Is This Your Typical Lifestyle?
This is a Healthy Lifestyle
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99% of everything you need to know about fitness is here. The best part? It works. Tired of "magic pills" that don't work? Constantly confused by misinformation? All your common fitness and nutrition questions can be answered in this one-stop resource. Want to simplify things even further? Check out Simple Steps.
This site has over 400 citations to evidence-based research. While facts are backed up, let's not make it too complicated. Even though experts are continuing to make new discoveries in the fitness and nutritional sciences, we already know more than enough to make a huge difference today. Let's get started!
Anaerobic and Aerobic: Anaerobic respiration means the "absence of oxygen" and aerobic respiration means "with oxygen." Anaerobic exercises require short bursts of energy while aerobic exercises can be performed over long periods of time.
Bulking: Bulking is increasing body weight with an emphasis on building muscle.
Cutting: Cutting is decreasing body fat and weight while preserving muscle mass.
Diet: Food and drink that a person consistently consumes.
Empty Calories: Calories that contain little to no nutrients. Sugar is a source of empty calories.
Fitness: A state of being with strength, mobility, and endurance, while being free of chronic disease.
Hyperpalatable: Food products that are engineered by food scientists to create insatiable overconsumption are considered hyperpalatable. Salt, sugar, fat, and wheat flour are combined to maximize pleasure in the brain's reward system, simulating the effects of addictive substances.
IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros): A rule of thumb to eat anything as long as it fits within your macronutrient ratio and calorie range. It works, although it does not necessarily reflect good health if the food sources are of low quality.
Inflammation: Where part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, or painful in response to an infection. Food-related inflammation is linked to modern diseases.
Macronutrients: Fat, carbohydrate, and protein are macronutrients. They are required by the body in large amounts to sustain life. Alcohol is also considered a macronutrient.
Metabolic Syndrome: A cluster of medical conditions, or modern diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, raised triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol.
Metabolism: The chemical processes by which cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life.
Micronutrients: Vitamins, minerals, or acids required by the body in small amounts for healthy growth and development.
Moderation: Avoidance of extremes or excesses.
Nutrients: Substances essential for growth and the maintenance of life.
Palatable: Pleasant to taste.
Processed Food (or "convenience foods"): Food commercially prepared for ease of consumption. Examples are ramen noodles, deli meat, cereals, potato chips, TV dinners, and fast food meals.
Satiety: The feeling of fullness, or satisfaction of an appetite.
Sedentary: A person who spends most of their time sitting instead of being active. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with early death.
Thermogenesis: The mechanism where the body uses energy as heat, instead of storing it as fat.
Regular exercise and improving food quality are suggested. Options include building up muscle first then burning fat later, or burning fat first then building muscle later. To burn fat and build muscle at the same time, a slower body recomposition is another option.
Moderate to abundant muscle mass at low body fat. Burning off excess fat is suggested at higher than 15% body fat (25% for women). At 10% body fat (20% for women) or lower, a slow bulk to build more muscle is an option. If you are at your desired physique, simply maintain your caloric intake and training intensity.
Poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with higher body fat, physical ailments, mental illness, and higher mortality. Underweight individuals also have a high mortality rate. Good eating choices and fitness are associated with longevity, leanness, and mental wellness.
Maintaining a healthy diet is not meant to be temporary and should always be part of a lifestyle. Sticking to a healthy diet for life will give you long-term mental and physical benefits.
Currently 2.1 billion people, almost 30% of the world population, is either overweight or obese. This alarming statistic is growing. Being overweight is not being healthy. Even though obesity is largely a modern phenomenon, Ancient Greek physicians have noted that excess fat caused more sudden death in people, and caused infrequent periods and infertility in women.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD), Meditations
Some factors that affect our physical and mental states are:
Focus on prevention over treatment.
Life lasts a long time. The healthy part of it can be surprisingly short. Anonymous
Beyond body composition and fitness level, your doctor can assess your blood pressure and blood test for triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Below are optimal markers of health and fitness for risk-free individuals:
If you are sick, it is advisable to rest until you are well. If you are sore the day after a workout, this is normal, but if you feel a sharp pain, this is an injury. If injured, it is advisable to avoid any exercises that aggravate the injury and consult with a doctor.
It is crucial get about 7–8 hours of sleep each night at consistent hours. Sleep helps with recovery, muscle growth, performance, well-being, and mental health. With less sleep, ghrelin, a "hunger hormone," increases, leading to overeating.
If weight training, each muscle group needs at least 48 hours to repair, recover, and grow, so muscles in the same group shouldn't be worked out on consecutive days.
If you are unable to get a full night's sleep, a short 5–15 minute nap can give a few hours of improved cognitive performance.
Chronic stress magnifies existing negative health issues, including obesity, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and is a significant factor in accelerated aging and premature death.
Not all stress is bad, however. Positive acute stress, such as an intense workout, stimulates muscle strengthening and growth. Exercise is, by far, the most effective natural method of reducing chronic stress, depression, and anxiety.
Active individuals will require greater consumption of calories since their body demands it, while more sedentary individuals will eat less to maintain equilibrium. That being said, overeating has more to do with food choices than activity level.
While aesthetics is a motivating factor to become fit, the primary outlook should be for health. Good health is subconsciously attractive, and aesthetics follow as a consequence of being healthy. Making health a priority directly affects mental and physical well-being, helping to decrease body image issues.
Focusing on nutrition and exercise instead of weight and appearance would often lead to more desirable results.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD), Meditations
Our height, structure, predisposition to store fat, and muscularity are genetically determined when we reach puberty. These attributes determine our base shape and appearance, and cannot be changed without surgery or drugs. We can, however, increase or decrease body fat and muscle to sculpt a new shape. Keep in mind, we have a natural limit for muscular potential.
Obesity is primarily caused by behavioural and environmental factors rather than by genetics, considering there is only a small calorie variance in resting metabolism from person to person. Genetic predisposition to obesity is triggered by the environment, affecting our behaviour, but the basic energy in-out mechanism remains the same. In other words, a healthy lifestyle prevents obesity.
Your body weight does not consist of just muscle and fat, but also water, blood, organs, waste, tissue, and bones. Your scale tells you your weight, but it doesn’t tell you how much of it is lean muscle and how much of it is fat. If you gain or lose a few pounds over the course of the day, it is likely just fluctuations of water weight. Measuring week-by-week, first thing in the morning, is a more reliable way to track progress.
BMI (body mass index) takes only weight into account, while body fat percentage takes the ratio of lean (muscle) mass into account. For that reason, body fat percentage reflects a more accurate picture of overall fitness and health. For instance, a 5′10″ 180 lbs male with 10% body fat has better fitness than a 5′10″ 180 lbs male with 25% body fat, even though both are considered overweight on the BMI scale.
