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This is the /fit/ FAQ. You should read it.
It contains a fuckton of incredibly useful information for anyone seeking to improve their physical fitness.
If you post a question which has already been answered in this FAQ, don't be surprised if you find your post mocked, saged, or missing.
It's here for a reason.
Credit belongs to ZigCat for the original FAQ, with small amendments by /fit/ as a whole. RIP ZC.
1. I want to lose weight.
I want to be thinner.
I want to lose these love handles.
I want to burn off extra fat.
I want to tone up.
What/how much should I eat in order to lose weight?
ANSWER: Do you want to lose WEIGHT? or do you want to lose FAT? In order to lose fat:
You must count your calories, and consume foods that your body needs. Your body does not need a * avalanche of carbs smashing through your cakehole at all hours of the day. Cut down on sweets, oils, and unnecessary white starches. Huge helpings of pasta, rice, and white-bread sandwiches are out.
Eat whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables, lowfat/fat free dairies, and lean meats such as chicken/turkey breast, fish, etc. One classic staple is the garden vegetable/chicken breast salad. Satisfying, healthy (garden greens are extremely nutritious), and cheap.
You should aim to eat five or six smaller meals a day. This keeps the body in a state of constant metabolism. It takes energy to digest food. Eating three big squares a day lets your body settle into a routine, digesting one big lump and then remaining dormant for hours until the next meal.
Also? Never eat or drink anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup again. Ever again. Every time you drink a soda (HFCS), you create an insulin spike in the body. Long story short, this leads to the creation and retention of BODY FAT. So yeah, quit * doing that.
Determine your target caloric intake at:
Count the calories in your food at:
2. I want to lose weight.
I want to be thinner.
I want to lose these love handles.
I want to burn off extra fat.
I want to tone up.
Which/how much exercise do I do in order to lose weight/burn fat?
ANSWER: A proper diet and excellent workout program should get anyone without a genetic disorder into shape. Where to start depends on what shape you're in now. For the best results, you should include cardio AND weightlifting in your regimen.
For the best results, you should include cardio AND weightlifting in your regimen. Read this article to find out why.
First, the CARDIO.
If you're one of the bigger overweight guys (around 200+, tall guys around 250+) or just generally new to exercise, you should start with a low-impact cardio activity such as cycling or using the elliptical. The weight of your body causes added stress to the joints, so you shouldn't start jogging until your regular exercise causes your body to reinforce itself (takes just a few months normally). Exercise and weightlifting naturally prevent injury by strengthening most aspects of the body, especially the joints.
For your cardio program, you should aim for at least 20-30 minutes of continuous exercise within the first two months. Take yourself seriously in making progress: settling for less will get you less. One of the keys to getting much stronger, increasing stamina, and jumpstarting your metabolism is using interval training. Wiki "HIIT" to learn more about it. Generally, you want to alternate periods of high intensity with periods of low intensity.
Let's create a very basic, beginner's interval program. Say it's your first time using the stationary bike at the gym. Aim for 20 minutes of total cycling time.
00:00: Bike 10 minutes at a steady, even pace. Don't tire yourself out.
10:00: At the 10 minute mark, push it harder for about a minute.
11:00: Slow down and keep steady for two minutes.
13:00: Push it again. If you have the energy to go all out, do it. If not, just keep an increased pace.
14:00: Slow it down. Even out your pace for two minutes.
16:00: Increased pace again.
17:00: 2 minutes normal pace again.
19:00: All out max effort for 1 minute.
The effect of interval training on the body is very different from that of normal slow-paced cardio, so it's difficult to compare the two. If you had to compare, we can say that you just did the equivalent of maybe 30-40mins of slow biking, in 20 minutes. On top of that, the anaerobic nature of the fast intervals you did will increase your strength, and create a great nutrient demand from the muscles. See what I'm saying? Long, slow cardio DOES burn fat. Interval training burns less fat during the exercise, but burns MUCH more over a long period, throughout the day when your body is repairing itself.
Lifting is explained for the next question.
3. How do I lift weights?
I want to get stronger/bigger/toned, critique my routine.
What should I do for lifting when I go to the gym?
