Before we begin, let me qualify that I am not a top tier athlete, bodybuilder or known on any planet for anything to do with fitness. I am simply a guy who wasn’t pleased with how he looked and educated himself on fitness and nutrition in order to make each of my lives more enjoyable.
I had received the communication out of the blue, from someone I didn’t expect to hear from, and was even more surprised by the content of the communique. They were asking for my help. Their letter began:
I hope you are doing well. It has been a while since we last talked. I was wondering if I could get some of your input on training.
I have recently gone back to the gym and have been hitting it pretty hard. I am looking for some pointers to some good exercise routines that may increase my results. My routine is pretty solid as I have managed to shave of roughly 30 lbs since in the last 3 months.
So I go to the gym about 5 times per week (sometimes more if I can sneak away from work for a couple of hours). My routine starts with a 15 minute stretch and then 15-20 minutes cardio, usually running as that is what I like. When I run, I run to to beat my previous time and distance constantly increasing my speed. When I started back in July I was running at about 6-6.5mph (according to the treadmill). I am now running at 9-9.5mph and moving up to 10mph. When I run outside, I go much faster running at about 4:30-5 mins per km.
After the cardio, I stretch again to make sure I don’t tighten up and move towards weight training. My routine is as follows:
What I am looking for is some good exercises to help with the belly and chest, these areas seem to be the trouble spots for me. I am not looking to be huge, just want to take what I got and tone up, would love the “V” shape one day. I am currently at a weight of 186lbs and consume roughly 1800-2000 calories a day. Diet consists of chicken, rice, greens, egg whites, oat meal, protein shakes, turkey, potatoes. There are the occasional cheat items specific to events or with the family. I drink about 1 cup of coffee a day and the rest is water around 3000ml plus a day.
If you have any suggestions for chest and belly, that would be great.
Thanks for your help/input.
I was flattered to be reached out to for any type of health advice given my own recent medical issues that were stopping me from fully utilizing the potential of my current clone. My reply began as follows:
First of all, I am ridiculously proud of you. The beginning of the journey is always the hardest part. Well done to stick to it long enough to see the results of dropping 30 lbs!
Now onto the blunt talk, as you know that is how I’ve always been. Take from it what you will.
1. Tight nutrition and overall fat loss are the only ways to get abs. Period. Your basic eating looks good, so let me recommend the following where P = Protein, C = Carbs, F = Good Fats
Rest of Day:
Green vegetables are good any time of day.
It’s not just about what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat, though it’s great that you seem to have a handle on portion control and reducing garbage going into your system. The real trick is knowing when to eat what.
Your body can only process carbs in the morning after you wake up. That’s when it needs its complex fuel. If you eat carbs after your peak hour, it just gets stored as fat. This includes fruits and fruit smoothies. Any carbs.
Tightening up nutrition alone could’ve resulted in the 30 lbs you dropped. Initial weight loss is always a sign of changes to nutrition and activity level.
1a. Eat a banana before every workout
1b. Have a protein shake within 25 minutes of finishing your workout. Either a Casein or a Hydrolized protein. Watch sugar levels and avoid whey proteins. They are garbage filler.
2. Water intake = 1L of water per every 50 lbs of body weight. Minimum. 3L of water per day only cuts it if you weigh 150 lbs. Increase your water intake. This will not only make your skin look healthier, cleaner, and glow, it will also suppress appetite, improve bowel movements, increase energy and feed muscles.
3. Cut out ALL DAIRY. You are an adult mammal. You do not need dairy and the only thing dairy does for us adults is make us fat. Nothing else. Really.
4. Onto training. Look at these three images. It’s a three month bodyweight squat program. This will be part of your new warmup.
4a. Download the iPhone app (not sure if you’re still an Android guy. They may have it) XFit Push Ups. It is the best push up program I’ve seen and will give you exactly what you are after. Do this Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
4b. Download the 20 Chinups App. Make sure you do a chinup properly. Shoulders back and down, pull up to eye level with bar, down to the point where your shoulders can barely stay down and back. Never hang. Never go too high. This is very hard on the shoulders and can result in a tear (I did this). This is the single best way to give you an amazing V Shape. Do this Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
4c. Download the app Eight-Twelve and read Point 5.
5. Running sucks. I read you like it. I acknowledge it. I respect you enjoy it. Everyone does. Running is easy and society tells us it is good for us. They lie. No animals jog. No marathon runner looks healthy. Running is damaging to the joints and fuels the body through eating muscle fiber, then fat. In other words, the more you do any type of jogging or distance running, the less muscle you will have before you even start noticing fat loss from it.
Again, you started being active at all, and this has resulted in what I call False Positives. You see the changes in your body and attribute them to the wrong thing. Running will not get you to where you want to be. It will not provide the fat loss necessary for abs nor any general muscle exposure.
I mentioned the Eight-Twelve app. It’s a sprint interval program. It’s insanely challenging and you’ll be lucky if you ever go longer than 6 minutes. 6 minutes of sprint intervals is equal in calories to 1 hour of jogging, btw.
6. It’s funny you say you don’t want to be big. You want to be muscular. That doesn’t mean big. The difference isn’t number of reps, exercises, intensity, or any of that. The difference is looking at yourself and saying ok I’m big enough and cut enough, now to maintain. That’s it. Compound, or Olympic Lifting, is the single best way to build muscle and burn fat. For the record, the more muscle you have the more energy you require just to exist meaning the more calories you are going to burn.
You want to be muscular.
7. If you don’t have an iPhone or they don’t have these apps on Android, go torrent MI40 and Body Beast. Do these programs. Don’t just follow. Learn. If you really take the time to educate yourself on why they work, you can reach the goals you are after within 5 months.
In my excitement to share, I noticed afterwards there were a couple of items I had missed.
8. There is no such thing as spot training. You cannot improve single areas of your body. You can focus on those, sure, but it will still affect the rest of your body.
9. There is no such thing as muscle tone. What does this mean? I think what people mean is they don’t want bulk, they want to be ripped. That’s just fat loss. To be truthful, you don’t even have to exercise to accomplish this but skinny ripped people look sickly.
I thought I’d share this with all of you in case you can glean some insight from it for yourself. If not, that’s ok too.