You can find out your approximate body fat percentage at home with calipers, or at a gym or medical center that offers DXA scans. You can also roughly guess your own body fat percentage by looking at your midsection in the mirror. If you have no visible abdominal muscles, you are likely over 20% body fat (or over 30% for women). If you can see partial outlines of your abs, you are likely 15–19% (25–29% for women). If you can see full abdominal muscles, you are likely at the most 10% (20% for women). Women have higher body fat percentages because of extra fatty tissue in their breasts, thighs, and buttocks.
Did you know?
You cannot spot reduce fat. When you burn fat, you burn fat all over your body. Men commonly have stubborn fat in their abdominal and lower back areas while women store more fat in their thighs, glutes, and breasts. How much fat being stored there is determined by genetics.
The DBW calculator below can help you find your desired body weight based on known body fat percentage:
There is little variability with resting metabolism from person to person, so using labels such as "fast or slow" metabolisms are misleading. Lean mass, the thermogenesis of foods, especially protein, have greater variability on metabolism. The more muscle mass one has, the higher the metabolism. Having three vs. six meals in a day has little effect on metabolism. Metabolism is increased through exercise, especially weight training, due to the energy expenditure during the workout and the energy required to repair the muscles.
Body fat is regulated through hormones and enzymes. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar and the storage and expenditure of energy. Insulin is raised after a meal, regardless of macronutrients, contributing to the intake of nutrients as well as being the only hormone responsible for fat storage.
When insulin is low, such as between meals and during sleep, more body fat is being broken down. Refined, simple carbohydrates raise insulin levels significantly, contributing to increased fat storage. Insulin levels can be reduced by any combination of fat, dairy, fiber, vinegar, or citrus fruits.
Testosterone is a natural steroid hormone that increases muscle mass by increasing protein synthesis. Testosterone, the primary sex hormone in men, is 7–8 times more abundant in men with greater production than in women, which explains why men are naturally more muscular and why it is more difficult for women to put on muscle mass. The primary sex hormone for women is estrogen. Testosterone can be increased through weight lifting, certain foods, and vitamin D.
Microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts regulate energy balance and weight. The ecosystem can be modified through long-term diet which either contributes to good health, or to inflammation which leads to diseases such as obesity and type-2 diabetes. The composition of the gut microbiota has been shown to differ in lean and obese humans.
While not a hard rule for illustration purposes, the majority of your body composition (fat + lean mass) is the result of your diet. Diet enables you to change your weight. Exercise is a tool to manipulate further change by necessitating the growth of muscle or to accelerate fat loss.
While nutrition is the foundation, exercise goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. Exercise provides massive mental and physical health benefits.
If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. However a big caveat: while a calorie is a calorie, the body is not a closed system.
Exercise increases caloric expenditure and metabolism, and what you consume affects metabolic and hormonal secretions which may cause you to store fat instead of expend fat, and vice versa. This is why exercise and the type of foods and beverages we consume are crucial.
Calories in-out is a simplification since the body metabolizes calories at different rates with hormonal responses from food consumption, fasting, and exercise. Nutritional compositions, gut microbiota, and hormones all affect how calories are partitioned.
The calculator below will give your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and an approximate number of calories to consume daily for your goal weight.
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): If you do not move for 24 hours, the BMR is the number of calories you burn in a rested metabolic state.
BMR Calculator: The calculator uses the Mifflin-St Jeor equation, which is an accurate method of calculating your BMR.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): The BMR with the activity level multiplier gives you the total calories you burn in a day.
Maintenance = TDEE: Consuming this number of calories will allow you to maintain your current weight.
Weight gain (TDEE + 500): Adding 500 calories per day to your TDEE will allow you to gain one pound of weight per week.
Weight loss (TDEE - 500): Subtracting 500 calories from your TDEE per day will allow you to lose one pound of weight per week.
Did you know?
It takes approximately 3500 calories to burn off 1 lb of fat, which is a deficit of 500 calories per day for one week under ideal nutritional and physical conditions.
Every time you gain or lose 5 lbs of body weight, use the BMR calculator again to re-adjust your caloric intake. Caloric requirements will change as your weight changes.
When transitioning from a bulk to a cut or vice versa, adjusting calories slowly by 200 to 250 calories per week gives the body time to adapt psychologically and physiologically. Your weight will still change during this transitioning phase.
To cut, consume less calories than you burn in a day, but never fewer than 1200 calories, otherwise malnutrition and counterproductive results follow. If you are struggling to lose weight, please read the nutrition section and cutting tips. Also consider intermittent fasting.
To bulk, consume more calories than you burn in a day. If you are a "hardgainer," you are simply not eating enough.
To calculate how much of your daily calories could be allocated to carbs, protein, and fat, try out the SSF macronutrient calculator.
Abs (rectus abdominis) and Obliques: Stabilizes the core.
Biceps (biceps brachii): Bending of the elbow.
Calves (gastrocnemius): Raising of the heels.
Pecs (pectoralis): Movement of the arms towards the midline of the body.
Spinal Erectors (erector spinae): Extension of the back. Core stability.
Forearms: Movement of the wrist and fingers.
Glutes (gluteus maximus): Bending or straightening of the hip joints.
Hamstrings: Bending of the knee.
Lats (latissimus dorsi): Extension and movement of the of the shoulders towards the midline of the body.
Delts (deltoid): Allows rotation of the arms.
Quads (quadriceps): Extending of the knee.
Traps (trapezius): Lifting and movement of the shoulder blades.
Triceps (triceps brachii): Extending of the elbow.
Did you know?
Corn is a grain. Peas and peanuts are legumes.
The suggested SSF Food Pyramid is an epidemiological common sense approach to consuming whole foods while limiting refined foods. Plant and animal sources are supplemented with dairy, legumes, nuts & seeds, and whole grains. Spices, herbs, and seasonings add to palatability.
This food pyramid is the foundation of the SSF Diet.
Pills for everything is a very Western thing. Anonymous
By comparing the nutrient density per calorie of major food groups, we can plot them on a graph. Foods that are nutrient-dense contain micronutrients that are required by the body, and are thus health promoting. Lack of nutrients and inflammation are linked to health risks. Overconsumption of calories and poor health are correlated with obesity.
At its essence, food is nothing more than water, macronutrients, and micronutrients consisting of calories.
Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, and organic acids such as citric acid. Each micronutrient contributes to our body's functioning, repair, and growth. For instance, vitamin A helps with immunity and vision. Vitamin A is abundant in carrots and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A is also fat soluble, which means the body absorbs the micronutrient with fat.
Common food allergies are peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, soy, shellfish, tree nuts, and wheat.
Food intolerances, which include symptoms of inflammation such as heartburn, cramps, and diarrhea, are common after consuming corn products, dairy, and wheat gluten.
