Managing weight isn’t hard to understand, but requires lots of self-discipline.
Metabolism is pretty straightforward: digest food, components go where they’re needed, store or throw away extra, and pull from reserve later when needed.
Good diet and exercise is a simple, timeless principle, contrary to modern health trends.
Consider whether you’re trying to manage your weight, your fat, your health, or your strength.
Diet is a mental battle of changing habits, and small mistakes can ruin a good diet.
Exercise should be fun or you won’t stick with it.
Set sensible, attainable goals for exercising.
You don’t need much equipment to exercise, and can pretty much do it anywhere.
Take special care of your body before, during, and after exercise.
To stick with a diet or exercise plan, have a more valuable purpose than simply for yourself.
Isn’t managing weight hard?
Most aspects of living well require a healthy body:
Weight management is absurdly easy to understand, but hard to do:
All effective diet and exercise programs change habits, which are naturally uncomfortable and frustrating:
- People often obsess about calories because they imagine it takes more precision, but it only needs more self-discipline and awareness of those habits.
- To avoid sabotaging willpower, get enough sleep to avoid extra stress.
- Have a creative outlet to avoid boredom that could lead to mindless eating.
- If you’re not losing weight from eating correctly or in severe pain while exercising, you aren’t sticking with what you can achieve and burning out by trying to do too much over too small a period of time.
Weight management may feel intimidating:
Most modern health issues can be solved simply by eating correctly and exercising regularly.
Metabolism is relatively straightforward
Many claims and premises by self-professed health experts are contradictory or false:
1. Saliva, stomach acid, and bile digest food
Saliva starts breaking down food.
Stomach acid and microbes in the stomach dissect the food into usable nutritional components.
Bile and microbes in the intestines break down anything that passed through the stomach.
The large intestine and colon take water out of the remaining waste before it’s expelled.
2. The components that were food go where the body needs it
Carbohydrates become energy:
- Carbs are converted into glucose, then the body’s cells use insulin to process it.
- The body digests simple carbs (sugars) first, but dietary fiber (often from fruits and vegetables) slows down the metabolism of simple sugars.
- Complex carbohydrates (starches) such as grains digest more slowly because they’re a chain of simple carbs.
- The digestible parts of fiber and complex carbs are a steady feed, so the body can easily produce enough insulin without creating a “sugar crash”.
- The indigestible parts of fiber often go right through the body, often scraping (and therefore “cleaning”) the sides of the intestines along the way.
Proteins are building blocks for most of the body.
Fats serve a wide variety of purposes including storing energy, insulating the body from harm, and helping synthesize/transfer protein.
Salts are used to power muscles.
Vitamins and minerals have a vast variety of small, specific uses.
3. The body converts extra components for another purpose or throws them out
Extra glucose is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver until needed, converted into fat, or discarded in urine.
Extra proteins and fats are turned into energy to fuel the body.
Our body fat is either white or brown:
- White fat is what we tend to think of, and is a blubbery consistency.
- Brown fat is more dense and generally less risky to have, helps insulate us better, and tends to come from exposure to extremely cold weather.
Extra salts and some vitamins are discarded (water-soluble).
Some extra vitamins are stored in body fat (fat-soluble).
Any food still in the stomach when someone goes to sleep will get stored.
4. Anytime the body needs, it pulls from storage
First, the body pulls from whatever’s in the stomach.
Then, it’ll draw from a quick-access calorie storage reserve.
After that, it’ll get rid of extra tissue it doesn’t need (e.g., unused muscle).
Finally, after that, it’ll use stored body fat.
After over a day, the body will move into “starvation mode”, where metabolism decreases.
Good diet/exercise is always the same range
Exercise on a daily or near-daily routine to increase heart rate:
- Everyone needs 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week.
- It’s also framed as 20-30 minutes, 5 days a week because less exercise over more days creates better results.
- The extra blood flow pushes everything through the body’s systems faster.
- Any built-up plaque on blood vessel walls knocks off as well from the increased blood flow.
- Sweat helps push out waste products from the body.
- Muscles burn 3 times as many calories as fat cells, so weight-lifting can intensify burning calories.
- Along with increasing muscle mass, working out improves your skeletal structure.
- Exercise is a great way to stay healthy, but has very little direct impact on weight loss.
Eat enough calories to survive:
- The average human needs ~2000 calories a day, though our bodies are capable at living with way less during times of severe hardship.
