One topic that I see pop up time and time again on here is regarding the gym. I have a particularly slow Friday ahead of me so I thought I'd post a brief guide to training since I imagine, for the most part, we all have similar lifestyles and the challenges that come with them. I'm going to try to make this a TL:DR version with links to other sources when more detail is imperative. I am not affiliated with any products/websites linked, they are just resources I've found helpful and beneficial over the years. Post questions, disagree with me, add to it, etc.
*Okay, I work 200 hours a week. Do I have time to go to the gym? What's a good routine for me? What is the most prestigious way to lift?*
If you can spare 45-60 minutes, three days a week, you have time to train adequately. If you can't, your group's culture blows but at least you'll be rich soon. I recommend any routine that focuses on compound lifts with a barbell - examples are Starting Strength ( I recommend this - http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224 ), StrongLifts 5x5 ( http://stronglifts.com/5x5/ ) or anything that looks similar. With the limited time you have, you want something that is going to hit everything hard. Rigorous barbell training, when performed safely, will help you to build a strong, powerful physique. Your main lifts will be the squat, deadlift, benchpress, row and press. Unless you have awful some previous injury or are elderly (DickFuld, Dingdong) you can train with a barbell.
A quick note I will add is to always warm up properly. I run to my gym (~0.5m) and stretch: search youtube for limber 11 or agile 8 for good stretching routines.
*That sounds too easy. Is it enough? I don't even know how to perform those movements. Will I get TOO BIG? I just want to get toned bro.*
It's enough. Compound movements affect a LOT of muscle mass. If you have never squatted/deadlifted before you will be sore in places that you didn't know existed. To learn the lifts I actually recommend reading the book Starting Strength ( http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-Basic-Barb... ) if you have the time and watching any instructional youtube videos by its author ( https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=art+o... )
Saying you don't want to train with barbells because you'll get "too big" is like saying "yeah I want to go into investment banking but I don't want to end up being an MD at KKR later on." These things do not happen by accident and I get irrationally angry whenever I hear this. "Toned" is another dumb word - people use it to refer to the state of having muscle mass that is visible due to low bodyfat. How do you get muscle mass? Weight training. How do you get low bodyfat? We'll cover that next. Also, having more muscle mass burns more calories just to maintain and you benefit from increased calorie burn after resistance training.
*This is starting to sound good. I lift the weights, I put them down, got it. What about diet? We were thinking about pooling seamless and getting $500 worth of chocolate cake. Good move or no?*
Diet is important. Forget every stupid piece of bro science you've heard touted as gospel. "Eat low carbs," "don't eat after 8pm," "eat 42 small meals it's better for your metabolism" - it's all garbage. Follow the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) here. Unless you're a god and the laws of physics do not apply to you, calories in vs. calories out will dictate what happens to your weight. That is all you should focus on. Every day, just by virtue of being alive and moving around, you burn X calories as your total daily energy expenditure ("TDEE"). Eat more than that (a caloric surplus) and gain weight, eat less (deficit) and lose weight. Don't listen to stupid loony shit about carbs. However, DO focus on getting enough protein. Ask different people and you'll get a different recommended amount. I'll throw out the figure of 1g per pound of body weight to be safe - so if you're 180lbs, shoot for 180g, although 0.8g/lb is generally accepted as the "lower bound" of the range. I also find protein to be highly filling so I tend to err on the side of eating more.
*Interesting, I always thought fat loss came from those "one weird trick doctors don't want you to know" ads I see online. Well then how to I find my TDEE? How do I track my calories in?*
Use this calculator: http://www.iifym.com/tdee-calculator/ - it also has more reading if you'd like. Also, if you didn't realize it, you make a lot of money. Any of the IoT wearables that track your activity are a pretty good investment. I personally use the Fitbit Charge HR: https://www.fitbit.com/chargehr . Seeing the realtime feedback of how many calories I've burned is helpful and, if you're as competitive as I am, seeing trackable metrics will drive you to improve more. On the subject of tracking metrics, I also have a smart scale that automatically records my weight and bf% via wifi and also imports that data into fitbit. Again, you can afford the $100 or whatever. I use this one - http://www.withings.com/us/en/products/smart-body-... - but there are other alternatives including one that Fitbit makes.