Did you know?
65% of the population is lactose intolerant, with as much as 90% in East Asian ancestry. However, cheese and yogurt are easier to tolerate since it goes through a fermentation process that breaks down the lactose in milk.
Despite the controversy cholesterol and sodium (salt) receive, they are not problematic. Food products high in dietary cholesterol such as eggs actually improve blood cholesterol. This is because dietary cholesterol is not the same as blood cholesterol.
Did you know?
An 88-year-old man who consumed 25 eggs a day for many years was found to have normal cholesterol levels.
Suggested: Consume double portions of vegetables for every meat portion in each meal. Consume least one type of fruit a day.
Food listed in italics are among the most nutrient-dense food sources.
This section lists some of the most accessible and nutrient-dense foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, along with healthy low-calorie beverages. Also, calorie for calorie, it will keep you more satiated than other types of foods.
Use this section as a grocery shopping list.
If your goal is to lose weight, raspberries make great snacks since each raspberry contains only one calorie. They're also filled with fiber and nutrients.
Grass-fed beef contains a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids compared to corn- and soy-fed cattle. Beef products include steak, roasts, ribs, ground beef, sausages, and beef jerky. Pork products include bacon, sausages, ribs, and ham.
Take advantage of the low-calorie and high-nutrient benefits of vegetables.
Limit processed meats and opt for fresh whole cuts, poultry, and seafood.
The beverages listed are virtually calorie-free.
Did you know?
Spices and herbs are extremely effective antioxidants.
The listed spices, herbs, and seasonings are very low in calories.
Suggested: Pick from one group as a side for each meal. Try to use only one group source per day. i.e. A side of almonds for one meal and a side of cheese for another meal.
While not as nutrient-dense as the essentials above, these supplementary sides give your meals variety, flexibility, and satisfaction.
Nuts and seeds should be unsalted and unsweetened.
Did you know?
Red wine contains properties that are health-promoting.
Did you know?
Legumes are among the highest sources of fiber.
Making your own bread ensures that there are no added sugars or preservatives.
Suggested: Try to treat yourself a meal and beverage in this section once a week on your "cheat day" without going over your calorie limit.
Foods that are commercialized, pre-prepared, refined, processed, and manufactured are likely to be unhealthy, even when they try to make a health claim. Mixed beverages are easily consumed and are packed with dense calories which adds up very quickly. By looking at the ingredients list on processed food packages, you will often see some form of sugar, wheat, corn, or soy combined with polyunsaturated oils, along with several additives designed for preservation, texture, palatability, or colour. This section contains common inflammatory empty-calorie foods and beverages that are fattening, disease-promoting, and thus, should be restricted.
Having no junk food inside your home can be enjoyed more outside the home as a treat.
Instead of eating living things designed by nature, we started doing the designing. Mark Schatzker, The Dorito Effect
Did you know?
There are about 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon.
Despite having no calories, artificial sweeteners still alter gut microbiota linking it to type-2 diabetes. Sweet properties are also addictive, contributing to appetite cravings and promoting poor dietary habits.
The above are a combination of sweet, salty or fried. 2/3 of the list are sugar and wheat flour products. All are very high in calories.
All three macronutrients serve important functions, and each vary in quality. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, full of or lacking in nutrients, and can be composed of dense or diluted calories. Protein quality depends on amino acid completeness. Fats can be saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated, and may consist of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.
4 calories per gram.
Carbohydrate sources such as fruits and vegetables are very dense in vitamins and fiber. Carbs are also the body's preferred source of energy other than alcohol, especially for anaerobic and long-duration exercise.
Starchy complex carbohydrate sources such as potatoes and long-grain rice help replenish muscle glycogen stores. Muscle glycogen is used as fuel and depletes during strenuous exercise. Starchy foods also contain resistant starch, which resists digestion, functioning similarly to fiber. It is satiating and promotes healthy gut microbiota.
Did you know?
Fiber is a carbohydrate.
Fiber helps keep you feel fuller longer, reduce appetite, and thus helps you consume less food. It also improves gastrointestinal health and reduces disease and blood pressure.
Refined carbohydrate sources such as sugar and wheat- and corn-based products induce appetite cravings and contributes to body fat gains, cardiovascular disease, higher LDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates in combination with fats are the driving forces for the obesity epidemic.
While the idea of reducing grains is unconventional in a Western diet, they are comparatively overrated since plant and animal products are nutritionally denser. In addition, corn and wheat products are common sources of food intolerances. Rice however, due to its absence of inflammatory properties, is considered a neutral starchy grain.
Did you know?
Wheat, corn, and rice are grains while a potato is a vegetable. Like grains however, potatoes are considered a starchy carbohydrate source.
While grains are fair in fiber content, more fiber per calorie can be obtained from vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, avocados, bell peppers, carrots, pears, apples, oranges, and bananas. Legumes are very high in fiber. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of fiber.
9 calories per gram.
Most foods that are naturally high in fat, such as animal sources (fish, beef, pork), nuts, avocados, and coconuts, contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids required for body functioning and health. It is also a very good source of body fuel and contributes to weight loss. Crucial vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, which means fats are required for bioabsorption.
Did you know?
While vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, vitamins B and C are water-soluble.
While saturated fats have been controversial, they actually serve important body functions for bone, organ, brain, immune health, and weight loss. The French paradox is the phenomenon where high dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are correlated with low incidences of heart disease. Furthermore, diets high in fat have been shown to provide important benefits that protect against neurological losses that characterize Alzehimer's and Parkinson's. Not all saturated fats are the same, though. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, they are in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, mostly in the form of lauric acid, which raises good HDL cholesterol, which protects your heart.
While omega-3 fatty acids benefit health as an anti-inflammatory, not all omega-3s are the same. Walnuts and flaxseed are very high in ALA omega-3, but this is misleading. The body has to convert ALA. Only a small portion of ALA can be utilized to EPA and DHA, which are useful to the body. Seafood and fish oil are excellent sources of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
Although fats are important for weight loss, they are high in energy density, compounded by fried foods and pastries.
The body functions well with an omega-3 and omega-6 ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. Most of us consume 1:15 or higher, which contributes to inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to a host of critical diseases. Sources high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are margarine, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
Try to opt for the high-fat dairy such as 3.75% or homogenized milk instead of the low-fat dairy such as 0% or skim milk. It is common in low-fat labeled products that sugar is used as a substitute for fat. Without dietary fat (e.g. saturated or monounsaturated fat), the body becomes exposed to malnutrition since fats are needed to absorb crucial nutrients.
4 calories per gram.
Proteins are poor fuels for energy.
7 calories per gram, however due to the thermic effect of food, it is actually 5.7 calories per gram.
Answers vary on the subject of intoxication.
Beer contains different but several nutrients as of wine, along with more B vitamins.
