- Dec 19, 2013
Great post packed with valuable information. Thank you
I will be using this
FORWARD: Those of you whom are more advanced may find this post very redundant. Its is long, and is meant for the rank beginner. There are no epiphanies of wisdom here, just the basics that so many people seem unequipped with when they end up on our doorstep.
Because of this I have outlined some very basic starting points to what I deemed are the foundations of training, they are as non specific as I can make them towards what kind of result or physique the new member is looking to obtain, they are truths for most anyone.
If you are new, and lost and looking for advice, this is a good reference point for you, I wish I had something like this when I first started.
I have added some links after several of the sections, they are basic reads from several blogs and other forums. For most of us they are remedial and review, but for the rank beginner they are good starting points to gain some modicum of understanding about what I am touching on.
This article is simply a tool to simplify the newcomers to the forums who are just starting out on the endeavor of making permanent changes to their physique and adopting a whole new lifestyle.
To those of you who are new, there’s a lot to read, but its worthwhile information with out having to ask and getting ten different answers and being more confused than you were all ready.
In my time on the boards, I have written a number of articles and rants.
The topics have ranged, and for the most part I think they have benefited most people.
There is one thing that I wish I had seen, read or heard when I first started to become an active participant of the bodybuilding boards.
So, many people join the forums with the faintest clue about bodybuilding and its respective associated sports. Even less understand chemical enhancement.
Most join because they have made a personal choice at some point to make a change in their life, and change the way the look physically and feel about themselves.
Its a positive decision, and most in the beginning have all the necessary motivation, but do not have a starting point-nor a blueprint for success. I can only tell you if I had been given such a tool in the onset of my journey there's no telling how much wasted time and energy I could have saved and been that much further along with my physique goals.
That is what I am going to attempt to lay out in this post, a road-map. You can follow this and it will help navigate your way to the desired goal that you are trying to achieve.
When you first join any forum it can be a bit disorienting. You see numbers of posts on a plethora of subjects.
Where do you start? Who do you listen too? Where is the information that is basic enough to comprehend and yet gives direction for you to begin down the path of success?
What you have to understand about forums, is the membership is divided up in to many categories of personalities and rankings.
The staff is supposed to have the most knowledge but depending on the forum you have joined this isn't always written in stone.
Sometimes you will notice some people have tons of posts, again, posts of what? Useful, or useless information?
Luckily for you, forums have at least a few uniform features, one being the indexing of categories.
My suggestion is if you have particular questions at the offset, find the categories dealing with those subjects, and look through and see if others have all ready asked the same questions. There's a good chance on larger forums, that someone has, and there have been numerous responses and suggestions given in reply.
Next thing is to look at the stickies in those particular sections, they are pinned exclusively because the information found in those posts is extremely helpful as a reference.
Eventually you will become more familiar with the forums information storehouse and you will get a feel for which members it is who seem to have valid information to give as feedback, and where to find specific information you are wanting to research.
Your on your way.
Presumably you are here to improve your physique, be it body fat loss, gaining muscle, strength, or a combination of all of these elements. So lets get started with some basics.
This, in my opinion, is the one area you must learn to personally master to some degree. The way you shape your physique is more dependent on what you eat, and when you eat it than you ever could have previously thought. The food combinations and timing of meals is in my opinion the biggest factor in making muscle gains, and body composition changes that you have any control over. The addition of new muscle and size takes a surplus of protein over your current maintenance amount. The loss of bodyfat will more than likely only take place when carbohydrates are reduced and calories along with it in a cyclic fashion.
Whatever it may be so far as the direction you are going to take your physique, food will be the driving force of how those changes are made. And not just learning how to eat, more importantly it's learning how to eat for your body.
Too many people just try to copy cat anther persons diet, sometimes it works, and sometimes its a disaster. As I said earlier, you have to start somewhere, and a bit of trial and error will be needed, but the intent of this post is to eliminate a bit of the needless error.
Establishing your caloric needs can be confusing to say the least, so this simple equation should get you on the right.
Once you figure out your caloric needs per day you can start taking a look at the different amounts of macronutrients you will be looking at to get your diet started.
