’t have access to a sturdy, dependable bar, you’ll be able to stimulate those back muscles with alternative exercises, the book proposes a wide variety of compensatory exercises in the absence of a Chin-up bar, but know that such a bar is quite necessary for proper back development. The compensatory exercises only stimulate the back muscles, but in order to micro tear the muscle fibers, a bar is necessary.

You should never compromise safety, ever! Attempt performing tractions only on a bar/ledge that you fully trust! If upon inspection, the structure gives you any kind of doubt, then you should NOT perform any exercises, and seek a safer structure.

Being able to do a clean Pull-up with your bodyweight is a symbolic milestone. Among many metaphors that come to mind, being able to a bodyweight Pull-up means that you have the evolutionary survival skills. Like other primates, humans were designed to long distance run and climb. Our bipedal stance and twisting midsection are perfect for long distance running, and our long limbs help us grab things, stabilize ourselves, push/pull things, a body adapted for environment manipulation.

  • Shoes

image020 image019

The shoes should be minimalistic, comfortable and should have flat soles. You should be able to feel the connection to the floor. Keep the cushioning and support to a minimum. If you’re new to this minimalistic type of footwear, you should alternate your regular shoes to the minimalistic ones to allow your body to adapt to the decreased support and cushioning, to avoid injuries.

  • Foam roll

image021

DO IT YOURSELF FOAMROLL: http://jaimeesallthatglitters.blogspot.it/2010/08/make-your-own-foam-roller.html

The Foam roll will be useful for pre and post workout for deep tissue stretching that will enhance your performances, help you rebuild faster, and decrease your risks of injury. (post-workout myofascial release)

  • Basketball or similar ball

image022

A basketball can be very useful, not only can you play basketball with it, which is a great sport, but you can also use one or two to do pushups. Great for training the central nervous system. Place the ball under one hand, place the other hand on the ground and try to complete some pushups. You’ll note that you’ll shake a lot, this is good, this means that your nervous system activates different muscle fibers to stabilize the body and complete to push up. These types of exercises will help tremendously with strength and muscle fiber recruitment. When you’re experienced enough, place two balls under each hand.

  • Water bottles

image023

Water bottles will act as dumbbells, some exercises will require them, just grab 2 bottles fill them with water, sand, or any other material. Also, be creative, look around your house for objects that could aid you, tape some water bottles together if you want some heavier dumbbells.

5. Mentality/approach for self-improvement

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”  –  Confucius

Many people that want to start working out don’t actually start because they are insecure about their knowledge. They’ll fool themselves into believing that they’ll start working out when they’ve acquired all the information first. Such a mentality isn’t necessarily wrong, but if you never start, you’ll never learn. Many are hesitant to do it on their own and end up paying large sums of cash for personal trainers, supplements, books, and so on. The key to fitness success is to gather up the motivation to actually start doing something, and knowledge will come. Start small, steady, and safe. Constantly inform yourself and never engage in something your gut tells you shouldn’t.

To achieve personal wellness, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle, not just a fad diet and two-three weeks of sport. The majority of the fitness gurus, magazines, and other mainstream fitness entities will try to sell you diets that are temporary or 30-something day training program, that will provide temporary results because, in order to maintain a nice looking body, you must never stop taking care of it. There is even a more dangerous side of it: some diets (ketogenic, crash diets, and other diets that focus on eating only certain foods, on certain times) are so bad that they can result in metabolic damage (your metabolism gets disrupted) and after the diet is over, you will gain more weight than before, making the person seek for another “solution” in the fitness industry, it’s an endless vicious cycle that can lead to depression, it negatively impacts the endocrine system (hormone system), and negatively impact the digestive system which then leads to nutrient deficiencies, compromised defense systems, damaged cell membranes, and so on. This vicious cycle is perfect for the fitness industry because they have a steady flow of uninformed clients that will seek, over and over again, to better themselves, not knowing that they’re sabotaging themselves. I cannot stress this enough, maintain a skeptic mindset and thread lightly.

More on metabolic damage: https://www.metaboliceffect.com/metabolic-damage/

Your main focus should be yourself, don’t compare yourself to the many poster-athletes you see all around you, on TV, on billboards, on magazines, and so on. People that pose in magazines cannot be fully trusted, because you don’t know if they’re natural, if they’ve been photoshopped, or if they had surgeries. Everybody is unique, some people may have some unique muscle insertions that are aesthetically pleasing and they’ll use that to try to sell you something, making you think you can also develop muscles just like theirs, but it’s beyond control. Train for yourself and you’ll be OK. Even if you’re training for attention, let’s say you want more attention from girls, you’ll be better off training naturally, because girls, generally, like the natural look, girls are not so visual-driven as men, they care about a man’s body, but they care more about other things, like personality, status etc.

