There are plenty of posts around here discussing the importance of weight lifting and how to do it. The last thing we need is another one.
That being said: Here's another one.
Why? Because the importance of working out can't be overstated. It's a big part of my life and has been for over a decade. I'm going to tell you about my experience, the benefits I've enjoyed, and how to get the best results as fast as possible.
For the first 27 years of my life, I never weighed more than 140 lbs and I'm 6' tall. I was all skin an bones. Then, I got my first gym membership. When I first started going, I had no idea what I was doing. I'd show up, lift stuff, use a few machines, and call it a day. That was enough to make some newbie gains and I put on about 15 lbs of muscle over the next few months.
I took an interest in fitness and started trying different workout routines. However, I wasn't really putting on any more muscle. It took me a while to figure out what was the problem – nutrition. Up until that point, I really hadn't changed my diet much. I started studying both fitness and nutrition and made changes to my diet. Most importantly, I increased my protein intake. I experimented with different diets, tracking my calories and macros and, over the next couple years, put on another 15-or-so pounds of muscle.
Again, I plateaued. I switched up my workouts, increased my protein and calories, and nothing. Even though I was starting to look decent, I still wanted to build more muscle. By then, I was in my 30's and after doing some research, started to suspect my testosterone levels might not be great and I was right. My levels were in the low-normal range. So, being the self-experimenter that I am, I tried every test-boosting supplement I could find over the next couple years. Some raised my testosterone by as much as a couple hundred points, but it wasn't enough.
After doing a lot more research, I decided to go on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Instead of having my testosterone levels in the low-normal range, now they are in the high-normal range. Once again, I was able to start building muscle. Over the next few years, I put on another 15-or-so pounds of muscle. Now I'm 195 lbs at 6', right around 10-12% body fat.
Now, wherever I go, I'm almost always the fittest guy in the room. At the beach, whether on South Beach, Venice Beach, or one of the many beautiful local beaches here in Mass, I'm always the fittest guy in my age bracket. It's hard not to be confident when you're turning the heads of women (and men) everywhere you go.
I still go to the gym at least four times a week, lifting weights for about an hour and then doing 20-30 minutes of cardio. It's not a hassle, it's not a chore: It's simply something I do. In fact, if I don't go to the gym for several days in a row, I start to feel shitty. The secret to both muscle growth and not getting bored is to always be mixing things up. While there are a handful of essential lifts I do often (squats, deadlifts, bench, OHP, etc.), I've never done the exact same workout twice.
So Many Benefits!
The gym has changed my life. Transformed my body, brain, and attitude. It has improved every single aspect of my life in one way or another. Here are just some of the benefits.
Confidence – This benefit alone is reason to lift. I can't even begin to tell you how much confidence I've gained from working out. I'm confident in my appearance, my physical ability and strength, and just confident in general. I used to have a bit of social anxiety but that's been long gone since I started lifting. Now, I walk into a room with my chest out, chin up, and make eye contact with everyone. I'm overflowing with confidence.
Strength – This one is obvious. The more you lift and eat right, the stronger you get. Strength=good.
Respect – The way people treat me now is much different than how they treated me 10 years ago. Women look at and talk to me much differently, but I'll get to that in a minute. Guys treat me with much more respect. A lot of the time, when I look a guy in the eyes, he looks away. It may not sound like much, but it means that on a subconscious level he sees me as being dominant.
Women – This is probably what brought you to TRP. Let me tell you: One of, if not the most important things you can do to get women is get in shape. Now that I'm fit, women look at me differently. They talk to me differently. They treat me differently. The pitch of their voices are higher. They twirl their hair when I talk to them. They laugh at everything I say that's even remotely funny. In short, I get a LOT more attention from women and it's the exact kind of attention I want.
Energy/Stamina/Endurance – I used to be tired all the time. Had no motivation or energy. Now, at 37 years old, I have more energy than most 18 year old dudes. Lifting weights will help increase your energy but this is where cardio really shines. Doing a little cardio (20-30 minutes) in addition to lifting will help you build stamina and endurance. I shouldn't have to tell you what those are good for... but I'm going to anyway: Fucking! I like to have long, wild, passionate sex, banging a woman all over the house. You can't do this if you're winded after 5 or 10 minutes. The gym has given me the stamina to fuck women the way I want to – the way they want me to. I love having porno-level sex and it can't be done without some serious stamina. (Maybe at some point I'll make a post about how to last long, bust huge nuts, and other sexual stuff).
Mood/Anxiety/Sense of Well-Being – They say that exercise is the best antidepressant. Usually, I don't listen to what “they” say. But in this case, they're right. I struggled with severe depression and anxiety throughout my teens and early twenties, trying several different medications. The gym did more for my mood and anxiety level more than any of them. I always leave the gym in a better mood than I arrive and it keeps me feeling good for hours and hours.
These are just some of the benefits of working out but there are dozens more. Clothes fit better. Daily tasks like bringing in the groceries become easier. The list goes on and on. I really can't say enough good things about working out.
So, What Do I Do?
The fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. You can't turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing ads for weight-loss pills, ab rollers, ass blasters, and other bullshit products. They want you to think that getting in shape is complicated, that you need their product. Don't believe the hype.
The truth is, the principles of fat loss and muscle building have been well-understood for the past century. It's not complicated at all. And you can build an amazing physique without any supplements, products, or other bullshit.
So, how do you get fit? There are two aspects of getting in shape: Building muscle and burning fat. You can't “tone” your body. You can't “burn belly fat.” These are just buzz words the fitness industry uses to sell products.
You have to take an honest look at yourself. Are you fat as fuck? Skinny as shit like I used to be? For me, I didn't need to lose fat – I needed to build muscle. If you're really fucking fat, you need to focus on burning fat. If you're a skinny twig, you need to build some goddamn muscle. Figure out what you need to do and do it! Here's how:
In a nutshell, you have to lift weights and you have to eat more food. It's really that simple. I'm not saying it's easy, but it is simple.
Focus on doing compound exercises. These are exercises that work more than one muscle at a time and will give you the highest return on investment (ROI). Squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press are all examples of compound lifts.
If you're just starting out, I'd suggest doing three full-body workouts every week. Or find a good program like Starting Strength, 5x5, or one of the other ones out there. As long as you're doing heavy compound lifts and hitting every body part at least twice a week, you'll grow if you're getting enough calories.
How many calories do you need? To build muscle, you need to eat slightly more ( 300-500) calories than you burn every day. And it is essential that you get enough protein. Your body uses protein to build and maintain muscle tissue. How much is enough? There is no consensus for this but I personally eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. So for me at 195 lbs, I eat at least 195 grams of protein every day.
I could easily write an entire book on building muscle, but I'll leave it at that. There are plenty of resources out there for you. The fitness subreddit has a lot of excellent advice. The bodybuilding subreddit is for competitive bodybuilders but also has a lot of good information.
Oh, one last thing I should mention. There's no such thing as a hardgainer. If you're not gaining weight, you're simply not eating enough. I used to think I was an ectomorph hardgainer with a fast metabolism. Now I realize I was full of shit, making excuses, and not eating enough. If you're not gaining weight, you're not eating enough. If you're lifting and gaining weight but not building muscle, you may want to get your hormone levels checked. I may write up a detailed post about hormones and testosterone replacement therapy at some point.
This is even simpler than building muscle. To burn fat, you simply need to consume less calories than your body uses every day. There are two ways to do this:
- Eat less food. Simple, yet difficult for many people.
- Burn more calories. Lifting weights, doing cardio, playing sports, martial arts (highly recommended), etc. will all increase the number of calories you burn every day.
If you want to burn fat faster, do both of these things. But the only thing that matters is that you're consuming less calories than you're burning every day.
There are no supplements that will make you burn fat. All the shit you see on TV is worthless. There are some effective things you can take to suppress your appetite, like good ol' methamphetamine, but I wouldn't recommend taking them. Think about it: If ANY of the weight-loss supplements you see on TV actually worked, then why the are there so many fat fucks waddling around out there?
If you're already looking for shortcuts before you do a single rep or step on a treadmill, you're gonna fail. Getting fit takes work. Is it hard? Yup. Is it worth it? Abso-fuckin-lutely.
Getting fit was the single best thing I've ever done for myself. At 37-years-old, I look better than most guys in their early 20's. If you want to feel better, have more confidence, get stronger, and gain the respect of men and women everywhere, get your ass in the gym and start picking shit up.
Or don't. The choice is yours. But don't get mad at me when I leave the bar with a gorgeous woman on my arm and the only thing you leave with is the leftovers from your bacon-stuffed, double-cheese fries.
Now, getting fit won't get you laid. But being fit will make it infinitely easier to get laid.
I didn't start working out until I was 27. I know guys that didn't start until they were 47. It's never too late to start. It doesn't matter when you start, how you start, or why you start. Just start. Once you start seeing results, you'll be hooked.
Take care and be well!
EDIT: To be clear, all the benefits I listed came BEFORE I started on TRT. I knew that a lot of readers would say, "Oh, he's on gear and that's why, blah, blah, blah." I strongly considered leaving out the part about going on TRT for this reason, but I wanted to be honest about my story.
I'm going to write up a post about TRT, what it is and what it isn't, in the near future. My testosterone levels are and have always been within the normal range with TRT. People saying, "He's on gear, he's on roids, that's why he's been able to change," don't understand. I take 120 mg of testosterone a week. All that does it raise my testosterone enough so that instead of having the levels of an old man, I have the levels of a young man. That's it. And I get it from a doctor, legally prescribed, with bloodwork and everything. Guys that go on steroids typically take 500+ mg of testosterone a week in addition to several other compounds.
Those of you who are hating on me, talking shit, I get it. I used to be the same way before my transformation began. It's easy to look at someone who's fit and say, "Oh, he's on steroids. That's why he looks like that and I don't." But the truth is, I look the way I do because I worked my fucking ass off for years and years, doing everything that I possibly could to get the results that I wanted. Does TRT help? Of course! But it doesn't negate the years of training and eating right that came before it and continues to this day.