The SSF macronutrient calculator below gives a daily guideline of how many calories and grams to consume on workout and rest days. Your desired daily caloric consumption should be based on your maintenance, weight gain, or weight loss goals from the BMR calculator.
The macronutrient calculator and suggestions are designed to maximize muscle retention or development while minimizing or decreasing fat accumulation through partitioning. The calculator also averages the workout and rest day calories, where its weekly total is still the same as your desired daily caloric consumption.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are adjusted according to workout or rest days. Workout days require more carbohydrates and calories to fuel workouts. In contrast, since we are more sedentary on rest days, we benefit from lower carbohydrate consumption. Higher protein consumption is used on workout days to improve protein synthesis and muscle recovery. Higher protein intake is also beneficial in cutting to preserve lean mass and promote satiety.
The macronutrient ratios do not fit all athletes, however, as endurance and high-performance athletes require more carbohydrates.
The healthiest foods are the most nutritionally dense ones and also the most satiating, which blunts hunger. Vitamin A helps maintain vision and skin growth, iron is needed for the production of red blood cells, a complete amino acid profile helps build muscle, and essential fatty acids are required for brain functioning. High quality foods sustain and promote life, as well as regulate weight management.
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. Jean Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826)
Plant and animal sources are the densest macronutrient and micronutrient sources. When combined, both sources will fulfill the daily nutritional requirements in fewer calories.
Vegetables and fruit are abundant with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Along with vitamins and minerals, meats cover protein and fat requirements. Essential fats and oils aid with the bioavailability of crucial vitamins and minerals, such as the commonly deficient iron.
A diet rich in meats, eggs, fish, vegetables, and fruits have been known to contribute to weight loss, prevent cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, acne, and tooth decay. Many physical and mental health ailments can be prevented or alleviated.
Vegetables and berries are extremely low in calories. Contrary to popular belief, meats, seafood and eggs can be relatively low in energy density as well.
While added fats and oils are very high in energy density, small amounts for cooking or flavour goes a long way.
Protein is the most satiating source, with fiber and water also contributing to satiety. Animal (protein) and plant (fiber and water) sources reduce appetite and hunger, promoting the feeling of fullness to prevent overeating.
Hyperpalatable and easily-consumable products that are sweet, salty, or fried are generally nutrient-poor, high in calories, and easy to overconsume. Calories and satiety are important variables for weight management.
Modern diseases such as obesity and the metabolic syndrome, along with cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, are linked to the Western diet, which largely consists of the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and high omega-6 seed oils. Consuming nutrient-poor food sources contribute to overeating and addictive behaviours.
While overconsuming empty calories promote malnutrition and obesity, being underweight and unhealthy is the result of malnutrition by consuming fewer calories.
Sugar, made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, is a source of empty calories, and is particularly prevalent in junk food. Sugar is a contributing factor to diabetes, the obesity epidemic, high blood pressure, and raised triglycerides. Sugar also contributes to cancer growth. Eliminating added sugar from your diet will significantly improve your health.
Many seemingly innocuous "low-fat" products compensate with added sugar. Examples include barbecue sauces, ketchup, fruit drinks, yogurt, peanut butter, dried fruit, tomato sauce, salad dressing, gravy, seasoning mix, and granola.
Omega-6 fatty acids found in polyunsaturated seed oils are commonly consumed through fried foods and processed food. The typical ratio can be as high as 1:25 omega-3 to omega-6 in the Western diet. The ratio should be closer to 1:1 or 1:2.
Wheat flour is typically mixed with sugar and fat, sources high in energy density, to create baked products, which contains a massive amount of calories that can be consumed in one sitting. For example, a dish of fettuccine alfredo pasta is 1200 calories and a 12" medium cheese pizza is 1920 calories.
Sugar, fat, and salt are commonly added to improve palatability, however its function is to promote excess calories and overconsumption. A plain Belgian waffle without the butter and syrup is still 410 calories. Half a cup of unpopped popcorn without butter comes out to 260 calories. Even worse, easily consumable high-calorie beverages such as juice, sweetened coffee, pop/soda, and beer can double a day's caloric total from meals.
Refined carbohydrates are low in protein, water, and fiber, the primary components of satiety. Coupled with hyperpalatability, it becomes easy to overconsume.
A glass of orange juice is very different from an orange. Orange juice has added sugar for more total calories while fiber, the pulp from the orange, has been removed. The higher fiber in an orange helps with satiety and slows the absorption of sugars instead of causing a blood sugar spike.
Consider that it is more satiating to eat 6 large eggs than it is to eat 2 glazed doughnuts, even though both have the same amount of calories. It has been postulated that the body craves nutrients and would overeat until nutritional requirements are fulfilled.
Protein is considered to be the key to weight management as its effects on satiety are profound. Fiber and water are also important contributors to satiety. At least two of the three sources are abundant in animal and plant sources. On the other end of the spectrum, refined carbohydrates are poor for satiety and contribute to increased appetite. Satiating foods help prevent overeating.
The more energy dense food is, the more calories it packs. Sugar and fat are high energy density sources. For example, in a medium Dairy Queen Blizzard, the total calories are equivalent to 9 large eggs. Eating 9 eggs in one sitting, which is satiating, is more difficult to finish than a medium Blizzard as a dessert.
Another contributing factor to overeating and obesity is addiction. Hyperpalatable foods are designed to be addictive or overconsumed, echoing Pringles' slogan of "Once you pop, you can't stop." The sweet, salty, or fried properties of hyperpalatable foods target the brain's reward center, drawing parallels to drugs.
To check if you have a possible food addiction, taking the Yale food addiction scale quiz could reveal insights into your own dietary behaviours.
Food Addiction – A Serious Problem With a Simple Solution by Kris Gunnar.
Intermittent fasting is a technique where you adjust your eating schedule between two states: the fed state (the period of time during which you eat) and the fasted state (the period of time when you do not eat). This optimizes fat-burning periods when you're cutting, and minimizes fat accumulation during a bulk due to the increase in resting metabolism and utilizing body fat for fuel.
Fasting is not the same as starving. Starvation does not occur until after about three days of no caloric intake or extended periods of caloric intake lower than 1200 calories. Meal frequency has an insignificant effect on metabolism because the total number and quality of calories consumed in a day matters more. It does not cause muscle loss or negative effects on cognitive abilities or mood, which are effects of starving.
Did you know?
While you are sleeping, you are actually fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have many positive long-term effects. During the fasted state, it increases growth hormone levels, improves the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure, and decreases the risk of metabolic diseases, inflammatory responses, and diabetes, while also improving insulin sensitivity, which benefits the heart and brain. Fasting has also been shown to slow the rate of aging, thereby extending human longevity and health. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. During the fed state, the body metabolizes the necessary energy and nutrients.