Consistency is the key here. Train a minimum of two days a week, but even if it’s one day a week, make sure you train every week. It’s better to train fewer times, but with consistency, than to train multiple times a week and slack the next two weeks. If you’re on a tight schedule, just organize yourself to do something, anything. Even a half an hour a day will give you great results if you’re consistent. Having this mindset will help you tremendously because it will become a routine, it will even make you more productive and happy because of the dopamines and other beneficial hormones being released after a workout, even a short one.

Don’t waste time on trying to find the perfect training regiment because it doesn’t exist. Just follow the book’s guidelines and don’t forget to mix it up, don’t let your body adapt to a certain training regiment because you’ll soon plateau, instead, mix up the repetition ranges, the order of exercises, the variations etc. Be creative and make it harder each time, that’s how you’ll progress. Even if you’re clueless about sports, by maintaining a consistent physical and intellectual effort, you will become an informed individual, and you’ll be forever autonomous!

Another important word is patience. Muscle building, fat loss, and virtually, any other physiological change takes time, lots of it. Just do your thing and be patience, changes will come, and if you’ll be persistent about it, you’ll keep improving forever. The slow changes are the most natural and safe ones, it’s how your body works. Claims that you can build X amount of muscle in Y amount of time should always be looked upon with skepticism because again, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unless we’re talking about steroids, but that’s another ball game.

6. Warm-up and cool down

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372481/main-muscle/abdominals-abductors

Warming up before physical exercise is very important because it greatly reduces the chances of getting injured. Doing a 10-20 min. warm-up will benefit your training session greatly because it will help you get into the mindset of the activity and it will prepare your body: it lubricates the joint, sends blood to the muscles with fresh oxygen, and gives you the time to acquire focus. You should do a full body warm-up before any kind of activity because the body works as a whole, and it’s wise to give it a heads up before demanding activities. The warm-up should not contain any forms of static stretches, only dynamic ones. Short cardio and plyometric exercises should be performed to slightly increase the heart rate to better oxygenate your body. Your warm-up session should contain several exercises in which you imitate the workout exercises, so if you’re going to do some elevated pushups, you should first do some knee pushups to get the blood flowing before getting to the harder exercises.

After your workout session you should cool down for 10 minutes, that means continuing physical activity while gradually reducing intensity. The cool down will help your body recuperate faster and prevents body shocks. The cool down is very similar to the warm-up, it’s only done at the end of the workout. After you’ve cooled down and lowered your heart beat, you can sit down and do some static stretching and foam rolling. Doing this will greatly improve your overall performance, muscle growth, and recuperation.

7. Dynamic and static stretching

Warming up includes plyometrics, cardio, dynamic stretching, and should be done before the workout (pre-workout). The cooling down contains static stretching, foam rolling, light plyometrics, cardio, and dynamic stretching, and should be done after the workout (post-workout).

Static stretching refers to any stretching done statically while holding a certain position for a number of seconds. It should never be done before exercise. It causes muscles to tear down some more, and that can be counterproductive and even dangerous before exercises. Before a weightlifting session, you should perform the lifts you are about to do with little or no weight. Same goes for cardio, perform a light jog before running a considerable distance, or before playing sports, make sure you warm up good to avoid injury.

If you have posture issues, by combining stretching, strength training, and maintaining proper posture, you can correct them. MobilityWOD provides great workouts for those with posture issues, joint problems, or simply people who want to improve flexibility and performance.

DYNAMIC STRETCHING: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372351/main-muscle/abdominals-abductors

STATIC STRETCHING: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372361/main-muscle/abdominals-abductors

PLYOMETRICS: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/exercisetype/id/4/exercisetype/plyometrics

FOAM ROLLING: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372491/main-muscle/abdominals-abductors

CARDIO: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/exercisetype/id/2/exercisetype/cardio

 

8. Foam rolling

Foam rolling is not strictly necessary for a healthy physique, but it betters one’s body in terms of flexibility and relieves perceived soreness from training, aka. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). A regular foam rolling practice can also slightly improve athletic performance and muscle hypertrophy, so it’s recommended in making a routine out of it while you relax in front of your TV or similar. Once you get the hang of the exercises, it will feel like second nature, you won’t even think when doing them. If you’re really serious about gaining muscle then definitely do them, every bit helps.