ANSWER: For any beginner or novice lifter (let's clear this up right now: for someone who cannot bench press 1.5x, deadlift 2x, and squat 2x their own weight), a strength training program is imperative. Drop that bullshit you read in Muscle & Fitness, Men's Health, or whatever you heard from the ignorant musclehead jock next door.
The fastest rates of growth and increased strength for beginner lifters are attained through compound lifting.
read that again:
The fastest rates of growth and increased strength for beginner lifters are attained through compound lifting.
I'll explain. Isolated lifts are exercises that recruit few, usually one, major muscle group to perform the exercise. One good example is leg press. The motion specifically targets the quadriceps (the frontal half of your ourter thigh). It involves, to a lesser extent, other muscles in the area, including the glutes and hamstrings. Compound lifts are exercises that recruit a great amount of muscle groups, both major and minor. The body has many smaller muscles that are involved in compound lifts but neglected in most isolated lifts. One example of a compound lift is the squat. The squat directly recruits several major groups including the buttocks, quads, and hamstrings. The nature of the squat also creates a vast demand for stabilization from the adductors, calves, back, and abdomen.
When you exercise, the body releases hormones and other chemicals, basically signaling the demand for repair, for nutrients, and for growth. Consider the leg press. The muscles targeted are mainly the quads, and then somewhat the hamstrings and glutes. Now consider the massive muscle participation required by the squat. Which exercise do you think creates a greater need for growth, for more power, for more nutrients? The compound lift, of course. At this point you're probably starting to grasp the difference. Let me tell you, it is a major and invaluable difference.
Let's create a basic strength training program. Each day of your regimen (for strength training I say 3 or 4 days a week) should have a target exercise. Instructions for most of these exercises should be easy to find at www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html
The format is SETS x REPETITIONS. Pushups 4x10 = Four SETS of 10 REPS: Do 10 pushups, four times separately.
Deadlift or stiff-leg deadlift 5x5
Bent Over Rows 4x4-8
Weighted Pullups or Lat Pulldowns 3x4-8
Seated Row 4x4-8
Back day. Pretty self explanatory. On back day you should remember that you're going into the gym to "pull". You're not doing a bunch of different crazy shit: you're training your body in compound pulling movements, both horizontal and vertical. That's one of the basic concepts of strength training: breaking it down by movements.
Front Squats or Leg Presses: 4x4-8
Squat day. Without squats, we are crippled. Go into the gym KNOWING that if you don't squat, you might as well quit lifting altogether. Most of those are pretty basic. You can tell what's going on: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, all with free weight.
Flat Bench Press: 5x5
Incline/Decline Bench Press or Dumbbell Bench Press: 4x4-8
Overhead Press: 4x4-8
Weighted Tricep Dips: 4x4-8
Notice how Friday is centered on pushing movements, mainly the flat bench? the rest of the lifts are "assist" lifts. they're all based around the "pushing" of the bench press. The assist lifts all complement each other and increase the strength of your basic compound movement (pressing). In turn, your stronger press will lend to further growth, and greater strength.
The cold, hard truth about compound movements is this: You actually need to practice them. Performing a heavy lift without skill and technique can result in failure, and much worse, injury. Study instructions and read essays about any lift you don't think you're doing well. If you cannot perform a movement with good if not perfect techinque, decrease the amount of weight you're using and concentrate on your form. Throwing a shitload of weight on the bar does not make you stronger. It fucks up your technique and creates bad habits. Performing each lift with correct form, exercising with regularity and discipline, and increasing weight when you are ready will get you stronger.
Notice I didn't include any abdominal, calf, ab, neck, etc exercises. These are not major muscle groups by themselves. If you wish to, you should incorporate them on one of your workout days, or on a separate day of your choice. It's up to you.
4. How do I lose fat in x area?
What are some good exercises to lose manboobs/love handles?
What kind of workout should I do to lose fat on my stomach?
ANSWER: DO NOT ASK THESE QUESTIONS.
Imagine this in your mind. You are on a boat, in the middle of a lake. You have a bucket. You fill your bucket with water from the lake.
When you removed the water.. did you leave a hole in the lake, where that water used to be? Or was the quantity of water in the entire lake reduced all at once?