You may drink water or consume extremely low-calorie beverages such as herbal tea and black coffee during the fasted state, otherwise the fasted state breaks and you enter the fed state.
Research suggests that men and women should approach intermittent fasting slightly differently. A 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour feast is recommended for men. For women, nutritionist Stefani Ruper suggests women should "listen to their body," while Martin Berkhan of Leangains suggests limiting the fasted state to fourteen hours for women.
Diets are nutritional guidelines to help facilitate meal planning for health or fitness goals. A diet is considered successful when it is part of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Individuals are free to choose what diet works best for them whether it is for ethical or preferential reasons, or for greater dietary control.
The Simple Science Fitness Diet focuses on nutrient-dense food sources based on the site’s food pyramid, list of foods, recipes, and macronutrient suggestions. It is the least restrictive of the following popular diets and arguably works just as well, if not better, due to the flexibility, variety, balance, and ease of incorporating into a sustainable lifestyle.
Contains all the benefits of the Paleo Diet while being receptive to more varieties and options for foods. Adaptable and sustainable for a modern lifestyle without compromising health.
The inclusion of meat does not conform to the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Similar to the Atkins Diet, about 95% of the total calories of a ketogenic diet comes from fat and protein sources. The remaining calories come from non-fiber carbohydrates to a maximum of 50 g per day, with almost all of these coming from low-calorie non-starchy vegetables. Due to carb restriction, the body then regulates blood sugar and will prefer utilizing body fat and ketones for energy. While this can be done daily, it is recommended to go with either a targeted ketogenic diet, where excess carbs are consumed around training, or a cyclic ketogenic diet, where one "carbs up" over the weekend.
High fat diets are nutrient-dense and excellent for satiety, weight loss, and health, as well as for keeping lean, treating obesity, and for building muscle. Studies have also shown neuroprotective benefits such as slowing aging and treating epilepsy.
Most experience "brain fog" and lethargy in the first week or two of adjustment. While in ketosis, bad breath due to acetone is a side effect. With lower muscle glycogen levels, optimal performance and strength are compromised. The diet is not meant for high-performance or endurance athletes. The temptations of carbohydrates in most environments may make the diet challenging to sustain, and some may be susceptible to overconsumption of processed meats. Long-term studies are required before consensus can be reached.
The paleo/primal diet is focused on whole foods that mirrors the diet of our ancestors and of our species' biological adaptation. Typically lower in carbohydrates, the diet consists of vegetable, fruit, egg, fish, meat, and nut sources while processed foods, grains, legumes, and to some extent, dairy, are excluded.
Focuses on whole, complete, nutrient-dense foods for optimal health. Excellent for satiety, weight loss, and for building muscle. Historical and anthropological records show that pre-agrarian hunter-gatherers have had excellent health.
The absence or limitations of legumes, grains, and dairy may be too restrictive for some.
The Mediterranean diet has long been the standard diet to promote good health. Fat intake is relatively high with extra virgin olive oil being the principal ingredient. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seafood, and red wine are the staples of the diet, while saturated fat sources such as red meat and eggs are limited.
A wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, monounsaturated fats and oleocanthal from olive oil, and the flavonoids of red wine promotes longevity and good health. The Mediterranean diet has been known to treat obesity.
The diet may not be optimal for fitness performance or muscle-building goals due to reduced meat, which decreases testosterone.
The good is mostly in the absence of the bad. Ennius (239–169 BC)
Released in 2011, it is the current dietary guideline by the US Government. The simplistic plate diagram restricts all food to vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and "protein." Fats are visibly absent.
An easy-to-follow method of food portioning.
Eliminating fat sources and emphasizing no-fat/low-fat options while allowing half of the grain sources to be refined are outdated, counterproductive and potentially dangerous. Calcium and milk recommendations are excessive and harmful in the long term while offering no additional benefits, especially since the majority of the population is lactose intolerant. The "protein" section is ambiguous. The Harvard School of Public Health proposed modest improvements in response, but still falls short of the potential nutritional variety that the 1943–1956 USDA food chart had.
A humane, environmentally-conscious high-carbohydrate diet. Focus is on a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Vegetarians avoid all meat and fish, but may consume either eggs or dairy, or both. Vegans do not consume any animal sources, including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Without proper planning, the absence or limitations of animal sources may cause nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, zinc and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Since vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal sources, supplementation is necessary. When common nutritional deficiencies exist, a vegetarian diet is correlated with poor health and risks for mental disorders such as depression. Temptations of meat may make the diet challenging to sustain, especially since humans are natural omnivores throughout all cultures in history.
Several other diets come in similar variants as the ones discussed. Many are also worth avoiding for health reasons, especially those that involve "detoxing," cleanses," or "juicing," as these misguided fad diets are ineffective at best or damaging at worst. For instance, one popular cleanse calls for nothing but lemon water, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and tea to be consumed daily for at least 10 days. There is no sense in consuming dangerously low levels of calories isolated to only a few micronutrients while being deficient in many others. After the cleanse is over, the body will pack on calories quickly as the body is recovering from starvation mode and malnutrition, which makes the "cleanse" ironically counterproductive in every way.
Many diets are temporary rather than being part of a permanent lifestyle change.
Supplementation requirements depend on your fitness goals and your diet. High-performance athletes benefit greatly from supplements. The SSF Diet is designed to cover all nutritional requirements, while other diets such as veganism would require vitamin B12 supplementation.
Nutrients through whole foods may have a synergistic effect where the combination promotes better health than taking nutrients individually through supplementation.
Regardless, when supplements are taken strategically, they can offer benefits.
Adding supplements to a poor diet doesn't work.
Whey Protein: While most can consume enough protein from food consumption alone, whey protein is a convenient and inexpensive source of high quality protein. Protein intake is ideally spread evenly throughout meals and is crucial before and after workouts. In addition, it was found that a combination of whey and casein protein promotes the greatest increases in fat-free mass.
Vitamin D3: Individuals who do not get enough sun or live in cold climates will greatly benefit from this essential micronutrient. Vitamin D helps the heart, improves performance and recovery, increases testosterone and lowers the risk of cancer and diabetes.
Did you know? Vitamin D is actually a hormone.
Fish Oil: Found in fish, fish oil contains the omega-3 acids of EPA and DHA, which is an anti-inflammatory that offers several benefits to the heart, brain, liver, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. In addition, fish oil helps with both weight loss and muscle building.
Creatine: Naturally found in the body, creatine improves lifting performance and muscular mass while on a bulk. It does not provide benefits for weight loss. Taking 5 g (1 tsp) once a day at any time, except with caffeine, is all that is needed.