Tracking your food intake is tougher. When I was younger I tracked *everything* I ate for a while. Not kidding. It's a pain in the ass. Sadly I don't have the time for that now and I eat out a lot but I've gotten good at eyeballing things. If you do have the time, I recommend prepping your meals in advance and measuring them before hand and recording this. You probably don't though. MyFitnessPal ( http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ ) is a free app and can scan barcodes, has a robust database and even comes pre-loaded with common meals from chains. If you really want to go all out and be neurotic, this is your chance. A scale like this is good for measuring your portions or your drugs of choice too: http://www.amazon.com/EatSmart-Precision-Digital-K...
*I hear a lot about supplements though. Which ones work? What should I take? What if I want a little something extra *wink wink*?*
Most are shit, underdosed and/or overpriced. If you're buying from GNC/vitamin shoppe etc. you've already lost. Any of the online retailers are pretty good. I use bodybuilding.com a lot but there are others. There are a supplements that are proven (have studies backing them) that work which I will list below. Probably missing something but this should be good for our purposes:
- Protein: not really an ergogenic supplement but very useful in helping you get adequate protein in your diet if you're unable to from food. Get whatever is cheapest / tastes the best. Slickdeals.com occasionally has some cheap postings. Right now I'm using Pro JYM.
- Creatine: shit works to improve strength and it's not just "water weight" though you will retain water. Also, drink a lot of water in general. Plain, micronized creatine monohydrate is fine and the most cost effective. If you get a pre-workout it will most likely have creatine in it.
- Beta alanine: this is primarily effective for high-rep / endurance work but it's good stuff and will most likely be included in a decent pre-workout formula.
- Multi-vitamin. self explanatory. Don't get a shit one that you'll piss out, you want a quality one with high bioavailability. I use/recommend Orange Triad, which also comes with other goodies like support for your joints, immune system and digestive system.
-Caffeine: self explanatory. Stick to tablets rather than powders because caffeine is easy to OD and you will feel like complete shit if that happens (extreme heart rate, uncontrollable sweating, inability to balance, vomiting etc). As a side note, Ephedrine is popularly paired with caffeine in what's known as the "EC Stack." It is a very useful tool for weightloss as it suppresses appetite and provides a lot of energy. Google this to find a guide. It is generally safe if you do not dose it excessively. It is also fully legal.
- Fish oil: helps your joints and general health. Get one with the right blend of omega acids and not a shitty one. I use/recommend Oximega Fish Oil.
- Pre-workouts ("PWO"): a good PWO will combine many of the above ingredients (caffeine, creatine, beta alanine and some others) and is designed to take before you train to improve energy. Always buy one with full ingredients listed so you know that you are getting efficacious doses. Shitty companies will hide everything in a "proprietary blend" so you don't know what you're getting, i.e. they're skimping on the expensive stuff to fuck you. One that I will recommend is Pre JYM.
- Steroids: if you're thinking of asking in here then you're not in a position to be using them. Illegal and will fuck over your endocrine system if you use them incorrectly, which you will without extensive research. Same with Pro hormones - avoid. If you train for a few years and want to put in the time to properly research and use them, go for it if you'd like.
*What about alcohol? Can I make sick gains and still drink?*
I will start of by saying alcohol is bad. It's like 7cals/gram (4-5 net after the thermal effect of burning it) and it stresses your body and inhibits muscle growth in ways I don't remember. That being said, you only live once and you probably don't want to be that kid who skips having three beers at happy hour because you want your squat to go up 0.078923lbs tomorrow. Have some fun. This site will tell you the most calorically efficient ways to get hammered: http://getdrunknotfat.com/ .
*Is that it? Are you done?*
One more thing, sleep is important. This is the most uncontrollable factor for many of you on here. You will probably not get enough. Hope you're in a group with no facetime.