The ULTIMATE Guide to Lose Weight & Build Muscle




Introduction: The ULTIMATE Guide to Lose Weight & Build Muscle

First of all know your motivations, why would I want to be fit?
There are several reasons:

Feel good (physically and mentally)
Look good
Lose fat
Have more strength and power
Do something fun
Increase your sport performance
Increase your muscle mass
Increase your longevity and life quality
Other/personal reasons :)

If you have any of the above ambitions there is nothing better than physical exercise to achieve them.

Is this fitness guide the right one for me?
This guide is made for people who have little experience in physical exercising or people who would like to bring their fitness training to the next level.
If you are already a die hard athlete who trains 5-6 days a week you will probably already know most/some of the content of this guide, but feel free to have a look and leave a feedback with suggestions.
If you meet the following requirements, then this is the right guide for you:
Be able to dedicate a few hours of your time each week (how much will depend on your goals and your available free time)
Have a good diet (we'll talk about this later)
Be ready to make some sacrifices (physical training sometimes is difficult, but very rewarding)

What will I need?
Light and comfortable sports clothes
Good Shoes
A notepad and a pencil
And that's about it, to be fit there is no need to spend money... what?? (you ask) Yes, that's right, there is no need for special equipment, or a gym subscription, unless you are a professional bodybuilder you can get fit in your home/garden/local park and look and feel like an athlete.
Additional items might include: a cheap pull up bar to hang in your door frame (if you don't have a local park with pull up bars near you, or for when it's raining), cheap digital timer, a sport bra for the ladies.

What will I learn?
The basics and the theory behind fitness exercise (not too much, just the necessary)
How to organize you training
What /When to Eat and rest
How to motivate yourself
Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise and how to combine the two for maximal results
How to make a fitness program which is right for you

What will I achieve if I follow this instructable guide?
With this guide you will be able to achieve your short term and long terms goals, the training will be different depending on the aim you have set for yourself. With some modification it can be adapted to most sports, and even if you would like to become a bodybuilder but have no previous experience in exercising this is an excellent starting point.
You can follow this guide to make your own program each week/month, but I would suggest to do a 90 days training program, if you'll follow it sincerely I can promise you amazing results and satisfactions.

PS: all of the photographs in this instructables were taken by me, please don't use them without my permission, thanks!

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Step 1: The Basics

As usual the very important disclaimer: check with your doctor before you start exercising , if you have any problems he/she should be able to instruct you on what you can do and what you should avoid doing, discuss with him/her your training program in detail.
If you feel any pain stop exercising and go to your doctor, if you injure yourself you will not be able to exercise properly (or at all), and your progress will come to a halt.
I am not responsible for any of your actions.

A few important tips :

Start gently , both your overall training and during each session, if you overdo in the beginning you risk injuries and your progress will actually be slower
Always warm up and cool down
Don't over train one muscle two days in a row, rest is very important for fitness
Keep in mind what are you training for and train accordingly (more on this later)
Keep in mind your working days and your rest days, don't shift the days at will, always stick to your program
Keep track of your progress , and analyse what your are doing right and what you are doing wrong
Keep at it , too often people abandon their diet/fitness program too soon because they don't see immediate result
Train hard , if you are not fatigued and dripping sweat you are not training hard enough (and if you are you can do even better)
Don't do the same routine over and over again, your body will quickly adapt to it and it will become easy, but you won't make progress, always escalate the difficulty and change the type of exercise periodically

Things you should avoid at all cost:
Drinking alcohol (I believe in a alcohol free existence, it has empty nutritional value, but a lot of calories and unwanted effects)
Drugs (caffeine is ok, it can even help you with mental focus during a hard training, but it's not a necessity, in moderation guarana might be a better alternative to coffee, I use neither)

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:
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:

Step 3: Warm Up and Cool Down

Why would I want to warm up? I just want to exercise...
There are no two ways about it, you need to warm to prepare your body and your mind for the physical exercise that will follow.
In short the reasons are:
Get your blood flowing in your muscles , they will become more responsive and powerful after a warm up, your blood vessel will expand and allow better oxygen flow
Your tendons and ligaments will become more elastic after a warm up, this reduces the risk of injury, also your joints will be naturally lubricated
To prepare your mind to the mental focus required for the exercise you are about to perform
To adapt to the climate

Arguably the best form of warm up is the active warm up with dynamic stretches, this means to stretch performing exercises slowly such as jumping jacks, burpees, push ups for the upper body, squats, Russian walk, lunges etc. After performing these dynamic stretches you'll want to increase your pulse by performing more demanding exercises, or you could repeat the previous exercises with more vigour.
When you begin to break a sweat and your pulse is as high as it would be during the exercises to follow you are probably warmed up, but be sure that each individual muscle or muscle group which will be stressed under exercise is fully warmed up, and there is no stiffness or pain.

Cool Down , why cooling down???
Because it's fun! No, not really, but it's just as important as warming up, never just stop exercising and hit the shower, always cool down.
The cool down should last no less that 5-10 minutes, depending on the type of activity that was just performed. Cooling down prevents blood pooling and possibly fainting, while improving flexibility and recovery for the next session. During exercise the muscles help circulation by squeezing the veins, if there is a sudden stop to the exercise your lower extremities will have a hard time circulating your blood and fainting could occur by lack of oxygen in the brain. 
To cool down reduce your activity and your pulse gradually, don't sprint or perform exercises which will raise your heart rate. Then you'll want to stretch your muscles and ligaments (details will follow in another step).

Step 4: Running, Cycling, Swimming

For running it's important to have a pair of good running shoes , the best way to get the right shoes for your type of foot is to go to a local running store, and ask the salesperson to help you make the right choice. Bring with you an old pair of shoes, your type of pronation can be understood by the wear of your old shoes.
These simple precaution will help you prevent unwanted injuries like split sheen and fasciitis.
You can read more about it here:

If you are just starting out don't train too hard and/or for too long , you need to give time for your body to accustom itself to the new type of exercise. Perform the aerobic exercise of your choice for 3 days a week for 20 minutes, adding 5-10 minutes each week (until you reach 40-60 minutes). In the beginning if you can not run the whole time it's ok to alternate running and fast walking (never stop in the middle of exercising). After you have reached your ideal time increase in intensity, a very good advice somebody gave me a few years ago is: don't run for the kilometres (or miles) but for the length of time, as your training progresses you will be able to run faster and further, and you won't shave off precious minutes of exercise.

Before beginning your session you'll need to warm up , for running you can start by walking and progressively build up your speed over a time of about 5-10 minutes. It takes more time to warm up if you have just got up from bed or if you are training in cold weather.
Also you can warm up by walking / slow running backwards and sideways, then kick backwards as far as you can with your feet/shoes, after that bring one knee at a time at waist level like a footballer would kick the ball in the air with his knees, repeat the sequence quicker and quicker, it's non necessary to follow the exercises in this order.
Warm up your shoulders by rotating your arms in big circles, and your torso by rotating the upper body while your hips stand still.
A good indications that you are warmed up are:
you are beginning to break a sweat
your pulse is about as high as it will be in the exercise you are about to perform
you are feeling more energized and motivated
there is no stiffness or pain in your body

Running is a natural exercise and almost anyone can do it, a proper form is required to avoid injuries and maximize benefits.
Keep your centre of gravity in a straight linear motion , shifting your centre of gravity (which is situated near your navel) will ensue in increased effort to perform the same task.
Keep an upright posture , leaning slightly forward to maintain momentum, keep your arms bent and relaxed, with your hands travelling between your waist level and your chest, alternate the movement of your arms and legs to stabilize your body.
There are three major foot landing positions : heel strike, forefoot strike and mid-foot strike. There is a lot of debate about which is better, and most athletes seem to use the heel strike, followed by the mid-foot strike, and a minority use the forefoot strike. I would suggest to use a heel strike as it seems the more efficient in today running shoes: strike the ground with the outside of your heel and then pivot your foot until the next step, where you take the foot of the ground by the ball of your foot.
If you think you need more information I would suggest to search the web, as there are really a lot of articles, debates and discussion about the argument (you can start from here: ).

