Step 2: What do I want to achieve?

There are countless types of training methods, but they can be divided into two very generic categories:

Aerobic exercise (aka cardio)
Aerobic exercise involves consumption of oxygen over extended periods of time (more than a few minutes and up to several hours) at a moderate intensity level.
Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, running, swimming, cycling. During this type of exercise oxygen is used to break down a carbohydrate called glycogen into glucose and then into energy, if there is lack of this carbohydrate fat is used to produce energy . Fat produces a lower quality energy, resulting in a diminishing performance, and loss of fat .
Aerobic exercise should be performed for at least 30 minutes per session to produce improvements in the cardiovascular system, 45 minutes being a better compromise between time and results.
This is a very simplified explanation of how fat is burned, and why if you eat too many carbohydrates you will see very little results, simply because your body won't have a reason to burn fat (we'll talk about diet in another step).
Benefits of this type of exercise (over time):
Increased endurance
Strengthening of the hearth muscle, increased respiratory performance
Better circulation, lower blood pressure, increased capacity of oxygen transportation by the red blood cells
Muscles toning
Fat loss, increase in metabolism and storage of energy in the muscles
Faster muscle recovery

Aerobic exercise, while not as intense as anaerobic exercise, should still be performed with the personal maximal effort, keeping the heart rate at 70-85% of it's maximum for a length of time between 30 and 45 minutes. So this is still a high intensity exercise, you should progressively build up to it, as your heart and muscles adapt to your training, we'll talk more in depth about aerobic exercise in the next step.

Anaerobic exercise
Anaerobic exercise generates energy in a different manner, and it also differs from aerobic exercise by the higher intensity and lower duration of the exercise. During this type of exercise, after a while, the production of lactic acid exceed the capacity of the body to remove it, resulting in fatigue and muscle "failure" (the kind of failure bodybuilders talk about all the time).
This type of exercise burns more energy than the aerobic one and also uses more oxygen (required to transform glucose and fat to energy). The maximal oxygen consumption is measured by VO2, volume of oxygen per minute, and it's a good indication of the fitness level of a person, there are a few simple DIY test you can do to measure your VO2, you can find more info here: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/vo2max.htm
A few benefits of anaerobic exercise are:
Increased endurance for high intensity exertion
Muscle growth (hypertrophy)
Increased metabolism
Increased bone density
Increased tolerance and faster recovery to lactic acid production

This instructables will focus primarily in the integration of anaerobic and aerobic exercise, as they both have their strength and weakness. For a person in average fitness level this approach will be of great benefit, as the aerobic training will improve max VO2, resistance and will burn fat, the anaerobic will increase high intensity endurance, will tone muscles both in size and strength, storing into them ATP, creatine phosphate and glycogen (through your training diet, you don't need any supplement).

Interval Training
I've seen some popular commercial training programs presenting interval training as the new revolutionary type of training, short, intense, and with great results. The truth is that interval training has been around for quite some time, and it's a great tool for getting in shape, it's a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Interval training consists of time "intervals" of high intensity followed by rest or low intensity exercise for a period of time. The more intense the intensity and the shorter the rest periods, the shorter is the overall time, or the repetition of high-low sets.
It's particularly great for people who have little time for training, even 20 minutes a day of this type of exercise can bring visible effects, especially if a good diet is followed.
For some people the downside of this type of training is that it's really fatiguing, so you'll need a lot of motivation to complete the session, and you'll need a timer or a pre-recorded mp3 track with timed instructions (you can even make one for yourself).

But what would YOU like to achieve?
A few examples:
If you want to lose fat and tone your muscles follow this instructable as is.
If you want to lose fat and be a runner concentrate your training with a majority of running sessions, and a few anaerobic session; a runner needs a light agile body, so excess of fat and muscle will cause inferior performance.
On the other hand, if you want to build muscle and strength you'll want to train with few intense repetitions and allow your body enough rest to recuperate between sets, running will be beneficial to lose extra calories and burn fat, but too much running will be counterproductive.
If you want to increase performance in your sport, train for your sport and integrate with new challenges, too often people hit a plateau where they don't seem to make any progress. They need to rethink their training, differentiate and integrate it with a new regime of exercise.
In short, train for what you want to achieve, the theory is there to help you decide how you should train, not to burden you with too much information to analyse.