- If you’re overweight, the ideal range is ~1800 calories a day, if at all possible.
- More muscle mass requires more calories to maintain.
- The quickest way to lose weight is to restrict calories.
Eat the right proportions of each food group:
- Dairy – 3 cups
- Vegetables – 2-4 cups
- Fruits – 1.5-2.5 cups
- Grains – 5-10 ounces
- Meat, Beans, Nuts – 5-7 ounces
- Fats, Oils – 5-12 teaspoons
- However, these can shift for long periods without any long-term consequence if you shift them again to something else later.
Eat enough of all the body’s essential vitamins and minerals:
- You can get everything you need by routinely eating a variety of vegetables and fruits and a steady input of meat (especially fish) and cultured dairy (e.g., yogurt).
- Often, most food cravings that haven’t been satisfied are often from the body wanting a specific trace nutrient.
Keep body fat within a certain percentage range of your total weight (context-sensitively, males need ~2-17% and females need ~10-24%).
Stay hydrated enough, since most hunger signals are often simply dehydration.
Don’t eat too much of any one thing:
- Too much protein causes gout.
- Too many carbohydrates cause diabetes.
- Too much salt causes heart disease.
- Too many fat-soluble vitamins or minerals can cause a vast range of problems.
For this reason, every effective weight-loss system combines a few simple concepts:
- Eat fewer calories, fat, protein or carbohydrates than you need for weight maintenance.
- Exercise more frequently to burn more calories than you’re consuming and push out undesirable elements.
- Distract your mind from eating via a conditioned response or alternative food choices.
However, the details will vary depending on your goals:
- To maximize performance throughout your day, eat 5-6 small meals to avoid a dipping metabolism.
- The easiest way to lose weight is through intermittent fasting (not eating for at least 8 hours a day).
- Another technique is with Alternate Day Caloric Restriction (ADCR), where you cut your calories 50-80% every other day.
- Your body knows (or can be trained) toward a variety of diet variations, but you’ll often only know the correct one for yourself after experiencing them firsthand.
Clarify your goals and habits
There are profound differences between managing weight, fat, and health.
Weight management is keeping body mass below a certain threshold:
- Weight is easy to track, so many diets only measure weight.
- However, weight alone doesn’t account for health or muscle mass, so it provides the least medical benefits.
- Further, muscle weighs more than body fat, so it won’t show clear progress.
Fat management focuses on getting rid of excess body fat, typically for the sake of image:
- Fat management is more difficult to measure (fat calipers or ultrasound device instead of a scale), but it most closely reflects on physical appearance.
- Fat management is far healthier than weight management, but still doesn’t consider other factors like metabolism or nutrition.
- It’s worth noting that having photogenic abs require losing nearly all your body fat, irrespective of how many sit-ups you do.
Health management is maintaining a proper healthy diet and exercise regimen:
- Managing health focuses on maintaining or increasing energy and physical wellness far more than looking attractive or losing weight.
- This approach is the least direct because it requires multiple measurements and tracking feelings, but is the longest-lasting and yields the most general satisfaction.
- If you aren’t sure which one to maintain, work on your health.
Strength management is training your body for an athletic purpose:
- Strength management is often very rigorous, and is directed toward a very specific purpose (usually for a sport).
- It’s not as popular because of how much work it takes, but is easy to measure and the most fun.
- You’ll likely be so focused on succeeding that you’ll likely not notice you’ve lost weight and look good!
Habits are easy to build, if you’re patient:
- Focus on extremely easy small goals first, then move upward as you stay consistent.
- For dieting, have a very specific physical goal (e.g., a bathing suit) and imagine it frequently whenever you get a food craving.
- For exercise, prepare a simple cue that triggers your activity (e.g., lacing up shoes, drinking a glass of water) and a simple reward (e.g., a piece of chocolate, recording your accomplishment), then look forward to those cues.
No matter what, always take 1 day off every week:
- Without a day to rest from workouts, your body will burn out.
- If you don’t give yourself a reprieve from dieting, you’ll lose your willpower.
- Your thyroid hormones self-regulate when exposed to consistent stress, so planning to “fail” is better than waiting for it to happen.
- Make sure to regulate your portions on your day off, or you’ll lose any progress you had made.