More Info. on Foam Rolling here: https://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/foam-rolling-self-myofascial-release/

9. Main exercises

                Cardio means every kind of sustained movement that causes an increased heart rate, such as shadowboxing, jogging/running/sprinting, sports in general, machines etc. Couch to 5K is an excellent beginner cardio plan, from couch potato to 5k in a matter of months. Cardio can also be performed without joint stress. So if you have bad joints, it would be wise to limit high impact cardio such a running, for a better alternative such as swimming, elliptical machine, or stationary/real bike. Cardio, believe it or not, should be the staple of any training regiments, I’d recommend at least two sessions per week, the more the merrier, just don’t over train and don’t do cardio and weight lifting on the same day, or if you do, just to a light jog after weight lifting or vice versa.

Benefits of cardio: increases testosterone and increases insulin sensitivity,  builds endurance, helps with overall recovery, stimulates the body to store energy in the muscles and not in the fat cells, helps with weight maintenance/preventing the “yo-yo effect”generally keeps you healthy, and burns calories.

            Strength training: you improve your strength by soliciting your muscles. Calisthenics make you stronger, healthierimproves your posturemakes you less injury prone and strengthens your bones (making it very important for the elderly and for women). Additionally, it speeds up your metabolism even while you rest – more than cardio by itself.

  • Pushups

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  • Traction (Pull-ups/chin-ups)

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  • Abdominal Crunches

image026

  • Squats/Lunges

 image029

  • Calf rises

 image028

 

The aforementioned are our main exercises. By doing different variations and improvisations we’ll manage to target all body parts and effectively stimulate muscle growth.

Some word definitions:

Repetition (rep) Doing a complete motion of an exercise 1 time
Set A group of repetitions. So, 5 repetitions in a row would be a set of 5 reps.
Intensity The amount of effort you are expending.
Form How correctly you are doing the exercise. Strict form is important to prevent injury & get the most benefit from the exercise.

10. Variations of the main exercises

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372511/main-muscle/abdominals-abductors

No matter how you choose to organize your workouts, you have to take care of all body parts. It’s very important to have a balanced body, even if you “don’t care” about certain body parts. The body works as a whole. Muscular imbalances are not only visually displeasing, but also dangerous. You’ll have to keep track of your muscle parts and identify what muscle parts are lagging and try to get it up to par with the other body parts. The exercises have to be hard and then harder. Always force yourself to do more reps or slower reps, anything to make it harder than before to make your body adapt and grow stronger. Soreness and stiffness are normal; genuine pain is not. If you hurt yourself, give yourself plenty of time to 100% recover from an injury before you start again or you’ll just re-injure yourself. Leave a day or two a week for rest, no need to over train, sometimes it’s not the quantity but the quality, just concentrate on the mind-muscle connection and try to “feel” your muscles work.

Don’t over train your abs, they are continually stimulated by other exercises for other body parts (the core stabilizes the body during squats, running etc.), so dedicating one day a week for abs is enough.

Abductors are very small muscles, so there’s no need to exaggerate with exercises that directly stimulate these small muscles, they’ll get plenty of stimulation during squats, lunges, running, sports, so no need to isolate them more than a couple of sets per week.

No specific targeting exercises needed for the Adductors, just do some plyometrics before or after squats and finish off with some specific Adductor stretching: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/saved/id/372621/main-muscle/adductors. Also, don’t exaggerate with hitting this muscle more than once a week.

These muscles can withstand a lot of working out, so don’t hesitate to hit them twice or three times a week. Combine curls with chin ups and they’ll get plenty of stimulation. Contraction is key for biceps development, so concentrate on them while doing tractions or curls, try to establish a mind-body connection for better muscle activation and contraction.

Calves are very similar to the biceps, they can withstand a ton of workload, so work them out twice a week, just throw some sets of a few hundred reps on some stairs with some water bottles in your hands. Stretch at the bottom and contract all the way to the top, just like for the biceps.

The chest muscles are big, strong muscles, that need to be stimulated at least once a week. The muscles should be trained both in the upper rep ranges, as well as in the lower ranges, higher and lower intensity, from many different angles. The chest muscles help the arms push, pull, hug, so be careful to rotate your exercises so your chest muscles will be stimulated differently. A regular, feet-on-the-ground push-up will work the lower Pectorals muscles, an elevated, body-parallel-to-the-ground push-up will stimulate the middle chest, while and higher feet elevation will stimulate the upper chest muscles. Don’t forget the Around The World exercises and the Dumbbell Flies exercises.

