It’s that time again and everyone you know is ready to make a change. More times than not, this means they want to get their ass in a gym and get in shape. Well, I have no idea what “in shape” means to everyone but 100% of people fail for the following reasons:
- They have no good training habits. Habits require discipline, not motivation. Motivation drains you and is empty. Discipline and habits always work. They never fail.
- They have too many options. I have talked about this many times, but the more options a person has, the more paralyzed they become. You give a person a huge commercial gym and they don’t know where to start. Too many roads, too many decisions. Give a person a squat rack and a platform and the there is only one way they can go. One reason why garage/home gyms work so well for so many – because they don’t have the room or money for much more than a rack, barbell and weights.
- They have no idea what to do. Lots of people telling you lots of things; studies totally contradicting each other. Yoga, shake weights, diets, Crossfit and whatever else social media in an attempt to sell you health. What a mess.
- They just don’t care – there is nothing anyone can do about this. If you don’t care, just admit it and move on.
So in order to make this new change easy to follow and something that will actually work, here is my plan. Give this to anyone that is ready to start anew. It is not fancy. It does not promise you 25 pounds in 2 weeks, in either weight loss or strength gain. This can be followed by just about anyone who is willing to do what is necessary.
Get the book Starting Strength. Learn how to squat, press, bench press and deadlift. Follow Mark’s recommendations for learning and progressing the lifts. Mark is a friend of mine. Mark is also the best resource anyone has on beginners learning how to do the lifts and do them correctly. Do this for 3 months. Don’t change your diet. Don’t add in anything. Don’t take out anything. Just do this. Besides the lifting, I want everyone to do the Agile 8 EVERY SINGLE day. Doesn’t matter when you do it, just do it. In summary: get the book Starting Strength, do Agile 8.
Get the book 5/3/1 2nd Edition. Once you have learned the lifts, follow the 5/3/1 program 2-3 days a week. The only assistance work you will do other than the main lifts are bodyweight oriented (push-ups, sit-ups, back raises, chins/pull-ups, inverted rows, one-leg squats, lunges, step-ups, planks). Do this for 3 months.
Summary: do the 5/3/1 program, bodyweight work and continue to do the Agile 8 every day.
So now we have a very simple plan to follow for the first 6 months. All I’m asking you to do is get the books and train 2-3 days/week with Agile 8 done every day.
Develop great eating habits. All diets suck unless they become habits. Losing weight is great but only smart, habit-fueled people can keep the weight off. And not ruin their lives in the process. Cutting and bulking are horrible ways of teaching you nothing. Smart eating habits make everything easy. To make things simple, I’ve taken some knowledge and condensed it into 6 easy steps.
- Eat 3-5 meals/day.
- Have some kind of whole food protein at each meal (eggs, chicken, beef, fish). Full-fat meats/eggs are not bad.
- Have a fruit or vegetable at each meal. It doesn’t matter what kind – eat what you like.
- Drink no-calorie beverages. Yes, you can drink diet soda.
- Have some rice, potatoes, oatmeal, whole grain breads, pasta at each meal. Carbs are not the devil.
- All meals/food should be WHOLE food.
That’s it. This is called developing good eating habits. Eat less at each meal to lose weight. Eat more of each to gain weight. The key is to develop the protein/fruit-vegetable/carb guidelines at each meal. Don’t count calories.
After each lifting session, do some kind of conditioning work. This means running, biking, elliptical, pushing a sled, mobility circuit, etc. Doesn’t matter too much what you do other than you work for 20-30 minutes. Do NOT kill yourself on this. “Killer conditioning” is moronic. You work hard, smart and will be able to fight another day. This is to be added to your training after 6-9 months of lifting. Until you learn how to lift and be consistent, don’t add anything to it. This is to be done 2-3 days/week.
So in conclusion we are working first to develop great training habits and learn the technique. We will do the Agile 8 every single day to help grease the joints and work on feeling better in every day life. Then we will transition to the 5/3/1 program with bodyweight assistance work. Then great eating habits, which you can carry with you your entire life, are introduced. No more falling for diet bullshit! Think of all the money you will save. Finally, we will do some kind of conditioning work.
- Lift weights – 2-3 days/week.
- Conditioning – 2-3 days/week
- Agile 8 – every day
- Eating habits – set for life
Stop with the madness of the latest and shittiest trends. They all suck. Develop habits with tried and true methods, don’t overextend yourself and think about LONG TERM results. 365 days from now, where will you be? Small steps lead to great rewards.
Make sure to visit Jimwendler.com for more of his musings on training. You can also find Wendler’s articles on T-Nation.com.