Introduction: The 12 Week Fitness Story
This instructable is about a 12 week fitness challenge I took two months ago. Its meant to show other people how I achieved what I did achieve and the things I learnt, so that they can achieve their fitness goals.
This is my first instructable ever, so be easy oon me, and Im not a very good writer, I wrote this in two hours, so im sorry for typos or grammer.
Im not a body builder, Im just plain, simple engineering student.
I decided, for once in my life, to get ripped and have muscles like people do on tv (i didnt reach there but got closer and this ended in april, I dont workout that hard anymore, but still am improving on my body, overall good summer physique atleast).
So, I started working out, and to keep me motivated I joined the 12 week transformation challenge on bodybuilding.com.
Being an engineer, I experimented a lot of stuff I read online and through trial and error , got to learn a lot.
I reffered to bodybuilding.com a lot. Its a great website for everything related to bodybuilding, I highly recommend it.
In fact, here's my body space profile . http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/AmanP/
I highly recommend people to find new exercises if they get bored of the ones in their routine right now, and trying new stuff.
Also, having a gym partner is really very helpful.
First of all, I'd stress on the fact that working out hard is not gonna be enough. The three major things in the order of their difficulty are 1. Controlling your diet 2. Working out hard 3. Enough rest.
All of these are almost equally important, but the rest part is slightly more important.
So first about the diet part: Remember its not just physical toughness, its mental too, so you have to be strong enough to resist all these temptations, and just say to yourself, that its for a short period of time, 12 weeks, then you can go back to eating this stuff.
Couple of simple rules to follow:
1.NO desserts - you can have once a week, and that too in moderation, but you'll feel guilty that time too hopefully and thats good if you do , coz then you wont binge.
In fact, not just dessert as in doughnuts or ice-cream, that will include anything sweet. even banana shake which has sugar in it is a no no, fruits you can eat but that too not the very sweet ones and even if you do they should be in moderation.
like i would usually eat a banana or two 15-20 minutes before workout (that varies coz, some people feel uneasy if they eat right before workout so you can do it earlier if thats the case with you too.). Nothing that is sweet or has sugar in it.
as I said you get one day in a week to break these rules but even then you shouldnt go overboard as in you just eat sweets all day.
2.NO greasy, fried, cheese or oily stuff - say no to all of these, even if they are prepared at home , dont eat 'em. and strictly nothing from outside.
3. No eating out - whatever you do , avoid eating out. they put all these things you dont want to eat, just to make it taste good, they are either too greasy or too sweet, if you wanna eat out you can do natural juices or natural stuff, with as little sugar as possible or as little grease as possible, think before eating, dont ruin your hard work for 30 mins of pleasure. And to keep social life , you do have that one night out per week where you can eat this stuff.
4. Eat non veg - this might come out as wrong, I mean you can also eat other protein stuff you dont have to eat non veg everyday, but you should try to have one high protein source in your every meal, other thing you want is some carbohydrates (rice, bread etc) , you dont want any sugar, and no oil, I mean the amount of oil you need in you diet you get from many sources , also the fact that cooking many things requires frying onions and other stuff in oil in the beginning, so you get essential ones from there. eggs, fish, chicken, milk,spinach, beans, grams, soy etc, are good for you.
5. Number of meals - you should try to divide your meals into4-5 meals a day, try two lunches instead of one heavy lunch , just eat half of it and then half another 2 hours later. one sample meal plan : eat breakfast in morning I would recommend something with milk, like corn flakes or something and so you can put protein (1 scoop ) in your milk. then in like 2-3 hours depending upon when you feel hungry have your lunch , which should contain one source of high protein atleast(like the ones in last point) along with bread or rice of course, but dont fill up too much, just eat moderate, coz you have another lunch in 2-3 hours. then after the second lunch, have some fruits, like 1-2 bananas in about 2-2.5 hours, which should be 15-30 mins before you goto gym(depending upon if you feel uneasy or not). rememebr if you are feeling too filled and not energetic, you still havent been able to digest all the food, so you can wait up a bit for gym. this thing would happen initially till your body get used to the amount of food and especially the protein, coz thats hard for the body to digest, if you are not used to it. then after the gym you'll have your protein shake(1 scoop with milk), which is like another mini meal. then in 1-2 hours from the shake have your dinner, again have one high protein source but not greasy or sweet food as mentioned in above points. so the day would look like, maybe 9am breakfasts, 12noon, 1st lunch, 3 pm -2nd lunch, 5:30-bananas, 6 pm gym, 7:30-shake,9pm dinner.
