The best way to get fit is first to consider what you want to be good at. Most people want to feel strong, energetic, and be lean. And so you’ll need to do slightly different things to do that.
We would recommend that you do some sort of resistance training like lifting weights to become strong, and outdoor aerobics like sprinting to become energetic. Then we would recommend combining those types of exercise with a nutrient-dense diet made out of whole foods that you cook yourself at home to become lean. So how do you actually do that?
How can I train myself to get fit?
So if we want to get strong, energetic, lean, and healthy, let’s break that down into what that would take.
To become strong—do resistance training
Resistance training is when you challenge your muscles against resistance, and you go to the edge of failure, and your muscles will get the signal that they need to adapt bigger and stronger. Muscle mass is expensive to your body and costs a lot of calories, which would put your body at risk during a famine or a drought or even during the winter in any other era except today. So if you don’t use your muscles very often, your body will naturally start shrinking. Over many years many people feel weaker than they used to be just because they are in challenging themselves often enough.
The best way to we like to do resistance training is through lifting weights. The reason why is because lifting weights is much more predictable to do to build muscle, easier and less painful than bodyweight workouts. To ensure that you are adapting, it’s as simple as adding slightly more weight and doing the workout.
Bodyweight workouts are harder to add more weight, and you end up having to do more reps to push yourself to adapt. This becomes a game of how much pain you can withstand. Because when you’re doing 30 push-ups to failure and the next week you need to do 31 push-ups to failure, it just becomes a game of pain management.
It’s best to stick in the 5 to 20 rep range in our experience when it comes to building muscle, so lifting weights will help you stay in that range a lot easier. That’s said, doing bodyweight workouts is still better than nothing and can be a great way for a total beginner to get started. We have a no-equipment muscle-building workout for free here where we try and remove the problem of bodyweight workouts by adding in a backpack loaded up with books so that you can add a bit more weight as you get stronger. If you want a great program to take you through lifting weights, consider our True Gains program.
To become energetic—do aerobic workouts (but the right type)
To get more energetic, you will want to improve your VO2 max. Your VO2 max is how much power your body can generate from the oxygen you breathe. As we age and as we sit more for work, our vo2max drops. But we can fix this by doing specific aerobic workouts to increase your VO2 max.
Now there’s one type of aerobic workout that works best for developing your vo2max—moderate-to-high intensity aerobic workouts. So you don’t need to go for an hour-long jog to do aerobics. It can be as simple as doing two or three sprints as a workout, and then doing that a couple of times a week.
If you are very overweight, you need to be careful about what type of aerobic exercise you pick. This is because your extra weight can put more stress on your joints and lead to shin splints and knee pain. If you are overweight, and even if you’re not overweight, we recommend doing what’s called low-impact aerobic exercise. For example, when you go running, it’s hard on your knees and your ankles and it’s just tough on your joints. But when you ride a bike, there is no impact on your joints, and so it becomes harder for your cardiovascular system, which is good and easier on your joints, which is also good. So if you’re overweight, we would recommend starting with a low-impact exercise such as walking, biking (stationary or a real bike), using an assault bike or elliptical, swimming, etc.
For absolute beginners, it’s best to start with walking. Once you can go for a walk for an hour without it being difficult, then it’s time to gear up into the moderate-to-high intensity workouts. Instead of trying to do cardio for longer—try and do it faster. We really like doing sprints such as on a stationary bike. You can do sprints on an assault bike or stationary bike. A sprint is when you go as hard as you can for 15 to 20 seconds and then you have a rest of 3 to 5 minutes. That’s one sprint. So you can do that and try and build up to five sprints for a workout session and do that a couple of times a week, and you will start to feel way more energetic and be able to sprint faster and more powerfully each session.
Another option is to do HIIT or high-intensity interval training. But I find that for those who are getting beginning, they often try and push themselves, and with such a short rest period, they often taste metal, which is not good. And it just really, really hard on them. When really what they need to do is push themselves really hard with a sprint and then rest fully and then push themselves really hard and then rest.
To become healthier/leaner/stronger—combine exercise with a wholesome diet
It’s been said that you can’t outrun a bad diet. And it’s also true that you can’t outeat being totally sedentary and never moving.
I like to think about being healthy and strong and fit as a bicycle where one wheel is the exercise any other wheel is the nutrition. You need both for the bike to work properly.
While there are many different types of diets out there, what many of them have in common is avoiding processed foods that come from a restaurant or out of a box or out of a fast food place and the emphasis placed on Whole Foods that you cook at home.
At Outlive, we recommend what we call the Density Diet, which is where you are trying to eat foods that are dense in nutrients at all times but then you can play with how much energy you eat depending on your goals. If you are skinny, you may want to eat a nutrient-dense diet with more energy. If you are overweight, then you may want to eat a nutrient-dense diet with less energy to burn fat. It can also help to integrate some sort of nutrient timing like 16:8 intermittent fasting.
Nutrient-dense means that the food has lots of vitamins and minerals so that your body can work properly. (Obesity is a paradox disease because those who suffer from it are actually undernourished and have vitamin/mineral deficiencies while having too much energy stored as fat.)
