1. WEIGHTS: For someone who is just starting out and has no injuries or limiting conditions, I would recommend focusing on the core, fundamental movements. These movements include a pushing movement (bench press, dumbbell bench press, overhead barbell press, overhead dumbbell press, push up), a squatting movement (a goblet squat with a kettlebell or dumbbell, barbell squat with bar placed on your back, or a box squat where you are squatting to parallel and then coming back up), a hip-dominant movement (kettlebell deadlift, hex-bar deadlift, barbell deadlift) and lastly a pulling movement (pull up, lat pulldown, dumbbell row, barbell row, seated cable row).
The reason being is that you want to train your body to become familiar with all the compound, multi-joint movement patterns. This is going to maximize your return on investment when you go to the gym as you get the most bang for your buck when doing these exercises.
2. CARDIO: How much cardio someone should be doing, that depends on your goal. Are you looking to lose body fat? Are you looking to gain muscle or strength? Or are you just wanting better overall health? If you’re looking to lose body fat, I’d recommend doing cardio 3 times a week. However, if you’re looking to gain muscle, cardio could impede this as it does reduce the number of calories your body could be using to build muscle. In this case, I would recommend you do cardio once a week for cardiovascular health benefits.
In order to get an effective workout, I would say as a general rule you’re going to need at least 30 minutes. The reason is that your nutrition and lifestyle are going to play the most important role in creating change within your body. The workouts and training only stimulate that change.
3. RECOVERY: Here are some key things to focus on:
Nutrition – quality and quantity of calories
Sleep – 7-9 hours a night
Hydration – this is going to vary from person to person but usually consuming more water on the days you workout is a good idea, and on off days drink roughly half a gallon
Stress – stress plays a major role in the body because if your stress levels become elevated, a hormone called cortisol is released which can slow down fat loss and even stop it.
That depends on how quickly you optimize your lifestyle in order to get the biggest return on your time in the gym. Like I said previously, focusing on the 4 core factors – nutrition, sleep, hydration, and stress – are going to dictate how quickly you are able to reach your goals. As a rule of thumb, it generally takes about 3 months before you will see any real, meaningful changes in your body.
4. NUTRITION: The best diet for you to follow is one you can stick to long term. There are so many diets out there such as, Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Weight Watchers, Intermittent Fasting and to be honest, they all will work if done correctly because they are putting your body into a calorie deficit, which means you are burning more calories than you’re consuming.
So the question you should ask yourself when choosing the right diet, is whether it fits your lifestyle and habits as this will ultimately dictate the long-term effectiveness. For example, if your friends or family consistently enjoy get-togethers that revolve around soul food, then maybe Paleo isn’t the diet for you because it requires you to eat all earth-grown carbohydrates with no added sugars or processing. In this circumstance, counting calories like If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) may be most suitable for you.
5. SUPPLEMENTS: You don’t need to take any supplements and I will reiterate again that it’s all about the 4 core factors I mentioned above; however, if you do have a little extra money these are some supplements I would recommend you consider taking:
Creatine monohydrate – 3-5 grams on training days. This is the most studied sports supplement since the 90s and may aid in muscle building and strength.
Beta-alanine – 1.6 – 3.2 on training days. This supplement delays the onset of fatigue during strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
Citrulline malate – 4-8 grams a day. This helps with increasing blood flow and nutrient partitioning. It essentially helps to ensure the nutrients from your food reach your muscles to help them grow.
Protein powder – I would only recommend this if you have a hard time reaching your protein requirements throughout the day through food because, in my opinion, it’s best to get it through the food you eat.
Fish oil – again, if you were to eat 1-2 servings of salmon per week you would be able to get all the benefits from omega 3 supplements such as fish oil. Some of those benefits are brain function and health, eye, skin, and joint health, lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol and overall heart health.
Multivitamins – there has been a lot of speculation surrounding multivitamins in recent years regarding their absorption rate and bioavailability to your body. For this reason, I’m a huge proponent of having a very broad and colorful diet to make sure you’re getting enough micronutrients, but it can’t hurt to add a multivitamin to your daily regimen.