Dieting starts with your mind
We need self-discipline to withhold from comfort foods, so mental wellness has a profound impact on our results:
- You must be able to give yourself grace and permit failure.
- Plan ahead for lapses in willpower by giving “cheat” days, and make sure you don’t fall into excess on those days.
Diets and exercise can create results, but they only stay as long as you honor that diet:
- The only regimen worth your time is one you can imagine doing for the rest of your life.
- However, yo-yo dieting (quickly fluctuating up and down in weight) is overall healthier than simply staying obese.
Measure whatever you can (e.g., calories, steps walked) and record what you eat/do to easily track progress:
- Measuring something makes it much easier to feel your progress.
- Take photos of yourself in a swimsuit from the front, back and side and put the least flattering photo somewhere conspicuous.
- To weigh yourself reliably, do it the same time each time with the same scale.
- Ideally, drink 8 cups of water in the morning and wait 30 minutes to urinate before weighing.
- Weigh yourself once a week, since your digestive system will create significant fluctuations every day.
- Use a tape measure to record a few key locations:
- Mid-bicep on both arms
- Waist, horizontally at the navel
- Hips, at the widest point below the waist
- Mid-thigh on both legs
Pay attention to yourself while you eat:
- Closely observe when you feel peckish, hungry, sated, full, and stuffed.
- Before you start your meal, physically specify where you’ll stop.
Put together a precise meal plan for exactly one week, then stick closely to it to get an intuition for how much you need of each portion.
Look at what you’re eating and how much, not on calories alone:
- You can eat 3 bites a day of pretty much anything you want, but it’s usually hard to stop at 3 bites.
- A calorie tracker app will help you with weight loss, but not necessarily with your health.
- Make a menu for each meal to give a feeling of control with your new constraints.
Do not skip breakfast:
- Even if you’re not hungry, breakfast regulates your diet because it starts your metabolism for the day.
- Eat a high-protein breakfast (e.g., eggs) within 1 hour of waking up, preferably within 30 minutes.
Drink tons of water throughout the day.
Avoid doing any other tasks while eating, and try to eat socially whenever you can.
Aim for smaller portions:
- Always save some food for later.
- Consider children’s meals and sizes, even for coffee shops.
- Dedicate yourself to only eating one of the items in the meal and taking the other to go in a box.
- If you’re dining with someone else, split one meal with them instead of purchasing two.
- Slow down when you eat (to allow your body’s hunger signal to catch up) by dividing your meal into thirds and waiting 5 minutes while drinking water in between each section.
If you can, eat a light dinner or skip out on it altogether.
Substitute healthy food in your meals:
- Pile on veggies in your meal first (which can be frozen or canned if you don’t have access to them fresh).
- Replace bread loaves with pita bread.
- Replace potato chips with popped popcorn.
- Replace beef with fish or chicken.
- Make sandwiches open-faced.
- Replace rice with quinoa.
- Ask for unsalted fries when ordering French fries.
- Prioritize healthy choices for eating (max 500-600 calories per meal) and snacking (max 150 calories).
Improve your food quality:
- Diet management is impossible without a weekly plan and a kitchen stocked with healthy items.
- Constantly improve your cooking skills.
- Try to never let your baking skills outpace your cooking skills.
- Learn the nutritional quality of your food compared to other alternatives.
- Very often, we are trying to satisfy an obscure vitamin or mineral need, so healthier food means we need less of it.
- If you grew up in an unhealthy home, you may believe (wrongly) that only high-calorie food tastes good.
- Dining out should be a special occasion, not a routine:
- Even restaurant salads and sandwiches are often less healthy than their burgers and fries!
Use healthier condiments and dressings:
- Replace croûtons with almonds.
- Replace iceberg lettuce with romaine or kale.
- Replace ketchup with salsa.
- Replace mayonnaise with mustard.
- Replace MSG with a mix of half-salt, half-sugar with a dash of fish sauce.
- Replace salt with Himalayan crystal salt.
- Replace soy sauce with tamari sauce.
- Replace vinegar with lime juice.
Swap out your drinks for healthier alternatives:
- Replace beer with root beer.
- Replace coffee with cashew nut milk.
- Replace soda with tea.
- Replace milk with coconut, hemp or almond milk.
- Replace juice with infused water or water.
- Replace sports drinks with coconut water.
Change your environment:
- Set a fruit basket out to make it easier to choose.
- Always have healthy food available.
- Store away sweets or never buy them.
- Serve food on smaller plates.
- Install mirrors in your eating area to be more self-aware.
- Make healthy food the path of least resistance.
Small mistakes ruin diets
You can’t out-exercise a bad diet:
- A 200-lb male walking for 60 mins at 3 mph will burn 246 calories, while a Hostess Twinkie is 270 calories.
- Every day, depending on body size we burn anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 calories just by sitting down doing nothing!
- A craving is often the body asking for something.
- Cravings are a body’s standard of “normal”.
- Specific cravings are often the body needing more protein or specific vitamins/minerals.
- Ignoring cravings will devastate willpower.
- A few tricks resolve most cravings:
- Drink tons of water, especially before or instead of the item itself.
- Snack frequently and eat light meals.
- Swap out junk food cravings for a nutritionally superior alternative (e.g., a fruit instead of candy).
- Before bed, brush your teeth instead of eating.
- Eat a spoon of peanut butter instead of satisfying late-night cravings.
- A detox through fasting or a juice cleanse can often “reset” the body from years of poor diet.
- Use a smaller plate to help with portion control.
- Eating when HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired):
- You’re only hungry if you’d eat an apple.
- Instead of eating, drink an enormous glass of water.
- Eating too quickly:
- It takes about 15 minutes for the body to recognize it’s eaten.
- Rapid eating increases stress, decreases digestion, and makes the food less enjoyable.
- Eating lunch at work:
- Exercise during lunch break instead of eating
- Giving yourself too much flexibility:
- Taking the weekends “off” can sometimes fully undo any progress during the week.
- Overeating at “special occasions”, which can often create relapse into old habits.
- Overeating on a workout day.
Eating at the wrong time:
- Anything consumed within 4 hours of bedtime is stored to body fat.
- Alcohol before bedtime can bring calories above a weight-loss level, along with interfere with sleeping and increase stress.
Not eating enough of the right things:
- People eat less when they have all the nutrients their body needs.
- However, cutting back on junk food without replacing it creates malnutrition.
- Keep enough of the right food in your diet:
- Fruits like bananas, berries, grapefruit, and watermelon
- Vegetables like celery, cucumbers, and hot peppers
- Grains like quinoa and oatmeal
- Dairy and meats like eggs, fish, and Greek yogurt
- Drinks like green tea, oolong tea, and coffee
- Drink lemon juice with a pinch of salt in it every morning
- Eat a small amount of chocolate in the morning
- Be careful cutting fat from your diet, since we’ll naturally eat two things with half the calories to get the same amount of it.
- Try not to skip meals.
- Starvation hurts willpower.
- By eating breakfast in the morning, calories burn throughout the day more easily on the premise that the day will be plentiful.
Not staying hydrated:
- Even if it’s from junk food, the body needs water.
- Drink two cups of water before meals to lose weight.
Exercise should be fun
Most people hate exercise because they don’t realize they should like doing it:
- It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is, as long as you enjoy it!
- 2.5 hours a week is a lot of time to volunteer doing something you hate.
- Most people who like straight workouts typically enjoy the challenge (e.g., weightlifting) or routine (e.g., exercise videos).
Instead of doing it alone, sign up for a fitness club or join a friend’s activities:
- Working out at a gym gives you variety, but also helps you save money on the equipment you didn’t have to buy.
Set effective exercise goals
Diet and exercise connect with each other, and a bad diet will ruin your ability to work out correctly.
Watch for misleading exercise trends:
- The most extreme exercise trends don’t consider where you’re starting from.
- You need to make the workout a routine, so build up your daily endurance and don’t overwork yourself (even if you’re not very good).
- Focusing on muscle groups doesn’t usually change how you look in that area more prominently, though those muscles do get stronger.
- Jump squats and climbing stairs make stronger butt muscles.
- Work out chest muscles, especially pectorals, to increase breast size and perkiness.
- Work out back muscles, especially lower back to improve posture.
Mix exercise into your daily routine:
- Set a daily routine you will guaranteed stick with (e.g., 2 days a week at 6:00 am), then expand it slowly as you feel comfortable with it.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Do squats while waiting at a bus stop or while eating dinner.
- Go for walks in the evenings.
For the fastest physical gains, aim on physical activities you’re absolutely terrible at.
Aim for shorter bursts across most days instead of a few long workouts.
Schedule your workouts for the ideal time of day:
- Work out in the morning before eating to burn 20% more fat.
- Our testosterone peaks in the morning, which makes it easier to build muscle.
- If you work out in the afternoon your muscles are warmer, which makes injury less likely.
- Your peak power output, lung capacity, pain tolerance, and general performance is in the afternoon about 8-10 hours after waking (~4-6 p.m.).
- Schedule your workout in the evening to burn calories while you sleep.
Yoga is of the most effective low-intensity workouts you can do, and a great way to start.
Gymnastics, especially tumbling and rolling, can dramatically improve your overall well-being.
For endurance training make your slow runs much slower and your fast runs much faster:
- Below your hard-breathing point, you’re burning fats (i.e., you can hold a conversation)
- Above your hard-breathing point, you’re burning sugars.
- If you push yourself when you should be easing off, you’re burning sugar instead of fat.
Set weightlifting goals for all your body groups:
- Our muscles are connected, so all weight training is connected with all other weight training.
- Ab workouts are very useful to support your entire training regimen.
- Have lifts for each of the following:
- Pushing (where you can push your own body weight in pushups or bench press)
- Hinge (bending a limb)
- Carries (picking up something)
- For heavy-duty lifting, aim for 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5 protocol).
- Vary up 2-3-5-2-3-5-2-3 instead.
- For a balanced lift, lift 15-25 reps.
- If you can’t do 15 reps, the load is too heavy.
- If you can do more than 25 reps, the load is too light and you need to add more.
- Over time, you’re lifting correctly if you can keep increasing your load.
- If you haven’t been increasing weight, you’re stagnating for some reason.
- Pelvic tilts (or “hip thrusts”) are very effective at stretching the hip flexors.
- Squats are the more effective than the rest, but also can be the most dangerous.
- Push your knees out with your elbows.
- Keep your chest up to tighten the lower back and lock the upper body.
- Jump 3 times consecutively and look down to find the exact placement for your feet.
Never exercise so much one day that you’ll miss the next workout:
- If you have any strength goals, never take off 2 days in a row or you’ll blow your training.
The one reason you will ever want a personal trainer is to replace your willpower with someone else’s:
- The success won’t be completely yours, which may or may not be a good idea.
- Often, a personal trainer (or someone on the internet) can give you creative ideas you’d have never thought through (e.g., new routines, high-quality techniques) or give you standards that legitimately push your limits.
- Get a personal trainer if you sincerely believe you can’t self-motivate or have a time constraint (e.g., aging and obese, losing weight for a role in a movie).
Contrary to most exercise marketing, you don’t need much equipment to work out.
You can exercise anywhere:
- While sitting:
- Shoulder circles – spin your shoulders in a windmill, add resistance with weights
- Leg lifts – lift your leg and hold it
- With a flat surface and some room:
- Jumping jacks
- Squats – keep your back straight and hold your balance
- Jump squats – jump after reaching the lowest point
- One-leg squats – straighten your arms directly in front of you and try to squat with one leg
- Wallsit – squat against a wall for several minutes, add resistance by squatting with one leg
- Lunges – place your hands on your hips and take a huge step forward
- Lift a textbook or other heavy object behind your head
- On the floor:
- Crunches – lay on your back with your knees bent and bend your lower back
- Situps – sit up all the way
- Crossed-leg crunches – lift one leg up over the other
- Glute bridges – lift your butt off the ground from this position
- If you a cramp in your neck, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth
- Military pushups – hold your back completely straight and lower yourself to the ground
- Diamond pushups – have your hands touch
- Bench pushups – spread your arms further out
- Mountain climbers – alternate bringing legs up to hands
- Oblique pushup – turn your hips sideways to tone your whole body
- Planks – hold your body rigidly off the ground by balancing on your hands and feet
- Spiderman pushup – tap the elbow to the knee every time coming up
- Handstand pushups – find a wall you can’t do handstands
- Start with your body stiffened and butt in the air
- Lower yourself to the ground
- Push your chest up
- Lower yourself again
- Lift your butt in the air again
- Shoot your feet out
- Do a pushup
- Pull your feet back to squatting
- Jump as high as possible
- Leg raises – kneel down with palms on the ground, lift your leg backward and hold
- Crunches – lay on your back with your knees bent and bend your lower back
- In a hallway:
- Army crawls – slide your legs across the ground and stay low
- Bear crawls – walk on all fours
- Sprints – run as fast as you can back and forth
- With a chair or elevated surface:
- Box jumps – jump on and off the elevated surface
- Calf raises – use a slight ledge and extend your calf muscles
- Decline pushups – do a pushup against a desk or chair
- Chair dips – turn around and bend your elbows
- Shrugs – lift with your shoulders
- With anything that holds your weight:
- Pull-ups – pull yourself up past a right angle with your elbows
- Table rows – lay under a table and pull up while keeping back straight
You don’t need much equipment for a workout:
- Official exercising – aerobics, gymnastics, jogging, running, treadmill, walking, weightlifting
- Dancing – ballet, salsa, swing, tango, tap dancing, twerking, waltz
- Team sports – baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball
- Individual sports – boxing, golf, wrestling, martial arts, laser tag, paintball, ping-pong
- Personal recreation – bowling, frisbee, trampolining, playing catch
- Alternate transportation – bicycling, ice skating, swimming, horseback riding, rollerblading/skating, skateboarding, unicycling
- Outdoor recreation – boating, canoeing, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding
- Performing – drums, juggling
- Games – Dance Dance Revolution, Double Dutch, hopscotch, hula hooping, Kinect games, jump rope, Wii games
- A jump rope works out many muscles at the same time, and 15-20 minutes of it is a full-body workout.
Train your body to hold breath longer (by breathing deeply and holding) to increase your resting metabolism.
Schedule HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or Tabata Method throughout your day:
- Stop to perform a vigorous exercise (e.g., deep squats) as fast as you can for 20-120 seconds, then rest 10-60 seconds, then do it again 7 more times.
- If you want, spread it out across your day or add more weight.
Going for a walk has many benefits with very few risks or necessary investment:
- By contrast, jogging and running run the risk of losing muscle mass, as well as long-term risks of joint pain.
Many people feel pain while running because they do it incorrectly:
- Lean your whole body into the run (not just your torso) and let gravity assist you instead of pushing off with your leg muscles.
- For the best running form, try to run as quietly as possible.
- Land on the balls of your feet and aim to have your feet land under you instead of in front of your center of gravity.
- Always keep your legs slightly bent.
- Pull each foot off the ground toward your butt instead of pushing off, and only push once you’ve passed your center of gravity.
- Try to maintain at least 180 steps/min, or 90 steps/min each leg.
- If you get cramps, exhale on alternate feet or when your left foot hits the ground.
- If you have foot pain, skip tying your shoes across the second level.
Before working out
Have a clear statement in your mind of what you want to do (e.g., “Today I will do 45 repetitions”).
While you can limber up, static stretching before a workout will overwork stiff muscles and increase your chance of injury.
Increase your metabolism for your workout:
- Drink a cup of coffee.
- Eat spicy foods.
- Drink a mixture of honey and water.
- Put on music to run and lift more quickly.
- Eat onions and garlic to strengthen yourself.
Don’t eat too much or too soon before your workout, especially high-fat foods.
If your thighs keep rubbing from wearing shorts, rub deodorant between them.
Have a warmup routine of 3-5 sets:
- Warmups will warm your tissues (which prevents injury), but also prepare you mentally by running you beforehand through the correct maneuver.
- Focus on additionally warming up anything that was injured, and if you don’t feel better from it either wait or do light sets until the area heals.
- The older you get, the longer you should warmup.
- Your last warmup set before you start into the planned sets should be more intense than the other warmup sets, but not so much that it interferes with the planned sets.
During a workout
Focus on your goal, and redirect your attention to it when you get bored, distracted, or discouraged.
Listen to your body:
- The best form for your workout will often be what your intuition naturally gravitates toward.
- Avoid overthinking how you’re lifting and act on your natural impulses.
- If you need rest, give yourself enough to get through your sets, and learn your limits.
Keep yourself safe by never sacrificing form throughout the movements:
- Closely maintain left/right alignment, and focus on strengthening your weakest side.
- You exercise your stabilizer muscles more when you move slower, so lift and perform slowly, especially at first.
- Most risks come when you get tired, so consider what will happen if you lose control during the maneuver.
Even the bare minimum required for health (15 minutes a week) creates tremendous rewards:
Either give yourself exactly 3 minutes between sets to rest, or wait until you’ve entirely caught your breath if you’re okay with less results.