Recommended quality supplements at good prices can be purchased from our affiliated links:
Cooking is mandatory for a healthy lifestyle. Low quality fast food and pre-cooked packages have replaced the time, effort, and skill required for cooking. Even though going to a restaurant requires time and effort, the trade-off for grocery shopping, preparation, and cooking is that your diet, wallet, and health will buy you additional years of enjoyable living.
Pound for pound, buying food in bulk from places such as Costco and Trader Joe's is significantly cheaper than fast food in the long run. Not only is cooking a useful and gratifying skill, you can also make leftovers to save time. Refer to the recipes list for various cooking ideas.
Food tastes so much better after exertion. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile
By creating your own meals, most of your fresh foods and leftovers will be stocked in the fridge and freezer, with less stored in the pantry. The kitchen items you would use the most are:
Buying and cooking whole foods could be cheaper than McDonald's. Here are some tips:
Most sauces and dressings are high in energy dense sugar and seed oils. To substitute, the palatability of meals can be improved with low-calorie antioxidant-rich spices and herbs, salt, lemon/lime juice, and vinegar. For instance, adding a little bit of paprika and salt to cooked broccoli significantly transforms how it tastes. When used in small amounts, good fats such as coconut oil, butter, and extra virgin olive oil also improve palatability.
Western dishes commonly consist of salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and parsley.
For Eastern dishes, go with turmeric, curry, ginger, coriander, cardamom, cloves, anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
For a spicy dish, add cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.
Food combinations can make a difference for better or worse. A potato contains a long list of beneficial micronutrients, yet it is bland to eat by itself. It is high in carbohydrates and satiating. In contrast, butter is not satiating on its own, and it is energy dense. However, adding butter to a potato improves the palatability along with additional health benefits: butter contains various additional micronutrients, helps with the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and the fat lowers the potato's high glycemic index. Adding a bit of sea salt and vinegar further improves both the palatability and health benefits.
Try not to consume foods that are high in iron and calcium in the same meal. If you have red meat or spinach with a glass of milk, you will miss out on iron absorption. The calcium in milk inhibits the absorption of iron and zinc.
Sticking to one food group means consuming too much of one thing and not enough of another. Variety allows a wide range of essential micronutrients the body requires without approaching levels of toxicity.
When you eat or whether or not you have breakfast is not as important as what you eat and how much you eat in a day. The body is efficient with partitioning and storing energy and nutrients, so it is fine to eat three meals or six meals a day as long as you meet the day's total caloric requirement. However, nutrition timing is more important around a workout.
Measuring portion sizes are not necessarily required in a diet high in animal and plant sources since they are satiating. However, if performance or weight goals are not being met, measuring portions with a food scale and tracking calories in proper macronutrient ratios are recommended.
The SSF Egg Standard is a method of portion control, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Eggs are one of the most nutritious food sources on the planet and makes a good benchmark. There are 80 calories in one large egg. If you had dinner with "room for dessert," find out how many calories are in the dessert you are considering. For example, a slice of cheesecake is about 260 calories. The Egg Standard determines the cheesecake is the caloric equivalent of just over three eggs. If the thought of eating three eggs is too filling, then you do not actually have room for cheesecake. Apply the Egg Standard to any kind of meal or drink to help regulate your food choices and to help determine what choices may be healthy or unhealthy.
Here is a table of some examples to refer to:
|12 potato chips||160||2|
|1/2 cup ice cream||145||~2|
|1 chocolate bar||320||4|
|1 large mixed coffee drink||360||4.5|
|1 pint of beer||200||2.5|
Unless you have specific physical and performance goals, counting calories are not required if protein intake is high enough. For the purposes of losing or gaining weight, tracking calories is recommended, especially for beginners. Many over- or underestimate the number of calories they consume daily. Counting calories is a valuable way to understand the energy density of various types of foods.
Cheat meals and occasional indulgences are encouraged. It reduces the chances of long term failure and serves positive psychological benefits since it is a break from structure and satisfies cravings. On the other hand, undesirable mental and physical side-effects may follow the short-term pleasure.
As long as you are mindful of your caloric intake and of any potential addictive behaviours, have anything you want for a cheat meal.
Cooking can be a dauting task for most people, especially when making healthy meals. Fortunately, there is an easy way to create a wide variety of soup, stew, or stir-fry dishes using only four components:
All components are cooked on the stove using pots and pans, first separately, then combined together. The preparation and cooking time takes about as long as a sit-down restaurant round trip.
Select three or four of the following aromatic bases and chop into small, uniform pieces. Cook at low for 30 minutes (recommended) or at medium temperature for 10–15 minutes. Cook with an oil or fat, stirring occasionally. The vegetables are finished when they appear soft and "sweaty."
While you are cooking your base, pick one (recommended) or two types of meat. Cut into pieces if required. Slather in salt, plus any appropriate herbs, spices, and seasonings. Cook separately with an oil or fat at medium heat until the meat is browned and properly cooked in the center.
Next, pick one liquid stock. Use more if you are making a soup.
Lastly, mix the base, meat, and stock with one (recommended) or two of the following starches. Cook covered at simmering temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Feel free to add in additional vegetables if you desire.
Base: onion, carrots, celery.
Meat: chicken breast.
Stock: chicken broth.
Result: chicken soup.
Base: onion, bell peppers, celery.
Meat: pork sausage and shrimp.
Base: onion, carrots, tomatoes, garlic.
Bulk: potatoes and beans.
Result: lamb stew.
More recipes can be found in the e-book.
If your urine is relatively clear, you're fully hydrated. As a guideline, 3.7L/day (15 cups) for men, and 2.7L/day (11 cups) for women meets general requirements. Increased water intake would be necessary on hot days and during exercise. Do drink sufficient water in the morning, as well as before, during, and after exercise.
Consuming more carbohydrates on workout days than on rest days is suggested to replenish muscle glycogen. When you alternate higher and lower carbohydrate intake on different days, it is called carb cycling or carb backloading.
Muscle retention and growth requires a daily consumption of 0.59–0.82g/lbs (1.3–1.8g/kg) of protein per body weight per day. If cutting, increasing to 0.82–0.91g/lbs (1.8–2.0g/kg) per body weight is ideal.
If you are at a very low body fat and cutting, a higher protein intake of 1.04–1.41g/lbs (2.3–3.1g/kg) per fat free mass is recommended.
At 200 lbs of body weight, 0.82 grams of protein per pound would come out to 164 grams of protein (200 * 0.82 = 164).
Combining starchy carb sources such as rice and potatoes with added fats like coconut oil and butter are easy ways to add extra calories. High-fat dairy including cheese, cream, and whole milk can be quickly consumed.
