What if I told you it was possible to eat junk food all day, spend less than 2 hours a week at the gym while not breaking a sweat, and end up looking like this:
Well, that's me, at a fitness level I accomplished by often eating McDonald's for lunch and KFC for dinner, rarely spending more than 2 hours a week working out, and almost never even breaking a sweat. Oh, and it took me no more than 6 months to look like this.
Welcome to the Big Mac Fitness Program, where I give away my (not so) secret common sense tips and tricks to be in shape without even trying.
First, some background.
I'm not a fitness expert or involved in the fitness industry in any way. I don't sell anything - I'm an engineer by trade with a rewarding career who found a sustainable, efficient fitness system by cutting out all the crap and practising common sense.
I realized something like this needed to be written when I'd frequently find myself at the gym with other people I knew, all in far worse shape than me, who'd later make jokes about how "I barely did anything". I've introduced friends to this system and they all start off with the same complaints - only to come back a few months later and tell me to look at how great their butt is.
I hate working out. I don't see any virtue or value in "dedicating myself" and going into "beast mode". I'm tired of being beaten over the head with ads of massive dudes listening to shitty electronic music to "pump themselves up" for the sole purpose of lowering their bodyfat and getting some muscle. Fit humans have always existed; it's only in the last 60 years that we needed to watch motivational Al Pacino speeches on YouTube and listen to the entire Tron soundtrack before a brutal 2 hour gym session of fortuitous grunting.
So here's what you'll get out of the Big Mac Fitness Program:
1. No more killing yourself at the gym - you're breaking your muscle fibers down so that protein can rebuild them. AKA lift heavy things and then putting them back down. This shouldn't require yelling, screaming & the use of a motivational life coach, and certainly shouldn't use up more than a few hours of your week.
2. Eat pretty much what you want - look, obviously you can't eat layers and layers of cheesecake every day and expect to not be fat. However, you also don't need to be on the other extreme measuring everything you eat and living off of oats and beans. I eat pretty much whatever I want, when I want it. It makes life a lot more enjoyable.
3. Prepare to not think or care about your fitness - If you want to post gym photos every day with #nodaysoff, be my guest. Personally, I don't want to waste hours thinking about something as meaningless as exercise - this program is designed to be as automatic and hand free as possible.
Alright, enough yip yap. Without further ado...
The Big Mac Fitness Program
You're going to lift weights. Don't worry ladies, lifting weights isn't going to make you look like a weightlifter (want to look "toned"? That just means some muscle, with low body fat). If you don't believe me I'm not going to try and convince you... plenty of resources online about that. Lifting weights is the single best way to control exactly how your body looks, while also providing innumerable short and long-term health benefits.
Pick one of these three programs: Starting Strength, Stronglifts, Greyskull LP. Again, I'm not going to spend my time linking exact programs - google them.
Feeling extra lazy? Use my preferred program, a variant of Greyskull: http://i.imgur.com/iLhAJBl.png
Do these workouts 3 times a week. Get your form right before progressing in weight - watch youtube videos, ask a friend, or book time with a trainer. Shitty form can screw up your body badly - get your form right.
Lifting doesn't take a lot of time, and it certainly shouldn't be exhausting. You should definitely push yourself on your individual lifts, but by no means should it be exhausting or in any way mentally draining. Lifting is a meditative and somewhat relaxing experience for me: get to the gym, put on a nice audiobook and dive into the ritual.
3 days a week, 30-40 minutes each day. Easy, isn't it?
By and large, eat whatever you want, and enjoy life. However, here's a couple of rules I recommend you set for yourself to make the journey easier:
1. Don't overeat. Just don't stuff your face most days. Is that so hard?
2. No soda. Drink coke zero, everything else is pointless 200 calories of sugar. You're literally eating multiple spoonfulls of sugar.
3. Limit heavy-ish drinking. Once a week, no more than that. Alcohol has insane amounts of calories.
4. Avoid processed sugar in general.
5. Eat mostly proteins & fats. Meat and veggies. Add some carbs in wherever you feel like, but eat mostly proteins and vegetables.
That's it. You don't need to count calories or go on some insane diet. Most likely this is already what you're doing, minus a few tweeks. And yes, you can eat McDonalds every day and still be fit following this program - I just don't recommend it because you'll be nutrient deficient and constipated out of your mind.
Trying to lose weight? Here's another rule I set for myself that's optional, but can be very helpful:
6. Skip breakfast. When I'm trying to lose weight, I'll skip breakfast and have lunch at 11am. It's very easy and automatically cuts ~300 calories a day.
Alright, so you've got your exercise (lift a couple of times a week) and your diet (eat pretty much whatever you want) - how do you know if you're making progress? There are 2 data points you need to track that will tell you your progress - you can tweak these depending on what you want: your weight, and your lifts.
If your weight is going up, and your lifts are going up - you're gaining muscle. If you're adding more than 1 pound a week you're probably adding some fat to your body as well.
If your weight is going up, and your lifts are staying still - you're gaining fat, and you're not even trying at the gym. Lift more next time - you have the calories for it.
If your weight is going down, and your lifts are going down - you're not eating enough. Congrats - you can stuff your face some more.
If your weight is going down, and your lifts are staying still - you're losing bodyfat while maintaining your muscle.
If your weight is going down, and your lifts are going up - you're likely new to lifting and are experiencing "beginner gains". This means you're gaining muscle while losing fat. It's a magical time that won't last, so enjoy it.
You can use this rubric to decide what to do in any given week.
Want to gain some muscle? If your lifts aren't increasing anymore, start eating a bit more food. If your weight is increasing more than 1lbs a week, slow down, eat a bit less.
Want to lose some fat? Eat a bit less. Make sure your lifts don't go down much - if they do, you're eating too little.
Want to do both? Eat a bit more on workout days, and a bit less on non-workout days. Your weight should stay roughly the same, but your lifts should gradually increase.
That's all folks.
Simple, isn't it? The final ingredient to make this system kick is patience - this routine is a lifestyle. It's something you can do and mostly never think about again - your body will slowly morph into exactly what you want. You'll be healthier, you'll have more energy and people will smile at you more. Best of all, it barely requires any effort - fitness becomes just another simple routine, no different than brushing your teeth.