Fitness help needed
Hey guys, I imagine this is probably a topic dotted all over this forum and the internet but everywhere I search has nothing specific to what I need help with, if you could answer in as much detail as possible all the questions i need answering, it would be so so very much appreciated.. so here goes..
I am a 19 year old male, unfortunately pretty lanky. Im about 6 foot 2, and weigh about 70kg.
I have been on a plan/workout for a few months now without getting the results I want/looking for, so I'll run you through what I've been doing then any help from people would be HUGELY appreciated.
I am in first year at university, in september-ish I joined the gym in the hope I would become toned-ish by the summer and build from there over the next couple of years, I've joined gyms before but never gone for longer than 2-3 months but this time I was determined.
Workouts - I have always been pretty fit as in cardio terms, running/jogging, playing football, basketball etc.
I go to the gym 3 times a week one week, then 4 the next. Usually in a cycle like this: monday - wednesday - friday - sunday - monday - wednesday - friday
Im usually at the gym from anywhere between 1 hour to 1 hour 20ish.
In the first 2-3 months I bulked up/toned up quite a bit and I was happy, but now its like a brick wall, so annoying.
I do a 10 minute jog at the start of every session, then I used to work all muscles every session until I was told you need rest so the last 3months or so iv been working something alone these lines
10 minute jog at start of each workout. Onesession, I do biceps, triceps and abs, then the next session I do chest, shoulders, legs and back. And I keep alternating between these two so im working each muscle group about once every 4 days.. Is this too little?!
And how should I be working out, at the moment I do sets of about 8-12 reps on maybe 80%?
I usually workout quite hard when Im actually at the gym, especially abs/arms (easy to motivate i guess), and I come out of the gym feeling pumped and big but then its gone just hours later.
I drink plenty of water. I have gone up from 3 meals a day, loads of junk food and fizzy drinks to what I do now:
Breakfast, milk and cereal.
3-4 hours later, early lunch of chicken or some sort of meat and eat with a roll or something.
Snack of apple and banana.
3 hours later, second lunch. Usually something like a mini pizza or toast and 2 eggs.
Workout. Then snacks of raisin/nuts immediately after, then dinner of whatever available. (chicken, jacket potato, pasta, oven food etc.)
Hot chocolate in evening
I do know this isnt great, (not enough fruit/veg) and some foods arent great (mini pizzas for lunch, fish fingers and over wedges make many dinners etc.) So IDEALLY i need help with someone on a low student budget (probably drink too much money on alcohol which isnt ideal either), who is NOT a great cook unfortunately.
What do I need to push my diet to the next level? is 4 meals a day enough? What are the best, easiest to make foods I can eat?
Also, I have never used supplements before but am just wondering should I start? If so, i have NO idea where to buy/what types to buy/when to eat etc.
Please please please help people, I will appreciate it so much, its driving me nuts!! Been hitting the gym like 6 months now (3 properly really) and its like iv barely bulked up at all
My aim is to just bulk up, tone up but im not aiming for bodybuilder or anything, i know thats not going to happen.
Thank you so much for reading,
Hi James, it looks like both areas need a bit of tweaking:
Here's my workout plan as a rough guide:
Monday - chest and tris
Tuesday - back and bis
Wednesday - rest (I play football on a Wednesday evening so I consider this enough for that day)
Thursday - legs
Friday - shoulders, abs and core
Saturday - cardio, stretching
Sunday - rest
It looks like you're doing too much on each day, I'm surprised you can fit in all of that in an hour to an hour and a half. You should aim to do 3-4 exercises per muscle group, and about 3 sets for each exercise. For example, when doing chest I will do bench press (either dumbell or barbell), incline bench press, cable flys, dumbell flys, and sometimes dips. I will also do 3-4 tricep exercises during this workout too, usually in between each chest exercise, but you can also do them at the end or have a separate day for arms. You want to be doing as many compound exercises as possible. These utilise multiple muscles and are the best way to hit several areas quickly and effectively. That's why people will normally recommend things like the chest press, deadlift, squat, etc. because they are all compound exercises.