Recuperation times
For different results you might want to use different rest times between sets, you can find out more about it in this article: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa111.htm
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<p>Nice guide BeFit, Keeping a tally of all the calories you consume in a <br>day is an effective way to help you <a href="http://sdpharmaceuticals.com/news/257" rel="nofollow">stay on track</a>. Keep in mind that the number is not going to change <br>overnight, you need to stay focus.</p>
Thank you for the guide you wrote. I can sincerely appreciate all the efforts you put in and extensive research you made to get this a valuable material. One suggestion if I may towards BCAA. Cottage Cheese is enrich with proteins and amino acids, see the link: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/15/2. Granted the sugar maybe too high, but we still depend on ugar consumption. It is natural and affordable and has the value that replenishes proteins necessary for muscle growth.
Nice exercise. Its really simple and any body can do this, I have been facing ankle pain since 15 days.I am taking medication but its for temporary relief. I hope these exercises would help me out. <a href="http://www.comfortor.de/footexercises.html" rel="nofollow">Foot exercises</a>
Hey befit, this is a great instructable! I have been thinking about getting in shape and this greatly motivates and inspires me. I'd like to say that your instructable is fine the way it is, I see it as a huge gift you're giving us and therefore Im fine with the way it is. Thanks so much and keep up the great work.
Cool I liked this ible! I read parts I liked of this instructable!<br>Maybe if you could just make it a little smaller...but its still really helpful!
I liked your guide, but just wanted to warn you of the title typo. It should be &quot;lose&quot;, not &quot;loose&quot;. ; )
I'm glad you liked this guide :) And thanks a lot for the correction, I definitely mixed up those two words.
Just a quick update, I broke down into smaller steps the Diet, Exercises and the Program steps, so they are more accessible now.
I can't help wondering how many of these photos are of *you* following your own advice...?<br><br>
What do you mean? All of the photos in this instructables where taken by me, and I train mostly with body weight exercises, and DIY weights, like paint buckets filled with sand and sand bags, never went to a paid gym in all my life.
Sorry, but the mix of image sizes, styles and formats (casual v posed, colour v B&amp;W) is usually an indicator that they have been lifted from other websites, something which (for some reason) is a continuing problem with fitness-related Instructables.<br><br>
I understand your concern, but I can assure you that every single one of the photos here is mine, with no exception, and if needed I have full resolution digital negatives to prove it.<br>Anyway, as you are an instructables veteran, what do you think about this instructable? Be lenient please :)
What do I think?<br><br>Oh, far too much effort - the nearest i get to exercise is jumping to conclusions!<br><br>As for the Instructable, I'd consider breaking steps 6, 7 &amp; 8 into shorter chunks (ie more steps) - lots of folk don't like scanning large chunks of text, especially when they have to scan up and down a lot to check the photos that go with each paragraph.<br><br>Maybe a step per type of exercise, a step for what to eat, a step for when to eat, a step for supplements etc..?<br><br>
I appreciate your feedback, I did consider breaking those steps up, but at the same time I wanted to create &quot;chapters&quot;, so when people read them and then a few days latter they forget something they don't have to try to remember if the info was in diet part 1 or in diet part 3, they can scroll or search the page. I will definitely have to break down at least the exercises step, as it's too long and the photos are not easily accessible.
<br> There are lots of places to get feedback:<br> <a href="http://www.instructables.com/community/The-Clinic/"><br> The Clinic</a>.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.instructables.com/group/volunteers/">Volunteers Group</a>.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.instructables.com/community/Featuring-Checklist/">Featuring checklist</a>.<br> <br> Or you can have longer, wider chats in the <a href="http://www.instructables.com/community?categoryGroup=all&category=all">forums</a>.<br> <br>