Okay, so I’ve been threatening to share my training programme for a while, but it’s quite a big piece of work to write up and present properly for you to make use of and I also wanted to make sure I had something to show from it. Basically, I’ve managed to get fit while still enjoying eating and drinking. Below is a comparison of before I started versus today (6 weeks). Also, this isn’t a fitness blog as such, I may go off on a tangent!
In 2012 I was 81kg and I decided I need to take action. I was living with friends, eating a lot of takeaway, drinking regularly and not exercising an awful lot.
I was unhealthy and unfit (my ideal weight is around 66-71kg). My nephew had just been born and I wanted to be able to play sport with him (and my own kids one day) and live a long and healthy life. So since then I have been more health conscious and was regularly under 75kg for most of the last 6 years, but still couldn’t get under 70kg consistently, until I moved to Malta, where I ran, became vegan, and generally got into my best shape with a gym programme before switching to running 5-6 times a week (Malta is a beautiful place to run).
Leaving Malta, Christmas binging and then moving to Malaysia and picking up a calf injury put me back, plus lockdown really took away all motivation. Around mid-May, 2 months into lockdown I realised I was eating too much, not moving enough so decided to start time restricted eating (a.k.a (wrongly, but commonly) intermittent fasting) to help curb that. I was still unable and demotivated to exercise properly, but in terms of weight loss, diet is the first thing you should look to change.
I used MyFitnessPal to track calories and Zero Calories to record measurements and time my fasts. I would also recommend Zero by Dr. Peter Attia, but as I’ve got my records in Zero Calories, it’s hard to switch now!
So the aim of this post is to give a simple programme that I am using for people who want to get back into a good routine, or are simply starting out using the gym. I knew that gyms here were opening around June, as lockdown was being eased a bit and I decided to make sure I had a good programme ready to go for that. I also upped my home workouts using some apps by Leap Fitness. Things such as Six pack in 30-days really helped me have a structure. I was also counting calories and watching my weight using MyFitnessPal. If your goal is weight loss, then I’d seriously recommend taking a couple of weeks to measure your food and you might be surprised at the amount you eat. To lose weight, you need to be at a calorie deficit and I was aiming for around 1500-1750 Kcal per day.
So, onto the gym programme. I had done 4.5 weeks of fasting (above), calorie counting and 3-4 sessions a week using “Six pack in 30 days” and noticed a slight 2cm loss around my waist and 2% body fat (based on old school calculations using measurements). So a decent base.
My goals for starting a gym programme were as follows:
- Lose (belly) fat. 17.2% – <10%
- Increase muscle (at least improve physique)
- Improve strength
- Lose CM around waist. 84cm – 74cm
- Increase CM around chest/shoulders
And the methods I was going to use were:
- Fasting 16:8 minimum plus occasional long (24+) fast
- Caloric deficit 4-5 days – between 500-750 calories below.
- No sugar
- Mostly vegan/vegetarian.
- Weight training (8-12 reps to almost fail on last couple, increasing weight each week)
- Cardio (increasing). Mixture of bike, swim and running. Fast running seems to shift fat…
I initially found a gym programme on www.nerdfitness.com that suggested 3 sessions a week of full body, lifting “heavy”. (Weights are personal, so experiment with your own weights to suit you. Should usually struggle on the last rep or 2). Have a read of the above 2 links that really helped me to understand and design the following:
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Pull||Pull up||Cable row||Chin ups|
|Push||Dumbell Bench Press||Dumbbell overhead press||Dips|
|Legs||Bulgarian Split squats||Dumbell deadlift||Walking lunge|
|Extra||Bicep curls, plank + side plank||Hanging leg raise + dumbbell bench press||Decline crunch + dumbell bench press|
I went with 4-5 sets of 5-8 reps, or whatever I could manage. This was my first week so, pull ups for example, I managed 4, 4, 3 and 2 before failing. Now I can do 4 sets of 8. I fit in some cardio and abs on the rest days, but come Saturday I had found another website and decided to aim for muscle size increase, as opposed to just strength.
If you’re just interested in getting stronger, you can do: 3-5 sets of 5 reps, with a focus on lifting heavier and heavier each week.
If you’re looking to add more size along with strength, mix up your rep ranges. Sets of 5 reps will build compact explosive strength, while sets of 6-12 reps will build more size but less concentrated strength.Nerd Fitness
So in week 2 I’d adopted the following routines (links below) and increased the reps. They were still full body (A & B) and I varied them to suit my basic gym. A downside of full body was that you should have a rest day between workouts and that meant a maximum of 3 per week. I wanted to do more and as I have a gym in my complex had the time to do more. But if you can only fit in 2 or 3, then these are perfect for you and quite short. I did abs, using the Six Pack in 30 days app and some cardio, either on the same day or rest days.