1) Warming up your muscles before doing a workout is essential, so doing a quick jog is ok, but make sure you're not pushing yourself too much. If you are tiring yourself out doing that jog you won't be able to push the same weight as you otherwise would, so make sure it's a pretty slow jog just to warm up a bit.
2) It's a good idea to do a 'dynamic' warm-up. What I mean by this is that you should warm up each muscle group before doing heavy weights by doing a couple of reps either without any weight (if it's an exercise that involves a bar), or at very low weight (if it's something like dumbells). For example, if you are doing a bench-press with a bar, you would want to do 8-10 reps without any weight on the bar. This makes sure your muscles are warmed up and minimises the chance you will injure yourself. Don't stretch prior to doing weights, do stretching as part of the warm-down. Stretching prior to lifting weights can actually have a negative impact.
3) That rep range is probably a bit high if you are trying to bulk up a bit. I'd recommend dropping the reps to 5-8 and upping the weight accordingly. Your current rep range (particularly at the top end) would be more suitable to someone who is doing circuits, not trying to put on a bit of weight.
4) If you can go to the gym with a friend, do it. It will really help your motivation and determination, meaning that on those days when you don't feel like going you'll have someone there to force you to go, and when you don't feel like you can complete that last rep or two you'll have someone motivating you and pushing you along. Going with another person also provides friendly competition, because you can compare gains and see how you are both doing.
5) The amount of rest you take in between each set and exercise depends on your goals. If you were doing a circuit you would want to reduce the amount of rest between sets and exercises or eliminate it completely. However, if your main goal at the moment is bulking I would suggest you take 30 seconds rest between each set and about 2 minutes between each exercise. For example, you could do a set of 6-8 reps on the bench press, take 30 seconds rest and then do another set of 6-8, repeat this again, and then take 2 minutes rest before moving onto the next exercise.
That's all I can think of right now to help with the workout portion of it, now a bit about your diet:
If you haven't already done it, it's a good idea to determine your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is the amount of calories you would burn if you were to do nothing but rest for a 24 hour period. There are plenty of BMR calculators online, just search on Google and you should find some. Although they won't be 100% accurate they will give you a rough idea of your BMR. Based on a quick search, it looks like your BMR is roughly 1400 calories/day. Having determined your BMR you then need to use the Harris-Benedict formula to work out what your total calorie need is having considered activity levels for the day. In essence, this is the formula:
Once you've got your total, you'll know how many calories your body needs to maintain it's current weight. Obviously, a calorie excess will increase your weight (how much and how quickly will depend on the amount you eat), while a calorie deficit will gradually reduce your weight. I would recommend taking photos and keeping a weight and diet journal (written or online), because this will allow you to keep track of your progress and help with motivation. Try eating more frequently, or if you can't afford it then at least add a couple of protein shakes in to your current diet. Aim to eat every 2-3 hours, so that you are eating 5-6 times a day. At first, start out with a calorie excess of about 200-300 calories, and maintain this for a few weeks. Monitor your weight during this time, and if you don't see any gains then up the amount of calories by 50-100. You ideally don't want to be putting on more than 1 or 2 pounds per week; if you are gaining more then there's a high chance too much of it is fat gain.
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
A clean diet is very important also. I know it's not easy as a student, but it is possible. If you can, see if there are any personal trainers at your gym who would be willing to write out a quick diet plan. I'd cut out those mini pizzas if I were you, they'll have far too much in the way of sugars and saturated fat. What you want to be aiming for with your diet is as little in the way of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates as possible, which means no ready meals (they also have way too much salt in them, which is very bad for your health in the long-term), and as few takeaways and sweets as possible as well. Allow yourself the occasional 'cheat' meal or snack, otherwise you'll start to really crave those things and end up eating them anyway, and you won't feel like you've failed if it's one of the 'cheat' meals. I'd suggest limiting this to a once or twice a week thing though. Some people either have a cheat day (Sunday for example), when they allow themselves a few things they shouldn't really eat, or spread this out over the course of a week. Don't go crazy though, having a good diet is all about eating things in moderation, particularly if they aren't good for you.