At a caloric deficit, it becomes more important to keep meals nutrient dense, which means a stricter diet. Fortunately, there are many ways of keeping satiated by increasing filling low-calorie sources such as vegetables, berries, water, tea, black coffee, and spices. Increasing the protein ratio will improve satiety. Intermittent fasting is also a useful tool for cutting.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 22–36 calories/lbs/day (50–80 calories/kg/day). Their suggested daily macronutrient breakdowns are 0.68–0.91g/lbs (1.5–2.0g/kg) per body weight for protein, 2.3–3.6g/lbs (5–8g/kg) per body weight for carbohydrates, and 30% of total calories for fat.
The average endurance athlete should consume 500–600 g of carbohydrates per day to replenish muscle glycogen levels.
Progressive overloading pushes the body to break plateaus. Lifting heavy weights causes microtears to the muscle fibers. Sufficient quality food, sleep, and recovery time are necessary to rebuild and create more muscle. The ability to lift heavier weights or do more repetitions becomes possible with increased muscle mass.
In order to progress in strength, hypertrophy, or endurance, you must increase your weights, reps, sets, volume, or intensity over time.
You performed an exercise at 20 lbs for 8 reps one week then 20 lbs for 12 reps the next week. Since you reached a personal maximum of 12 reps, you are able to increase your weight to 22.5 or 25 lbs in the following week.
You performed an exercise at 20 lbs for 12 reps one week then 25 lbs for 6 reps the next week. Since the weight had been increased, the target goal is 12 reps with 25 lbs in the following week(s).
While anaerobic exercise stimulates the growth of muscle and accelerates calorie burning, a proper diet regimen is primarily the reason why muscles are able to grow and abs are able to appear.
With a strict diet and training regimen without drugs or surgery, one can build up to 0.5 lbs of muscle per week or burn 2 lbs of fat per week. On a 500 calorie deficit per day with a good diet, you can burn 1 lb of fat in a week (7 days x 500 calories = 3500 calories = 1 lb of fat) plus an additional 1 lb of fat through exercise and metabolic processes. While this may be long or discouraging to some, the results can be substantial: In three months, one could build almost 6.5 lbs of lean muscle mass or burn 26 lbs of fat, respectively. With consistency and application of the progressive overload principle, results follow.
Tracking your fitness progress by writing down your exercise results, or using an app such as Strong will allow you to make measurable progress on a weekly basis.
It is recommended to exercise at vigorous intensity at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes, or exercise at moderate intensity at least five times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Did you know?
Three one-hour workouts in a week is only 1.8% of our time.
To reduce the risk of injuries, warming up the body with several minutes of cardio such as jump rope or dynamic stretching (mimicking the exercise(s) you will perform) is necessary before performing heavy weights. After your workout, a cool down of light cardio and static stretching (extending and holding stretched muscles) is recommended.
Gaining muscle does not mean you lose flexibility. Performing static stretches allow you to maintain and increase flexibility. Static stretches are not recommended right before a workout since it pre-fatigues the muscles, which would hinder performance. Do stretch after a workout.
Proper and controlled form is more important than how heavy you can lift. Never sacrifice form for heavier weights or you are at risk for injury. If good form becomes difficult, deload the weights until you are stronger. The concentric movement (going against gravity) should be explosive (but it will appear slower with a heavy enough weight), and the eccentric movement (going with gravity) should be slower. For power, aim for fast explosive movements, and for hypertrophy, aim for slower eccentric movements.
If you have limited lifting experience, it is advisable to meet with a personal trainer to learn proper form and technique.
General guidelines for good form while performing a lift:
For some, exercising may feel like a chore. It is important to view exercise as an enjoyable experience and part of your goals for mental health, confidence, appearance, performance, and overall well-being. Once you are consistent for three months, it becomes part of your routine and lifestyle. If you miss a day, don't worry much about it, as long you're able to be as consistent as possible.
Results make a great motivator. Methods such as taking before-and-after photos, recording body measurements, tracking weight changes, and monitoring strength improvements allow you to see observable results.
A healthy environment and strong support systems are imperative for continued progress. Having a workout partner is not only motivational, but also keeps each other accountable with some friendly competition.
The struggle to get off my ass and work out is nothing compared to the struggle I have with myself if I don't do it. Joe Rogan
The weight you're able to lift at relative to your body weight will determine whether you are a beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, or elite lifter. The strength standards calculator below can calculate your one-repetition maximum (1RM), how many times your own body weight (BW) you can lift, and approximate strength levels for squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press:
Beginner lifters will see the greatest muscular gains while experienced lifters will see the least over the span of a few years of consistent, progressive lifting. This is because of diminishing returns as the human body approaches their muscular genetic limit. This limit can be overridden with drugs, which is not advisable.
How does one control weight? By not overeating. How does one stay in shape? One plays sports. There are no magic pills here. Vladimir Putin
Exercise clearly improves well-being and the quality of life, the preservation of youth, reducing the risk of morbidity and mortality, and providing improvements in performance, balance, and mobility, which all contributes to confidence.
With your physician's clearance, before progressing to weight training or moderate to vigorous cardio, start with core bodyweight exercises and light to moderate cardio until your body can adapt to the neurological and physiological changes. Beginner bodyweight exercises include bodyweight squats, push-ups, planks, bridges, and assisted chin-ups. Light to moderate cardio includes incline walking, stairs, and jogging.
No matter your age, you start at your unique physical baseline and you can make tremendous improvements within weeks and months.
Did you know?
Ernestine Shepherd of Baltimore, Maryland, started training at age 71 and became a competitive bodybuilder at 75.
For more examples of inspiring individuals on their fitness journeys and transformations, check out /r/progresspics.
Women are extremely unlikely to get big and bulky from lifting weights because they produce very little testosterone, which is an important hormone for muscle growth. Conversely, women are more likely to slim down because lifting weights is excellent for burning fat and giving the coveted "toned" appearance. Elite natural lifters such as Jennifer Nicole Lee, Jamie Eason, and Marzia Prince are thin, lean, and "toned."
We don’t have to wait for a magic potion. We already have a proven treatment that profoundly protects our health: exercise. Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff
There are many ways to improve your health and fitness. Choose a lifestyle or goal that you can enjoy and stick with at a comfortable level.
Here are some fitness-specific goals:
The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy. Kenneth H. Cooper
The number of sets and repetitions relative to weight resistance will give you different results and physiques.
|Power Lifting||Bodybuilding (Strength)||Bodybuilding (Aesthetics)||Cardiovascular|
|Strength||Myofibrillar Hypertrophy||Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy||Endurance|
|1–5 reps||4–8 reps||8–15 reps||15+ reps|
|3–5 sets||3–4 sets||4–5 sets||2–4 sets|
|2–5' rest||1–3' rest||0.5–1.5' rest||0.5–1.5' rest|
|Note: The ' marker denotes time in minutes.|
Your body shape is largely influenced by how much muscle mass you have. For your desirable body shape, look no further than examples of elite athletes in their respective fields of powerlifting, weight lifting, and endurance to see how exercise affects lean mass:
"Toning" is simply the result from building muscle and reducing body fat.