THAT is how fat in the human body works. It all burns at once, or not at all. You cannot pick and choose WHERE to burn fat. Refer to QUESTION 1, 2, and 3 for burning fat.
5. What is healthy food, and how much of it should I eat?
ANSWER: A "healthy diet" is different for every person, as people have different genetics, are built differently, and have different goals.
If you're trying to gain weight, eat A LOT of this stuff. When you want muscle growth, the key is not really eating the exact amount of calories and using only cutting-edge supplements. The key is being very consistent and staying on track. Eat well. Eat often enough to fuel and repair your machine.
If you're trying to slim up or lose fat, count your calories carefully. See your doctor or even a dietician to find out what kind of caloric intake is right for you, taking into account whether you're exercising regularly as well (I hope you are).
-chicken/egg WHITE/beef/fish/beans/soy making up about 30-50%
-whole grain making up the other 30-50%. at breakfast, OATMEAL! cheap and easy, shovel it down.
-fruits and veggies for the rest. you need the nutrients.
If a vegetarian or vegan, read the next post.
I am a vegefag/veganfag. What can I eat? I heard that vegetarian or vegan diets contain insufficient protein and turn you a bit female.
ANSWER: You can obtain all the things you need from a vegetarian or vegan diet, with a little work. If you have a penis now, you'll be able to retain it without eating meat.
First up, sources of protein:
Vegetarian: EGGS - Eggs are VERY good.
These are not the only sources, but they are the kings when it comes to getting a lot of protein without having to eat your own bodyweight every day, when your diet is restricted like it is.
Soy has the advantage of being damn cheap - and you can increasingly find soy protein extracts designed for shakes for muscle growth. It also is reasonably good at absorbing flavours, so you can add it to more or less anything you are cooking and it won't throw it out.
Don't forget soymilk - 8oz milk = 8 grams protein, 8oz soymilk = 6 grams protein. You get used to the taste really easily, it's quite nice.
Other than that, you have beans. Also nuts. Then lots of things which aren't sufficiently-protein dense to be worth mentioning.
One thing not really easy to get from a vegan diet is B12, and that's easy to get around with things like fortified foods. Vitamin deficiencies in vegans and vegetarians are very rare.
There are various vegan sites with a lot of diet info for weight lifting and exercising.
The "Soy makes you into a girlyboy" issue:
..was a myth. The sites above will contain lots of men who look just like normal men. They may be a bit girly, but that's the cause of their diet rather than the effect (I'm only messin', veg folk).
6.What kind of supplements do you recommend?
What brand of protein should I get?
What kind of weight gainer should I be using, if any?
Do I need protein?
ANSWER: Regardless of what kind of exercise you're doing, if it's intense enough to change the body (CARDIO OR LIFTING, anyone?), the body will need a steady supply of nutrients, especially protein, to repair and rebuild itself.
-BLENDING oatmeal, whey protein, milk/water, and ice, and whatever fruit, yogurt, and juice you want in there is about as simple as it gets. That takes care of a carb/protein supplement. As for what brand? I've never cared. I buy the 6lb EAS brand bag from COSTCO/Sam's Club.
-multivitamin/multimineral. these come in single pills, available for cheap at the supermarket. that's about all you should need outside protein and food, until you get like, as big as * Ronnie Coleman and your body physically refuses to grow anymore. [b]THIS IS NOT YOU.
Vegans and similar - there's Soy protein and there are vegan-friendly versions of most other supplements.
Note for wimminz: If there's any chance of you getting pregnant, make sure your multivitamin provides adequate amounts of folic acid.
7. I love soda but I'm fat. What should I drink that's tasty and isn't fat?
Stop drinking soda. All it takes is a little willpower. Remind yourself there are people out there quitting heroin. Fill a glass with water. Drink it. Repeat 8-12 times a day.
8. I'm doing EVERYTHING in the FAQ and not getting results.
I'm lifting 6 times a week and haven't gained any weight I'm SOO strong but I want to know HOW TO GET BIG LIKE GOKU FROM DBZ?
My metabolism is so fast that I can't grow, you didn't say anything about that, what am I supposed to do?
I can't lose weight, it's like impossible, I've been working out/dieting for like a year. Should I just stop eating?
