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With that said, welcome to the forum! This forum is intended to improve your lifestyle (and poker results) through proper exercise and nutrition. I personally have a lot of experience with body composition, and feel confident in saying that I can take someone at a weight and body fat %, and have them lose weight, add muscle, etc etc until they are at their desired platform (if it is within the natural limitations of the body). Of course, most of these people do not understand the true dedication needed to do this.
Feel free to post and ask specific questions, but in the mean time I will start off with some basic knowledge and myths.
The #1 Rule!
Nutrition is more important than your workouts. What you look like is determined by 70% by nutrition, and 30% by your workout (or maybe 70/20/10 nutrition/workouts/supplements).
How do I lose weight or gain muscle?
The reality of the situation comes down to caloric intake (how many calories you eat). If you want to lose weight, you need to use more calories than you take in. If you want to gain weight, you need to bring in consume more calories than you use. The best part is, I can't give you a number! You will need to find out what your "maintenance level" is, or the amount of calories that you take in daily to remain at your weight.
To do this, you must count calories. Let's say I count up my calories everyday, weighing myself at the same time each day (morning), and determine that 3000 calories a day makes me hold the same weight. Now I want to lose weight. Well, 3500 calories is a pound of fat, so 3500/7 (days in a week) = 500 calories a day. That means I need to take in 3000-500 = 2500 calories a day. To gain weight, I will want to increase my caloric consumption to 3500 calories a day.
Will I lose muscle if I diet? Will I gain fat if I try to add on muscle?
Yes and yes. You aren't taking steroids, so there is only so much your body can do. Now it's time to learn about nutrition partitioning! Nutrition partitioning is the process that you body divides up the calories you take in. Basically, you need to "fuel" your muscles by providing them with nutrients (which comes from glycogen, which is thousands of glucose molecules scrunched together). Extra amounts go to fat. If your body was 100% efficient, 100% of the calories you take in would go to your muscles, and 0% would go to your fat cells (adipose tissue) (up until the muscle cells are "full"). However, you aren't, so, it doesn't.
Similarly, when losing weight, you need to blast away at fat cells (which are stored in your muscle cells). In order for moderately high fat loss to take place, you must have your glycogen stores drained. This means that not enough muscle preservation will be taking place to the point where you can save 100% of your muscle.
Can't I do both at the same time?
In the long run, naturally, no. The only two times I can think of off the top of my head is when you start working out for the first time, and when you restart working out after taking a long time off. Both of these situations catapult your body from doing nothing to something, as opposed from doing something originally, and switching to something different.
I want to lose fat/gain muscle faster than what you talked about!
Your body has natural limitations. I don't know the specific numbers, but if you try to add or lose weight too quickly, it will skew the ratios of fat loss:muscle loss, and fat gain:muscle gain. Basically, if you eat too little when you diet, you will lose a ton of muscle (with comparatively much less fat loss). If you try to gain weight too quickly, you will gain a ton of fat (with comparatively much less muscle gain).
Now, you can use some supplements to assist you in this process. At a later date, I will do a write up on supplements. For both processes, supplemental protein is very crucial. Creatine monohydrate is also good for both purposes, but adds an amount of water retention that will make you not look quite as defined as you might want to be after dieting.
I followed all of your advice and I lost 5 pounds in the first week! I'm gonna be ripped!
Unfortunately, the first thing you lose when dieting is water weight. This comes from draining your glycogen stores. Congratulations if you were scheduled for a weigh-in today, but otherwise, you're just getting started.
High reps for tone, low reps for getting bigger, right?
This is one of my personal pet peeves. All muscle that is alive is considered "toned." You are talking about definition, what is a direct product of body fat %. One of those fancy phrases that people use as a rule of thumb is "abs are made in the kitchen." This is true.
Now, in terms of changing your workout when you change your diet, this is a bad idea. Deep breath time...
When you work out, what you do is basically make lots of little microtears in your muscle tissue. This is filled with fluid/water/whatever immediately, and eventually muscle expands to fill the gap. This is how you get bigger. Your muscle cannot actually divide and become two. Another note is that these microtears are really, really small, and that's why it takes a long time to get bigger.
Your muscle tissue is made out of fibers, and there are a few times: type 1, type 2a, and type 2b (recently changed this to type 2x, but I'm old school so I will refer to it as 2b). Type 1 muscle fibers are also known as slow-switch, and are your endurance muscles. Type 2a and 2b are your fast twitch fibers, and are your rapid moment (sprinting) muscle types. The application to weight training is that the type 2 muscle fibers have the ability to grow the most. I feel like a complete idiot right now because I forget whether a/b is the specific fiber that can grow the most. I think it's a. (EDIT: It is).
To weight train your type 1 muscle fibers, you would use sets of about 15-25 reps. To train your type 2a, 6-10ish (12 MAYBE SOMETIMES) (it's really 6-15 in most books but for the love of god do not do sets of 15. Type 2b is about 2-6. There is a lot of room in weight lifting for individualism. That means you're going to have to do a lot of experimenting with workout routines (splits) to find that your body responds best to. Another note: type 2b tailors more to strength (which is still important/useful in bodybuilding) which is where most powerlifters stay in.