You may want to subscribe to his website for regular updates. Again I adapted these to suit my gym, but after 2 weeks of this, I went back to a push-pull split that worked for me in Malta and 4 workouts per week and have stuck with that since, give or take.
So here they are.
|Bench press||4||8||I use dumbbells, unless I find a gym with a barbell.|
|Dips||3||10||Using the bars to do a full body dip, or a bench.|
|Leg extension||3||8||Do each leg separately if time allows.|
|Squat (or Bulgarian squat)||4||8||As I don’t have a squat machine or barbell, I’m doing bulgarian split squats|
|Chest press (machine)||4||10|
|Tricep push downs||4||10|
|Leg press machine||4||10|
|Push ups||2/3||15||I started with 2×15, then added a third until fail. Now at 3×20.|
|Flat dumbbell fly||4||10|
|Overhead tricep extension||4||10|
|Leg curl||3||8||Do each leg separately if time allows.|
|Pull up||4||10||Whatever you can do!|
|Deadlift||4||8||I use dumbbells|
|Hanging leg raise||4||10|
I attempt to go to the gym 4 times per week and I reckon each full workout can be done in less than an hour and 15 minutes, depending on rest periods, which I am doing 2-3 minutes. I usually do 15-20 minutes of cardio as a warm up and sometimes I do an abs workout before or after, depending on time.
I also came across this 12-week “fat destroyer” programme from Muscle & Strength, which has a good structure for your diet and cardio too. I think I am doing the fundamentals of this within my own routine and it’s a good guide to how much cardio to do.
I’m at a point now, where I am looking at maybe switching it up for a few weeks, perhaps by increasing the weight or maybe doing supersets. My aim is still to carry on burning fat until I’m at under 10% and 74cm waistline. I think that will be around 12 weeks and then I will assess and see what I want to do, perhaps a bit of a bulk period – that will be something new for me as I’ve never ever wanted to be “bulky” or big, but I am interested to see what can be done!
Consistency & enjoyment
The important thing is to be consistent. You need to fit this into your lifestyle and ENJOY it. I found a programme that has got me motivated and back into shape after a difficult period and I hope that if you are looking for something to get you going, this is useful for you.
I’ve managed to do this while still enjoying life, travelling, eating well and without thinking too much and having a few beers now and again. I tend to be super strict with my intake on days where I’m at home, but relaxed when I am with others. To do either 100% would be tough mentally and likely you’d give up. And what’s the point of not enjoying ourselves?!
Anyway, I hope this has helped. I’ve put all the links to things I use here in this article and shared my programme. I may change it up over the next 6 weeks, but I am really happy with the progress made in the first 6, with my physique, energy, waist size and strength.
Whatever your aims are, reading this page and the links I’ve put, will give you a better understanding of what will work for you. Remember, the important thing is to find something you enjoy and can build into your lifestyle. It’s not about the results, but about doing something regularly! Results can help you stay focused and I really enjoy getting up in a morning and taking them, especially after a fast or a good workout the previous day.
Finally, I’d love to see your progress and hear your feedback and if this has been helpful, feel free to share! Below you can see my measurements. I’m really happy with the waist and weight in particular!
Have a great weekend!
|Left thigh (cm)||57||52||53||54||53||53.8||54||54||54|
|Right thigh (cm)||57||55||54.5||53||55||55||55.4||55||55|
|Left calf (cm)||37||36||36||35.5||35.8||37||35.5||36||35.3|
|Right calf (cm)||37||36||35||35||35||36||35||35.5||35.2|
|Left bicep (cm)||28||30||30||30.5||31||31||31.2||31||31.2|
|Right bicep (cm)||28||31||31||31||31.5||31.5||32||32||32|
|Body fat (%)||19*||17.2||15.1||14.5||13.9*||15.7*||14.5||12.7%||11.3%||11.7%|
Underlined: When I decided to start fasting again as I was unhappy with the way I was going.
Italics: Measurements after a few days away in KL. Important that you enjoy life. I didn’t watch what I ate, though I did fast around 13-14 hours naturally. However, alcohol and food were included in my weekend! So this is to highlight, that even after a set back, once you get into a good routine again, you revert to normal. Just 2 days later and the effects of KL had all but gone, and I’m back heading towards my goals. Also, after a wedding I attended I increased by 3kg in a day!!! But it quickly shifted. YOU ARE A RESULT OF YOUR ROUTINE! If gym is a regular activity, that will be your default with spikes. If you do exercise every so often, you’ll see a benefit, but it’ll go back on as soon as you get out of the habit!
*: Body fat measurements taken with a machine at a gym. The rest taken using https://www.calculator.net/body-fat-calculator.html.
Bold: pre-gym measurements. At this point I had been doing some home exercise and diet was good, with a calorie deficit of a few hundred per day. Weight was good, but measurements needed work – i.e. body shape.