Six pack abs are visible within the 10% body fat range (20% for women) and more prominent at lower percentages. A stricter calorie deficit diet will allow you to go at a lower body fat. How much abdominal muscles protrude is partially determined by genetics and partially determined by muscularity.
Anaerobic exercises include weight lifting (barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight resistance, etc.), sprinting, high intensity interval training and plyometrics, while aerobic exercises include running, biking, and swimming.
While aerobic exercises are excellent for endurance and oxygen consumption (VO2 max), it is not as efficient or effective as weight training and other anaerobic activities for burning fat or for building muscle. For instance, relative to the time and workload they put in, the physiques of Olympic athletes may be observed. Sprinters appear leaner and more built than marathon runners despite investing less time in exercising.
Regardless, cardiovascular exercise alongside anaerobic exercise on alternating days is recommended since the combination improves both muscular endurance and heart health.
While all kinds of physical activity provide health benefits, weight training is one of the most effective ways of increasing metabolism for fat loss while strengthening your muscles and bones to protect your joints, and decreasing the risk of disease and injury.
In addition to bodyweight exercises, weight training uses – but is not limited to – these types of equipment:
Other than the Big Six Lifts, Olympic lifts such as the power clean and jerk, and the snatch are fantastic full body exercises, although it requires practice and proper technique to perform correctly.
As an alternative or supplement to weight training, bodyweight (calisthenic) exercises may be performed.
Many bodyweight exercises do not require a gym. Exercises can be performed with little to no equipment.
Bodyweight exercises without equipment include push-ups, handstand push-ups, pistol squats, and planks. With gymnastic rings, simple to advanced chin-ups, rows, push-ups, and dips can be performed. The difficulty level of each exercise can be modified by using leverage.
/r/bodyweightfitness has tons of resources on bodyweight fitness.
Sprints, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and plyometrics are anaerobic activities similar to weight training, except it strongly relies on performance goals such as speed, agility, power, and coordination, as well as improving VO2 max and cardiovascular health.
Since they are high intensity workouts, it is not recommended to be performed on the same day as weight training due to the risk of overtraining. It is entirely optional to do on rest days if your body is adapted to the higher levels of training, such as being proficient with the Big Six Lifts. If you wish to incorporate sprinting with weight training, look into short intensity interval training such as Tabata (20 seconds of intense training followed by 10 seconds of rest, non-stop, for 4 minutes), or simply do a single 30-second sprint once a week.
Cardiorespiratory training is an excellent way to keep your heart healthy and to stay in shape, but sometimes poses challenges in preserving muscle mass since chronic activity increases cortisol levels, which burns muscle tissue. If you decide to combine cardio with weight training on consecutive days, make sure you get enough food and sleep, or you may risk overtraining.
Did you know?
Low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) such as inclined walking on the treadmill is a good way to burn excess calories while preserving muscle mass on a cut because lower intensity training targets a greater percentage of the body's fat stores for fuel.
While beginners should only do light to moderate cardio until they adapt to the neurological and physical demands, greater cardioprotective benefits of exercise are attained from moderate to vigorous cardio.
Common individual cardiorespiratory exercises include:
Another popular type of fitness activities are group classes. Examples are:
Sports are one of the more fun and engaging activities that may also include anaerobic requirements. Here are some examples:
T-shirts, shorts, and athletic wear are suitable attire to wear for training. Many enjoy listening to songs with portable music players. For footwear while doing heavy weights, flat-bottomed shoes such as the Converse Chuck Taylor and Vibram Fivefingers are recommended. Some go barefoot while working out at home. The Vibram Fivefingers are also useful for running.
Gym memberships are useful to access equipment that you do not have at home. It can be motivating to work out with other people, and it is also low-cost in the short term.
If you are an absolute beginner, or unsure how to do proper form and technique for injury prevention, or would like to have guidance and motivation, working with a personal trainer is a worthwhile investment.
If you are comfortable working out alone, a home gym is a very convenient and good long-term financial investment. The recommendations below are all that are necessary to build an effective quality home gym where you can perform many exercises, including the Big Six Lifts.
Since compound exercises work on more than one muscle group while strengthening the core (abs and back), they are outstanding full body exercises, used by beginners all the way to the elite. Excellent for both fat burning and muscle building, compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts work virtually the entire body with greater intensity than accessory or isolation exercises like the bicep curl.
Humans are bipedal species that use six primary, functional movements, as follows:
Type: Barbell weight training
Described as the king of all exercises, squats work primarily the legs and is often considered a full-body exercise. The barbell squat is probably the most intense yet rewarding of all exercises to perform. Front squats are a superior alternative or addition to the barbell (back) squat.
|Leg press||Machine weight training|
|Power clean||Olympic weightlifting|
|Lunges||Dumbbell weight training|
|Farmer's Walk||Barbell weight training|
|Pistol squat||Bodyweight training|
Type: Barbell weight training
Often competing with squats for the king of all exercises, this powerful movement works the entire posterior chain. It is also taxing on the central nervous system, so short and heavy is usually enough.
|Power clean||Olympic weightlifting|
|Farmer's Walk||Barbell weight training|
Type: Barbell weight training
Also known as the barbell military press, this excellent shoulder exercise also works on the arms.
|Handstand push-ups||Bodyweight training|
|Lateral raise||Dumbbell weight training|
|Front raise||Dumbbell weight training|
|Arnold press||Dumbbell weight training|
Type: Bodyweight training
A powerful exercise for the lats and underrated as a bicep builder. Beginners will often struggle with only one or two reps, but over time, even weighted or leveraged chin-ups would be possible. Chin-ups are palms facing toward the body while pull-ups are palms facing away. Arnold Schwarzenegger considers the chin-up to be the best bodyweight exercise.
|Front tuck lever||Bodyweight training|
|Cable pulldown||Machine weight training|
Type: Barbell weight training
|Chest dip||Bodyweight training|
Type: Barbell weight training
An exercise that works the full back, including traps, lats, and rhomboids. If doing the barbell row, ensure that the movement starts and ends with the barbell on the ground.
|Gymnastic ring row||Bodyweight training|
|T-bar row||Weight training|
|Seated cable row||Machine weight training|
|Dumbbell row||Dumbbell weight training|
Once your body has adapted to the fundamental Big Six Lifts with proper form, you may wish to move to an intermediate program that includes supplementary exercises. Accessory exercises mostly target individual muscle groups.
Squats and deadlifts work the abs and glutes better than direct work. For instance, strong abs are needed to perform a 300 lbs squat or a 400 lbs deadlift.
The SSF 3x and 4x bodyweight programs can be found in the e-book.
Experienced lifters who have trained for years may want to try: