Everybody wants to be in great shape. Being happy with your body is a gift that far too few of us ever
get to unwrap. Unfortunately, having the desire to look great is one thing, making it happen is quite
another. Most people don’t want to put in the time and effort it takes to achieve this somewhat lofty
goal, and instead settle for the
There’s nothing wrong with that, but for those of you who don’t want to settle, I’m going to outline some gym programs that will get you in the best shape of your life, and allow you to strut down the beach in style with your shirt off (or in a bathing suit for you ladies, unless you’re on one of those beaches).
As men and women have different bodies and different goals, I will provide an excellent gym program for men, and change some of the parameters for the women’s program. Before I get into the programs, I want to provide some foundational information that will help you reach your goals more easily.
Gym Programs are Great, But Your Diet Counts Too
If you’re not eating properly it doesn’t matter what gym program you follow, the results will be lackluster at best. You must eat the right types and right quantity of food to suit your body type and your fitness goals.
As you may have guessed, a man trying to gain muscle mass must eat a lot differently than a woman trying to lose body fat. To gain muscle, a calorie surplus is required, while to lose fat you need to achieve a calorie deficit.
I’ll give you some examples. The numbers I use here will be for the average man or woman, and may need to be adjusted to meet individual needs.
If our average guy, let’s call him Steve, wants to gain muscle, he’ll have to achieve a calorie surplus of roughly 500 calories per day. As 2,500 calories is the amount an average man must eat to maintain his weight, then simple math tells us that Steve needs to consume 3,000 calories per day to gain muscle mass. If Steve wanted to lose body fat, he’d achieve a calorie deficit of 500 calories by consuming 2,000 calories per day.
Similar principles apply to women, but as women are usually smaller than men, our base numbers and deficit or surplus amounts will be slightly different. Our average girl Pam requires 1,800 calories per day to maintain her weight. If Pam wants to lose weight, she’d consume 1,400 calories per day to achieve a 400 calorie deficit. If Pam wanted to gain muscle (I know, it’s unlikely, but you never know!) she’d consume 2200 calories to achieve a 400 calorie surplus.
The Right Foods to Compliment Your Gym Program
For your gym program to be successful, the calories you consume should be made up of the right kinds of foods. After all, if Pam ate 1,400 calories worth of donuts each day, I doubt she’d be happy with the results. To simplify this as much as possible, I’m going to give you a standard breakdown of the percentages of each macronutrient. Macronutrients are simply protein, carbohydrates and dietary fats. Individual results may certainly vary, but I’ve found the 40-30-30 approach to be very effective. What this means is that you will eat 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 30% dietary fats each day. These percentage work well for losing fat and gaining muscle, as you’d just adjust your totals according to the numbers above to meet your goals.
This may sound complicated, but once you get the hang of eating this way it becomes pretty easy. To start, let’s identify some ideal foods for each of our three micronutrient categories.
- Protein Powders
- Nuts and Nut Butters
Now, of course some foods contain more than one macronutrient. Meat, for example contains fat as well as protein. Wheat contains protein as well as carbohydrates. Whole milk contains carbohydrates as well fats. To learn the precise macronutrient amounts in foods you can visit calorieking.com. It’s free, and has the macronutrient breakdown of almost any food you can think of. For packaged foods, you can simply read the nutrition label on the container.
Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle, there are some foods you should avoid as much as humanly possible. A bite here and there is okay, but eating any significant quantities of these foods is bad for your physique and your health.
Foods to Avoid
- Candy, cookies, and other junk foods
- Trans Fats (found in commercial baked goods)
- Any food with an excess of sugar (natural or added)
Some of you may choose to ignore the nutrition advice I’ve offered here, and will assume that a good gym program will be enough. I’m going to be very blunt; it won’t. Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of fitness. Gyms are full of regular members who are there 5 days a week performing hard workouts. The ones who eat well look great, the ones who don’t look the same as they did last year, and the year before that. If you’re serious about getting into great shape, nutrition has to be a primary focus. As the saying goes, you can’t out-train a bad diet.