Spend more time getting up and down from the ground to increase your mobility.
Never let your workouts fall into a rhythm:
- Your body is very adaptable and only takes about a week to rise to whatever challenge you’re striving toward.
- Keep adding weight, running farther, going faster, and bending further as you get better.
- You should feel sore after each workout, though not painfully or severely enough that you’ll feel it by the next time you workout.
- Your last set should be heavier (to push your limits), but not enough that it’ll give you severe pain the next day.
- Once you’ve succeeded at your goal, you can often “cheat” a little by shifting how you perform the task to finish a few more reps.
- If you can’t keep improving, find new ways to challenge yourself and push limits.
- Keep moving throughout the movement, and don’t let yourself rest at the top or bottom of it.
- Instead of resting in between sessions, try planking instead.
- Since it uses more muscle groups, lift free weights instead of exercise machines.
- Use Strongman Training (lifting irregular things like tires and filled boxes) to really ratchet up the intensity.
- If you’re at a gym and see equipment that’s rarely used, it’s probably really difficult.
- Weight equipment gives you many options to intensify the workout:
- All you really “need” for variety in strength training are cleans (lifting a bar from the ground up to your neck or higher) and presses (lifting a bar while against a surface), with squats and bench press if you want.
- Turn any group of workouts into a “complex” by never setting down the weight.
- Maximize your results by passing the weight over your head somewhere in the transition.
- However, more variations in strength training means less muscle growth, so only use 1 complex on any regimen.
- One of the most intense moves is the Goblet Squat (hug a kettlebell and squat until your elbows go past your knees).
Never let yourself slip, which means finding ways to eat better and get enough sleep.
After every workout
If you must catch your breath, stand on your toes with your head tilted back and deeply inhale.
Thoroughly stretch after your workout:
- Stretching reduces the risk of long-term injury by expanding how far tendons, ligaments, and muscles can move.
- A few vital muscles are more likely to cause problems when they’re not stretched out:
- The quadratus lumborum runs along the sides of the lower back.
- Lay with your back on the floor and twist your hips until your opposite knee touches the ground.
- The hamstring is on the back of the knee.
- Place your heel on an elevated surface and bend down to grab your elevated toes.
- Lean forward on something while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
- The adductor longus connects the hip to the leg.
- Spread your legs as far as possible, then bend to the ground.
- The quadratus lumborum runs along the sides of the lower back.
Heal quicker by replenishing the body’s resources:
- Eat nutrient-rich foods that make you feel full after workouts such as protein, fats, and high-fiber foods.
- Drink chocolate milk or peppermint tea.
- Eat fruits high in antioxidants:
Watch for muscle soreness:
- Rub aloe vera plant sap on the muscles.
- Take a muscle-relieving bath by adding a half cup of Epsom salts into a warm bathtub.
- If you have access to it, have a cold-water shower, then stretch in a sauna or hot tub.
- Soak your feet:
- Add a half cup of Epsom salts and a cup of lemon juice in a small tub of warm water.
- Dissolve and soak your feet for 30-45 minutes.
- Try to cycle out workouts for each day to give the muscles time to recover.
Pacing yourself will generally reduce injury, but it’s not perfect:
- Assuming you’re performing the maneuvers correctly, most injuries come from repetitive motion or overexertion (e.g., tendonitis, bursitis).
- If you can still workout through it, change up your workout for the next time and aim for more endurance.
- If you’ve missed a few workouts (less than 5-6 sessions), repeat the last workout you did before the layoff to get back in form as fast as possible.
Focus on the right things
Work out and eat well for something beyond yourself:
- Your physical appearance won’t contribute to your attractiveness nearly as much as your happiness.
- You can’t fight your genetics, so ignore popular culture’s push to change your image.
- Instead of focusing on having a great body, focus on having a useful one (which is why it’s called “fitness”).
Don’t worry about setbacks:
- Failing is natural, but you will succeed by continually trying again.
- Unlike most other forms of success, physically changing yourself can very easily compound because the habits give instant feedback and you see results within a few days.
- If it were easier, modern society wouldn’t have so many overweight and out-of-shape people.
Don’t rush it:
- You’re trying to make permanent lifestyle decisions, so it will take some time to adjust (up to 60 days to see a positive effect).
- Usually, people have 20+ pounds of weight they want to lose, but the recommended healthy weight loss limit is 2.5 pounds a week.