The forearms are continuously stimulated, these muscles control the fingers and are responsible for grip strength. No need for extra isolation, they get plenty of stimulation when holding the traction bar, maybe you could squeeze the bottles harder when performing exercises with them.

The glutes are big, strong muscles, they can withstand very much workload, so they need adequate stimulation, a minimum of two times a week. Squats, lunges (front and sideways), sprints are the staple for a good leg development. You could add some isometric exercises before or after the main compound exercises. When performing squats, be sure to go “ass to grass”, meaning bending your knees less than 90 degrees and keep you back straight and chest up. Maintaining a correct form when performing squats is paramount, especially when performing them with additional weight.

Check this guy out for proper squat formhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnQhf9RV2Uk

The hamstrings are powerful muscles, adequate stimulation is needed for the development of a harmonious body. Doing squats while holding the weight on your back will target the hamstrings. Lunges are to be performed while pressing on the heels and taking wider steps. Uphill sprints are excellent for cardio day as a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and target the hamstrings and the Glutes perfectly.

Latissimus dorsi are the “wing” muscles of our backs, very powerful and can withstand much workload. They are optimally stimulated by doing traction-type exercises. If you do not have a traction bar, be sure to compensate by hitting back twice or three times a week. In the absence of the bar, you must really focus on hitting the back muscles from as many angles as possible, for different rep ranges. If you do have access to a sturdy bar, then perform traction exercises with different grips and wideness. Wider grip targets the outer muscles, narrower grips target the inner muscles.

Much attention is needed when performing lower back exercises. If you’re using moderate weight (sand bottles, even big one) you don’t have to be particularly worried because the injury factor is low with lower weights, but you always have to check your form in a mirror or by filming yourself, compare yourself with professional athletes on the internet.

I can personally vouch for this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0bY-gp8uR8

The middle back muscles are stimulated while performing traction-type exercises and by performing exercises that require you to retract your scapulas together. Focus on traction and general back muscle exercises and you shouldn’t have problems.

Neck exercises should be performed rarely because they get stimulated by general compound exercises, but taking into account you don’t have access to heavy weight, you should consider throwing a couple of sets every week or so.

The quads are very big muscles and are designed to be one of the most reliable muscles of the body. The quads are rarely over trained, most of the times they are undertrained. The quadriceps are the key to a complete physique. When training large groups such as the quadriceps, you have to make sure you train them thoroughly, from all the angles, with all the weight ranges because these big muscles, when properly stressed, they signal the body to produce large quantities of beneficial hormones, so after a leg session you should tremble and feel an abundance of lactic acid. Don’t pity them, work them hard.

The shoulders are medium muscles that should be trained no more than twice a week. Because of the muscles position and because of the fragile nature of the ligaments, tendons, and overall structure of the shoulder, special attention is required. The inner mechanics of the Shoulders (especially the rotator cuff) have to be kept in care because the area is very prone to injury, injuries that will put you on the bench for a long time. So, pay close attention to the form, never over solicit your rotator cuff, keep a strict form when performing shoulder exercises and remember to stop everything if you feel non-muscular strain.

The trapezium muscles are the muscles on your upper back and they’re very resistant. These muscles are stimulated when doing heavy lifts or when doing tractions, but if you lack heavy weights, you should train them individually no more than once a week. There are also some traction variations that directly stimulate the traps,

The triceps are the horseshoe muscles on your arms, the muscle has 3 heads that have to be stimulated accordingly. Although the muscle is pretty small, it can withstand very much workload, so train them as much as you can, two-three times a week. Triceps development shouldn’t be a problem when doing many pushups, just make sure you isolate them once in a while.

