Let me first say that I am no expert on working out or fitness. However, I have been studying fitness and hitting the gym regularly for a couple years. I’ve also researched diet and nutrition. These are my biggest principles.
Workout by muscle groups.
This is crucial to anyone who wants to work out on consecutive days. Weekly workout splits can be anywhere from 3 day splits (where you rest 4 days a week) to working out every day (no rest days).
I personally subscribe to 5 or 6 day splits (or until your body tells you its exhausted). I don’t always work out 5 or 6 days a week, but if I do, I know I’m hitting to gym solidly that week.
My current muscle group workouts consist of a basic rotation of 4:
- Chest and Triceps
- Shoulders and Abs
- Back and Biceps
Keep in mind, many of these can be rearranged. You can do a chest back day. You can do an all arms day. Some people like to do abs two or three times a week as well; adding them onto leg day or arms day. But for now, the 4 above are my rotation.
The benefit of these is that you can continuously rotate them and workout for as many days in a row as you want. Each muscle group gets a 4 day break to recover.
It should be noted that shoulders and chest should be avoided on consecutive days due to the weakening or soreness of the front deltoids. These muscles are activated when doing chest exercises and shoulder exercises, therefore it is ideal to split them 48 hours apart if you aren’t taking any rest days in between workouts. This ensures proper recovery time for them.
This can’t be emphasized enough. You do not want to injury or strain yourself from working out. Look up online how to do exercises correctly. Even if you think you know, watching videos and reading can correct little errors. I personally was doing squats partially wrong for over a year. After correcting form, I started getting better results (and hopefully ended any risk of injuring my knees during them). I’m sure I still do some exercises slightly wrong or not optimally, but I continue to learn.
Have a high protein diet.
Regardless of whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight and tone up, I advocate for a high protein diet. Not only do you need protein to recover your muscles, it can also help you lose fat. Allow me to explain.
You lose weight by using more calories than you take in. Simple. When your body needs more calories than you take in from your diet, it gets energy from elsewhere in/on your body. That’s why your body stores fat. It burns it for energy. It also burns muscle though. Therefore, the logic goes, that if you maximize your protein intake, you are maximizing your bodies muscle replenishment and forcing it to eliminate fat while keeping the same amount, or more, of muscle. On net, you should be losing fat and not losing muscle.
It reduces your body’s ability to rebuild muscle effectively so you won’t make as good of gains as otherwise. It’s also high calorie item. Drinking 5 beers is 750 calories at least. If you are going for a 2000-2500 calorie diet a day, that could be the equivalent of a meal for you and you gained zero useful nutrition from it.
I can’t always adhere to this rule but I try to. I aim for no more than 1-2 drinks a day during the week (preferably none if I can help it). On the weekends I tend to go out and drink some but even then, it’s best to try and limit it. If you’re trying to really lose weight or get in the best shape of your life, you need to be prepared to not drink much at all for several months.
These are my biggest points I’d tell to someone unfamiliar to working out who want to look better and feel better. Develop a rotating schedule of muscle group based workouts. Research more about form. Increase your protein intake. Reduce alcohol.
These 4 principles should send you on your way to better shape if you can stick to them. I don’t always manage to follow them, but when I do, I see my best results.