For this training program you'll want to perform 3 types of running sessions : a slow paced 90 minutes run , performed not too often, once in 1-2 weeks; a moderate pace session of 45 minutes, 3 times a week; and a fast paced session of 30 minutes once or twice a week.

You can integrate or substitute a few of the running sessions with cycling and/or swimming. I will assume you can already cycle and swim, if you can't a guide on "how to swim/cycle" will not be of much use, but you can always ask a friend or a swimming pool to help you.
Briefly, you can substitute your running session with an equal time of cycling , keeping your effort at a level which will permit to complete the training. Warm up a little bit off the bike with stretches, then warm up on the bike using light gears and maintaining a low speed and progressing to heavier gears and faster speeds. Cool down in a similar fashion and perform static stretches for the legs and the back.

Swimming is a great exercise for the upper body, it also doesn't stress your joints and bones as much as running. A 30 minutes session would be satisfactory, you could simply swim for this time with a style of your choosing, or perform an interval training swim, alternating swimming and resting times. Don't rest too much to allow your heart rate to drop below training heart rate, and try to cover a set distance in an interval of time of your choosing, as you progress you should be able to decrease your rest times and increase the distance covered.

Step 5: Motivate Yourself and Be Your Success

Your mind controls your body
Your training is not only physical, as a matter of fact there are 3 big components to training: exercising, diet, and state of mind!
Exercising is probably the easiest of the three, because you know what you need to do, and you know that after 45-60 minutes you'll be showering and resting, so that's it for the day. But maintaining a good diet takes a lot of effort for most people, and pushing yourself above your limits takes too a lot of willpower.
The good news is that there are tricks to motivate yourself  and help you build not only a stronger body but a stronger mind as well.

I've never exercised , exercising is so hard...
The truth is, exercising is addictive! Once you are hooked you are doomed to get in shape and stay fit and beautiful!
Intense physical exercise produce endorphins in your brain, a natural drug produced to help you feel better, and after a hard session you really feel that sense of calm and happiness. Also it lifts your mood and concentration, so you can feel the benefit of exercising even the day after when you are working or studying.
As I said before, start slowly and build progressively, if you burn yourself in the beginning you are most likely to quit early, before the addiction kicks in ;)

Know you motivation
You must motivate yourself with the result you want to achieve! If you want to lose weight, think about how good you'll look and feel in a month if you exercise today! Or if you want to be able to run the 4 minutes miles, think how your training today will bring results tomorrow!
This is a very important step to insure that you'll train as much as possible/needed to achieve the desired goal.

Visualize your training and your results
A powerful trick athletes use is to visualize in your mind what you'll do with your body, the more detailed is the visualisation the better.
If for example you'd like to wake up early in the morning and go running you could visualize before going to bed how you wake up in the morning, turn off your alarm clock, get out of bed, get your slippers on, go to the bathroom, drink a few glasses of water, get dressed... you get the idea! Apply it to your training, and don't make up excuses not to train, the only person you'll be cheating is yourself, so be your best friend!

Count, sing
Some exercises are repetitive, and leave your mind too much time to make up excuses of why you should stop, that you are too tired, or that you don't have time for this. A trick is to count rhythmically, for example if you are running and you are at your last km/mile and you are tempted to walk begin to count from 1 to 10, or 1 to 100, for every step. Your mind will concentrate on the counting and will forget about how tired you are, trust me, it works! An even more efficient version is to count backwards, from 100 to 1 for example, or if you are doing repetitions of 15-20 you can divide them by counting to five for 3-4 times, it will also create the illusion that you are doing less, and your mind will be occupied at keeping track of how many sets of five you have already counted. Other people like to sing to keep their mind busy, it works as well, or you could start thinking about the latest project you need to complete, sometimes exercising brings great ideas.

Train in good company
You can involve your friends, family, girlfriend/boyfriend and train together, this can increase motivation to perform better, and can even start some healthy competition. If you get too numerous I would suggest to train in groups of two people, to ensure your are not distracted too much, because unless there is a group leader there will be chaos :)

A few words about overtraining, it can be both a mental and physical state, very intense training for a prolonged time leads to fatigue and lack of motivation. Rest periods are very helpful for curing overtraining, but it should be noted that overstraining occurs only at high levels, professionals or very dedicated amateurs.
It's useful to program rest periods in your training schedule, for example a week after a few month of hard training.

Rest days are as important as training days, never train on rest days, your muscles need time to repair themselves, and resting days help your body get in optimal shape.
Also sleep is fundamental for muscle development and recovery, you should get about 7-8 hours of sleep at early and constant hours, this means no parting or staying up late. You can have a few exceptions but the better your habits the better your results will be.
My sleep routine consist of going to bed at about 10pm and getting up at 5 o'clock. I've read an excellent article about sleep routines by a famous blogger who suggests to get up always at the same time and go to sleep only when you begin to feel tired, after a while a very good equilibrium is created, and I found out that this method works very well (you can read his article here , he also has a lot of very useful motivational and philosophical articles, and just to be clear I have no affiliation with him, but I wish I had :)

Step 6: Push Ups - Upper Body Exercises

Perform all exercises with proper form, otherwise they won't be useful, when you are no longer capable of maintaining proper form stop the repetitions.

Push Ups (or Press Ups)
Keep your body in an ideal straight line, you'll need to use your legs, back, buttocks, and abdominal muscles to keep this position. Put your hands at shoulder wide distance, your arms fully extended and your palms on the floor, with the tips of your fingers pointing straight ahead of you. Keep you head raised and look at the horizon (immagine that somebody might prank you :) , so you always have to look what's in front of you). Keep your legs and feet together, now bend your elbows until your chest is about an inch from the floor keeping your body straight, then straighten your elbows to return to the initial position.
You should not touch the floor with any part of your body, don't drop or raise your hips, can't stress enough that it's very important to keep your body in a straight line, only your arms should move. You can use a rolled towel below your chest as a guide on how much you should lower your body.

How many?
A good goal to aim to is 60 push ups with perfect form (no breaks in between), with a bad form you can do infinite, they just don't count. After a while performing too many push ups might be boring and you won't gain much more strength, so I suggest to aim for 20 to 30 push ups, when you can do more add progressively some weight (see below), and from time to time switch between doing as many body weight push ups as you can, and push ups variations, to performing weighted push ups, aiming at 20 repetitions.

Variations :
Easier: perform the same exercise as described above but put your hands on a raised surface, like a sturdy table or a chair, if this is still too difficult, perform the exercise on your knees with hands on the floor, or on a raised surface like a short chair.

Harder :
Declined push ups
Put your feet on a raise solid surface, like a box, or a solid chair, and perform as a regular push up, until you chest is a few inches of the ground, don't bang your head/chin.

Wide arm push ups
Place your hand wider, about 1.5x your shoulder distance, the wider your hand the more your chest muscles will be stressed, perform as a regular push up.

