Your path to fitness and a better body begins here, with our three-month workout, cardio, nutrition and supplement program - everything you need to succeed.
Sometimes, the hardest part of exercise is committing yourself to do it. Carving the time out of an already hectic schedule, staying focused on your goal as changes come slowly to your physique, staying on course when temptations persist - all have derailed many people with the best of intentions.
Knowing such challenges await is the first step toward overcoming each of them. Staying consistent and going to the gym even when you don't quite feel up to it. Getting up for that morning run when the alarm buzzes you out of a warm bed at 6 a.m. Steering clear of the favorite comfort foods when a salad and chicken breast doesn't seem quite "exciting" enough for dinner.
Yes, that part is hard enough, and success or failure is up to you. Where we can help, however, is giving you the tools required to start your fitness journey. The following kit contains what you need to lead you through your first three months of training - it includes a workout plan, a cardio program, nutrition guidelines and some supplements to start you off right.
All you must add is the motivation to make training and healthy eating a regular part of your everyday life. It will all be worthwhile in the long run, we promise. You'll be thankful you persevered when you see your body grow more muscular and lean, when you can vigorously run the stairs without ever running short of breath, when you catch stares of admiration and earn the compliments of family and friends. Are you ready for a fit, healthy new body? Then let's put that commitment to work.
YOUR WEIGHT TRAINING PLAN
When first starting a weight-training program (or returning to the gym after a long layoff) simplicity and a measured pace are the best course of action. Far too many have jumped into training too hard and too fast, taking on long, arduous workout sessions that leave them drained and in pain. A couple weeks of overenthusiastic regimens and they're ready to throw in the towel.
Instead, harness that energy, and make it a point to leave a little in the gym every time out - you want to walk out feeling like you have a couple more sets in you, as that will keep your passion burning to return. Before you know it, three months will have passed, and you'll hopefully be over the proverbial "hump," where you can't imagine not working out regularly.
The following program was designed with that in mind. The workout is built to be completed in about 45 minutes, covering all your major muscle groups. You'll do the Phase 1 workout three times per week. We know many of you will be itching to do more, but hold back; like we pointed out earlier, you want to ease your way into training, and maintain that feeling of wanting to do more. After your initial three months are up, you can explore your other options, graduating to a four or five-days-per-week regimen. By that point, your body should be up to the challenge of intermediate-level, body part-specific training if your goal is building muscle size, or functional training (i.e. exercises that synergistically work in the three anatomical planes of motion) if you're after coordination, strength and health benefits.
PHASE 1 WORKOUT: Weeks 1-6
Do this routine on three non-consecutive days each week (such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Use light weights and concentrate on learning proper form, based on the instructions below. Rest 45-60 seconds between each set.
|Thighs||Leg Press||2||15, 12|
|Thighs||Exercise-Ball Wall Squat||2||15, 12|
|Upper Back||Seated Cable Row||2||15, 12|
|Lower Back||Back Extension||2||15, 15|
|Shoulders||Seated Machine Overhead Press||2||15, 12|
|Triceps||Close-Grip Push-Up||2||15, 15|
|Biceps||Alternating Dumbbell Curl||2||15, 12|
|Calves||Standing Calf Raise||2||15, 12|
Load an adequate, relatively light amount of weight and sit comfortably on the seat, back firmly against the pad. Place your feet shoulder-width apart just above the center of the platform. Push through your heels to lift the platform, release the safety latches, and bring your knees toward your chest. Get as deep as you can, but stop before your lower back curls off the pad and reverse the movement. At the top of each rep, stop just before knee lockout.
Exercise-Ball Wall Squat
Take an exercise ball and place between your lower back and a wall. Place your feet slightly out in front of you, shoulder width apart. Slowly squat down, allowing the ball to roll up to your upper back, until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Reverse the motion back to a standing position, and repeat for reps.
Seated Cable Row
Bend your knees and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the foot rests. Lean forward, grasp a close-grip cable handle with both hands, and sit upright on the bench, arms extended. Pull the handle toward your upper abs by bending your elbows - your elbows should come back past the plane of your body as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold the contraction for a second, then reverse the motion, feeling a stretch in your lats. Don't let the weight touch down to the stack between reps, and don't rock your torso back and forth on reach rep - stay upright and restrict movement to your arms and upper back.
Start facedown on a back-extension bench, your heels under the foot supports, hips just off the end of the pad. With your head aligned with your spine in a straight line, arms crossed over your chest, bend at the hips to lower your torso until your body forms a 90-degree angle. Flex your glutes and lower back to raise yourself back to a "plank" position. One key to this move: Don't overextend at the top by going past a straight position; coming up further puts undue stress on your spine.
Seated Machine Overhead Press
Adjust the seat so your elbows line up directly under your wrists when you grasp the handles - the handles should be next to your shoulders to begin, elbows bent. From there, press straight up by extending your elbows, stop and contract your deltoids hard for a moment, then lower the weight. Don't let the weight stack touch down between reps.