So, this 12 weeks period divide in basic 3 parts. First 4 weeks, do the exercises with less weight and more reps, like 14-12-10 reps each exercise, but low weight each rep should be slow and controlled motion , no swinging or using momentum, you wont be able to lift as much as you used to before, but dont get frustrated or lose patience, coz you'll see you are getting tired. if you are not able to do these many reps you are trying to lift heavier than you should. but every exercise should be right form, if you need to check up on exercise forms and stuff, http://www.bodybuilding.com/ , it is a reliable and good website with a huuuge database of exercises. now the next 4 week, you'll go up to 10-8-6-4, you have to rev up the weight and the last set should be such that you can hardly do it, but do just 4, it should be unrealistic heavy, but dont hurt yourself, always use a spotter. The last set of weight should be something youve never lifted before, even a little higher than your max would be ok, but it should be a weight you cannot lift , just a little over it.this is the most important set though, The last 4 weeks, you should just do 8-6-4-x, but the the weight you do at 8 should be quite light which you can do with ease and very good form. 6 should be near the weight you used to do 4 rep with in the last 4 weeks, or if you can do it ask for help or maybe go just a little lighter, then the last set should be again something you cannot lift or have never tried before, a little more than you maximum, also, then again try this heavy weight with x number of reps, thats the max you can if you could do 4. if you couldnt do 4 then just try for 4 again or as many as you can do.Dont give up, and use help, so dont get hurt. also stretch and warm up before lifting. do pull ups 3 sets, push ups 3 sets and a little stretching of legs and arms, before doing any exercise just do it with very light weight or just the rod, this all might look stupid but helps.
legs - squats, leg presses, then leg extension & leg curls. calf raises. and jumps if you want, holding dumbels in your hand or even without dumbells, jumping on a pile of weights upto as high as your waist, be careful though.
Chest+abs - all three benches flat, incline, decline and then flyes,dumbell or pulley, then a circuit of abs, circuit means no rest in between the exercises, 1 set of crunches wih weight on your chest, really heavy weight , dont try to come up too high, just try to roll in your shoulder and neck towards your stomach, so that you engage your abs, its just trying to squeeze your stomach in and not without using any other part, and then one set of russian twist and then one set of planks (try atleast a minute in the start), then again start with the crunches, no rest between any of these,everything in a continous cycle with no stops, if you do it right you should be sweating.always try to just use your abs, squeeze them voluntarily and after sometime you'll get used to just using them.
Back - start with pull ups with weight if you can or just 3 good sets of pull ups from front and behind neck.
then start with dead lifts, always keep your lower back tucked in and dont bend your lower back bend you knees when you feel like you have to bend your lower back, but never bend your lower back and use a belt:.when doing this , during heavy weight , pull your shoulder blades together when you are straight and then when you bend down, the weight should automatically pull your shoulder blades out and then you should let them stretch but til the time the weight doesnt pull , the weight might be too less and you should resist the pulling out of blades, once they do then let em stretch. and when you come back up pull em together. thats almost true with every back exercise. so follow these rules mentioned above for every back exercise
then do standing rowing on machine or with rod, then pull downs on machine and then single arm rowing with dumbells, end with pullovers.
Rest day + cardio day , just go and run for 30 mins on decent pace, if you decide to run outside you can do intervals too, which I recommend, intervals of 2 mins is what I did.
for warm up do something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjA0YNAQI7U&feature=player_embedded
you can alternate between one week with all rod exercises and one week with all dumbell or choose one, or mix them up according to the the ones you like but only replace equivalent ones
ROD - start with military presses, front raises, lateral/side raises (with dumbells)- do with light weight but proper form, the last set you can do with little heavy weight with just one arm and the other arm holding onto something,rear flyes (again with dumbells).
DUMBBELLS - military press, arnold press, front raises, side/lateral raises, rear flyes.
end with shrugs, although you can also instead do it at the end of back day, your choice.
do leg raises with out any weight just legs lying on a decline or something, dont try to go very high with your legs but do it slow and using abs, dont lift your lower back off the bench or whatever you are lying on, do atleast 25 reps each time and do 5 sets.
then do leg raises where you are vertical, and your back is supported and you are hanging with your forearms set on pad, i hope you know what im taking about, the things you use for triceps and chest dips sometimes. use a light dumbell an do 3-4 sets like regular exercise with 12-10-10-10 reps.
Do cable crunches or lower back extensions in the end.