Close arm push ups
Place your hand together making a diamond shape with your index fingers and your thumbs, this variation will stress the triceps muscles.

Weighted push ups
Take a rucksack and stuff it with some weight, you can use bags of sand for example, strap it close to your back, perform as regular push ups with the weight on your upper back.

Fist push ups
Perform push ups making fists with your hands, lock your wrist straight with your arm. Use a soft mat to perform the push ups, your knuckles will be grateful.

Spiderman push ups
Perform a normal push up, but when you bend your elbows take your right foot and bring the right knee to your right elbow, your body will twist, take the foot back when you return to the straight arms position, repeat with the other leg with the next push up. This will work your abdominal muscles too.

Raised legs push ups
Perform normal push up but with one leg raised in the air, and keep the rest of your body straight.

Hindu push ups
From the standard push up position raise your hips in the air to make an upside down "V", bend your elbows and lower your head to the ground, once your nose is a few cm/inches of the ground straighten your back and lower your hips while straightening your arms, in this position your head is up, your back is near the floor, legs and arms are straight. Now perform the exercise backwards until you return to the upside down "V" position, never touch the floor.
This exercise will also work your shoulder.

Step 7: Pull Ups - Upper Body Exercises

Pull ups
Pull ups is a great exercise for your upper body, you can get incredible strength and build big muscles with pull ups and it's variations. Proper form is very important in order to build strength, this exercise should be performed with your body perfectly straight and rigid, there should be almost no swinging.
Don't perform them too fast to maintain form and avoid swinging (about 2 seconds for going up and 2 seconds going down).

Grab the bar a little wider than shoulders width with the palms of your hands turned away from you, bend the elbows and pull until your chest is near the bar and your chin is over the bar.

How many?
Set your goal to at least 20 perfect form pull ups, as with other exercises, pull ups performed with bad form, for example by kipping, become an aerobic exercise, and you might be able to perform even a few hundreds of them, without adding much to your strength. Switch between as many body weight push ups as you can perform and weighted push ups, adding weight when you are able to perform 10-12 repetitions.

Under grip pull ups (aka Chin Ups)
Grab the pull up bar with your hand at shoulders width distance, and your palms facing you, pull up until your chin is over the bar, and go back to the initial position, chin ups will stress the biceps as well.

When you are hanging in the lower initial position, with your arms straight, don't relax your shoulders and your back muscles (latissimus dorsi), your head should not be near/touching your arms and shoulders, as this variation is not as effective in building strength.

Negative pull ups
If you can't do a single pull up, or if you can do only a few, a good way to improve is to perform negative pull ups, meaning that you start from the chin over the bar position and lower yourself as slow as you can. If the bar is low enough you can jump to that position from the ground, or you can take a sturdy chair and raise yourself with your legs, then take the feet of the chair and lower yourself.

Inclined pull ups
Use a low enough bar to be able to hang from the bar with your hands, your body straight and rigid, and your feet touching the ground with your heels, so that you body is at an angle with the ground. Increase the angle until a full hanging pull up is achievable.

You can also ask a friend to help you with the pull up by helping raising you by the hips.

Inward grip pull up
Take the bar as you would take a baseball bat, hands almost touching each other, palms facing each other, your head will be straight under the bar, perform a pull up by raising your head on one side of the bar, then repeat on the other side, your shoulder should almost touch the bar. Perform the next set of repetitions switching the position of the hands in order to stress symmetrically your muscles.

Raised knees pull up
Raise your knees pelvis high and perform the pull up, this will stress your abdominal muscles as well.
A harder variation is the L shape pull up.

L-shape pull up
Raise your legs straight, to form an L with your body, and perform the pull up.

Weighted pull up
As the word suggests you need to use some weight in addition to your body, you can use a rucksack, but it will be uncomfortable for your shoulders, or you can strap it to your waist, ankles or legs. You can even hold directly the weight with your legs for the duration of the exercise.
When you can perform at least 10 consecutive pull ups with perfect form start using weights to increase your strength, be very progressive, you can even add 0,5kg/1 pound every couple of weeks, your joints will need time to adapt to the increased stress and weight.

Step 8: Dips - Upper Body Exercises

Dips are another great upper body exercise, as usual, always keep perfect form, you can hurt yourself quite seriously if you perform too many without letting your body get used to the stress (particularly your elbows and sternum).
Begin doing only a few, if you feel any pain stop and resume performing dips in another couple of days.

How many?
Start with basic dips and progress to more difficult dips when you are able to perform 20 body weight repetitions, as you become stronger and you are able to perform 20 repetitions of the exercise add some weight, be careful not to add add too much too quick. Also be sure to warm up your joints really well before performing dips, pull ups, or joint intensive exercises.

Basic dip (feet on the floor)
It's easier to show it than it is to explain in words, look at the "basic dips initial position" picture, start from this position, your hands should be on a solid surface, you can even use a sturdy chair, the height of the surface should be a little higher than your knees. Your feet should be toghether on the floor, keep your knees bent, your legs loose, in order to put more weight on the arms, and keep your chest pushed out, bend your arms until your upper arm is almost horizontal, don't go too deep/low, especially in the beginning. Conclude the exercise by straightening your arms until you return to the initial position.

Harder :
Weighted dips
Put some weight on your laps, like sandbags and repeat the exercise as above.

Raised legs dips
Put your hands as in the basic dip position but put your feet on a raised and solid surface, like a sturdy chair, if the feet surface is at the same height as the hands surface you can keep your legs straight.

For this exercise you'll need to use parallel bars or something similar, like the back of very sturdy and stable chairs, or solid trestles (see photo). Make sure that you are working on something that won't fall and you will not slip off it and fall.
Arms straight, hands a little wider than shoulder width, your legs should not touch the ground, even when you are in the lower position (you can bend your knees if you are working on low bars), Keep your chest out and lower yourself by bending the elbows, when your chest is about at the same height as the hands straighten your arms and return to the initial position.
This exercise is a lot more demanding than the basic dips, and it will work your chest, shoulders and triceps.

L shape dips
Same form as the dip above, but now you should bring your legs straight in front of you to form an "L" with your upper body. This is a very demanding exercise that will work your core too, before attempting you need to be able to perform at least 15 true dips, and be able to stay in the L shape position on the bars with straight arms for at least 15 seconds.

Bent legs dips
An easier variation of the L shape dips, instead of keeping your legs straight bend your knee at a 90 degree angle, and perform the dip.

Step 9: Abdominal Exercises

Abdominal Exercises
How many? As usual, achieve 30 then progress to more demanding variations, and switch between doing max repetitions to lower but more intense sets.
You should aim to be able to perform at least 60 sit ups.
These axercises are best performed on a soft mat and with a shirt, in order to prevent friction bruises to the back.

Sit ups
Lay on your back with your fingertips touching your temples, your feet on the floor, and your legs bent at 90 degrees at the knees. Feet, knees and legs should be together touching each other, raise your chest until your back is almost vertical, and then lower yourself to the initial position, with your shoulders on the ground, your feet should stay flat on the floor thought the exercise.
Don't put your hands behind your head, as this will lead to a neck injury.

Half sits (easier variation)
With the same initial position as the sit ups but with your hands on your legs, raise your upper body until your hands touch your knees and lower yourself slowly to the initial position.

Knee to elbow sit ups
Perform as a regular sit up, except when you raise twist your chest to one side, so that the elbow of one hand can touch your knees, return to the initial position and repeat by twisting to the other side.