Lets start with the basic macronutrients:
Protein quiet simply is the most important macronutrient you are going to be manipulating. You will get a lot of opinion on how much protein a person should consume every day. I have always used the rule of 1.5~2.0 grams per pound of lean bodyweight.
Now that’s lean bodyweight, you may have to estimate, but clearly if you are 250 pounds and have 30% bodyfat, then getting out the calculator and figuring up what 70% of your 250 pounds is will be at least semi accurate and a bit closer to a good starting point.
A lot of people I speak with during a given week are very shocked to find that this much protein is actually required, a lot of them have been thinking .75~1 gram would be sufficient, that’s just not so in my experience.
Proteins benefit is two fold for someone trying to make physique changes. Its consumption elevates the bodies metabolism much more strongly than its other two counterparts (fat/carbohydrate) about 20% more in fact. So the thermic effect via digestion stimulates an elevation in metabolic rate. If you consume 5 meals a day, that,s five bumps in the metabolic rate. I think most people can see the benefit there, but the other side is muscle quiet simply is made of proteins, in order to maintain or grow more muscle tissue you need a maintenance amount or surplus which can only be obtained through the consumption of protein foods.
In other words....protein is your friend.
Bodybuilding.com - How Much Protein?
When it comes to the macronutrients, carbohydrate intake is probably one of the most debated topics...depending again on what your goal is.
Carbohydrates are tricky to say the least, my rule of thumb is that if you want lowered bodyfat then you will lower the intake of carbohydrates, and if you want increase in size and muscle mass you will want to ingest more carbohydrates.
The issue becomes what is more or less for each individual. You have a lot of genetic variance when it comes to insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
One person consumes 4 grams per pound of lean body weight on a low carb diet, and another does that much to maintain and another person can gain with that amount.
Confused? You should be.
For myself personally 2grams per pound is a low carb diet, and 4 grams per pound is a pretty high carb diet. My suggestion is to start with a number that suits your goal (2grams for low carb- 4 grams for high carb) and make the adjustments every two weeks or so until you feel like you have your body headed in the right direction.
You may here terms like ‘keto’ diet, and ‘carb cycling‘. They are valid methods but hold off on experimenting with those methods until you have a handle on the basics.
For now just play with the number as a reference point. You will learn how your body is affected by various diets as you gain experience.
There is a lot of interesting science about carbohydrate these days and a lot of debate back and forth about how much is an appropriate amount. My belief is that its highly individualized and that you most likely will have to use trial and error for yourself to get a more exact number.
Carbs will supply you with needed training energy and they are protein sparing. Lowered carbohydrate allows your body to use strored bodyfat as a source of fuel more often. A surplus of carbohydrates will help spare muscle tissue and help with adding size as you grow, but too many will simply make you a fat bastard. There is a lot more to know about carbohydrates but for now this will get you going in the right direction.
Well when we speak of fat, we invoke images of obese people and unsightly bodyfat. Fat has been vilified by the mainstream cookie cutter dietitians. It has to be the most misunderstood macro nutrient of the bunch.
Fat has a lot of roles in the human body. Without fat we would die. So as evil a thing as the low fat generation made fat out to be, they were just dead wrong.
You have to eat the right sources of fat. Good fats EPA/DHA/GLA/OLA/ALA are all examples of beneficial fats. For me fish, and fish oils are my preferred source of good fats, but red meat (beef fat) has its place in my diet as well.
Good fats actually will help with insulin sensitivity, muscle growth, fat burning, brain function, immune function, cardiac health, hormone production and a long line of other benefits.
The trick is to eat meals with higher fats in them at specific points and not to mix them with higher glycemic index carbs like sugars.
My personal method of choice is to have them as my last two meals of the day, some sort of fatty fish say like salmon and/or beef with broccoli. This is my preferred method, you may find another way to utilize them, but don’t fall into the trap of having a no-fat diet, its impossible to do and has no benefit whatsoever.
Again with fat there are diets designed to utilize more fat in a cyclic fashion but you can research those as you gain more experience.
Bodybuilding.com - How Much Protein, Fat And What Types?
One of the biggest mistakes people make in bodybuilding or physique enhancement, is not eating enough. I hear it all the time “I eat a lot” well most likely your version of ‘a lot’ is based off a three meal system. In this game we will be eating a minimum of five meals.
Feedings should occur about every two to three hours to maintain steady blood glucose and amino acid pool. A nice steady flow of nutrients to support muscle growth and steady meal intake keeps the metabolic rate elevated steadily throughout the day. With food, more is better, but you have to spread out your intake. Some people will require higher amounts of food then others. The one thing I want to point out is that with grams per pound of bodyweight measurements for protein you will find a limiting factor.
Lets say for example you need 500 grams of protein a day. Well that’s a good bit of protein, obviously if we only eat five meals a day we are going to have to consume 100 grams of protein per meal. That may sound ok on paper but your body has a different plan about consuming protein, depending on your bodyweight you may only be able to absorb and utilize say 60 grams. So what do you do? You guessed it, eat more meals, say eight meals in this case. Now most wont have to come near to this number, but its just an example of how you will need to organize your meals properly and fine tune the system so it can be utilized as efficiently as possible for your goals.
Eating this much food from purely whole food sources is quite a task. There are those that can do it, but I suggest the use of some supplemented meals. I firmly believe in consuming whey protein after my workout, but also during the day as a way of getting in a meal with protein that is quick and easy. Whey protein has a high biological value which makes its digestibility the best and your bodies ability to utilize the amino acids in the protein for muscle growth which makes it one of the better proteins you can have. You need whole foods too, but whey protein can be very effective as a post workout recovery tool and utilized when cooking a meal is not an option.
There are a ton of other supplements on the market, many of them are scams and complete wastes of money some are worthwhile and beneficial. A high potency multivitamin/multimineral supplement is one supplement you will want to have. Some others will be a high strength fish oil, and acidophilus supplement.
For now keep supplements to basics and don’t get carried away, I know people who spend way too much money pinning there hopes of promised results on a bottle of pills. Just use the basics and save your money for your groceries.
Well there’s a lot to say when it comes to training methodologies. What I can tell you is that there are a ton of them. They almost all work to some degree or another, you must find which one(s) work for you. Ultimately when it comes to training your results are part of an adaptive response. You went to the gym, you trained and your body responded to the training as it would any other stressor. Your body made you more resistant to the effect of the stimulus or in this case training. Your muscles were broken down (stressed) and your body responds by making the muscles bigger and stronger, thus more resistant to the next time you lift x amount of weight for x amount of repetitions. This means you will have to go beyond that amount of weight or repetitions to get the body to adapt to a new stronger stimulus. Now eventually this linear progression will end, and you will have to find a new stimulus to get the muscle growth going again.
This is why training is a multi-protocol approach, you can never rely solely on one style of training to get continued results. You will find that every so often you will have to change your training style or protocol to get a jumpstart on muscle growth again. I find that changing a program up at about the 6 week mark is a good average, but I have also learned to listen to my body, if something is continuing to get me great results I will keep going with it, contrarily if I get no results after 2-3 weeks on a program I will ditch it quickly.
As a beginner you can try almost anything and get good results, so I encourage people to do so. You will find that certain training programs yield better results for you, those are the programs you need to use the most. Finding a number of these protocols to use as a ‘change up’ will be a great benefit later on down the line to keep out of stagnation.
Ultimately there are some guidelines to training that can be applied always.
You must be progressive in your training, that is you must lift more weight, or do more repetitions on a given exercise. You don’t have to lift the heaviest weights, but you have to lift heavy enough to give your muscles a reason to grow.
You will also need to be consistent, you cannot train hap-hazardly and expect gains, you have to stay the course on your training.
Days off are as important as days on, you tear down the muscles when you train, actual growth occurs when you rest and eat. Training every day in hopes of getting your muscles to grow faster will have the opposite effect.
Train smart, if a particular exercise hurts your joints or feels extremely uncomfortable and awkward, ditch it, just because some other person claims it to be the holy grail of results doesn’t mean you are going to react the same to it, it may be a bane on your body. Don’t be foolish and try to ego lift either, if you get hurt you not going to accomplish anything but having to take a lot of time outside of the gym to heal up.
Otherwise referred to as ‘overreaching’ overtraining is a condition where the body has to deal with too much stress, and not enough rest or down time to balance that out. You go to the gym you stress the muscles, you get adequate nutrition and sleep hopefully you grow a little bit. If you do not get the nutrition and sleep, or your workload is so great that you increase the need for time away from the gym but yet go back you will start down the path of overtraining. I can only tell you from my own experiences you do not want this.
It takes a lot of time away from the gym to get your body back on track, it screws with hormones, and body chemistry badly. You will not make much in the way of gains if you find yourself overtrained and in fact you may find yourself on the losing end of an injury.
Make sure you get days off from training, especially if your life is going through a stressful time. All stress has an effect on your body, job, emotional stress from relationships, financial hardship, school, family, every day life can all add up to a lot of additional stress on you, going and training like crazy can help you deal with stress as an outlet, but too much of a good thing can be as detrimental as the aforementioned negative stressors in life.
Make sure to strike a balance and again, listen to your body.
I put this near the end of my post. The reason is that’s really its ranking in order of importance. The forum culture has devolved into what we have now. Most people come to forums for the sole purpose of finding a source and getting some kind of cosmetic fix. Its sad but its reality. The bottom line is yes the drugs work. They however don’t do anything beyond their intended purpose, which in most cases is accelerate protein synthesis and basal metabolism. In the scheme of things, your food, training and rest make up the big picture. Drugs are the peripheral piece to the puzzle, they simply don’t make up the entire picture as many of the lazy morons on forums would have you believe.
You may have chosen to take the chemically assisted route all ready, that’s fine, it’s a personal choice but one that should be made as an educated decision. Drugs to have very real consequences on your health if misused and particularly bad consequences legally if you are caught with them.
Drugs only accent what you are trying to accomplish with your physique goals, they are a tool like any other, if used properly they will accomplish a task, if misused the consequences can be dire.
Find out as much as you can about chemicals you intend to use or are all ready using, don’t me a moron and just take whatever because some jacked individual at your gym said so, find out some facts.
In the case of steroid use, please make sure you have some intention of a good cycle that’s well thought out and a planned post cycle therapy regimen at the cessation of your cycle.
Don’t be that person on the forum who asks at the eleventh hour for advice, or you will find yourself at the end of a flame.
Plenty of people make gains with out drugs, I managed to build a very good physique without chemical assistance. Old age and injury made me turn to them as a way to keep pushing my body beyond its genetic limits, by the time I took my first injection I had 12 years of training behind me and had done my homework on what to take, how long to take it and how to come off it.
Do what you will, but do so intelligently.
The endeavor you are starting out on is a lot of work, but its extremely rewarding. There is a system that you have to learn and once you do it has to be consistently applied. It will be enough for most to balance, job, relationship, family and personal life with the rigors of changing your physique. Be it losing 10 pounds or becoming a National Level bodybuilder it will take a great deal of effort and self-discipline.
I want to emphasize self - discipline. It is up to you, this journey you are beginning out on is in your hands. You have all the keys to succeed and just as many to fail. Whatever you have been doing up to this point has got you physically where you are, If you aren’t happy with that then those things in your life e.g. your diet, late night parties and drinking/drug use will have to be severely modified if not dropped completely. This takes a high degree of effort to do, and as I pointed out earlier the drugs don’t make it a cruise control situation where you can stuff your face with Big Macs and Hostess cupcakes. You will need to adopt the good habits you learn from this as a regular part of your life. Going out 4 nights a week drinking and living it up will not cut it in this department, ultimately it will just hold you back and destroy any of the results you have made.
You will need a solid eight hours of sleep every night when possible, for me seven has worked just fine, but the point being you must let your body get rested to get back in the gym and hit your body with the ferocity and determination you need to get your body to change.
No one said it would be easy, but they will all tell you its worth it.
I hope that this post has got you set on a course, and has cleared a path for you to find the success you are looking for.
Written by AJ
(pm me for donations)
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