Triceps first, - warm up with some dips and close grip push ups. then do skull crushers, weighted bench dips, then weighted dips on the parallel bar on leg raise thing, then do a cable exercise you like , pull downs (with rope , if you can) or pull up behind the neck, or reverse grip pull downs.
biceps, start with rod curling, then do bench curls, the one with the pad to rest arms, then some dumbell curls standing(one by one), then choose one of: concentration curls/ hammer curls/cable culs with rope or rod.
cardio, you should run again for about 20-25 minutes, or intervals, after the arm workout.
for the rest part, all you have to do is try and plan your sleeping and waking up time as per your schedule so that you get atleast 8 hours of sleep every night.
best of luck,
remember its both mental and physical toughness and discipline, you have to conquer all the temptations and be strong, you should observe your weight losing and muscle mass increasing within a month, try to monitor your weight and muscle results, let me know what happens after 1, 2 months, stick to the rules strictly an the results will be encouraging, its just 3 months of hardwork, once you muscle mass is enough, and low body fat %, even if you stop strictly sticking to the diet you still will have higher metabolic rate and wont get fat as such, muscles eat up a lot of fuel
as for the protein powder, GNC is a well known brand, I use optimum nutrition whey (whey is good and natural, its mostly milk protein concentrated, if you are lactose intolerant you can take the egg based one too) and like the flavors, vanilla, and rocky road, but you can choose and try, its good to get the 5 lb big box at once.
this is the one i have but different flavor.
Dont try to starve yourself, you wanna get in shape the healthy way, not by starving yourself or just getting weak.you shouldnt over eat but should eat enough that you are filled for a couple of hours atleast uptill your next meal
the idea of multiple meals is spreading it out in the day.
So even though rice , bread etc are just carbs, dont abstain from them, you need carbs too for the energy to work out, you want to keep your body healthy and fit
you wanna get in shape by being super healthy not by taking pills or fat burners. Its ok, If you dont wanna take protein either, just instead of protein take 4-5 raw eggs in milk.
I prefer protein with milk, you wouldnt like it with water, plus it adds the good qualities of milk.
and definitely nothing sweet not just desert food, but anything thats sweet, dont eat it. I didnt eat anything sweet for 3 months, even stopped having orange juice and apples, that was too much (and wrong), but you got my point. Things you buy outside which say 0 fat or diet or no fat, they still have sugar in it and its stupid people think its good for them. sugar promotes storage when it cannot process all that sugar , insulin production promotes that.
Proteins contain carbs and other stuff too, technically its right, but you cant digest pure protein. and like i said about rice/bread too, you need carbs and all to work through out the day, to have energy to do stuff (and workout) and feel healthy, if you feel lethargic and all, that means you are still getting slimmer probably but by killing your body and we dont want that.
The thing people forget, especially old school gym instructors, is that abs are still muscle, and very important ones actually, strong core is very very important in sports and general fitness, let aside good looking. and as a muscle it needs time to repair and all, so doing it every single day doesnt help at all.
making your abs stronger doesnt make you look slim at all, coz since the muscle size increases and the fat over it stays the same, it actually might look bigger but maybe more tight and shapely but still big.
getting slim is just calorie balance, right now you have calories you take everyday minus the amount you burn, plus you have leftover, plus the stuff thats stored as fat in your body.
now to burn that extra stored fat you need to run, running is the best bet for that, plus you have to run atleast 20 mins, intervals is great, coz it also helps in performance, and apart from all this running is reallly really good for you, this bodybuilding doesnt help you heart as much as running does. and its really important for your sex life too.
The thing is if you run a lot you lose some muscle too, and look skinny, so you want your muscles to grow and fat to become less, so you have to do both workout hard enough and run, plus more muscle will actually burn more calories, so more muscle you get easier it is to get slimmer in that sense, say if arnold and I ate the same amount he'l become slim and fit in a month, coz he'll use up all stored fat, since his body is big it needs more fuel to do stuff.
workout hard for all muscles (including abs) , very hard in fact, run twice a week(or more), DONT EAT ANYTHING SWEET, rest well. youll see results very soon. diet part is the highest priority to get lean.
I havent added a lot of detail about the exercises themselves , coz the best way to see them is through professionals doing in on bodybuilding.com, and you can see the videos too http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/
The basic rule to follow, is know what all muscles you are using and if you are not feeling it, try to read about teh right form and voluntarily contract and expand the muscle while doing the movement and slowly your body will get used to using that muscle more.
If you have any questions about some weird feelings while doing any exercise, ask me, i'll try to answer, coz I encountered and tried many many variations and tricks if something didnt work for me. so I might be able to help.