11. Workout plans

Monday (Legs and shoulder day) Tuesday (Back, Trapeziums and Biceps day) Wednesday (Rest day) Thursday (Chest, Shoulders and Triceps day) Friday (Leg, Back, and Biceps day) Saturday (Chest, Triceps, Abs) Sunday
Warm-up             (10-20min.) Warm-up             (10-20min.) Stretch, sleep, foam roll, eat well. Warm-up             (10-20min.) Warm-up             (10-20min.) Warm-up             (10-20min.) Stretch, sleep, foam roll, eat well.
Shoulder exercises like flies, shoulder pushups or similar (couple of sets)
Squats and/or squat variations (couple of sets) Pull-ups/Chin-ups (couple of sets) Pushups for chest (couple of sets) Lunges (couple of sets) Pushups for triceps (couple of sets)
Calf rises (around a hundred reps.) Curls (couple of sets) Pushups for triceps (couple of sets) Pull-ups/Chin-ups (couple of sets) Abdominal exercises (around a hundred reps.)
Lunges (couple of sets) Back compound exercises (see list, couple of sets) Chest isolation exercises (couple of sets) Curls, Back compound exercises (couple of sets) Pushups for chest (couple of sets)
Over the head press and/or similar (couple of sets) Pull-ups/Chin-ups, Curls and Back exercises (couple of sets) Shoulder exercises (couple of sets) Squats or squat variations (couple of sets) Abdominal exercises (around a hundred reps.)
Squats or squat variations (couple of sets) Pick some Trapeziums exercises and burn the muscles out ( hundred reps) Triceps isolation exercises (couple of sets) Lower back exercises

(couple of sets)

Chest and Triceps isolation exercises (couple of sets)
Cool down (light jogging/cardio, stretching) Cool down (shadow boxing, stretching) Cool down (shadow boxing, stretching) Cool down (light jogging/cardio, shadowboxing stretching) Cool down (light jogging/cardio, shadowboxing stretching)

The previous table was made to give you an indication of what your workout should look like. Observe the emphasis on compound exercises, how the bigger muscles get more work, how compound exercises come before isolation exercises (you can, sometimes, do isolation exercises first and then compound ones, but only do them once in a while and be careful to not hurt yourself because the muscle gets fatigued before the main exercises, which are usually harder). This table is highly customizable, if you don’t need two days of rest, that’s fine, just change it up.

DIVERSITY is the main keyword here. Change the exercises, don’t let your body adapt, instead of doing a certain compound exercise every week, change it up with a variation of that exercise, try to identify which muscles you are targeting, and keep that in mind, so you’ll workout your whole body. There is no perfect workout plan and premade workout plans are not that efficient, because if you do them over and over again you will stop growing because your body adapts to the same kind of stress. Try to have an antagonistic mindset towards your body, make it harder for your body, that’s the only way you’ll truly grow. The more your legs tremble after a leg day, the more lactic acid you’ll accumulate during your workouts (the momentarily swelling of the muscle), the more they’ll grow, and so on, it’s like that saying: “no pain, no gain”, of course, no other pain except muscle pain is acceptable.

Cardio sessions follow the same rule: DIVERSITY. Switch up between running, shadow boxing, biking, swimming, and so on. Don’t let your body adapt. Also, switch up the heart rate for each cardio session, sometimes you’ll jog, sometimes you’ll sprint a couple of times. Cardio sessions that are really intense should be shorter and cardio sessions in which your heart rate is not as high should be longer, both have benefits.

The DIVERSITY principle also applies to food. When going grocery shopping, try new things, healthy things, you’ll discover new flavors and your body will certainly be grateful for the variety of nutrients you give it. People think that getting closer to Veganism means you have to restrict your diet, quite the opposite. When you abandon traditional meats and cheeses you’ll discover more fruits, nuts, and vegetables you never tried before. Just use your imagination and be open minded, try new foods and you won’t regret it.

If you’re tight on time, and realistically can’t afford to spend so much time (although a day’s workout shouldn’t last more than 1,30h, everything included) just reduce the training days, make sure you hit every muscle and you’re set! Compensate the lack of time with efficiency, devise a time efficient strategy and compensate in intensity (mostly for strength training, cardio intensity should always be alternated).

12. How to become an autonomous/self-sufficient athlete

While its nutrition section is flawed, www.bodybuilding.com provides excellent criteria search for exercises, just focus on compound exercises. I’d recommend doing mainly compound exercises and leaving isometric exercises for the last sets to burn up the muscle. Compound movements are simply lifts that involve the movement of 2 or more different joints. Try to keep your reps as low as possible, meaning you’ll have to challenge yourself every time. Also, it would be wise to track your progress in writing! I can’t emphasize this enough. Write down how much you lifted & how many times you lifted it every session. You won’t have any sense of concrete progress if you don’t, and you’ll lose track of your lifts and screw things up. Every week, focus on beating your numbers from last week.

For beginners, I recommend hitting every muscle group twice per week, except the smaller ones, so that would mean 2-3 full body workouts per week.