Push Up & Close-Grip Push-Up
Get into standard push-up position - hands beneath the corresponding shoulder, body straight like a board from heels to head, up on your toes with your legs together. From there, lower yourself toward the floor, stopping about an inch before your chest touches down, then flex your pectorals and triceps to bring your body back up to the start. Keep your elbows out away from your sides as you rep. For the close-grip variation, which focuses more on the triceps, put your hands next to each other under your upper chest (you can form a triangle with your fingers and thumbs if you'd like), and perform the same up-and-down movement.
Alternating Dumbbell Curl
Hold a dumbbell at each side, your palms facing you. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, flex your biceps of one arm to bring that side dumbbell up to your delt, twisting your wrist so that at the top your palm faces up. Return the dumbbell to your side, twisting your wrist on the way back down so your palm faces the side of your thigh again at the bottom, then perform a rep with the opposite arm. One curl of each side equals one full repetition. Do this exercise slowly, and don't shift your elbows forward as you lift or sway your body to help lift the weight - if you need to resort to either of those tactics to complete a rep, the weight is too heavy for you.
Lie face up with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands lightly behind your head. Curl your body up, shortening the distance between your lower ribcage and your hips while simultaneously pressing your lower back into the floor. It's a small movement, but you should feel it strongly in your abdominal wall as it contracts.
Standing Calf Raise
Stand squarely underneath the shoulder pads of a calf-raise machine; the balls of your feet should be on the footrest, your heels hanging off the edge. Keeping your legs absolutely straight, raise your heels upward as high as you can by flexing your calves, then reverse the motion into a deep, full stretch.
In the early stages, the key is to just get active. Don't worry about monitoring your heart rate or incorporating complicated interval training; just make the effort to move for at least 20 minutes a day. It could be as simple as a brisk walk or light jog, a game of one-on-one hoops, or if you prefer, a steady bout on a treadmill, recumbent bike or elliptical. Track these sessions as you do your workout, writing down the activity and time in your training log.
Just like with training, so many well-intentioned first-time exercisers get militant about their diet, counting every calorie while cutting away all previous vestiges of their dietary habits. Of course, such an overhaul is the surest way to an eventual tumble off the wagon.
Instead, in these first three months, you should concentrate on small but meaningful changes to your eating habits by implementing these three six easy rules.
1) Make efforts to eat cleaner. Instead of a drastic overhaul, start making smarter choices. Hold the mayo on your sandwich, choose a chicken breast instead of fried chicken, pass on the dessert and opt for fruit - smaller alterations will help to change even the most ingrained habits over time, and if you make the effort to make such changes every day, it'll begin to stick.
2) Cut down on your food portions. Don't fill your plate, and don't clean your plate. Reducing your portions, and not eating until you're totally stuffed, will pay dividends in the form of less calories hanging around to be stored as body fat.
3) Increase your protein intake. For muscle growth, the goal is about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. You don't need to keep absolute track down to the gram, but you should keep a casual tally of what you're taking in. It helps to have a complete protein source at every meal - a "complete" protein is one that has all the essential amino acids, such as meat and dairy sources. Thus, if you're 180 pounds, and thus want about 180 grams per day, you can have four meals that each contain approximately 30 grams of protein, plus two 30-gram protein shakes in between meals, to reach your target.
4) Eat 5-6 times per day. Instead of two to three larger meals throughout the day, split your eating so that you're having some sort of meal or snack every three hours. Your body will be better able to process the calories, and you won't have as many excess calories in your system that could be potentially deposited as body fat.
5) Drink more water. This most important of liquids will make a huge difference in your fitness and fat-loss efforts. Hydration is vital for your body processes, and ultimately your health. But that shouldn't be a surprise. If you don't drink any water, start with about eight eight-ounce glasses per day. Try to build that up over time, to a half-gallon and even up to a gallon per day. Some people carry around bottles to help - for example, if you have a 64-ounce jug, your goal would be to try and finish two over the course of a day. And if you're one of those who doesn't necessarily like water, you can flavor it with Crystal Light or similar non-calorie sweetener, or even just a slice of lemon or lime, to make it more palatable.
6) Try some basic supplements. A few supplemental basics can help augment your diet in the early going of your fitness venture. For example, protein powders and bars provide you the extra protein you'll need for muscle repair and growth. A multivitamin can help round out the nutrients you get from whole food, making sure you have no holes in your diet. And creatine (for strength during workouts), nitric oxide (for better muscle pumps during training which helps fuel muscle repair), glutamine (for recovery), and glucosamine/chondroitin (for joint health) are solid helpers in the quest for a better physique.
YOUR NEXT SIX WEEKS
Once you complete this initial six-week program, it's time to step it up a notch. In Part 2 of the ProSource Starter Kit, you'll split all your major muscle groups across two workouts, and learn a number of new exercises, which will provide your muscles fresh stimulus and help you learn your way around the gym. Follow the link below, and see what's next up in your quest for a fitter, healthier you.
[Check out the ProSource starter kit Part 2 ]