The Gym Programs
Now that my diet rant is over, we can move on to the gym programs that I recommend. The idea is that a synergy between your nutrition and exercise programs will occur to give you the results you’re after as quickly as possible. You’re basically putting the two halves of the puzzle together to get the big picture. In addition to proper nutrition and an intelligent gym program, sleep and stress management are also factors you will have to manage properly, so keep those in minds as well.
Men’s Gym Program
This program is designed to be effective for men who’d like to gain muscle, lose fat, or both. You’ll simply adjust your daily calorie intake to meet your goals using the examples above. The program structure will be two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off. What this means is that you will workout Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then you’ll workout on Thursday and Friday, taking Saturday and Sunday off. You can arrange the days to fit your schedule, but this tends to work best for most people as it allows time off on the weekend to socialize and be with family.This schedule calls for 4 training sessions per week. The breakdown of the workouts will be as follows:
- Monday: Lower Body Training
- Tuesday: Upper Body Training
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Lower Body Training
- Friday: Upper Body Training
- Saturday: Off
- Sunday: Off
So, as you can see, you’ll be performing two lower body training sessions and two upper body training
sessions each week. The exercises you’ll be performing are going to be compound movements. What
this means is that multiple muscles will be worked with each exercise, as opposed to isolation exercises,
which only work one muscle. This is to make the most of the time you’re in the gym and stick to
exercises that offer the most
bang for your buck.
- Monday: Lower Body
- Dumbbell Squats - 4 Sets of 8 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Deadlifts - 4 Sets of 8 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Stationary Bike – 20 minutes- 1 minute slow, 1 minute sprint
- Tuesday: Upper Body
- Dumbbell Bench Press - 4 Sets of 8 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Bent Over Rows - 4 Sets of 8 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Medicine Ball Slams - 4 Sets of 15 Repetitions
- Thursday: Lower Body
- Reverse Lunges - 4 Sets of 8 Repetitions on each leg (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Kettlebell Swings - 4 Sets of 15 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 20 Repetitions)
- Stationary Bike – 20 minutes, 2 minutes slow, two minute sprint
- Friday: Upper Body
- Push Ups - 4 Sets of 12 Repetitions (W) (Perform Pushups from Kneeling Position)
- Seated Cable Rows – 4 Sets of 10 Repetitions (W) (4 Sets of 12 Repetitions)
- Medicine Ball Slams – 4 Sets of 15 Repetitions
For all exercises, choose resistance that allows you to perform the required repetitions with good form, but that’s heavy enough to make it challenging towards the end of the workout. Even small gyms at recreational centers or apartment complexes will have the equipment necessary to perform these exercises, so you don’t need a membership at a fancy health club to do this gym program. If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises I’ve included, head over to YouTube. A simple search for the exercise will reveal many videos depicting the exercise performed in a variety of different ways. Pick the versions that you feel most comfortable with and have the equipment to perform correctly.
Gym Program For Women
Now you may think that the women’s version of this program will be drastically different, but it’s actually very similar. Men and women both have the same basic muscle structure, and a good exercise is good for men or women. The variables that will be different are the number of sets and repetitions performed. You may have noticed a second set of numbers in parenthesis following the sets and repetitions for men with (W) in front of them. These are the ideal numbers for female trainees to perform. As with the men’s exercises, the resistance should allow proper form but be somewhat challenging at the end of the workout.
This program may seem very simple, but don’t be fooled. The exercises chosen do the most to burn calories and build muscle in the shortest amount of time. I refer to this as “workout efficiency”. People are busy, so they need to get the most out of the 30-45 minutes they have in the gym. This gym program allows them to do just that. Stick to the nutrition and gym programs mentioned for 12 weeks, and you should start really liking what you see in the mirror.