Weighted sit ups
Keep some weight on your chest, with your hands, and perform as a regular sit up.

Fixed feet sit ups
Perform as a regular sit up, but with your feet kept in place by something heavy, like furniture or a friend, this will work less the abdominal muscles because the hip muscles will help with the exercise.

Lay on the ground looking up, body straight, hands to the temples. Raise your legs off the floor by a few centimetres or inches, and raise simultaneously your upper body as in a sit up and your knees by bringing them to the chest, then return to the initial position, keeping the feet off the floor at all times.

Bicycle crunches
Perform as regular crunches, but when you raise twist your upper body and bring one elbow to your knees, return to the initial position and repeat the exercise with opposite elbow.

Reverse crunches
Start in he same position as regular crunches, but with your hands and arms straight alongside you on the floor, bring your knees to your chest and raise your hips, your shoulders should remain on the floor at all times.

Straight legs raises
Lay on the floor with your arms to your sides, and your legs straight into the air, forming a L with your body. Now raise your lower back off the floor keeping your legs vertical, go as high as you can with your toes, and return to the initial position (slowly).

Planks are great for building strength, perform them with a timer, and increase the time as you progress in your training.
Place yourself in the push up position, but with your forearms on the ground, supporting your body, hold for the required amount of time. Achieving a 5min plank is very difficult, as a goal aim to perform at least a 1-2min plank.

One leg planks
Perform as regular planks, but raise one foot off the ground by a few cm/inches.

Lateral planks
Support your body on one side with your forearm on the ground, keep the other hand on your body, and your body should be perfectly straight. Repeat for the required time on the other side.

Knee raises
Hanging on the pull up bar raise your knees until your upper legs are parallel to the ground, then return to the initial position. You can perform repetitions or simply hold the position, or a combination of both.

L raises
Hanging on the pull up bar raise your legs straight into the air until they are horizontal (you should be making an "L"), hold the position, don't swing (same applies to the knee raises). Return to the initial position and repeat for the required repetitions.

Feet to the bar raises
Begin performing the same exercise as the L raises, but don't stop a 90 degrees, go with your feet all the way up to the bar, and return back to the hanging position. Don't swing and keep your legs straight at all times.

Step 10: Legs Exercises

Legs exercises
Most of these exercises can be done without or with weight, begin with body weight exercises, and as you progress add external weight. You can hold them in your hands, place them on your back, or hold them in front of you, what you use is not important, as long as it's adequately heavy for your strength (not too much, but not too little).
When to add weight?
When you are able to perform about 25 repetitions of an exercise add some weight, be very gradual, even if you are strong enough to lift something your joints need time to become stronger and more flexible.
As a target perform between 15 to 25 repetitions per set of leg exercises, if you exceed 25 add some weight.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width pointing outwards at a slight angle, body straight, hands crossed on your chest or pointing forward for more balance.
Now lower yourself by bending the hips and the knees, keeping them pointing outwards, as your feet do, lower yourself until your upper leg is parallel to the ground (horizontal), then return to the initial position. Keep your heels solid on the ground, and look forward while you perform the squat (unless you want to check your form), your back should be always straight with your chest out.
Proper form is very important with squats, because it will prevent very painful (and sometimes permanent) injury to your back and knees.
Take a look at this site for more information on how to perform a proper squat (with or without weights):

Weighted squats
In a short time a body weight squat will become too easy, and you will be able to perform almost an infinite number of them, so to challenge yourself progressively add more weight, you can use a backpack with something heavy, like a bag of sand, or you can even hold something on your shoulders. The same applies for lunges and other leg exercises.

Single leg squat
Keep your body straight, arms straight pointing forward for more balance, raise one foot off the floor keeping that leg always straight during the exercise, and it should never touch the floor. Bend the other leg until the upper part is parallel to the floor, then return to the initial position. This exercise requires not only a lot of strength, but also a lot of balance.

Jump squats
Perform as a regular squat, but jump in the air as high as you can when you come up, and cushion your landing by going immediately into another squat. Maintain good form and go all the way down as a regular squat.

Lunges (or walking lunges)
Start with your body straight, feet pointing forward slightly less than shoulder width apart, hands crossed on your chest. Take a long step, about 1.5 times your shoulder width with your right leg, keeping the other leg behind you, your left knee should be a few centimetres off the floor, and it should never touch the floor, the right tight should be parallel to the ground, and the right knee shouldn't go further than the right foot, keep your back straight and vertical. Return to the initial position with your feet at shoulder width and repeat with opposite legs.

Jump lunges
When you come up from a lunge jump as high as you can and switch foot position in the air, landing in another lunge but with opposite feet.

Step ups
Stay straight in front of a raised step a little lower than knees high, walk on it with one foot, then bring the other foot on the step (like you would walk on stairs), then return to your initial position by stepping down. Perform the same amount of repetitions for both legs.

Box jumps
Same as step ups, but instead of walking onto the step you should jump on it with both feet, and then jump back to the initial position.

Step 11: Lower Back and Other Exercises

Lower Back Exercises

Pelvic lifts
Lay with your back on the ground, bring your legs at about a 90 degree angle at the knees, keeping the feet on the ground. Straighten your back with your upper leg by raising your back from the ground, hold the position for a few seconds and return to the initial position.

Lay flat on the ground facing down, extend your arms in front of you above your head. Lift one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, lower them and perform again with opposite limbs.

Dorsal raises
Lay with your body straight facing the ground, bring the tips of your fingers to your temples, and keep your arms horizontal. Raise your chest of the ground, you can keep the position for a few seconds, then relax your back and return to the initial position


Other exercises

Stand straight, arms to your sides, feet at shoulder width, then drop with your hands on the floor, keep your head looking forward. Jump with your feet to the push up initial position, keeping your hands on the floor, you can perform a push up in this position, then repeat the same moves backwards to return to the initial position. The exercise should be performed fairly quickly, with or without push ups.

Squat thrusts
Start in the push up initial position, then jump with both feet as close to your hands as possible and then back, perform the exercise quickly.

Alternate squat thrusts
Same as a squat thrust, but you should alternate legs, so bring one leg up near your hand, then bring it back, and at the same time bring the other leg near your hands, perform quickly.

Rope skipping
Rope skipping is a great all over exercise, I'm not going into details, because it would take a whole instructable to describe it properly, but if you want more info there are plenty of videos and articles on the net, if you want you can start reading more here:

Going beyond
There are a lot of exercises you can find searching the web and looking at videos, but before performing exotic ones you should become proficient with most of the exercises described here, as they will be the building blocks of your fitness.
Once you become proficient you can sail in search for more challenging and intense exercises and variations, if you decide to stick mostly with body weight exercises I would suggest to look into how gymnast train, performing, for example, a front lever is no easy task and training for such goals will build great strength.

Step 12: Diet 101

There is a lot to say about diet, but I'll try to keep it simple, I will also describe the "perfect" diet, if it's too different from your actual diet you should switch to it gradually. As usual, the closer you will follow these advices the better the results you'll see, but of course you should personalize it to your needs, and how much are you willing to change for a healthy life.

The biggest mistakes people make in fitness is in their diets, they don't put too much thought in it, and even if they train hard they obtain very average results.
You can obtain fat loss by only dieting or by only training, but if you combine both you'll be able to achieve quicker and better results.

Our body needs a good balance of:
Vitamins and minerals

A simple view of nutrition can be obtained by calories calculation, how much calories do we take in, and how much calories do we burn (or use) transforming them in energy.