DIFFERENT TRAINING DRILLS TO KEEP IT FRESH:

  • Pyramid sets

It consists of doing consecutive sets of the same exercise or different variations consecutively while increasing or decreasing the weight/number of reps. This training technique should be employed sparingly and no more than 2 times every other workout because it is very demanding for both the muscles, tendons, and central nervous system.

For example: 

Say you’re doing biceps curls, and you start with your heaviest bottle, you complete the first set to exhaustion, then you grab a lighter bottle and complete, immediately, a second set till further exhaustion. You just completed 2 ascending pyramid sets. It would’ve been 2 descending pyramid sets if you would’ve started with the heavier weight.

The pyramid sets would be generally employed at the finish of a workout. You can sometimes do them at the beginning and proceed with your normal workout, but you should do them more rarely. Also, if you do them at the beginning, organize your workout so it takes into account the fact that you are pre-exhausting yourself, so no heavy sets after pyramids.

Pyramid sets are also very beneficial because they stimulate the body to gather blood in the muscles you’re solicitation and that means oxygen and nutrients. Some people like to squeeze some pyramid sets on off days to get that “pump” so they’ll stimulate the muscle to grow better on off days. More power to them.

  • Alternating sets

This technique consists in selecting two exercises, for different muscle groups, and cycling the sets, one after another, in alternation.

For example: 

Say you’re doing legs and shoulders, instead of doing a couple of sets for legs, consecutively, and then a couple of sets for shoulder, you’ll do one set of an exercise for legs, then another set for shoulders, then another one for legs and so on.

This technique allows the muscles to recuperate faster but it’s more demanding on the cardiovascular system because it has to pump more blood do different muscles, so you’ll be out of breath quicker. By doing them this way, you’ll be able to perform more difficult exercises for each muscle group in a shorter period of time. This is very beneficial, but also quite demanding, so take the wear into account, pace yourself accordingly. This technique can be employed once every workout.

  • Negative repetitions

A negative rep. is the second motion of an exercise, the “downward” motion of an exercise. On a negative, the muscles to not contract as much but they stabilize the motion On the second half of the exercise, the fibers twitch with small, short contractions, in rhythm, so that the weight can be controlled in opposition to the force of gravity. Some negative repetitions should always be performed in a training session, but not too many as it exhausts the central nervous system quite fast, compromising the rest of the workout. Negative reps should be performed if a full rep. cannot be executed.

For example: If you want to perform a traction but you can’t complete one on your own, just do negatives till you can do one on your own, and then go from there. If you can’t perform a traction, place a chair underneath or lower the bar, make sure you have contact with the ground and just push yourself partially with your legs so you’ll complete the first motion, then retract your legs and perform the downwards motion, holding the contraction as much as possible. This way you’ll stimulate your muscles so you’ll be able to perform a traction on your own.

  • Pre-exhausting certain muscle groups when doing compound movements

Once in a while, you should perform some specific muscle targeting exercises to exhaust certain muscles before performing compound exercises that include said muscle groups. Be careful with this technique to not injure yourself when performing the compound exercise afterward.

For example: Before doing a set of pull ups, you do some curls to pre-exhaust your biceps. When you’ll perform tractions with your biceps exhausted, the weight will mostly fall on the other back muscles and not so much on the biceps. This permits the body to self-adapt and improve, but it’s also a very stressful technique that should be deployed sparingly. The body has to find new ways to complete the repetitions with fatigued muscles, this increases the neurological pathways efficiency, oxygen distribution, hormonal release, and so on.

  • High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT refers usually to cardio exercises being performed at a very high intensity in short bursts. These types of exercises are extremely beneficial because of the stress it puts on the muscles and organs, stress that trigger multiple hormonal and biological responses. These exercises should be performed gradually, don’t just get up off the couch and attempt some up-hill sprints, you’ll injure yourself, badly. Work your fitness level until you feel comfortable to perform such strenuous exercises.

  • Strength train and do light cardio on the same day

Once in a while do both on the same day, not necessarily consecutively, maybe run in the morning for 20 minutes and then train your muscles later on in the day, doesn’t really matter, doing this once in a while will really make you feel great because of the hormones being released after a cardio session and the muscle training will definitely benefit from that. Remember to eat well and clean on such occasions as it is quite stressful for the body and you’ll need to replenish your glycogen in your muscles for an effective and safe workout.

  • Play sports

Sports are very beneficial, both individual and team sports. It’s a great way to get to know yourself and socialize, it provides many benefits, muscular, neurological, and other. I’d recommend reserving at least 1 day for sports. It improves fast decision making, spatial awareness, coordination, bone density, lung capacity, and much more.

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