ANSWER: Shut the fuck up for a second and look at yourself:
You are NOT special. You are NOT a beautiful or unique snowflake. Millions of people in worse situations than yours have come before you, and gone the distance to reach their goals.
Step back and take a look at your program. Are you eating enough? Are you eating correctly? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you lifting right or just half assing it? Are you scared to do certain exercises, so you just skip them?
Your body is not "refusing" to change. You are the only one who can force the changes to happen. Never blame anyone or anything but your own lack of will/determination/perspective.
Unless you have like, some kind of fucked-up disorder and you weigh 600lbs and your ass has fused with your toilet. You're shit out of luck there.
9. I'm too scared/poor/busy/far to go to the gym. What can I do in my own home as far as exercise?
ANSWER: Anything you want.
If it dramatically increases your heart rate and makes you breathe hard - it's cardio.
If it's very difficult to lift, it's weight training.
2) Bodyweight exercise
-BURPEES. Do these, do a lot of them. Do them every week for a year, even.
Go to rossfit.com and look for his Burpee Training article.
-Lunges with weight. Anything can be used, but dumbbells are best. They're cheap, so I don't consider that to be major equipment.
-Pullups/chinups. Hopefully there's something you can do pullups from... if not, a towel and a tree limb? These are enough for maintaining and improving your bicep, shoulder, and general upper back/lat endurance and strength. Pullups are timeless.
-Pushups of various kinds for the chest and shoulders, hand stand pushups for the triceps if you can manage those.
-Vertical Leg Crunches
I call them bicycle crunches because, if you can manage it, you can do crunches while bicycling your legs. Really demands a ton of stabilization, which is always good.
Purchase a sandbag from Home Depot, double bag it inside with plastic, and fill it with 60-100lbs of sand/dirt. If you have a couple extra pennies, buy two or three sandbags and make a couple in varying weights (40/60/80/100) to start with.
4) Perform strength training exercises with the sandbag. Several of the exercises in the FAQ, and in general strength training, can also be done with a sandbag. Here is an example of sandbag exercises you could add to a weekly training program:
Push day: Overhead presses, Push presses, Floor presses (bench press, on the floor) can all be done with a sandbag.
Pull day: PERFECT for sandbags. Deadlifts, power cleans, clean and presses, snatches, bent-over rows, even curls can be done with a sandbag.
Squat day: Front squats, back squats, hack squats, lunges. All possible.
This will cost you next to nothing, and you can get in badass shape, * dinosaur style. You have about ZERO excuse for not taking advantage of this kind of tool, if you don't have access to a gym. I have barely covered even a small portion of the kind of DIY training methods that many strongmen and power enthusiasts use outside of the normal gym equipment. Take advantage of what's out there. Google some stuff. Not having access to a gym is not an excuse not to work out: it's a small roadblock in the way of your goals.
10. How/when/why should I stretch?
ANSWER: You must stretch, and frequently.
Ideally you should stretch (stationary stretches) twice a day, when you wake up and before you go to sleep being the ideal. At the very least, you should always stretch after a workout, especially an intensive cardio or weightlifting workout.
EXRX can help with stretching as well as basic lifting form: www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html
Click each muscle group and study the stretches. In a single session you should be able to stretch the following muscle groups (I stretch in this order as well):
-shoulders (at 3 angles preferably, to hit each deltoid section)
-back (focusing on the upper/lower center back, and lats)
-abdominals (extension, and rotation)
-calves (always before hamstrings)
-thighs (quads and hammies required, abductors and adductors if you have time)
-glutes (your ass cheeks)
Doesn't take long, and will save you from injury. Do it.
11.[...] I use machines [...]
ANSWER: Stop right there.
- Prevent the body from performing movements naturally. The human body did not evolve to interact with machines: the musculature of the body is designed to accomodate a range of motions that it can perform on its own. Depending on which machine you are using as a substitute, you may be working with a gimped range of motion, lifting at an incorrect angle, isolating one muscle group while ignoring another.
- Do not activate stabilizing muscle groups. In order to develop whole-body strength, you need to have strong stabilizers. Continue using only machines, and abandon any hopes of ever seeing true strength.