If the calories intake is superior to the calories used you will gain weight (by storing fat or increasing muscle mass).
If calories in and out are equal the weight should remain the same
If your calories intake is inferior to your calories use you will lose weigh (fat first, them muscle)

This means that if you want to lose weight you should limit your calories consumption and increase activity, if you want to build muscle you should train hard and eat more calories than you consume, and if you want to lose only some weigh and put a little bit of muscle calories consumption and use should be about equal with an intense training regime.
It's wise not to lose too much weight too quickly, you should do it gradually, don't exceed in calories deficit, particularly if you are not overweight by much.
When you start your training you will need more calories to function properly, and your metabolism will begin to increase, this means that you will burn more calories faster, and should consume proper meals.
Increasing metabolism is a very sought after goal for most athletes/fitness enthusiast, because it allows to burn fat and build muscle quicker, if metabolism is decreased you'll eventually pass into starvation mode, your body feels that food is not always available and as soon as you consume your food any excess will be stored as fat, and your total calories use will drop.
In order to increase metabolism you should follow these guidelines:
Always eat on time, never skip meals , otherwise you'll go into "starvation mode", which makes you gain fat storage and burns less calories.
Eat at least three meals a day , and have two-three healthy snacks in between. If you can you should eat 4-6 smaller meals a day, so you'll bring a constant supply of energy and nutrients to the body .
Always eat a big breakfast , as the word "break a fast" implies, you've been fasting all night long, if you skip your breakfast your metabolism will drop.
And exercise (well, of course :)

You might want to count the calories you are consuming vs the calories you need to consume, use a free online calculator to determine how much do you need daily (it varies depending on your activity, age, weight etc. and if you want to lose or gain weight), and then count the calories you eat daily. This could take too much time if done daily, you can do it once a week and then use your intuition for the rest of the week, counting calories will be of great benefit to people with eating disorders, who eat to much or too little. With time, as you progress in your fitness, counting calories will not be necessary any more.
If you eat healthy and you don't have eating disorders you don't really need to count calories, just make sure you get a right amount and proportion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and eat accordingly.
A free online calculator: , online you can find many similar ones.

Before we go into the details and properties of food, I will briefly describe the ideal diet you should follow:
plenty of vegetables, to bring vitamins, minerals and fibres;
low fat dairy products, like skimmed milk, fat free yoghurt, fat free cottage and other fat free cheese, etc.;
whole grain products, oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain pasta and bread (with moderation) etc.;
plenty of legumes.
Always choose unprocessed food or the least processed foods, get 1.5 - 2.3g of proteins per kg of your body weight (or 0.75-1g of proteins per pound), take less than 20% of your calories from fats, and eat only healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts, and take some form of omega 3, I suggest a tablespoon of linseed oil a day.

Step 13: Diet 102 - Nutritional Components

Carbohydrates (aka carbs)
You need carbohydrates to function properly, and have available energy to use thought the day and your training sessions, but why sugar and bread is bad for your health? They are carbohydrates, right? They are a very concentrated and refined form of carbohydrates but they don't offer any nutritional value, with all the calories you take from them you don't get also vitamins, fibres, minerals etc, so they are empty foods.
Lack of carbohydrates brings a feeling of fatigue and lethargy, so you'll definitely need them, avoid the simple carbs like sugar, white bread, white rice, white pasta, cornflakes etc, and eat complex carbs like whole grains products, fruits and vegetables, brown rice, potatoes, rye break, oatmeal etc., in synthesis every product which has unrefined ingredients, without exaggerating with whole grain bread and pasta. Fruits and vegetable are a good form of complex carbohydrates, and they have also vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants.
Eat the majority of your carbohydrates at breakfast and before and after your training session, to supply enough energy for your body to train and repair itself after training.

Proteins are the building bricks of your muscles, they repair and increase your muscles, and with an intense physical activity your body will need more proteins, so you'll have to include the right amount of proteins each day. As I said before you should get about 1.5 - 2.3g of proteins per kg of body weight (or 0.75-1g of proteins per pound), so read those labels and count how much and which food you need to eat to meet these requirements. Dairies are an excellent form of protein rich food, be sure to buy fat free dairies, like skimmed milk, cottage fat free cheese, fat free yoghurt and fat free Greek yoghurt.

You need fats for your physical activity, just not too much of them, and you'll want good quality fats like olive oil, linseed oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Don't use butter to cook but switch to non refined olive oil (it should look greenish and have a strong, good, almost pungent, taste). Eat some seeds and nuts with your breakfast, in your milk, or with your oat meal.
One gram of Fat contains 9 calories, but one gram of protein or carbohydrates contains only 4 calories, this is another reason of "why fat makes you fat" (pun intended ;)

Fibres help you digest and clean your digestive system, with a healthy diet is easy to get enough fibres, they are mainly found in whole grain products, fruits and vegetables.
Making the change to a high fibres diet sometimes is problematic in the beginning, but with time, and if the transition is done gradually your organism will adapt and become more efficient.

Vitamins and minerals
You body can not synthesize vitamins, and as the word implies, they are of vital importance for the proper function of your body. Eat plenty of vegetable and fruit (but not too much sugary fruits), at least five vegetables and fruits a day, they are also excellent for snack, like a banana or some apples.

Your body needs water, if you become dehydrated your physical and mental performance will drop, and your body will not work as efficiently, this is a big obstacle to physical development. On the other side, over hydration should also be avoided, because you risk to dilute too much the salts and minerals in your blood stream, but it's a lot less common situation, as long as you get enough minerals and salts in your food you will be fine.
As a rule of thumb, if your urine is not clear you are dehydrated, always keep a bottle of water with you , wherever you go, and drink at least 2-2.5 litres of water a day, depending on your weight.
Nowadays the consumption of salt is excessive, salt consumption should be around 1.5-2 grams a day, unless your body is overheated for prolonged periods of time, with the result of lost of salts by sweating, there is no necessity to consume more.

Foods to avoid
Any sugary food, if you read sugar on the ingredient list don't buy it
Sugar sweetened drinks
Fried food
Fast foods (because they use a lot of sugar and unhealthy fats)
White flour, this means no white bread, no pizza, etc.
Refined grains, like white pasta, white rice etc.

Cheat meals
If you keep your diet nice and healthy all week long you can allow yourself a one day break in the weekend or during non training days, just keep it moderated, and don't fall in excesses. A pizza for a cheat meal is OK, if you can, try to find a good quality pizza, but fast foods are to be always avoided, and don't exceed in sweets consumption.

Step 14: Diet - Making the Change - When to Eat

Making the change
As always, make small steps towards your final goal, in the beginning you can simply reduce the amount of sweets and fats you daily consume, and lower the consumption with time. After a while you will become accustomed to your new diet and lifestyle and it will be easy to stick with it.
Don't keep food you are not allowed to eat on sight, or even out of sight, you will be tempted to eat them. Before doing your groceries think about how and why you want to change your diet, and make up your mind not to buy any unhealthy food, this way you'll end up only with the good stuff in your shopping cart and you'll be closer to your goal.