For example, you might take a 12oz steak and roast some asparagus with Parmesan cheese, and now you have an extremely nutrient-dense meal without a lot of calories that is extremely filling and will help your body feel good. Someone who is skinny might want to add some more energy, such as mashed potatoes with butter.
How long on average does it take to get fit?
This depends on your starting point and where you imagine your final destination.
For myself, I started off and dangerously skinny, which means that I was clinically underweight, and I gained 27 lb of lean mass in 4 months.
I did this by lifting weights three times a week and going for a walk to the gym, which was 45 minutes away, so 1.5 hours of walking three times a week. After gaining about 35 pounds of which some was fat, I did a few weeks of hit outside sprinting in the sun, and it melted the fat off until I ended up 27 pounds heavier with less fat than when I started, and I felt energetic and healthy.
For other people, they may want to drop 50 lb, and it might take several months to do that. The main thing is that you are always moving forward you always making progress towards your goal.
But I think that the people I’m coached have seen incredible results in around four to five months and totally life-changing results within a year.
How long will it take to see results from the gym?
Ideally, you should be able to see results pretty much immediately, at least in your strength progressions when you’re lifting weights and in your sprints ( are you having a higher output of calories or a max-watt increase?). That will tell you if you’re on the right path or not. If you aren’t getting stronger or faster, there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Otherwise, you should be able to see results within a month consistent after it if it’s working. And many of your friends and families will notice it in you in a couple of months and say, “hey is like you’re looking a little different?” And then within four to five months ago you should see a crazy change from when you first began.
How long should you workout each day?
If you like our plan of trying to become stronger, fitter and healthier? Then I would say that we like lifting weights three times a week and do two aerobic sessions a week and then mostly just try and live a happy, active lifestyle on the weekend. Maybe you go for a little walk for a coffee or something on Saturday. So generally doing three 1-hour sessions of lifting weights a week. For cardio I just do sprints. So one day doesn’t take very long, and then another day I do moderate-to-high intensity on the assault bike, and I do that for 10 minutes and try and get faster with more calorie output.
The CDC says that you should work out for 150 Minutes a week for health and our plan surpasses that.
Should you go to the gym every day?
Some people like working out every day and that will totally work as long as they consider the total volume of the amount of work.
For example, you could lift weights three times a week for an hour each time, and that’s 3 hours of lifting. And let’s say that you do 20 sets for your chest muscles over the week—that’s the total volume.
If you wanted to work out every single day for five days a week, then maybe your workouts are only 40 minutes long. You’d get a similar amount of time in the gym, and you’d split up those 20 sets over five days. Now you’re doing four sets of chests each day. That way, you’re getting a similar amount of work, but you’re splitting it out over more days.
I’ve exercised six-seven days a week for a long time. And now I’m exercising less than that, and my personal preference now is to lift three days a week and to do cardio twice a week as it seems to allow me to move forward in all of my goals. I make fast progression but without feeling like I’m stuck in the gym every single day of my life.
Is working out seven days a week bad?
It’s only bad if you’re doing more exercise than you can recover from, so you would have to work out for less Long and do less work on those days, so a lot of people love doing a little 15-minute workout once a day and just doing that forever but a lot of other people would rather do a bigger work out at the gym and push themselves and then spend another day resting so if it comes down to what works best for you and your mentality, but I personally found that having at least a day or two off once a week works best.
Is going to the gym three times a week enough?
When it comes to lifting weights, three times a week is pretty great for making progress, so that sounds great. Eventually, once you become “advanced” and everyone around you knows you are a fit, strong, superhuman person, then you may need to go to the gym more often to continue to make your body adapt. Olympians will be lifted six or seven times a week, and some of them even lift add a couple of times a day. They lift in the late morning and lift in the afternoon.
So as far as being healthy as a regular person, exercising three times a week and then doing some sort of cardio somehow like going for a walk or doing some sprints on your bike would be more than enough.
Is working out 30 minutes a day enough to build muscle?
When it comes to building muscle, and mainly comes down to getting stronger—and that mainly comes down to volume, which is the amount of sets added up over the week. So if you were going to the only workout for 30 minutes, you might need to work out more often to get enough volume (total sets) to grow. So think less about how long you’re working out and think more about how many sets I am doing per week and then going from there.
How do I know if I’m overtraining?
Overtraining is when you feel very tired, in your immune system starts to drop, and you become weaker and weaker when you lift weights and slower in your cardio. Most beginners confuse getting used to exercising with overtraining, which they’re not. A s long as you’re getting stronger and you’re getting faster than you’re not overtraining your body. Your body is just tired from adapting, and you’ll get better at that.
I found that the first two weeks of exercising very draining and in the third week was okay, and then the fourth week I was back to normal energy levels. So if you want to get into exercising, consider that it will be tiring for the first few weeks. It can be helpful to make a bet with a friend that you’ll follow through with your exercise plan for 30 days otherwise you got to pay them a hundred bucks or something. That way that you follow through when you’re tired, and then by the end of the month, you won’t be tired, and you’ll be happy to keep up with the exercise plan.
If you found this guide helpful, then we’d love to have you join our program called True Gains, and you can ask me any questions in the community, and it will tell you in a step-by-step plan exactly what you need to do to become stronger fitter leaner and healthier.
This is the same program that Jason and Abiel used to become their strongest yet while becoming healthier.