Time to answer the actual question: You will find out that it is very difficult to add on muscle. If you diet, you will find out that it's very easy to lose it back. Basically, you need to stick to your 2a/b-centered routine when you diet because that will be the best tool for keeping as much muscle as possible. You now know that we have to be in a calorie deficit, and our glycogen stores will be drained, and also that more than 12 reps will train the wrong muscle fiber if we are trying to gain muscle. All of these elements will result in a ton of muscle loss. The closest poker analogy I can think of would be the opportunity cost of playing weak/tight in a downswing. The more weak/tight you play, the greater your opportunity cost (leaving more money on the table, analogous to muscle loss). Similarly, the greater you deviate from a type 2a/b targeted split, the more muscle you will lose when dieting.
How long should my workouts be?
45-60 minutes (not including a warmup). Anything longer than this and cortisol, a catabolic (catabolic means lose [muscle] tissue, gaining [muscle] tissue is called anabolic) hormone enters your body and really messes things up. Although cortisol can be blocked by the presence of carbohydrates (meaning if you sip a gatorade throughout your workout), I still give this recommendation because after an hour of working out hard, it's really difficult to put in a useful amount of effort. Sure, you can push yourself still, but it's impossible to have the strength/power that you did at the beginning of the workout.
What routine (split) should I use for working out?
Ok, so we are now at the point where you have general information about nutrition, and a little bit about working out, so let's move on to routines.
There are three factors to take into consideration with a split: frequency, volume, and intensity. Frequency is how often are you working out, and how often is each muscle group working out. Volume is how many sets and reps are being done to each group/in total. Intensity is how hard you are working. Are you going to failure (meaning you actually try to do a bicep curl and you cannot lift the weight to the top of the movement), or stopping 1-2 reps shy? Side note: I would generally recommend going 1-2 reps shy of failure. I will also note that most people can squeeze out a few more reps when they think they can't.
These three elements all intertwine. The higher your level of intensity, the less sets you should be doing per body part, and the fewer times per week you should be working out that body part. The higher your volume, the lower your frequency should be, etc. Side note: Beginners should have a greater frequency, not volume or intensity. They will simply not be able to have the greatest amount of intensity as someone who has been working out for a while because..........
When you lift weights you activate muscle fibers in your body part. When you begin a new movement (switching up your workout routine, or starting to lift weights in general), you are training that muscle at a different angle than your body is used to. So, your body actually has to practice activating all the useful fibers in that body part. Studies are all over the place on this one, claiming it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months until your body is fully adjusted. For those of you that switch your workout and see "immediate changes," you aren't getting bigger/stronger, your body is actually just learning to activate more fibers (that you already had) in that specific muscle. Sorry!
Logically, beginners will want to practice activating those fibers more frequently, because it's more important to get them from the dugout to the plate as opposed to anything else. A more experienced weight lifter can still activate most fibers when switching a routine, so there is no need to temporarily increase frequency while decreasing volume/intensity.
So what routine should I actually use?
Like I said, different routines work best for different people. You will eventually have to come up with your own, which is why I am attempting to arm you with enough info to do this successfully. Beginners will want to use 1 of 2 splits:
3 full body workouts a week
4 workouts a week, two upper body, two lower body
Yep. You'll look like an idiot if you have a big upper body and chicken legs. Eventually it will become bad for your body. Your upper body will actually get bigger from training your legs. And, you will begin to start making fun of the people that train only upper body, which is fun to do.
There's more general info you need to be told. That's not even a question?
Some body parts are bigger than others. Your quads and hams (quadriceps, hamstrings) are bigger than your calfs. Your back (2/3 of your muscle in your upper body is your back) and chest are bigger than your shoulders and arms. Therefore, you should train your bigger body parts with compound lifts (bench press, squats, etc) an your smaller body parts with isolation exercises (bicep curls, etc). Side Note: You have to train your upper back, lower back, and lats (latimerus dorsi) separately. I suppose you can get away with not training your lower back if you only lift recreationally (if you play sports your lower back is super important), and you do lots of deadlifts and squats.
In this similar vein, you train your bigger body parts using lower reps (2-6), and your smaller body parts using slightly higher reps (7-10).
You're not gonna give us actual splits!?
No, or, at least, not right now. I think it would be more beneficial to gather some info on your own, and come up with your own exercises (use the 3/4 day workout that I posted above). Post it in the splits thread, and I will fix it up at no extra cost! Check out www.bodybuilding.com
for a list of exercises, and also you can check out their forums for ideas. Keep it simple!
I have a question I think should go in this FAQ
Go ahead and post here. I will add it if I think it should be, and then delete your post. I will also be deleting off topic posts in this thread, so don't be offended. If you still have a question, make a thread.