When to eat
Eat an abundant sugar free breakfast , you can use diaries and/or oatmeal, with seeds and nuts and fresh fruits, this should be your main meal of the day. Include some protein, and distribute the daily protein intake through the day, remembering to drink plenty, as a protein rich diets needs a lot of water, otherwise you can develop kidneys problems and you'll waste a lot of proteins; too much proteins will not be helpful for building muscle or losing weight, excess proteins will be partially transformed into fat and will be eliminated partially with your urine.
Eat all your meals on time, and distribute them as much as you can throughout the day, so you are eating smaller portions but with regularity, if you can only have three main meals a day include some healthy sneaks between them, like fruits and vegetables and some form of proteins.
Eat the biggest portion of your carbohydrates with some proteins in the meals before and after workouts, your body will need energy and resource to repair itself.
For example: have a medium meal and hour before workout, with some proteins, not too much fats and carbs, like sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, or some pasta with very little sauce, and some other form of protein like seitan. 30-20 minutes before the workout eat some fresh green leafed veggies and some berries, to get your vitamins and minerals.
During the anaerobic workout drink water after each set, not too much to make you sick, but enough to keep you hydrated, a 3% water deficit could bring down your performance by 20%.
After the workout drink a lot of water and eat some green leafed veggies, berries, grapes, and some proteins, if you can eat every 30 minutes, escalating every time to something more consistent, starting with vegetables, bananas, apples and going to carb rich food and protein rich food. If you can't do that eat a good meal rich in proteins, carbs and vegetables before 1 hour after the workout has past, this is very important, as your body will need most nutrition after you tore your muscle, so it can rebuild and make them stronger.
Before going to bed don't eat carbohydrates (unless you have just worked out), but eat protein rich food, during your sleep the body will repair itself but won't use much energy, so it needs mainly proteins and vitamins, excess carbohydrates will be transformed into fat.
If you want to lose a substantial amount of fat limit your calories by no more that 20% below your ideal daily calorie intake, because if go below that percentage you'll be really hungry and you will slow down your metabolism too much.

Step 15: Diet - Window of Opportunity

Window of opportunity
After the workout there is a golden time, which last 1 hour, when your body will quickly and efficiently absorb nutrients and store glycogen in your muscles. If you can make yourself a recovery drink, blend 1 banana, coconut milk, fresh or frozen berries, a few strawberries, fresh spinaches, almond butter (no sugars, additives free), a teaspoon of linseed oil. If you use proteins powders add some to the blend, you should have roughly a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to proteins in your post-workout meal or shake. Protein powders are by no means a necessity, as long as you get enough protein in your diet, If you don't use them be sure to eat during the "window of opportunity" protein rich food.

Supplements are the most overrated and useless propaganda there ever was (in the fitness diet industry), with a good and variegated diet you can get all the nutrients you need for your body. Supplements are sometimes beneficial to increase performance and or looks by a marginal fraction, and only if you have already found your ideal and perfect diet and training regime (I'm talking at professional levels).
If you really want to buy something the only supplements which are useful for training are BCAA and protein powder (without any fancy stuff), if you can't get enough protein with your daily diet or would like to have a post workout quick absorption protein intake, but remember that too much proteins will make you only fatter, also taking external BCAAs, especially in the beginning are far from necessary.

If you'd like to know more about diet I would suggest you start here, reading this two parts article: , and part 2:

Step 16: Stretching

Static stretches should be performed at the end of the cool down, here I will describe the most common stretches that you can perform.
Keep the stretch for 30-60 seconds each or as much as needed, you should feel the tension of the stretch but not pain, don't bounce, always keep the stretch or, if you can, progress slowly into the stretch as your muscle relaxes, and remember to breathe deeply during the stretch.

Perform these movements slowly and don't push your head beyond comfort zone, stay seated on a chair or on the floor with your legs crossed and your back straight, perform each exercise slowly 5 times.
First look up to the sky as far as you comfortably can, then slowly move your chin to your chest and look down.
Then straighten your arms to your sides and keep them at about 45 degree angle with your body (if you are seated on the floor the tips of your fingers should barely touch the ground), look over your left shoulder, then look over your right shoulder, keep your head straight with your back, if you feel tension you can hold the position for as long as you need (sometimes even 60 seconds).
Keep your arms in the previous position, look forward and tilt your head to your right shoulder, then to your left shoulder, the idea is to move your ear as close as possible to your shoulder (unless you are a giraffe your ear can't touch your shoulder in this position).
Now rotate your head 360 degrees from the chin on the chest position in one direction, then repeat rotating your head 360 degrees in the other direction.
Perform before exercising and/or when you wake up in the morning.

1) Lay on the floor in the crucifix position, arms to the side, legs straight, now move your right leg straight over you right leg and form an L with your two legs, turn your head slightly to the left. Switch to the other side, perform 2 times per each side.

2) Sit on the floor with your legs together straight in front of you, bend your right leg and take the right foot over the left leg and put it next to your left hip. Put your left arm over your right knee and put your left hand on your left knee, bring your right arm straight behind your back, put your right hand on the floor. Look directly behind you and twist your upper body gently, increasing slowly in the twist for 30 seconds.
Perform the same stretch with opposite legs and arms.
If you feel any pain stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Lay on the floor facing down, put your arms at shoulder distance on the floor, straighten your arms keeping your body as flat on the ground as you can comfortably can, and try to arch your back by looking up with your head, feel the stretch in your abdominal muscles.

Stay on the ground in a baby walk position, hand straight at shoulder distance and knees on the ground, back to legs at 90 degrees. Now put your hands so that your palm is touching the ground and your fingertips are pointing directly at your legs, then stretch by leaning back with your torso, be careful not to put too much stress on the wrist.

Put your right hand palm on your spine reaching as far as you can, take your right elbow into your left hand, and push it into a stretch. Repeat switching arms.

Standing straight put the palms of your hand on your lower back, and push your shoulder behind you and your chest forward.

Standing straight put your right arm straight across your body pointing straight to the left, lock the left arm below the right elbow and push it closer to your chest, turn your head to the right. Repeat with opposite arms.

Push against the wall and put one leg in front of you and one behind you at shoulder distance, your body should make a straight 45 degree angle with the wall, push the heel of the rear leg into the floor, you can increase the stretch by putting the back leg farther away.

1) Stand straight, legs at hip distance, bend your body at your hips and bring your chin as close as possible to the legs, looking at your feet without forcing the neck, try to touch the floor with your hands. If you can go farther with your hands take hold of your ankles and increase the stretch by bringing your chin nearer to the legs.

2) Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you, bring your left leg at a 90 degree position with your other leg, your left foot should touch your inner thigh. Now reach forward as much as you can, keeping the right leg straight on the floor, if you can grab your right foot and stretch even more. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds, and try to increase the stretch as times goes by. Repeat with the other leg.

3) Keep your legs straight on the floor, and reach forward as far as you can, try to grab your feet, hold for 30-60 seconds.
You can also perform a similar exercise while standing , reaching for your feet with your arms as far as you can.

Standing or lying on your side, with your right hand take hold of your right ankle and pull it towards your back, keep the legs in a straight line with your body.

Sit on the floor with crossed legs and your back straight, uncross your legs but keep the knees almost flat on the floor and put your feet so they touch each other soles. With your hands bring the feet as close as you can to your pelvis.

These are basic but useful stretches, if you like the feeling you get after stretching and you need more you should take a yoga class or follow one of the free videos online about basic yoga (you can find excellent free videos here: , I highly recommend the "Morning Heat expanding practise"), they will make you feel "as new" after each session, and you'll definitely improve your flexibility, which is an important quality in fitness.
I would also suggest to perform a quick yoga routine every morning for 10-15 minutes, it's a great way to start the day, and if you run in the morning perform them afterwards in your cool down.