Protein is important for someone who is exercising regularly, but don't ignore the importance of complex carbohydrates. This is what fuels your body, giving you the energy to keep on going during the day. There are far too many people (particularly those trying to lose weight) who think that carbs = bad. This isn't the case at all, it's just that you want to avoid simple carbs and concentrate on complex carbs. The good thing about carbs is that they are often found in cheap food, things like wholewheat and brown rice and pasta, oats; certain fruits like apricots, plums, oranges, grapefruits, and pears; most vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, potatoes (not chips or crisps though), carrots, corn, artichokes, celery, cucumber; and finally legumes, which are things like kidney beans, peas, and soy beans. Low-fat yoghurt is also a good option. Aim to be eating about 2 grams of carbs for every pound of weight (lean weight if you can work that out), meaning you'd need to eat somewhere around 270-300g of carbs per day at your current body weight.
As a student you should still be able to afford the majority of the above food, most of it is quite cheap and simple to cook or incorporate into meals. Try making something like a chilli con carne with brown rice. Cook it with carrots and finish it off with some low-fat yoghurt and a side salad or some veg and you're getting loads of the above things in one meal. Where things can get a bit tricky as a student is in protein consumption. Aim to eat about 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound, so roughly 150-200g per day. Protein-rich foods are generally more expensive, particularly those which are high in protein and low in fat, but it is still possible as a student to get that sort of protein intake. Like I said earlier, you might want to consider a protein supplement, pure whey protein would be my recommendation. I order from myprotein.com, they are cheap and do an excellent whey protein (called impact whey). Try to include fish in your diet (not battered), because not only is it an excellent source of protein, it also has omega fats in which are essential for a healthy diet. Tuna isn't too expensive and is an excellent source of protein. Other foods high in protein that you should consider are chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, egg whites, lean beef, beans (e.g. soy beans), and nuts and seeds (sesame seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, pecans, almonds etc).
I hope all the above helps. I appreciate it's a lot to take in and isn't as well laid out as it could be, but hopefully there's some stuff in there that is of use to you. Anything else you need to know, I'll be happy to help!
I forgot to mention that you really ought to have something more substantial for breakfast. It's an incredibly important meal because your body has been fasting overnight. Your goal is to never feel or hear your stomach grumble. If you do that means you're not eating enough, and that's when your body will start breaking down both fat and muscle to survive, not what you want when you're trying to bulk up! Cereal is also usually very high in sugars and can be high in salt too.
Try to make your breakfast consist of a decent amount of carbs. Although protein is important, carbs are probably the more important of the two first thing in the morning because they will give you energy for the morning. Try to have something like porridge oats and a piece of fruit such as an orange, or if you want both protein and carbs then maybe scrambled or poached eggs on a couple of slices of wholemeal toast, or a personal favourite of mine when I'm in a hurry: low-fat yoghurt with oats, sesame seeds and raisins.
Also, you want to consume protein as soon after working out as possible (this is when I find a protein shake most useful), and have a carb filled meal or snack about 2 hours before working out (to give you increased energy for your workout).
Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it, that has helped me out loads..
Iv now changed my workout to
Monday - Chest and tris
Tuesday - back and biceps
Wednesday - off (like you i do football on wednesdays)
Thursday - Cardio and abs and core
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Shoulder and legs
Sunday - off
I hope this is better, and I've decided to do sets/reps as you've put.
Went onto myprotein and have ordered some of the samples for the whey protein, will give them a try straight after workouts and hope it works!
Once again, thank you so much, hopefully a few momnths down the line I'll notice a difference