- Are easy. Strength isn't gained through dicking around and being a little bitch. Somewhere down the line, you have to make it hurt, you have to embarass yourself, you have to disappoint yourself. If you desire to move ahead, you will be leaving your weakness behind you in time, but first comes hard work.
- Demand full participation of major muscle groups and stabilizing muscles
- Offer any number of COMPOUND MOVEMENTS which, as stated in this FAQ, are the foundation of a strength training program.
- They're not easy. Working with free weights in a no-bullshit, tiring, difficult program will harden your body and mind to the stresses of training. As you continue to train you'll start to feel "good" during your workout. Later on you'll feel like a million bucks. Soon after that you'll probably feel like s*** because you didn't work out, so the next day you'll go out and get your iron fix and feel like a * beast, on top of the damn world.
Hey, there are worse things to be addicted to.
I am not saying you should NEVER use machines. shit, I use the cable row and lateral pulldown, and I even do tricep and bicep isolation on cables sometimes too. But the main portion of your diet, the biggest thing on your plate, is a barbell and plates. Don't try and get around it.
12. How do I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? Is it possible?
ANSWER: It is possible.. but compared to the universally accepted method of bulking and then cutting, it is much less economical in terms of time, effort, and money spent.
Most people will not even be able to maintain a high (or even marginal) rate of muscular growth while retaining a low body fat percentage. However, everyone is capable of making fast gains in muscle mass, if they go about it the right way. Will your body fat percentage rise as well? Yes, it will. But you'll be able to cut it down later, and on the whole, you'll probably be glad you spent 4 months bulking and 2 months cutting to make a gain of __lbs lean mass, rather than spend a year dicking around and getting jack s***.
Lift and eat. When you get big, and bodyfat is around 16-20%, cut back down. Repeat. It's not just for bodybuilders.. it's for anyone who wants to gain lean mass quickly, and then be lean again, quickly.
13. How much sleep should I be getting?
ANSWER: Healthy amount of sleep for a human being is 8-9 hours. Try to get that. Getting a lot less, often, can really fuck you up and sabotage your work - spare no effort in getting it sorted in any way you can.
14. Will masturbation affect my muscle gains?
ANSWER: Shut the fuck up.
15. Should I use gloves/straps/wraps for lifting?
ANSWER: You should get away from the notion of using wraps and other hand gear solely for comfort. Lifting without grip assistance equipment is crucial to developing basic hand strength, as well as continuing to develop that hand strength.
1) Your hands won't toughen up as quickly
2) You won't develop grip strength as quickly (if at all, depending on what kind of straps you use)
3) You won't be able to carry/tolerate heavier weight on your soft hands as you get stronger.
Use chalk. It's dirt cheap and gets the job done: increases friction, but doesn't take the work away from your hands.
There aren't many ways to accomplish a lot of this "hard work" stuff without actually toughening up your hands a little bit, gloves or no gloves. If you find a way around that, let me know.
16. After running, my shins/the muscle over my shins aches. Is this bad?
ANSWER: You should be alright. New runners will often have pain over the shin for the first several runs, but you'll get over it in time. If it persists for a LONG time, more than a month or two, you should get it checked out.
17. I have stretch marks. How do I make them go away?
ANSWER: The key is preventing them. Obviously this isn't always possible. But to keep your skin healthy, and able to ACCOMODATE growth instead of becoming damaged and scarred, ideally you should have a healthy diet and be getting the right nutrients.
But now that you've got them, here's the scoop: there are a lot of products out there that are supposed to "repair" the skin, but basically most of these are all skin products that have always been good for your skin, and you would benefit from them normally.. but they won't erase your stretch marks.
There's some indication that absorbable creams with lots of vitamin A can have an effect when your stretch marks are brand shiny new.
Mild stretch marks can fade or disappear after several months, or several years. When I first started lifting, as well as cycling, my legs exploded from being skinny and useless to being decently muscled. I acquired a series of very stark stretch marks towards my knees, all on the bottom of my quad. It's been about 4 years since then, and they're all but gone. I tan every summer and pale every winter, and I'm told that helps as well with color matching the scar tissue to your skin color.
Deep stretch marks, however, might never go away. People go as far as going under the laser to have them removed. So you might as well stop looking for a miracle product to rub them away.
For general and fitness-related chat. No being retarded, it's not /b/.
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