Step 17: Putting It All Toghether

Your program
Determine how much time you can spare each week for training, and divide your week in workout days, specifying the time of each workout. You should have at least three workouts a week up to an ideal of 5-6 workouts a week, the training should be equally divided during the week, so your body has time to recover.
Some days you might have less time than the needed 60-70 minutes (warm up, cool down stretching and quick shower included) for the regular workout, but if you have 20-30 minutes you can do a shorter and more intensive workout, like interval training, just be sure to have enough time in the end for stretching and a quick shower.
To make progress you will need to overload your system by performing progressively more demanding exercise, your body will then adapt to the increased demands of your workouts and you will able to perform at even higher levels, so be sure to include these details in your schedule, or you could end up doing the same routine over and over again with little results.
If you can workout for only 3 days a week do three aerobic workouts like running and/or swimming, and try to fit another interval training workout, before you can progress to anaerobic intensive workouts you need to build you aerobic system. Increase progressively the workout times and intensity as described before.
Ideally you'll be able to workout 4-6 times a week, I will make an example of a 6 days a week workout program, then it's up to you to adapt it to your needs. If you are not starting from zero you could jump a few weeks into the program, but be sure to have a proper basis before performing too demanding workouts.
You can do an aerobic workout right after an anaerobic one, but don't do the contrary, and be sure to eat something and drink plenty of water.

Where are you at?
Perform the following exercises one after another with a 3 minute full rest interval. Perform each exercise until failure (maintaining perfect form), write on a piece of paper the date, the exercises and how many were you able to perform, push yourself to the limit, you should reach your true maximum.
Exercises for "maximal test workout ":
Push ups
Pull ups
Walking Lounges
Triceps dips
Sit ups

This should be a record of your starting point, so you can compare it in the future to determine how much you have progressed. Also use these numbers as reference for your anaerobic workouts.
I will call the anaerobic workouts "supersets", and they will look like this (after warm up):
1a)Push ups
1b)Jumping squats

2a)Sit ups with fixed feet
2b)Pull ups

3a)Walking Lunges
3b)Elbow to knee crunches

4b)Step ups

Perform supersets of two exercises for three times each, meaning you will perform, for example, 1a)push ups and then immediately without rest you will do 1b)Jumping squats, then take a one minute rest, and perform the superset again for another two times (a superset is two or more exercises performed one after another without rest). When you have repeated the superset for 3 times start the next superset (2a+2b), and repeat it for three times, and so on.
Always exercise equally your upper body and your legs, mix in the supersets legs exercises with upper body exercises, as the legs work will increase your pulse more than your arms or back, by keeping the pulse rate high you will also increase aerobic performance.
The workout above should be performed in about 45-50 minutes, meaning you have 3 minutes for each superset + one minute of rest, in the beginning you will perform 3 supersets per workout, then you'll switch to four, which will make a 45 minutes workout.
Don't sit or lie down when you rest, walk and drink water, you can also eat some light caloric food, like raisins to keep energy up.
Repeat each exercise the first time at 70% of your maximum capabilities (if in the previous test you were able to do 10 push ups, here you should do 7), then perform 80% of your max or until failure, and the last one should be performed until failure.
Performing to failure means giving it 100% of all you've got, it's at 90% a mental quality more than a physical one.
Each week increase the number of repetitions you can perform in the set by as much as you can, improvements in the leg work and push ups will be quick, but it will not be as easy with the pull ups.
If you are not exhausted after the workout you are not training hard enough, the next time perform more exercises and/or more difficult variations of the same exercise.

Sundays long and easy paced runs can be substituted with a 1.5-2 hours hike (1 hour for the first month), just so you can have more fun.

Don't begin this program until you can run for 25 minutes without stopping, to train for that take the program for week 1 of the first month and repeat it for 1-2 weeks. As I wrote previously, if you can't run the whole time you can run as much as you can, then walk fast for one or two minutes, then resume running, this way in 1 or maximum 2 weeks you should be able to run for 25 consecutive minutes, after that begin the following program from week 1.

Now let's go to the next step to see the program!

Step 18: 3 Month Training Program - the Way to Your Perfect Body

3 Month Training program:

Month 1
Week 1
Monday: Jog at easy pace for 20 minutes
Tuesday: 3 supersets x 3 times
Wednesday: Run for 20-30 minutes
Thursday: same 3 supersets x 3 times
Friday: Run for 25 minutes
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Run/Cycle at easy pace for 30 minutes

a) lunges
b) push ups

a) crunches
b) squats

a) pull ups or negative/assisted pull ups if you can't do the regular ones (we all have to start somewhere!)
b) plank for 15-30 seconds, in the last superset plank to failure

Week 2
Monday: Comfortable run for 30 minutes
Tuesday: 3 supersets x 3 times
Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes
Thursday: 3 supersets x 3 times
Friday: Run for 35 minutes, with three sprints of 30 seconds at your 80% max effort in the middle of the run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Long comfortable run, 40 minutes

a) triceps dips
b) jumping lunges

a) elbow to knee crunches
b) pull ups or assisted / negative pull ups

c) moderately weighted squats
d) reverse crunches

Week 3
Monday: Comfortable run 30 minutes
Tuesday: 4 supersets x 3 times
Wednesday: Run for 40 minutes
Thursday: 4 supersets x 3 times
Friday: Run for 40 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 4 supersets x 3 times

Supersets, do as many as you can of exercise "a" for 30 seconds, followed without rest by 30 seconds of "b", rest after each superset for 1 minute, total workout time = 24 minutes, excluding warm up, cool down and stretches.
On Sunday perform regular supersets for 70% of your max, 80% of your max and until failure repetitions. Perform at the beginning of the week a new test for your max repetitions for push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, dips, and train accordingly, push yourself to improve your repetitions.
a) push ups
b) box jumps

a) fixed feet sit ups
b) pull ups

a) jump squats
b) reverse crunches

a) jump lounges
b) dips (increase in difficulty if you can)

Week 4
Monday: Comfortable run 45 minutes
Tuesday: Interval training
Wednesday: 45 minutes run
Thursday: Maximal test workout followed by interval training
Friday: Fartlek run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Easy paced 50 minutes run

Interval training:
3 exercises for 30 seconds each, 10 seconds rest, and repeat the set for 5 times, you should finish it in 10 minutes, drink water during rest times and perform stretches afterwards. Use a digital timer set for 40 seconds, rest for the initial 10 seconds then exercise for 30 seconds until the timers beeps, restart the timer (it should a one button touch restart timer, so you don't lose any time restarting it, I use a simple digital kitchen timer)
1) knee to chest push ups, when you straighten your elbows bring one knee to your chest and back, then perform regular push up and bring the other knee to your chest, continue in this fashion for the 30 seconds, performing as many as you can
2) one knee crunches, keep your feet raised above the ground by a few inches, when you raise your torso bring one leg to the chest and the other leg remains in the initial position, going down with your back put back your leg and perform the same exercise with opposite leg.
3) jump squats

If you've started almost from 0 and you were in an average health, by now you should be able to do at least 15 consecutive push ups, 30 squats, 30 simple lounges for each leg, 3-5 pull ups, 20 sit ups (for females the number of push up and pull ups might be slightly inferior, although they can perform equally in leg and abdominal work). Try to push your limits this week, increase your push up by doing at least 5 more than you think you can, and increase your leg exercises by at least 10 repetitions in the maximal test workout.
Increase your supersets accordingly in the next week.

Fartlek run
Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning "speed play", it's an excellent method for developing leg power and burn calories. You'll need a watch/timer to perform this workout, the idea is to alternate normal paced running with high intensity burst.
Warm up as usual, run after that at normal speed for 5 minutes
1)run for 2 minutes at your 80% best effort
run for 2 minutes at normal pace
30 seconds best effort, give all you've got, so 100%
30 seconds slow running
repeat for three times from "1)"
then cool down by normal pacing running for 5 minutes and then slowing down and walking for another 5 minutes
perform stretches afterwards

Month 2
Week 1

Monday: Easy run 45 minutes
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: Fartlek run (as in previous week) - 30 minutes
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: Easy paced 45 minutes run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 60 minutes easy paced run

a) spiderman push ups
b) box jumps

a) wide grip pull ups
b) sit ups

a) weighted lunges
b) close grip pull ups

a) weighted squats
b) bicycle crunches

Week 2
Monday: 30 minutes best effort run
Tuesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Wednesday: Fartlek run 35-40 minutes
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: Easy Run for 45 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Interval training

a) crunches
b) pull ups (if you can't do many pull ups do at least 10 negative pull ups)

a) knee to chest push ups
b) weighted squats

a) dorsals
b) weighted lunges

a) wide grip pull ups
b) half sits

Interval training
Repeat the sets for 5 times, doing a 10 seconds rest and exercising for 30 seconds at your best effort, it will take you 13:20.
1)Hindu push ups
2)Jump squats
3)Bicycle crunches
4)Jump lunges

Week 3
Monday: Easy run - 45 minutes
Tuesday: Max test followed by Interval training
Wednesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Thursday: Run 30 minutes best effort
Friday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 70 minutes easy pacing run

a) Alternating arms push ups
b) jumping squats

a) reverse crunches
b) jumping lunges

a) close arm pull ups
b) pelvic lifts

a) plank between 30 and 40 seconds
b) dips

Interval training
Repeat the sets for 5 times, doing a 10 seconds rest and exercising for 30 seconds at your best effort, it will take you 13:20.
1)Push up burpees
2)Box jumps
3)Bicycle crunches
4)Squat thrusts

Week 4
Monday: Fartlek run for 40 minutes
Tuesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Wednesday: run for 45 minutes
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: 30 minutes best effort run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 80 min easy run

a) box jumps
b) raised legs dips

a) one leg planks
b) hindu push ups

a) wide grip pull ups
b) weighted squats

a) wide arm push ups
b) lateral plank for 30 seconds

Month 3
Week 1

Monday: Fartlek run for 45 minutes
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Thursday: 45 minutes run
Friday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 1 hour run

a) weighted push ups
b) single leg squats

a) feet to the bar raises
b) burpees

a) scissor kicks
b) tuck jumps

a) hanging dips / raised feet dips
b) alternate squat thrusts

Week 2
Monday: Interval training
Tuesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Wednesday: 45 minutes run
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: 30 minutes best effort run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 80 minutes run

a) hanging knee raises
b) raised legs dips

a) decline push ups
b) wide grip pull ups

a) weighted squats
b) dorsal raises

a) weighted lunges
b) bicycle crunches

Interval training
Rest for 10 seconds and perform each exercise for 40 seconds, giving it all you've got.
1)Reverse crunches
3)Raised knees pull ups
4)Jump squats

Week 3
Monday: Fartlek run 45 minutes
Tuesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Wednesday: 45 minutes run
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: Interval training
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 80 minutes run

a) hanging leg raises to the bar
b) weighted squats

a) pull ups, perform pull ups staying for 5 seconds in the chin over bar position, perform until failure
b) box jumps

a) straight legs raises
b) weighted lunges

a) close arms push ups
b) raised leg / hanging leg dips

Interval training
Rest for 10 seconds and perform each exercise for 40 seconds, giving 100%.
1)Alternate squat thrust
2)Tuck jumps
3)Spiderman push ups
4)Jump lunges

Week 4
Monday: Interval training
Tuesday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Wednesday: 45 minutes run
Thursday: 4 Supersets x 3 repetitions
Friday: Fartlek run
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 90 minutes run

a) weighted push ups
b) reverse crunches

a) weighted pull ups
b) alternate squat thrusts

a) weighted squats
b) feet to the bar raises

a) weighted lunges
b) wide grip pull ups with weights

Interval training
Rest for 10 seconds and perform each exercise for 40 seconds, giving 100%.
1)Burpees with push ups
2)Box jumps
3)Dorsal raises
4)Feet to the bar raises


On month 4 take your maximal test, and then take a few days of rest, afterwards you can resume training.
By the end of the third month you should have reached excellent physical and mental capabilities; you should be able to perform at least 12 pull ups, 50 push, 50 sit ups, and have good aerobic strength and endurance, knowing this train accordingly, this means train hard and always give 100% of yourself to every workout.

Step 19: Final Thoughts

In the end it all comes down to how much do YOU want to achieve your goal, if you train hard, eat right and stay focused there is no question about it, you will achieve it .

You can modify the workouts to your needs, I wanted to create a no gym - no tools workout, but you can integrate it with a few exercises of your choosing, there are plenty to be found on the web, and maybe add some weights, buy second hands ones for cheap, all you need are two dumbbells with enough weight to work each exercise, bench presses are overrated, you can build the same muscles with just two dumbbells. You can also use improvised weights, like paint buckets filled with sand, or sandbags, and backpacks with some weight in them.

Don't buy any commercial training program, not because they are not good, but simply because there are no secrets in the fitness world of today, you can find the same information, and more, for free on line, in articles, blogs, videos and forums.

I tried to be write as little as possible without leaving out any essential information, the truth is that there is an almost infinite amount of information about fitness, and time will be your best friend to find out all the rest. Nonetheless this guide will deliver what's promised, and it contains a lot of the "good stuff" I found out in my years of training and reading about fitness.

If you notice any mistakes (both grammatical and conceptual ones) please report them to me, I have gone through my writing, but I bet there are still parts that need better proofreading.

I hope you enjoyed this guide, and I also hope it's been useful to you . Please leave me a feedback if you liked this guide, or if you have any questions.
Also suggestions on how to improve this instructable are very welcome, and, finally, post here your results (by writing or with your before and after photos)!

Work Hard and BE FIT!

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    19 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This sure is a hard way to lose weight and build muscle. Any simpler methods?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice guide BeFit, Keeping a tally of all the calories you consume in a
    day is an effective way to help you stay on track. Keep in mind that the number is not going to change
    overnight, you need to stay focus.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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: 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.


    8 years ago on Step 10

    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. Foot exercises


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool I liked this ible! I read parts I liked of this instructable!
    Maybe if you could just make it a little smaller...but its still really helpful!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I liked your guide, but just wanted to warn you of the title typo. It should be "lose", not "loose". ; )


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you liked this guide :) And thanks a lot for the correction, I definitely mixed up those two words.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Just a quick update, I broke down into smaller steps the Diet, Exercises and the Program steps, so they are more accessible now.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I can't help wondering how many of these photos are of *you* following your own advice...?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, but the mix of image sizes, styles and formats (casual v posed, colour v B&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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.
    Anyway, as you are an instructables veteran, what do you think about this instructable? Be lenient please :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    What do I think?

    Oh, far too much effort - the nearest i get to exercise is jumping to conclusions!

    As for the Instructable, I'd consider breaking steps 6, 7 & 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.

    Maybe a step per type of exercise, a step for what to eat, a step for when to eat, a step for supplements etc..?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I appreciate your feedback, I did consider breaking those steps up, but at the same time I wanted to create "chapters", 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.